Friday, April 13, 2007

The World of the Velodrome - mimitig

Track cycling is a very weird and wonderful world. Quite aside from the World Cup and World Championship competitions that go on away from the limelight and the hype that the Olympics bring about, there are 2 events that hold a special place in the hearts of the cycling purists.

They are the KILO and the HOUR. Both are mired in controversy, filled with myth and legend, and shortly we are going to see a new contender pitting himself against the fiend that is the KILO.

This is probably the less peculiar of the disciplines and less riven with historical discontent. One man, on one bicycle, on one track aims to ride a kilometre faster than any other man has ever done before. Sounds simple, but it's not quite as easy as it seems. First the contender must go through hoops with the authorities to ensure that his bicycle passes muster and will be eligible for a record attempt. Handle-bars or saddle in the wrong place, and peddle your heart out, you won't get the record. Then you have to decide where to make your attempt. Obviously it must be a recognised venue, but choose the wrong altitude and it'll all go wrong. Chris Hoy is going for the record - it may be the last we see of him on the world stage. We await May with keen anticipation.

The HOUR is a very different kettle of fish, but one into which British cyclists have thrown their dinner a few times. In fact the whole madness that is this event was started by an Englishman - F.L. Dodds, back in 1876 when he completed a distance of 26.508 km on a machine that would scarcely be recognised as a bicycle these days.

In the 1980s Francesco Moser was king of the HOUR and his record of 51.151 km looked for a while to be invincible. But technology began to play a part with the science of aerodynamics finding its way into the world of cycling, and in 1994, Big Mig Indurain pushed the record out to over 53 km, stealing the thunder of Scotland's Graeme Obree.

The current holder of the record is another Brit - arguably Britain's best-known professional cyclist: Chris Boardman. Having covered a distance of 56.375 in 1996 using the controversial "Superman" position, he confirmed his supremacy in 2000 using what is now the UCI's official conventional riding position.

As I write, I am not aware of any of today's big name cyclists preparing to have a go. Lance Armstrong talked of doing it, but to no-one's surprise never did.

I would be sad not to see any further attempts, as would most track fans. We just need someone take to the velodrome and go like a madman for an hour to set a new record.

110 comments:

offside said...

Damn, what a misleading title. I thought it would be about Marseille's stadium. What a let down.

greengrass said...

Ah, Mimi -
you've really whipped this submission
of yours into shape!
Lashings of penetrating info -
the masochistic looniness of the long-distance biker!

BlueinBetis said...

50 kilometres, in an hour, on a bike?

I had a car that couldn't do that.

'kin 'ell.

BlueinBetis said...

Marseille?

Didn't they have a Ghanaian player?

What's his name again...Polo, Lippi, no it's gone again...

offside said...

Hippolito Van Buytelé

You're welcome.

MotM said...

Great stuff Mimi.

The Kilo is a bit mad, but the Hour is just crazy. Boardman's record is right up their with Britain's great sporting achievements, but never gets a mention. Not only was he "eyeballs-out" (Duffers) for an hour, but his concentration must have been immense.

When athletes run 2hours 6 minutes for the marathon, they warm down, take a drink and pose with the sponsors hat on. After an attempt at the hour, there's always oxygen and often a trip to hospital - that's how hard it is.

BlueinBetis said...

No, Hippolito Van Buytele was the Dutch player, with an ample Greek mother and a Swazi chieftan father...
No, he was definitely named after a great player...

Umbdobi Madonna? Georges Bestii?

Che, Fidel, Bolivar, Socrates... It will come to me in a minute.

guitougoal said...

I wonder why Lance Armstrong never took a go at the world record.Most of the tour de France winners did.
ex:AnquetilL, Merckx,Indurain and many more.

MotM said...

I won't have anything said against Lance, but his fixation on the Tour was disappointing. No Hour, No Giro, No Vuelta, No Liege-Bastogne-Liege (a race made for him!)

Okay he's a World Champ, but that was the pre-cancer Lance a very strange day in Oslo.

andrewm said...

Mouth, out of interest do you mean he let the sport down, or just that you would personally have enjoyed seeing him in more races?

mimi said...

