Moser: All legs, no body. Photo by Photosport Int

Look Pro: Stay Still

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“It’s Francesco Moser, with his distinctive style, his still, aerodynamic position on the bicycle is an imposing sight of almost effortless rotary action.”

Whoever the narrator in A Sunday In Hell is*, he got that little nugget spot on. If you want to know how to pedal a bicycle, you can do no better than to study Lo Sceriffo. All legs, no body.

Movement, that is. Cycling is a leg sport, which is why most proper Cyclists (i.e not us) possess upper bodies that are required to serve little more purpose than to lift a fork with a couple of strands of spaghetti on for a few dozen reps, a couple sets a day. Not that they are weak, (and guys like Moser certainly couldn’t be described as weedy) but any unwanted motion is considered wasted energy that could be channeled straight to the pistons rather than used for waving one’s head around outside the sunroof.

There’s no need to break down this most obvious of techniques into bullet points, it’s elementary: just move the legs, keep everything else still**. Class begins at 1:12:30.

*Turns out he’s David Saunders, and you can find out about him here…

**Don’t even try to emulate that back flatness. We take no responsibility nor compensate for damages.

// Anatomy of a Photo // Awesome Italian Guys // Look Pro // Technique

  1. No doubt Moser look the Bizness on the bike. But, as a counterpoint, didn’t LeMan move around a bunch? Two ways to skin a cat maybe?

    Wow, Dwars VV on right now, GREAT Belgian racing conditions, dudes sliding out on narrow corners, motos going down, Bel-fosi pulling bikes off the course…

  2. Upper body stillness is one of the surest signs of a proper cyclist. You don’t need it to have a proper spin, but it sure highlights it and makes you stand out.

    @Ron yep LaMan moved a lot on climbs, mostly ’cause he was too busy crushing souls in a monster gear to really care. They had less gears then anyway.

  3. Ccos – I forgot to factor in the Soul Crushing quotient. Good point!

    Regarding gears – my riding pal has both DA 11-s and Super Record 11-s equipped bikes. He just pulled down his mid-80s Pinarello and gotten it up and running. It’s a 6-s and he said it’s like he’s riding a fixed-gear.

  4. Damn, what a photo of Moser. Baddest looking cyclist ever? Discuss.

    Besides his awesome position, his freewheel must be a 11-15. I can barely see any cogs. Or maybe it’s a 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13. So after he wears one 13 out he can use another.

  5. @Gianni

    Damn, what a photo of Moser. Baddest looking cyclist ever? Discuss.

    Besides his awesome position, his freewheel must be a 11-15. I can barely see any cogs. Or maybe it’s a 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13. So after he wears one 13 out he can use another.

    Ha! Awesome!

  6. @Gianni

    Damn, what a photo of Moser. Baddest looking cyclist ever? Discuss.

    Besides his awesome position, his freewheel must be a 11-15. I can barely see any cogs. Or maybe it’s a 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13. So after he wears one 13 out he can use another.

    And the Tricolore just makes him look even baddasser…

  7. @brett

    Plus, nothing is more pro than riding a bike with your own name on the downtube. See also Eddy Merckx.

  8. @Gianni

    Damn, what a photo of Moser. Baddest looking cyclist ever? Discuss.

    Besides his awesome position, his freewheel must be a 11-15. I can barely see any cogs. Or maybe it’s a 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13. So after he wears one 13 out he can use another.

    Indeed! Moser personifies pro there. The Italian champs jersey, own brand of bike. I think it’s 81 or 82 (He was Italian champ 3 times: 75, 79 and 81) Rode chis entire career in superbly designed jerseys. His Giro win in 84 against Fignon was a wee bit dopdgy though . . .

    Here’s the mystery though. His shorts say Campagnolo, but that rear derailleur sure doesn’t look like it. I seem to remember he started using Shimano Dura Ace at one point and in Italy, that was considered sacriligious!

  9. @Ccos

    Upper body stillness is one of the surest signs of a proper cyclist. You don’t need it to have a proper spin, but it sure highlights it and makes you stand out.

    @Ron yep LaMan moved a lot on climbs, mostly ’cause he was too busy crushing souls in a monster gear to really care. They had less gears then anyway.

    Another rider who moved a lot was Merckx. And it seems many many more move on climbs or when crushing fools on account of all the counter-balancing the arms have to do when stomping the pedals. Which is why its so amazing when you see someone who can crush it while sitting still; it is a sign of a very Magnificent Stroke that it is already balancing itself out without the aide of the arms.

  10. @Gianni

    Damn, what a photo of Moser. Baddest looking cyclist ever? Discuss.

    Besides his awesome position, his freewheel must be a 11-15. I can barely see any cogs. Or maybe it’s a 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13. So after he wears one 13 out he can use another.

  11. Stud.

  12. @frank

    A short time after that picture was taken the young ladies in the background found out they were pregnant.

  13. Even at 42 he could still ride pretty well.

    Gianni Bugno is the other guy who was always super still.

