Belgian Affirmations: Kapelmuur

There isn’t a lot about a climb several kilometers long ending in a sustained 20% cobbled gradient that communicates ‘Attack’ and/or ‘Respond’. Certainly not when it comes after 240 kilometers with only 20 left to race. Nope, I’ve double-checked the calibration and used a control-case: the only reading I’m getting on the Pain Gauge is the needle dropping all the way over to and past ‘Survival’.

Here we have Roger De Vlaeminck containing a vicious attack from Freddy Maertens on the hardest bit of the climb, giving more than a little bit of insight into why we refer to these guys as Hardmen. On an unrelated note, I find it to be a crime beyond articulation that the Kapelmuur won’t feature in this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen; but that won’t stop us from riding it during the Keepers’ Tour; we’re all about history and tradition. I want to keep seeing this scene repeat itself over and over. After all, if a joke is funny once, it should be funny a thousand times.

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138 Replies to “Belgian Affirmations: Kapelmuur”

  1. @Buck Rogers

    Sure, I might ride a long way today b/c I have a big race/Cogal/group ride next month/year, but it is the ride today that matters most.

    Oh, you know, what he said.

  2. @Ron

    Alright, so I was watching some videos on the ‘tube and realized how incredible Boonen was in 2004-2006. Damn, winning Classics, winning TdF stages, lots and lots of wins.
    Do ya’ll think he’s past his prime? Simply having a lull? Turning into another type of rider? He’s only 31 so should have some good years left in him, but I got to wondering if we’ve seen his best seasons.
    I do realize those seasons are very, very hard to replicate. And, I also realize how incredible all PROS are, much less the best of the best. So, calling him “off” or in decline isn’t really fair. I also wonder though if he could be considered a disappointment, or, if it’s just really hard to have such magical seasons more than once or twice.
    I wonder if folks think he reached his potential or maybe got very good, then didn’t continue to get better. (again, not so much criticizing him, since I think he’s awesome, but just looking for some opinions)

    He’s already won three Roubaixs and two RVVs. Considering the list of riders who have equalled that record, and there only being one person in history who has won more Roubaixs than him, I’d say he’s done fantastic. He’s been very close other times, as well. Last year, he was on form and close (almost caught the lead group in RVV) and he had a mechanical that kept him out of Roubaix. The year prior, he was the strongest rider in both races, except for a magnificent Faboo.

    As for the grand tours, everyone who was winning sprint stages in 2004-2006 has the same problem: Mark Cavendish. Plus, the normal trajectory for sprinters is to move into something a little less dangerous (like classics) as they get older and can start processing the consequences of diving through a 1 meter gap at 70 km/h.

    Without being to hard on you, I’d say that your statement is reminiscent of the short memory we all have as fans. Its easy to think these guys suck, but I see very little actual evidence that he’s not as good as he was a few years back. When you focus on the Spring classics, luck factors as heavily as form.

  3. @Oli

    @frank
    “…the results spoke for themselves…” What were the results, if you don’t mind me asking?

    None of them in cycling, and none of them remarkable outside our little micro-environment. Several State, district, and regional championship titles, top 100 in the American Birkebeiner as an 18 year old (which was my proudest achievement), and an offer to join the Olympic team for the 1998 Winter games. But instead of taking that offer, I wrecked my knee, spent 12 weeks in a wheel chair and discovered music, alcohol, and girls. In that order. That was all by the time I was 18 and I never returned to serious sport.

  4. @frank

    @Oli

    @frank
    “…the results spoke for themselves…” What were the results, if you don’t mind me asking?

    Several State, district, and regional championship titles, top 100 in the American Birkebeiner as an 18 year old (which was my proudest achievement), and an offer to join the Olympic team for the 1998 Winter games.

    Good stuff!

  5. @gaswepass

    Just to put in 2c on the nutrition discussion- first 2 hours is a freebie- one can provide the energy without doing anything harmful to the body. Then the body goes for glucose from the quickest places it can steal it from. To be more scientifical, glycogen stores get depleted over the 2hours. So either supplement w carbohydrated “sugared” water of choice (and hydrate of course), or other supplement stuff(food!). For sure, as you go on to subsequent hours of riding you want to provide the nutrition so you don’t cannibalize muscle like mcsqueak was mentioning. The body won’t eat body fat for nutrition during these rides- too much work for little return.

