Sunday, 6 March 2011

T x >ƒ = V but does V = F?

There are many useless myths that float aimlessly around the cycling world and, to be honest, I kind of like it. It reminds me of the arcane world that cycling used to be, and just how gullible and how much I wanted to be a bike rider, that these little myths could actually dictate my lifestyle and thoughts for so many years.

Even back in my impressionable late teens and early twenties I knew that some of these myths were absolute rubbish, but I’m not going to write a blog busting them all right now. You can work them out for yourselves, that’s where the fun is after all.

There was one myth though, that I will admit, did indeed suck me right in. It was that ever so enticing, and curiously believable equation: Veins = Form.

In my first year on the national team I remember being told by a slightly older (and therefore influential) rider, that Charly Wegelius always knew when he was going well because he could see the veins in his stomach.

Like an idiot, I then spent years looking desperately for veins, in my legs, in my stomach, anywhere. Sitting in hotel rooms in my underpants with the heater on full, waiting in a state of desperate dehydration until that magical form that was going to get me a contract with Mapei would spring forth like a road map from my thighs.

Just like that elusive Mapei contract, those coveted veins never did arrive. No matter how well I actually went I just wouldn’t see a vein. So I gave up the hunt, got my head down and eventually found my way in the cycling world.

Now lately something funny has happened. I have found myself arriving into the new cycling season in possibly the worst form of my life; I can barely get out of my own way at the moment, I struggle in club races and my legs just seem to hurt this is, without wanting to sound too much like a wanker – a bit of a new phenomenon for me.

Seriously not being sure of your form is a nightmare at this time of year. It feels like I’m stuck in that lane of non-moving cars in the middle of the motorway, unable to pull out and get going because the cars are flying by too fast. Desperately searching for the gaps and hovering indecisively over the accelerator just isn’t good. It’s frustrating, and it’s just not fun.

What I am hinting at is that I am acutely aware of my potential inability to make a bike go fast for minimal effort, or if you want to look at it with an alternate perspective – it takes a lot of effort just to make my bike go slowly, and yet, my legs look like this:

Go and ahem… Figure…


  1. F = (W/Lm) x RT

    Rob Priest (now a head honcho at Sram somewhere in Europe) held that the important factor was having 'long muscles' (Lm, where F - fitness, W - weight and RT - riding time). I was never able to get a good handle on what a long muscle is but since Rob is a good 6ft5" and I'm a tiddly, if skinny, 5ft7" on a warm day I always felt he had a head start on me.

    Mike Owen

  2. Hmm that theory does seem to advantage those of a taller stature. But there is something appealing about a long muscle. I think I want some..

    Tom S

  3. Im not convinced, everyone knows that veins are a most definite sign of form. So i think that somebody...... has been visiting Healesville Harvest on a regular basis.

  4. Rob accidentally displayed a long muscle to the good citizens of Sheffield when his shorts got caught on the nose of his saddle once. Careful what you wish for...

    Mike Owen