Time to catch up on all the past weekend’s cycling news (including race results from Liege-Bastogne-Liege) with the AGR Daily Newspaper. The AGR Daily aggregates all the news from around the world of cycling, allowing you to view in one place. If this is your first time viewing the AGR Daily, you can read a brief explanation of how it works HERE. Just click on the above image to view the newspaper!
Ah, the weekend. Don’t know where you are but hopefully you can get in some long miles over the next 2 days. If you’re in California, maybe you’re over at Sea Otter tearing it up.
I take a lot of inspiration from quotes and on occasion tape a quote to the stem of my bike. Some have gotten me up long climbs & have kept me hanging on in a tough Group Ride long after I’ve wanted to sit up. Here are a few that have made it onto the stem or top tube:
“To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain. Sure, the sport is fun with its seamless pacelines and secret singletrack, its post-ride pig-outs and soft muscles grown wonderfully hard. But at cycling’s core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peace. It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport” – Scott Martin
“I know the pain of cycling can be terrible: in your legs, your chest, everywhere. You go into oxygen debt and fall apart. Not many people outside cycling understand that.” – Greg Lemond
“When you are having a devil of a job to stay with the pack, when you can’t remember your name and you can hardly see your own front wheel, it’s at such moments that you must remember that Coppi, Van Steenbegen, Poulidor, Gimondi and all the others achieved greatness only because they knew how to fight through these moments.” -Charles Ruys
When I read these, I’m reminded that it’s worth it. That I love this. Momentary pain and suffering are minor costs compared to the lifelong rewards of physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Do you have any inspirational quotes that you’ve taped to your bike?
Have a great weekend!
If the glory of pro cycling lies along the country roads and cols grandes of France in July and the romance lies in the boulevards and passi di montagnes of Italy in May then surely the heart and guts lie among the cobbles, muurs, and bergs of Belgium in April. Especially in the Flemish region. To the Belgian faithful, where bike racing is a national pastime, the Tour of Flanders is the Super Bowl and World Cup combined.
“I told the organisers it wasn’t a race but a war game. It’s hard to explain what the Koppenberg means to a racing cyclist. Instead of being a race, it’s a lottery. Only the first five or six riders have any chance: the rest fall off or scramble up as best they can. What on earth have we done to send us to hell now?” – Bernard Hinault (5x Tour de France champion, never won Flanders)
First raced in 1913, Flanders was held in March during those early years – on the same day as Milan-San Remo, actually. As the race grew in stature, it was moved to the first weekend in April after World War II. One of cycling’s five “monuments” (Milan-San Remo, Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and Tour of Lombardy), the Ronde van Vlaanderen is characterized by narrow roads, and short, punchy cobbled climbs dotted throughout tiny Belgian towns. And for a few hours at the beginning of April, the world descends upon these sleepy Flandrian villages. It’s always a war of attrition and only the strongest survive.
“Only those who are in top condition can say that the Ronde is not hard. For everyone else, it’s the Way of the Cross.” -Andrea Tafi (’02 winner)
In total, Belgian riders have won Flanders 66 times. The next closest country is Italy with 10. No American has ever won here. Only 4 men have won the race a record 3 times. This year, 2 men will line up that have won de Ronde twice, Tom Boonen and Stijn Devolder. Both Belgians. Will this be the year one of these riders join the exclusive 3-win club or will Fabian Cancellara or a host of other strongmen ride away with it?
“As a Belgian, winning Flanders for the first time is far more important than wearing the maillot jaune in the Tour” – Johan Museeuw (’93, ’95, & ’98 winner)
The Flemish have a term for the strongest of strong men who take well to a race like de Ronde: Flahute. A Flahute is Vlaanderens mooiste (Flander’s finest). The website Cycling Revealed has an incredible post written by Graham Jones on what it means to be a Flahute. It’s required reading. But in part:
The Belgian school breed them tough. They thrive in foul weather and on atrocious roads. As children, they grow up “playing racing.” Museeuw tells us that the Tour of Flanders route passed right by his house. The kids dream of being like the great champions. When they are old enough to race they start to train in conditions similar to the races. Only the toughest survive and in the Flemish tongue these “hardest of the hard men” are known as Flahute. – Graham Jones
Welcome to the first weekend in April where the Flahute come out to play and destroy. Versus coverage of the Tour of Flanders airs at 1pm PST on Sunday. Set your DVR or, better yet, watch it live.
[tweetmeme only_single=false source=”artofgroupride”]This post is equal parts observation, confession and appeal. I posted a few weeks back in Rest as Hard as You Train about the necessity of giving your body plenty of recovery time as the miles increase. Ideally, we should all be getting 9 hours of sleep a night and a good nap after long base mile training. But apart from Saturday afternoon family nap time, I find this incredibly difficult. Maybe you do too.
