Sunday, January 24, 2010

Everything I Know About Bike Racing I Learned From American Flyers

American Flyers, the quintessential 1980s cycling film, is a veritable tome of cycling knowledge. If you've seen it, watch it again and take notes. If you've never seen it (and you call yourself a cyclist?), go rent it right now, it will change your life.

Here's some of the lessons I've learned from this theatrical masterpiece:

  • You don't need to be outfitted in the latest Assos kit to ride. Jean jackets and cowboy hats are perfectly acceptable riding gear.
  • An awesome way to work on your bike handling skills is to ride your bike around your apartment complex.
  • If you've been riding 30 - 40 miles a day on relatively flat terrain and have never raced before, you are totally ready for a major stage race in the Rocky Mountains.
  • If you want to perfect your sprint, find a neighborhood with a lot of loose pit bulls. Rumor has it that's how Cavendish trains... 
  • "Shake and Break" is an excellent technique to get rid of a "wheel sucker"
  • When racing, be wary of the Costner-proclaimed "oldest trick in the book" - when a rider pretends that the race is over and then shifts to the big ring and drops the hammer. Those cowboys certainly fell for it... 
  • Also, beware the second oldest trick in the book - when a rider pulls down your shorts and leaves you fumbling to pull them back up as he rides down the road. That's why bib shorts were made.
  • It is totally acceptable to rip off the nickname of the all-time greatest cyclist if you are a mildly successful professional cyclist
  • If you want to be competitive, you've got to be an asshole to everyone, all the time. Exhibit A: Barry Muzzin.
  • It is acceptable to try and run someone off the road on a high speed descent if it means winning the bike race. Your competition will forget all about it at the end of the stage. Hell, they may even respect you for it.
  • ANYONE is capable of winning a bike race. Even if you are a first time racer and your competition consists of current and former national champs, olympians, and high ranking euro pros.

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