Indurain kills it with puny calves up some Merckxforsaken Pyrenean climb.

Phobias

Phobias

by / / 91 posts

I’m not too proud to admit to having multiple phobias against various things. That’s phobia multiplicity. Having a phobia against something is very simliar to having a normal phobia, except that in addition to being irrationally scared of something, you also harbor a stifling grudge against it. Also possibly irrationally.

For example, I have been diagnosed with a phobia against having small calves. This is a condition where one hates how small calves look, which is further heightened by being aware of how puny their calves are. When I say “diagnosed”, I really mean “teased”.

I am pleased, however, to see how many Tour contenders have fuckall calves. Miguel Indurain, for example, had calves exactly like mine except his made his bike go batshit fast. Similarly, Chris Froome is letting all kinds of V out of the box with his puny calves. It lightens the heart to see fellow calfless riders perform so well.

But this, inevitably, brings up the question as to whether a rider can compete without calf-doping. Evidence is rampant, but the UCI stands idle in its fight against calf-enhancement. Johnny Drama bravely broke the Omertà and admitted to getting calf implants. Since those days, we’ve been taught to look beyond the beautifully shaped calf and ask, are those magnificent strokes powered by bags of saline? Our own Gianni should be investigated, hosting some of the biggest calves known to exist; I could fit two of my quads in one of his calves. Brett, to his enduring credit, is under no suspicion whatsoever of using calf-doping. The jury is out on Marko, and if Jim ever shaved his guns, we might make a reasoned decision on him. (Yes, there is a Keeper among us with hairy guns, but trust us, he lays the hurt down a-plenty. Still, as soon as we get him drunk enough, we’ll hold him down, shave his guns, and Sharpie a penis on each of his quads.)

The days of Pharmstrong and team riding at the front of the Tour for three weeks while controlling affairs with steadfast diligence has taught us it is prudent to be suspicious. As the Doping Saga of the days gone by unwinds, the one lesson that stands out from the past is that when one team makes a show of force, it means they are on something that the rest of the bunch isn’t. In that light, we are right to see a team at the front, controlling affairs and to raise an eyebrow in response. I am among the most skeptical, having supported and loved this sport through thick and thin for the better part of three decades. Suspicion is isn’t cynism – it’s realism.

Still, I find my attitude shifting. Just as it was unfair to the clean riders to claim a “level playing field” during the Doping Era – if it has indeed passed – it is similarly unfair to accuse the clean riders of doping in the Clean Era – if it has indeed arrived. There are a lot of if‘s, passed‘s, and arrived‘s in there, but nevertheless, it is a turning point in my thinking. On Saturday, Froome was marching into the pain cave, and you could almost watch the flashlight drop from his hand and everything start to go dark. It was glorious to see the unabashed suffering of a rider on his way to Yellow. Not having him look like he was on a Sunday stroll is a good sign, and if Sky is doping, they didn’t get Porte’s programme right the day after his spectacular ride to second place on the stage and G.C – or it was a clever ploy to deflect suspicion.

This isn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve been stung for giving the benefit of the doubt in the past. But on balance, believing is more fun than doubting, and hopefulness is more fulfilling than cynism. I am a fan, not a professional; “fun” is the reason I spectate – not for the empty satisfaction of having been “right” or having “known” someone was cheating. Some people have a phobia against being duped, but this is thankfully one I have managed to avoid; my view is that if I am cheated, that says more about the cheater than it does about me.

In that vein, I choose to believe that what we see today is a cleaner race than what we’ve seen in the past, and that perhaps Froome and Sky’s performance might have been impossible during the Armstrong Era. Even in purposefully optimistic paragraphs as the ones that precedes this one, I see my language hedging bets against itself. It is a sign of the times. But still, I choose to believe.

// Evanescent Riders // Nostalgia // Racing // The Hardmen // Tradition

  1. @wiscot

    @ped

    Yes, really

    Voici Allan Cumming I think. Doppelganger!

    I didn’t realise Coppi had an ironic mustache tramp stamp

  2. @pakrat

    A few weeks back the wife noticed my calves twitching. I never noticed it before and I can’t feel it but when I cross one of my legs my calf looks like some parasitic worm is wrestling a badger in there. Freaks me out! Am I alone here?

