Nice promotional video for the Gravel Metric! (Crazy Americans.)

Gravel Metric from Seth Deming on Vimeo.

(via All Hail the Black Market)

After doing the Tour of Flanders Cyclo, it was decided that I had earned sufficient “real cyclist” brownie points to pimp my ride. But since my resources are not unlimited (and each bike-related purchase must be rewarded by an even more outrageously priced purchase by my loved one), I had to make some choices.

My advantage is that my Cannondale is still pretty much fitted with the equipment it came with when I bought it, so the possibility to upgrade are endless. I decided to aim for a cost-optimal purchase with a view to increase riding comfort and power efficiency.

Hence the bike fitting.

Sure, you don’t get to buy more stuff, and don’t we all love buying stuff. However, not only should a bike fitting last longer than a bike or any other equipment, it ensures that you use your existing equipment as efficiently as possible. All purchases for the bike are “renewable” (ad infinitum), but this one is actually “sustainable”.

But then comes the next dilemma: which bike fitter to use?

There are quite a few shops that offer bike fitting in Belgium, and some have great reputations.

Peter Horn did an interesting post on the pavé blog on Frans Vanmarcke, a reputed bike fitter located in Ingelmunster. He is very cheap (50€ for four hours of work) and has apparently worked on the bikes of many famous Belgian racers (including Eddy Merckx, notoriously picky on his bike fitting). But I did not see myself do 100 km to get my bike fitted by an old unpleasant, dogmatic Flemish mechanic who does not speak English and probably will not want to speak French. And I don’t need (or want) a “racing” fit, as I don’t race, and from reading the article in pavé, I gathered that this was most probably the only thing I would get.

So I did a bit of research, and there are really all sorts of bike fitting methodologies. Some approaches are just too unscientific for my Cartesian mind. Others use an awe-inspiring quantity of electronic apparatus, cameras and 3D imaging, which tend to remind me of the Monthy Python’s Meaning of Life and the machine that goes “ping!” .

Many fall in the latter category, such as the ones using the RETÜL methodology (listed here). Some bike fitters seem to fall in between both extremes and are a mix between both approaches, such as Body2Bike, managed by an ex-mechanic of the CSC Team and a sports therapist. Finally, in Brussels intra muros, I was recommended the UrbanTriSport shop, which does bike fittings for around 50€, and I heard good things about the people running the shop.

In the end, I decided to go to the Ciclissimo shop, held by Pascal Vanden Bergh, near Mongomery in Brussels. Beyond the fact that he was recommended on a forum I often read and trust, what drew me there was the fact that he uses the CYFAC Postural System. This sytem is based on the work done at the Centre Médico Sportif of Lyon, a para-municipal medical center specialized in following elite-level athletes, and in particular cyclists and triathletes.

My experience with Ciclissimo in a next post!

 

I have always wanted to see this kind of information from UCI: a list ranking the probability of PROs cyclists doping, on the basis of blood test and the biological passport. Well, now we have it, thanks to the venerable French sports daily L’Equipe (who is owned by race organiser ASO).

The list, without much commentary or context, is available on cyclingnews.com and a scan of the list is available on The Inner Ring blog.

  • I am quite happy to see that it confirms my gut feeling about racers who are clean and racers who are suspicious

For example, it confirms that some of my favourite riders are indeed probably clean: D.Cancellara(0), T. Voeckler(0),  J.Voigt(2), the Schlecks(2-3), E. Boasson Hagen(0), T.Hushovd(0), M.Cavendish(0), C.Sastre(2), S.Chavanel(1), etc.

Who do we find at the other end? Well, D.Menchov(9-HumanPlasma), J.Van Den Broek(8), A.Klöden(7-Freiburg Uni-Klinik), T.Martin(7), A.Petacchi(6-Mantoue), A.Ballan(5-Mantoue), A.Contador(5-Positive 2010, Puerto), A.Vinokourov(5-Positive 2007, Puerto), B.Wiggins(5).

  • What does the “suspicion score” mean?

0 and 1 mean that there is pretty much no suspicion of doping. For 2,3 and 4, there are some vague informations, with sometimes an isolated abnormal value, but nothing very serious. Starting with 5, the suspicions are much more specific, with some very affirmative comments on some of the riders. Above, for scores of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, we are talking about riders whose biological passport has already been the subject of a report by the UCI antidoping experts, without the rider being suspended. Some of those riders are the object of very serious allegations, such as recurring abnormal profiles, enormous variations, identified doping products and method of administration, etc.

So, bellow 5, probably ok. Above 5-6, probably not ok.

  • L’Equipe also made average scores per team.

