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Q's while watching the TdF 2021 ...

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Q's while watching the TdF 2021 ...

Old 07-08-21, 10:20 AM
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KiwiDallas
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Q's while watching the TdF 2021 ...

1. Watching a mountain stage that featured constant cold rain and 45 mph downhills: is there such a thing as rain tires for bicycles? Like car and motorcycle tires get, some rubber compound that grips better on wet surfaces?

2. How come just about every cyclist out there is clean shaven? Athletes in other sports who are in their 20s and 30s have some hip-looking growth. Is it aero something? Or tradition?

3. What is the point of "chasing down" a breakaway rider, especially uphill? So the pursuit riders catch up with him ... then what happens? They can't slash his tires.

4. After a big crash and pile-up .... how do they sort out or assign times to the riders caught in the pile-up, whether they are injured or not, or their bikes broken or not?

5. Mountain stages: what's a typical rear cassette gear pack? They have big gears for the brutal uphills but also tiny gears for downhills - I see them pedaling for more speed when they're already going 45+ mph. Related Q: Do riders ever use triple chainrings?

=K
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Old 07-08-21, 10:22 AM
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Old 07-08-21, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by KiwiDallas View Post
1. Watching a mountain stage that featured constant cold rain and 45 mph downhills: is there such a thing as rain tires for bicycles? Like car and motorcycle tires get, some rubber compound that grips better on wet surfaces?
Some rubber compounds are better for wet grip than others, yeah. But the low power outputs in cycling (relative to motorsport) put rolling resistance at a high premium, so manufacturers don't always make top-end racing tires that are specifically optimized for wet grip.

The high tire pressures and relatively low speeds of road bikes make them generally immune to hydroplaning, so there's no point making tires with channeled tread patterns. Some tire manufacturers do put shallow "herringbone" tread on some tires in an effort to improve wet grip by getting the rubber to interlock with road irregularities, but there doesn't seem to be consensus on whether this has any actual efficacy.

Oftentimes racers will run a bit lower pressure in nasty conditions.

2. How come just about every cyclist out there is clean shaven? Athletes in other sports who are in their 20s and 30s have some hip-looking growth. Is it aero something? Or tradition?
If you're talking facial hair, it's mostly fashion. It usually has very little impact on aerodynamics.

Shaving the arms and legs, however, has a tangible aerodynamic benefit. And if a crash occurs with nasty road rash, things clean up far better if there's no hair.


3. What is the point of "chasing down" a breakaway rider, especially uphill? So the pursuit riders catch up with him ... then what happens? They can't slash his tires.
Drafting. The higher the speeds, the more aerodynamic benefit you get from being behind someone.

If you're well behind someone at the top of a climb, but you want to catch up with them, you'll potentially need to spend a lot of time on the subsequent descent and flats putting out a bigger effort than them in order to do that.
But if you catch someone before the crest, you can use their draft to keep up with them at much lower effort. Or the two of you can work together, trading turns at the front of the pair, so that the two of you are able to ride faster than if you were each solo.

4. After a big crash and pile-up .... how do they sort out or assign times to the riders caught in the pile-up, whether they are injured or not, or their bikes broken or not?
They mostly don't.

There is the "3km rule": if you crash or suffer a mechanical in the last 3km of a stage, and riders from the group you had been in continue up the road and finish ahead of you, then when you cross the finish line you're awarded the same time as those riders.
Other than that, being in a crash basically just sucks, and any time lost due to injuries or bicycle damage is just lost.

5. Mountain stages: what's a typical rear cassette gear pack? They have big gears for the brutal uphills but also tiny gears for downhills - I see them pedaling for more speed when they're already going 45+ mph.
Nearly all 11/12-speed road cassettes have a 10T (if SRAM) or 11T (if Shimano or Campagnolo) small cog.

On mountain stages, big cogs in the ballpark of 30T or even larger sometimes show up.

