Stars and Watercarriers

Jun 18, 2009
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Watched Stars and Watercarriers for the first time and several things stand out (or seem to).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ0pUiTXV40&feature=youtu.be

* They pedaled at much lower cadences (as least up climbs). It almost looks painful up climbs. Lots of rocking the saddle. Gearing? Style of the day?
* Less leg extension than today. They all look like their saddles are too low (compared to today). True?
* Far lower seat posts than today. The riders could set get down in a decent position, but it's so different from today's positions.
 
Aug 28, 2010
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richwagmn said:
Watched Stars and Watercarriers for the first time and several things stand out (or seem to).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ0pUiTXV40&feature=youtu.be

* They pedaled at much lower cadences (as least up climbs). It almost looks painful up climbs. Lots of rocking the saddle. Gearing? Style of the day?
* Less leg extension than today. They all look like their saddles are too low (compared to today). True?
* Far lower seat posts than today. The riders could set get down in a decent position, but it's so different from today's positions.
The gearing was different. Even up to the early 90s (according to Robert Millar in an issue of Cycle Sport when he was editor), climbs were tackled with a 42x17 or 42x19, with the 21 or the 23 as the "bail out" gear. This invariably means they were powering up climbs, rather than using higher revs.

There is less leg extension, but with that they also had longer, flatter positions back then. This negated that dreadful hump that I think was popularised by Big Mig, Ullrich and Armstrong. Chris Boardman was the last rider (I recall) of the 90s who had a really flat, stretched out position (and not the superman position invented by Obree).
 
For The World said:
climbs were tackled with a 42x17 or 42x19, with the 21 or the 23 as the "bail out" gear.
Yeah I remember reading somewhere that the various team mechanics would argue with each other, often bragging that the 20's on their riders bikes were still clean (un-used) after stages.

Look at the way they lurched over the bars to reach the hoods too, it's very uncomfortable.
 
Jun 18, 2009
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For The World said:
The gearing was different. Even up to the early 90s (according to Robert Millar in an issue of Cycle Sport when he was editor), climbs were tackled with a 42x17 or 42x19, with the 21 or the 23 as the "bail out" gear. This invariably means they were powering up climbs, rather than using higher revs.

There is less leg extension, but with that they also had longer, flatter positions back then. This negated that dreadful hump that I think was popularised by Big Mig, Ullrich and Armstrong. Chris Boardman was the last rider (I recall) of the 90s who had a really flat, stretched out position (and not the superman position invented by Obree).
Can you imagine climbing a 20% hill on a 42x19??? Amazing.

So was it the advent of more gears that had riders start to use easier gears up climbs or just a change in what was most effective?
 
Feb 10, 2010
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richwagmn said:
So was it the advent of more gears that had riders start to use easier gears up climbs
There's two things going on with the progress in bike transmissions
-more cogs and indexed shifters
. Imho, you need both. Friction shifting 9 cogs would be fiddly.
-wider gear ranges using relatively short cages.

The difficulty of accomplishing both advances is enormous.
 
Feb 10, 2010
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richwagmn said:
* Far lower seat posts than today. The riders could set get down in a decent position, but it's so different from today's positions.
The seatpost is a relative thing. Pro frames were sold in 2cm increments. Giant and carbon molded frames hadn't yet forced the industry into 3 sizes.

I have a big problem with modern bars because I'm used to what you see in the video. Those big hooks give you many more choices.
 
Jun 11, 2011
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it was an intimidation thing too, everybody rode corn cobs, if you looked down and saw a 21 or 23, you knew the guy was a Fred (and afraid)
 
Jul 10, 2010
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richwagmn said:
Can you imagine climbing a 20% hill on a 42x19??? Amazing.

So was it the advent of more gears that had riders start to use easier gears up climbs or just a change in what was most effective?
It was both - but primarily it was the ruling thought about what was "proper" and efficient position. If you remember that the "Fit Kit" didn't enter the market until the 80's, and fitting wasn't prominent until years later, it becomes clearer. Before that, fitting and efficiency were arguments of logic and personal preference. If you happened to be a big name rider or frame builder, your personal preference got more street cred. Logic by itself is always subject to sophist arguments - which easily lead you to chasing your tail.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not against learning from experience. But when you have everybody claiming equal voice because of their experience, and that is all you go on, you're gonna be following a lot of bad judgement as well as good, and no way to know the difference. With the "Fit Kit", you started throwing science into the mix.

