Big Mig, cards close to the chest as always

Look Pro: Poker Face

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Cycling is all about energy. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it. It can be sucked out of you as quickly as a Dyson sucks up dust. Even on those days when you feel a million bucks, use your energy unwisely and you’ll be spat out the back and struggling to make a piece of toast when you get home. You will be the toast, but no-one will be rushing to spread themselves on you.

Conserving energy can be more difficult than expending it. Any fool can sprint off up the road in a flurry of whirling legs and heavy breathing with 100km to go, but a wise rider will listen to their body, not their brain; a bit like sex really, you want to be there at the end, when the real action takes place. And like sex, making weird faces not only tells the other party(s) that you are giving it everything you have, but it wastes a lot of valuable energy.

One of the best ways to conserve your beans is by thinking of your face muscles as a limp dick. (Sorry ladies, I have no perverted metaphor for you, and I’ll resist the temptation to attempt one. I’ve dug enough of a hole as it is.) The less strain you put on your face, the less energy you use. Let your mouth relax by keeping it slightly open; don’t grimace and try not to inhale wasps. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but even when deep in the box (I’m talking Cycling now, ok?), a conscious effort of reminding yourself to relax the face muscles will instantly feel like you’ve saved not only a small hive, but a fair bit of useless expenditure. Try it now… see?

One of the masters of Poker Face was the great Miguel Indurain. Not only was he possibly the best looking Cyclist of the modern era, what with his deep tan guns, perfect short and sock length, impeccable cap placement and awesome steel bikes, he was rarely seen with anything more than a slight curling of the lips adorning his face. You knew Mig was in trouble if he looked like he was smiling… in fact, the only times he looked like he was working hard was in the race against the clock, with opponents nowhere to be seen and he could do like he damn well pleased. It was particularly telling that in his last Tour in 96, he regularly sported a whale shark visage, and was badly beaten, a sad way to end his run of five wins. Even in his Hour Record attempts, he kept up his blank expression until Casual Deliberation was no longer possible.

After the end, Big Mig knew the time for facial expression was nigh. He could finally put away the Poker Face, and let his mere presence remind those around him who held the cards. We will never crush fools and Look (as) Fantastic as he, but we can learn from him that a blank face is as valuable as good legs and lungs the size of basketballs.

// Awesome Spanish Guys // Look Pro

  1. Don’t get me started about Aru…

  2. The asshole rolled him for the stage win.

  3. This. All you kids, hipsters and wanna bees, Study this photo well. You want to look good on the bike? You call yourself a Cyclist? This is a Cyclist. Holy smoke, Big Mig is showing everything he’s got.

    He was so The Man for so many years but now, nearly forgotten.

  4. @Gianni

    This. All you kids, hipsters and wanna bees, Study this photo well. You want to look good on the bike? You call yourself a Cyclist? This is a Cyclist. Holy smoke, Big Mig is showing everything he’s got.

    He was so The Man for so many years but now, nearly forgotten.

    Look at the length of those femurs. He may have made the Tour boring, but unlike the current practitioner of that approach, he made riding a bike Look Fantastic.

  5. @Gianni

    Holy smoke, Big Mig is showing everything he’s got.

    That Pinarello is as magical as the black pantographed stem – 14cm!

  6. This is a guy that looks like he could manage a handful of pull ups let alone knocking off double digit push ups. Today’s GC riders? Fuggetaboutit.

  7. What’s going on with Carrera guy’s eyewear? He looks like he escaped from a Star Wars Convention just in time for the stage (and snagged an early breath right strip for his nose).

  8. @David

    my favorite video of Big Mig grinding them to pieces

    Yes! I forgot to put that in the article. Just crushing it in the saddle.

  9. Including this would help, wouldn’t it?

  10. @Ccos

    That’s Peter Luttenberger – never quite got his moment in the limelight, but pretty solid rider. Understandable you wouldn’t know him… but asking “what’s up” with the Briko Stingers? C’mon, kid. Demerit.

  11. @litvi

    @Ccos

    That’s Peter Luttenberger – never quite got his moment in the limelight, but pretty solid rider. Understandable you wouldn’t know him… but asking “what’s up” with the Briko Stingers? C’mon, kid. Demerit.

    Luttenberger was short-listed for an Evanescent Riders article. He may yet get his day in the sun.

  12. Is that ONCE rider getting dropped Jalabert?

  13. @wilburrox

    This is a guy that looks like he could manage a handful of pull ups let alone knocking off double digit push ups. Today’s GC riders? Fuggetaboutit.

    That seemed to be a more common look back in the days of unlimited EPO; granted Indurain was still beefier than most.

  14. Big Mig is well known for his poker face, awesome time trialling, and 5 Tour wins, however I do have one thing in common with him. The propensity for massive weight gain over the winter that then requires large amounts of suffering in the spring to shelve it!

  15. @Jason

    Is that ONCE rider getting dropped Jalabert?