    I get that twitching muscles sensation in ams and legs now and again after a series of tough rides, especially in summer. Apparently it’s down to a magnesium deficiency and the best wáy to counter is a magnesium spray (10 short sprays onto bare skin after a shower). A couple of applications on consecutive days and job done. Repeat now and again to keep the twitching away.

  3. @Marcus

    Sounds like there are a lot of fat cunts around who don’t know the difference between calves and cankles

    Someone’s got PMS. What’s wrong sugar, got a run in your stockings? Hairdresser not get your bangs right?

  4. @frank

    @Marcus

    Sounds like there are a lot of fat cunts around who don’t know the difference between calves and cankles

    Espresso snorted.

    @ChrisO

    But yes it was impressive from Froome, and Porte.

    Despite my stated optimism, it is always worrying to me when good climbers come close to TT specialists. It was a short race, though, and the shorter the race, the smaller the differences would be.

    Always a lottery and I’m sure Tony ‘Who Ate All the Sausages” Martin has lost timetrials the same way through rain or other changing conditions.

    And punctures.

    hey I thought the C word was banned by the language polis ? Anyway, the Panzerwagen deserves many kudos for his ride given he missing half his skin still, chapeau.

  5. @minion

    @Marcus

    Sounds like there are a lot of fat cunts around who don’t know the difference between calves and cankles

    Someone’s got PMS. What’s wrong sugar, got a run in your stockings? Hairdresser not get your bangs right?

    Is that you Hilary Clinton?

  6. By the by, the lead photo has perhaps three of the finest cap-wearers in history pictured. And whomever is last in line there appears to be shifting into the big ring. So is Zuele, now that I see what he’s reaching for.

    Oh, EPO Era, how I miss thee.

    I also always wondered what bar wrap Once used…it always had such a great, clean line along the brake cable.

  7. @brett

    Interesting read on Froome…

    http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/biking/Analysing-Froomes-Performance.html

    It most certainly raises an eyebrow or two, which bring’s up a thought? If this data is so readily available wouldn’t you think the the little voice in his head ( team car ) would tell him to back off on some of his effort. Or is that what happened in the last ITT?  Just saynen or was that my recovery beverage alter ego making a cameo again. I should really switch to a darker beer.What ever the case , i still enjoy watching every minute. Thanks for the link @Brett

  8. @Russ

    @brett

    Interesting read on Froome…

    http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/biking/Analysing-Froomes-Performance.html

    It most certainly raises an eyebrow or two, which bring’s up a thought? If this data is so readily available wouldn’t you think the the little voice in his head ( team car ) would tell him to back off on some of his effort. Or is that what happened in the last ITT? Just saynen or was that my recovery beverage alter ego making a cameo again. I should really switch to a darker beer.What ever the case , i still enjoy watching every minute. Thanks for the link @Brett

    What like Porte, stage nine didn’t look too distressed to me as he made his way back to 1 min of the leaders then he sat up, WTF?

  9. @ChrisO

    Oh and, when I saw the title of the article I thought it was going to be about Thibaut Pinot. Did you see his comments after being dropped on the descents in Stage 8.

    Basically he said he has developed a phobia about speed, not just descending. He’s really, really scared and it has fucked him up.

    So basically he can only ride for summit finishes. I hope he can get over it, as he’s a good rider and seems like a nice guy. I feel quite sorry for him.

    Yep, that’s it. I’m so scared of speed I can’t even do hilltop finishes anymore.

    Has anyone else noticed how much more important descents have become in grand tours recently? There’s always been moves made in Milan San-Remo on the descent, but now it’s a huge factor in 3 week races.

    In 2010/11 it was Cuddles attacking Schleck on the downhills, and Schleck crying about how dangerous it was.

    Then this year we have everyone discovering that Wiggins can’t descend for shit and blowing him away at the Giro (how come no one noticed that before?). At least he didn’t complain how it wasn’t fair though.

    One day someone will deploy mini remote controlled helicopters or something so we can actually see this part of the race. Until then we’ll just have to put up with moto-cameras getting dropped by the riders.

  10. @motor city

    Laurens Ten Dribble’s superfluous salivation is a source of constant fascination. I couldn’t help but wonder during the TT how many places he dropped through ‘dribble drag’.

