Pantani always moved Sur La Plaque. Photo via BikeRaceInfo.com

Look Pro: Éclatant de Panache

Look Pro: Éclatant de Panache

by / / 129 posts

The Prophet was very clear on how best to ride an individual Time Trial; start as fast as possible and finish as fast as possible. As for the middle, his advice was to ride that as fast as possible.

The same can be said of climbing; as we covered in Part I and Part II of the Sur La Plaque series, the key to climbing well is to hit the bottom as hard as possible, and then move into the big ring as you go over the top in order to finish the climb as fast as possible. As for the middle section; well, hit that as hard as possible and focus on keeping your momentum going.

The trouble is with this pesky notion we have of “gauging our efforts”. Certainly, the perfectly measured climb would result in riding the whole of it à bloc before moving Sur La Plaque over the top, blast down the other side and – just as you hit escape velocity – explode spectacularly, using your perfectly honed LeMond Tuck to recover in time to crush it in the valley to the next climb where you repeat the process. Panache.

Panache is a dualistic thing; almost without exception do we admire it in others, and almost without exception are we too cowardly to hold it inside ourselves. Panache doesn’t speak of caution, or of measured action. It speaks of impulse – compulsion, even – to attack despite one’s better judgement. It speaks of throwing caution to the wind. It weighs heavy with the risk of exploding magnificently and trading angel’s wings for the devil’s anchor.

But those who venture freely into that realm have blown up so many times that it hardly features in their reasoning. Pain and climbing are inseparable;  what difference does it make if you blow up and suffer a bit more for a bit longer? And, should we blow up often enough, we will learn how to suffer through and push to the top with grace. And perhaps by that same grace, will we recover enough to try again on the next climb.

Vive la chance. Vive le Grimpeur. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

Exhibit A: The master of Panache, Marco Pantani. And the master of blowing with grace, Richard Virenque. For a prime example of how to blow up properly, jump to 2:00.

// La Vie Velominatus // Look Pro // Technique // The Rules

  1. @Buck Rogers I love the smell of EPO on the Hautacam!

    That brings back happy memories, I cycled through Lourdes and up the Hautacam on the way to the Tourmalet in the summer. Lourdes hasn’t changed a bit.

    Brings it home how fast these guys are, juiced or not, when you see them storm up a road that you communed with butterflies on.

    Pantani looked like fucking Golum, big ears and wispy hair, hunched over his bars.

  2. @Dan_R

    Carbone.

  3. @Dan_R

    Those wheels looks amazing…

    -Dinan

  4. Thanks. They’ll either be the awesomest wheels ever or die on the hallowed grounds, a right and proper death!

    I am almost as excited as if I were going myself.

  5. Doped up to their eyeballs. If they’d had drugs to raise the level of their eyeballs they’d have taken those as well!

  6. @Buck Rogers

    Hautacam and EPO are pretty firmly linked in my mind.  The climb where “miracles” happen I have seen it referred to.

  7. @Chris

    @Buck Rogers I love the smell of EPO on the Hautacam!

    That brings back happy memories, I cycled through Lourdes and up the Hautacam on the way to the Tourmalet in the summer. Lourdes hasn’t changed a bit.

    Brings it home how fast these guys are, juiced or not, when you see them storm up a road that you communed with butterflies on.

    Pantani looked like fucking Golum, big ears and wispy hair, hunched over his bars.

    Yeah, their average speed for the stage was somewhere in the 30-something kph’s if I remember correctly.  Un-frick’en-believable.

    Still a great stage to watch while on the trainer. 

    And got to love your opening quote.  I alway love an excuse to throw this clip in:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPXVGQnJm0w

  8. @Buck Rogers

    Was watching the 1994 tdf Stage 11Hautacam video on youtube last night on my first ride back in four months (YES!) and was surprised to see Pantani in there.

    While I love Il Pirata he sure was not a man of style in ’94. Anyone going bald would do well to watch this video and realize that it is much better to just shave all of your head. Almost did not recognize him.

    And Big Mig steam-EPO-rolling is amazing to watch as he just reels them all in time and again and Millar’s late rocket attack which is bundled up. Good history right there!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SESSSpBUz1o

    So much for limiting losses in the mountains, more like blowing apart the climbers in the mountains.

