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The Holy Grail of Bicycle Racing

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The Holy Grail of Bicycle Racing

Old 05-25-17, 11:31 AM
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The Holy Grail of Bicycle Racing

There always seems to be a discussion about what constitutes "real" bicycle racing. Some believe it is only mass start and others have different opinions.

I thought it would be interesting to see what racers think is the holy grail of bike racing i.e. the ultimate achievement. This can be at the elite, masters or pro level.

Merckx was arguably one of the best bike racers of all time but what has always stood out for me was Merckx holding the hour record at the track that has stood the test of time until UCI changed the rules allowing aero equipment.

Along the same lines, is winning any championship 40K ITT.

So what do you think? Is winning a 4 corner industrial park criterium the holy grail or is it something else?
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Old 05-25-17, 04:06 PM
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Well I don't think I have enough experience or perspective on bike racing as a whole to have the best-formulated opinion on this. But that won't stop me from commenting.


I like bike racing in general and think its all pretty great- anyone who is willing to say out loud, "Hey I'm gonna try to be better than the rest of my field on game day" is just doing something kind of ballsy and worth admiring IMO. I think different types of races test different things and personally I'm really really glad that there's all different types of racing. Some types are naturally easier for a given person, based on that person's starting physiology. So the more different types, the better. Its the way to attract people to the sport. Once they're in, they can explore different aspects of it and see if their horizons can be expanded. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But I can't imagine setting up one type of racing as the "ultimate" because they are all really useful and important to the health of the overall sport of bike racing I think.


I guess if I had to imagine what is "ultimate," I'd most admire someone who at various points excels are a variety of different types of racing- TTs, crits, road races, stage races, track sprinting, pursuit, short mountain bike racing, long mountain bike racing and maybe fondo-length endurance races. (Really long endurance races, in the 100+ mile range, or Ironman tri's, are a test of something different IMO, not really cycling so much as the ability to do something for a really long period of time, with the tradeoff being high-end performance, and for some reason this seems less like bike racing to me and more a test of someone's mettle. Still worth admiring, but something different than bike racing.) I don't think its physiologically possible for too many people to excel at so many different aspects of bike racing but I guess those people would seem more "ultimate" to me than someone who is good at only one type of achievement.


But really if you have the type of physiology that makes you only good at one type of racing, and you actually work on other types but never get too good at them, then the ultimate is whatever is the hardest in your discipline. Wherever the strongest competition is, I guess, for the toughest version of your event. The version that most normal people in your type of racing do and come away saying, "never again".

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Old 05-29-17, 03:43 PM
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It really depends on what your interest is in cycling. Myself, Iím a late-developing roadie. If I could be young again, the ultimate would be to compete in a European stage race. As it is (well into 50+), my goals now are just to stay thin, injury free, and unembarrassed. I race now mostly for the adventure of it, and to give purpose to training. Iíd be happy just to get on the podium again, to be honest.



A lot of other guys I know moved into a focus on TT, cross, grave racing, or endurance MTB racing. All those disciplines are real bicycle racing, with very unique skill sets. Itís just not my dream though.
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Old 05-29-17, 03:59 PM
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Any of the Grand Tours, Paris-Roubaix especially when wet, The spring classic that run on the cobbles.
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Old 05-29-17, 06:29 PM
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I like the hour record as the Holy Grail of bicycle racing and here is why.

Bike racing and most races including running are carried out on venues over a fixed distance. The one day classics and grand tours are over a predetermined course. The first racer across the finish line wins. In timed events, such as time trials the racer across the finish line in the least amount of time is the winner.

The hour record is unique in that all athletes must compete for one hour and it is the distance traveled for one hour that sets the record.

Next it has to be done on a velodrome, fixed gear no brakes. So besides riding for an hour, one has to go in circles and not run off the track.

Riding fixed gear is much harder for one hour since one cannot change gears and must keep pedaling - one cannot coast.

The other aspect I like about the hour record, is that it returns racers to our roots - fixed gear no brakes. One has to control the speed of the bike by modulating the power in one legs without the use of gears and brakes. So leg speed and strength also offer a point of differentiation to determine who is the best.

It is all about the athletes ability to ride as far as he or she can in one hour on the simplest bicycle setup possible without the assistance of other racers. Hence, I think it is the holy grail.

As a footnote and being more of a sprinter than a long distance athlete, I like the timed kilo at the other end of the spectrum for sprinters as the holy grail for sprinting.
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Old 05-30-17, 09:31 AM
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Good heavens, @Hermes, it's all a Holy Grail. That we do this at our age and achieve success is certainly more than notable. To me any race I could make the top step in would be my personal Holy Grail. In a wider view, any form of success in bike racing, in however a person cares to measure it personally, is a Holy Grail.
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Old 05-30-17, 10:52 AM
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A whole lot of new opportunities to race bicycles have been invented since I started in the sport: BMX, RAAM and MTB racing.
Saw all of them emerge from a grass roots base because folk wanted to race bikes without the baggage, norms & the strictures of traditional road and track racing.

Lots of Quests to pursue now.

-Bandera
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Old 05-30-17, 11:38 AM
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Riffing a bit off of Bandera's post about the many quests:

You pick a target event. You and your coach develop a plan. Months of training go perfectly, you get progressively better, no illness or injury pops up, personal/professional life is calm, no interruptions. Event time comes and you're flying. It comes off perfectly, no crashes, no mechanicals, no "issues" with competitors. You walk away knowing that this was the best you could have done, satisfied with the result, what ever that might have been.

Has this EVER happened to anyone here?

Aside from the Fairy Tale above, if you're doing mass start races I can't think of anything better than a solo breakaway that succeeds. It's the ultimate gamble, you against the world. Lowest percentage way to win. Toughest mental challenge in many ways.

But there is nothing like being the only person in the finish line pic.
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Old 05-31-17, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes
There always seems to be a discussion about what constitutes "real" bicycle racing. Some believe it is only mass start and others have different opinions.

I thought it would be interesting to see what racers think is the holy grail of bike racing i.e. the ultimate achievement. This can be at the elite, masters or pro level.

Merckx was arguably one of the best bike racers of all time but what has always stood out for me was Merckx holding the hour record at the track that has stood the test of time until UCI changed the rules allowing aero equipment.

Along the same lines, is winning any championship 40K ITT.

So what do you think? Is winning a 4 corner industrial park criterium the holy grail or is it something else?
For me, and many masters, it is the Masters World Road Cycling Championships held every year at St Johann of Tirol, in Austria.
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Old 06-01-17, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Thunder Horse
For me, and many masters, it is the Masters World Road Cycling Championships held every year at St Johann of Tirol, in Austria.
UCI really diluted master's worlds when they moved qualifying from Nats to Gran Fondos. Truly a shame. Waiting for them to do this for track worlds, which makes about as much sense.
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