A Sunday in Hell
July 1, 2010 8:15 PM   Subscribe

A Sunday in Hell. The 1977 documentary film covering the famously treacherous Paris-Roubaix bicycle road race.
posted by knave (33 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Youtube description "Old movie about bikes".

Excellent find! Thanks!
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:29 PM on July 1, 2010


On Tuesday July 6th, the Tour de France will hit the pave. Cobble on! 13.2K.
posted by fixedgear at 8:45 PM on July 1, 2010


I don't understand how these guys think they can be competitive. Where are the 10-speed cassettes? The brifters? The carbon fiber? The glowing Lycra? The clipless pedals? And all the other stuff that makes you really fast?

I would totally whip all their butts.
posted by Opposite George at 8:51 PM on July 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seriously, this is great. I wish I wasn't such a fat-ass so I could get a jersey like these guys wear.
posted by Opposite George at 8:52 PM on July 1, 2010


Oh, thanks! I've been waiting 20 years to see this movie again.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:54 PM on July 1, 2010


Appropos, in light of allegations that Fabian Cancellara's showing this year in that race was due to a hidden motor assist.

I'm not saying these assertions are true, just that he suddenly develops a unique style of pedaling* at certain points... and that bikes are now being x-rayed before being allowed to compete.

(*Look at the way his feet move compared to the other cyclists, especially on the flats.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:55 PM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


That Cancellara stuff is a hoot He crushes Boonen like a grape so he must have a motor! So we'll xray the bikes. It's like pro wrestling now, just sheer spectacle.
posted by fixedgear at 9:02 PM on July 1, 2010


Very cool. On my list of things to watch.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:05 PM on July 1, 2010


I don't understand how these guys think they can be competitive. Where are the 10-speed cassettes? The brifters? The carbon fiber? The glowing Lycra? The clipless pedals? And all the other stuff that makes you really fast?

Helmets?
posted by Chuckles at 9:13 PM on July 1, 2010


That is an amazing video. He pulls away on a hill climb without even looking like he's trying, and at an incredibly low cadence, when moments before it looked like he was sweating as much as the guy behind him.
posted by unSane at 9:17 PM on July 1, 2010


superbe.
posted by RockyChrysler at 9:19 PM on July 1, 2010


That Cancellara stuff is a hoot He crushes Boonen like a grape so he must have a motor! So we'll xray the bikes. It's like pro wrestling now, just sheer spectacle.

The only thing that makes it look dodgy to me, is that I don't remember ever seeing someone attack seated, and this year Cancellara made a couple of the most devestating attacks I've seen, in some very tough races, and did them all without getting out of the saddle. His Flanders move on the Kapelmuur was insane.

I've been trying to find some vids of Cancellara making similar moves before this year just to see if it's normal for him to attack seated.
posted by markr at 9:24 PM on July 1, 2010


I've been trying to find some vids of Cancellara making similar moves before this year just to see if it's normal for him to attack seated.

Of course it is, he's a time trialist.
posted by Chuckles at 9:29 PM on July 1, 2010


Ah! The Paris-Roubaix! Something I tackled last Fall on a Single-Speed bike, fully loaded (actually, from Paris proper, to Amsterdam). Def. inspired by footage, like this one.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:43 PM on July 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


From the YT poster's description:

old movie about bikes

Category: Music

Tags:
A
Sunday
In
Hell

Thank you for finding and posting this here. Even though I'm not a bikey person, I've skimmed through this, and everwhere I have landed, it's been one beautiful shot after another.
posted by not_on_display at 10:15 PM on July 1, 2010


Ah! The Paris-Roubaix! Something I tackled last Fall on a Single-Speed bike

Great comment!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:21 PM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


re: markr
I'm no pro and was never in danger of going pro, but I've done my share of road racing, and the idea that the conspiracy theory rests on, that this man (in particular, but in general also) can't have increased output without shifting position or cadence just seems very naive.
Cancellara is an extreme example of a certain style. I used to ride with a guy with a build and form somewhat like Cancellara's -- who is fairly massive, for an elite cyclist (my friend was less tree-trunky, natch) -- and he had a similar way of cranking up the wattage in the most invisible way. It was kind of disconcerting, if you were following him up a hill, say, and dude doesn't change gears or shift in his seat or make any other sign of effort but suddenly you'd be thrashing around trying to match his pace.
As Chuckles says, very representative of the time-trialist type, and Cancellara is a quintessential TTer. But part of what makes him great to watch is that he lights the afterburners in all kinds of situations, not just solo TTs but in crazy mass start events like Paris-Roubaix. Here's the man winning stage 3 of the '07 tour with an almost entirely seated sprint. Here it is again, in cheezy Chariots O' Fire slow-mo: watch the various sprinters slot in behind him, getting ready to pounce, then swinging out and dying like flies as they try to come around. Those are some of the fastest-twitchin'est pros in the game, standing up to stomp the pedals as hard as they can in the most prestigious 200 meters in the world and still failing to pass the seated man.
I think that if someone could really design and build an electric motor small and light and efficient enough for someone like that to consider a net gain, they'd be a lot better off selling their UFO-level technology to any industrial combine in the world.
posted by $0up at 10:37 PM on July 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be fair, Spartacus does get out of the saddle for about 5 pedal strokes somewhere in that 2007 stage win :)

Also, I did some very rough calculations in the post on the Gruber Assist. Before doing the math, I doubted the usefulness of an electric motor too, but in fact it is reasonably practical. Except for the noise..

