Friday Group Ride #3 Wrap

Well, see how much we learn about each other when we share like this. About half of you are trying to lose weight in 2010. The other half of you are trying to podium. Some for the bouquets. Others for the broom wagon. I like symmetry like that.

On the UCI side, it seems most of us want to see the doping procedures homogenized. Craig put in a word for 24-hour MTB racing, and that really piqued my interest. A number of you also mentioned race radio/live TV bans.

I wonder how many of you believe that, on some level, radios/TVs are cheating. What I think I hear a lot of you saying, based on your views on drugs/radios, etc. that you want to see the sport purified. Resolutions are about reaching for ideals, so that all makes sense. I like to think that every word we write (all of us) about these things, the closer they come to reality.

Like an hors categorie climb, realizing our dreams takes a long, long time, a lot of pedal strokes, a lot of sweat and pain. But that’s what we do, isn’t it?

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13 comments

  1. Marco Placero

    I don’t think radios are cheating, more that they enable an orchestrated effect witnessed in recent years. Maybe taking radios away during mountain stages would encourage heroism and discourage team orchestration. Radios should remain in use for flatter stages (safety?) and especially for TTs because knowing competitors’ time splits spurs riders to achieve.

    I’d hope to see more unpredictable breakaway heroic finales by G.C. contenders seizing races by effort of will and surprising spectators with boldness; wild finishes with a contender taking a stage and rocketing to first on G.C.

  2. Robot

    What if they didn’t ban radios but DID ban cyclocomputers? The peloton would know how far up the road the break was, but they’d have to figure out how hard to ride for themselves.

  3. Mellow Velo

    Sometimes I wonder if people fuss about radios and live TV because amateurs don’t have access to those things. Radios and TV put a gap between the pros and the serious amateurs in ways that don’t happen in other sports. Of course, money and sponsorships are a huge deal, but NBA and MLB players don’t have any tactical advantage over backyard players who might be just as good. They just get paid and wear uniforms.

    I know amateur teams who get regular massages, have very good trainers and are sponsored all out, but they will never have a radio in their ear. I wonder if it frustrates them that they ride almost as hard but have to race old school. Why do the pros deserve to race differently?

    Not sure I believe that, but just a thought.

  4. James

    I don’t think radios are cheating but they do make races too predictable. I think most fans would like a return to the days when a break away stayed away and had more of an influence on the outcome of a stage race. Stage races have become rather boring with the final outcome revolving around the last climbing stage and/or last time trial. That’s one of the reasons why the classics are so great. You can’t just wait until the last moment. You have to be attentive throughout the race.

  5. jza

    Am I the only one that thinks radios make racing MORE exciting? It’s a test of hubris. Teams give a break a 10 minute leash and then pull it back in the final k. Like clockwork, except sometimes it doesn’t work, and that’s when it’s interesting.

    If they don’t have radios, breaks will probably never be allowed more than 5 minutes, they pull them back with 20k to go and just roll in for the sprint. BORING.

    1. Padraig

      Before race radios, updates on time gaps were much more intermittent and so riders—both those in the break and in the peloton—could be subject to big surprises. The problem with race radios is they place the decision making in the hands of men who have a complete picture of the race, and while the team directors might be somewhat excited, their hearts aren’t racing and their thinking isn’t clouded by lactic acid. Riders whose decisions aren’t governed by the team directors will race from their gut much more. They make mistakes, but they also make daring moves that even an amped-up Spanish DS wouldn’t permit.

      Oh, and cyclocomputers really don’t matter on the whole distance thing. They put up signs, depending on the race, at least every 20k.

      To be fair, race radios have made the racing more interesting from time to time. Perhaps the best example was in the ’01 Tour when Armstrong bluffed that he was having a bad day on the way to l’Alpe d’Huez; it culminated in “The Look,” a moment for the ages. That could never have been pulled off without race radios and a DS watching TV.

