RE: [CR]using classic bicycles, well?

(Example: Bike Shops)

From: "Mark Bulgier" <>
Subject: RE: [CR]using classic bicycles, well?
Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 02:40:21 -0700

e-RICHIE writes:
> how many folks have well, you know,
> have RACED? and at what level?
> me-i'm a cat 2 on road and track.
> that and a dime will get me 2 nickels.

I used to be amazed at how ignorant of bicycles cat 2s were, until I started building more bikes for cat 1s, national champions and Olympic team riders - they were if anything more ignorant! Then I noticed Greg Lemond saying such ridiculous horseshit that he made those cat 2s seem educated.

So, Richie, your time as a builder, and years studying and thinking about bikes, lend credence to your words, but the fact that you are a cat 2 means little to me.

I'm not just talking bike technology, but also riding skills. When I was a 3 I knew more about strategy, riding an echelon, how to drop another rider and how to sprint, than most of the 2s I rode with. They trained more and/or were born with bigger hearts, but often didn't seem to pay much attention to the world around them. They were also prone to believing silly old lore, like picking the stem length so that the bars hide the front hub, or claiming that stiffer frames are always more efficient. I say "were", because I'm away from it now, but I can't imagine it's changed much. Athletes are, um, well, you know what I, uh, mean?

Human perception is notoriously unreliable, so even when one of the smarter ones says something is "obvious", I've learned to be skeptical. I'm skeptical of my own perceptions too. Jim Papdopoulos did perception tests, one of which had riders ride bikes that varied in weight by 5 pounds, and almost all the riders couldn't say which one was lighter or heavier any more reliably than a coin flip. Coaches have often noted cases where their athletes thought they were going their slowest, and were actually breaking their PR, or thought they were flying when they were actually crawling. Scientific method demands that experiments be designed to take human perception out of it ("double blind"), but that is extremely difficult with respect to bikes and racing - how can you race and *not know* whether your shifters are STI or bar-ends? A conundrum.

All of this is to say that, since I've seen some evidence that the old bikes are *not* slower, I would need more than the opinion of someone who thinks they are, to feel like we're getting anywhere on the question. We will probably never know for sure.

At least I hope we all can agree that it's a point on which reasonable people can disagree.

Mark Bulgier
Seattle, Wa