    Nope, that’s Johan Bruyneel. He sat on Big Mig all the way into Liege then rolled him in the sprint.

  16. Bruyneel said it was like sitting on a motorbike

  17. The lead photo of Big Mig is how I wished I looked on a bike.

    I often feel the same when I see a photo of RDV. Even captured in a still image they exude cool, control, power. And speed.

  18. Friends don’t let friends wear Briko Zens… or Stingers… or Shots….

    Luttenberger is wearing Briko Zens, not Stingers. Stingers were a little more svelte but both were still travesties of their time yet they were pretty popular in the bunch. They remind me of people wearing lumberjack plaid flannel in the early 90’s in order to look ‘grunge’ and cool when they had no clue what grunge was. Tryin’ too hard to look cool and completely missing it

  19. @Gianni

    This. All you kids, hipsters and wanna bees, Study this photo well. You want to look good on the bike? You call yourself a Cyclist? This is a Cyclist. Holy smoke, Big Mig is showing everything he’s got.

    He was so The Man for so many years but now, nearly forgotten.

    You know what kinda pisses me off? It seems like far too many fixsters have traded in their track bikes for road and gravel bikes. They used to hate roadies…and now…they’ve transformed into roadies! Tattoos and beards and Lycra? Weird. It’s like skateboarders from the 80s suddenly giving up their wheels and wanting to become a QB on the football team.

    Then again, plenty of roadies ’round here are far too into themselves, so maybe so anti-blood is good for the mix.

    Oh well, not gonna affect my Following. Nor Rule adherence.

  20. @litvi

    @Ccos

    That’s Peter Luttenberger – never quite got his moment in the limelight, but pretty solid rider. Understandable you wouldn’t know him… but asking “what’s up” with the Briko Stingers? C’mon, kid. Demerit.

    I’m looking at my stingers right now, and they don’t make me look like I’m one of the sand people. Briko did come out with some kookie ones around that time though…

  21. Watching that video from ’95 was something special. He just sheds the group. His grimace just before hitting the line when he’s in the drops, oh man.

    And his Cap never moved a millimeter.

  22. @Ron

    Never let them grind you down, man

  23. I believe you will find Indurain in the dictionary under the word ” Locomotive”

  24. Nate, not me! While I do sometimes grow cynical, it’s nothing a bit of riding can’t cure. I’m also tough, hence why I ride a Diamante. I can’t be ground down!

    It was just funny on Sunday. I rode a big country loop to do some volunteer coaching next town over. Opted for my cross bike with road tires, as I needed to carry a backpack for a clothing change. Passed some roadies along the way, out in the middle of nowhere and all of them were intent and not offering any cheer. I don’t say hello to everyone riding in the city, but out in the country, other cyclists are a rare and pleasant sight.

  25. best rider never caught.

  26. @piwakawaka

    Why do you hate our sport?

  27. I’ll start with a strong case of stem envy and take it from there. Also, caps people. I realise the brain is a sensitive instrument but I’ll be damned if the mandatory inclusion of the bone dome is not the most cyclo-sartorial buzz kill yet devised. Worse than long black socks in my book.

    I always enjoyed Basso’s poker face, not so much blank and expressionless as lazy, squaline grin. Displayed to majestic effect whilst farting out the Cadelephant on the Zoncolan some years back. The contrast was magnificent. Old Camelchin chewing on a bag of spanners while leaky cranked up the gas with wonderful panache. I think that was his clean come back year. Stylish ride.

  28. @Oli

    @piwakawaka

    Why do you hate our sport?

    not the sport, just the cheats.

    I guess you could say they are the sport, but I prefer to think it is greater than the failings of some of the principal players.

  29. @piwakawaka

    You might well have your suspicions about Indurain, but why constantly smear the doping brush on riders when the fact is you don’t actually know if they doped or not?

    In the context of this article and the rest of the thread your comment is completely unnecessary and just rears yet again the thing that all my non-cycling friends constantly harp on about – “They all do it!”. Why not save it for the conversations that are actually about doping and leave the pointless innuendo out of it?

    I, for one, am utterly sick of every conversation about riders of the past turning to doping … and let’s face it, it’s not like you or I are squeaky clean, is it?

  30. You are of course, correct. However, I have never cheated to win, smoking vast canons of marijuana before MTB races in the early nineties, was probably not as performance enhancing as I thought at the time!!

    Indurain is particulary gutting to me, I had a bit of a bromance…

  31. I remember reading in VeloNews in the early 90s about Migs physiology. He was a freak of nature in terms of his resting heart rate, VO2 max, oxygen uptake, aerobic threshold power, etc. I am unsure if any pro previous, then, or now has tested better than Indurain. It is no wonder that he could poker face it with his lung capacity. In the mountains he inhaled so much air that he didn’t leave much for his competition.

  32. @piwakawaka

    Haha, PDDs, maye? Performance detracting drugs?

