This

This

The Moser Position

by / / 65 posts

For my money, the best slice of cycling video ever is Francesco Moser, appearing out of the dust, in the 1976 Paris-Roubaix. He blasts by the moto camera on the right, on a mission to get up to the front. Something about him appearing, then almost disappearing down the road. What was that? And there it is, the Moser position. His torso is pulled down low. If you want to go that fast you have to get that low. Back in the day, your frame size was directly correlated to your inseam, period. There were no slammed -17 degree stems or long seatposts. If you wanted to get aero you just had to bend at the hips and elbows, a lot.

Getting low is one thing, generating huge power from that position is something else, something Moser excelled at. Lo Sceriffo was not a man to be underestimated. In this excerpted video from A Sunday in Hell, Moser is powering up towards the winning break of four riders: Roger De Vlaeminck, Marc Demeyer, Walter Godefroot, and Hennie Kuiper (all former or future P-R winners). It is an all star break of Belgian-Dutch hardness and Moser bridges quickly. The winner was going to come from this group but it was not Moser’s year nor was the next edition so he made up for it by winning the next three consecutive Paris-Roubaix.

To see Moser powering up the side of the pavé like that, it’s some sort of poetry that captures just about everything I love about cycling.

The Moser scene plays out around 9:10 into the clip, but as always, it is pure pleasure to watch what leads up to it.

 

 

// The Hardmen // Tradition

  1. @RobSandy

    And when was the fastest ever Paris-Roubaix?

    1964, on an altered course with only half the cobbled sections and a 35mph tail wind for virtually the whole race. Point?

  2. Speaking of hardness, I was thinking about this the other day since we’re having a serious cold streak for this area…

    In quite cold conditions, guys used to race with bare legs and maybe toss on a hat and some winter gloves. Now most of the racers come out of the bus looking like Randy after his mom dresses him for school. Skull caps, neck warmers, windproof jerseys, windproof gloves, full leg warmers, and oversocks.

    How can there be such an insane difference? How did the racers used to do it? (and I do know about Hinault and his hand issues from the cold)

    Along these lines, I was riding home from work on Monday and well covered, as it was around -4. Dude rides by in bib shorts and a LS jersey, that was it. Good god, my legs were cold with full leg warmers. I really don’t know how he was riding like that, legs looked devoid of embrocation too.

  3. So much awesomeness in this post and I never tire of watching a Sunday in Hell. To wit: at 1:40 the Jobo rider’s head injury – I swear you can see his skull through that gash on his forehead. The Ijsboerke mechanic sitting oh-so-casually on the back of the team car. Raymond Poulidor is still mixing it up with the kids at the age of 40! (Born in 1936, he turned pro in 1960.) And, of course, Moser’s style. He was a top track man – won the world pursuit championship in 76. Top time-triallist too. That’ll get your position aero.

  4. @Ron

    A lot of the old school guys came from rural background. Farmers tend to be a lot outside, and it harden you.

    Plus they didn’t have central heating like now. They were generally in colder temp. all year long since birth, which help.

    I have a school friend who didn’t have central heating at home, just a coal stove. He would come to school in t-shirt when people where donning their winter jackets.

  5. @fignons barber

    @RobSandy

    And when was the fastest ever Paris-Roubaix?

    1964, on an altered course with only half the cobbled sections and a 35mph tail wind for virtually the whole race. Point?

    I didn’t know that about less cobbles and the wind. They were still hard back then, regardless.

    I don’t come onto Velominati to let facts stand in the way of my opinions.

  6. @LeBelge

    @Ron

    A lot of the old school guys came from rural background. Farmers tend to be a lot outside, and it harden you.

    Plus they didn’t have central heating like now. They were generally in colder temp. all year long since birth, which help.

    I have a school friend who didn’t have central heating at home, just a coal stove. He would come to school in t-shirt when people where donning their winter jackets.

    Good points. Knew a guy in college who wore shorts year-round and we had some pretty damn cold winters. I grew up in a cold climate and now have been in a much warmer climate for around 5 years. I’ve definitely lost my ability to withstand really cold temperatures, like I used to be able to handle.

    It absolutely blows my mind how many people keep their houses heated at tropical temperatures. I find it uncomfortable, but I find it more uncomfortable to think about how many non-renewable resources are chewed up because bastards want to go around in shorts and t-shirts all year long. Nobody scrapes their car windows here either, they just turn the car on for 15 minutes. Goddamn. Many people in my neighborhood also work at the university, which is all of 2 kms away. Despite the location, I’m the only person who walks or rides a bike. Even the fucking undergrads at a “green” university, as they bill themselves, drive. Most live in group houses and I’ll see all six drive separately a few minutes apart. Lovely to see the next generation act so eco-friendly.

