Sean Yates hits escape velocity

Look Pro: Escape Velocity

Look Pro: Escape Velocity

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Three things can send me from a deep sleep to sitting bolt upright in bed, gasping in terror. First is the most obvious, which is any dream involving visions of spiders. Second is dreaming of being dragged off or otherwise being aware of impending doom and opening my mouth to scream but having no sound come out. An alternate of this dream is one requiring me to fire a gun in self defense and not being strong enough to pull the trigger, the irony being that boasting that kind of upper body strength would indicate I’m finally at climbing weight, which should normally be cause for celebration. Third is being on a ride with fellow Cyclists and friends, and watching helplessly as they prematurely deploy an aero tuck.

I’ve been seeing this more and more in real life, and when I do it’s like being in a dream from which I can not wake. Would that the Elders on Mount Velomis dispatch the Man with the Hammer tout de suite  to anyone who engages in this most egregious of Un-Pro acts.

Pedaling is what makes the bike go. If you wish to add more “go” to the bike, the first thing one should consider doing is pushing on the pedals harder. If that doesn’t work, consider buying a new bit of kit like fresh bar tape, which clinical studies have shown also makes the bike go faster. If you have exhausted all possibilities of purchasing more Go-Faster Kit and are still experiencing unsatisfactory results, one has no alternative but to resort immediately to training and getting stronger. Once this is accomplished, go back to the basics of pushing on the pedals. Eventually, it will work and you’ll go faster.

Under no circumstance does the stopping of pedaling add speed to the bike. The most one can hope for is that through dodgy contortions to reduce the rider’s frontal surface area that the amount slower the bike goes may be reduced somewhat. At any time that the rider has not reached escape velocity, a low tuck combined with pedaling will always be faster than a premature tuck.

The aero tuck is a defensive tactic to be used only after the cadence has climbed so high as to become untenable. At this point an aggressively low and compact tuck may be used to tremendous effect. Sean Yates and Greg LeMond were both known for their insane aero tucks which allowed them to reach speeds of well over 100 km/h. Pedaling at those speeds would requires a cadence of 150 rpm or more and a stroke so magnificent as to be out of reach for any mortal.

The Velominatus is to study the aero tuck at length, including all variations of using the drops or drop-ins should you suddenly find yourself riding in 1990, as well as the tops. Always turn your elbows and knees in as close to the center-line of the bike as possible. Place your pedals at a fairly level position. Experiment with hanging your tush off the back of the bike or your shoulders over the front wheel. Learn how to use the area between your saddle and top tube as a perch of equal parts discomfort and speed. Determine which of these yields the optimal combination of speed and limiting the risk of requiring skin grafts.

It is acceptable to tuck immediately before and during a high speed corner. Once the corner is exited, it is mandatory that the rider being pedaling furiously at once. I might also add that should you wish to coast prior to reaching escape velocity, adopt a Casually Deliberate position on the bike and avoid tucking at all costs.

The following are indicators that you have prematurely deployed an aero tuck.

  1. Being passed by a child on either a Skuut or a BMX. 
  2. Being passed by a Cyclist resembling a spinnaker, who is sitting upright on the tops and casually pedaling a small gear. This happens much too often.
  3. You are not cornering.
  4. Your cadence is 120 or less, or you have not yet dropped the chain into the smallest cog available. If you are unable to pedal smoothly at 120 or more, stop what you are doing and go practice your magnificent stroke.
  5. Your have not yet handily dropped the motor traffic which surrounded you near the beginning of the descent.

I implore you to help me stop living my nightmares and only tuck once you’ve reached escape velocity. Your assistance in this matter is most appreciated.

// Etiquette // Look Pro // Tradition

  1. Passing someone doing an aero tuck while relaxing on the tops, one (if not the only) benefits of being fat (or normal to the non-cycling world).

