Having Good Legs

Having Good Legs

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One great mystery remains in this cycling world. I’ve been a cyclist for over thirty years and I still can’t buy a clue. Remember those rides where very early on, as you roll out of a parking lot, or just away from your house, you notice you have good legs. You need verification and after a proper warm up the feeling is still there, to quote Ryder Hesjedal, “the legs are mint”. And by saying good legs I mean untouchable, inexhaustible, Le Blaireau legs. Legs you can use with extreme prejudice on your friends and enemies all day long. I can count on one hand the number of times that has happened in thirty years. Don’t tell your friends, it’s like having four aces in your hand, keep your mouth shut and let it all play out. On your next group ride, regard everyone’s faces as you let them ride through. Does anyone have good legs? Look for the rider who is quietly sitting in the paceline with a confident telling smirk on his or her face. George Hincapie recalled it as if pedaling with no chain. It’s some magic elusive mojo.

As a cyclists your legs are your tools, your currency. Professional cyclists talk about their legs as if they were not their own. They have legs hung up in a garage, many sets, most of them bad, some OK and only one pair that are good. Unfortunately which set gets installed on any given day is a mystery to everyone. Science has not solved this one or if they have they are sitting on it, maybe Contador has solved it. The more you ride the better your chances are of having good legs. But the amount of recovery riding, rest and diet all go into a formula so complex it has yet to be solved. I used to pay a lot of attention to my abstemious Saturday nights, hoping that the proper dinner and no drinking would bring on a good Sunday ride. Of course my friends were actually drinking beers, having fun and still riding fine the next day. I guess Anquetil had it right, steak tartare washed down with beers works just fine.

When professionals are riding that wave of good form (think Philip Gilbert, the 2011 version) do they have killer legs every day or can they just always summon the strength to crush? I think having good form means all your physical systems are honed up to the highest possible efficiency. Having good legs is more mysterious. It’s an unexpected event, the result of still unknown forces in the body. What happens on the morning of the Worlds Road Race when you get the message from the engine room that you have the good legs installed, what then? It must be every cyclists dream to have those magical good legs on such a day. It must feed into a confidence loop, thinking you have great legs removes the usual doubts, gives one the confidence to try things one might not otherwise dare. I’m bridging up to the front and then I’m going to ride away. I’ve got good legs.

// Technique

  1. @versio well just referrring to the picture on the post (posted by Dacordi Rider) :)

  2. @Richard Hale

    @versio well just referrring to the picture on the post (posted by Dacordi Rider) :)

    Ohh… now I see. Yes. Hmm…

  3.  

    @Gianni

    @ErikdR

     

     Maybe I should try steak tonight, my wife is away, she will never read this.

    Is your VMH a strict vegetarian, by any chance? Or is she just opposed to you imbibing the forbidden fruit of Clenbuterol? On another note: I can imagine a nice discussion being held about the pro’s and cons of a largely vegetarian diet, as opposed to an animal-protein-based one – and whether eating veg can be combined at all with cycling. But that would have to be another post at some poiint, I reckon.

     

  4. @versio

    @Richard Hale

    Actually.. guys.. I hate to bring it up but rules not observed..

    #8, #14, #17, #28, #29, and therefore #1.

    Come on.. you can do better than that ..

    More specifically… when? where?

    My eyesight doesn’t confirm or deny anything on #8; #14 – well @Daccordi Rider is wearing club/team kit and we need a ruling – but I think you have to wear the team kit (I mean not all Astana riders really want to look like that); #17 I’m not Australian but they look like club kits to me and therefore must be OK as long as they’re being worn by club members; there may be a #27 breach on the second rider who appears to be straying in to female tennis player territory but I don’t see a #28 violation. You have however got @Daccordi Rider bang to rights with a Rule #29 EPMS violation – but as he was laying down The V at the moment the picture was taken and went on to win he probably gets a bye on that.

    So, in my opinion, close to perfect Rule #1 compliance.

