Encore de la Pluie

The Lion roars in the mud and rain

I don’t enjoy the races in February on the Arabian Peninsula because I like watching other people ride in the sun while I spend my afternoons looking for a sliver of daylight that coincides with some fragment of my day where I don’t also need to work or engage in some other activity. I also don’t enjoy them because I think corners are overrated, nor because I like watching stock-bike time trials, nor because I believe wind is a suitable substitute for mountains.

No, I enjoy the February races on the Arabian Peninsula because it’s the first sign of life we get from the hardmen who will be bending, breaking, and smashing their way over the cobblestones this Spring in snow, rain, or suffocating dust.

Not a bad way to start things, Tomeke.

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69 Replies to “Encore de la Pluie”

  1. Gone are the days of blue handlebar tape and wire (American Classic?) bottle cages.

  2. I never liked Museeuw much after he held Sean Yates back by the yellow jersey in a bonification sprint during the ’94 Tour, directly contributing to Yates losing said yellow jersey.

  3. I, too, am looking forward to getting the Arabian Peninsula circus over, so that the hardmen can get down to business in the cold, gray north.

    I can highly recommend the book The Spring Classics, by the writers of l’Equipe, as a warm-up and to live the historical context. It has helped me to get on the rollers in the dark.

  4. Museeeuw is on the best classics bike of all, Eddy Merckx Scandium tubing. So forgiving in the rough and awesome carving through the corners. The arabian races are tune ups and getting base layer tans for the classics!

  5. poppapro :
    Museeeuw is on the best classics bike of all, Eddy Merckx Scandium tubing. So forgiving in the rough and awesome carving through the corners. The arabian races are tune ups and getting base layer tans for the classics!

    That’s my BIKE! I have a Merckx scandium tubing and just LOVE it!

  6. Oli Brooke-White :
    I never liked Museeuw much after he held Sean Yates back by the yellow jersey in a bonification sprint during the ’94 Tour, directly contributing to Yates losing said yellow jersey.

    I completely agree with you on not ever really liking Museeuw. Not sure why but he never appealed to me as a rider. Definitely was a Hardman in the Spring but just not very likable in my opinion.

  7. Steampunk :
    My coffee shop was showing the 2006 Tour of Flanders this morning…

    Now that is a damn fine Coffee Shop you got there!

  8. @Geoffrey Grosenbach
    Ha! Nice catch. We’ve long been planning a section devoted to douchey Rule-breakages, but are concerned we might disappear up our own asses doing that.

    That said, there’s a hipster downtown who rides a fixie with the crankset on the wrong side. Classic. I have a pic of it somewhere.

  9. @Buck Rogers

    I completely agree with you on not ever really liking Museeuw. Not sure why but he never appealed to me as a rider. Definitely was a Hardman in the Spring but just not very likable in my opinion.

    Badass, fucking hard as hell, fucking cool, and Boonen’s mentor. The FUCKING LION OF FLANDERS. What’s not to like? Dude smashed his knee on a cobblestone and STILL looked cool.

    Here’s him big-ringing the Kapelmuur. Any questions?

    http://www.velominati.com/racing/study-of-a-hardman-johan-museeuw/

  10. There’s a perfectly good explanation for the swapped rings on that photo that isn’t showing. It’s about chain alignment and the complete inaccessibility of the proper chain ring bolts and or bb spindle length.

  11. Where did @Geoffrey’s photo go?

    @michael, if you are explaining, it’s because you’ve already dug yourself a nice hole to get out of.

  12. @Nate
    They are back. WordPress 3.0.5 has a bug that effects rippin’ awesome sites like ours that allow uploads and embeds. It’s fixed now.

  13. @frank
    Got it now. Hope I didn’t cause needless panic amongst our rippin’ awesome site admins — was worried it was my stupid work computer that had the issue.

  14. @frank
    Re. “That said, there’s a hipster downtown who rides a fixie with the crankset on the wrong side. Classic. I have a pic of it somewhere.”
    I imagine he might have done that because he’s left handed and fed up with getting oil all over the leg of what you’d call his pants when dismounted. I might try the same myself at some point, although I prefer having a freewheel to a fixie.

  15. frank:

    Here’s him big-ringing the Kapelmuur. Any questions?

    Long live the Lion. Now I’m totally psyched to go out and ride in the 9 degree frozen tundra. I should watch that video every morning. He was, however, in the small chainring for the steep part at the top. Of course, on the Lion’s rig that’s probably a 44….

  16. @blaireau
    Nah…his big ring is a 61 and his small ring is a 52. But in any case, the Big Ring is not just a chainring, it’s a state of mind.

    Speaking of big-ringing, here’s Du-du defying physics and time in 1992:

    If you don’t already check out BRR, you are doing yourself and everyone you know a disservice.

  17. Is anybody watching stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar? perfect example of echelon riding in a viscous wind but i do agree that having a race that depends on it blowing to make it interesting is a bit sketchy

  18. frank:

    That said, there’s a hipster downtown who rides a fixie with the crankset on the wrong side. Classic. I have a pic of it somewhere.

