Anatomy of a Photo: Awkward Adolescence


Evolution is a slow, gradual process, punctuated by sudden change. For the first 80 years of our sport, riders rode contra la montre on their regular road bikes. For certain, the bikes were carefully cleaned and tuned to remove all possible resistance, but these were their standard, daily machines. Then, in a span of barely ten years came the skin suit, aero helmet, and the coolest time trial innovation ever, the cow horn handlebars. Then it was on to aero bars, and since that innovation, we've been back to gradual change, thanks in large part to the UCI declaring creative thought to be against regulation and banning all but the most conventional bicycle designs.

For a time, however, it was as though Pandora's Box had been cracked open, and from it sprung countless innovations that would change our sport for ever. Some were good, some where bad, some were altogether too much, but all of it was exciting and all of it was cool in its own right. It was a thrilling time for cycling.

We did, however, enter a very awkward adolescence as the Pro Road Racing scene struggled to adopt the aerobars which had permeated the Triathlon world. The challenge was, of course, to integrate a handlebar made popular by men and women wearing Speedos and doodle on themselves in an appropriately sophisticated European manner. But things were to get worse before they got better; in the span of a single season, Sean Yates went from doing the one-eye V-Squint to wrestling with the Scott Noodles of Death. Even the ever-classy Johan Museeuw couldn't manage to make a graceful transition.

We figured it out eventually, but it wasn't exactly a painless process. For your review, I've collected a handful of examples from the progression.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/frank@velominati.com/Aero Bars/”/]

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72 Replies to “Anatomy of a Photo: Awkward Adolescence”

  1. @Buck Rogers

    @Gianni
    Isn’t there an amazing photo of Yates suffering like a dog in Graham Watson’s “Images of Cycling”? The one of him in, I think, MSR, when he looked over at Graham and Graham snapped the photo, then felt guilty b/c of the suffering that he had just captured? Such an amazing photo. Pretty sure it was Yates. (Don’t have my book with me at work).

    You’re talking about this one, and Gianni already did a piece on it here.

    Look how much bigger her was back then, compared to this:

  2. @Buck Rogers
    Buck, I think that was a fairly recent Anatomy of a Photo article. It shows Sean in his less svelte days covered in crap in M-SR. He’s suffering and want to do so in peace, then Watson snaps his pic. I imagine having a motorbike to make one’s escape on would be a good thing in that situation.

    I’m sure Frank can repost the photo . . .

  3. @frank
    Thanks Frank!

    That’s exactly it. Man, what a photo. If that doesn’t hit you in the lower gut with some sort of relative sense to your own past history of suffering on the bike, you need to ride/race more.

    I’m sure it was all the clenbuterol that he used in the years in between the photos.

  4. @jimmy
    Oh to have such treasures in the attic! Is that a Bianchi behind the Lemond? If those are Mavic cowhorn bars, I had a pair myself on my Cougar TT bike. What kind of seatpost bolt is on the Lemond? Some kind of funky quick-release?

  5. @wiscot
    All mavic on the battaglin/lemond except the crappy dia compe aero brakes. QR binder bolt keeps the post in place well enough to hang from rafters. Yeah, SLX bianchi with silca pump and campy head.

  6. @James

    Hey, I have a set of those Death Noodle bars! :) The future was 1996… and then the UCI ruined everyone’s fun.

    Bloody Hell! There are some horror stories in there!!!

  7. @Dr C
    @frank

    I think the idea was to be able to dismember people in high-speed crashes.

    Also, while riding, one was able to vary the tension on the cable through a complicated method of pelvic tilting vs. arm pressure and could entertain one’s riding compatriots by playing simple tunes by plucking the cable. The downfall of this technique was the attachment method of the picks to the shoes which required wild ankle twisting in Speedplay pedals to hit just the cable and not the frame or crank arms.

  8. @jimmy


    You guys’ posts are fun to read late at night. I had to climb into the attic to get a pick of this old horse.

    WOAH, dude. That is my favorite crankset ever – the Mavic SSC. Nice! And is that I black chrome Bianchi I spy with my little eye? You’ve got some history up in your attic….

    @michael

    @Dr C
    @frank
    I think the idea was to be able to dismember people in high-speed crashes.
    Also, while riding, one was able to vary the tension on the cable through a complicated method of pelvic tilting vs. arm pressure and could entertain one’s riding compatriots by playing simple tunes by plucking the cable. The downfall of this technique was the attachment method of the picks to the shoes which required wild ankle twisting in Speedplay pedals to hit just the cable and not the frame or crank arms.

    Gold!

  9. @jimmy

    @wiscot
    All mavic on the battaglin/lemond except the crappy dia compe aero brakes.

    Hey!

    WTF are those doing in the attic?

  10. @mouse

    Yeah, I don’t understand why they aren’t on the living room wall like they should be. Ridden at least once a month too.

  11. Damn, we should all have a LeMan funny bike in our attic…

    That second photo of Yates in the Motorola kit (riding P-R?) is all the convincing I need that my next Belgian booties need to be white, despite the absurdity of wearing white on your feet during bad weather.

    And on that note, can I get a Ruling: should they be called Belgian booties or oversocks? Or overshoes? (I’m talking fabric ones, not neoprene or waterproofs.)

  12. @jimmy
    I’m calling CPS about this bike neglect. Cycle Protective Services. Expect a visit.

    Bikes always look so wrong without a chain. Like they are hamstrung.

  13. @itburns
    Hah! It only looks like abuse. The battaglin could use a chain and brake cables no doubt. And bar tape. I have no interest in sourcing or procuring a 650c tubular or a new one for the disc just to look at. Until I have a reason to display them, these jewels (and other partially cannibalized classics I’m afraid to show you!) are safest in the attic. The Bianchi has cracked, egg shaped head tube lugs from being raced over too many bad French and Belgian roads. I rode it to the park a few times with my kid on his scuut bike this summer.

  14. @Ron
    Ron,

    I think if it has a sole of a different material/fabric than the upper, it’s an overshoe. If the whole thing is the same fabric, it’s an oversock. Personally, I call the latter shoecovers, the former overshoes.

  15. I call them a stinky damp PITA that keep my feet warm. Till I don’t need em no more then I call them ‘what the hell are you doing in my f’en sock draw?’ when I’m looking for a black pair of socks.

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