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

Look Pro: Éclatant de Panache

Look Pro: Éclatant de Panache

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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. @mcsqueak

    @paolo

    A Belgian midget?

    Tossing midgets used to be a sport, now I believe its a sex offence!    Good one squeekers.  If you want to watch a great movie about Belgium and midgets see In Bruges.    It’s a cracker…as Colin Farrel would say.

  2. @frank FFS! Elite athletes? I’ve never timed getting my shoes on, but I’m pretty sure I could do it from scratch faster than that dicking around with them already on the pedals. Not to mention I’d have my shoes on and would be able to look where I;m going.

  3. http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/article/retro-pro-bike-marco-pantanis-1998-bianchi-mega-pro-xl-24877/

    I enjoyed looking into the details Pantani’s bike, especially his measurements. Note on the discussion of cranksets Pantani rode a 54/44!

  4. @frank

    @ChrisO

    I had an interesting insight into the Lance-lovers at the Abu Dhabi Triathlon recently. I was helping as a volunteer and for a part of the day was on the bike checkout as people collected their bikes after the race.

    I was hoping that by “volunteering” you were standing around alternating between prohibiting people from climbing on their bike at all and allowing key representatives and videoing them as they tried to mount their bikes.

    Everyone had a race tag around their wrist which we had to check against the bike number and cut off, so I looked at probably 500 wrists – I saw a lot of black, brown, blue and other colour bands but only one yellow. I even offered to cut it off for him.

    Brilliant.

    Shit balls, there must be some severely squashed testicles from those mounting techniques.

  5. @graham d.m.

    @mouse

    @gregorio

    @graham d.m.

    Crap, Frank…..it’s a great article, man. I’m convicted because I sheepishly was shopping for compact crank recently. This article was timely, loved “pain and climbing are inseperable”. I thusly confess my sin, will keep the standard crank, HTFU and do hill repeats. Well written, mate.

    I confess to my new DA Group-san being compact. What was I thinking? I have repented by ordering new rings from praxis works. BTW occasionally blowing up on a climb builds character. Nice article.

    Whatever.

    Having a compact doesn’t mean your wee wee is small.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply: more teeth= more faster= more better. I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

    Less teeth+higher cadence=more faster

  6. pantani flatting just before the stage’s final climb? no big deal.

  7. As it’s climbery, seems like the place to put it – dunno if anyone else saw this on inrng’s twitter feed.  Can’t say I’ve ever beer much of a Schleck fan but this is just sad.

    http://inrng.tumblr.com/post/45273531978/a-french-parliamentarian-says-he-met-a-drunk-andy

  8. @mouse

    @graham d.m.

    @mouse

    @gregorio

    @graham d.m.

    Crap, Frank…..it’s a great article, man. I’m convicted because I sheepishly was shopping for compact crank recently. This article was timely, loved “pain and climbing are inseperable”. I thusly confess my sin, will keep the standard crank, HTFU and do hill repeats. Well written, mate.

    I confess to my new DA Group-san being compact. What was I thinking? I have repented by ordering new rings from praxis works. BTW occasionally blowing up on a climb builds character. Nice article.

    Whatever.

    Having a compact doesn’t mean your wee wee is small.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply: more teeth= more faster= more better. I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

    Less teeth+higher cadence=more faster

    That’s true, and I say ride what you like, mate. I’m not a high cadence guy, more of a slogger. But that being said, I’m working on foot speed/cadence and with more teeth that will be fastest (but obviously still fat and slow).  For me, if I’m going hard it hurts no matter what, so I might as well turn more teeth, I guess.

  9. @mouse

    @graham d.m.

    @mouse

    @gregorio

    @graham d.m.

    Crap, Frank…..it’s a great article, man. I’m convicted because I sheepishly was shopping for compact crank recently. This article was timely, loved “pain and climbing are inseperable”. I thusly confess my sin, will keep the standard crank, HTFU and do hill repeats. Well written, mate.

    I confess to my new DA Group-san being compact. What was I thinking? I have repented by ordering new rings from praxis works. BTW occasionally blowing up on a climb builds character. Nice article.

    Whatever.

    Having a compact doesn’t mean your wee wee is small.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply: more teeth= more faster= more better. I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

    Less teeth+higher cadence=more faster

    Only if you’re getting a blood trasfusion every week or two. The high cadence phenom is a relic of blood doping, matey. Its too hard on your cardio.

    What IS faster, though, is to ride at whatever cadence you body naturally finds in order to balance cardiovascular fitness and muscular fitness. Its different for everyone, and one is not better than the other unless it makes you personally go faster.

    (And really, if less teeth was faster, as you equation suggests, we’d all be riding 1 to 1 gear ratios.)

  10. @frank

    @mouse

    @graham d.m.

    @mouse

    @gregorio

    @graham d.m.

    Crap, Frank…..it’s a great article, man. I’m convicted because I sheepishly was shopping for compact crank recently. This article was timely, loved “pain and climbing are inseperable”. I thusly confess my sin, will keep the standard crank, HTFU and do hill repeats. Well written, mate.

