Bare-Chested Cycling

I don’t always check out other men’s torsos, but on the Tour stage two days ago there was a lot of fishbelly white (as my old girlfriend used to refer to my skin color) on France 2, as riders unzipped on the last climb due to the heat.

And then I noticed something interesting enough to come out of hibernation and write about – a couple of guys weren’t wearing heart rate monitors, including Richie Porte and, not surprisingly, Thomas Voeckler (does he do anything ‘normal’?).


I have read that Voeckler doesn’t even ride with power, which makes me like him even more, but I assume Richie does and that’s where he’s getting his ‘feedback’ from. Knowledgeable readers, any insight on this?


14 thoughts on “Bare-Chested Cycling

  1. With power you can argue there’s no need for HR in the race. Their resting HR before the stage is probably a good enough barometer of health.

    Perhaps given their levels of fatigue their HR is pretty much useless? I like as much data as possible as perceived effort is just that, perceived not real.

    Or perhaps these riders have no heart. They’re machines!

  2. Yeh, I think when they’re racing it’s shit or bust really. You stick with the group or you don’t (read: can’t). I imagine they’ll be riding to power up the cols but heart rate is heart rate and cannot be controlled so much, especially when the fatigue kicks in. I bet they check their resting HRs in the morning however (to monitor freshness).

    One thing I always think is the base layer or no base layer debate. The literature always says you should wear one no matter what, and i tend to, even when 30 deg +. I hate the feeling of sweaty belly direct on bibs. But the pros seem not to bother…?

    • Base layers were a thing just a few years ago, if I remember correctly. Suddenly you don’t see them much in the peloton anymore. I gave them up 2 years back for hot rides because I just couldn’t see the point (regardless of what I read). I guess I dig the sweaty belly…

      Btw, met Matt Holden at Ventoux on July 14th. He says HR Rockies is going to be amazing. I’m nearly interested.

      • Of course he’s gonna say that tho Gerry! I’m not sure. never ridden gravel, and huge straight amalerican highways are dull. Interested in the huge elevation tho. Want to tick off the dolomites before Rockies I reckon

        • I feel the same way about those big roads, especially since I come from there. Matt’s enthusiasm won me over, though…but then again, I think he’d been drinking.

  3. There’s a nice feature on this year’s tour where they are showing the speed and the grade on certain portions of the climbs. I’ve been using over the past year a marker of speed + grade to motivate me to push a bit. The pros on the steeper climbs of 5-12% are keeping a pace around ’27’ for example 12% grade+15km/h =’27’. My total is much more humble total but it’s a cheap way to see how you’re doing against the pros. Sometimes the pros go a a little faster in the last couple kms but this ’27’ is a helluva pace. .

    • That’s a pretty cool calculation. Do you find that you can do, say, ’19’ on most gradients, or does it change depending on the steepness?

      • From about 4% I try to do ’20’. Considering the pros do ’27’ from 7-8% I’m leaving myself lots of room from improvement.

        • What you guys are talking about is a take on VAM (Google it), it’s been used as a training metric for ages

        • Hi Jim, here’s the link for others on VAM. It’s a bit different than what I was talking about. VAM is more of a calculation done over a certain distance and time. What I’m doing is trying to maintain a ’20’ or ’22’ when fresh, on 5% and greater. It gives me an instantaneous ‘carrot’ to push me a bit. The VAM would certainly give you proper values.

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