  6. Michael Theesfeld

    For me, it’s a matter of being tired…I’m tired of it being an iPhone/Blackberry world. Everything is a program, an algorithm, an app.
    I want to see someone take a big dig, go really deep and take a shot. I want to see the look on everyone’s face when he goes, I want to see what happens when they have to decide if they should go. I don’t want to see them go to the earpiece. I want to see the pain when a small group decides to go, unsure of what it’s going to take to close the gap. No more orchestrated finishes, no more coordinated catches with 5K to go. We might not get to see Cav win so many sprints, but we might find a few more strong men to admire

  7. Lachlan

    I’m on the fence regards radios… The old days were more exciting, but its a bit luddite to ban them.

    And in a weird way the radio levels the playing field for physical ability to shine, rather than mental… I bet there were many strong riders in the 70s and 80s who lost to less athletically talented, but smarter opponents….. part of me says thtas a big piece of what makes cycling special: brain+physical…(+psych/suffering ability), but you could argue from an athletic pov that it makes it more fair!

  8. MattS

    As long as radios are permitted by race officials, using them is not cheating. Perhaps the question is whether fans and racers alike are being cheated as long as radios are part of the game?

    I’m not a seasoned road master, so I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of race radios. I think radios have always been used since I started following road racing regularly. I’ve seen spectacular races with them; they don’t necessarily take away from the race. Heroics are still witnessed.

    Should pro racing delegate thinking and intuiting to team directors? That seems to be the case with radios. We might wonder what it would be like to give the riders with better instincts than their competitors an opportunity to benefit from them. Perhaps riders will have more fun taking chances and feeling the race out ‘on their own’? Perhaps fans will witness heroic efforts more often?

    I am aware of at least one of our amateur teams using race radios in the Quebec-Montreal race in 2009. This was good for them, but not an option for other teams with less resources to spread around. Not cheating, but not exactly fair either.

  9. jza

    Seems like what everyone wants, and what any cycling fan should want, is for races to look like last year’s Giro rather than last year’s Tour. Hilly races on winding, narrow roads. A la the Ardennes Classics, Piedmont and Lombardia.

    These courses present more opportunities for attackers and make chases much harder to organize.

    It doesn’t matter how directors talk to their team, they’re always going to have things under control when there is a dead flat 50k run in to the finish. And radios don’t matter in the mountains, when it comes to crunch time, the group is always small enough to just pull the car up for a chat.

  10. Glenn P.

    Just an opinion, but, the debate over race radios will become a non-issue in the very near future. And, will be replaced with the debate over the use for GPS. Radio is fast becoming obsolete. Have you seen the technology behind devises like the Garmin Edge 705? Riders can literally see where they are on the road and have access to full/detailed course maps in virtual real time. No need for the DS to relay messages to the rides, it’ll be available right on riders handlebars at all times. I’m not sold on the opinion that radio are dictating the outcome of races. I still believe the strongest rider usually wins. The advantage of radios today is in the ability to communicate in advance of upcoming obstacles along the course…informing riders of upcoming narrowing of road, transition to cobbles, sharp corners, wind direction, where a climb begins, etc. This allows rider to jockey for and gain position so as not to get caught out. Which brings me back to GPS. With GPS riders don’t need to the radios. Overall, I believe infusing new technology into our sport is a good thing…so long as all participants have access to it.

  11. Trev

    ROBOT:Damn I wish I had mentioned the 24 hr race I will be racing again this year. Just north of Toronto is the 24 hrs of Summer Solstice. The biggest 24 hr race in N. AMerica. This past summer I raced it as a 2 man team. THe constant rain and mud was at first difficult but as it got worse we found most people were walking their bikes as you just couldn’t ride it. My partner got a flat, and in a foot of mud was unable to change it. When he walked back to camp he asked if I would be into bailing out. I said yes it wasn’t much fun hearing my XTR drivetrain grinding through that slop.

    As we left and turned in our timing chips we were happy to find out were we in first place. Not trying to turn this into a mountain bike forum I just want to mention that neither him nor I had even ridden our mountain bikes last year. All of our training was crits, hill climbs, and group rides.

    Cross country endurance rides absolutly rule.

    I second the motion to play only Slayer on race radios. Reign in blood.

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