Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday Anticipation

1) Now that the 2008-09 Nordic Cross season is underway, let us direct our gaze a into the more distant future for a moment. It is cold in Winnipeg, and the riding conditions are a bit harsh. So take some time to imagine with me how much fun it will be to enjoy some long, long rides in the warm summer months. In other words, let us think about . . .

We've been told that Olympia is planning to do both Red Ass and Reach the Beach next year. This is good news. There is some reason to believe that this year's Back 40 will include an even longer endurance option. If so, look for it to kick off the MUERTO calendar. Currently, it looks like that will be scheduled for June 7, the week after Spring Ride, Vol. VII. (H)alberto has dropped some not-so-subtle hints that we can look forward to a very long cyclocross race that would take us from Morden to Tinker and back. And we have our fingers crossed in anticipation of another 8 hour version of the Fall Classic. In addition to this already fine slate of races, Bill A. and I are pleased to announce that we will be presenting the following:

It will be one big loop. The course will include both Ingolf and the Falcon Lake trails, connected by the Trans Canada Trail. In other words, it will be a good mix of slow, technical trail riding and screaming fast gravel. Expect to see a few other surprises thrown in to further enhance the overall experience. It will be entirely self-supported. But the course will take you by several small convenience stores, should you need to refuel. The total distance should clock in at somewhere between 100 kms and 100 miles. The start and finish will be at a group campsite somewhere in between Ingolf and Falcon Lake. Good times around the campfire will bookend the racing and will afford ample opportunity for us to regale one another with tales of triumph and woe, thereby satisfying the Ultra-Endurance Talking component of MUERTO.

2) Nordic Cross #2 is scheduled for Dec. 28. The editor has called it "Dr. Holiday Cross." I can't imagine what sorts of special challenges that will involve. Hopefully not a mid-race egg nog guzzling component or something silly like that.

3) Gianni's Grass Track Glossary, Vol. III.

So. We’ve had the scratch race. We added sprints into it and learned about the points race. Well, what if you take a points race and contest it in teams of two? You get a madison. The madison is one of the hardest races to describe (because it is complex), but it seems to capture the imagination, and it is lots of fun. So, despite its complexities it is the subject of this week’s Grass Track Glossary.

First, a little history:

The madison is a team event in track cycling, named after Madison Square Garden in New York, and known as the "American race" in French (course à l'américaine) and in Italian and Spanish as Americana. The madison began as a way of circumventing laws passed in New York, USA, aimed at restricting the exhaustion of cyclists taking part in six-day races. Exhuastion included delusions and hallucinations. Riders wobbled and frequently fell. But the riders were often well paid, especially since more people came to watch them as their condition worsened. Promoters in New York paid Teddy Hale $5,000 when he won in 1896 and he won "like a ghost, his face as white as a corpse, his eyes no longer visible because they'd retreated into his skull," as one report had it.

Alarmed, New York and Illinois ruled in 1898 that no competitor could race for more than 12 hours a day. The promoter of the event at Madison Square Garden, reluctant to close his stadium for half the day, realised that giving each rider a partner with whom he could share the racing meant the race could still go on 24 hours a day but that no one rider would exceed the 12-hour limit. Speeds rose, distances grew, crowds increased, money poured in. Where Charlie Miller rode 2,088 miles alone, the Australian Alf Goullet and a decent partner could ride 2,790.

The evolution of the race:

The madison is a conventional race but, since the innovation in New York, with riders in each team riding part of the distance, handing over to the other member, resting, and then returning to the race. Teams are usually of two riders. Only one of the team is racing at any time and the replacement rider has to be touched before he can take over. The touch can also be a push, often on the shorts, or one rider hurling the other into the race by a hand-sling.

How long each rider stays in the race is for each team to decide. Originally, riders took stints of a couple of hours or more and the resting rider went off for a sleep or a meal. That was easier in earlier six-day races because hours could pass without riders attempting to speed away from the others. As races became more intensive, both riders from the team began riding on the track at the same time, one going fast on the short line around the bottom of the track and the other idling higher up until his turn comes to take over. Modern six-days last less than 12 hours a day and the madison is now only a featured part, so staying on the track throughout is more feasible.

The aim of each team is to ride more laps than any of the others. Tied positions are split by points awarded for placings at a series of sprints at intervals during the race.

The madison is a feature of six-day races, but it can also be a separate race, as in the Olympic Games. It has its own championships and specialist riders. A madison typically lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.

Madison requires stamina, focus, strategy and nerves.

Some photos of the hand-sling used to accelerate one team member into the race (use your imagination to transform the wood into grass):


Anonymous said...

Why is santa in hell?

Brad the Impaler said...

Dr. Holiday?
Like Doc Holliday? He apparently liked his hard liquor.
Eggnogg would be preferable and more seasonal.

Anonymous said...

I think 2009 will be the year I actually wear out a set of tires.

Dallas " things are looking Sweet ." Sigurdur

Anonymous said...

send me your e-mail please, i need to chat with you. tomek

g said...

Anonymous comments are getting confusing. Why not sign up with the user name Anonymous and put a mug shot next to it.

So...who is sending who who's e-mail address?

Anonymous said...

hopefully the riding component is equal the the talking component

the secretary said...

perhaps we need to begin to moderate comments... but that would just mean that we wouldn't get Tom's comments... I'm a bit more concerned that he's using the comments to get Dr. H's email address, but it's addressed in general, as if no one else is here, and it's Dr. H's klub.

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to version two of the Whiteshell poster.

Unknown said...

Just to clarify, hand slings can be done by 'hand' or via a small dowel that is placed in the shorts. Otherwise known as a 'butt sling.'

This was the technique used on certain tracks, specifically Winnipeg (RIP 1967 - 1998). This is actually a much safer way to Madison. I have never crashed doing this, but have met the cement and wood on 8 different tracks with the hand sling.

I promise not to repeat on grass

Anonymous said...

Dave Dorning and I were talking and it might be a fun idea to jump into the polar bear run across lake Winnipeg and have it as a winter endurance race. In fact we could start with the runners in gimli and ride to belair beach then turn around and head back. The total mileage would be between 18-20 miles each way depending on how the snowmobile trail went this year.

What do you kids think?

Dallas " getting the snowshoe itch." Sigurdur