My personal view: I think Lance, by focussing so on the Tour and doing virtually nothing else, did not help cycling's profile. But his achievements were awesome, and his continued fights with L'Equipe are not at all a bad thing, because they are a shocking lot.
If you look back at the real greats of cycling, they succeeded across disciplines, but the last to be truly a great was probably Sean Kelly.
God, I can be boring about cycling!
Sorry.

MotM said...

Cycling has as many traditions as any sport and Lance never learned them young, then refused due to his treatment by the cycling establishment. TdF only made sense in a vacuum, but not in a wider context.

That's his decision and that's fair enough, but it did diminish the spectacle and limited chances for others to test themselves against him.

nesta said...

To be fair to Lance he is a Texan, so European tradition probably doesn't mean a helluva lot to him.

I consider him the most crazy (in an ultrasane way) and driven person I've ever witnessed. Somehow he could endure more agony than any other. He seemed to revel in it. Tough as teak.

mimi said...

Nest: not to take anything away from LA's achievements, but he did build a team about winning one race. He didn't do the Pro-Tour properly, ever, and since his retirement, his team have hardly figured.

guitougoal said...

The way France treated Lance was a disgrace, l'Equipe
sensational revelation was nothing less than despicable tabloid and media shit. The Landis story one year later was the backlask the french organization diserved and I hope Lance win his legal battle.

mimi said...

L'Equipe are filth. I have no other words tonight, but will rage intensly when i am not not pissed.

guitougoal said...

I don't want to be around then.

offside said...

A pissed mimi raging intensely? I'd rather watch that than Paris - Roubaix. But then again, I'm no great fan of cycling so...

I believe Aimé Jacquet is still not talking to anyone from L'Equipe.

guitougoal said...

offside,when Jacques Goddet was in command the Lance story wouldn't have been published, same when Jacques Ferran was the footy guy none of this Aime vs l'equipe saga would have surfaced...

offside said...

Guitou,

I'm not even talking to you. I'm so jealous that you knew André Pousse personally. Was he a friend of Antoine Blondin as well? The drinking sessions must have been something...

Agreed about the shift in quality at L'Equipe. Not sure when that did occur exactly. But I definitely don't read it as much as I used to, even online.

guitougoal said...

offside, Did i tell ya? yes indeed, many, many monday nights I spent with Dede: after the Palais des sports,boxing night, we used to go for diner wth Michel Audiard, Dede, Jean Bousquet(cacharel), and Kiki Chauviere.
I was like a kid in a bakery ,early in the morning, just listening to Andre stories about Piaf, the veldhiv and much more>Once he had his 3rd glass he could talk all night long.Imagine Audiard who wrote his dialogue being his best audience.
When I say I am a drifter,

offside said...

Audiard as well? OK, now I'm green for good.

*Not at all actually, it must have been fantastic to hang around with those characters, they don't make them like that anymore*

But speaking of green, I have to get some absinthe into you, then you can tell me about all this. Can't wait.

guitougoal said...

summertime, it's around the corner.

offside said...

Indeed. And so is friday evening here. So I'll leave you with an (untranslatable, sorry lads) quote by Antoine Blondin:

"N'oublie pas qu'on écrit avec un dictionnaire et une corbeille à papier. Tout le reste n'est que litres et ratures."

guitougoal said...

les carnets d'antoine....didn't know the guy.

Zeph said...

Wow, Guitou, you met Michel Audiard? I just watched 'Tontons Flingueurs' again the other day, it makes me hoot (and I'm probably missing half the jokes).

guitougoal said...

Zeph,Audiard or Blondin dialogues are, as offside mentioned above, untraslatable.because most of their wording s pure parisian slang.Curiously Audiard
so prolific with words was a quiet man in private life.

mimi said...

How come I worked in Paris for a year, even ended up with a sodding Parisien accent, and the only famous people I ever got to meet were Mick Jagger and Keith Richard. No sporting heros at all!
Huh.

guitougoal said...

mimi,
touroutou, routouloulou, tourtoutou.....i'll be walkin central park...

offside said...

mimi,

I've just read last week that Keith Richards had once snorted his father's ashes. Now, if that don't make him a sporting hero, nothing will.

offside said...

And it was in the Guardian, too.

http://music.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,2049699,00.html

offside said...

Si it must be true, non?

mimi said...

I also heard that story. Have to say, when I met (nay kissed) the old rocker, there was nothing to inform me that he'd snorted his dad's ashes.

offside said...

