Friday Group Ride #212

Friday Group Ride #212

Pro cycling is that pretty girl you thought you were over until you ran into her at a party, and she smiled in that way she smiles and you knew you shouldn’t talk to her again, but it was all over at the smile, and then you’re back in and she’s not returning your calls, and you wonder why it is this way, except that it’s always been this way with pretty girls…I mean, pro cycling.

With all due regrets to Al Pacino, I was out, but they pulled me back in. I should have know when I wrote this that I was slipping back into it, forgetting the heart break of recent seasons, but I found myself riveted to the play-by-play of E3 Harelbeke this morning, the last kilometer churn of the remaining four riders, Peter Sagan, Stijn Vandenbergh, Nikki Terpstra and Geraint Thomas, lighting my imagination. Gent-Wevelgem is coming. The Tour of Flanders.

Meanwhile in Catalunya, the climbers take wild swings at one another. Contador, Froome, Quintana, Rodriguez and even Tejay van Garderen have been playing out the same cagey battles on steep ground that the hardmen have been fighting on the cobbles. The last two mountain finishes have been fantastic.

And so, I’m back in. In part, I blame Mark Cavendish. I was sent a copy of his latest autobiography (review coming), and as I read, page-by-page, I recall watching each of the races he recounts, the Grand Tours and World Championships, and I find I’m enjoying it. I like thinking about races and how they unfold. I like the tactics and the suspense as the riders close on the finish. I like it even more when they do it in crappy weather (see above).

So this week’s Group Ride asks, are you paying attention to these spring tilts? Are you back? Or were you never out? Never in? Or will it take the Grand Boucle, the Tour itself, to get you back in front of the races?

Image: Fotoreporter Sirotti

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  1. Randall

    It’s not your fault, two seasons after the Sky machine took over, the competitors are chomping at the bit to dethrone them. Couple that with a healthy Boonen, Chancellara, and a slightly older Sagan, and hardly a race should be without excitement!

    You can swear off girls, but when a really special one comes around, what can you do?

  2. Pat O'Brien

    Paris-Roubaix creates a siren song that puts me on the rocks every time. I just hope that it doesn’t rip out the hull this year. I can stand being beached for a little while. Being shipwrecked again would not be fun.

  3. armybikerider

    I was never “out.” I love to color of the peleton, snaking along narrow roads….the look in the eyes of the climbers topping the col….imagining what they feel tucked low in a screaming downhill…..the athleticism that it takes to ride the miles day after day.

    The pretty girl with the alluring eyes and the makeup to hide the blemishes is still a pretty girl….

  4. Rod Diaz

    I was never out, but now I know that the pretty girl sometimes pretends what she is not, wears fake lashes and will chew you up if you give yourself away.

    Still pretty, though!

  5. SusanJane

    I wasn’t thrilled with the desert races. I wasn’t thrilled until Vocleur took the bit in his teeth. I was over the moon when Rodregez lit up and smashed the favorites. That was it for me. These guys aren’t the favorites to win. They aren’t the super stars everyone wants to get overall. I love them and the others that don’t have perfect genes and zillion dollar teams. I love them because they have to use every tactic and every skill to get their results — that is pro racing at its finest! I can’t wait for what’s next.

  6. Peter Lin

    I love the spring classics, it’s good fun. Much more exciting than the grand tours for me. What I like most is the cobbles and seeing them fly over them like it’s smooth, until someone crashes or flats. Then you remember, those cobbles are tough.

  7. oldschoolzeus

    Never really out! Like the pretty girl analogy. Like “Armeybikeriders” “make up to cover the blemishes”. So true of both!!!!! The power and speed never cease to amaze me.

  8. Hautacam

    I’m in the minority on this one, but I am finally over that old flame. We had some good times, but they are in the past. I’m not even checking her facebook page any more.

    These days there’s not enough time to sit down and watch a race, and I’ve not enough interest to stay up late and watch when I should be sleeping. Instead, I am planning and training for a summer hiking trip with my wife. Turns out that if you dump 6 duct-tape-wrapped bricks into your day pack (along with all of your normal hiking gear) and strap on your hiking boots, even a one-hour walk around a hilly neighborhood becomes a heck of a workout.

  9. Jay

    I concur with the earlier comment. The early Spring classics season is my favorite part of the calendar. I have developed a sense of reverence for the races over the cobblestones. There is something about them that inspires awe. The racers have a matter of hours, not days, to lay it all on the line in an effort to attach their name to a monument.

  10. kurti_sc

    I can’t point to any specifics at the moment, but I’m not returning any of her phone calls for the time being. Like others, I usually get lathered by Paris-Roubaix, but I can’t see that happening this year.
    I have a screenshot on my desktop of an elevation profile from a great ride last year (December). That gets my blood pumping and my ideas going to find enough time to repeat it. Maybe it’s better that way. Maybe after I get that one again, I’ll start looking around at the pro ciruits again (it was really tempting to write pro circus!).

  11. spiff

    It took me awhile to get back in January was all highlights from the Middle East and Down Under. But Strade Bianche brought me back. I haven’t missed a race if I wasn’t riding that morning. Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke were great. The only good thing about the bad Mid Atlantic weather is being able to watch these classics live while on the trainer.

  12. Jan

    I love this site, and the writing, but I’m still bugged after reading this last week. The idea that cycling is a “girl” really makes this place unwelcoming for women readers. First, there’s the immediate gender assumption that your readers are men. Then there’s the infantilization: do we really want to imagine girls as sex objects for men?

    Please consider using less sexist language in the future. Cycling is, in my experience, a pretty sexist community (think about pro women, podium “girls,” and yes, this sort of discourse), but this is one of those places in the community that usually rises above and seems welcoming. Thanks, Jan

    1. Padraig

      Jan: Thanks for speaking up. We grow thanks to nudges from those who love (or at least read) us.

  13. Robot

    @ Jan – I’m sorry thjs post offended you. Two things occur to me, first that I didn’t even think of it from the perspective you bring, so shame on me, but also that I didn’t even think of it from your perspective, which means I didn’t intend to offend, which is, I hope, worth something. I try to be sensitive to these things, but it looks like I failed here. Sometimes in writing about things from a personal perspective, I miss the larger picture, the proverbial forest for my own trees. It works well when writing about my personal riding, less so when writing about racing, etc. I hope you’ll stick around as a reader. Clearly, we need you here.

    1. Jan

      Padraig and Robot, Thanks for your responses. I really do love your writing, and I wouldn’t have written my response except that I think you both, and the others who write here, are thoughtful and worth talking to. This community is something I want to be part of, indeed. I know you didn’t intend to offend, and I do appreciate that. Thanks again. Jan

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