  9. @Buck Rogers Ridiculously quick. My average speed the day I ventured into the mountains was a shade under 24kph but that was greatly helped by a pan flat run into the mountains and out again afterwards.

    You don’t want to know what my average speed going up those climbs was (they’re still pretty rubbish when you include descending in the average). Back then they didn’t even seem to slow down when the hit the Alps or the Pyreneese.

    Love the Kilgore clip.

  10. The insanity of the speed on that climb is, well…insane.

    The right vid to watch while on the turbo trainer!

  11. @Dan_R

    It is a very Café Roubaix day today (yet more snow) so the studio is a little slow. I am finishing up the front wheel for a set of Rule IX wheels for the KT13 gang to try out on the cobbles.

    Oh sweet baby Merckx, that is just a little too much for my brain to process.

  12. @Dinan

    @Dan_R

    Those wheels looks amazing…

    -Dinan

    You’re a level 2 and still, you sign off with your name. I’m trying to teach some of these savages some class – no emoticons, drink ale from a glass always, that sort of thing – and here you are signing off on every post. I love it. Strong work. You take civility to a new level.

  13. @Buck Rogers

    Yeah, their average speed for the stage was somewhere in the 30-something kph’s if I remember correctly. Un-frick’en-believable.

    I hate to say this but here are my stats on average speeds over the Pyreneese. I blame Indurain more than LeMond, for the record.

    • 1985 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 25kph.
    • 1987 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 26kph.
    • 1990 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 39kph.
    • 2003 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 41kph.

    Sorry, but that jump in Avg speed is more than just training and equipment.

  14. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Yeah, their average speed for the stage was somewhere in the 30-something kph’s if I remember correctly. Un-frick’en-believable.

    I hate to say this but here are my stats on average speeds over the Pyreneese. I blame Indurain more than LeMond, for the record.

    • 1985 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 25kph.
    • 1987 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 26kph.
    • 1990 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 39kph.
    • 2003 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 41kph.

    Sorry, but that jump in Avg speed is more than just training and equipment.

    Agreed but not in the way I think you mean – are you sure there’s not something different in the route or another variable for that much of a change.

  15. @ChrisO

    @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Yeah, their average speed for the stage was somewhere in the 30-something kph’s if I remember correctly. Un-frick’en-believable.

    I hate to say this but here are my stats on average speeds over the Pyreneese. I blame Indurain more than LeMond, for the record.

    • 1985 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 25kph.
    • 1987 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 26kph.
    • 1990 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 39kph.
    • 2003 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 41kph.

    Sorry, but that jump in Avg speed is more than just training and equipment.

    Agreed but not in the way I think you mean – are you sure there’s not something different in the route or another variable for that much of a change.

    Surely an obsessive like @frank is familiar with his own oxygen vector enhancement regimen?

  16. Slightly off-topic, but in terms of losing with panache, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Steve Bauer last week. Trying to conceal my fanboy status, I tried to (coolly) tell him that his 1984 Olympic ride had inspired me to take a stronger interest in cycling. “What?” He said: “even though I lost?” Which made me feel like a tool. And discouraged me from mentioning Paris-Roubaix 1990.

  17. @Steampunk

    Slightly off-topic, but in terms of losing with panache, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Steve Bauer last week. Trying to conceal my fanboy status, I tried to (coolly) tell him that his 1984 Olympic ride had inspired me to take a stronger interest in cycling. “What?” He said: “even though I lost?” Which made me feel like a tool. And discouraged me from mentioning Paris-Roubaix 1990.

    So I take it you did not bring up the ’88 Worlds as well and invite him over for a drink as Criquielion was staying over, eh?

  18. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Yeah, their average speed for the stage was somewhere in the 30-something kph’s if I remember correctly. Un-frick’en-believable.

    I hate to say this but here are my stats on average speeds over the Pyreneese. I blame Indurain more than LeMond, for the record.

    • 1985 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 25kph.
    • 1987 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 26kph.
    • 1990 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 39kph.
    • 2003 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 41kph.