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

  8. @RobSandy

    I don’t come onto Velominati to let facts stand in the way of my opinions.

    This! If I could, it would be a +1 for you good sir.

  9. I flat out love Paris Roubaix and I really love the ’12 PR when Mr. Boonen blasted away with maybe 50km remaining and finished on his own with avg speed of something like 45+kph over the race distance. WOW! That was really the race when I thought to myself that this high def televised cycling is very very cool. That cat was a monster at the end just powering away with his hands draped over the bars and the camera right there.

  10. @Buck Rogers

    @Gianni

    @Haldy

    I swear these guys were harder than than Boonen or Cancellara.

    Ha! Look at that!!! I can post!!! The Gods of IT at West Point updated my system this morning and voila! I’m back!!! Anyways, Yes, they were way fucking harder. Jesus, not doubt. The only reason we even begin to question if they were is b/c Boonen and Sparty stand out in todays puff peloton b/c they are so hard IN COMPARISON to the Schlecks and Froome’s of today’s elite. If we took Hookers and Blow back to the ’70’s, he could rid ewith them, but I doubt he’d have 4 PR and 3 RVV to his name. Maybe, and only maybe, one of each, in my opinion. But God DAMN! What a photo! I must say though, I always have had a tiny bit of dislike for Moser with how he “stole” his Giro from Fignon, whether he had anything to do with the helicopter or not. Still, HARD man for sure.

    Bucky, where you been? We missed you.

    You know these guys were tougher from the gears they pushed, hauling through the Alps with a 42 x 21 as the granny gear. Faaaaaaack. I’m embarrassed at my current gearing. Oh well. I ain’t no Moser.

  11. @TheVid

    @RobSandy

    I don’t come onto Velominati to let facts stand in the way of my opinions.

    This! If I could, it would be a +1 for you good sir.

    I second that.

  12. @wiscot

    So much awesomeness in this post and I never tire of watching a Sunday in Hell. To wit: at 1:40 the Jobo rider’s head injury – I swear you can see his skull through that gash on his forehead. The Ijsboerke mechanic sitting oh-so-casually on the back of the team car. Raymond Poulidor is still mixing it up with the kids at the age of 40! (Born in 1936, he turned pro in 1960.) And, of course, Moser’s style. He was a top track man – won the world pursuit championship in 76. Top time-triallist too. That’ll get your position aero.

    Yep, the whole film is a killer. I love seeing RDV killing it at the front of that foursome and Demeyer getting on his wheel to draft because that is the wheel you need to be on in Paris-Roubaix. And so much carnage, no gloves, no helmets, no whining. Awesome.

  13. @LeBelge

    @Ron

    A lot of the old school guys came from rural background. Farmers tend to be a lot outside, and it harden you.

    Plus they didn’t have central heating like now. They were generally in colder temp. all year long since birth, which help.

    I have a school friend who didn’t have central heating at home, just a coal stove. He would come to school in t-shirt when people where donning their winter jackets.

    I remember watching some Spring Classic many years ago. A clear day, just above freezing, and there is some Dutch hardass with no gloves at all. It really impressed me. You know these guys are a different breed when you see things like that.

  14. @Gianni

    Oi!!! For some unknown (but most probably very, very good) reason, I was not able to comment on the V site from work for around the last year. Fucking painful. You know me, I cannot be in a room and not be chatting constantly! I finally went to the IT Gods late summer and told them that something was up in regards to this problem. In their infinite wisdom, they put me on the list of priorities (it would seem right at the bottom) and today I found out that they had updated my system over night and I could post again!

    Halle-fuckin-lujah!!!

    The Stars of late seem to be aligning for me in regards to the bike and ergo in life as well!

  15. @Haldy

    This is one of my favorite Cycling photos ever. So much Awesome going on here. Teeth gritting; hair back in the wind; a back so flat you could eat your fucking dinner off it. And those sideburns. Look at the fucking angle of his wrists!

  16. @Buck Rogers

    @Gianni

    Oi!!! For some unknown (but most probably very, very good) reason, I was not able to comment on the V site from work for around the last year. Fucking painful. You know me, I cannot be in a room and not be chatting constantly! I finally went to the IT Gods late summer and told them that something was up in regards to this problem. In their infinite wisdom, they put me on the list of priorities (it would seem right at the bottom) and today I found out that they had updated my system over night and I could post again!

    Halle-fuckin-lujah!!!

    The Stars of late seem to be aligning for me in regards to the bike and ergo in life as well!

