Sometimes, he even wet himself.

Riding Ugly: Fernando Escartin

Riding Ugly: Fernando Escartin

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Sometimes, getting the job done means doing it by any means necessary. Football coaches, who have just seen their team scrape out a win by a dour defensive effort and a lucky goal, refer to it as “winning ugly”. But any true Velominatus would rather lose photogenically than win ugly. In fact, our credo could well be “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how Fantastic you look doing it”.

Never one to adhere to this philosophy was the Spanish Crab, Fernando Escartin. If ever there was a more awkward, uncomfortable looking rider, then I’m at a loss to name them. He never stood a chance really, riding on teams with less-than-classy kit for a start never helped. Mapei wasn’t too bad when he was there, but he’ll always be best recognised in the lime green of the Kelme dope squad. His Gios was the only saving grace, the beautiful blue frames always looking good no matter who is aboard.

But it wasn’t Fernando’s propensity to sweat profusely, his straggly black hair, and sunburnt Roman nose that earned him the reputation of being hit with the ugly stick; it was the way he rode his bike. Knees sticking out to the side, head permanently tilted to the right like someone had glued his ear to his shoulder, back arched into a hump that would’ve made Quasimodo jealous, constantly lurching in and out of the saddle, rocking from side to side like a demented bored orangutan that had been locked in a cage and poked with a stick for its entire life. Somehow, it got him up mountains fairly quickly.

This day he went up a couple of mountains very quickly indeed, in le Farce of 99. From 50km out, no less, it was hard viewing as he held off a supercharged pack of pock-marked pin-cushions including some forgotten YJA (Yellow Jerseyed Asshole) with a note from his mum. *Coincidentally, the stage finish town of Piau Engaly is French for Pure Ugly, fitting for Fernando’s only win in le Grande Farce.

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// Evanescent Riders // Riding Ugly // Unforgettable Rides

  1. Anyone have a Top 10 Most Ugly on the Bike list they want to share?

  2. @Anjin-san

    Anyone have a Top 10 Most Ugly on the Bike list they want to share?

    10 uglies is tough. Here’s 8 in no particular order:

    Michel Pollentier

    Stephan Schumacher

    Raymond Martin

    Bernhard Kohl

    Rassmusen (The Chicken)

    Leif Hoste

    Fernando Escartin

    Gert Jan Theunisse

  3. @Anjin-san

    Anyone have a Top 10 Most Ugly on the Bike list they want to share?

    I’d have thought that for riding style Chris Anker Sorensen would be near the top of the list and for lack of sartorial elegance Sir Brad is a front runner too!

  4. @Anjin-san

    Anyone have a Top 10 Most Ugly on the Bike list they want to share?

    Good responses so far, but they would be greatly enhanced with pictures.

    Gert, hat tip BRR.  I think I posted this a few days ago, but it bears repeating:

    Wilifred Peters, Arenberg style:

  5. Not sure whats worse, the lid or the kit…

  6. Nice article Bretto. Save the next in this series for Mancebo, another beat up twisted looking rider. I’ve been trying to figure out my own position and what is bothering a knee lately. Time spent on a trainer with a iphone camera from different angles made me realize I look like Escartine! I never knew. One knee out, one foot in, bloody oath, it ain’t that pretty at all.

    @wiscot

    Did you ever read Robin Magowan’s book on the 78 Tour? Fantastic book. It’s in da Works.

    @Nate

    Roberto Gaggioli-man he made some prize money off the Americans. Better looking on a bike.

  7. Great observation/article…and er….*cough…I have that Kelme top somewhere in the cupboard of no return!

  8. Brett you brought a thought to mind, do great riders have a form and mechanics on the bike (that can only be described as pedaling like butter) that makes them better than those who look bad? If your boy Fernando was smoother would his Palmeres have been greater?

    Also getting whooped with the ugly stick is an accident of birth but riding ugly is a sin.

    @Gianni, feet, knees and shit change at your tender age so try moving the cleats very small amounts one at a time. It worked for me pain disappeared and now the knees have stopped misbehaving.

  9. Is the truck beyond Gert popping a wheelie?

    Gianni – is your knee being bothered by bad positioning or your bad positioning is causing your bum knee? I had my ankle smashed up back in October playing a bit of futbol & I haven’t felt great on the bike since. Hope my old form returns.

    And, the good thing about riders like the Spanish Crab is that they’re a reminder to not overthink riding form too much. If that guy can be a PRO as a hunchback, I can surely ride up to my standards, even if my knee kicks out or I’m not totally smooth.

    More than one way to scale a Col!

  10. @brett

    If ever there was a more awkward, uncomfortable looking rider, then I’m at a loss to name them.

    You don’t have a mirror?

  11. @Ron

    Gianni – is your knee being bothered by bad positioning or your bad positioning is causing your bum knee?

    That sounds like a trick question. Who fucking knows, something is bothering me and it keeps me in ill humor. It might be me going to failure. I haven’t messed with my position for years. I’m trying some very small tweaks like Rob suggests. I might even get Retueled, reteuled, retooled, Otherwise throw some money off the train. 

  12. @Tobin I approve of your post.  Ugly plus big brown mullet.  A winning combo.

    @Ron

    Is the truck beyond Gert popping a wheelie?

    I think it’s tipped over on two wheels, which is different from a wheelie, technically.  I also think it’s a painted backdrop.  How awesome is that?

  13. @ralph

    Watching the video made me think of the cyclist in The Triplets of Belleville – same nose, same ugly look, but at least Fernando wasn’t scooped up by the Cycling Mafia.

    it’s funny you should say that; I was thinking how he looks and rides like Coppi, whom, allegedly, the rider in Belleville is based on.

