Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm Not One to Criticize, but...

...blimey, those British Plowman Craven (PCA) pro riders looked awkward going around corners in a tight group. Sure, they're strong as horses, but after three races of up-close observation--IV, Ojai, and (half of) Sea Otter--it was clear they weren't too comfortable with US-style racing. Don't they have crits in the UK? Or kermesses, or whatever they're called over there?

I just recently read a blog report about the big crash in the final stage of Redlands, and it mentioned that five PCA riders went down. Then it occurred to me, even I had witnessed some less-than-stellar bike handling by these blokes.

Several times in the Island View crit, I saw a PCA rider unnecessarily chop somebody going into that second right-hand turn. Always the same thing: the pink-n-blue guy's in the gutter on the left side of the road; ...somebody overlapping to his right; ...up ahead, the field arcs smoothly through the turn, 2-to-3 riders wide; ...but not the PCA guy, he deviates and abruptly cuts to the most inside line he can, nearly scraping the curb on the apex with his spokes. Naturally, the overlapping guy brakes sharply, disrupting the flow behind. Believe me, I know, I was in back a lot!

The point is, even if the PCA guy has the right to take the corner that way, why do it? It's not like these moves came on bell lap or with anything significant at stake. Even if you don't care about the smooth flow of the field, why risk having spokes ripped out by someone's skewer? Or causing a crash that might involve you or your teammate(s)? My guess is that they didn't have a clue they were causing problems.

...although maybe they got a hint the next day in Ojai where two of them hit the deck in unison on that fast final corner. Had I not been hypoxic, I would have laughed out loud at the sight of one PCA guy standing in the road facing the oncoming riders with legs spread wide and both arms outstretched as if to plead, "Stop, don't hit us!!!" Don't worry, they weren't hurt, so we can enjoy the humor now.

But then any doubt about these guys' bike handling was erased at Sea Otter, where lap after lap, a few of them seemed unable to take the wide sweeping corners below the corkscrew. I'm not exaggerating this: the entire field would be single file at 40 mph in that fast left-hand sweeper, save for one or two PCA guys wobbling out of line and drifting to the right side of the road. I seriously worried they wouldn't make the turn. It was truly bizarre.

So back to that Redlands crash... Was it just bad luck that five of their riders went down? Or, did they have something to do with it?

PS. Just as an aside, and as proof that it's not endemic to all Plowman Craven (or British) riders, one of the best crit racers ever to pin on a number in the US, Malcolm Elliot, rode a year for Plowman Craven.


Anonymous said...

I experienced some of the same. The Iron guys (don't know the name of the team in red) in both IV and Ojai did not ride very well either; chopping people in all the corners and overall riding like idiot meatheads.
choo choo

jen said...

I don't know anything 'bout their bike handling.


Is that guy riding his daughter's bike? Cuz that fit is whack.

Anonymous said...

Looks like he just took off the training wheels, MQ in SD

TnA said...

I think he's just a REALLY big guy.

Look at how small the wheels look in relation to his body.

IMO, his fit doesn't look all THAT just looks funny because the wheels look like 650s and it's got a sloping top tube.

Anonymous said...

choo choo
I ride for the Schroeder Iron team and I would have to take exception to your comments. We pride ourselves on not riding dirty or stupidly. I was told you had words with one of my teammates, he really didn't elaborate on your discussion though. I know for a fact I didn't chop anyone (I am the guy with tattoos,just describing myself as I am pretty hard to miss) so, if in fact, you think I did chop you or anyone else for that matter I would appreciate it if you would point it out to me at the time it occurs. You can usually find me at the front of the field or close to it. I have raced for a number of years and I have never heard anyone complain of the way that I or any of my teammates ride. At IV we had a member of our team in all the breaks and as such were riding to slow any chase (except when DeMarchi and Thurlow attacked the first break and then we brought them back). At Ojai, we again had Pat Caro in the break with Rich Meeker and we were asked by Thurlow to help shut things down. We ride with Amgen all the time and we have mutual respect for each others abilities. If you find it tough to ride with us then ride away from us!

your friendly idiot meathead. :)
(otherwise known as Bud)

Marco Fanelli said...

Hi Bud! Thanks for speaking up, and I hope you stick around on the blog. It's great to get comments from racers in SoCal. We've got a really special community of top cyclists in SoCal and the more communication, the better.

Re the issue: It's not even clear to me that choo-choo is talking about Schroeder, since he mentioned a red kit, but maybe he is if words were had.

I'll add my $0.02... other than some typical field-sprinter brawling by Teske in years (decades?!) past, I've never seen any bad riding by Schroeder riders. Quite the opposite in fact. But I do respect choo-choo's opinions, so maybe something happened in IV... dunno.

BTW, congrats on the great team performances in IV and Ojai. Between you guys and the Blue Machine, the field was totally owned. Cool that Pat made the break in Ojai two years in a row, maybe next year he'll get the top step on the podium.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marco,
Thanks for the welcome and the congrats. Just wanted to point out that we do pride ourselves in riding cleanly. I have enjoyed your blog for a while now, great work. Evan can be a handful in the sprint, I agree! He is one of, if not the best bike handler I have ever ridden with though. Take care and I'll look forward to racing with you guys again.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bud,
I know I did not have words with you (tattoos) but one of your teammates and it was for the way he was blocking. You know how bike racers are in the heat of the moment and I may have over reacted. Having said that I did notice quite a few questionable lines through he corners from your boys as well as a few " "unnecessary roughness" moves. Your team is strong and well represented at the front; I am only making comments about what I saw as not very smooth.
I take back the meathead comment; (heat of the blogg)

choo choo
chris brown

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris,
No apologies necessary, I know we all get a little thin skinned when racing. No worries about the meathead comment either, I have been called alot worse :). Look forward to racing with you all again, you guys have some great races up there, although if you could level the hill at Ojai I would appreciate it.

Take care,

Marco Fanelli said...

Hey, glad Bud and Chris made nice... I guess my blog is useful for something after all!

Another interesting thing... in just the last few hours, there have been a dozen or more hits from the UK, which is way above normal. That leads me to suspect the Plowman Craven team stumbled on this site! I'll stick by my comments in the blog post re the questionable bike handling, but I will also acknowledge here and now that they are some damn strong bike racers. Anybody who finished that Sea Otter sufferfest has my sincere respect!