Thursday, March 22, 2012

13 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Professional Cycling

Greeting Diners,
Happy First Day of Spring! With the warmer weather, I’m thinking about breaking out my bicycle. Maybe you are too—and I’m betting our guest will give you further inspiration.

Please welcome Kimberly Menozzi,

Because I'm writing a novel set in the world of professional road cycling, I've had a distinct case of "Cycling-on-the-Brain" in recent months. As a result, I'd like to
share with all of you some of the trivia tidbits I've picked up along the way.

13 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Professional Cycling

1) The first organized bike race was in 1868, with the first World Championship in 1893.

2) When the modern Olympic Games were established in 1896, cycling was one of the events. It has been an Olympic event ever since.

3) The oldest race ridden annually is Liege-Bastogne-Liege – the first race was held in 1892.

4) There are different types of races, including single-day/night races, multiple stage races and even marathon races.

5) In a stage race, there are different kinds of winners, including: the winner of each stage, who is the first across the line; a points classification winner (who collects points by sprinting for interim wins at different times through the length of the race); a "King of the Mountains" (or Queen, in women's races) winner who collects points by being the first rider over the summit of each climb; and, finally and most famously, there is the overall winner, who has the fastest time of all the riders.

6) It is possible for the winner of a bike race not to be the first one over the finish line on the final day. In 1990, American rider Greg LeMond actually won the Tour de France without winning a single stage. He still had the fastest time overall.

7) During a single mountain stage, depending on the length of the stage, a cyclist can burn anywhere from 7000 to 9000 calories.

8) There are three "Grand Tours" in road racing, all of which have (on average)twenty
one stages: The Giro d'Italia (Italy), The Tour de France (France), and the Vuelta a Espana (Spain).

9) This year's Tour de France will cover just over 3,479 km (2,161 miles) in 23 days.

10) Cycling is very much a team sport. Within a team, riders with different specialties (climbers,sprinters and domestiques) work together to protect and advance the Team Leader, who is usually (but not always) the strongest all-round rider of the team.

11) The overall winner of the Tour de France in 2007 received €450,000 after riding 3,569.9 km (2,218 mi) over 21 days of racing. The prize money, however, was shared with his teammates.

12) Many of the terms used in cycling are French or Italian in origin.

13) The average speed of the peloton (the main group of riders) in a stage race is frequently in excess of 50 km/h on flatter sections and around 60 km/h in the final kilometres of a stage. However, the speeds encountered in bunch sprints (the manic rides at the end of flat stages) can vary considerably. There have been winners in previous stages of the Tour de France who have reached speeds in excess of 70 kilometres an hour.

While you’re waiting for Kimberly’s novel about cyclists, you might want to check out her current

