Can’t Do That

Walter Godefroot. photo from www.gios.it
Walter Godefroot. photo from www.gios.it

Pity our cyclist, it’s Saturday and he won’t shave his face, it might sap his strength but he has to shave his legs or he won’t look serious. He certainly can’t have sex, more strength stealing there, and kissing his wife, whoa, slow down, that could spread some germs. He doesn’t want to get sick so going to that birthday party tonight, that could be dangerous, crap fattening food on platters, touched by possibly sick people, and standing around, no way, think of the guns. Who can drink alcohol before racing anyway? I need some steak and pasta. Darling, I’ll go to your office Christmas party, I promise, if I can sit with my legs up a bit, and take the elevator up to the office on the second floor.

A little browse around the town center Saturday evening instead, can’t do that. That would require walking and standing. I’m an athlete, damn it. And this talk of going to the pool, basta! Every cyclist knows swimming is bad for the legs.

Pre-race Sunday morning breakfast- this oatmeal could stand some butter and maple syrup. In the name of Merckx, non-fat milk please and what part of high glycemic index don’t you understand? Oatmeal, does that contain gluten?

Our cyclist rolls with two teammates to the race. In the car all the talk is pre-race excuses: I’m too heavy, I might be getting sick, my legs are unbalanced (?!), I drank too much coffee, I stopped drinking coffee, I have too much inflammation in my body.

Cycling mythology never dies. In a world were we still can’t predict the day when we will have great legs, there are still a thousand things out there that will give us not-great legs, and I’m pretty sure it’s all crap. Having just read this amazing interview with Freddy Maertens (thanks @pistard), it’s plain what gives you great legs, train like a bastard. And by bastard I mean back to back to back to back 300 km training days. Only professionals need do this, or can do this (who has the time or will?). That, get a lot of sleep and eat well, that is what a professional from Freddy’s day might tell you. No one was losing sleep over their power to weight ratio, no Pros then looked like Chris Froome now. These passistas looked like guys you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.

Now cyclists train smarter, watt meters and training coaches, weight rooms and soy milk, skinnier and colder. Is there a professional now who just scoffs at such data and just trains long and hard? Look at the legs of riders in the 1970s, almost no one looks like that now and it’s not drugs that did that. It’s unholy training in big gears, some V in the bidon, repeat tomorrow.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/tough boys/”/]

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99 Replies to “Can’t Do That”

  1. A lot of reverence for the guys of days long gone. There seems to be a serious amount of anorexia going on new days. 

    As to the “no sex” before a race, a lady friend of mine back in my long distance running time, used to say “never race on a full dick”. In our funny world where we measure grams and power to weight ratios, this seems a fantastic rule to live by. 

  2. Amen. We where talking about this earlier in the week. I feel better knowing I don’t look like a recovering anorexic.

  3. In the 70s, we didn’t have the obesity problem that we have now. People still did recreation outside. You know, before the internet and Netflix.

    In a world of fat, skinny rules.

  4. Keep reminding myself that I am riding a race bike and all things start to ramp up.

  5. [email protected] me I was about to pack it in on this article after all the whining about swimming, abstaining from sex, what you eat blah blah blah (or as the french say patati patata????) but hot damn did those pictures pull it out!  Those boys were packing some serious business and give me hope that one day our generation might return to such levels of sheer testosterone laden insanity.  What a world of difference from my grandpa’s generation to today.  I need more 200km days!

  6. As far as alcohol before racing; Try drinking a low % low carbonation beer (Guinness, Boddingtons, Kilkenny etc…) before a cross race. Charismatically poisons you, numbs the wipe out pain, and the alcohol turns to sugars about 30 minutes later, giving you a boost during the hour of power.

    Works well for crits to.

  7. @scaler911

    A lot of reverence for the guys of days long gone. There seems to be a serious amount of anorexia going on new days.

    As to the “no sex” before a race, a lady friend of mine back in my long distance running time, used to say “never race on a full dick”. In our funny world where we measure grams and power to weight ratios, this seems a fantastic rule to live by.

    Genius!!! Did she also extol the fat-burning properties of…

  8. @scaler911

    As to the “no sex” before a race, a lady friend of mine back in my long distance running time, used to say “never race on a full dick”. In our funny world where we measure grams and power to weight ratios, this seems a fantastic rule to live by.

    Must… not… go… there….

  9. @scaler911

    A lot of reverence for the guys of days long gone. There seems to be a serious amount of anorexia going on new days.