    Welcome back! Plus ca change, c’est plus la meme chose.

  17. @Matt

    @Haldy

    This is one of my favorite Cycling photos ever. So much Awesome going on here. Teeth gritting; hair back in the wind; a back so flat you could eat your fucking dinner off it. And those sideburns. Look at the fucking angle of his wrists!

    Here’s what I think is the same exact spot of that race from another angle-

  18. Well..okay..maybe not the exact same moment given the different leg position, but definitely the same race

  19. @Ron

    Speaking of hardness, I was thinking about this the other day since we’re having a serious cold streak for this area…

    In quite cold conditions, guys used to race with bare legs and maybe toss on a hat and some winter gloves. Now most of the racers come out of the bus looking like Randy after his mom dresses him for school. Skull caps, neck warmers, windproof jerseys, windproof gloves, full leg warmers, and oversocks.

    How can there be such an insane difference? How did the racers used to do it? (and I do know about Hinault and his hand issues from the cold)

    I’m taking a guess here, body fat back then maybe ~10%, nowadays 5%?

  20. @Haldy

    Front skewer at exactly 90* for Maximum Aero Effect. Rear skewer bisecting the angle created by the chain and seat stays, as God intended. White socks at the perfect height.

    Fucking hell. RDV laying down The Rules eons before I was to swing my leg over a top tube. Beautiful.

  21. @Buck Rogers

    Fuck and I knew something was missing around here but I just couldn’t fekin place it.

  22. All this talk of Roubaix has me thinking… What’s the word on the Keepers’ Tour this year, @Frank?

  23. This is inspirational as just last Friday I signed up for the 6th edition of the Belgian Waffle Ride here in San Diego County. It’s my 2nd attempt and my goal this year is to get to the oasis before the girls leave and to the finish before the beer garden closes.

    This post and video brought back memories as it’s now almost 40 years since the 1976 P-R race. 1976 was the year I bought my first pro bike – an Alan Super Record / Nuovo Record. Still have it in fact.

    I know, it’s not quite the same, but: https://vimeo.com/148125421 Training in January has had some hints of Flandrian weather at least as well as some unridable trails due to mud.

  24. Yay, Buck’s back, baby!

  25. there’s a lot to like in ‘a sunday on hell’. 4.00-6.40 aint bad for starters. he who is god arrives… looking as cool as da king cat… then de Vlaeminck’s guns (bumps where only one who is rock hard can have them) and taking care of Mr Merckx’s set-up… yeah… to the micrometre

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxBTVU9JDrA

  26. @Oli

    Yay, Buck’s back, baby!

    Well FUCK me!!! Oli’s back as well! When I was banished to the wasteland ages ago you had not been around in a long while! When did you get back?

    Hell, this is like a family reunion or something. Granted it’s a bucktoothed, inbred, coming-out-of-the-hills family reunion but a family reunion still the same!

  27. @Buck Rogers

    @Gianni

    Oi!!! For some unknown (but most probably very, very good) reason, I was not able to comment on the V site from work for around the last year. Fucking painful. You know me, I cannot be in a room and not be chatting constantly! I finally went to the IT Gods late summer and told them that something was up in regards to this problem. In their infinite wisdom, they put me on the list of priorities (it would seem right at the bottom) and today I found out that they had updated my system over night and I could post again!

    Halle-fuckin-lujah!!!

    The Stars of late seem to be aligning for me in regards to the bike and ergo in life as well!

    BUCK!

  28. @Matt

    @Haldy

    This is one of my favorite Cycling photos ever. So much Awesome going on here. Teeth gritting; hair back in the wind; a back so flat you could eat your fucking dinner off it. And those sideburns. Look at the fucking angle of his wrists!

    And not to mention that the Brooklyn jerseys are flat out perfect. Period. I love ’em. Cheers.

  29. @Haldy

    Here’s what I think is the same exact spot of that race from another angle-

    Okay, so, we know that the Brooklyn jersey is perfect. A special edition in red white and blue? More perfect. Now, does anyone think for a second that we need sublimated red white and blue shorts to make this work?!? NO! Black shorts and a Brooklyn jersey? Most Perfect.

  30. @LeBelge

    I did once here Adam ‘Slamsen’ or Hansen (its one of those two) describe the drops as the resting position.

  31. ….almost effortless rotary action…. love that phrase :)

  32. The Moser scene plays out around 9:10 into the clip, but as always, it is pure pleasure to watch what leads up to it

    I am partial to the slo-mo of Godefroot from around 8:09. It epitomizes the confluence of grace and raw power on the pave.

