ARREAU, France – In this small commune in the Pyrenees, the granite massifs and the blue-green forests are rising, and we stand as well as a crowd of several hundred people who chew bagels and sip wine. We hear a big cry, and then we look up the steep path to the east where the throw around the corner is … a human shell, dressed in an aquamarine.
Pelo Bilbao from the Astana team hugged the top cylinder of his wheel, his butt of his seat, his head and the upper chest extending over the front grilles, resembled a lazy tree of a favorite branch. This human missile is moving at 45 miles per hour on this long descent in the Tour de France.
How much control of the bike, later I asked Bilbao, did you have it recovered? He shrugged. "Not much," he said.
Vaya con dios and all that.
The victory in the Tour de France is often turned into minutes, seconds even for three weeks, about 2,200-mile race this year from La-Manche to the Mediterranean and back to Paris. In those tired days spent in cobblestone and gravel and through damp river valleys, no test grounds are as frightening and majestic as mountain ranges, the Pyrenees at the end of the second week and the Alps at the end of the third. 19659009] To compete in these mountains as a rider, you must feel that the lungs are compressed, and your red blood cells emit oxygen and the lactic acid in your legs inflates. Once on top, the Tour de France riders look for every possible advantage down the road, no matter how smooth the nuts are.
Enter the super tube.
The idea is for the cyclist to get out of his bicycle seat and mold. his body around the bike. In this way, a cyclist can minimize the airflow on the head, arms and legs. It's amazing to observe and remarkably dangerous, as the rider can not handle it until it sits on the seat. It may also not be as fast as bicyclists think (more about this in a minute).
The story of the gang's origins is hard to find, although most agree that it is no more than a decade. Many cyclists recognize or blame the culture of snowboarding and its spirit of joyful, hallucinating risk taking. which can turn the pedals while in this position, which in turn increases the risk. French cyclist Julian Alafillip, who has control of an acrobat on his bike and leading this year's tour, has embraced the super gang. Until now, no one had descended from a cliff, although some had approached him.
A few days ago in the medieval town of Alby, I went to the CCT team manager Jim Oohovic, a veteran veteran of cycling wars. What are you doing with a super cane?
He shook his head with pleasure. "I would never recommend him, even an enemy," he said. "You become a cannon".
I put the same question on Dan Martin, the thinner – OK, the ubiquitous description of cyclists – an athlete from Ireland. He rode with the UAE team and was honest. The risk is encrypted in cycling, he said. He understands it. But come …
"There is a part of us who is the eternal child who always wants to go as fast as we can on the hill," he said. "But I would not recommend anyone to try this at home. It's really dangerous. "
Martin suggested I turn to YouTube to see the video of what happened to Philip Gilbert, 37, who was riding for Deceenink-Quickstep during last year's Tour de France. Gilbert was in the super gang when he reached the corner on the same stretch of road where he saw Pello piercing. It did not work well.
Flying down the mountain, Gilbert walked around the corner, which was more acute than he realized. In the second he took him to the top of his seat and press the brakes, he ran away from the road: his wheel collided with a stone wall, popped up like a box in the box and then disappeared.
Fortunately, the drop was small and Gilbert managed to finish the stage despite the damaged knee. The tour is never missing for chaos, a super cane or not. This year, more than a dozen cyclists have retired after they have kept everything from deep tears to cracked collars and weapons. Scientists are less sure about cost-benefit analysis. Biking.com has made a deep immersion in this method and has found a lot of skepticism about the added speed claims. If the band does something, it may be that the technique makes it harder for the last cyclist to ride in the draft of the broken leader.
"It's not so much that you go faster and the others can," Martin continued. "So science is a little uncertain.
This was the search for Super here and his cousin in pain, the climb of many thousand feet, which brought me to the Pyrenees. Soon after I left Arro, I thought I would take the race to Tourmalet, which at 6,938 feet is the tallest paved passage in the French Pyrenees. I was expecting to join the mountain goats and a few hundred hardhearted souls cheering the boys.
Instead, I found a mountain side on the back door that would make Dallas Cowboy faithful in shame. Thousands and thousands of fans had tents off the road or slept in cars and parked tourists among herds of cows. In the morning of the race, I woke up in front of the eyes of superb gentlemen, young boys and mothers with babies on bicycle seats, who turned the pedals and climbed the steep hill. several beer coolers removed. Along the Turmalet ridge, thousands stood in a stunning and colorful meadow, as if in a natural IMAX theater. The slopes of the Pyrenees became gray and jagged, and far below us the valley filled with clouds.
About 5:00 pm The cyclists came to complete the steepest part of their attack on the Pyrenees, lightning. fast super twists, mixed with agonizing climbs.
The next day I caught up with Lorenz De Plus, a 23-year-old Belgian racer for the Jumbo-Wismah team when he prepared for another day in the Pyrenees. De Plus is a climber, so at least he claims he likes these climbs, and the mad is moving downwards that go with them. "It certainly remains in your mind. But I need minutes down the road, so I'm great.
"Then I say that little prayer is wrong."