don't have to tell a cyclist how hard the sport of cycling is. We
all know there is no short cut to top end speed, race winning power or
sportive levels of endurance.
It takes time, commitment and
inner hardness, as my mate Bob say's. That's him on the right racing
me across the cobbles of Flanders.
we ask the question "What is inner hardness?" And give you some remarkable
cycling feats that I class as qualifying for consideration.
Alessandro Colo ~ Roller King
are you've never heard of him. His feat of "inner hardness" borders
From 28th February to 11th
March 2005, Alessandro spent 264 hours inside the spinning room of the
Real Sporting Golf Club in Rome, riding a set of Elite rollers.
Covering, a virtual, 5841 miles, or 8818 km in new money, without moving
an inch. For those of us that find an hour on a turbo an ordeal of
mind and body suffering, this has to impress.
Colo rode the same couple of
bikes he used for the Race Across America. What makes this feat even
more remarkable is the fact that he used PowerCranks in order to simulate
race conditions. Bob, above, and another mate Ali Cann, are riding these
cranks this year here in Jersey. Ali, is a multi-Island Games
medallist and Bob has won the vets Island Road Race Championship seven
times; so they have a fair amount of inner hardness on which to draw when
need be. Their legs hurt after just an hour or two on PowerCranks,
which puts the 264 hours leg stinger in to perspective!
Colo faced many muscular, physical and
technical problems. But everything was worth it, as he set a new record on
the rollers, covering 5000 km (3108 miles), after 162 hours, 17 minutes and
05 seconds. Then he rode the RAAM! A worthy inclusion I'm sure
sure if I'm exploring inner hardness here or just plain blind, obsessive,
Legend has it that when Rene
Vietto, winner of the 1947 Tour de France, succumbed to septicaemia in his
little toe, he had to have it amputated to ensure he could continue in the
Tour. This indeed is worthy of inclusion in our faux-competition.
Vietto, however, thought his
loyal and trustworthy domestique, Lazarides, should join him in the small
collective of nine-toed cyclists. Lazarides pointed out that there
was nothing wrong with his toe. To which Vietto replied, you need to
understand the suffering and sacrifice I have to make in order to be a
grand champion. Get it off, mon ami!
Lazarides walked with a limp
for the rest of his life. He was second in the 1948 World
Championships. Maybe he could have won if he'd had ten toes!
are you've never heard of him. He's a cyclist but he's more famous
for his exploits off a bike. Flamme Rouge reader, Ed Tarwinski, sent
this snippet of information which is hard to leave out of our men of steel.
The Empire State
Building Run-Up is a foot race from ground level to the 86th floor
observation deck that has been held annually since 1978. The
race covers a vertical distance of 1,050 ft (320m) and takes in
The record time is 9
minutes and 33 seconds, achieved by
Crake in 2003, giving a climbing rate of 6,593 ft and a
VAM of 2,010 metres per
hour. Okay it's not the 8 hour 18 minutes epic of
but it had to hurt at some point. If you wish to enter this
click here for the low down.
nomination goes to every single rider that completed Stage 14 of the 1988
Giro D'Italia. For those of us of a certain age it's something we'll
always remember. It was a day for hero's, the day
took the Giro and the day strong men cried.
The day started in foul
weather, with snow expected at the top of the 2621 meter high Gavia.
On the 17k climb to the top a blizzard rolled in. The 26 kilometre descent
in to Bormio has to be seen to be believed. You can see it on the
video link below. The first rider you see is riding in short sleeves!
The fact that no one was killed
on the descents, or died from exposure on the run in to the finish, is a
testimony to true inner hardness. Click on this
You-Tube link to see a 4 minute shot of the stage. Watch it
all, especially the finish from 3 minutes onwards, and you will never,
ever, ever complain when out on a bike, ever again. It was a brutal
day that just wouldn't be allowed to happen these days.
Ever climbed Mont Ventoux? It's hard, relentless,
strength sapping, tragic and inspirational all in one. It's a
mythical mountain for all of the above, and many more, reasons, and
I believe everyone should try it at least once during their cycling career.
two Dave's, Le Breton and
Whitt both competed in the infamous L'Etape event of 2001, when they closed
the mountain in July due to a blizzard, freezing fog and ice.
Luckily, they both made it
through before the cut-off. I started the climb in 30 degree heat, during
the day that turned in to a 10 degree wind blast at the summit. Some people,
mainly Johnny foreigner, climb it in the dark!
Ventoux Masters is an event run by Velo-Concept and it's something
I plan to do in 2010, when I'm 50. That's old enough to know better,
yet young enough still to manage it. I hope to climb it five times in
24 hours. Which falls woefully short of the record set in 2004 by
Jean Pascal Roux.
Jean Pascal, a 40 year old
physiotherapist who lives in Bedoin, took to the road on Friday 28th, at
midnight and finished his 10th climb at 11:49 pm on Saturday
29. The following year Dominique Briand equalled the number of
climbs and knocked almost an hour and 20 minutes off the time!
It may dull the speed and the
senses somewhat, but no one rides 10 times up Ventoux without some depth
of inner hardness.
~ Redoute, Eroica, & Muur de Grammont
Finally I'd like to include my gorgeous wife Dianne. With
a body like hers you don't need brains. Sexist, I know, but I'm
northern and I can't help it. She's more northern than me; a
Geordie. And they breed them hard up there.
Liege-Bastogne-Liege sportive she failed to get to the top of La
Redoute by around 50 metres. It was a heroic performance for someone
who only weighs 50 kilos, was the same in years as in weight, and did the
whole ride in the middle ring of a triple because she forgot she could
change down! Now you see what I mean about brains!
In 2006 we returned to do the
Fleche Wallone and
she blitzed it in one hit.
Also in 2005 we rode the
in the race her front wheel dug in to the deep gravel on the outside of a
downhill corner and threw her over the bars. Dianne showed the inner
hardness of a true champion; bloodied and cut, she remounted without a
grumble and carried on. Once more we came to a massive, strade
bianchi, climb that had many grown men walking and pushing their bikes at
When gravity, over-gearing and
excessive zig-zagging prevented further progress, Dianne turned around,
rode back down the hill, to the bemusement of some of the pushers, dropped
it on the small chain ring and proceeded to ride back up, to the amazement
of those same pushers! She then proceeded to win a sprint for the
line after five long hours in the saddle.
The third tale of many involves
the Tour of Flanders.
After crashing over many kilometres of cobbles she came to the Muur de
Grammont. With typical "get on with it" attitude she dragged herself
to within 10 metres of the summit at the chapel when a rider toppled over
and landed on her. The collision sent her rear mech in to the rear
wheel and she had to wait until we got to the climb to help her out.
Again, battered and bruised, we
bent the mech back in to place and left her with a gear in the middle of
the block. We then competed the ride together which included
climbing the cobbled Bosberg without being able to change down.
These rides, along with the
Pyreneene Sportive, her
Ronde de Sable
second place and her win in the 2004
RiderMan (her first
year of riding a bike!) all contribute to the inner hardness factor.
Oh, and that of being a mother. Child birth is something we men can
never imagine. So this award goes to all our mothers. Without
them we wouldn't be here,
Have a fantastic season and I
hope these anecdotes and rambling stories and memories can inspire you to
keep pushing when you'd rather not. It's what makes us cyclists.