  5. @the Engine

    @versio

    @Richard Hale

    Actually.. guys.. I hate to bring it up but rules not observed..

    #8, #14, #17, #28, #29, and therefore #1.

    Come on.. you can do better than that ..

    More specifically… when? where?

    My eyesight doesn’t confirm or deny anything on #8; #14 – well @Daccordi Rider is wearing club/team kit and we need a ruling – but I think you have to wear the team kit (I mean not all Astana riders really want to look like that); #17 I’m not Australian but they look like club kits to me and therefore must be OK as long as they’re being worn by club members; there may be a #27 breach on the second rider who appears to be straying in to female tennis player territory but I don’t see a #28 violation. You have however got @Daccordi Rider bang to rights with a Rule #29 EPMS violation – but as he was laying down The V at the moment the picture was taken and went on to win he probably gets a bye on that.

    So, in my opinion, close to perfect Rule #1 compliance.

    Did not really scrutinize the photo other than one rider truly has slammed his stem setup.

  6. I understand about having legs.. or not.  My first commute to work took 70 minutes.  The 2nd a week later was 59:15 so I blamed the first one on a headwind.  I admit I’m a fair weather rider and while I’ve done my share of puddle pushing, I really don’t like rain.  8 commutes and many weeks later my time is down to 56:50 and I’m aiming for a 50 min morning ride to work.  If I can’t get it by the end of Sept riding my mountain bike with doggy trailer behind (trailer is 20 lbs, dog is 45 lbs), then I’ll leave the dog and trailer at home, take my old trusty Cannondale (35 years old), and will certainly meet or break the 50 min goal.  It’s the last hill… 5 km at 12% grade where I really need good legs and where I’ll make the time.

  7. @ErikdR

    Let me just say there is not a lot of red meat being eaten in this happy home. Yeah, my VMH is some sort of vegetarian, but fish and dairy are consumed with vigor! I’m always curious about my diet and performance and frankly I don’t think it matters much. Even if one was a strict vegan, no dairy, no eggs I think you could be an ass kicking cyclists. It’s a topic we haven’t really addressed here. The New York Times did have a good article addressing that recently, I’ll see if I can find the link. Here.

  8. @xcountrypearl  You have quite a training method going. Dragging a trailer and dog up a 12% grade will make you strong like bull. I think you are sub 50 minutes already when you switch to road bike and some pumped up tires. Shouldn’t dog be helping here somehow? At least getting out for the hill and happily out-running you up it?

  9. @Gianni Very nice article – thank you! I liked that there was actually a mention of vegetarian junk food in there…My wife and I are not strictly vegetarians, but our meat intake has been reduced drastically over the past 3-4 years. Eggs and fish are consumed in abundance, though – and I have some nice – mostly Indonesian inspired – recipes for very rich vegetarian dishes, that could almost be called ‘veg junk’ (or at least, they can be classified as ‘heavy food': lots of coconut milk, peanut butter and so on…) OK – signing off for the day: it’s late evening here. Time for one dark Czech beer, then lots of zzzz’s

     

  10. This is totally off topic, but I do want to know where my hover-board is……

    For those of you scratching your heads, this is the dashboard from Dr. Brown’s DeLorean in Back to the Future part 1. Today is the day in the future he went to.

  11. @scaler911 I’m pretty sure this is a photochop – wasn’t it 2015 in the movie?

  12. @Oli

    @scaler911 I’m pretty sure this is a photochop – wasn’t it 2015 in the movie?

    You’re right. Again. Fuck Al Gore and his inter webs………

  13. @Richard Hale

    Actually.. guys.. I hate to bring it up but rules not observed..

    #8, #14, #17, #28, #29, and therefore #1.

    Come on.. you can do better than that ..

    I guess I have right of reply..

    Rule #8 – Ok not bang on but I believe the set up is finely thought out and works asthetically.

    Red highlights on frame to suit bar tape, Tyre highlight colour, SL’s with red hub and blade, shoes with red highlights.

