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Science/Technology versus Grit/Intestinal Fortitude (rant)(18 posts)

Science/Technology versus Grit/Intestinal Fortitude (rant)Car Magnet
Jul 5, 2001 4:03 PM
Do you feel that the advances in S/T make that much of a difference for any cyclist? Titanium, Scandium, Carbon, Endurox, Enervit, Creatine, EPO etc/etc are all for the cyclist but do they make you a better rider? I would put more stock in gutting it out on some 40 lb POS on a century to do more for the cyclist than the S/T that we ride, eat or drink. I mean how many people can say that S/T actually made a difference in the big race? Has anybody lost a race or been dropped on the group ride because they weren't riding a titanium bike with carbon stays, forks and wheels with Enervit in their water bottles? I bet not. What separates the winners from the losers? Grit/Guts/Intestinal Fortitude/Willpower or whatever you may call it. I just can't stand the people that can't gut it out because it's too windy or too hot or too cold or the hill is too big and steep. Who cares if it takes a year to make that 2 mile climb? If you can do it once, you can do it again (faster and stronger). Although I appreciate the advances in S/T, I really admire the people that just go out and do it no matter what the conditions are or what bike they have. Sorry just had to let off some steam after running into a "Excuse for everything" type.
S&T doesn't make me a better riderMaillot Rouge
Jul 5, 2001 4:29 PM
but it does make up for some of my short comings. In racing you can be tough and hardcore but if the guy next to you is just as strong and tough as you are and is riding a bike that weighs less and is stiffer and has less friction in the gears and bearing and is sucking down an energy drink instead of just water you will lose.

The only excuse that is ever valid is "I didn't ride fast enough."

I think it's like pole vaulting...Dog
Jul 5, 2001 5:05 PM
In pole vaulting, a good vaulter could probably make 14 feet on a bamboo pole; my ex track coach, Dutch Warmerdam of Fresno, CA, topped 15 feet on bamboo and landing in sawdust in the 1940's (first man to do it and set the world record).

I don't think anyone would have ever cleared 19 feet on bamboo. The technology of the new fancy poles, with all the spring action, changed the game.

Still, any old idiot like me, no matter what pole I were to use, would never break 12 feet (I was purely a runner). The technology would make little difference, or I might even do better on the old technology.

Similarly, a high tech bike is likely needed to set records and compete at the highest levels. You ain't gonna timetrial at 34 mph on a 40 pound Huffy. At the same time, I (a somewhat mediocre cyclist in the big scheme of things) am not going to set any records on my expensive Colnago with aero carbon wheels and titanium parts; however, I certainly will go much, much faster than I would on even my 30 pound, new, Bianchi Milano cruiser.

The technology certainly can make a difference, no doubt about it. The incremental improvement, relative to your competitors, probably doesn't make much difference until the differences are fairly large.

I think pole vaulting was more changed by technologyredman
Jul 6, 2001 12:32 PM
Warmerdam was your coach! I read about his accomplishments when I was learning to vault. The thing about the 60s/70s vaulting transition with the new poles is that to use that bending technology you had to relearn the sport. You had to learn to bend or arc the pole have ride it up as it straightened, rather than swinging from the highest point you could hold as Warmerdam did with a pole that didn't arc (not like fiberglass anyway). Wonce learned though, any vaulter, even an average one like me, who could go higher than he/she would have gone with a non-arcing pole.

Like you, I'm not going to hit 34mph for the hour record no matter how good my technology, but unlike pole vaulting, much of the newer cycling technology does not require relearning the sport. You can throw disk wheels on the bike of a rider who's never used them and that rider will go faster for that trial than he would have gone without the aero technology. Even the tri-bar which does take some getting used to, was a huge help to Lemond that day in '89 when he had very little time on it. Any of us riding over 15mph is going to go faster with the bar in a time trial than without the bar. Tri-bar position and aero wheels make any cyclist faster as long as you ride over 15mph. The faster you go, the more help you get from the technology, no matter what your skill level.

The arcing vaulting pole changed the sport completely--for example, vaulters now have compact spinter bodies rather than the tall lanky, high-reaching shape of Warmerdam and all the great vaulters before fiberglass poles. Drugs haven't really changed cycling because they've been in cycling since the 1890s. One technology improvement that has changed cycling pretty significantly I think, is the sti/ergo granted ability to change gears in the middle of a full road sprint. That has changed not just skill of sprinting but the physical attributes of the best road sprinters.
Warmerdam etcDog
Jul 6, 2001 3:50 PM
Yup, when I went to Fresno State from 1979 to 82, he was my track coach. I just ran the 400 then, though.