  14. Still looked pretty sharp when he jumped in a local NYC race at 61…

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/gallery-francesco-moser-jumps-in-new-york-race

  15. Not only is Lo Sceriffo looking badass ,as to is that Steel Moser in all its glory flying over the tarmac. Walk into your LBS see something like that and suddenly there,s not another bike in the shop worth looking at .

  16. @frank

    @Ccos

    Upper body stillness is one of the surest signs of a proper cyclist. You don’t need it to have a proper spin, but it sure highlights it and makes you stand out.

    @Ron yep LaMan moved a lot on climbs, mostly ’cause he was too busy crushing souls in a monster gear to really care. They had less gears then anyway.

    Another rider who moved a lot was Merckx. And it seems many many more move on climbs or when crushing fools on account of all the counter-balancing the arms have to do when stomping the pedals. Which is why its so amazing when you see someone who can crush it while sitting still; it is a sign of a very Magnificent Stroke that it is already balancing itself out without the aide of the arms.

    Here’s Wiggo giving a free lesson up Diablo last year.

    https://youtu.be/rOkUgA4v2Vs?t=1h17m24s

  17. Another example of Magnificent Stroke was Stephen Roche….super…super smooth style….

  18. @Haldy

    And I note he is one of the riders to resist clipless pedals. Maybe there is a relationship there?

  19. @frank

    @Haldy

    And I note he is one of the riders to resist clipless pedals. Maybe there is a relationship there?

    Having switched from clips and straps to Speedplay pedals on my track bike just two years ago, I’d love to claim to have the smoothness that both Roche and Moser have. Sadly this is probably not the case. I think the fact that Roche is still in clips in this pic is the fact that in ’87 clipless pedals were still just starting to get a foothold in the peloton. If you look at photos/video from that Tour the peloton is split as far as pedal usage goes. It looks like Carrera, Kas, Fagor, and BH are all still rocking clips and straps. And that’s just what I see from browsing a few pics.

  20. @The Grande Fondue

    Even at 42 he could still ride pretty well.

    Gianni Bugno is the other guy who was always super still.

    Rudy Dhaenens. Couldn’t find the video to prove it but the memory is indelible.

  21. That’s actually the first time I’ve seen more than about a two minute clip from “A Sunday In Hell’ – muchas gracias for the upload. Really striking to the see the number of Grand Tour contenders mixing it up with the favourites, especially guys like Poulidor, Zoetemelk and Thevenet who were less suited to the cobbled classics.

  22. @Mikael Liddy

    @frank

    @Ccos

    Upper body stillness is one of the surest signs of a proper cyclist. You don’t need it to have a proper spin, but it sure highlights it and makes you stand out.

    @Ron yep LaMan moved a lot on climbs, mostly ’cause he was too busy crushing souls in a monster gear to really care. They had less gears then anyway.

    Another rider who moved a lot was Merckx. And it seems many many more move on climbs or when crushing fools on account of all the counter-balancing the arms have to do when stomping the pedals. Which is why its so amazing when you see someone who can crush it while sitting still; it is a sign of a very Magnificent Stroke that it is already balancing itself out without the aide of the arms.

    Here’s Wiggo giving a free lesson up Diablo last year.

    https://youtu.be/rOkUgA4v2Vs?t=1h17m24s

    Likewise when he won the 2012 Olympic time-trial, I don’t think his upper body moved at all through out the entire distance. Try and do it yourself, even on a trainer, for 5 minutes and you realise just how fit he is.

  23. I do aspire to that sort of upper body stillness and smoothness. But I also think that the outright power that Merckx shows smashing away at the pedals is impressive.

  24. Let’s not forget Jacques Anquetil.

  25. Forgot the Anquetil pic.

  26. There’s a guy on our club rides like that,absolutely as still as a very still thing while crushing most of us(usually on a single-speed bike as well);he was a veteran grass-track world cup champion though,

    World Cup Cycling Champion Alan Newark (1946 -)
    The Ely Standard of May 1991 has the following account; “Veteran cyclist Alan Newark became World Cup champion when he beat such cycling luminaries as Beryl Burton and Graham Webb in Derbyshire on Saturday. Newark, of Ely Cycling Club, was taking part in the inaugural Veterans World Cup at Matlock, which attracted a field of 300 over 35s, including the two former world champions and a string of continental stars….The legendary Burton for example once held a world record that was faster than the equivalent men’s best time. So the in-form Newark was delighted to finish second overall to win the 40-45 age group in 50 mins 35 secs, just 23 seconds behind the winner, 35 year old Dutchman HennieKemkers.”

  27. Firstly as a Virgin Velominatus I’v gotta tip my hat to @Frank and the Keepers, this is on hell of a site. Thanks to these guys for leading me here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSFYRiqodvU (skip to 36:07)

    As far as body stillness goes, this winter’s self-inflicted turbo torture has helped me no end, getting a better posture/stronger core from not having the wind pushing me skyward.

    Still a farmer’s kilometer from Lo scheriffo though!

  28. @osbk67

    @The Grande Fondue

    Even at 42 he could still ride pretty well.

    Gianni Bugno is the other guy who was always super still.

    Rudy Dhaenens. Couldn’t find the video to prove it but the memory is indelible.