“Wow. You weren’t kidding, were you?”
Emily took a small sip of cappuccino and sighed.
“It is as I told you, eh?”
“Proprio così.” As Emily looked around the bar, she felt a
small smile blossoming. “This place is positively charming, too. How did you
find it?”
“I told you before,” he said in a bad imitation of an American
accent, “‘Bologna is my town.’ I know where everything is here.”
“Sì.” He nodded, raising his eyebrows a notch too high. “Veramente.”
“So you’re a professional tour guide, then?”
“No. I spend a lot of time in the University Quartiere.”
“You’re a teacher’s assistant?”
“No…” He stirred his caffè macchiato idly, shaking his
“Well, a student, then. You don’t seem old enough to be un professore.”
“Don’t I?” He leaned forward and the small table jostled between
them, the cups clinking in their saucers. “Look closer.”
It felt like a dare, a childish challenge, so she leaned nearer
too. Her courage faltered after a moment, but only after she’d noted the laugh
lines around his eyes and the few gray strands in his hair.
“Don’t fall for it,” Jacopo’s voice scolded at once, almost
making her flinch. “Kill time with him if you must, but for Heaven’s sake,
don’t let this go any further.”
She pulled off another piece of her brioche and popped it in her
mouth to keep from thinking about the hint of woodsmoke and earth in Davide’s
“There’s something I’d like to ask you,” she said before she could
lose her nerve.
“Che cos’è?” He was running a finger over a lacquered-over
message someone had scratched into the surface of the table.
“On the train this morning—you were watching
me, weren’t you?” She laughed nervously and shook her head, blushed and looked
away. “I’m sorry. You know, right when I said it, I realized how...”
“Sì,” he interrupted softly. “I was watching you on the
train, but there is a simple explanation.”
“And what might that be?”
“Well, I confess: at first, I saw you across from me on the train,
and I thought, ‘What a lovely woman she is’.”
Facing him once again, she chuckled in spite of her embarrassment.
“Oh, please; I saw so many stylish, elegant women on that train. I’m not like
“I saw the magazine you were reading,” he said, as if that would
explain everything.
“Yes…?” she encouraged with her hands, drawing him forward.
“Well, then I thought, ‘She’s intelligent as well. That’s
wonderful.’ So I couldn’t take my eyes off you.”
Emily laughed more freely, waving her hand, shooing his words
away. “Oh, please…”
“No, è vero, è vero,” he laughed too. “But there’s more, of
“Oh, really? Okay, what is it?”
Smiling, he nervously busied himself with brushing up the crumbs
of his brioche. “I saw you with your magazine and then… I saw the article you
were reading with so much interest.”
“You could see which article I was reading?”
“You’d read it, too?”
“Sì, sì. Many times, in fact.”
“Imagine that… I would never have guessed something like that would catch your attention.” A wave
of relief washed over her, now that the mystery of his “attraction” was solved.
“You know, I thought the article was very interesting, but I’m not sure I
completely understood it. My Italian isn’t perfect and there were some rather
abstract concepts and complex language in it…” She trailed off, a realization
dawning. “Oh, lord… ‘Davide Magnani’.” She put her hand to her forehead,
embarrassed. “You wrote it, didn’t you? That’s
why your name rang a little bell in the deep, dark recesses of my mind.”
“Sì, I did. It’s just that other thing I do when I’m not
teaching or speaking to educational conferences in Padova…”
“Amazing… I mean, what are the odds of reading an article and
having the author sitting right across from you on the train like some average
Joe? Or, in this case, like some average Giuseppe?”
He chuckled. “I would think that the odds are probably quite
“So you were in Padova
for a conference, then?”
“Sì, I was there for a sort of…come si dice—‘workshop’,
for professors and enthusiasts of modern literature. I spoke about the article,
explained my theory, that sort of thing.”
“How interesting. I wish I could have heard it, too.”
He laughed loudly before covering his mouth with his hand, abashed.
“What?” she asked, puzzled. “What was so funny about what I said?”
“I’m sorry. You must understand, though, that I’m not used to such
politeness. Most people are not interested in what I talk about, except for my
fellows and the students who are obligated to take my course to gain their
degrees at university.”
“Okay, but I was reading
it, wasn’t I? Wouldn’t that indicate a sincere interest?”
He shrugged modestly, a faint pinkness shading his cheeks. “We all
read the magazines in the doctor’s office, whether we have an interest in
fashion and gossip or not.” He looked around the bar, his smile still pulling
at his mouth when he faced her again. “Emily, tell me the truth: would you
really be interested in the speech I gave?”
“I would, yes. I really would.”
“Then I have something else you might enjoy equally. Come with me.
We’re nearly there, anyway.” He stood and hoisted his knapsack over his
shoulder while she got her coat and shoulder bag.
“Nearly where?”
“You’ll see. Come.” He held the door for her and once again they
braved the February cold.


  1. Wow, I used to watch Armstrong when he was racing but I wasn't aware of all these facts. I recently added a stationary bike to my workout equipment which I love.

    Do you bike? Is that what inspired you to actually base a book on the biking world?

  2. Hey Livia,
    I used to watch Armstrong too. I ride around my neighborhood.

    We'll have to ask Kimberly your other questions.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I didn't know that about Greg LeMond! Very cool stuff.

  4. I didn't know any of those! LOL!


    My TT is at

  5. I'm guessing you don't cycle but your character does. Writing research is a great way to learn, as is reading.

  6. Actually, I am indeed thinking about breaking out the bicycle. Unluckily, my regular use cycle was stolen from my yard last Fall, and the racing cycle is literally rusty.

  7. I need to get my bike out more, but sometimes the hills in my neighborhood just kill me. It's much easier to climb them than it is to ride them!

  8. @Livia: Sadly, I don't ride a road (racing) bike, but I do ride around Reggio Emilia for exercise in the cooler months of autumn and spring. My husband, however, rides a racing bike and used to compete in small local competitions (not professionally) - lycra and all!

    My inspiration for writing a novel set in the cycling world has many different sources, really, but the 2009 Tour de France was what kicked me in the bum and got me writing. I blogged about it on another site (which also posted today), if you're interested.