    Sorry, but that jump in Avg speed is more than just training and equipment.

    That data is amazing and so damning but it sure as hell made for a fun ride watching, eh?

  19. @frank

    @scaler911

    Here’s another one. Tonkov was such a hard bastard, too. I love how long it takes Pantani to break him. And then, when he finally pops, its lights out.

    Oh man, excruciating to watch.  If you have raced, and I know that you have Frahnk, then you know just how painful it is to be on the rivet and then to completely blow.  At least I do.  After trying to hang on, praying to the Gods for a slack in the pace, feeling them slowly pull away, pushing back to them again and again, trying to hang on by your teeth and then, all of a sudden, BANG, lights out and they’re gone.  Such a completely morally soul crushing moment.  I can remember even trying to throw my elbows forward more when climbing to try to stick to the front group and not making it.  You can almost see Tonkov trying to do that around the 40 to 50 second mark.  True study in pain and breakage right there.  Awesome clip.

  20. @frank

    @Dinan

    @Dan_R

    Those wheels looks amazing…

    -Dinan

    You’re a level 2 and still, you sign off with your name. I’m trying to teach some of these savages some class – no emoticons, drink ale from a glass always, that sort of thing – and here you are signing off on every post. I love it. Strong work. You take civility to a new level.

    I think civility and good manners are often lost in the daily bullshit. I try really hard to use proper manners (please, thank you, hold doors open, let other cars merge, etc.) when I can. I’m not always perfect but I try. This is something we are trying to pass along to our daughter as well. So far, so good.

    Thank you for the post, frank.

    (insert smiley face emoticon with beer can here)

    -Dinan

  21. @frank

    @Buck Rogers

    Yeah, their average speed for the stage was somewhere in the 30-something kph’s if I remember correctly. Un-frick’en-believable.

    I hate to say this but here are my stats on average speeds over the Pyreneese. I blame Indurain more than LeMond, for the record.

    • 1985 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 25kph.
    • 1987 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 26kph.
    • 1990 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 39kph.
    • 2003 – Aspin, Tourmalet, Luz-Ardiden: 41kph.

    Sorry, but that jump in Avg speed is more than just training and equipment.

    Interesting the jump in performance from ’87-’90… big step change there.  Was that when EPO became so popular?

    On a related note, I just finished reading Chris Carmichael’s latest edition of the Time Crunched Cyclist.  Some good stuff in there, but he uses Lance as an example so much that the whole book just fell flat for me- probably not worth the $10.

  22. @Anjin-san

    Interesting the jump in performance from ’87-’90… big step change there. Was that when EPO became so popular?

     

    ahhh, that would be, YES.

  23. @Steampunk

    Slightly off-topic, but in terms of losing with panache, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Steve Bauer last week. Trying to conceal my fanboy status, I tried to (coolly) tell him that his 1984 Olympic ride had inspired me to take a stronger interest in cycling. “What?” He said: “even though I lost?” Which made me feel like a tool. And discouraged me from mentioning Paris-Roubaix 1990.

      shouldn’t feel like a tool,that 84 road race is what gave me the confidence to try racing. even though it was still pretty intimidating going out to the first race,now i think about it. do you remember the first time you shaved the guns,or the first time put on a pair of cycling shorts and actualy went outside,lol. but back to your topic steve was/is a “hero” and one of the few along with stieda,brian walton,hampsten and lemond who didn’t dope. i would be a fanboy myself if i ever met him,so lets hope spidertech comes back next year, i even bought a spidertech jersey as christmas present for myself and the last team jersey i bought was la vie claire,haha. at least you got to meet him,cheers.

  24. @Steampunk

    Slightly off-topic, but in terms of losing with panache, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Steve Bauer last week. Trying to conceal my fanboy status, I tried to (coolly) tell him that his 1984 Olympic ride had inspired me to take a stronger interest in cycling. “What?” He said: “even though I lost?” Which made me feel like a tool. And discouraged me from mentioning Paris-Roubaix 1990.

    You can learn just as much (or more) and be just as inspired by people who “lose”, just the same as people who “win”.

  25. WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for co parenting after divorce colorado

Leave a Reply