    Bugno sat so still it almost looked forced. Same with Tony Rominger.

    Rudy was a very under-rated rider and beautiful on the bike. His crash when he rolled tire while in the lead in the TDF was sadly his most memorable moment.

  29. @brett

    @Gianni

    Damn, what a photo of Moser. Baddest looking cyclist ever? Discuss.

    Besides his awesome position, his freewheel must be a 11-15. I can barely see any cogs. Or maybe it’s a 11, 11, 12, 12, 13, 13. So after he wears one 13 out he can use another.

    And the Tricolore just makes him look even baddasser…

    My Sunday riding pal just got a Colnago C60 in matte black. Even though it says Colnago on the DT in white, all I see when I look at the bike is the Tricolore on the ST. A damn fine bike, makes me wish I rode a 56 so I could jump on some of his classy bikes.

  30. It is allmos hypnotic to watch those pros spinning the legs and the rest of the body is still.

    To me it is clear that you need at least some style on the bike to be a winner. The guys that looks like a walking duck on the bike rarely win any races.

  31. @fenlander

    Which club is that then?

  32. Did someone say smooth? Hypnotic?

    The only thing moving is his hair…

  33. …and considering the cadence he’s holding behind the moto…

    I’m just not worthy.

  34. @Mikael Liddy

    Still looked pretty sharp when he jumped in a local NYC race at 61…

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/gallery-francesco-moser-jumps-in-new-york-race

    So fucking awesome!

  35. @sowtondevil

    Sounds like Ely and District Cycling Club

    Are you from the fens as well?

  36. @MangoDave

    Agree

  37. @Mikael Liddy

    @frank

    @Ccos

    Upper body stillness is one of the surest signs of a proper cyclist. You don’t need it to have a proper spin, but it sure highlights it and makes you stand out.

    @Ron yep LaMan moved a lot on climbs, mostly ’cause he was too busy crushing souls in a monster gear to really care. They had less gears then anyway.

    Another rider who moved a lot was Merckx. And it seems many many more move on climbs or when crushing fools on account of all the counter-balancing the arms have to do when stomping the pedals. Which is why its so amazing when you see someone who can crush it while sitting still; it is a sign of a very Magnificent Stroke that it is already balancing itself out without the aide of the arms.

    Here’s Wiggo giving a free lesson up Diablo last year.

    https://youtu.be/rOkUgA4v2Vs?t=1h17m24s

    So far beyond causally deliberate yes? Wiggo… would love to see him crush a race this spring.

  38. @wilburrox

    watching that was the moment I started to come around to Wiggo (and tbh, I only ever was off him due to Cuddles worship). I could watch that climb all day long.

  39. @sowtondevil

    Ely and District CC.

  40. @Chris

    Yep,live in Ely and regularly go out on the Saturday rides;not succombed to TT’s yet though.

    Where are you based?

  41. @wiscot

    Yep, you have to be extra special to ride your own brand while still neck deep in the pro game!

  42. Some say… That DM knew a little about pedalling and position

  43. Seems like all these guys with smooth form are riding steel frames. Maybe it’s a necessity to maintain efficiency on a flexy frame.

  44. @Rom

    Seems like all these guys with smooth form are riding steel frames. Maybe it’s a necessity to maintain efficiency on a flexy frame.

    I’d suggest it may have more to do with clipless pedals. You need to be smooth with clipless otherwise you are wasting energy with your foot having more freedom of movement than with clips.

  45. @Teocalli

    @Rom

    Seems like all these guys with smooth form are riding steel frames. Maybe it’s a necessity to maintain efficiency on a flexy frame.

    I’d suggest it may have more to do with clipless pedals. You need to be smooth with clipless otherwise you are wasting energy with your foot having more freedom of movement than with clips.

    I think you’ve got it ass about. They rode with toe clips and straps. We ride (toe) clip less. There’s not much give with an old style cleat and a tight strap.

  46. @Rom

    @Teocalli

    @Rom

    Seems like all these guys with smooth form are riding steel frames. Maybe it’s a necessity to maintain efficiency on a flexy frame.

    I’d suggest it may have more to do with clipless pedals. You need to be smooth with clipless otherwise you are wasting energy with your foot having more freedom of movement than with clips.

    I think you’ve got it ass about. They rode with toe clips and straps. We ride (toe) clip less. There’s not much give with an old style cleat and a tight strap.

    Yeah too many long nights at work. Brain is going.

  47. @fenlander

    I’m over in Wistow, in between Warboys and Ramsey. It’s not quite the fens but not far off although I tend to head west rather than east.

    I’m a member of St Ives but the kid’s sporting activities generally gets in the way of club runs.

  48. @rom Or maybe it’s from the zen of steel? The result of being old school? I wish it would hold up but too many current riders have already been lifted up as examples…

  49. @Chris

    We sometimes head out St Ives way on Sat runs(with a stop at the river tea rooms);regularly see St Ives bods round and about.

  50. Just saw this now, funny because I watched A Sunday in Hell to get amped before watching the 113th edition on Sunday, and that line definitely stood out to me. It was a super interesting race, and Moser has an undeniable “panache”.

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