    Ok, so more wondering was done on this the way we do when we ride all day…I understand the bit about the body using energy from the most readily-available source, seems very logical. What I’m not understanding is why the body would cannibalize muscles before it would burn fat – surely its easier to get energy from fat stores (which are there for this very purpose) is easier than eating up muscles?

    What am I misunderstanding here?

    @Oli
    Thanks Oli! It was loads and loads of fun, no denying that it was an amazing experience!

  6. @frank

    @DerHoggz

    @Tartan1749The physics of the big ring article is pretty inaccurate IMO, the cranks are not levers, but, get this, cranks. There isn’t really any difference as far as I can think.

    The question of whether you should spin and the mechanics of the big ring are completely unrelated. One is a question of physiology, the other of mechanics. Your question was asking if its possible to spin too fast. That article talks about the mechanical advantage of riding a big gear. In your case, you’d ride that gear, but spin it. They’re separate things.
    As long as the subject is raised, I’ve been meaning to rewrite that piece, or rather, add an updated version. Some details are wrong, but in essence it is still correct. The chain is the lever, actually, not the crank, which is the mistake I made before. Crank length, as it turns out, makes no difference to power, but is instead more related to what feels comfortable based on your physiology and on what part of the stroke you have maximum power.
    What does make a difference is how much leverage you have as you work to turn your wheel. In its most basic sense, you gain leverage as you move the chain out farther from both the bottom bracket and the wheel’s axle. I’m oversimplifying this because its actually a complex scenario, but with all things being equal (which they’re not due to friction in the chain when you cross and other considerations), you have the best mechanical advantage in the big ring and the biggest sprocket in back. If you can turn the gear, climbing in the big ring is more efficient than in the little ring.
    In fact, if you look carefully at many Pro’s bikes, they’re experimenting with enormous flywheels on their derailleurs for the same reason.

    @DerHoggz

    @Tartan1749
    I’m 186cm and as stated love me some high cadence. I can spin up to 160 or so, using a tap tempo metronome to check it.
    Maybe I should become a trackie? Sadly, no tracks around here.

    I got up to 4 minute intervals at 200 last winter using a 71 inch gear. Still can’t sprint on the track to save myself.

  7. @frank

    @DerHoggz

    @Tartan1749The physics of the big ring article is pretty inaccurate IMO, the cranks are not levers, but, get this, cranks. There isn’t really any difference as far as I can think.

    In fact, if you look carefully at many Pro’s bikes, they’re experimenting with enormous flywheels on their derailleurs for the same reason.

    Huh?
    Bobo is confused. Are you talking about oversize jockey wheels on rear mechs? I’m struggling to imagine how you’d attach a flywheel to a derailleur.

  8. Had a great ride today. After that first session on the spinning bike, I decided to try to work at keeping my cadence down around 110 and pushing a bigger “gear”. The spinning bikes are fixed gear more or less, so I also did individual legs to work on my stroke. Did 10 minutes right around threshold as well.

    Paid off so well. I went out today pushing bigger gears around 110 as I had done on the spinning bike. It was good for 4 km/h more average than what I’ve done on the same ride many times before. I think it was also due to the psychological aspect of the spinning bike which showed me I could punch through for extended times. Only in the small ring for stoplights and such.

  9. @frank

    Due to total disorganization, can’t find the exercise nutrition chapter that I use as a reference to provide an elegant sounding explanation of what I said. I may have created some confusion about fat burning though, and I can help clear some of that – one does burn fat during exercise. The issue is that in the absence of providing nutrition (beyond water replacement) on a long (>2 hours) ride, the body needs something other than body stores of sugars. IF denied it will consume protein (muscle).

    I don’t want to say much more at the risk of making shit up. I would rather misquote what I read with the chapter in front of me than bs’ing about what I don’t quite remember. I’ll report back when I have something more useful to provide.