  33. @wilburrox

    @Haldy

    Here’s what I think is the same exact spot of that race from another angle-

    Okay, so, we know that the Brooklyn jersey is perfect. A special edition in red white and blue? More perfect. Now, does anyone think for a second that we need sublimated red white and blue shorts to make this work?!? NO! Black shorts and a Brooklyn jersey? Most Perfect.

    Your woman keeping her child safe from the viking raider is classic!

  34. @wilburrox

    Special edition? But they’re all red, white and blue?

  35. @Oli

    @wilburrox

    Special edition? But they’re all red, white and blue?

    I always thought that the original was black and white? But then again

  36. @fignons barber

    And who was the winner of said edition?

    Peter Post; that guy had a doctorate degree in “hard”, and went on to a stellar teaching career. Imagine being tough enough to manage not 1, but 2 Planckaerts…

  37. I haven’t watched Sunday in Hell since I gave away my VCR years ago. Still have it on VHS tape, time to dig it out and borrow a player.

  38. @RobSandy

    @fignons barber

    @RobSandy

    And when was the fastest ever Paris-Roubaix?

    1964, on an altered course with only half the cobbled sections and a 35mph tail wind for virtually the whole race. Point?

    I didn’t know that about less cobbles and the wind. They were still hard back then, regardless.

    I don’t come onto Velominati to let facts stand in the way of my opinions.

    Love you, brother.

  39. @Haldy

    The last modern guy I remember using that position regularly was Servais Knaven, shown here during a very muddy P-R win:

  40. Fans of the Tour of Flanders in here? Great video,even if you can’t speak Flemish:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q-DbqfeBRU

  41. @wilburrox

    Haha, I think that’s it. No, like the chewing gum packaging the jersey was always red, white and blue. There are monochrome “replicas” for sale but I have no idea why.

  42. @MangoDave

    I haven’t watched Sunday in Hell since I gave away my VCR years ago. Still have it on VHS tape, time to dig it out and borrow a player.

    I haven’t been able to find it on DVD. Here’s the full length version on youtube.

    http://youtu.be/zxBTVU9JDrA

  43. @Skip

    @MangoDave

    I haven’t watched Sunday in Hell since I gave away my VCR years ago. Still have it on VHS tape, time to dig it out and borrow a player.

    I haven’t been able to find it on DVD. Here’s the full length version on youtube.

    http://youtu.be/zxBTVU9JDrA

    Try here http://cyclingweekly.ipcshop.co.uk/shop/cycling-dvds/cycling-films

  44. The two bikes above are set up with identical measurements from saddle to ground and top of bars to ground. For what it’s worth, this puts the main top surface of the 2015 Chorus Ergopower levers 4cm higher than that of the mid-80s Cobalto brake levers. Effective reach is 1.5cm further with the newer levers.

    Yep, I know the bar tap on the newer bike is red, and it has a frame pump. Both remind me of my lost youth.

  45. Get down low you say?

    Caleb Ewan in full sprint

    https://www.facebook.com/CyclingTips/videos/1104109509629400/

  46. These men were hard as f…k

    No light bikes, no wide tyres, no large cassettes, no anti vibration/shock bars or frame. No plastic, no carbon. Just pure steel, beautifully hand crafted bikes with lovely Gruppo sets. I love the old aero positions such as Moser and it worked well. A lovely powerful position. I watch this film once a month to appreciate the sacrifice of the vintage rider. Set the alarm, get out of your beds, get dressed and go riding @5:30 just like Roger, ride 150km before breakfast then ride another 200km.

  47. @ILCapo

    Yes. Feel everything coming through the frame and send everything back into the road.

  48. Gave up your VCR? I still have two stored at my parent’s house. They’re not going anywhere until they force me to take ’em! Or they relocate and I have to move them myself.

  49. @Teocalli

    @Skip

    @MangoDave

    I haven’t watched Sunday in Hell since I gave away my VCR years ago. Still have it on VHS tape, time to dig it out and borrow a player.

    I haven’t been able to find it on DVD. Here’s the full length version on youtube.

    http://youtu.be/zxBTVU9JDrA

    Try here http://cyclingweekly.ipcshop.co.uk/shop/cycling-dvds/cycling-films

    Get thee to a Goodwill or somewhere similar. Pick up a VCR player for pennies but hope that the heads haven’t been trashed by the previous owner watching too much porn on fast forward.

  50. @Ron

    Gave up your VCR? I still have two stored at my parent’s house. They’re not going anywhere until they force me to take ’em! Or they relocate and I have to move them myself

    That doesn’t count. I have a VHS hooked up to a Sony Trinitron TV. I did, however, get rid of my Betamax VCRs.

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar