Saturday, December 18, 2010

Riders on the Rain...

I did my best impression of a rider on the rain this afternoon - only got in a twenty mile ride, but it did rain the entire time. On top of that I was able to pick up some stocking stuffers while I was out and about, put up with a bunch of those "what, are you crazy" looks, and then had to do a little bike cleaning afterward. I like to get out in the rain at least a few times during the winter, it makes me feel like one of those hard men racing one of the Spring classics. Even in So Cal, we can ride in the rain, although I only saw two others doing so. Out on the road, getting more wet as the miles tick by, the brim of my cycling cap under my helmet soaks up the water until it can hold no more; a bead of water rolls back and forth along the brim, and then drip, and start again. Little bits of decaying leaves get plastered to my legs, and the inevitable spray of dirty water up my backside, and I don't care.

The "hardest man" I ever saw though was actually a kid, in Ireland, 1990. It was afternoon, he was probably on his way home from school, riding into a massive headwind, pouring rain. Carrying on as if it were nothing, no complaints, just necessity.

Anyway, feeling satisfied with myself for a successful morning, I popped an old vhs tape into the machine, the 1992 Tour of Flanders, won by Jacky Durand. This was a good year for the race, a lot of attacks and counter attacks, and a surprise victor - Durand was definitely not one of the favorites. One of the favored riders that day was the Dutchman Frans Maassen (full name Franciscus Albertus Antonius Johannes Maassen), who would end up 5th on the day.

That is Maassen above, wearing the Netherlands national champions jersey, which he won in 1989. Maassen had a very respectable career between 1987 and 1994 with wins at the Tour of Belgium, Wincanton Classic, the GP Eddy Merckx,  GP Fourmies, Etoile de Besseges, Amstel Gold, Ronde van Nederland, Three Days of De Panne, the Tour of Luxembourg, and a stage of the Tour de France. Beside these victories he had numerous other podium finishes including 2nd place finishes in the Tour of Flanders and Milan - San Remo. Since 2005 Maassen has been an assistant Directeur Sportif with Rabobank.

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