Kiss and tell. Raconte, raconte, s'il te plaît.

mimi said...

offside: there really is very little to raconte. Met them, snogged them, they played a bit of piano, reminisced about the parrot that used to live in the hotel, and left. Oh gave me some free tickets to their show, which I couldn't use cos I was working.
That's it I'm afraid, not a lot really.

offside said...

Pour l'accent parisien, c'est dommage :(

Zeph said...

0o-er, Mimi! M Jagger I could take or leave, but Keef, well, the man's a legend. Ronnie Wood nearly ran me over in Soho once, does that count?

Yes, Guitou, I have Tontons Flingueurs on a French DVD and I have to watch with the French subtitles for 'sourds et malentendants' otherwise I'd be completely lost. But Garde a Vue is in standard French and that's brilliant too in a completely different way.

mimi said...

given that I'd been taught how to speak the french by a man from Poitiers, which is, I believe, the purest form of the language, it was a bit galling (or should I say gaulling) to end up with a bloody Paris accent!

guitougoal said...

snorting his father ashes.. there is a name for this sickness: " the dad in you nose" syndrome.

Zeph said...

But Offside is from the Deep South, so perhaps he says bieng and maintenang?

guitougoal said...

mimi, Poitiers? pure french.. they speak arabic in Poitiers since Charles Martell with one l opened a Cognac distillery.in 732.

offside d'antibes said...

Le jarding il est loing et y faut longtemg pour y aller, té.

guitougoal said...

Zeph, Audiard had a nickname for everybody do you want to know how he used to call me?

Zeph said...

Tell, Guitou ?

offside said...

ze suspensg is killing mig.

guitougoal said...

"guigui l'eclair" in reference to a comic book guy l'eclair.... and since I was much younger they used to pick on me all the time but I guessed that was the price to pay to be accepted in their clique...believe me tat was a clique.

offside said...

"guigui l'éclair", mort de rire. I have a feeling this one has just been resurrected and is going to stick.

Was it because you were a speedy winger, because of your right hook or because you could drink faster than any of them?

mimi said...

Zeph: offside also probably says "marrsaayy" for the stinking pit of corruption that we know as Marseille. Huh, southerners!

Zeph said...

Yep, Guitou, you're a movie character. Early 1970s caper movie, at a guess. Guigui l'Eclair definitely sounds like the dozy comedy member of a gang headed by an elderly Jean Gabin....

Though he could also be an ace cycling prospect in a drama about the vel'd'hiv?

(ooh, back on topic...)

offside said...

Stinking pit of corruption? What has Marseille done to you, mimi? May I suggest, if you have any of that "pure Poitiers French" left in you, that you read some Marcel Pagnol?

offside said...

Zeph,

I wish you'd stop bringing all those threads back on topic and thus ruining all my good work.

Same goes for you, mimi, if you bring up Marseille, we're bound to come back to le Vélodrôme, peuchère.

mimi said...

Before I went to live in France, I learned most of my French from Jean Genet. But the stinking pit is mostly, I'm afraid due to the far right. Not my thing and don't approve of Le Pen, but now I'm verging on turning this into a GU CiF thread, so best slip in to my sharkskin boots and whip up some trade!

Zeph said...

Sorry, offside, I don't do it on purpose... it's just that when we come back within sight of the topic I can't resist giving it a wave and popping over to see how it's getting on.

It's usually sulking by that time, though.

offside said...

Marseille and Le Pen? I must have missed something. How is he more connected to Marseille than anywhere else?

mimi said...

I know he was born in Brittany but I associate Le Pen with his bid to be elected in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur région which, probably incorrectly, I think of as being a Marseille region.
Is that enough of serious politics for now? We should, as Grauniad people, simply agree that this man is filth.

offside said...

Failed bid. And the city of Marseille is clearly not the worst in terms of Front National voters.

But yeah, filth. I even applied for a voting card again after all these years so I can vote against him and Sarko in a couple of weeks. No idea who I'll vote for, as I'm even more offside in politics than in any other field.

Zeph said...

Sarko seems to me like Berlusconi, no convictions at all except a passionate belief that he ought to be in power (oh, yeah, hey, we've got one of those, too).

mimi said...

