Twistin Banged and Felled. And Got Back Up.

Vande Velde leads on the Stelvio. Photo: Steephill/Sirotti

As a byproduct of brakes being strictly for ornamental purposes, cyclists are often forced to find alternative means of stopping their bikes. As a matter of both convenience and effectiveness, the tarmac and other objects of greater mass than the sum of cyclist and bicycle are often employed for this purpose. Collectively, we refer to this process as “crashing” and typically frown upon its use at least as much as using brakes in the first place. While strikingly effective, the process involves several undesirable side effects including a loss of skin, blood, and equipment. It also inflicts some degree of pain. Though tragic when they occur, brain injuries are rare primarily because you can’t hurt what you don’t have.

Though his powers are weakening, if I was going to identify an authority in this process within the Pro Peloton, I might pick Christian Vande Velde or, as we know him by his Nomen Velominatus: Twistin Banged and Felled. After a career spent in the service of others, Christian rocketed to the top of the “We’ll Doom You With Our Unrealistic Expectations” list during the 2008 Tour de France when he flirted with a podium place before falling off his bike while going down a mountain. In 2009, he crashed out of the Giro d’Italia on Stage 3 and, being short on form due to his injuries, returned to the role of domestique for Brad Wiggins in the Tour. He might have fallen off again, but I’m not sure. Let’s assume he did, for sake of argument. In 2010, he decided that 2009 was so cracking, he’d try to repeat the formula and crashed out of the Giro on Stage 3 for the second year running. It was all going to plan until he mistakenly also crashed out of the Tour on Stage 2, during the infamous Stockeu oil-slick crash. Oh well, best laid plans and all that.

Amidst of all this brakeless stopping, however, Christian has experienced the aforementioned side-effects acutely. As a result, he has some serious back problems and was forced to grow a few special bones which he then broke just so he could hold the record for Most Broken Bones. He contemplated retirement several times, knowing the battle that waited before him as he lay injured in a hospital bed somewhere in Europe.

Coming back from injury is hard. I’m coming back from laziness myself, and even that’s hard. Going out every day, knowing you’re not as fast and strong as you were, knowing that all the work it took to get that strong and fast has been lost and all that suffering will have to be relived. It’s as maddening as it is demoralizing.

But each time, he gritted his teeth and fought back. When Cycling is in your blood, there is no other way. You may tell yourself you’ll quit, or that you’ll never do a ride again, but those things are just something your brain and body need to hear before they start something hard over again from scratch.

Twistin Banged and Felled, and got back up. And as his performance as Ryder Hesjedal’s super domestique in the closing stages of the Giro d’Italia testifies, it was a fight worth having. More than any of the attacks, sprints, victories and losses, the image that for me identifies the 2012 Giro is that of Christian on the front of the ever-dwindling bunch on its way up the Stelvio. Kilometer after kilometer, after kilometer: Christian with the throttle wide open. Ryder better have given him a special thank you gift from Canada, though I’m not sure what that would be. Miniature hockey stick, probably.

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122 Replies to “Twistin Banged and Felled. And Got Back Up.”

  1. Nice! Twistin did in fact do a pretty awesome ride for Ryder on the Stelvio.

    Hmm, what sort of gift from Canadia? Maybe a lacrosse stick, as it was the national sport for many o’ year. Or some poutine? Nothing says nice kit like a gravy stain! (then again Ryder is a westerner…)

    As for how to stop the bike: I was just thinking about this last night because my road bike calipers are significantly mo better at stopping me than my cross cantilevers. Of course. But then I got to thinking about pads. I’m going on two years on the original Campa pads. What is a typical km lifespan for brake pads?

  2. Well done Frank, I was on the leaderboard of over hyping poor Christian. It was for silly reasons too : we have the same home state (Illinois ). Poor fellow never stood a chance. Very proud of his Giro ride and his toughness. Nice article!

  3. @Ron

    Nice! Twistin did in fact do a pretty awesome ride for Ryder on the Stelvio.