  2. Wise words indeed. I’ll add another terror inducing nightmare for you: going into your garage (or wherever you store your bikes) only to find they have been replaced by recumbents and fixies, and then finding all your jerseys are now YJAs.

  3. @wiscot That’s not even funny.

  4. Damn, Yates is showing admirable form there. The merest hint of highest order pro-tanlines.

     

    Suspect bar angle though n’est-ce pas?

  5. Awesome! Ha, that would be rough to get passed by a kid on a Skuut.

    Personal nightmare – I have one where I live on a hill and find myself waking up, in bed, which is rolling down the hill at a furious pace, thus, I’ll never live on a hill.

    LBS nightmare – walked in last week to see a pretty nice Merckx against the wall. My friend, the owner, says, “He wants me to swap out the Dura Ace 8 speed for a compact.” As if this wasn’t bad enough, it had a EPMS clogging up the saddle and a piece of packing table wrapped around the pillar. I told him I wanted the guy’s address so I could confiscate the bike and put it in proper foster care.

  6. On item number V above:  I love going downhill over 60 kph when the speed limit is under 50 kph, only then to have cars anxious to pass you then upset when you are taking the whole lane whilst descending like a Pro.

  7. @Al

    Passing someone doing an aero tuck while relaxing on the tops, one (if not the only) benefits of being fat (or normal to the non-cycling world).

    Ha!  Awesome!

  8. I’ve caught a lot of people who are better descenders than myself with the non tuck technique. Having a 50 x11 can be a great thing when the road points down….being fat helps too!

  9. @Buck Rogers

    ha…I didn’t see that…he’s right though.

  10. I will admit that I have employed the tuck on rides with my pedalwan more as a demonstration of the advantages of a more aero position than anything. Granted, he’s on my old MtB, and I’m on the road bike, but still, he needs to know right? I think the first rule I taught him was not V, but 55. He had asked why we were going a certain way on our first route. I told him because one must first ascend what one intends to descend. He looked at me and said, “Yeah, that sounds right. It’d be like cheating otherwise.”

    By way of another example, I beamed with pride when, coming to the end of our jaunt, climbing the last part of the last lap of the loop we were  on he fell behind me a bit. Not intending to drop him, I circled back and pulled up behind and inquired if he was going to make it. He said “I’m doing my best, but I’m in the lowest and am not going to walk up this hill.” I said “Hey man, I’ll push you before I let you walk up.”  To which he replied, “No way, I’ll crawl up the hill clipped in  on my side before I let you push me.”

    He’s come such a long way in such a short time.

  11. The photo gives the impression that Yates has achieved such an escape velocity that he is able to maintain the aero tuck whilst going uphill! Given that it is Sean Yates, this is quite likely to be the case.

  12. One massive exception you missed – aero tucks are quite fine to use often when racing.

    If it lets you go at a given speed with less effort (which, yes a tuck can do, even at sub-terminal velocities) then do it.

  13. Oh Gawd I hate that and I am just about fed up being said Spinnaka and having to coast or worse, brake to avoid hitting the baboon premeturely deploying a tuck. Note that I did not use the term “aero tuck” since the typical tuck involves standing straight legged on level pedals and putting the head as low as they can manage. Thanks mate, didn’t really want a close up of the underside of your nicks!

  14. Great photo. The tuck is great, but I can’t help but lust after that bike – are they Shamals?

  15. @paolo

    I’ve caught a lot of people who are better descenders than myself with the non tuck technique. Having a 50 x11 can be a great thing when the road points down….being fat helps too!

    That being fat part is how I catch up after I’m left behind on the climb. And I climb well for a fat guy!

  16. I refer to this as “The fat man fade.”  I get as close to the front as I can before the climb, watch most of the bunch go by me on the way up and pass most of them on the way down.  If it’s a very technical descent, though, I’m screwed.

