Head Down and Hold on Tight.

Last week’s festivities found the Lady in Seattle with family while I stayed in Portland to put in a full day of overtime pay at my wonderful, yet low paying job. I spent Thanksgiving with some new friends. That was great, but I still found myself with plenty of time on my hands. As I lay around working the kinks out of my muscles I remembered that a few months ago the Butcher had sent me a care package containing something I’d forgotten about.

Packed along with surf stickers, magazines and Patagonia catalog signed by Gerry Lopez was the sometimes hard to watch, yet still delightful (it can be both those things at once) Stars and Watercarriers. The film, about the 1973 Giro d’ Italia, cronicles the trials and tribulations of the riders as they race across Italy.

The narration is monotone and stale, and I was having a hard time getting through the roughly 90 minute movie until I hit the TT scene.

Watching these riders suffer (and raid every shop they passed) had me thinking about what if must have been like to race bikes back then. Then the inevitable comparing came about.

It’s popular to say that the riders of old are harder men then the racers of today. That could be true. But compare the guys of Merckx’s generation to the those first guys to tackle the Pyrenees. Suddenly Merckx’s and crew don’t seem so tough. Then I just let that go and settled on the fact that racing is hard, no matter what era you’re from. Especially in the Time Trial.

As evidenced by this video from 2009 (sorry, Universal requested the embed be turned off).

Of course, one can find a similar effect when on the dangerous gambit known as the “solo breakaway”.  Like a TT, only you have an angry mob chasing after you. Every time I watch this clip from a … shall we say more “enhanced” era, I wonder what must be going through the Lion’s head as he charges solo up the Kapelmuur.

Whether in a TT or alone off the front there’s nothing left to do but put your head down and hold on tight.

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