    Hmm, what sort of gift from Canadia? Maybe a lacrosse stick, as it was the national sport for many o’ year. Or some poutine? Nothing says nice kit like a gravy stain! (then again Ryder is a westerner…)

    As for how to stop the bike: I was just thinking about this last night because my road bike calipers are significantly mo better at stopping me than my cross cantilevers. Of course. But then I got to thinking about pads. I’m going on two years on the original Campa pads. What is a typical km lifespan for brake pads?

    If you’re me one long ride involving a down hill – I’m seriously considering taking a full spare set to the Pyrenees.

  4. @Cyclops

    Ryder better have given him a special thank you gift from Canada,

    Yep, shorts have to be black.

    I think that is actually semaphor for Polska.

  5. I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    (But Frank’s a total hoser for the Canadian bit)
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    (and what’s up with the Polish team pic?)
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait
    I’m not going to take the bait

  6. @Cyclops
    For Merckx’s sake, quit reposting this people. Haven’t met you in person yet @Cyclops, but I’ma gonna kill you in Seattle next weekend.
    Cheers!

  7. These photos nicely illustrate Banged and Felled’s awesome ascent up the Stelvio, via SteepHill.

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/frank/2012.06.06.18.24.20/”/]

  8. CVV was bloody awesome going up the Stelvio. When I was watching I was so surprised I didn’t want to believe it was actually him.

    Now that I have that out of the way I’m gonna burn out my eyes after seeing that picture of the Polish riders. Cyclops, your a bad person. Good Merckx!

  9. @Steampunk
    Just for you:

    Canada on strike!
    Canada on Strike!
    Canada!
    Canada!
    Canada!
    Canada!
    Canada on strike!
    Canada says “no more!”
    No more neglect! We want respect! That’s what we’re striking for!
    All you bureaucrats and corporate cats can all just take a hike!
    It’s Canada on strike!

    Canada on strike!
    From Vancouver to St. John’s,
    We raise our middle fingers up for you all to sit upon!
    And with our fingers up your ass you won’t be very psyched!
    It’s Canada on strike!

    And we will not bow or budge.
    Our resolve is strong.
    We even took three hours to rehearse this striking song!

    Canada on strike!
    No matter where you are!
    If you are Canadian, than you’ve got do your part!
    March out from the halls!
    That’s right, suck my Canadian balls!
    It’s Canada on strike!
    It’s Canada on Strike!
    It’s Canada on Strike!
    It’s Canada
    On Strike!

  10. @Steampunk
    Is that what passes for edgy humour in Canada? If so, I understand what your basic national problem is.

    Unrelated: the VMH and I were tossed out of a bar in Whistler once for the crime of cheering for the Norwegian team during an Olympic hockey match.

  11. @frank
    Why the fuck would anybody cheer for the Norwegian hockey team? Speed skating: absolutely. Skiing: sure. But hockey?? Cheer for the Swedes at hockey: perfectly acceptable (Vancouver has been overpaying Swedes for more than ten years), but Norway? I can’t imagine there would have been much to cheer for.

    Canadian humour (nice use of the “u,” by the way) vs. South Park? Yep: you guys are edgy. Base common denominator is edgy stuff.

  12. @Steampunk
    That’s funny. Sadly, I didn’t hear an actual Canadian accent from that guy. No ‘ehs, oots, or aboots either.

  13. @Xyverz
    Not sure I use any of those either. Most of us speak the Queen’s English. Which is as it should be.

    @Nate
    Norway? Seriously? I just don’t get that. I’m struggling to think of a single Norwegian in the NHL…

  14. @Tobin
    1. Are the Blue Jackets even still in the NHL?
    2. Knutsen hasn’t played in the NHL since 2004.
    3. Diamond Jubilee? This is more important.

  15. @Steampunk

    Why the fuck would anybody cheer for the Norwegian hockey team? Speed skating: absolutely. Skiing: sure. But hockey?? Cheer for the Swedes at hockey: perfectly acceptable (Vancouver has been overpaying Swedes for more than ten years), but Norway? I can’t imagine there would have been much to cheer for.

    Simple: they were playing the Canadians. Elementary, my dear Watson.

  16. @scaler911

    @Cyclops

    @All

    Just trying to keep Fronk on his toes.

    Right back at ya buddy:

    Didn’t know you were at the Giro…….

