Tuesday, 21 June 2016

luck and unluck

A brief glance in the section titled the things we do will reveal the affection that cyclesguff have for the spring classic Paris Roubaix. Guffers and associates have notched up some 10 appearances at the paris roubaix cyclo since 2008. A bunch of passionate and very well organised enthusiasts Les Amis de Paris Roubaix run the event every two years ensuring that us amateurs get a chance to ride 53km of bone jarring stones in 210km and that the money goes not to ASO who organise a shorter event the day before the pro race but to renovating, rediscovering and rebuilding more secteurs of pave. A neat masochistic/sadistic circle ensures our pain leads to more pain.

In the race luck surely plays such a huge part in winning or losing. You can see how in the right circumstances, riders who’s usual job is just to get on the front and ride for the team have their day in the sun. Magnus Backsted, Yohan Vansummeren and this year Matt Hayman have been able to outwit the pack of chasers who’ve been undone by mistakes, accidents or mechanicals. Other specialists seem to have the cycling gods shine on them more regularly and in recent years none more so than Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara have seen the sun moon and stars align in the shape of victory. At the same time luck shines a cruel fickle light depending on when it reveals itself. It is quite possible to be lucky and lose or to have bad luck and win. This year Cancellara straddled the crown of the pave with his bike and Sagan somehow wheelied on his front wheel to avoid him and carry on racing. Great bike handling, great skill but as Sagan might describe the incident himself it was ‘unluck’. His rhythm was disturbed enough, and on his own he could not bridge the gap so a win eludes him.

In this year's cyclo on 12 June a spill early on was sore but did not end the race though instead scraped an arm, leg, hip and shoulder smarted a bit and the fall put a hole in a rather nice jersey. This guffer narrowly avoided disaster when the rider behind launched himself into a wet corner at the bottom of a hill on the pave and unseating himself slipped into a rather ugly one piece mud suit.

As the examples reveal it is not so much the fact that you will experience the capricious nature of luck in a race of this length but more to do with where it manifests itself.

The last secteur is known as Pave de Hem. 1400m of cobbles that merit as little as 3 stars in the pro parcours but easily catch the unaware, tired and na├»ve. In this instance about a third of the way in a wobble in the saddle department. There isn’t much call for out of the saddle action on the pave so this guffer determined to hold on and tighten the wobble at the end. Not surprisingly under such duress the wobble persisted but minimal fanfare no mighty snap or bang the saddle in question simply fell off. The clamp sheared at the bolt half on half off and the saddle post with the lay back was no more. Equipment can be stressed to destruction at any time, and there can be little complaint since this the fourth time the post has endured such agonies. I am glad to say that the guffer in question was sufficiently energetic enough to be ride the last 5km or so BMX style out of the saddle, through Hem and over the flyover into Roubaix and the velodrome and gather a few respectful glances and bad jokes about sitting down along the way. Unluck no doubt. But unluck with great timing.

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