  17. Only at speeds greater than 75 km/hr can one truly find that meditative place where nothing matters, the head is clear and the threat of losing vast quantities of skin or one’s life is looming. It’s a special place that not many choose to venture near and for good reason as you’ve reached the point of no return.

  18. I had to live through this nightmare on Saturday when the 2 guys I was training with tucked on a descent at less than 40kph! It is not a good look…

  19. I was guilty of premature tucking a couple of times yesterday.

    At the time it seemed reasonable – running ragged coming down the stretch of a hard ride – seeing that the group wasn’t working that hard down the hill (likely knowing that they’d put me in dire straits if they did).  I siezed upon the moment to grab 30 seconds of recovery while not losing ground on the group.   

    In hindsight I can see how pathetic my behaviour was.  Thanks for the kick in the ass Frank.

  20. @TBONE

    Only at speeds greater than 75 km/hr can one truly find that meditative place where nothing matters, the head is clear and the threat of losing vast quantities of skin or one’s life is looming. It’s a special place that not many choose to venture near and for good reason as you’ve reached the point of no return.

    This is well-put. In my youth I let it run up over 100km/hr once or twice, and 80 was a regular occurrence. Now, though, at 70 on my compact rig  /sad sigh/  I’m in the drops and freewheeling. Not “tucking,” since I haven’t practiced that in 24 years. Just in the drops.

  21. To be honest, number 2 bike is that unstable that above 80k my harris is twittering so violently, a Lemond moment is a distinct possibility.

    Before number 1 bike gave up on me, I’m not sure I ever cracked 100, but I must have got close. It was a considerably nicer place to be, for sure.

  22. @Joe

    To be honest, number 2 bike is that unstable that above 80k my harris is twittering so violently, a Lemond moment is a distinct possibility.

    Before number 1 bike gave up on me, I’m not sure I ever cracked 100, but I must have got close. It was a considerably nicer place to be, for sure.

    Opposite for me, in my youth I couldn’t get a bike above 74/k. Then on my Vitali I hit 79k coming down the Mountain Highway in North Van, a pothole ridden road with intersections every 100m or so. Not sure what I was thinking there. My Opus couldn’t get above 76k, even with a standard. My Cinelli hit 103k coming down the Chamrousse, a record I have no desire to top. 66k is my top speed in the velodrome. 122km/hr on skis. Also no desire to break that record any time soon.

  23. Not sure if any image of Yates invokes speed or simply intimidation. Regardless, never underestimate the V-power of a Skuut bike…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQosDXp9cHc

  24. Thankfully the Sammy Sanchez Signature tuck (nose of saddle inserted in the rectum, chin planted on the stem) is rarely seen outside of the of the Haute Alpes on proper descents during solo breakaways between three of four Hors Categorie climbs on the day in question.  Some things need to remain off-limits to all but a limited group of professionals.

  25. I’m a big fan of the tuck, when it’s warranted. There’s the wisdom that says that you don’t stop pedaling going downhill for rest, however, on a long descent in the bunch, it can be a way to conserve energy. Also, when you’re a skinny fuck like me and I’m spun out, it’s a good way to stay ahead of the bigger guys who have gravity on their side.

  26. In other news, Fabian is now carrying his bike while walking uphill, looking pensively in the distance. A little too deliberate and casual, if you catch my drift.

    http://www.mrporter.com/journal/journal_issue121/1#1

  27. @TBONE

    In other news, Fabian is now carrying his bike while walking uphill, looking pensively in the distance. A little too deliberate and casual, if you catch my drift.

    http://www.mrporter.com/journal/journal_issue121/1#1

    Nah, that article and photoshoot are awesome – its great to see a pro cyclist featured on a relatively mainstream site.  I like the quote about how he could never model since his guns won’t fit in the skinny jeans.