    Those slingshots are like nudist beaches. Its never the well-manicured hot people that venture into those realms. Its always the ones who shouldn’t.

    @Steampunk

    @Tobin
    1. Are the Blue Jackets even still in the NHL?
    2. Knutsen hasn’t played in the NHL since 2004.
    3. Diamond Jubilee? This is more important.

    Excuse me, WHAT?

    Where’s Marcus and Minion, we need some civilization around here.

    And, not to state the obvious, but I mean to say that by comparison, we’ll all seem civilized once those two get going.

  17. @Peter

    No better gift from Canada than a bottle of Canadian tylenol.

    Is that the cure for drinking Canadian beer?

    How did this turn into Canadian slagging? Not that I’m complaining – work out quite nicely, really. Just wondering.

  18. @minion

    You talking about this place?

    You lot are silly. Canada’s not a real place, it’s like Hogwarts or Narnia, without the trip through the closet to get there.

    Thats the one right there. I heard they had magic potions that, once you drink it, it makes Canada feel like a real place.

    @Steampunk
    I should mention the VMH is part Norwegian.

  19. @minion
    Canberra’s a long way from the Shire, Frodo.

    @frank
    The magic potions are called socialized health care.

    Understand I have no gripe with Norway or the Norwegians. It’s one of my favourite places to visit and a country that, simply, works. But cheering for the Norwegian hockey team is just silly. You might as well just mix your kits and wear blue knee-high socks on the bike.

  20. @frank

    @Peter

    No better gift from Canada than a bottle of Canadian tylenol.

    Is that the cure for drinking Canadian beer?

    How did this turn into Canadian slagging? Not that I’m complaining – work out quite nicely, really. Just wondering.

    That shit isn’t even really beer. And the really horrible thing is it’s like $90 a six pack. I do however like the warnings on cig packs up there.
    AC&C is a good cure for a night out on Granville though.

  21. @frank

    @Peter

    No better gift from Canada than a bottle of Canadian tylenol.

    Is that the cure for drinking Canadian beer?

    How did this turn into Canadian slagging? Not that I’m complaining – work out quite nicely, really. Just wondering.

    Quite ironic that you’re slagging Canada considering tha Seattle is an outer suburb of Vancouver, isn’t it?
    You’r more Canadian than you think.

  22. Well as a Canadian, and educated in Canada – I can find my country on a globe….

    Oh, by the way, we’re on top.

  23. @Steampunk
    1 – They are playing golf with your Canucks and my Oil.
    2 – 200 games in five years…my knee’s have seen more ice time.
    3- Must be a west thing, cannot get away from it here. Apparently our love of the Royals is still strong since will and Kate came to visit te colonies…err..Stampede last summer.

  24. @Steampunk
    You’re cracking me up! And now that I think of it Canada’s probably the one place that would be better suited to filming Lord of The Rings than NZ. I’ve got no dog in this fight, apart from this;
    Amercia, Amercia…

  25. @mouse

    It’s all Cascadia.

    And Kokanee comes out of the same InBev pipeline as Bud. Here’s some real Canadian/Cascadian beer: http://phillipsbeer.com/home

    They’ve done some decent Belgian-style doubles and triples. Not quite Gulden Draak but I can take my 2L jug back for a $10 refill…

  26. @pistard

    @mouse

    It’s all Cascadia.

    True that.
    Cascadia really is a differenct country from either Romney’s “Amercia” or the rest of Canada.

  27. @Steampunk

    @Xyverz
    Not sure I use any of those either. Most of us speak the Queen’s English. Which is as it should be.

    Yeah, I thought that too, until I moved to Oz and found out that using z instead of s in words that end with ‘ise’ is an Americanisation of the language.

  28. @pistard & @mouse:
    I’ll drink to that. Although I now live three time zones to the east, I’m a fervent Cascadian. No finer place on the planet.

    @minion
    Here’s a little lesson about Canadia.

    @Tobin
    I’m coming to terms with the fact that Canuck mediocrity is the last vestige of my youth. If they actually won the Stanley Cup, I don’t know what I’d do. Maybe I’d start cheering for the Norwegian hockey team or something. But even that sounds a bit crazy…

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