    As to the “no sex” before a race, a lady friend of mine back in my long distance running time, used to say “never race on a full dick”. In our funny world where we measure grams and power to weight ratios, this seems a fantastic rule to live by.

    Did you steal Boonen’s bib shorts and shoes? Nice guns.

    @Rob

    Perhaps I was not clear, these things people worry about, widely believed but mostly bullshit. I should have written the post on the Maertens interview alone, it’s long but so worth it.

  10. @Gianni

    Haha no worries, just that with a career in Finance I’m allergic to bullshit in my non-working hours and that is the major appeal to Rule #9 riding in Belgium.  Well I guess its not an absence of bullshit in the literal sense as anyone who has rode pave can tell you but you get what I mean……

    More then made up for it with the pictures and the interview as well……just finished it.  Thanks again!

  11. Damn straight! The older I get the less I worry about cycling proscriptions. And the more I just ride.

    Apparently I’m the same height and weight as The Bulldog; just need to shift some of the sprinters muscle south to the legs. He may look like a retired accountant now, but I still wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley.

  12. I’m much closer in build to modern pros than to those of yore (close being relative of course).  It would take way more work to look like a Boonen then a Froome for me.  I guess I just have a small frame?  I get by just fine working in a fab shop and hauling heavy stuff around, so I don’t know if it is really a problem.

  13. I sometimes wonder if the riders of old were heavier because their bikes were also heavier.  For instance Alberto Contador weighs in at 62 kg and the UCI bike weight limit is 6.8 kg for a total climbing weight of 68.8 kg, of which the bike’s ratio to the total weight of bike and rider is 9.9%.

    It’s reported that Merckx’s bike was about 9.5 kg and that in 1968 he had slimmed to 72 kg.  This would make the total riding weight of 81.5 kg, so the bike would be 11.7% of combined weight.

    If Contador had to race bikes of the same weight as during Merckx’s era the combined weight would be 71.5 kg and the bike’s percentage of total weight would be 13.3%.

    As the bike doesn’t produce any power on its own, this would obviously be a significantly higher percentage of non power generating weight for a lighter rider to haul up the mountains.

  14. @imakecircles

    Did you just post something with a fuck-ton of explanatory force? I’m hoping to see some informed (or even uninformed) debate on this hypothesis.

  15. Which current riders do you think best embody the guys from the ’70s?

  16. @imakecircles

    I sometimes wonder if the riders of old were heavier because their bikes were also heavier. For instance Alberto Contador weighs in at 62 kg and the UCI bike weight limit is 6.8 kg for a total climbing weight of 68.8 kg, of which the bike’s ratio to the total weight of bike and rider is 9.9%.

    It’s reported that Merckx’s bike was about 9.5 kg and that in 1968 he had slimmed to 72 kg. This would make the total riding weight of 81.5 kg, so the bike would be 11.7% of combined weight.

    If Contador had to race bikes of the same weight as during Merckx’s era the combined weight would be 71.5 kg and the bike’s percentage of total weight would be 13.3%.

    As the bike doesn’t produce any power on its own, this would obviously be a significantly higher percentage of non power generating weight for a lighter rider to haul up the mountains.

    Its irrelevant because they’d all be on similarly heavy bikes. What would matter is if everyone was on light modern bikes except Bertie.

    Fuentes and Ocaña would have been closer to Bertie’s weight and still they did fine on their heavy bikes.

    Not to start the doping talk, but drugs like EPO are what has made these guys so skinny; in Merckx’s day, they needed to eat loads and carry more weight just to have the reserves to finish a grand tour. Watch The Greatest Show on Earth and you see Ole eating a fucking steak pre-race.

  17. So fucking cool. I have had the Maertens interview open on my computer since earlier this week, waiting for the chance to really give it full gas attention.

    I just read it, then um…somehow was drawn here. And now, this and a mention that someone else read that great article. Nice!

    “My body has too much inflammation.” Wow, talk about a general catch-all for someone eager to make vague excuses as to why they can’t do it. Excuses, don’t want ’em.

  18. @frank

    @cyclebrarian

    Hard to say, mostly because they didn’t make it into the Pro ranks because they are too fat.

    But Boonen and Fabs are close, I’d say.

    Absolutely Fabs. He is a big tough man. Put him in an old Raleigh TI kit and a hairnet and he would fit right in.

