Standing on the side of a big, wide, reasonably well-paved road on say Stage 06 of the Tour de San Luis, or Paris–Nice, or the Tour of California, or País Vasco, or whatever—it doesn’t matter, they’re all the same—at like what, mile 67, next to a (closed) gas station and twelve kinda bored-but-picnicking fans, standing there over and over and over again, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that in general, Professional Road Cycling could care less about what the course does or doesn’t do. What it does or does not offer. Clearly, for the promoters and organizers, it’s about which roads they can gain access to, which roads they can close, which towns bid the most to be either a Start or Finish, et cetera et cetera. Like anything else it comes down to capitalism, the free market economy and sponsors. Which, again, we do business (kinda), we have sponsors (thanks Castelli!), we live in America (for now), we get it, that shit matters. It’s what powers the whole deal, money is required.
We’re not suggesting promoter-organizers ignore financial concerns and requirements… but we are saying those issues should be secondary. We ARE saying that a course FOR THE SAKE OF THE COURSE should be the primary concern.
And for so many reasons! Reasons like crowds, accessibility, view-ability, history, tradition, geography, relief, locality, topography, natural beauty and, most importantly, FLOW.
Flow makes a course interesting which makes the race interesting. Without flow Professional Road Racing is a Threshold Contest. Which sounds more interesting than it often is. Flow is the physicality, nature and personality of the race course. It’s the race’s physical and metaphysical features. It’s the course’s COURSE-NESS incarnate. Flow is a metaphor. Flow is a euphemism. Flow is energy, man. Courses need energy. Courses can have flow but so can individual riders. Flow is meditation, it’s one-ness, it’s synchronicity, it’s nirvana and Shirley MacLaine’s Out on a Limb. Flow is unidentifiable, inexplicable, non-physical, formless and inter-dimensional. It’s wormholes, trapdoors and time travel.
More specifically in the case of the Amstel Gold Race, flow is a one-lane outdoor Dutch discotheque full of corners, narrow roads, tight punchy climbs, uneven road surfaces and road furniture—maximum capacity 180 people. In which, or on which, 250 racers have to race for 250 kilometers. Plus the caravan. Plus thousands of scooters, hordes of 4-wheelers, European motorcycle gangs, millions of picnickers, bajillions of cycling chillers on every form of bike headed in every direction all at once, roadside pop-up parties, revelers, flash mob traffic jams, bars along the course, hotels along the course, the little Pink Panther cars zipping across the hillside, the Keystone cop pandemonium, the Benny Hill soundtrack. Flow is all that. Flow is everything. Flow is a course that works. FLOW = COURSE.
No flow, no course. No course, no excitement. No excitement, current state of 90% of stage racing.
A brief list of things that cause flow, are flow, smell like flow, determine flow, reflect flow, symbolize flow, suggest flow, designate flow and relate to flow
- Dick Punches
- Unexpected Things