    I did, in searching online for similar writings, find myself at the hammer site, and found this, which does provide some pretty good sounding science of nutrition:

    http://www.hammernutrition.com/hnt/1275/

  10. @frank

    @Bianchi Denti

    @minion
    @minion

    for the classics don’t some riders use larger inner rings? 42 tooth and up (If possible?) Boonen and Cancellara’s lowest gear might be a lot larger than standard.

    I think most pros use a 42 inner on Roubaix. My old Mino Denti steel bike sports a 42/52 combo on Superbe cranks. Great on the flat, I’m sure, but not the Wellington hills.
    My secret Cobbled Classics fear is that I’ll be presented with a hire Cyfac sporting a 42:21 smallest ratio…

    They go even bigger for Paris-Roubaix than 42, Boonen rides a 46T inner ring. I *think* this is partly to get the right gear ratio when riding through the sludge, but its also to keep down on chain slack for better shifting.
    A great write-up on Boonen’s bike:
    http://www.bikeradar.com/road/news/article/pro-bike-tom-boonens-specialized-s-works-roubaix-sl2-custom-21190/

    THAT WAS EXACTLY THE ARTICLE I WAS THINKING OF. Your internet Kung Fu is strong.
    It also reminds me of the interesting run Speccy had with Boonen: Forks not stiff enough, so QuickStep used Time till they got that sorted, not having a stock size that fitted so having him ride an al bike, while they create new moulds, then the relationship not lasting very long after that.
    I don’t hate specialized (much. Yet.) but it was a troubled relationship.

  11. Late to the thread but…

    I love the photo, particularly the arc on the stones and Freddy’s little finger. Totally throwing it down but relaxed enough in the arms & hands not to gripping the shit out of the hoods.

  12. @Buck Rogers

    @frank
    Fronk, what the hell does your VMH do for work? Is she a spy or something. Last week Africa, this week Vietnam. Man, that is some serious traveling!

    She’s an Epidemiologist working in International Public Health. Helping save the world while I actively work to make it a worse place. We balance each other out so we’re karma-neutral.

  13. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    @frank
    Fronk, what the hell does your VMH do for work? Is she a spy or something. Last week Africa, this week Vietnam. Man, that is some serious traveling!

    She’s an Epidemiologist working in International Public Health. Helping save the world while I actively work to make it a worse place. We balance each other out so we’re karma-neutral.

    Excellent! I plan on working with international groups doing ophtho once I finish with the Army in eight years. What an awesome job she has!

  14. @mcsqueak
    The Chain merely transmits power. It does not effectively increase the crank lever arm. If you could change the crank and cog to gears and eliminate the chain, it woul dbe the same power transmission.

  15. @frank

    She’s an Epidemiologist working in International Public Health.

    If she ever wants to work for us (Doctors Without Borders), you know, for the free t-shirt, have her give me a shout.

  16. @Buck Rogers
    Spot on.

    @Ron
    He had some injuries and missed getting a grand tour in his legs for a year or so. Would love to see him come back at the top of his game next year. Total class on the bike.

    @frank
    Chapeau. If Merckx gifts you an entire day, from dawn to dusk, to spend on the bike, then why not go for it? As for your other post about burning fat rather than muscle, that’s how the biochemistry works and there’s not a lot that can be done about it.

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    It is so kind of you to to let us know that you hold the same appreciation as the rest of the velominati over this climb.  The Kapelmuur is indeed and absolute fucker and I would not be surprised if those arriving at the top would have, in days of old, happily exchanged their bikes, arse, and possibly at least one lung for the chance of a payday loan to make it all go away and see them tucked up in a local hostelry, quaffing hop related beverages and being massaged by all 6 nolan sisters.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HhRLqvzfxc

    However, we here of the faith are made of sterner stuff,  Or like to think we are, and such we would like to kindly decline your invitation to partake of such easily available, unregulated credit at such wonderfully high interest rates.

    I may be being unfair, but, I suspect you have not read The Rules and as such I feel I should spell out Rule #5 for you.

    HARDEN THE FUCK UP!

    Yours respectfully

    Deakus ;)

    (emoticon fully warranted)

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