The Hands Tell The Story

Ever wonder how hard your riding partner is going?  Are they cruising up the hill, are they putting out an ‘honest effort’, or are they praying for the summit to appear as quickly as possible?

Cyclist Lance Armstrong at the 2008 Tour de Gr...

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Well, according to Lance Armstrong’s coach, Chris Carmichael, the story may be written in the hands.

Before you get all indignant on me, and try to maintain that you’re only interested in how your riding partner’s doing so that you can:

  • murmur words of encouragement,
  • offer advice about engaging different muscle groups by changing position on the saddle,
  • or other helpful acts of kindness,

let me remind you…

One cyclist going down the street is a bike ride, two cyclists riding down the street is a bike race.

So now that we’re on the same page, let the gamesmanship begin.  And lest you think that gamesmanship isn’t powerful, don’t forget Lance Armstrong’s fake fatigue in stage 10 of the 2001 Tour de France.  He lulled his opponents to sleep on earlier climbs by feigning poor form… before beating them by two minutes on the celebrated L’Alpe d’Huez.

I’ll bet he rocked back and forth on his bike, uttered soft un-Texan-like whimpering sounds, let himself get gapped a bit, and most importantly…gripped his handlebars tightly.

So ole Ulrich looked over at those white knuckles with a Ho, Ho, Ho.  Just before Lance launched an attack that was critical to winning his third Tour de France.

Use Hand Tightness To Your Advantage

Up until now this discussion has been about looking how tightly your adversary riding partner is gripping the bars, in order to time your savage attack.

But you can use the ‘hand-grip’ technique to ride offensively as well.

The judicious use of the double-cross, the double double-cross, or the head-spinning single hand cross-up may be just what you need to throw your opponent off your desire to dominate.

That is, of course, if your partner is privy to the message that hands can telegraph.  If they’re merely trying to remain upright while riding, none of this hand-reading stuff works.

Save it for a ride with someone to whom you really want to deliver a sound beat-down.

  • Double Cross– it’s relatively easy to grip your bars tightly when you’re still fresh in order to signal fake-fatigue.  It’s harder to loosen your grip when you’re suffering mightily.  But the reward is great…so ‘just do it’.
  • Double Double Cross- once you’ve successfully pulled off the double cross, the double double is an option.  Just go with what comes naturally (tight when tired, loose when fresh) and your condition on the climb may be misinterpreted by your smug opponent.
  • Single Hand Cross-Up- much like rubbing your stomach with one hand while tapping your head with the other, this technique requires ‘autonomic neurogenic dexterity’ (made that one up).  The complication occurs when betwixt two riding partners.  One hand is held tightly for the benefit of the rider closest to the right side, and the other hand maintains a loose grip for the misdirection of the rider on the left side.  But it becomes complicated.  Are you delivering a double cross to the idiot guy on the right, or a double, double cross?  Same goes for the rider on the left.  Mix it up too much and you’ll unseat yourself…or lose bowel control.  Use this technique only in dire circumstances.

And Then There’s The Face

The 'Silent Assassin's' Face Is A Blank Page

You think that’s effective?  How about the face?

Two pros come to mind.  Denis Menchov is known as the ‘Silent Assassin’  because no matter what the circumstances, his face is placid.

On the other hand, Jens Voit has made a career of face grimacing.  In practically any situation, Jens is able to produce a convincing look of pain and determination.

His entire persona revolves around being a tough guy who tries really, really hard.  But it occurred to me that pain is a relative thing.  Some feel it much more intensely than others.

A Case Of 'Reverse Face Determinosis'?

If you were to dish out 600 units of pain to one guy, he may feel it quite intensely, while in another guy it may hardly be noticed.  So what’s to say that Jens is actually feeling more pain than the Silent Assassin?

Maybe Jens is getting a tiny tinkle of pain…but he feels it most intensely.

Could each of them be playing a sophisticated game of Reverse-Face Determinosis?

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