    I confess to my new DA Group-san being compact. What was I thinking? I have repented by ordering new rings from praxis works. BTW occasionally blowing up on a climb builds character. Nice article.

    Whatever.

    Having a compact doesn’t mean your wee wee is small.

    I agee, Mouse, it’s not a manhood thing, simply: more teeth= more faster= more better. I was searching for a compact as an answer to my fatness and that is a ball check situation.

    Less teeth+higher cadence=more faster

    Only if you’re getting a blood trasfusion every week or two. The high cadence phenom is a relic of blood doping, matey. Its too hard on your cardio.

    What IS faster, though, is to ride at whatever cadence you body naturally finds in order to balance cardiovascular fitness and muscular fitness. Its different for everyone, and one is not better than the other unless it makes you personally go faster.

    (And really, if less teeth was faster, as you equation suggests, we’d all be riding 1 to 1 gear ratios.)

    I dislike the assumption that spinning = going slow, thus requiring a compact.  You can spin on a standard while going fast, something the shop I bought my bike from couldn’t understand, so I am stuck with a compact where the little ring is useless for 98% of riding.

    Reading that it sounds like I am arguing against frank, which I am not, I’m arguing against compacts.

  11. @DerHoggz

    That is true, spin a bigger gear at the same cadence = go mo fasta. Mo betta. But therein lies the rub.

    Being over or under-geared is always bad, and you just have to find the setup that works best for your individual needs. For example; I’m contemplating a compact for my gravel rig where climbing steep gravel roads would benefit from having a low enough gear.

    Aside from that, its just pride.

  12. @chiasticon

    pantani flatting just before the stage’s final climb? no big deal.

    That is fantastic. That’s a good example of burning through your train.

    He dropped his chain in ’98 and made a similar recovery. Awesome stuff.

  13. @frank

    @DerHoggz

    That is true, spin a bigger gear at the same cadence = go mo fasta. Mo betta. But therein lies the rub.

    Being over or under-geared is always bad, and you just have to find the setup that works best for your individual needs. For example; I’m contemplating a compact for my gravel rig where climbing steep gravel roads would benefit from having a low enough gear.

    Aside from that, its just pride.

    Try this, as you climb check your cadence, change to an easier gear, initially your cadence will rise and then will quickly drop back to the cadence you were pushing before, but as you have changed gear you are now climbing slower than if you had mashed away in the bigger gear, if you can hold that gear down to 50-60 rpm I think it’s a better result than changing.

    Fucktards! Sorry just had to say it.

  14. @frank

    @chiasticon

    pantani flatting just before the stage’s final climb? no big deal.

    That is fantastic. That’s a good example of burning through your train.

    He dropped his chain in ’98 and made a similar recovery. Awesome stuff.

    This effort is so awesome. So Pantani. I don’t even care that he probably had a 8ball of coke on board and a Hct of 70. Brilliant. RIP little buddy…………

  15. @Tbone Llamma

    i see EPO everywhere

    And I see someone who needs a new username.

  16. @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.

  17. @frank

    @chiasticon

    pantani flatting just before the stage’s final climb? no big deal.

    That is fantastic. That’s a good example of burning through your train.

    He dropped his chain in ’98 and made a similar recovery. Awesome stuff.

    His team must have been just well “prepared” the speed at which they drag him up that first section. At one point it looks like they have to check their speed to avoid dropping him.

    It must have been brutally demoralizing to have him blow past you like that when you new he had come from so far behind.

  18. Pantani was just amazing in this race!  That said, I can’t stomach Ozzy covering Motorhead… he sounds like a boy band when compared to Lemmy!

  19. @Chris Fantastic!!  Why did he even bother with a saddle?  The expressions of the leaders when caught were all the same…WTF???

  20. @chiasticon

    pantani flatting just before the stage’s final climb? no big deal.

    I didn’t breath while watching this. Perfetto!

  21. The translations are good, but I think the right one is “whoever doesn’t love Merckx doesn’t love sport”.

  22. 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

  23. @Buck Rogers spooky, I was watching stage 4 of the 94 tour last night. It finished in Brighton where I live but I’d never watched it before.  The finish line is on my ride to work.

    A cogal retracing part of that stage could be good fun later in the year.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ7tFqXqAhA

  24. Great question on VeloSnooze the other day. My answer, HTFU or “have the testies dropped yet?”

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/03/bikes-and-tech/technical-faq/technical-faq-why-is-riding-in-the-cold-so-hard_277626

  25. 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.

  26. @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.

  27. @Dan_R

    Carbone.

  28. @Dan_R

    Those wheels looks amazing…

    -Dinan

  29. 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.

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

  31. @Buck Rogers

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

  32. @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

  33. @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.

  34. @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.

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

    The right vid to watch while on the turbo trainer!

  36. @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.

  37. @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.

  38. @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.

  39. @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.

  40. @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?

  41. 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.

  42. @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?

  43. @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?

  44. @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.

  45. @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

  46. @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.

  47. @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.

  48. @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.

  49. @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”.

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

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