Also, if you were a racer, you were supposed to be a strong man, like cobblestoned said - and that corncob on the back was a source of pride. Triples and higher gears were available, although the derailleurs of the 50's and 60's, right into the '80's, for shifting those bigger gears were less "efficient" than the short throw derailleurs that the small cogs needed. Click-shifting started taking hold in the late 80's, and derailleur designs improved a good deal in that timeframe. The pros might have been using click-shifting on a broader basis earlier, but it wouldn't have been by much, and I don't think it happened that way. If anything, I think it was getting used more at the entry levels initially. Anybody can feel free to step in and correct me on that if you were there. I just remember the top local riders whom I rode against were somewhat scornful of click-shifting: "I don't want to tell everybody I'm shifting for a sprint!" etc etc yadayada.
 
Jul 10, 2010
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richwagmn said:
Watched Stars and Watercarriers for the first time and several things stand out (or seem to).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQ0pUiTXV40&feature=youtu.be

* They pedaled at much lower cadences (as least up climbs). It almost looks painful up climbs. Lots of rocking the saddle. Gearing? Style of the day?
* Less leg extension than today. They all look like their saddles are too low (compared to today). True?
* Far lower seat posts than today. The riders could set get down in a decent position, but it's so different from today's positions.
BTW - cool film, isn't it? Glad you got to watch it!
 
Feb 10, 2010
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hiero2 said:
Triples and higher gears were available, although the derailleurs of the 50's and 60's, right into the '80's, for shifting those bigger gears were less "efficient" than the short throw derailleurs that the small cogs needed.
You are joining a few things together here that didn't really go together at the time.
At the time, there were 13-26 freewheels. The deal was that the shifting on such a wide block at the time was not great compared to a 13-24. Campag was the gold-medal standard in bike transmissions and Campag shifting wasn't very good at all. Trying to use a 26 only made matters worse.

Shifting just wasn't very good, so wide range gears were pretty much a non-starter in racing.

hiero2 said:
Click-shifting started taking hold in the late 80's, and derailleur designs improved a good deal in that timeframe.
Again, two things happened simultaneously.
1. Shimano figured out index shifting.
2. Shimano's rear mech meaningfully improved shifting under all conditions.

Shortly after Shimano's solution, there were other index shifting solutions but none as good as Shimano's because Shimano figured out a better rear mech.

hiero2 said:
The pros might have been using click-shifting on a broader basis earlier, but it wouldn't have been by much.
Because the Pro Peloton was still riding French and Italian transmissions. Meanwhile Shimano was innovating, not a big player at all in Pro bicycle stuff and stuck on the low-end of bike culture/industry. Index shifting and the mountain bike group changed that. Sometime after, they had the budget to spend on outfitting a Pro Team.

I haven't seen that movie since VHS days, but I recall it being well done and felt like the movie itself held up pretty well over time. Well told story, good editing, etc.
 
Feb 10, 2010
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richwagmn said:
* Less leg extension than today. They all look like their saddles are too low (compared to today). True?
Not based on my recollection. The seat relative to the crank is about the same. It's that the framesets were bigger and the geometry tended to be more relaxed which "lowers" your seat relative to modern geometry. The relaxed geometry is something missing in most modern bikes.

I don't think the debate over foot and hip position has faded one bit.
 
Jul 24, 2012
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great thread!

dont wanna start another so:
what you think? why the gaps between the first places, is so small/minor nowdays
in former times gaps was massive or greater(talk about GTs)

my opinion:
- technial development
- medical and dietic development
- roads are better
- maybe race mentality changed

maybe all true, but what is the main reason?
iam very curious, what you said

thx

pls dont mention the exceptions (Aimar, Janssen etc)
 
Mar 4, 2012
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Capablanca and me said:
great thread!

dont wanna start another so:
what you think? why the gaps between the first places, is so small/minor nowdays
in former times gaps was massive or greater(talk about GTs)

my opinion:
- technial development
- medical and dietic development
- roads are better
- maybe race mentality changed

maybe all true, but what is the main reason?
iam very curious, what you said

thx

pls dont mention the exceptions (Aimar, Janssen etc)
Maybe the UCI points system makes people actually fight for top-10 places a lot more fiercely, thus bringing everyone closer together?
 
