Many weeks ago, I made a comparison of myself to professional cyclist Tom Boonen. If you recall, it wasn't to his fine sprinting skills, but more to that of his disproportionate torso to leg ratio.
Now I find the need to compare a trait I have in common with another professional cyclist, this time Ivan Basso.
I like Basso. I like him not because he's riding more human like post Operación Puerto, but because he's always smiling when he does. He rides like he's enjoying every minute of it even though you know he's burying himself in immense suffering. It doesn't matter if he's drilling it at the front of the pace line, or climbing a 6% grade for 20K with a 14% kicker at the end: Basso's all yippy-skippy when he rides. I bet he even hums a snappy tune from time to time. And the more intense it gets, the more you see him grinning. See for yourself as we walk down some finer moments of his career:
Yes, Ivan Basso is a good bluffer. He's the only one who appears to be on a bacon ride among the suffering faces around him. Either that or he's a total masochist.
As for me, the quest to become a better bluffer started a couple years ago when my brother Murphini commented that I winced when I ran. Um, who doesn't? Have you ever seen anyone looking like they're enjoying running?
After brother John's revelation, I began working on my race face during practice runs.
Now a lesser man would have practiced it during a recovery run. Oh, not me. I cut right to the chase and began working on Basso's bluff during 800m track repeats. That's right: rapid flat foot strikes, aligned hips, high arm turnover, steady breathing and a stupid ear-to-ear grin on my face. Truly, a running fool if there was one.
The end result is that I mastered it. Mom was right. You continue to make a face and it may stick that way.
Let it be known that while it looks like a pleasure ride in the park, there's not a whole lot of happiness going on inside.
I love bicycle racing.