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« Too many hit and runs | Main | Boston Bike Share: The helmet issue »
Tuesday
May082012

Who will history remember?

Once again the Giro d’Italia is on us, to be followed by the Tour de France in a few months. This year’s Giro is exciting because there is no firm favorite; the race is wide open.

Even in a race where there are favorites and the end result is somewhat of a foregone conclusion; on any given day an outsider can win a stage, sometimes in spectacular fashion like a solo break away.

The art of a solo breakaway win is often all about timing, choosing the right psychological moment to attack. Often this comes as a chasing group catches another group or an individual.

Everyone in that chasing group gives a sigh of relief and eases up after many miles of chasing at flat out speeds.

At that precise moment someone else attacks and everyone goes, “Oh no, not again.” There is often hesitation as the riders wait for someone else to take the initiative and chase, and in that moment of hesitation a gap opens up.

Whether the solo break is successful depends on things like, how far it is to the finish, or is the chasing group organized. However, the deciding factor often is the shear strength and courage of the man out in front, on his own.

My reason for outlining such great performances that can happen on any given day is to point out that fifty years from now history will remember the top riders in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, but these lesser riders not so much.

Yet without such riders there would be no sport of cycle racing, there would be no Grand Tours. Out of the 150 or so riders who make up the field of the Giro or TDF, only ten or so are in with a chance of winning.

The rest are the team members who work tirelessly for those who will win, all the way down to the domestiques and water carriers. Among these are some really good riders who are capable of pulling off a spectacular performance on any given day.

The same in any amateur club race held throughout the season, there will be maybe five or maybe ten riders who will be in with a chance to win, and the rest make up the field.

Some are young riders who will be the champions of the future; some are past champions. Some are those who will never aspire to greatness but enjoy the challenge of just taking part. But without them there would be no race.

Then there are those who never race, but just ride for the joy of it, or commute to work on a bike each day. Without them and the money they spend on bikes and equipment there would be no bicycle industry, and therefore no cycle racing.

In fifty years, history may not remember all the riders who on a certain day performed above their standing, and it will certainly not remember today’s average Joe on a bike, but without either of these there would be no cycle racing; no Giro d’Italia or Tour de France.

And without these theaters for the riders to perform in, there would be no great champions for history to remember.

 

                        

Reader Comments (8)

So true. Sometimes, it is easy to forget how interconnected all of this is.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchristopheru

Three FAST Johnnies! WHO? Over 50yrs ago they won it all for there club the Midland C&AC in Brum. Three young lads who gave it everyting they had for the club. Even the club member NOW have not a clue. One is now decesed, another lives on a golf course in Devon, I live in Parker,Colorado. All I have now are a few medals some clips from Cycling BUT by God I am proud of what I did. Isnt that ALL that counts, matters? Maybe I was part of the cycling history as you are Dave. At least we got of our arses and gave it a try. The kids of to day, in my mind are spoilt rotten, New car, OversizeTV all the goodies.live in a big house parents with lots of $s to spend. Had to laf when you talked about cycling training for the kids to day, Drivers Ed is all they want.

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

A follow up on this. To day I was on the local bike path, and a youngster on a Trek Madone super duper bike pulled up. Real young looking, I asked how old he was "13 now sir " (I must look good I guess) skinny kid but on a $5k bike? I asked if he was racing now and he said he had his first race a 10k TT coming up in two weeks. I wished him well and told him I was about his age when I started racing. No commet and off he went. So there are SOME? kids to whom a $50k car is not so important and riding a bike is. Pity I will not be around to see it he is the future Lance.or will he be just a bottle getter?

May 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGRUMPY Crump

Very moving indeed, and very true. I remember when I first started watching cycling on TV and following it that I was surprised that all these guys lined up for three weeks of extreme effort and misery when most of them did not have the slightest chance of winning the whole thing, and only a few had any chance of winning a stage at all. I was obviously very naive and did not understand the mentality of the cycling pros: for them is a job, the best job in the world and something they will treasure and be proud of when it´s over. There´s a certain greatness in being a domestique or a water carrier, someone who needs to be selfless but still bust their arse as if they were going for the big prize. It never ceases to amaze me.

May 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterahsere

"And without these theaters for the riders to perform in, there would be no great champions for history to remember."
So what? As much as I like cycling and have to admit that these big races look dramatic and entertaining, I don't see any intelligence in extreme sports. Riding 2K or 3K like this is extreme. Just for the bragging rights...how foolish. I'm involved in natural healing stuff and I can see how people can exhaust their internal energy level by over-exerting themselves physically (and mentally, and emotionally,...). On the surface people can look fit and strong, and inside they can be houses of cards. What good is a seemingly strong and fit body if it's rotting inside? During my longish bike commute to work I'm sometimes passed by cyclists who zip by very fast. Yet from the natural healing work I do I know that some of them are just fit on the outside...inside they are empty shells; they don't really have the internal energy to handle such high physical activity. People like that don't contribute to the world postively, for sure, regardless of how many medals they win.

May 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

I've read foolish comments and absurd comments and pointless comments and dull comments in my time, but yours, Mr. Blue, gets the cake and the cherry on top. I suggest you go and get a "natural healing" for smugness and flagrant blandness. And while you're on your way there, please do not pedal at more than 50 rpm, lest you exert yourself too much and get tired and that keeps you from contributing to the world positively for a few minutes. Now that would be a real shame, and the world may never recover from it.

May 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterahsere

Ahsere, that's because the world expands beyond a bottle of beer. Just because you haven't heard of something new doesn't mean it doesn't exist. If what you say were even remotely valid, there would be no quantum physics.
If you've never heard of quantum physics, then you could be excused for not understanding what I wrote in my previous post. If you have no clue what I'm pointing at, and still think that my writing gets "the cake and the cherry on top", don't worry - even ignorance has its place in Existence, even though it doesn't help with progress. (BTW, there is a difference between not understanding something and trying to see what it is about, and putting something outright down as you've done in your post.)

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

Wow, quantum physics and Existence. And beer. Now I get it.

May 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterahsere

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