    @Sparty

    He was tested by a University only a few years ago and apparently even at nearly 20 years into retirement and without specific training he still was putting out numbers equal to many in the pro peloton.

  33. @piwakawaka

    Indurain is particulary gutting to me, I had a bit of a bromance…

    Then give him the benefit of the doubt instead of dragging him down, FFS!

  34. @Ron

    I, for one, welcome our new hipster brothers-with-gears. If it means I can finally find kits that A) look good and B) look good on me and my proportions, I’m all for it. They’ve ditched their skinny jeans and loose V-necks and embraced the tight, aero look and went from sock-less Vans to the perfect 6-inch cuff and clean cycling shoes. And their track-bike roots mean their road bikes aren’t adorned with any unnecessary fluff, either.

  35. @Jason Wright

    Friends don’t let friends wear Briko Zens… or Stingers… or Shots….

    Luttenberger is wearing Briko Zens, not Stingers. Stingers were a little more svelte but both were still travesties of their time yet they were pretty popular in the bunch. They remind me of people wearing lumberjack plaid flannel in the early 90’s in order to look ‘grunge’ and cool when they had no clue what grunge was. Tryin’ too hard to look cool and completely missing it

    I used to work for the Briko distributor here in Australia during the late ’90s. Man, there were a LOT of lense/frame combos we had to stock. All outrageous but genuinely functional. Never wore them myself though – even with a staff discount I couldn’t afford them!

  36. @Ccos

    @litvi

    @Ccos

    That’s Peter Luttenberger – never quite got his moment in the limelight, but pretty solid rider. Understandable you wouldn’t know him… but asking “what’s up” with the Briko Stingers? C’mon, kid. Demerit.

    I’m looking at my stingers right now, and they don’t make me look like I’m one of the sand people. Briko did come out with some kookie ones around that time though…

    “One of the sand people.” Beauty. And yes, Briko were flying close to some wacky design edge back then. I can’t imagine what their inspiration was.

  37. @Gianni

    @Ccos

    @litvi

    @Ccos

    That’s Peter Luttenberger – never quite got his moment in the limelight, but pretty solid rider. Understandable you wouldn’t know him… but asking “what’s up” with the Briko Stingers? C’mon, kid. Demerit.

    I’m looking at my stingers right now, and they don’t make me look like I’m one of the sand people. Briko did come out with some kookie ones around that time though…

    “One of the sand people.” Beauty. And yes, Briko were flying close to some wacky design edge back then. I can’t imagine what their inspiration was.

  38. Nice grab, @Ccos!

    And the obvious inspiration for the Shot:

  39. Brikos rock! Always wanted a pair, but like @PT could never afford them. The closest I got was at the XC World Cup in Cairns 1995… Sara Ellis, Cannondale/Volvo rider and Tinker’s girlfriend at the time was suffering up a climb and handed me her Brikos and said “give them back after the race.” I thought “yeah right lady”, but of course being the upstanding member of the cycling community I was even back then, I found Tinker and gave them to him.

    Later that year at the World Champs in Germany, I saw Sarah and reminded her of the story, hoping maybe she’d give me a complimentary pair… nope.

  40. @Oli

    @piwakawaka

    Indurain is particulary gutting to me, I had a bit of a bromance…

    Then give him the benefit of the doubt instead of dragging him down, FFS!

    Seconded. I put Indurain in with the camp of physical specimens like swimmers Ian Thorpe & Michael Phelps or some of the top rowers like Eric Murray . Indurain had a set of physical gifts that made him better suited for Cycling than almost anyone else in the peleton. Being a Spaniard and racing in the early 90’s I’m not going to suggest he was finishing Tours on mineral water but I strongly doubt he was tampering at the levels of Mr. 60%, Virenque, or the rest of what happened in the COTHO years.

    Indurain still gets the benefit of my doubt… and disc brakes on a road bike are an abomination.

  41. All I can think of when I see this is…

    @brett

    And I also have to say I’m glad this has been published; its been sitting in your draft’s queue for a lifetime and every time I saw the title, I left singing this to myself. Now I share it with you; you’re welcome.

  42. @DeKerr

    Ian Thorpe Michael Phelps Eric Murray

    All dopers, coincidentally.

    @frank

    @brett

    Now I share it with you; you’re welcome.

    You shouldn’t have. Seriously.

  43. @brett

    @DeKerr

    Eric Murray

    All dopers, coincidentally.

    New Zealanders don’t dope, you know that.

  44. @Oli

    @brett

    @DeKerr

    Eric Murray

    All dopers, coincidentally.

    New Zealanders don’t dope, you know that.

    Oh yeah, forgot that! Same as Aussies…

  45. @brett

    @frank

    @brett

    Now I share it with you; you’re welcome.

    You shouldn’t have. Seriously.

    It was probably hard for @Frank to resist posting that particular clip, because of all the gratuitous Great Dane shots in the video.

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