I'm voting for the nice man who came to my door yesterday. We've got local council and national elections here. My mum always used to invite the candidates in and ply them with rather nasty sherry!

offside said...

mimi,

what did YOU ply him with? Did the lucky man get a taste of those sharkskin boots and the whips? Did you take pictures so you can blackmail him once he's elected?

Zeph,

Can you believe there are "Votez Le Pen" posters here in Polynesia? I drew a Hitler moustache on one of them yesterday. And Sarko's slogan is "Sarkozy, un ami de la Polynésie". Aaaaargh.

Zeph said...

The moustache is a good idea. Simple but effective. Can you do a few more? Get the turtle to distract any onlookers...

offside said...

I'm thinking little horns for the Sarko posters.

Thing is, a lot of Tahitian people think Sarko would be good for Polynesia, because he'll keep pouring in subsidies whereas Ségolène won't. And it's hard for them to see the bigger picture.

Not that the 150 000 votes from here are going to make a blind bit of difference.

At least, this time we're voting on the saturday. In previous elections, people here would get up on sunday morning, watch the election results on TV, and then go voting...

guitougoal said...

offside, Politic now, hey from sports to cinema to politics Pseuds' Universal corner home of the braves ignorants, and the segolosarkosics...I have the same dilemna about next week-end/

guitougoal said...

Zeph, since you like names..if you saw and remember -the river wild-, I watch this week chelsea/valencia and last week too, with Denis O'neill who wrote the script.

Zeph said...

Maybe Bayrou'll get in just because he isn't the other two...

Zeph said...

Guitou, I like to hear about screenwriters because I'm a not-very-successful one myself. I never saw The River Wild but I heard good things about it.

You keep interesting company...

guitougoal said...

the story they just post on Zidane to L.A doesn't make sense at all. This could be a bigger surprisr to me than Le Pen elected president.

guitougoal said...

He has nothing to do with me, it's just the environment here.

Zeph said...

Ah, you're in LA - sorry, Guitou, I don't always know where people are, apart from Offside who claims to be in Tahiti but may of course actually be in Lille...

A quick Google reveals that the Zidane story started in a German tabloid. Not very credible, maybe.

guitougoal said...

today's guardian quoted Lallas and they (galaxy) may have an offer on the table but I don't see Zidane moving from Spain or France.

offsidewhere? said...

Indeed Zeph, I could be in l'île Maurice or in Lille, chez Maurice.

I'm not buying the Zidane story at all.

guitougoal said...

little Maurice, Zidane, Beckham, Real Hollywood-
meanwhile Leboeuf is dealing with Seattle to become their manager..

offside said...

I hope he'll Seattle down well, then.

sorry.

guitougoal said...

good lord who is the spun-master

guitougoal said...

Offside, have you seen Marcella lately? at the beach or at the local polynesian cafe?

offside said...

No, haven't heard from Marcela in a while. Last time, she mentioned a deadline for an article, which is now past...

If she was on the beach in Moorea, I hope she'd have given me a ring.

guitougoal said...

May be she is up to rewrite Indian song. I am going back to Harley Davidson..

offside said...

Another trip into the desert? I hope you'll be a little bit more prolix on your return, this time.

guitougoal said...

offside, marcelle left our building for some mysterious mansion,
no, H-D it's simply working- a brochure for their new concept.

offside said...

Does the brochure need translating?

Hey, did you see the Ligue 1 results today? 8 games, six 0-0, out of 16 teams playing only Toulouse and Lille scored. Depressing.

guitougoal said...

yes I watched PSG-Bordeaux ,the French league compared to Premiership it's like a second division to a fisrt-
for H-D , I am the creative director of the project,
The text should be bullet- proof since it's reviewed by -a high-tech engineer in Palo alto and then my assistant is british, but I am sweating night and day to have these docs out before mid june- (I have 12 brands to finalize ) probably 400 pages of illustrations.

offside said...

Sounds like fun. Do you get to ride as well?

guitougoal said...

bike only.
Blondin, that was the daily le "carnet de notes"right?

guitougoal said...

fun it's not, why do you think I am visiting the blog now and then?

offside said...

I don't know, Blondin was a little bit before my time. I only got to read about it afterwards.

You work with Harley-Davidson and you ride une bicyclette? Guigui l'éclair, indeed.

Nah, you're pulling my leg. You can't get around LA on a bike.

offside said...

Yep. Same here. Not much fun. And so we blog the day away.