Capablanca and me said:
dont wanna start another so:
what you think? why the gaps between the first places, is so small/minor nowdays
in former times gaps was massive or greater(talk about GTs)

my opinion:
- technial development
- medical and dietic development
- roads are better
- maybe race mentality changed

maybe all true, but what is the main reason?
iam very curious, what you said
There's a far greater strength in depth these days. Now you have Americans, Australians, Eastern Europeans, Colombians, Brits, Scandanavians etc..
Back in Merckx's day, even Hinault's, they were very rare. Even Germans were fairly rare.

For example, look at Sky's Tour winning team - British (including Kenyan), Norwegian, Austrian, Australian, German and Belarussian - these aren't 'traditional' cycling nationalities.

The strength of field back when Merckx was around was not dissimilar to women's cycling now.
 
Jul 10, 2012
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I love the old documentaries. I have a neat little DVD collection of the following:

A Sunday in Hell
Stars and Watercarriers
The Impossible Hour
Le Course en Tete
The Greatest Show on Earth

Are there any others from this era? I would like to see movies like this about Bernard Hinault.
 
Jul 16, 2010
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Parker said:
There's a far greater strength in depth these days. Now you have Americans, Australians, Eastern Europeans, Colombians, Brits, Scandanavians etc..
Back in Merckx's day, even Hinault's, they were very rare. Even Germans were fairly rare.

For example, look at Sky's Tour winning team - British (including Kenyan), Norwegian, Austrian, Australian, German and Belarussian - these aren't 'traditional' cycling nationalities.

The strength of field back when Merckx was around was not dissimilar to women's cycling now.
Actually, if you look at the Giro's field in the 70s you'll notice much more nationalities than in the last decade of Giro history!

Last 10 years it has been an Italian affair and that is only now changing. I don't count 2008 or 2011 because the only reason Contador did the Giro was because he wasn't invited to the Tour and because of his positive dope test in 2010.

Now you have Rodriguez, Wiggins and the likes going to the Giro though. In the 70s you had José Manuel Fuentes(one of the best climbers ever), Eddy Merckx(best cyclist ever), Freddy Maertens, Pollentier(Belgian rider, winner of the Giro, could've won the Tour if it wasn't for his famous little incident), Johan de Muynck(Belgian winner of the Giro d'Italia), José Pesarrodona Altimi(Spanish climber), Ole Ritter(Danish rider, holder of the hour record at one point), Francisco Galdos(Spanish), Gösta Pettersson(Swedish Giro winner), Vicente López Carril(Spanish rider), Felice Gimondi(Italian rider) and many more Italians of course.

Merckx has also ridden against the Soviet Russians in his career, and beat all of their best riders.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1972_Giro_d'Italia

Only 2 Italian riders in the top ten of the Giro. The Giro was almost the equal of the Tour in that era... So that balances out the fact that cycling is more international now. Because the best riders of that time were riding the Giro... Unlike now.
 
Jul 24, 2012
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Parker said:
There's a far greater strength in depth these days. Now you have Americans, Australians, Eastern Europeans, Colombians, Brits, Scandanavians etc..
Back in Merckx's day, even Hinault's, they were very rare. Even Germans were fairly rare.

For example, look at Sky's Tour winning team - British (including Kenyan), Norwegian, Austrian, Australian, German and Belarussian - these aren't 'traditional' cycling nationalities.

The strength of field back when Merckx was around was not dissimilar to women's cycling now.
thank you, intresting viewpoint (and new for me)
and your last sentence is a very good example
 
Mar 31, 2010
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Capablanca and me said:
great thread!

dont wanna start another so:
what you think? why the gaps between the first places, is so small/minor nowdays
in former times gaps was massive or greater(talk about GTs)

my opinion:
- technial development
- medical and dietic development
- roads are better
- maybe race mentality changed

maybe all true, but what is the main reason?
iam very curious, what you said

thx

pls dont mention the exceptions (Aimar, Janssen etc)
real reason is shorter and less difficult stages and most of all globalisation of the sport
 
Jul 24, 2012
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babastooey said:
I love the old documentaries. I have a neat little DVD collection of the following:

