For every sport that is about racing except for maybe running11Thanks to parkour even some select running events now feature an interesting (if not deadly) course. or “foot racing” the course matters, a lot. In fact it’s maybe the most important aspect of the race outside of the participants. The course is everything!: jumps, corners, twists, inclines, declines, gaps, stairs, doubles, triples, gates, embankments, walls, water, street furniture, ramps, rails and berms are what make the race interesting. They set the pace. They determine the tempo and energy of the race. They force style and grace and intuition. Seriously, ask any race-based sport. Ask Mountain Biking, Skiing, Motocross and BMX. You could even ask Rock Climbing. I mean, Jesus, you could even ask Golf and Golf is neither a sport nor a race and but still Golfers care about the course. But not cycling, cycling, it would seem, is indifferent to the value of course. Cycling, it would seem, is happy to reduce the sport down to its most base element: scientific fitness. Watts per kilo. A physiological value. As such, the only thing that matters is extreme physical duress, i.e. going uphill. Ergo therefore such as, the only course feature that matters is a climb.
Which yeah, dude, we ride bikes. We get it, climbs ARE cool. We’ve seen the Tour de France. Suffering and pain and endurance and mental fortitude in the face of a 20 mile, 22% average climb in 91 degrees on the side an Alp is remarkable. And exciting even. But that’s just one trick! There are other tricks! We have more tricks!!!!
Standing on the side of a big, wide, reasonably well-paved road on say Stage 06 of the Tour de San Luis, or Paris–Nice, or the Tour of California, or País Vasco, or whatever—it doesn’t matter, they’re all the same—at like what, mile 67, next to a (closed) gas station and twelve kinda bored-but-picnicking fans, standing there over and over and over again, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that in general, Professional Road Cycling could care less about what the course does or doesn’t do. What it does or does not offer. Clearly, for the promoters and organizers, it’s about which roads they can gain access to, which roads they can close, which towns bid the most to be either a Start or Finish, et cetera et cetera. Like anything else it comes down to capitalism, the free market economy and sponsors. Which, again, we do business (kinda), we have sponsors (thanks Castelli!), we live in America (for now), we get it, that shit matters. It’s what powers the whole deal, money is required.“We’re not suggesting promoter-organizers ignore financial concerns and requirements... but we are saying those issues should be secondary. We ARE saying that a course FOR THE SAKE OF THE COURSE should be the primary concern.”MFS
And for so many reasons! Reasons like crowds, accessibility, view-ability, history, tradition, geography, relief, locality, topography, natural beauty and, most importantly, FLOW.
Flow makes a course interesting which makes the race interesting. Without flow Professional Road Racing is a Threshold Contest. Which sounds more interesting than it often is. Flow is the physicality, nature and personality of the race course. It’s the race’s physical and metaphysical features. It’s the course’s COURSE-NESS incarnate. Flow is a metaphor. Flow is a euphemism. Flow is energy, man. Courses need energy. Courses can have flow but so can individual riders. Flow is meditation, it’s one-ness, it’s synchronicity, it’s nirvana and Shirley MacLaine’s Out on a Limb. Flow is unidentifiable, inexplicable, non-physical, formless and inter-dimensional. It’s wormholes, trapdoors and time travel.
More specifically in the case of the Amstel Gold Race, flow is a one-lane outdoor Dutch discotheque full of corners, narrow roads, tight punchy climbs, uneven road surfaces and road furniture—maximum capacity 180 people. In which, or on which, 250 racers have to race for 250 kilometers. Plus the caravan. Plus thousands of scooters, hordes of 4-wheelers, European motorcycle gangs, millions of picnickers, bajillions of cycling chillers on every form of bike headed in every direction all at once, roadside pop-up parties, revelers, flash mob traffic jams, bars along the course, hotels along the course, the little Pink Panther cars zipping across the hillside, the Keystone cop pandemonium, the Benny Hill soundtrack. Flow is all that. Flow is everything. Flow is a course that works. FLOW = COURSE. No flow, no course. No course, no excitement. No excitement, current state of 90% of stage racing.
A brief list of things that cause flow, are flow, smell like flow, determine flow, reflect flow, symbolize flow, suggest flow, designate flow and relate to flow
- Dick Punches
- Unexpected Things
The above is a two dimensional diagram capturing the causal relations between different points in space-racetime by illustrating the effects Trapdoors and Wormholes have on Professional Cycling. Wormholes advance a racer ahead of other racers through a bridge which connects two incoherent points in space-racetime. Trapdoors retard a racer (backwards moving flow) through a bridge which connects two incoherent points in space-racetime. Trapdoors and Wormholes are common to races which exhibit a Flow Factor of 9 or higher and are typically caused by exponential overlapping, infinity curves and road furniture.
Steve Hockett, Manual for Speed’s resident Physicist, has a BA in Physicism and Art from Leeds University. He currently lives in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, UFO Triangle UK.
What is Flow? Where is Flow? Why is it important? And how can it be integrated into bicycle racing? As part of Manual for Speed’s Road to Rad initiative we contacted flowmaster Alex Howes to discuss the importance and application of flow in bike racing and beyond. Please take a few minutes and watch this video to gain better insight into how flow can positively effect your bicycle racing experience.
While Alex may be as master of flow, he isn’t the only on in the world that can speak with authority on its importance and value. We doubt many of you have the requisite research skills to find the true flowmasters on the internet, don’t worry we did it for you. At first the information in this video may seem trivial or surface; in order to truly understand you have to sit with it, you must accept the gift of flow before you are able to understand flow. That is how flow works.
[Place a piece of bread on your stereo for maximum effect!]
- 1 Urbanus Van Anus De Paashaas
- 2 The Carpenters Top of the World
- 3 Stan Van Samang Goeiemorgend, Goeiendag (LIVE)
- 4 Michael Sembello Maniac
- 5 Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley Chained to the Rhythm
- 6 The Trinity 002.345.709 (That’s My Number)
- 7 Fresku & MocroManiac Witlof
- 8 Clean Bandit feat. Zara Larsson Symphony
- 9 DNCE Cake By The Ocean
- 10 Lost Frequencies feat. Axel Ehnstrom All or Nothing
- 11 Calvin Harris feat. Frank Ocean & Migos Slide
- 12 twenty one pilots Heavydirtysoul
- 13 Burak Yeter feat. Danelle Sandoval Tuesday
- 14 Real McCoy Love & Devotion (UK Airplay Mix)
- 15 Jeff Buckley Hallelujah
- 16 Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes Up Where We Belong
- 17 DJSunnyMega feat. Sean Paul Got 2 Love You (Remix)
- 18 Lady Linn feat. Flip Kowlier Can’t Find You (Remix)
we were young
it was a most
makes each word