The six cleanest teams are the four French ones (Cofidis, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Française des Jeux and AG2R-La Mondiale), followed by Garmin-Transitions and Cervélo. All those six teams are members of the Movement For Credible Cycling (MPCC), along with Skil-Shimano and Bretagne-Schuller. On the other end? Well, Astana and Radioshack…

  • They also made statistics by nationality.

The cleanest are the French, the Dutch and the Swiss, and the most suspicious the Ukrainians, Kazakh, Russians, Belarusians and Italians.

  • What to make of this list? 

I think it is good that information like that gets out, despite my unease with breaches of privacy rules.

It confirms what everyone is saying: riders are doping less in the peloton (only 27 out of 198 above 6, the average score of the 2010 Tour de France peloton being around 2,434). Sure, some of those with a very low score are perhaps just better at mastering the biological passport and ensuring a flat hematocrit and hemoglobin profile. But to do so, they cannot dope heavily like riders used to up to the mid-2000. They have to remain reasonable, which means less super-human (bordering on the absurd) performances by some riders, making cycling more fun to watch.

PS: The most comprehensive website (to my knowledge) on doping in cycling is in French: cyclisme-dopage.com.

 

I have not been following the Giro as closely as the Classics or as I will follow the Tour de France. But I thought it could be useful to mention the very well made website of the Giro, which even offers a free live webstream of the event.

Another interesting find (via the Inner Ring Blog) is the Road Book for the race, normally not made public but which for the Giro is available as a pdf. The level of detail is quite astonishing, with information on road surfaces for the finish for example, and main features of the stage. I wish Road Books were always made available for races!

Update: I almost forgot to mention that two of my favourite bloggers are writing about the Giro, one at Universal Sports (Cycling Inquisition, who signs as Klaus on U.S.) and another at Bicycling Magazine (Bike Snob NYC who signs as, well, BikeSnobNYC). Really worth reading!

“For anybody this is tragic; for us it’s even more painful and profound. This is because so many of us who follow the sport of cycling are cyclists ourselves. Not only can we empathize with the sadness of Weylandt’s family, friends, and teammates but we can also imagine his last moments much more intimately and vividly than we’d like. We’ve all crashed at one time or another, and even if we haven’t been seriously hurt on a bike we all know somebody who has. We know what it feels like when the exhilaration of riding suddenly becomes the horror of losing control, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who could practically hear that scissor snip next to my ear when we saw the doctors cutting Weylandt’s helmet straps.”

Rixensart (Picture by Philippe Clabots)

 

I have had quite busy week-ends lately, taken up by work and/or by spending time with family, being on vacation, etc. So no longer rides since the Ronde Cyclo. But since we are doing the Tilff-Bastogne-Tilff with a friend on 12 June, I still have to train. So I go to spinning classes during lunch time, to get some interval work down and keep up my fitness. And I have been going out for 90 minute rides outside, early in the morning on Sundays.

The problem is that it takes some time to get out to my preferred riding area in Flanders, the Pajottenland, and then back. To get to Ruisbroek to the West of Brussels, it takes me about 20 minutes. So 40 minutes of not so pleasant riding time and just 50 minutes of riding in the country-side.

But recently, I have come across the GPS track for a ride to the South-East of Brussels published by the Brussels Big Brackets cycling club, going through the hills of Brabant.

I still have not had the time to ride it, but it inspired my shorter rides.

I first start in the Bois de La Cambre. Early in the morning, the park is still waking up and you can just zoom through. You then get to the Drève de Lorraine, with its cycling path going through the woods, straight as an arrow.

On the left goes the Avenue Dubois, still in the forest of Soignes. It is sort-of downhill, but actually feels almost flat. I always feel frustrated: I’m expecting to go super fast, like on a normal descent. But you have to go hard to get to 50 km/h and you sometimes get cars behind you, which I find stressful.

Anyway, once at the end of Dubois, you go across a big crossing. You can either use the cycling bridge and then the gravel road, or go right, up the steep road. Once you get to the petrol station, you turn into a small road on the left and pass underneath the Groenendaal train station. A nice and long descent later, you are in Hoeilaart. You just follow the road and at the end of the lake, you go right, up a nice steep hill.

From there, I just follow the Waversesteenweg, which becomes more rural as it waves along, with only very few cars.

I usually turn around once I get to Maleizen or even Rixensart. Last week-end, it was particularly frustrating, as I was crossing all the cyclists going to the Route du Muguet, an Audax organised by the Guidons La Hulpois cycling club.

The whole route is really nice, and mixes forests, small towns, countryside, all while going up and down. It provides a good work-out.

But I really have to find the time to do the whole of the “Bosses brabançonnes!”