RE: [CR]using classic bicycles, well?

(Example: Production Builders:Peugeot:PY-10)

Date: Fri, 10 May 2002 08:07:26 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Jonathan Cowden" <>
Subject: RE: [CR]using classic bicycles, well?
To: Mark Bulgier <>
In-Reply-To: <>

i'm not quite sure whether this topic is on-topic, but it's interesting so i'll step in--my apologies to dale if i'm adding white noise.

i think all but the biggest retro-grouches would concede that new equipment offers at least marginal advances to racers. the new stuff, for instance, allows you to shift under load. if you look at race results, very often the margin is the difference. a couple of seconds or minutes over the course of a spring classic -- or even a stage race. this is why, i think, racers and innovators are always looking for something to generate an edge, even to the point of the amusing: eddy m. sawing the ends off of his handlebars, for instance.

not all racers are rocket scientists, and good coaching can help many get better. but with racing as with almost anything else, one learns by doing. i'm reminded of a funny zen parable about the man who read all he needed to "know" about swimming, then paddled to the middle of the lake, jumped in, and drowned. e-ritchie's challenge gets at this fundamental point. if you really don't think that some of the new equipment makes any difference, jump into the fray and ride. my guess is that most of those extolling the virtues of everything old would sink. jon

jon cowden ithaca, ny

On Fri, 10 May 2002, Mark Bulgier wrote:
> 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