I see what you mean about the technology changing the sport, but I think that cycling technology has done so, if in smaller increments. Remember, though, that vaulting poles have somewhat evolved, too. The first glass poles didn't flex near as much (without breaking) as more recent ones.

More gears allows riding in places we formerly either couldn't go, or would at least need monster legs to mash up 20% hills. It allows us to ride more comfortably, over longer distances. I think indexed shifting, and particularly integrated shifting, as you mentioned, opened the sport for more riders. Same for clipless pedals.

Why not both?Mothhunter
Jul 5, 2001 5:36 PM
It worked for LeMond in '89. Would guts alone have won that Tour for him? Who knows? But Fignon rode with an awful lot of intestinal fortitude that day in July.
Retro-me, well of course!Humma Hah
Jul 5, 2001 5:51 PM
If I were racing I'd be a weight weenie and lubing my bearings with the bodyfat of endangered species if I thought it would make me 0.01 mph faster. Mind you, that's about ALL I'd expect science and technology to do for me, just a tiny little edge, maybe 30 ft over the course of a 20-mile TT, that sort of thing.

But I ride for fitness. Its MY condition that matters to me. You guys know my usual ride, an aging singlespeed cruiser. That machine is evidence enough that the wrong technology can slow you down. The bike has been laid up for about 3 weeks with a slipping coasterbrake, the parts just arrived this afternoon. Instead, I've been riding my wife's 3-speed lightweight, no roadbike, but positively SWIFT compared to the cruiser.

The comparison: riding the cruiser I routinely crank my HR up to within a couple of bpm of my anaerobic threshold, and hold it there for an hour or two at a time. I don't downshift on climbs because I have no gears, I just stand and grind like a madman. On the lightweight I'm a little faster, but not working as hard, and I use the escape gear when I get a little tired.

I can't wait to get the rear hub rebuilt on my old sweetie so it can abuse me some more: its a MUCH more satisfying ride!

If you're looking for technology to make it easier, you're cheating yourself.
re: Science/Technology versus Grit/Intestinal Fortitude (rant)Bart S.
Jul 5, 2001 6:11 PM
Improvments in technology are inevitable. What this tends to do is raise the bar for everyone. Eventually, everyone has the same level of technology, and the winners are the one's with the "Grits" and the best strategy.

If you watched the Giro on OLN, you saw Simoni win on a Fondriest. My guess is, he could have won on any bike, as they are all so close in performance. If one company makes a significant breakthrough, all the other manufacturers quickly respond.
S/T is good, but Guts is cheaperWadeOmatic
Jul 5, 2001 6:44 PM
Gimme tech when I've got money to spend. Otherwise (more often) I'll rely on Grit/Guts/Intestinal Fortitude/Willpower--like the Century I rode this year. I had no business out there, but I finished it because I wouldn't let myself quit.
Humbling experience you'll enjoy hearing...biknben
Jul 5, 2001 8:18 PM
Last week I went on a group ride with a bunch of known hammers. I had only riden with the particular group once before and got dropped hard. I knew this was going to be a rough ride for me.

Naturally, at the beginning of the ride I was eyeing my competition. Taking notice of the largest quads and the sweetest bike. Knowing the whole time this did not indicate who the strongest guys were but it's all I had to go on.

This one guy caught my attention real fast. He was riding an early '80s Fuji bike. I'll just provide a list of the things I thought were interesting: Tube socks, pushed down. Old black leather shoes, toe clips and straps. 27" wide steel rims with even wider tires. 6-speed Shimano drivetrain with friction downtube shifters. Brakes I didn't even recognize. I guess they were "U" brakes but I'm not sure. You get the point. Advances in S/T were never considered by this guy.

Now the part you'll enjoy. At some point I found myself doing 29 MPH, up hill, and slowly slipping off the back. I watched that guy and the others, ride away from me and my 15 pound Cannondale. All my carbon goodies, Alum. frame, CytoMAX, etc. was not going to get me any closer to them. I found myself continuing at 26-27 MPH until they slowed down while going through a busy downtown area.