Related Q: Do riders ever use triple chainrings?
Not pros in the modern peloton. Even if they wanted to use a triple, there aren't really any options for setting them up with the electronically-shifting groupsets that everyone is using these days, and there really aren't many standard options for triples on 11/12-speed drivetrains period. It would be a substantial kludge.
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Old 07-08-21, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by KiwiDallas View Post
1. Watching a mountain stage that featured constant cold rain and 45 mph downhills: is there such a thing as rain tires for bicycles? Like car and motorcycle tires get, some rubber compound that grips better on wet surfaces?
No. No special tires. Many will just reduce the pressure they are running.

Originally Posted by KiwiDallas View Post
2. How come just about every cyclist out there is clean shaven? Athletes in other sports who are in their 20s and 30s have some hip-looking growth. Is it aero something? Or tradition?
Really it's about belonging. So chalk it up to tradition. Many will give you the response that it helps with massages and helps keep wounds clean if you wreck - both good points - but at the end of the day it's just what we do.

Originally Posted by KiwiDallas View Post
3. What is the point of "chasing down" a breakaway rider, especially uphill? So the pursuit riders catch up with him ... then what happens? They can't slash his tires.
It's a team sport. You chase down the break if the break isn't serving your team. Once chased down then your team can do what it needs to do to accomplish its goals.

Originally Posted by KiwiDallas View Post
4. After a big crash and pile-up .... how do they sort out or assign times to the riders caught in the pile-up, whether they are injured or not, or their bikes broken or not?
Sometimes - like the last 3k - if there is a wreck you get the same finish time as the group you were in when you wrecked. In general though - get your butt to the line. Your time is only the time you finished with. here are no time outs in cycling.

Originally Posted by KiwiDallas View Post
5. Mountain stages: what's a typical rear cassette gear pack? They have big gears for the brutal uphills but also tiny gears for downhills - I see them pedaling for more speed when they're already going 45+ mph. Related Q: Do riders ever use triple chainrings?
They won't use triples because of tradition essentially. I often theorize that will change in the future. In general triples aren't as clean shifting as doubles. Anyway - back in the day they would put a 27 tooth cog on the back with their 53/39. Then they used compact cranks. Then we widened out the cassettes. Today it's simply a combination of what is available to the rider through the team gear and what they want to use.
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Old 07-08-21, 11:32 AM
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Thanks for the detailed replies; I appreciate those - and I'll head over to the "Pro Cycling Fans" section for more info (didn't know it was there).

=K
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Old 07-08-21, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by KiwiDallas View Post
3. What is the point of "chasing down" a breakaway rider, especially uphill? So the pursuit riders catch up with him ... then what happens? They can't slash his tires.
Very often, it's defensive tactics. If the rider up the road is a potential threat to your team's top-placed GC rider for overall time, chasing down that rider eliminates any time advantage that rider might have gained at the finish of the stage. For flat stages, a team may work hard to chase down a breakaway so their sprinter still has the opportunity to win the stage.
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Old 07-08-21, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
If you're talking facial hair, it's mostly fashion. It usually has very little impact on aerodynamics.

Shaving the arms and legs, however, has a tangible aerodynamic benefit.
Incorrect. The wind doesn't care [sic] where on your body the hair is so long as it's exposed...so if facial hair "has very little impact on aerodynamics" than so too does arm and leg hair.
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Old 07-08-21, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Incorrect. The wind doesn't care [sic] where on your body the hair is so long as it's exposed...so if facial hair "has very little impact on aerodynamics" than so too does arm and leg hair.
Except for the actual scientific wind tunnel tests that proved otherwise. Facial hair made no appreciable difference, but shaved legs saved about 82 seconds over 40 km.
, but
.
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Old 07-08-21, 12:53 PM
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Ahh.... the wind tunnel.... where every bicycle race is conducted.
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Old 07-08-21, 12:55 PM
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Correction. That's not a wind tunnel. It's the *Win* Tunnel.
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Old 07-08-21, 01:00 PM
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Old 07-08-21, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by KiwiDallas View Post
3. What is the point of "chasing down" a breakaway rider, especially uphill? So the pursuit riders catch up with him ... then what happens? They can't slash his tires.