I still think all this talk about Cancellera and motors is just silly.

And, why hasn't anybody complained that leaking gas helped Basso win the Giro?!?!
posted by Chuckles at 12:51 AM on July 2, 2010


Related
posted by unliteral at 3:16 AM on July 2, 2010


Cancellara looks forward to cobblestones in the summer. Andy Schleck says Swiss rider flies over the pave.
posted by fixedgear at 3:55 AM on July 2, 2010


Has he got some kind of anti-gravity device stuffed down his seat-tube as well?
posted by SyntacticSugar at 4:23 AM on July 2, 2010


Thanks for posting this, saves me the trouble of transferring it from VHS.
Awesome soundtrack too; the sections with the mail voice choir are incredible.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 4:25 AM on July 2, 2010


Of course it is, he's a time trialist.

I don't buy the motor theory. That much power and the geartrain and motor are silent? Where are the batteries? How heavy is this motor/geartrain/battery pack?

In one of those videos, it looks like he speeds up without changing gears or cadence, which is impossible without something else providing power, but the video is grainy enough that I wouldn't assert that he doesn't shift.

Finally: the buttons on the controls could either be cyclocomputer interfaces or electric shift buttons.
posted by eriko at 5:33 AM on July 2, 2010


Eddy is the man. I saw "A Sunday in Hell" at the Bicycle Film Festival in NYC some years ago, and it was truly astounding.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:59 AM on July 2, 2010


Cancellara is a fucking beast. He dropped Boonen and rode away, but understand that Boonen is a sprinter while Cancellara is much more of an all 'rounder. Plus, they're going uphill. Sure, he's held the time trial world championship jersey, but he can really do just about anything.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:24 AM on July 2, 2010


> How heavy is this motor/geartrain/battery pack?

Competition level bikes weigh so much less than the minimum weight permitted that they need to bulk up to qualify.

Teams end up adding things like PowerTap drivetrains to monitor and record athlete performance, a fringe benefit because for once the excessive weight (by bike standards, those things are massive) is an asset - they help bring the bike closer to qualification, and otherwise the bike would have to be filled with nonfunctioning deadweight. So since the bike's already a couple kilos too light, a Gruber Assist could be added and outwardly it would only appear that the bike had been ballasted. There's no official penalty, only a performance penalty, if the bike's too heavy.

But that aside, the videos I've seen of the Gruber Assist imply that it sounds like an electric motor and gears spinning away noisily, and that would be hard to get away with in a public race.
posted by ardgedee at 10:11 AM on July 2, 2010


I think that if someone could really design and build an electric motor small and light and efficient enough for someone like that to consider a net gain, they'd be a lot better off selling their UFO-level technology to any industrial combine in the world.

UCI may be a little crazy sometimes (witness the last-minute banning of about 90% of teams' aerobars last year), but the fact that they're taking this seriously says that they consider it a real possibility. Plus, if you can watch videos on youtube showing semi-viable options, it's pretty reasonable to think that there are better ones out there that somebody's keeping quiet.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 10:32 AM on July 2, 2010


Those of you new to the 70's-era artsy cycling documentary genre might also like Stars and Water Carriers and The Impossible Hour, or The Greatest Show on Earth and La Course en Tete. Youtube user mplayer98 has a bunch of this stuff on his channel, too.

As for the motor doping controversy.... Over the last 15 years, pro cycling has gradually conditioned me to expect the absolute worst any time a controversy arises. At this point, I'm willing to believe that Cancellara's secret motor uses new battery technology based on sucking the life force from helpless kittens concealed within the aerodynamic gussets of his frame.
posted by richyoung at 3:54 PM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course it is, he's a time trialist.

Fair enough. I watch a lot of bike racing, and ride a lot myself, and it's the first time I've seen anyone attack like that. Usually it's a quick blast out of the saddle to get a gap, then the TT skills come out.
posted by markr at 5:12 PM on July 2, 2010


Excellent doc, many thanks!
posted by carter at 7:51 PM on July 2, 2010


By the way, modern electric motors are almost silent. I use very similar ones to those in the video in my RC planes.
posted by unSane at 9:22 PM on July 3, 2010


Ya, but probably aren't using any gearing in an RC plane.

Little brushless DC motors have best efficiency around 10,000RPM (depends on diameter, because the limiting factor is the materials spining themselves apart due to centripetal force). RC planes work best at several thousand RPM, so gearing can help efficiency, but isn't strictly necessary. Bicycle gear trains work at about 90 RPM, so invariably there must be a noisy gear train.

You can trade noise for efficiency, but....
posted by Chuckles at 11:26 AM on July 4, 2010


This was excellent. I had always wanted to see it, but never gotten 'round to it. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 2:50 PM on July 5, 2010


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