I caught back up to the group and had a new appreciation for this guy's riding ability. S/T will only get you so far. At some point you're left with the "Engine". This guy was able to overcome the 20 years of S/T he had ignored. Pretty humbling experience for me.
Good StoryRay Sachs
Jul 7, 2001 7:01 AM
I'll never ride like that guy, but I know it isn't about the gear. I have two road bikes, neither of them heavyweights. But one is a high-tech titanium frame, carbon fork, Dura Ace components, and comes in at about 18 pounds. The other one is a fine steel frame with more of a sport touring geometry - I have friction downtube shifters and a mix of old and new components on it. It comes in at about 22.5 or 23 pounds, depending on what wheels I have on it.

I can feel a slight difference between the two bikes on very steep, short climbs that I sprint over - the lighter bike feels slightly more responsive and quicker here. Otherwise, there's absolutely no difference in speed or perceived speed between the two. I ride both of them on club rides and I drop the same people and get dropped by the same people regardless of which bike I'm on - there's absolutely no difference in my overall performance. If I was in the top .01% of elite riders, it might make that few second difference that mattered, but I'm in no danger of ever being in that position.

That said, I'd feel a big difference between either of these bikes and a 30-35 pound anchor with heavy wheels, but within the realm of reasonably nice bikes, it doesn't matter much.

Think I'll ride the steel rig today.

I'm always looking for comfortSTEELYeyed
Jul 5, 2001 9:29 PM
I always look for new items that might make me faster and more comfortable,but when it comes down to it I think your progress is measured by how much pain and suffering you can stand, and it seems to get harder with age ,at my current level a hilly century is about all I can stand comfortably,and I will say,its much easier on a 19 lb. Litespeed as opposed to a old 40lb.MTB....I have done both and this is just me, but I'll take the S/T thanks.
regarding excusesDuane Gran
Jul 6, 2001 5:56 AM
I know what you mean about people who make excuses. I know someone who could do excellent things, but it either too hot or too cold, too early or too late, etc...

For me personally, I seek out advanced technology because I believe it helps to eliminate excuses. For example, if I rode heavy wheels and lost to someone (in a race) with vastly superior equipment I would be prone to attribute it to equipment. Yes, I know this isn't the most logical conclusion, but to a certain point I accept this about my personality and do what I need to make sure I focus on the physical aspects of riding. For me that means feeling certain that my equipment isn't limiting my ability. If someone beats me the onus is on my physical ability. I like it that way, and it removes excuses.
regarding excusesHorace Greeley
Jul 6, 2001 7:33 AM
Why does anyone care about someone's excuses? Bottom line, shouldn't we only care about ourselves. For me, I sometimes head for the trainer because it is (in my mind) too cold or too early (have to be on the bike by 5:30 a.m. to get a decent ride in). While others may be out on the bike at the same time, so what? Its not a competition. The fact that sometimes I back out of a ride does not mean I don't love the sport or I'm a lesser rider. It is what it is--simply a decision to pass on a ride. The great thing about cycling is that everyone has their own definition of what this sport is and what they love about it. For some, it doesn't mean heading out in a driving rainstorm to do intervals. For others it does. I don't judge either rider.
regarding excusesDuane Gran
Jul 6, 2001 10:41 AM
I couldn't agree more, however if my teammates make excuses then it is a little personal. I would say that riding the trainer instead of riding outdoors demonstrates good focus. Most people just bag the workout entirely if weather doesn't cooperate. Again, I only get judgemental if the said person has committed to riding with me on a team.
agree 100%(nm)Horace Greeley
Jul 6, 2001 1:11 PM
I has made a differenceDaveG
Jul 6, 2001 1:15 PM
While agree with your basic point that it should be about the cyclist not equipment, its undeniable that technology both in equipment and training techniques has made a difference over time. Look how easily riders such as Chris Boardman have beaten Merckx's hour record. No one here can convince me that Boardman was anywhere near the cyclist Merckx was. (Heck, even Graeme Obree beat Merckx time). However, I think these factors play a much larger role at the elite level than at the recreational and Cat4/5 level. Cyclists are resourceful types and are capable of making all kinds of excuses about their riding even without equipment.
I'm gettin OLN tomorrow...YEA!!!!!!dustin73
Jul 6, 2001 12:36 AM