    On another note, it’s a breath of fresh air to come back to the Velominati after briefly reading the cyclingnews comments sections. It’s like a conference of pitchfork-wielding trolls. Merckx have merkxy on them.

  11. @brett

    Interesting read on Froome…

    http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/biking/Analysing-Froomes-Performance.html

    Nice article, thanks.

    Seems like a bit of blind them with science in there though, but that could just be my tiny brain cell working on overheat. Ten years after Ulrich, Froome beats his time by three seconds? I’d expect elite athletes to make those kind of gains in that time. The ‘fact’ he is two bars or whatever ahead of other riders/teams is not that illuminating, in the sense that team radio’s will broadcast positions and riders may turn off the gas once they have no chance of stage win. The Sky train is designed to ride at a pace to put the hurt on GC contenders, obviously, so that is why other teams may have faded away. Just trying to make a few counter points.

    From the article itself

    At this point, it’s important to stop and acknowledge some limitations. This analysis is based on just one climb. It is the shortest of the critical climbs in this year’s Tour de France and it came in the race’s first week, meaning riders were comparatively well-rested for the effort. The historical times only include two years of “new generation” data, and the DpVAM and Cycling Power Lab models have not yet been truly validated. Each method is derived from climbing times. Factors besides performance that affect time could have skewed the analysis although no such factors were evident in the remaining 2013 rider data.

  12. I choo choo choose to believe.

    Talking about bartape…Fingerbanger’s always, always look fucking terrible. I can’t figure out if he has them double wrapped always or what. Then the blue hoods. I grimace every time I see him/them.

    Calves. I’ve played sports my entire life. I’ve been cursed with skankles and the thinnest calves. PRO thighs, totally unPRO lower legs. The only thing I have going for me is that I broke my right tibia just above the ankle when I was 18 and the bone grew back thicker, so my right leg doesn’t look as fucking skinny.

    I wear tall socks on and off the bike, hoping to hide the skinny fuckers. The VMH hates them, but ankle socks only accentuate the tapering from Glorious (upper) Guns to Piti-ful lower pop guns.

    Okay, I was thinking about this last night. The Lil’ Prince. Was he ever a good bike rider? Or just a really enhanced bike rider? I know he won some big fucking races, but damn, he seems like pack fodder today. Washed up or ridin’ naturale? I can’t decide. Also, is his hair that color or does he frost it? Haussler or Cunego, who wins the fuckiest hair in the peloton?

  13. @meursault

    Seems like a bit of blind them with science in there though, but that could just be my tiny brain cell working on overheat. Ten years after Ulrich, Froome beats his time by three seconds? I’d expect elite athletes to make those kind of gains in that time. 

    I would too, except we don’t know from an analytical standpoint what percentage advantage they gained from doping; I think the standard expectation is that a clean rider should be riding well slower than the juiced riders from the last decade, despite that incremental improvement of the rider’s physiology.

    The best sign is Porte not being able to stitch two good days together, which feels very normal – compare that to 1989 when both LeMond and Fignon would have a great ride and then a medium or terrible ride the next day. That seems much more plausible than the Pharmstrong “no bad days” style of racing.

    Still, the numbers are very damning for Froome. Today was a good sign, however, with his team crumbling and him not being able to control things.

    We’ll see on Sunday, but I’ll also be curious to see analysis similar to the Outside article later this week and next as we hit the last stage of the race. The numbers should be going down as their hematocrits drop over the course of three weeks’ hard racing.

  14. @frank

    ‘dpVAM’, and others pertaining to stats based on 3rd (or 4th) party data, are absolutely riddled with unsurmountable methodological flaws.

    Most crucially, there are no individually timed climbs on the tour. All of their time points therefore are calculated from TV data, which is ridiculous. Is the feed live? Transmission delay? How exactly do you calculate the precise time they passed the sign / finish line, accounting for perspective loss? Granted, they’re not going to be minutes out, but as a cornerstone of their data it’s flaky to say the least.

    Then there are all the variables that you would expect to contribute to power output that are not mentioned as being calculation factors (cos it’s bloody impossible to know them):

    Physiological     – weight at time of climb (as opposed to stated weight)

    – HR or any physiological markers

    – body temperature

    Mechanical        – pedalling efficiency

    Environmental  – detailed weather conditions (head/tail/cross/no wind, on-the-road temperatures)

                                – road surface

                                – etc etc etc

    Bottom line – it’s borderline pseudo-science with good intentions but disastrous methodology. In no way comparable to having a gander at Froome’s SRM data. Even that is open to interpretation too though (proper calibration etc etc).

