After all these years of covering bike racing, you’d think I’d quit being surprised by how friggin’ fast the Euro pros are — especially when it comes to cyclo-cross.
I watched today’s UCI World Cup kickoff via streaming video and I had to keep picking my jaw up off my belly button. Judas Priest. It was like the top-10 dudes were on rails and jet-propelled. Plus eight of them were bunny-hopping the barriers. Remember when it was unusual to see someone like Sven Nys riding the boards? Not any more, Bubba. If you can’t do it, you ain’t shit.*
Tim Johnson, who is not exactly a back-of-the-packer, finished 26th — more than three minutes down on winner Zdenek Stybar, who is world champ for a number of very good reasons. When he lit it up it was hasta la vista muchachos.
One of the best parts of watching the race online was hearing the squeal of cantilever brakes as the big boys damped a little velocity diving into an off-camber turn or a hairy descent. Fuck a bunch of disc brakes. What a real ’crosser wants going into a dicey bit is a little speed modulation. You want to stop, hit something. Or someone.
* Full disclosure: I can’t do it. Draw your own conclusions.