In the 1970’s, when asked what his secret to training and winning races, Eddy Merckx famously responded, “Ride lots.” A great deal has changed in cycling in the past 40 or so years since The Cannibal was winning everything in sight: technology, training methods, and the sheer number of people who have fallen in love with rolling around on two wheels. But the connection between riding lots and success in cycling (however you define that) still has the ring of truth. In reality, if you take out the use of VO2 blood tests and time in the wind tunnel, the pro’s actually train in a very similar manner to you and me. Riding. The only difference is volume. And it’s a huge difference.
Observation: In order to maintain and possibly even improve as an extremely amateur bike rider and racer, I simply need to “ride lots.” Not as much as Eddy obviously but at least as much as Joel Friel thinks I should for my category. My goals aren’t too lofty, maintain some fitness and not get dropped too often.
I can’t think of a more time intensive recreational activity as cycling. A round of golf may take 5 hours but that’s usually not an everyday activity. Cycling takes time. Lots of it. It’s virtually a daily thing. As is often the case in life, when one says “yes” to one thing then one must also say “no” to something else. In my case, when I say yes to riding lots, I also say no to good sleep. I know that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. When you train more, you’re supposed to sleep more, giving your body the proper recovery time it needs.
Confession: But practically, to get the time in the saddle to be competitive in my race category, I need to get 3-4 pre-work rides (group rides usually) in during the week on top of long weekend rides. Usually, that’s between 6am and 8am. Which means a 5:30am wake-up call. Which translates to about 7 hours of sleep or less if I’m really disciplined and we can get our little one to bed on time. Add to that, I’ve been really enjoying this blogging thing but it’s a late night activity (the only free time I have to write). So that’s a late-night activity on top of an early-morning activity. Not a great combo for rest and recovery.
So for now, I have a choice: get good sleep or ride lots. I haven’t quite figured out how to do both and I may never do.
Appeal: Here’s a question for you: if you have a busy life full of work and family duties and privileges, have you figured out how to get good sleep AND ride lots? What does this look like for you? I’d love to hear how you balance it all. Thanks.
(Click on the image to view interactive map of the Friday Noon Ride route)
Did the Friday Noon Ride in Palo Alto today. It was fast.
Everyday at noon, a group of 20 to 30 riders meet at the corner of Page Mill and Foothill. It’s the regular, motley crew that shapes up any Group Ride except this is in the middle of the work day so it’s usually folks that have the flexibility to take a long lunch break. Friday is my day-off so I typically jump in. The loop takes just over an hour, plus the ride to and from the roll-out. So let’s call it 90 minutes.
Each day’s route is a bit different with Tuesday and Thursday being quite fast and Wednesday includes some climbing. Friday is usually pretty tame, especially during the season when the stronger riders are just looking to spin before a weekend of racing. But every once in a while, someone gets a kick in their step. Maybe you know the feeling. You’re expecting a tempo ride and all of sudden the group is strung out and you find yourself sprinting to close gaps. Match #1, burned. Match #2, burned. How many matches do I have?
I could almost hear people thinking. “Should I go with this? Do I even want to? If enough riders sit up and don’t go with the attacks, maybe everyone’ll settle down.” I overheard one guy say, “My program calls for a Zone 3 tempo workout so see ya later.” Dedication or excuse? Couldn’t tell.
It turned out to be a blast. Off-season rides can be slower and I thought for a minute that this is too hard to be working in December. But getting some intensity this time of year is rare so I’m of the mindset that I’ll take what the group gives me. After all, my time in the saddle is more limited than it used to be when I was younger so if it hurts then it’s probably good for me. If the group wants to go hard then game on. If I pop and drop then so be it.
When a friend rolled passed me in the paceline and said, “Dude, this hurts,” I actually thought of a previous post from earlier this week. Check out that quote and see if you can relate. It kept me going when I wanted to quit.
What keeps you going when all you want to do is sit up?
“One of the reasons I ride is because it hurts at times. There’s a certain discipline and freedom that comes when you push yourself to the limit. There have been times when my heart is about to jump out of my chest, my tongue is dragging in my spokes, and I’m sucking wind like a vacuum cleaner. And just when every nerve and fiber screams you can’t do anymore, somebody jumps and you take off after him, forgetting the pain. Later when you look inside yourself, you see things a little deeper, a little wider, and a little clearer. You realize that you can do things you never thought you could. Your dreams get a little bigger, your hopes a little stronger.”