Zeph fallen through a trapdoor? It's only 3 in the morning over there...

guitougoal said...

guyanthome@mac.comzemailmoi- we really spoiled mimi's post with tapiranade.

pipita said...

Hi guigui l'ecliar, offsidewhere

Great thread you two...Have enjoyed reading your stuff at these late hours. Did gallardo and cavenaghi play in the PSG-Bordeaux game by any chance???Intrigued about Marcela's whereabouts as well, Ive emailed her a couple of days ago, but no answer

offside said...

Hola pipita,

Cavenaghi came in for the last 10 minutes, Gallardo stayed on the Paris bench.

I didn't watch it but I hear it was dreadful.

How are you?

pipita said...

Hiya orsay

Thanks for the info on what seemed a dreadful encounter. Saw a bit of Manu, very impressive indeed. Im actually under a lot of stress at the moment cause we are moving to a new flat next week, pretty traumatic stuff, as you may well know

pipita said...

Orsay

Forgot, their's also another reason for my stress off course...River play Boca tommorrow and I have very low expectations given our pretty shite recent form...I fear I'll have to encounter Paulita in some thread next week

guitougoal said...

Pipita, I am all set for tomorow River/Bocca.
Are you ready?

offside said...

pipita,

no stress here. When I move, I move 12,000 miles away, not just down the road.

Ah el super mega clasico! Wish I could watch that tomorrow instead of bloody Lyon - Sedan. Let's hope for a draw so you and paulita remain on speaking terms.

guitougoal said...

About Marcella, hopefully she is too busy for the casual chit chat.
Pipita,se dice Pasarella que no se va a jugar Ortega?

pipita said...

allo guitou

Suppose I am, though in a pretty pesimistic moood, must confess. Ive been a bit distracted by my moving to a new flat, and also offput by River's depressing form of late. Boca, on the other hand, are looking pretty strong at the moment. You actually watch the argie games n'est pas?? Who comentates these matches??, must be some yanks I suppose. As I was telling offside, Im dreading coming across the bosteras paulita and marcelita next week

pipita said...

Ortega non va joué mon ami..Apparently had a set-back with his drinking problem, poor burrito...Offside, cant you get hold of some satelite dish to watch the super-clasico?? Or is that too much to ask for in those remote sauvage tropics

guitougoal said...

Pipita , moving to a new flat. All the best.
I look for you at la bombonera.

offside said...

I have a feckin satellite dish, which means that at least I can watch some games, but I just don't have all the right channels to watch the games I'm really interested in.

So, I'm counting on you, pipita, for the match report. Actually, one report from you and the other from paulita, for a balanced view.

guitougoal said...

offside, I'll send you the half-time report while drinking a Corona fresca,

offsidediver said...

Cheers, guitou, at what time is the game? I'll be 100 feet under the surface tomorrow morning between 8 and 10, Tahiti time.

guitougoal said...

The game is at noon west coast time.
After the game I am cooking spaghetti party for Sasha and her friends they are coming here to watch "the Sopranos"

guitougoal said...

Are you taking a submarine trip?

lemon shark said...

I suspect offside is just going diving. He'll talk to you later. Maybe.

miro said...

offside

Pseuds' reminds me on the French Resistance Movement. Be aware of English 'Hallo' Hallo' version!

mimi said...

can I get sort of back on topic, for a moment?
Anyone see the Paris-Roubaix today? Great win for Stuey O'Grady. Disappointing from Tom Boonen. He's just not delivering yet this year.

guitougoal said...

They didn't show the race here, but the superclassico
River/Bocca lived up to the expectations 1-1. Great game
Pipita should be satisfied considering the first half
didn't look like a match, it was an execution.It was the biggest mismatch since the christians and the lions. Bocca were lions. Second half River Plate showed up and could have scored but overall their goalkeeper whathisname garrezzo, is the man of the match.
Paulita and Pipita have something to celebrate, mejor no hay.

MotM said...

Saw the last 20kms, but the race was decided by then. Boonen couldn't find any friends for the chase - something going on there I felt.

Good win for O'Grady, but I don't trust Bjarne Riis.

offside said...

Great dive!

lemon shark said...

Damn! Missed him again.

guitougoal said...

offside, do you mean you are back on the surface?
what do you drink when you are 100 feet under?

offside said...

Bubbly, of course.

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