A Sunday in Hell
Stars and Watercarriers
The Impossible Hour
Le Course en Tete
The Greatest Show on Earth

Are there any others from this era? I would like to see movies like this about Bernard Hinault.
maybe this: Jacques Anquetil The Man, Mystery, Legend

part1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3sOezcnHoU

or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0ewL8iuQG8&feature=related

and the cyclingtorrents.nl have some great movies
 
Jul 24, 2012
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Ryo Hazuki said:
real reason is shorter and less difficult stages and most of all globalisation of the sport
absolut agree, GTs need very long, and very hard stages, the Giro 2011 have some
those stage genereate the really gaps, the minutes, and not the seconds
a stage under 130km is a TTT or TT for the oldies :D
 
Parker said:
There's a far greater strength in depth these days. Now you have Americans, Australians, Eastern Europeans, Colombians, Brits, Scandanavians etc..
Back in Merckx's day, even Hinault's, they were very rare. Even Germans were fairly rare.
I've already made a thread to debunk this.

Americans: Jonathan Boyer, Tom Sneddon, Mike Neel raced against Merckx (OK the only nation which really was weak back then)

Australians: Danny Clark, Graeme Gilmore, Don Allan, Gary Clively, Tony Kelliher, Bob Whetters and so many more great trackies raced against Merckx, plus the excellent New-Zealander Bruce Biddle. And Clyde Sefton raced against De Vlaeminck, so did Phil Anderson.

Eastern Europe: OK so the best Eastern Euro of the time was Ruharsz Szukorwski (spelling probably wrong but well), amateur World Champion and Peace Race winner. He raced Paris-Nice twice against Merckx. He was a good rider but no more. Other Polish raced against Western Euros at the Tour of Luxembourg for instance. Never able to mix it up with the likes of Verbeeck or Maertens. Also some very good Easterners defected to the West like Horst Oldenburg (East German) or Jiri Daler. And of course Merckx mixed it up with Easterners in his amateur years.
Oh yeah and in cyclocross, Stybar had forerunners. Notably the mighty Milos Fisera!

Colombians: lol that's a great show of present-day ignorance since the best Colombian ever raced in that period. Martin Emilio Rodriguez better known as Cochise. A complete rider, unlike Herrera. And they even had a Flandrian rider: Giovanni Jimenez. Far better than Duque. And then the climber Rafael Niño.

Brits: LOOOL. Michael Wright, Vin Denson, Barry Hoban, Hugh Porter, Colin Lewis, Leslie West, Bob Cary, Phil Edwards, Phil Corley, ...

Scandinavians: LOL !! Even better: Leif Mortensen, Ole Ritter, Gösta Pettersson, Thomas Pettersson, Sture Pettersson, Erik Pettersson, Knut Knudsen, ...

Germans: hmm the best ever again: Rudy Altig, Dietrich Thurau, Rolf Wolfshohl, Jurgen Tschan, Horst Oldenburg, Dieter Puschel, Sigi Renz, Albert Fritz, Winfried Peffgen, Karl-Heinz Kunde, well there were too many of them to mention, I'm fed up now. More to come if need be.
 
Echoes said:
I've already made a thread to debunk this.

Americans: Jonathan Boyer, Tom Sneddon, Mike Neel raced against Merckx (OK the only nation which really was weak back then)

Australians: Danny Clark, Graeme Gilmore, Don Allan, Gary Clively, Tony Kelliher, Bob Whetters and so many more great trackies raced against Merckx, plus the excellent New-Zealander Bruce Biddle. And Clyde Sefton raced against De Vlaeminck, so did Phil Anderson.

Eastern Europe: OK so the best Eastern Euro of the time was Ruharsz Szukorwski (spelling probably wrong but well), amateur World Champion and Peace Race winner. He raced Paris-Nice twice against Merckx. He was a good rider but no more. Other Polish raced against Western Euros at the Tour of Luxembourg for instance. Never able to mix it up with the likes of Verbeeck or Maertens. Also some very good Easterners defected to the West like Horst Oldenburg (East German) or Jiri Daler. And of course Merckx mixed it up with Easterners in his amateur years.
Oh yeah and in cyclocross, Stybar had forerunners. Notably the mighty Milos Fisera!