     

  19. @frank

    @imakecircles

    I sometimes wonder if the riders of old were heavier because their bikes were also heavier. For instance Alberto Contador weighs in at 62 kg and the UCI bike weight limit is 6.8 kg for a total climbing weight of 68.8 kg, of which the bike’s ratio to the total weight of bike and rider is 9.9%.

    It’s reported that Merckx’s bike was about 9.5 kg and that in 1968 he had slimmed to 72 kg. This would make the total riding weight of 81.5 kg, so the bike would be 11.7% of combined weight.

    If Contador had to race bikes of the same weight as during Merckx’s era the combined weight would be 71.5 kg and the bike’s percentage of total weight would be 13.3%.

    As the bike doesn’t produce any power on its own, this would obviously be a significantly higher percentage of non power generating weight for a lighter rider to haul up the mountains.

    Its irrelevant because they’d all be on similarly heavy bikes. What would matter is if everyone was on light modern bikes except Bertie.

    Fuentes and Ocaña would have been closer to Bertie’s weight and still they did fine on their heavy bikes.

    Not to start the doping talk, but drugs like EPO are what has made these guys so skinny; in Merckx’s day, they needed to eat loads and carry more weight just to have the reserves to finish a grand tour. Watch The Greatest Show on Earth and you see Ole eating a fucking steak pre-race.

    Contador ate a “steak” once.

  20. Great ad! I’ll take up Chesterfields if I get the lady after a fun ride…

    And wow, the FM interview! How incredible, loved reading all those stories and learning about what went on, how things have changed…and him sharing a puff with the Prophet!

  21. I read that as too much information in my body!? Thought the article was going a bit Philip K Dick. Awesome photo’s, loving the last one with the Wayfarers.

  22. @Gianni

    @frank

    @cyclebrarian

    Hard to say, mostly because they didn’t make it into the Pro ranks because they are too fat.

    But Boonen and Fabs are close, I’d say.

    Absolutely Fabs. He is a big tough man. Put him in an old Raleigh TI kit and a hairnet and he would fit right in.

    Fabs is a MONSTER! I watch last year’s Tour of Flanders when he dropped Sagan (who I respect for racing in the Classics) on Paterberg over and over again. Sagan had to get out of his seat to even try to keep up with Cancellara. You can almost imagine Fabs thinking “you can’t hang with me!” And then he goes into TT mode as soon as he hits the top. Freakin’ amazing!

  23. @Gianni

    @frank

    @cyclebrarian

    Hard to say, mostly because they didn’t make it into the Pro ranks because they are too fat.

    But Boonen and Fabs are close, I’d say.

    Absolutely Fabs. He is a big tough man. Put him in an old Raleigh TI kit and a hairnet and he would fit right in.

    I’d put Sagan in that group as well, crazy antics aside dude has some legs.

  24. @imakecircles I don’t know about that, I am 54kg and my bike is around 8kg, and you can probably guess buy that 54kg that I look more like Conti than Merckx, why so much picking on skinny guys lately on this site? or is everyone really to fat to climb and trying to justify it buy thinking they look like a pro from the seventies.

  25. @anthony

    @imakecircles I don’t know about that, I am 54kg and my bike is around 8kg, and you can probably guess buy that 54kg that I look more like Conti than Merckx, why so much picking on skinny guys lately on this site? or is everyone really to fat to climb and trying to justify it buy thinking they look like a pro from the seventies.

    What fun would it be if we didn’t compare ourselves to people we don’t compare to?

  26. @San Tonio I like Sagan too, San Tonio. The kid looks like he just likes to race bikes – he raced mtbs and CX too. That makes him okay in my book.

  27. @anthony

    @imakecircles I don’t know about that, I am 54kg and my bike is around 8kg, and you can probably guess buy that 54kg that I look more like Conti than Merckx, why so much picking on skinny guys lately on this site? or is everyone really to fat to climb and trying to justify it buy thinking they look like a pro from the seventies.

    While I’m sure there are some over optimistic 80kg riders who fancy themselves to be equivalents of an 80kg Merckx the math works both ways.

    While it’s amazing the benefit of dropping from 76kg down to 69kg at this point I am bumping up pretty hard again the law of diminishing returns.  I look at a Belgian gauffre the wrong way and I add a kilo…… On the other hand my best friend, and a flandrian, has lost just as much weight as I have, but just happens to naturally have another 5kgs in muscle mass in his legs.  While he might admire the climber’s guns I have, I can assure you that he wouldn’t have swapped places with me when he walked away from me on the pavé of the carrefour.