    Black frame and seat post goes with black saddle. Red or white saddle would look a bit off.

    White lettering goes with cables and shoes.

    Rule #14 – My LBS team kit and I am a functioning member of said team.

    Rule #28 – Can’t see where I am going wrong there.

    Rule #29 – Guilty as charged. I hate having shit in my pocket. I’m likely to ride out the door and forget a tube or somesuch. Interesting to front up to a race where not many know you with a Rule #29 violation. The more pro tend to  take you as a noob, until you hit them with a bit of Rule V on the first climb.

    Hard to spot the Rule #9 in that photo but it rained a fair bit and wet, technical decents meant I also had to Decend like a Pro to widen my advantage.

     

     

     

  14. @Daccordi Rider I think the Rule #28 issue was in regards to length as they are bordering on ‘Female Tennis Player’ dimensions.

  15. @Mikael Liddy

    Ah. I see, but perhaps not quite, the ankle is covered. My wife bought the socks so I am obliged to wear them.

    When are you coming out racing with us old farts? 35 and you qualify!

  16. @Daccordi Rider I’m a good 6 years away from getting my arse handed to me competitively if that’s the minimum! Where was the photo?

  17. @Mikael Liddy

    Swamp Rd, just off Greenhill Rd before Balhannah.

    Open racing for you then with the other youngsters.

  18. @Gianni

    @ErikdR

    Let me just say there is not a lot of red meat being eaten in this happy home. Yeah, my VMH is some sort of vegetarian, but fish and dairy are consumed with vigor! I’m always curious about my diet and performance and frankly I don’t think it matters much. Even if one was a strict vegan, no dairy, no eggs I think you could be an ass kicking cyclists. It’s a topic we haven’t really addressed here. The New York Times did have a good article addressing that recently, I’ll see if I can find the link. Here.

    It’s quite possible to combine vegetarian diets with athletic performance. My entire family is vegetarian, and none of us are having problems. After 15 years of vegetarianism (out of 21 total years on this planet), all my blood-tests show balanced levels in all metrics, and it doesn’t stop me from 40km TTs around the 1’05 mark, or 10km runs at sub-40min pace. Not elite, by any means, but quite satisfactory for someone who’s only gotten off the couch last June.

  19. @Daccordi Rider

    @Mikael Liddy

    Swamp Rd, just off Greenhill Rd before Balhannah.

    Yup, think I know it. That rise before you drop down in to Balhannah?

    You heard about this delightful serve of V & VV coming up on the 1st of September?

    http://www.adelaidecyclists.com/group/adelaide-dirty-dozen

     

  20. This guy had Good Leggs more than his fair share. What a stud. I fucking love this guy.

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/06/news/voigt-will-let-the-cobwebs-grow-on-his-bike-after-retirement_226360

  21. @Mikael Liddy

    That’s the road.

    I have seen mention of the Dirty Dozen. I’m going to print the route off and ride it. Looks like a challenge! Compact territory!!

  22. @Daccordi Rider yup, reckon I’ll break up the route over the next month for some recon rides then give it the beans on Sept 1st.

  23. @frank

    This guy had Good Leggs more than his fair share. What a stud. I fucking love this guy. http://velonews.competitor.com/2012/06/news/voigt-will-let-the-cobwebs-grow-on-his-bike-after-retirement_226360

    He funny boy. Man it must be fun to be on his team and hang out mit Jensy.

  24. I found a pair of good legs just the other day, rode them hard for three hours and never felt like i was working, should have gone longer as I don’t remember where I put them and will probably not be able to find them on a day when it really matters.

  25. I realize this post is over two years old, but I figure it’s so good it deserves a biannual bump. Besides, I’m new here, so it’s new to me.

    The good legs made it out on my ride yesterday. Better than I knew I had actually, so I did the responsible thing and burned ‘em. Today, they feel like used legs. On my ride this afternoon I’ll make every effort to duplicate yesterday’s success, and I’ll probably not be successful.

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