Look Pro: Souplesse

Look Pro: Souplesse

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Souplesse. Only the French would have such a word; one you can sink your teeth into, chew on. It begs to be spoken over a plate of assorted cheeses and a bottle of vin rouge. Its exact definition is unimportant; such things conjure up an image in our minds that is cheapened by words. Souplesse is the ideal, sought by all and obtained only by The Few.

Souplesse is the perfect storm of Looking Pro; harmony between grace and power, casual and deliberate. It speaks of the entire organism, the perfectly manicured machine together with the perfectly refined position and technique of its rider. It is the combination of Magnificent Stroke, gentle sway of the shoulders and head, the rhythmic breath, and of knees, elbows, and chest converging on the V-Locus.

Jacques Anquetil is man of whom we have spoken surprisingly little in these archives. Perhaps it is because he is a man who inspires us in death as little as he did his fans in life. A calculating man, he pursued Cycling not for the love and passion of it, but for the business of it; for him, the bicycle provided a path from peasantry to aristocracy. That was all.

Be that as it may, he was a gifted cyclist whose fluidity on the bike exemplified Souplesse:

  • A Magnificent Stroke is more than pushing or pulling on the pedals. The stroke flows from the core and hips, driving the pedals round and belying the effort to do so.
  • Feet sweep the pedals around in perfect revolutions, one leg cannot be distinguished from the other – they work as one to counter and balance the forces to drive the machine ever faster forward.
  • The legs can not do their work without the arms, the lungs, the chest, the heart, the mind. Each unit functions independently to do its work, yet feeds seamlessly into the other. In a phrase: Fluidly Harmonic Articulation.
  • Move to the V-Locus; the body is folded such that legs, arms, and chest overlap but do not intersect. Knees tucked in, shoulders hunched, wrists rolled inwards, elbows angled such that the knees only just slip inside them with each revolution of the cranks.
  • Face calm, eyes cooly focussed up the road; a grimace is energy that is better spent on turning the pedals.
I give you Master Jacques.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3uWs5ULAZE[/youtube]

More: Jacques Anquetil Part II & Part III

// Etiquette // Look Pro // Nostalgia // Tradition

  1. @Calmante
    You try fitting those pythons into a lycra jersey.

  2. I wrote Super Mario a letter once when I was a kid… and he wrote me back. I’ll never forget that.

  3. 1992 TdF; The firepower in the group, unreal.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqoH6R-99N0&feature=endscreen&NR=1

  4. @scaler911

    1992 TdF; The firepower in the group, unreal.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqoH6R-99N0&feature=endscreen&NR=1

    Those early ’90s Tours were good to watch; if and when you could get coverage. It was given Big Mig would win in his nonchalant style, we would languish with Leman if he was in the Le Grande Boucle that year, and the cast of characters in the races was spectacular.

  5. @Calmante

    I wrote Super Mario a letter once when I was a kid… and he wrote me back. I’ll never forget that.

    That is cool, I didn’t think I could like him more, but now I do.

  6. You guys are all over it… with one exception that you may have overlooked. Check out Youtube clips of Stephen Roche for the supreme example of souplesse.

  7. @Bob

    You guys are all over it… with one exception that you may have overlooked. Check out Youtube clips of Stephen Roche for the supreme example of souplesse.

    You mean like this? Never mind that guy in the green…he hasn’t won anything big this year. No need to chase.

  8. But never forget: “Souplesse oblige!”

  9. I could care less about the literal meaning of the word souplesse. Just the idea of going forth and trying to obtain something mythical within ones own abilities is reward enough …. I dream of the day of the perfect ride …. just like the perfect wave that glistens in the morning sunlight whilst waiting in the calming ocean for the next set to arrive. You know in yourself when you are close to souplesse. Its “that” feeling. The wheels roll effortlessly and each pedal stroke is not a chore but a mean to an end.

    ahhh …’le paradis sur terre

  10. @Barracuda

    You could care less, huh? Do you care a lot? That’s a lot of room for caring less.

  11. @Calmante
    For all intensive porpoises, I see your point.

  12. I’ve never understood the US variation of the phrase “I could care less.” It implies that you could indeed, care even less than you do if you wanted. In other works, there still the option of caring even less. In the UK, the phrase is “I couldn’t care less” which is closer to what is meant, which is, in effect, “I don;t give a fuck” and there no room for giving less of a fuck.

  13. Stephen Roche is souplesse personified. I hope I didn’t make any grammatical errors in that sentence. God forbid a bike blog comment wouldn’t be grammatically correct.

  14. it’s spelled “suplesse”

  15. @brad

    it’s spelled “suplesse”

    Really… well I suggest you write to the publishers of Larousse and ask them to correct their error.

    Start with capitalisation of sentences, followed by full stops and work your way up from there, although I give you some credit for not screwing up the apostrophe.

    souplesse
    [suplɛs]
    nom féminin

    1.
    [d’une personne, d’un félin, d’un corps]   suppleness
    [d’une démarche]   suppleness, springiness

  16. I don’t imagine Brad will be back.

  17. These image results do give some validation to the word suplesse.

  18. Wow, she is built Superlesse!

  19. These images are absolute souplesse.

  20. @heinous

    @Bianchi Denti

    @ChrisO

    I once had a girlfriend whose souplesse was outweighed only by the enormity of her bottom.

    I was really trying to annoy @ChrisO – the enormity of my mistake has now come back to bite.

    @Nate

    I bet he’s got one of these on the other side of that HRM:

    You have inspired me to research just “Cinelli girl” keywords.

  21. May you all find Souplesse in the New Year…

  22. @itburns

    This article inspired an extended session of image surfing. Here are some of the favorites discovered. I’m sure some have made an appearance before, apologies in advance.

    3 / 4

    Slideshow:

    Fullscreen:

    Download:

    Flicking through the pages after Souplesse entered my head, (back stuffed again) and tripped on Le Skippy and his table top back. Looking for comparisons, found @itburns had a pic of Merckx pretty flat. Phil flat out on Merckx!

    pic found here

    Miss ya round here @itburns

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