Colombians: lol that's a great show of present-day ignorance since the best Colombian ever raced in that period. Martin Emilio Rodriguez better known as Cochise. A complete rider, unlike Herrera. And they even had a Flandrian rider: Giovanni Jimenez. Far better than Duque. And then the climber Rafael Niño.

Brits: LOOOL. Michael Wright, Vin Denson, Barry Hoban, Hugh Porter, Colin Lewis, Leslie West, Bob Cary, Phil Edwards, Phil Corley, ...

Scandinavians: LOL !! Even better: Leif Mortensen, Ole Ritter, Gösta Pettersson, Thomas Pettersson, Sture Pettersson, Erik Pettersson, Knut Knudsen, ...

Germans: hmm the best ever again: Rudy Altig, Dietrich Thurau, Rolf Wolfshohl, Jurgen Tschan, Horst Oldenburg, Dieter Puschel, Sigi Renz, Albert Fritz, Winfried Peffgen, Karl-Heinz Kunde, well there were too many of them to mention, I'm fed up now. More to come if need be.
And of that whole long list hpow many actually won anything of any note? Altig, Pettersen, Hoban, Thurau and maybe Ritter

You managed to name three North Americans and one Eastern European from that whole period in all races - there have been more teams from those areas in modern races.

In Merckx's last winning Tour in 1974 there were 130 riders. Only six of them came from outside the 'big five' nations.

Nowadays a Brit and a Canadian have won Grand Tours and an Aussie and a Kazakh monuments in just this season.
 
Mar 31, 2010
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Echoes said:
I've already made a thread to debunk this.

Americans: Jonathan Boyer, Tom Sneddon, Mike Neel raced against Merckx (OK the only nation which really was weak back then)

Australians: Danny Clark, Graeme Gilmore, Don Allan, Gary Clively, Tony Kelliher, Bob Whetters and so many more great trackies raced against Merckx, plus the excellent New-Zealander Bruce Biddle. And Clyde Sefton raced against De Vlaeminck, so did Phil Anderson.

Eastern Europe: OK so the best Eastern Euro of the time was Ruharsz Szukorwski (spelling probably wrong but well), amateur World Champion and Peace Race winner. He raced Paris-Nice twice against Merckx. He was a good rider but no more. Other Polish raced against Western Euros at the Tour of Luxembourg for instance. Never able to mix it up with the likes of Verbeeck or Maertens. Also some very good Easterners defected to the West like Horst Oldenburg (East German) or Jiri Daler. And of course Merckx mixed it up with Easterners in his amateur years.
Oh yeah and in cyclocross, Stybar had forerunners. Notably the mighty Milos Fisera!

Colombians: lol that's a great show of present-day ignorance since the best Colombian ever raced in that period. Martin Emilio Rodriguez better known as Cochise. A complete rider, unlike Herrera. And they even had a Flandrian rider: Giovanni Jimenez. Far better than Duque. And then the climber Rafael Niño.

Brits: LOOOL. Michael Wright, Vin Denson, Barry Hoban, Hugh Porter, Colin Lewis, Leslie West, Bob Cary, Phil Edwards, Phil Corley, ...

Scandinavians: LOL !! Even better: Leif Mortensen, Ole Ritter, Gösta Pettersson, Thomas Pettersson, Sture Pettersson, Erik Pettersson, Knut Knudsen, ...

Germans: hmm the best ever again: Rudy Altig, Dietrich Thurau, Rolf Wolfshohl, Jurgen Tschan, Horst Oldenburg, Dieter Puschel, Sigi Renz, Albert Fritz, Winfried Peffgen, Karl-Heinz Kunde, well there were too many of them to mention, I'm fed up now. More to come if need be.
the best colombian rider (cochise) came to europe well in his 30s. even then he was only allowed to work for gimondi except a few giro stages, which he won and trofeo barachin (duo itt with gimondi). there's a notirous intevriew with cochize where he said gimondi used him to literally pull himself up the climbs, by pushing his arms on him and launching himself everytime until chochise couldn't hold it anymore.

besides that's not even the point. the point of globalisaiton is that now there are way ebtter cyclists from all over the world. the brits of today are better than then, same with latin americans, north americans, scandinvaians, australians, germans etc etc :rolleyes:
 

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