  14. @Gianni

    @Ron

    Gianni – is your knee being bothered by bad positioning or your bad positioning is causing your bum knee?

    That sounds like a trick question. Who fucking knows, something is bothering me and it keeps me in ill humor. It might be me going to failure. I haven’t messed with my position for years. I’m trying some very small tweaks like Rob suggests. I might even get Retueled, reteuled, retooled, Otherwise throw some money off the train.

    I had a similar problem just after christmas when I increased my training load, I was on a new bike but the fit was good (I think). I self diagnosed an IT band issue that was causing one knee to turn inwards so have been doing a pretty hardcore routine of stretches based on this http://manualforspeed.com/2012/07/stretching/ The plastic roller hurts like hell for a few weeks but has sorted the issue out.

    I might still get a proper bike fit done. The LBS does one where the first 45 minutes you are checked out by a sports physio to check out the pyhsical aspects affecting your position. There seems no point getting a bike fit to allow for a physical sortcoming if you aren’t also going to address that issue. That said, I’m in no rush to spend £200 to have it done.

     

  15. @Gianni

    @Ron

    Gianni – is your knee being bothered by bad positioning or your bad positioning is causing your bum knee?

    That sounds like a trick question. Who fucking knows, something is bothering me and it keeps me in ill humor. It might be me going to failure. I haven’t messed with my position for years. I’m trying some very small tweaks like Rob suggests. I might even get Retueled, reteuled, retooled, Otherwise throw some money off the train.

    This might be in the TMI department, but I’ve always ridden with the boys on the right. Then I switched sides because of a saddle sore and that coincided with my knee trouble. Someone mentioned I might be sitting differently, so I switched back. Saddle sore back, but knee problem gone. Crazy.

  16. @Gianni Retuls are worth it if you have pains. I had no-one to point me in the right direction, fit-wise, for my first months as a cyclist. I had a problem, figured out a way to cure it, and ended up with a new one. After a few of these steps the position became ridiculous – too low, too far.

    A Retul-equipped fitter was all it took – I’ve been completely painless since (well, that-sort-of-painless). When I bought my TT bike I took it straight to that fitter, and have been comfortable and bloody fast since day one.

  17. @frank That’s exactly the sort of problem Adamos and other atrocities try to solve. Not that I’d put my chamois on one of these – no self-respecting Velominatus should. The ass might cover them most of the time, but whenever out of the saddle, the shame reveals itself.

    The reasoning, however, is sound – if you remove the pressure buildup, you can ride perfectly centred. This allows for more symmetrical body movement, which I believe is a desired trait. Doesn’t have to be an Adamo, though – I found my sweet spot on the Arione and Selle Italia SLR, for example.

  18. My LBS uses a Serotta fit system.  Have any of you tried that?  I’m having a fitting at the end of March and would love to hear from people who have experience with it.

    http://www.serottacyclinginstitute.com/

  19. Maybe not so ‘ugly’.  Check out recent Tour of Oman Stage 3.  Some beautiful footage as I sit here in snow!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Flys5ZiynLE

  20. @frank

    @Gianni

    @Ron

    Gianni – is your knee being bothered by bad positioning or your bad positioning is causing your bum knee?

    That sounds like a trick question. Who fucking knows, something is bothering me and it keeps me in ill humor. It might be me going to failure. I haven’t messed with my position for years. I’m trying some very small tweaks like Rob suggests. I might even get Retueled, reteuled, retooled, Otherwise throw some money off the train.

    This might be in the TMI department, but I’ve always ridden with the boys on the right. Then I switched sides because of a saddle sore and that coincided with my knee trouble. Someone mentioned I might be sitting differently, so I switched back. Saddle sore back, but knee problem gone. Crazy.

    Wait, wait, waaaaaaiiiiiit…

    My twigs and berries are bilaterally symmetrical, with one to the east and one to the west.  Are you suggesting that you employ a berry combover?  Are they up the top or deployed below like the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs?

    Jesus, the mind boggles. Up and out of the way is my motto.

  21. @mouse

    @frank

    @Gianni

    @Ron

    Gianni – is your knee being bothered by bad positioning or your bad positioning is causing your bum knee?

    That sounds like a trick question. Who fucking knows, something is bothering me and it keeps me in ill humor. It might be me going to failure. I haven’t messed with my position for years. I’m trying some very small tweaks like Rob suggests. I might even get Retueled, reteuled, retooled, Otherwise throw some money off the train.

    This might be in the TMI department, but I’ve always ridden with the boys on the right. Then I switched sides because of a saddle sore and that coincided with my knee trouble. Someone mentioned I might be sitting differently, so I switched back. Saddle sore back, but knee problem gone. Crazy.

    Wait, wait, waaaaaaiiiiiit…

    My twigs and berries are bilaterally symmetrical, with one to the east and one to the west. Are you suggesting that you employ a berry combover? Are they up the top or deployed below like the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs?

    Jesus, the mind boggles. Up and out of the way is my motto.

    Oh, thank Merckx, for a moment I had this terrible fear that ‘Frank’ was normal in slopping all his junk to one side. ‘Crazy’ indeed.

  22. “berry combover” love that one, better get a cloth and clean up my tea.

  23. @brett fine article, now please follow up with a riding pretty, the most beautiful stroke rather than the most beautiful mullet

  24. After watching his awesome stage win at the Dauphine yesterday, it occured to me that Tommy V had not featured more heavily in this post.  That swinging gorilla action of his and the endless Gurning sure deserves a mention.

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