    IMHO its a helluva lot easier to drop 6kg of fat, than to add 6kg of muscle. At the end of the day power to weight requires power to compensate for all those other unnecessary bits like bone and bicycle frame and the numerator in my equation ain’t quite high enough for my liking and I’m running out of denominator to cut. I’m seriously jealous of the lean athletic muscularity of these guys, let alone their ability to apply Rule #5 in far greater amounts than I.

  28. @Rob I hear you man, listen I wish I had a couple more kg’s of muscle, I just think it’s funny that there is a backlash against skinny riders(not just on this web site) I don’t care really, just an observation, believe me being 54kg’s and 170cm does nothing for you in a cross race or a sprint finish but it won’t stop me from pretending that I am much more than a spindly climber, Cheers

  29. @anrthony

    @Rob I hear you man, listen I wish I had a couple more kg’s of muscle, I just think it’s funny that there is a backlash against skinny riders(not just on this web site) I don’t care really, just an observation, believe me being 54kg’s and 170cm does nothing for you in a cross race or a sprint finish but it won’t stop me from pretending that I am much more than a spindly climber, Cheers

    I am not maligning skinny cyclists, I wish I was one, I’d climb somewhat better. Everyone would like to be a thinner cyclist, many can’t be bothered to lose the weight.

    I should have been more specific in the post that all those passiatas in the photos were mostly men for the spring classics. As Maertens points out, they raced everything, spring classics, grand tours and everything in between, but they really killed it in the spring classics.

    In general, it’s very hard to change your body type as it’s genetics, not power squats that really make you look like you do. And genetics that make you a great cyclists, not riding a lot.

  30. @Gianni I thought your article was awesome, and I didn’t think you were at all, it was more of a general comment, seems like a lot of people are sick of seeing Twiggo’s and Spider’s so I decided to call everyone fat, like you said, there is little a lot of people can do to change there bodies, the more squats I do the skinnier I get, so I stopped that silliness now I just ride a lot and drinks shitloads of beer, it’s a lot more fun. Once again great reading as always, Cheers

  31. @frank

    @imakecircles

    I sometimes wonder if the riders of old were heavier because their bikes were also heavier. For instance Alberto Contador weighs in at 62 kg and the UCI bike weight limit is 6.8 kg for a total climbing weight of 68.8 kg, of which the bike’s ratio to the total weight of bike and rider is 9.9%.

    It’s reported that Merckx’s bike was about 9.5 kg and that in 1968 he had slimmed to 72 kg. This would make the total riding weight of 81.5 kg, so the bike would be 11.7% of combined weight.

    If Contador had to race bikes of the same weight as during Merckx’s era the combined weight would be 71.5 kg and the bike’s percentage of total weight would be 13.3%.

    As the bike doesn’t produce any power on its own, this would obviously be a significantly higher percentage of non power generating weight for a lighter rider to haul up the mountains.

    Its irrelevant because they’d all be on similarly heavy bikes. What would matter is if everyone was on light modern bikes except Bertie.

    Fuentes and Ocaña would have been closer to Bertie’s weight and still they did fine on their heavy bikes.

    Initially, I was with @imakecircles, butafter running the numbers I’m not so sure.

    If we assume the 62 and 72 kg cyclists have identical power to weight ratios without bikes (i arbitrarily choose 6.13 W/kg), then add the dead weight of bikes described (6.8 kg and 9.5 kg) I found that the heavier cyclist would have a .08 w/kg advantage with the lighter bike, but .12 w/kg advantage with the heavier bike. Some of my assumptions are questionable, but mathematically it is clear lighter riders gain when bike weights go down.

    That said, I don’t think .04 w/kg is significant enough to account for the differences between the era’s.  Frank’s suggestion of epo reducing the stress of a GT is interesting. The Freddie interview  supports the idea that the weight was necessary to handle the training load by pointing out that riders now race 60 days per year instead of 200, though epo would not be required for that to be the driving factor.

    Basically, imakecircles has a point, but bike weight can’t be the only factor. And if you read this far, apparently you have as much time as I do…

  32. Stems go up, stems go down. Neckties get wide, neckties get thin. Pants devolve into “carpenter’s pants” for all men, glad we made it through that. “Pants” evolve into hosiery as pants for many woman. For the most part, I don’t mind this trend.

    (really, when did stockings become leggings, which became pants? They’re clearly under pants, but the pros outweigh the cons, from my perspective.)

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