Sunday April 23, 2017 | Liège
Climbs that come one after another, all at once in a group.
9,872 / 5.5 miles
Like… basically four days later. Especially if you count the time difference.
Our LAST NIGHT in what we’ve come to think of as OUR Ancient-But-Modern Castle Row House.
- See the race five times.
- Get stuff, make stuff.
- See La Roche de Ardenne.
- Not die from physical exhaustion (it was a late night and an early morning).
- Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team, 6:24:27
- Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, s/t
- Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky, +0:03
“At 258 kilometres, the route of Liège-Bastogne-Liège takes in ten hills. The ceaseless onslaught in the Ardennes runs to the steep Saint-Nicolas, which is supposed to be the last summit with 4.5 kilometres left. Yet, as always, the arrival accounts for a tricky 1.5 kilometre at 5%, too.”
There’s a word I have in mind when it comes to how best to describe the nature of this course. Actually it’s an expression. I just hate the expression. It’s tacky and it’s very much part of the Bro Lexicon, and as such I’m hesitant to use it or say it here. The thing is, it’s apt as all get-out. It says, “an endless succession of steep AF and long-enough climbs over and over and over again, without end or rest, for five plus hours, across an ancient and storied Ardennesian countryside (most) famous for The Battle of the Bulge and this race,” better than any other word-expression. Fine, fuck-it, I’m saying it. Dick Punches. Let’s just call it a working title for now. We can do better than that in the future. We’re writers and copy editors for christ’s sake. This speaks to our core competency. This is what we do. We just can’t, apparently, do it right now. It’s not ‘pain’ because pain is too big of an idea. It’s not distance, although it shares that issue/defining-characteristic with all the other Spring Classics as well. No, whatever the word is, it’s a word that means incessant steep climbs into infinity across the Wallonian Ardennes.
A Panzer tank and its related gnome (please see video & images below).
World War II Everything.
Wikipedia claims the Wallonia Region is also famous for a dinosaur and some caverns.
You can pee ANYWHERE in Liège. You can pee on the Palace of Justice in broad daylight less than ten feet from 1,456 police officers, and nobody will say shit. In a country that charges for pees, there is a pretty serious tradition of shameless (gratuitous maybe?) public peeing.
The sausage I bought (using tickets that I had to buy first—dude, Belgium, stop using unnecessary vouchers immediately, please) and ate on the LeDoute is worth mentioning. I had it with mayonnaise and mustard. I threw the bun away Atkins style because of my AACK responsibilities. The sausage flavor and taste was pretty remarkable. Everything else that any of us ate that day was not remarkable and not worth mentioning. Except the food bar that Citizen M hotel at Schiphol Airport offered, which was remarkably bad. But you don’t need to know about that. Also, I was ridiculed for eating olives (from a plastic gas station tub) and Belgian chocolates together at the same time. It just seemed like “the thing to do” after getting lost in Wallonia for the seventh time six hours into a ten hour day.
I MFS Speed Center: Liège–Bastogne–Liège
II ROAD TO RAD, EXHIBIT E: Dick Punches
This race is the only Classic that climbs. It climbs a lot. It climbs over and over and over again. It climbs like a professional boxer punches. Like a cobble cobbles. We don’t know what to call that, those kinds of climbs that come one after another, all at once in a group. The best we can do at the moment is call them “dick punches.” If your whole race is a series of Dick Punches your race is better because:
- DPs are hills and hills (côtes, cols, murs—it’s hard to keep up with what’s what, someone needs to do a chart11That kiiiiiiinda sounds like something we would do.—ed) are fun to spectate on or near. In particular short but steep hills are great for congregations and crowds.
- DPs shatter a race. Shattering is cool to watch.
- DPS are intrinsically neat because they’re scenic and topographically enhanced.
III The Physics of DPs
The above two dimensional diagram illustrates:
- The negative feelings and sensations associated with repeated successive steep climbs over a prolonged period of time and distance.
- How, while the negative feelings and sensations associated with repeated successive steep climbs over a prolonged period of time and distance may be many and varied in nature and character—exhaustion, lactic acid build-up, tunnel vision, hangry-ness, pedal-produced despondency, fugue states, free floating disenchantment, cardiac arrest, shortness of breath, attrition, boredom, intense pain in the legs and lungs and mouth and brain—they all share a common quality, that of being punched in the groin.
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.