    Thats could very well be a way of avoiding the rear kog to unscrew while breaking/skidding if he is riding a “suicide” set up. Been done before.

  19. @michael

    Just because it makes sense from an engineering standpoint doesn’t mean it isn’t ugly. That was probably a perfectly good bike before somebody went and did that so they could ride a cool fixie/singlespeed.

    Single speed riding can be pretty bad-ass, but only when done in a proper, aesthetically pleasing way.

    But shit, if the guy’s bike broke and that was the only way he could make it work because he didn’t have the money to fix things, then good on him, otherwise, TRAVESTY I SAY! TRAVESTY!

  20. frank :
    @Buck Rogers

    I completely agree with you on not ever really liking Museeuw. Not sure why but he never appealed to me as a rider. Definitely was a Hardman in the Spring but just not very likable in my opinion.

    Badass, fucking hard as hell, fucking cool, and Boonen’s mentor. The FUCKING LION OF FLANDERS. What’s not to like? Dude smashed his knee on a cobblestone and STILL looked cool.
    Here’s him big-ringing the Kapelmuur. Any questions?
    http://www.velominati.com/racing/study-of-a-hardman-johan-museeuw/

    You know, I cannot really put my finger on it. Maybe it was because he was from a priviledged background (not his “fault” but a far cry from Kelly either racing his bike or hauling paving stones) and his seemingly aloofness. I do not deny that he was a true Hardman, but he just seemed too classy or something to really fit my iconic Spring Classics rider (hey, it’s my fantasy world, I’m setting the rules!)

  21. @Marko
    Is he German or Aussie these days? Either way, he seems to be tearing up the early season a bit, doesn’t he? Bummed to see Tomeke dropped off with a flat. I think the peloton should have waited (maybe we can start a 6 month thread related to this, no? :)

  22. @Marko
    With Haussler and Boonen returning healthily to the fold, this is going to make the spring VSP that much more difficult. Great to see so many good riders rolling healthy and into form.

  23. Sam:
    Is anybody watching stage 3 of the Tour of Qatar? perfect example of echelon riding in a viscous wind but i do agree that having a race that depends on it blowing to make it interesting is a bit sketchy

    Know what you mean, but speaking as someone who has to contend with those winds all year round it does me good to see that even the pros find them tough.

    Probably only half our club group is competent at through-and-off so trying to organise them into a f**king echelon is a lost cause. At least you appreciate the days when the right half breaks away though.

  24. I am so sick of this deadshit place.
    Went to the ToQ prologue – me, my family and a friend were about it for spectators apart from the circus that travels with a big (!) race. There are trials guys doing amazing trially stuff to entertain… not sure who, really… One of the trials guys is in WC rainbow bands; nobody is really watching, ‘cos there’s nobody really there.
    Yes Cav fell because of a big metal speedhump – deadshit race organisers didn’t remove it, despite it being a temporary one. Fuck it; I could have traced 2.5km through the place without hitting a speedhump, but it’s been done in the same dumbarse way everything is done here.
    So glad I’m moving in June.
    Blah in Doha, Qatar.

  25. @Steampunk
    Sauceler may be returning to form, but seems to be trying to change nationality again to Spain, to judge by his Pistolero antics on the line. I liked it better when he just had a good old manly cry. But maybe he’s saving the weeping for the Classics.

  26. @ChrisO
    Yep, for some reason some local clubs don’t understand the principle of echelons, at the club i got to when not a uni, wind formed from my side of a two abreast pack, so i moved up to protect the inside. Got screamed at for “Half-Wheeling”. I don’t have an issue with social riders but i ask they watch some racing to understand how moving as a pack works in changing conditions

  27. Steampunk :
    @Buck Rogers2008 Ghent Wevelgem today.

    Where do you live?!?!?! Man, I hope it is San Antonio as I am moving there this summer!

  28. What the fuck is going on with that big ring on the inside? Oh gosh. I’m guessing that is a fixed conversion? Leave it to them…

    Can’t wait for the Spring Classics. My life feels like it will have meaning in a few weeks…

  29. @Marcus
    I apologize unreservedly, retract and withdraw. Those of you who aren’t Mark Renshaw are all wonderful fellows.

  30. @Buck Rogers
    Dundas, Ontario. Sorry.

    G’phant:
    @Marcus
    I apologize unreservedly, retract and withdraw. Those of you who aren’t Mark Renshaw are all wonderful fellows.

    This is disappointing on two counts. First: see Rule #5 and stick to your guns. And, second: I thought all Australians were Mark Renshaws…

  31. How about Cancellara and Flecha today in Oman? Man, looks like Cancellara is serious about L-B-L with his climbing. Those two are going to be a serious threat in Flanders again this year as well.

  32. @frank
    Love that finish line photo. There has to be at LEAST 15 people there!

    Looks like my citizen race finishes I used to do back in my first year of cycling in ’87!

    But, honestly, he’s got some good form right now. Wonder if he’ll hold the jersey through tomorrow’s ITT?

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