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Why I like watching the spring races--Commuting content, honest

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Why I like watching the spring races--Commuting content, honest

Old 03-02-14, 08:11 PM
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tsl
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Why I like watching the spring races--Commuting content, honest

Face it. Bike racing has little if any relevance to bike commuting. But there's one group of races that got me interesting in watching racing, because of the conditions under which they're run.

I'm referring of course to the European spring classics, where they race in the cold, the rain, the snow, and the wind, over broken pavement and cobblestones. In other words, exactly my commuting conditions! (And possibly yours too.)

This year I even splashed for a three-month subscription to cycling.tv just so I could hear the commentary in English. I watch more than just the race itself. I've come to enjoy watching the passing scenery, and seeing how many in the crowd have ridden their own bikes to the race.

The spring season opened in Belgium on Saturday with the 69th running of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, a 198km (about 120 mile) romp through the hills and cobbles of Flanders. It was cold. It was windy. Partway through, it started to rain. Sideways. Exactly like my commute. (And possibly yours too.)

This long preamble leads up to an image from yesterday’s race that summarized for me the nature and the spirit of the spring races.

Here’s Belgian Greg Van Avermaet of Team BMC (who finished second) taking his turn at the front, pulling a barely visible Briton, Ian Stannard of Team Sky (who won). He’s got the look of a hardman battling the wind and rain with 7.3km to go in a 198km race, hasn’t he?



But look at the woman riding her bike on the sidepath in the background. She’s out in the same sideways rain as the hardmen, apparently running an errand, stylishly dressed, dynamo headlight blazing merrily.

For me, that’s what the spring season is all about. Whether hardman or ordinary citizen, Rule 9 still applies. And that’s what brings a smile to my face, climbing into the wind-driven snow, on an ordinary workday.
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Old 03-02-14, 11:05 PM
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Great post, Bruce. I can almost hear the woman thinking, "What's the big deal?"
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Old 03-02-14, 11:39 PM
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The spring classics are absolutely the best. I enjoy the grand tours, but none of them make the bucket list while Belgium in the spring is on the table. I must go there one day.
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Old 03-03-14, 03:05 AM
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Why I like watching the spring races--Commuting content, honest

Great post, thanks!

Wind, snow, cold and storms I can and do cope with, but dang, if my commute was cobblestones all the way, I would move!

I've toured through Portugal. Many roads were cobblestoned forever! Gah!
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Old 03-04-14, 09:15 AM
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That's pretty cool. Do you know, do the pros make any attempt at weather-appropriate (waterproof?) kit, or do they just plan on suffering for a few hours?
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Old 03-04-14, 11:02 AM
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A little of each, I reckon.
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Old 03-04-14, 12:01 PM
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One thing A cobbled road does save . is it does not need Bitumen .. Imported from across the seas.

the same stones are re set by people .. over generations .

My host, when I cycletoured thru Flanders , took me on a side trip from Ypres to Kimmel.

the Kimmelburg is such a steep roof like cobbeled hill that the Ghent-Wevelgem race ,
after going out to the north sea coast, and back loops the course to go over that hump twice.

actually a direct route from Wevelgem/Kortrijk to Ghent is not that far, and a navigation canal connects the 2
so a pretty casual a route.
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Old 03-04-14, 12:05 PM
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Also, with the cobbled parts of the courses, can you tell what size tires are they using? How fat can glue-ons get, anyways?
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Old 03-04-14, 12:27 PM
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How fat can glue-ons get, anyways?

There are Wider Tubular Tires made for cyclocross racing .. 34 wide
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Old 03-04-14, 12:41 PM
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They ride these

https://www.fmbtires.com/fmb_paris_roubaix.htm

25 mm mostly I think. They are light men riding fast and the rims/tires need not last beyond the race.

For clothing, they wear much lighter stuff than you and I would wear in the same conditions. Aero resistance is critical, they need to be able to don and doff the clothing in the saddle, and they are willing to suffer intensely. At Milan-San Remo last year, the peleton rode through blowing snow in thin Lycra with at most a thin thermal jacket. At the Oomloop on Saturday, Tom Boonen was so cold he vomited while riding.

One thing I've learned from the racers is to get low and to draft. When there is a stiff headwind on my commute, I ride in the drops and try to follow an SUV or van. Staying low in the saddle is easier than pedaling standing on the hoods. And even though the car pulls away as it gets up to speed, its shelter helped you accelerate to your speed.
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Old 03-04-14, 12:46 PM
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may be of interest:

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Old 03-04-14, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
That's pretty cool. Do you know, do the pros make any attempt at weather-appropriate (waterproof?) kit, or do they just plan on suffering for a few hours?
getting rained on is suffering??!?

oh wait you are from san diego...
never mind.
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Old 03-04-14, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
getting rained on is suffering??!?

oh wait you are from san diego...
never mind.
Hey, I resemble that remark!

Living in San Diego and having to "suffer" no more than 5-10 wet commute days per year, I do not find it worthwhile to buy rain gear or fenders.

Riding in the rain with proper kit would not be suffering; just like in my situation riding in the rain for only short distances (5mi) with the ability to shower at the destination (work and home) -- that is not suffering.

But riding in the rain (probably cold rain) over 100mi without waterproof clothing or fenders, I would call that suffering.
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