Feeling Racy: Positions and Transitions

This past weekend saw the 417th running of the Milan-San Remo bicycle race.  Milan-San Remo is a one-day "Classic," and its picturesque route carries the riders from the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana all the way to the storied Roubaix velodrome in Paris, Belgium.  Eddy Merckx won Milan-San Remo an astounding 46 times, and perhaps his most memorable victory was the one in 1972 where he competed on a track bike with riser bars while wearing jean shorts and a "wifebeater" tank top emblazoned with the words "Hipster Jesus."

I didn't watch Milan-San Remo this weekend, since I was too busy with Real Life.  You might think that being a semi-professional bike blogger means you get to do fun stuff like watch bike races, but I have to do mundane stuff like buy anti-dandruff shampoo, take the ferrets to the vet, and go to the locksmith because I put my bike lock around my waist and lost the key down a storm drain again just like everybody else.  However, I did briefly read about the race, and it sounded like a real hum-dinger of a doozie.  Not only did Simon Gerrans outsprint Fabian "McGruber Assist" Cancellara, but Mark "The Man Missile" Cavendish apparently got dropped like a 26-inch mountain bike from a 2013 product line:

With just under 100 kilometers to go, La Manie loomed, and as GreenEdge and Liquigas set the pace, the most notable victim was none other than Cavendish, who fell off the back of the field. Bernhard Eisel worked long and hard to try and bring his Sky teammate back up, while those at the head of the field increased their speed.

As a Mark Cavendish fan I'm very worried, and I only hope he can overcome The Double Curse of Being World Champion and Being on Team Sky:

By the way, did you know Mark Cavendish changes positions frequently?  It's true!  (Well, it's true that he changes positions frequently on the bike; otherwise, Peta Todd says he just lays there like a lethargic ferret.)  I learned about it in this informative article on the Team Sky website, which I found via Cyclingreporter's Twitter:

Apparently, the reason for all the changes is that Mark Cavendish's body size fluctuates throughout the course of the day:

And Blem has worked with Mark Cavendish for long enough to understand the rationale behind the constant adjustments. “His thinking is that his body is changing on a regular basis. You know that you're taller in the morning than you are in the evening, that's his theory, his body changes, he becomes more supple, or he gets fitter. He sees his body as being different every day so he wants to change his bike.”

Then again, he may just think his body size is changing, when in reality Peta Todd's frequent shoe changes are messing with his sense of perspective:

("I could have sworn we were nipple-to-nipple this morning.  I better lower my saddle again.)

Also, Cavendish adopts a slightly more Fredly position for the mountain stages:

Cavendish also tailors his position to the ride ahead. In the mountains, when he's not going for the win, he adopts a more upright riding position compared to the deep tuck he uses when he's going hell-for-leather for the line.

“In the mountains he'll ride his handlebars one centimetre higher than in the flat stages or the sprint or flat stages,” says Blem. “He likes to ride with his hoods raised, more like a chopper style. He's got the [Shimano] Sprint Shifters on the handlebars for quick shifting.”

The exceptions are the Tour de France "Queen stages," when of course he bypasses Fredly and goes for the "Full Riv:"

Now that's upright.  Obviously Cavendish's sponsorship obligations prevent him from actually riding a Rivendell, so his mechanic fits the stem above to his Pinarello Dogma by means of a Soma Quill-inator:

I don't understand why people get so excited about "slammed" stem porn, but if there was a website called "Kludge that Cockpit" I'd be all over it.

Speaking of competitive cycling, it was a beautiful weekend, and so late Saturday morning the family and I mounted our smugcycles and headed into Prospect Park.  We entered the park just at the bottom of the hill, whereupon a marshall in a DayGlo vest admonished us to be careful as there was a bike race in progress.

"Bike race?," I wondered aloud as I checked the time.  It was like 10:30am on a beautiful day and the park was already packed with people.  What sort of bike race could possibly still be in progress at this hour?

I soon had my answer, for a moment later various riders on bikes with aerobars came tearing down the hill and along the crowded roadway.  Most of them wore sleeveless jerseys with armwarmers, at least one was also wearing compression socks.  Apparently we had wandered into some sort of "athlon."  This was confirmed when I came upon this, which must have been their "transition area," but which to me was merely a hive of extreme dorkiness:

Looking upon the hive, I wondered why anybody would want to participate in a sport that requires so much space for equipment storage.  I mean, isn't the whole point of playing a sport that you actually get to use the stuff?  This crap is expensive!  If you want to race a bike, why not just stay on the bike the whole time?  Just do the swimming or the running some other day.  Granted, I don't play tennis, but I'm pretty sure if you go to a tennis club you won't find people just running around in circles on the court half the time while their perfectly good tennis rackets sit unused on a giant rack.  Sure, I guess people technically do that with baseball and bats, but to me baseball is less of a sport and more of an outdoor pastime, like barbecuing. Leaving a bike in a giant parking lot during a bike race seems silly to me, but leaving a bat in a dugout or whatever at least makes sense since it's like leaving the tongs hanging off the grill until you're ready to serve the hot dogs.

I also wondered why the "regular" bike races have to start at the crack of dawn and then vacate the park so early, whereas the "athlon" people get to chase their "personal bests" in a crowded park until lunchtime.  Then I realized it's because "athlons" involve running, and while New Yorkers hate bike racers and bicycles they absolutely love running.  Runners can take over the parks and the streets whenever they feel like it.  In fact, New Yorkers apparently love running so much that they'll tolerate an "athlon" even though a bike is involved.  Actually, maybe we'd get more respect as commuters if we ran for part of the time.  We could keep our commuting bikes in some giant "transition corral" somewhere and run to it from home.  Then, we'd be free to run lights and terrorize pedestrians all we want.

Of course, while fair weather brings wacky athletic pursuits, it also brings interesting kludges, and yesterday I saw one I'd never seen before: a water bottle cage mounted to a rear dropout.

To me this was very noteworthy, and I mentioned it on my Twitter, which prompted numerous people to reply with variations of "Picture or it didn't happen."  This made me sad.  Firstly, what does it say about us that we can no longer envision things without photos?  Have we all become so limited?  Do we have to photograph every little thing?  Do we no longer believe in the power of the written word?

Secondly, whither trust?  Have we grown so skeptical, so jaded, and so misanthropic that we can no longer take each other at our word?  What does this portend for humanity?

Having said all that, I did take a picture, and here it is:

I predict this will be the hot new trend in beverage portaging.

Lastly, even more than races and kludges, early spring also means stupid hipster bike crashes:

crashed my bike drunk you took me home - m4ww - 27 (between greenpoint and williamsburg)
Date: 2012-03-19, 2:44AM EDT
Reply to: [deleted]

i was blacked out drunk riding my bike from lulu's (friday night 3/16) when i crashed. you and your friends found me on the ground, called my room mate, and escorted me back to my house. i dont remember much but i have fragmented memories of you holding my hand and telling me that it'd be ok while your friend was riding around on my bike. that was very sweet of you. i doubt id remember any of your faces but i just want to say thanks.

I only hope the friend kept the bike.

automotive ,automotive news ,automotive magazine,automotive industry outlook 2012,automotif,automotive magazine automotive ,automotive news ,automotive magazine,automotive industry outlook 2012,automotif,automotive magazine