On this February day it is snowing in London, but through the medium of the internet, aficionados of professional bike racing can absorb the racers’ preparation for the big European events by watching live streaming of sun-drenched contests like The Tour Down Under and The Tour of Dubai.
Paris-Nice, which starts on March 8th, will pave the way for Tirreno Adriatico, two important stage races in which major grand tour contenders will test their racing legs. In addition, a succession of one day semi-classics will be played out on the cobbles of West Flanders as a prelude to the big Spring Classics like Paris-Roubaix and The Tour of Flanders.
Back in 1981, there was no Tour Down Under or Tour of Dubai, so The Wattmeister tailored his preparation for the big races by competing in hilly time trials. The North Road Hardriders 25 mile TT held in the Hertfordshire Alps was one such event. A series of short but brutally steep climbs like Carbone Hill, Darnicle Hill and Essendon Hill, taken at racing pace, normally put TW straight for his Classics campaign and did wonders for his complexion.
Just a thought, in those days, down-tube levers, pedals with toeclips and leather straps, Weinmann brake blocks, paper routesheets and woollen jerseys, gloves (and sometimes shorts), have been replaced by technologies which we now take for granted; STI levers, SPD-Sl pedals, hydraulic brakes on road bikes, Garmins and technical clothing.
But the weather remains pretty much the same.