    FWIW all I go on is the consistency – and on that front Sky are convincing me that they are clean!

     

  15. This is one of the better written articles I’ve read in a while; and it captures my feelings about professional cycling. I’d much rather believe the sport has cleaned itself up and enjoy watching these competitions than write it off as hopelessly corrupt and get nothing from being a spectator.

  16. This has been a nice Tour to watch. Sky is a dominate team, but not without its flaws and gaps in the armour. I am a little surprised at the distance that Froome put between himself and the other top riders, but then I was more than pleasantly surprised by Saxo on yesterday’s stage. Pure awesome. And Belkan, great stuff.

    On the subject on hand, drag my carcass to within 200m of the line and I’ll take that palmere. I have 23+ inch calves…and yes they are real and they are spectacular! I think they weigh about 15kg each.

  17. @Frank tells me I have “nice” calfs. I think they’re a touch on the skinny side, but I suppose that goes along with the rest of me.

  18. @Steampunk

    BFGs here, too. My calves are about the size of a Schleck’s waist. Good for power, but that’s a fuckton (metric, that is) of extra weight going uphill.

    @TBONE Maybe this is a Vancouver thing?

    Must be. I’ll be sulking in the velodrome. I’m going to use my extra calf-centric weight as the reason I had such a whore of a time climbing the Duffy this weekend.

  19. @pakrat

    A few weeks back the wife noticed my calves twitching. I never noticed it before and I can’t feel it but when I cross one of my legs my calf looks like some parasitic worm is wrestling a badger in there. Freaks me out! Am I alone here?

    You need to eat more potassium. Potatoes, bananas, or maple syrup all come to mind. The way I had it explained to me is that your muscles aren’t firing properly due to a lack of potassium, hence the twitching.

  20. Benign fasciculation syndrome is what it’s called, and it’s likelier caused by insufficient magnesium combined with frequent strenuous exercise. Hit the leafy greens hard and you’ll top up both magnesium and potassium. My calves are adance with fasciculation after really hard rides sometimes.

  21. @starclimber TBONE, I get the mysterious calf twitching as well. Even sometimes a few hours after hard rides, my leg looks like there is an alien trying to come to the surface! I’ve been riding and racing for 23 years and this year is the first that I can rememeber this happening. Very odd. I do eat quite a bit of potassium. Have you tried yellow mustard for the Tumeric? I have been told that helps very much.

  22. @meursault

    @brett

    Interesting read on Froome…

    http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/biking/Analysing-Froomes-Performance.html

    Ten years after Ulrich, Froome beats his time by three seconds?

    It’s Ullrich, pleb. If you look closely in the comments you can see me chastising the ‘author’ of that article.

    @TNhills

    @starclimber TBONE, I get the mysterious calf twitching as well. Even sometimes a few hours after hard rides, my leg looks like there is an alien trying to come to the surface! I’ve been riding and racing for 23 years and this year is the first that I can rememeber this happening. Very odd. I do eat quite a bit of potassium. Have you tried yellow mustard for the Tumeric? I have been told that helps very much.

    I only eat grainy Dijon and the like on my sausages, much like Ullrich does. None of that yellow French’s business. In fact, I’ve rented a Porsche and am going to crash it this weekend after a night at the disco.

  23. @starclimber

    Benign fasciculation syndrome is what it’s called, and it’s likelier caused by insufficient magnesium combined with frequent strenuous exercise. Hit the leafy greens hard and you’ll top up both magnesium and potassium. My calves are adance with fasciculation after really hard rides sometimes.

    Excellent! I’ve been hitting the leafy greens harder than I care to admit, and haven’t had this happen in a while. Thanks for that link!

  24. @TBONE

    *ahem*

    Dijon, grainy or otherwise, is still French. It would be like not having French champagne.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=dijon+france&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x47f29d8ceffd9675:0x409ce34b31458d0,Dijon,+France&gl=us&ei=hrflUaWiG8XYyQHOx4GACQ&ved=0CMwBELYD

    @TNhills Welcome.

  25. Laurens Ten Dam – what calves?

    From here.

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