  28. @VeloVita

    @TBONE

    In other news, Fabian is now carrying his bike while walking uphill, looking pensively in the distance. A little too deliberate and casual, if you catch my drift.

    http://www.mrporter.com/journal/journal_issue121/1#1

    Nah, that article and photoshoot are awesome – its great to see a pro cyclist featured on a relatively mainstream site. I like the quote about how he could never model since his guns won’t fit in the skinny jeans.

    Thanks for posting. Good for Faboo – you do have to admit he’s a handsome devil. Mind you, pictures 5 and 7 are wrong, just wrong.

  29. Tuck? I don’t ned no stinking tuck. At six foot and round about 79 kilos, and also being surrounded by midget Australians who are five foot six and 55 kilos, (quirk of my riding circle, somehow) all I have to do is sit up, unzip my gillet and turn it into a parachute, and flap my arms like a seagull and I fly past people on the downhills. You poor skinny bastards.

  30. @minion

    At six foot and round about 79 kilos

    You’ve lost ten kilos and grown a foot taller?

  31. @wiscot

    @VeloVita

    @TBONE

    In other news, Fabian is now carrying his bike while walking uphill, looking pensively in the distance. A little too deliberate and casual, if you catch my drift.

    http://www.mrporter.com/journal/journal_issue121/1#1

    Nah, that article and photoshoot are awesome – its great to see a pro cyclist featured on a relatively mainstream site. I like the quote about how he could never model since his guns won’t fit in the skinny jeans.

    Thanks for posting. Good for Faboo – you do have to admit he’s a handsome devil. Mind you, pictures 5 and 7 are wrong, just wrong.

    add #2 to that list, only the bottom button of his cardigan should be undone.

    He is a striking fella, that’s for sure.

  32. @brett

    @minion

    At six foot and round about 79 kilos

    You’ve lost ten kilos and grown a foot taller?

    That’s what happens when you move to Australia innit?

  33. @gallilano

    Great photo. The tuck is great, but I can’t help but lust after that bike – are they Shamals?

    Man, are those Shamals? They sure look like it, though that would be in conflict with his sponsor, Shimano. But those are some sick-ass wheels, that’s for sure – whatever they are.

  34. @Marcus

    One massive exception you missed – aero tucks are quite fine to use often when racing.

    If it lets you go at a given speed with less effort (which, yes a tuck can do, even at sub-terminal velocities) then do it.

    Considering you’re Australian and thereby inferring you also never ride on the front, I will dismiss your assertion as that of a cretin who neither understands or appreciates class or style.

    While on the subject, I’m always curious how you guys actually stage a bike race, given none of you ride in the wind. Do you bring NZers over to ride the front for you until the finale? That would explain why you appear to tollerate having @Minion living in your country.

  35. @kixsand Always happy to kick someone in the ass.

    @campbellrae1

    I had to live through this nightmare on Saturday when the 2 guys I was training with tucked on a descent at less than 40kph! It is not a good look…

    Especially when the poor sod is riding in worn-out bibs.

    @minion

    @brett

    @minion

    At six foot and round about 79 kilos

    You’ve lost ten kilos and grown a foot taller?

    That’s what happens when you move to Australia innit?

    Magic.

  36. @frank

    @Marcus

    One massive exception you missed – aero tucks are quite fine to use often when racing.

    If it lets you go at a given speed with less effort (which, yes a tuck can do, even at sub-terminal velocities) then do it.

    Considering you’re Australian and thereby inferring you also never ride on the front, I will dismiss your assertion as that of a cretin who neither understands or appreciates class or style.

    While on the subject, I’m always curious how you guys actually stage a bike race, given none of you ride in the wind. Do you bring NZers over to ride the front for you until the finale? That would explain why you appear to tollerate having @Minion living in your country.

    You were saying?

  37. I’m trying to think of the last American who rode on the front and wasn’t

    a) Brett Bookwalder

    b) On the juice

  38. @Mikael Liddy Schlecked!

  39. @Daccordi Rider

    I’m trying to think of the last American who rode on the front and wasn’t

    a) Brett Bookwalder

    b) On the juice

    Danny Pate?

