Saturday, November 25, 2006
Belgium Knee Warmers
Rain, Cobbles, Mud, Wind, Pain.
The Spring campaign for many professional cyclists is the toughest of the season. For many, it means training from October until March in the worst, character building weather conditions Europe can dish out. Many consider the poor weather to be an important aspect for developing a strong constitution as well as the characters known as "hardmen".
Paris Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, Het Volk, Fleche Wallonne, Leige-Bastone-Leige, Amstel Gold, Kerne Brussels Kerne, and Ghent Wevelgem—these are all races that make up the spring racing calendar and represent some of the worst conditions a cyclist can endure. Many of these races take place in 4 degree C temps with rain and brutal Belgium head winds. Cyclists tackle these conditions in the typical attire. Shorts, long-sleeve jerseys or short sleeve jerseys with arm warmers, wind vests, and booties. The true hardmen opt to forego the knee or leg warmers and instead choose an embrocation to cover the knees, which provides warmth for the legs chemcially and keeps the blood circulating and the muscles as supple as possible. This embrocation and the sheen created is affectionatley known as "Belgian knee warmers." The hardest of cyclists will sport bare legs in the most ruthless of conditions.
Belgian Knee Warmers are indicitive of the many subtleties that make professional cycling so enthralling.
It is only fitting that I open my blog with my all-time favorite photo. Frank Vandenbroucke embodies the insane Belgian style where it is so PRO it hurts. It is a shame his rock star lifestyle got in the way of his cycling career. Oh well, In the words of Joe Elliott, "it is better to burn out than to fade away."
Photo courtesy ADA Wheels - www.ada.prorider.com