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Old 07-08-21, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Ahh.... the wind tunnel.... where every bicycle race is conducted.
Ah so we *shouldn't* test things. Cool.
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Old 07-08-21, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
Incorrect. The wind doesn't care [sic] where on your body the hair is so long as it's exposed...so if facial hair "has very little impact on aerodynamics" than so too does arm and leg hair.
That's like saying all parts of a car or bicycle are equally sensitive to airflow and drag. They are most certainly not. Your face presents a different surface profile and area than your arms and legs.
There are guys in the peloton that often have facial hair e.g. Thomas De Gendt always does and Peter Sagan sometimes.
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Old 07-08-21, 01:26 PM
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I thought the clean shaven was mostly because so many are still young and would be really scraggly looking trying to cultivate facial hair

Quite a few of the older guys sport a beard or mustache or even the Don Johnson/Miami Vice look. But by far most are clean shaven. Just like most of those I see day to day that aren't pro cyclists.
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Old 07-08-21, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Ahh.... the wind tunnel.... where every bicycle race is conducted.
F1 cars don't race in wind tunnels either. But it is largely where the races are won or lost.
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Old 07-08-21, 01:49 PM
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I thought F1 races were won or lost in the pit stops.
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Old 07-08-21, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
I thought F1 races were won or lost in the pit stops.
Sometimes this is completely accurate.
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Old 07-08-21, 02:29 PM
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Old 07-08-21, 02:39 PM
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It's not a gravel race, so no, no beards.
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Old 07-08-21, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Reflector Guy View Post
It's not a gravel race, so no, no beards.
Someone needs to tell that to Cavendish.
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Old 07-08-21, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Except for the actual scientific wind tunnel tests that proved otherwise. Facial hair made no appreciable difference, but shaved legs saved about 82 seconds over 40 km. Facial hair made no appreciable difference, but shaved legs saved about 82 seconds over 40 km.
Wait, so shaved legs (82 sec/40km (or 25 miles)) work better than a lighter bike (30 seconds/100 miles, based on a long, argumentative thread)?

EDIT: Did they test different densities of leg hair? I mean, there's the kind that you can barely see, and then there's the sort that so thick it looks like socks.
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Old 07-08-21, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by cb400bill View Post
I thought F1 races were won or lost in the pit stops.
You can certainly lose races in pit stops when it all goes badly wrong, but you nearly always win races by simply having the fastest car and a decent driver.
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Old 07-08-21, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Wait, so shaved legs (82 sec/40km (or 25 miles)) work better than a lighter bike (30 seconds/100 miles, based on a long, argumentative thread)?

EDIT: Did they test different densities of leg hair? I mean, there's the kind that you can barely see, and then there's the sort that so thick it looks like socks.
You know in one of the videos they actually talk about where their test subjects ranked on the Chewbacca scale.

It's an interesting series of videos, they did ones on various types of cycling clothing, haircuts, etc. I'm certain I watched one where they tested shaved arms (they actually make a bit of a difference if I recall) but I can't find it now. Bottom line is aero is pretty important.
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Old 07-08-21, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Wait, so shaved legs (82 sec/40km (or 25 miles)) work better than a lighter bike (30 seconds/100 miles, based on a long, argumentative thread)?

EDIT: Did they test different densities of leg hair? I mean, there's the kind that you can barely see, and then there's the sort that so thick it looks like socks.
Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
You know in one of the videos they actually talk about where their test subjects ranked on the Chewbacca scale.

It's an interesting series of videos, they did ones on various types of cycling clothing, haircuts, etc. I'm certain I watched one where they tested shaved arms (they actually make a bit of a difference if I recall) but I can't find it now. Bottom line is aero is pretty important.
IIRC, RChung has mentioned before that it is suspected that leg shaving paid better dividends because of the constant churning of the legs vs the mostly static position of the arms and face.
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