  40. @Bianchi Denti

    @Daccordi Rider

    I’m trying to think of the last American who rode on the front and wasn’t

    a) Brett Bookwalder

    b) On the juice

    Danny Pate?

    Ted King?  Oh, sorry…

  41. @Bianchi Denti On Team Sky (see (b)

  42. @frank

    @gallilano

    Great photo. The tuck is great, but I can’t help but lust after that bike – are they Shamals?

    Man, are those Shamals? They sure look like it, though that would be in conflict with his sponsor, Shimano. But those are some sick-ass wheels, that’s for sure – whatever they are.

    Could be the original Mavic Cosmics. Not quite as deep as Shamals.

  43. @Daccordi Rider

    @Bianchi Denti On Team Sky (see (b)

    Megan Guarnier?

  44. @Daccordi Rider

    I’m trying to think of the last American who rode on the front and wasn’t

    a) Brett Bookwalder

    b) On the juice

    Jack Bauer? Oh yeah nah.

    Greg Hender… whoops nope.

    Hayden Roulsten, he’s on an American team ay? Yeah nah to that one too.

    Uuuuuummmm, surely Garmin or Radioschleck have at least one? I was taking the piss but now I can’t actually think of one.

  45. Was wondering if @Frank could contain his dirtyGerrohate / wheelsucker tag.

    As for Aussies on the front, did we just see GreenEdge drive the pace 100k or so on Stage 5, the day after winning a TTT?

    I can’t remember. But I do remember this guy winning Stage 7 of the Giro after demolishing breakaway companions Pim Ligthart and Maarten Tjallingii. Can’t recall where those guys are from. Did he ride all 3 grand tours last year? Yup.

  46. @minion

    @Daccordi Rider

    I’m trying to think of the last American who rode on the front and wasn’t

    a) Brett Bookwalder

    b) On the juice

    Jack Bauer? Oh yeah nah.

    Greg Hender… whoops nope.

    Hayden Roulsten, he’s on an American team ay? Yeah nah to that one too.

    Uuuuuummmm, surely Garmin or Radioschleck have at least one? I was taking the piss but now I can’t actually think of one.

    Ah, c’mon. They’ve got TJ Vangarderen….

    *snark*

  47. @Harminator

    Was wondering if @Frank could contain his dirtyGerrohate / wheelsucker tag.

    I had to make up for missing the stage that the wheel limpet won. I assume it was in his customary style, though I have yet to watch the stage.

    As for Aussies on the front, did we just see GreenEdge drive the pace 100k or so on Stage 5, the day after winning a TTT?

    I can’t remember. But I do remember this guy winning Stage 7 of the Giro after demolishing breakaway companions Pim Ligthart and Maarten Tjallingii. Can’t recall where those guys are from. Did he ride all 3 grand tours last year? Yup.

    Stop trying to confuse me with facts, you!

  48. @mouse

    @minion

    @Daccordi Rider

    I’m trying to think of the last American who rode on the front and wasn’t

    a) Brett Bookwalder

    b) On the juice

    Jack Bauer? Oh yeah nah.

    Greg Hender… whoops nope.

    Hayden Roulsten, he’s on an American team ay? Yeah nah to that one too.

    Uuuuuummmm, surely Garmin or Radioschleck have at least one? I was taking the piss but now I can’t actually think of one.

    Ah, c’mon. They’ve got TJ Vangarderen….

    *snark*

    I choose this time to conveniently become Dutch and point you to my boy Gesink hauling for 30km on the front, and the two Dutchies in the top V.

    And, in a history-defying feat, Gesink didn’t even fall off yesterday.

  49. @Bianchi Denti

    @Daccordi Rider

    @Bianchi Denti On Team Sky (see (b)

    Megan Guarnier?

    Evie Stevens is way up there.

    And lets not forget Minnie Phinnie!

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