    @Jennifer - Greg LeMond was the American who pulled me into cycling fandom - my cousin (another amateur road cyclist) was a huge fan, and I caught it from him when we were teens. :)

    @Colleen - Yep, I'm no pro (one look at me would confirm that), but I've loved the sport since I was a teenager. My bike riding is strictly around town or on the cycling paths for a little exercise. I'll let my hubby climb the mountains, etc. He's good at it. ;)

    @Alice - I'm sorry you lost your bike. It happens everywhere - even in Amsterdam - because there's a huge underground market for stolen bikes. Still, your racing bike is rusty? This makes me sad. :(

    @Heather - Oh, hon - do I know the feeling! A little more every time and eventually you'll do it. I just know it! ;)

    I can barely make the climbs on my bike path rides, but one day, I hope to ride them without having to get off and push.

    One day. ;-)

  9. Jennifer Leeland,
    Yeah, that was something I learned too. Thanks.

  10. Paige Tyler,
    Thanks for stopping by. I'm like you. I learn new things by visiting blogs.

  11. Colleen,
    Yep, great point--your words deserve echoing--Writing research is a great way to learn, as is reading.


  12. Alice Audrey,
    I'm sorry to hear about your bike disappearing from your yard. That's sad. Hopefully your racing bike will work regardless of the rust. :) Mine does.

  13. Alice Audrey,
    I'm sorry to hear about your bike disappearing from your yard. That's sad. Hopefully your racing bike will work regardless of the rust. :) Mine does.

  14. Heather,
    I'm with you. When I was little just learning to ride,I always gave up and walked the hills. We've got some big ones around here.

  15. Kimberly,
    Thank you for sharing so much about cycling. I'm learning about a subject I watch but don't really know about.

  16. My sister does those long bike rides with the serious riders. I'm not sure she's fast though.

    Have a great Thursday!

  17. Yeah, I didn't know any of these, so thanks for sharing. Cycling is huge in the area I live in because of all the beautiful desert hills.

    Thanks for sharing!

    My TT:

  18. @Harriet - Sometimes being fast isn't as good as being steady. Lots of riders aren't particularly fast, just strong enough to finish the race. Frankly, for many, that's plenty.

    @Carolyn - Thanks! I'm glad you found it interesting.

    @Jaycee - I'm glad you enjoyed it, too. :) I'm always hoping more cycling fans will emerge - with any luck, that'll lead to bigger and better races in the US. They're getting more popular already - I just wish US fans would see some of the young up-and-comers we've got in the sport now are worth paying attention to. It didn't end with Lance Armstrong, after all! :)

  19. you just increased my cycling knowledge about 13-fold.

    great excerpt of the story. compellingly romantic.

  20. I loved #6. It's one of those stats that reveals even "simple" sports are more complex than they appear to outsiders.

  21. My knowledge bits for the day! Wow.

  22. I am Harriet,
    I'm with your sister. I like to ride, but I'm not fast. :)

  23. Thanks, Carolyn! :)

    Where do you live? The hills sound fun.

  24. Kimberly,
    Again, thanks for the wonderful, fact-filled post and for sharing your writing with us.

    Ah, you know what bloggers and writers like to hear. Thanks.

  25. The Gal Herself,

    Yeah, when you really get into a sport though I think it always becomes more complex.

    I appreciate you stopping by and learning about cycling with me.

  26. Country Dew,
    Thanks. I always enjoy your visits.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. @Pearl - I'm with Brenda - that's exactly the sort of thing I like to hear! LOL! I hope you enjoyed learning these little tidbits, and I'm glad you liked the excerpt - it's one I often share at readings and it seems to go over well with most audiences.

    @The Gal Herself - When I first started following cycling, I had a hard time understanding how it "worked" as a team sport. Now it's hard to figure out how it could work any other way. LOL!

    @Country Dew - I just hope you enjoyed it (at least a little)! ;-)

    @Brenda - I must thank you for the chance to share on your blog, and for your allowing me to write about my pet subject. LOL! It was a pleasure for me to do it.

  29. Love no. 7! But I got no sense of balance I never learned to ride a bike. I love to backride though :) Happy Spring cycling!

  30. Some of those bike rides are long! It makes my half hour ride seem tame!

  31. @Hazel - If only my little rides could come close to that kind of calorie consumption. (sigh) At least it explains why professional cyclists are so slim, eh?

    @Shelley - Try this out: in this year's Tirreno-Adriatico (an Italian multi-stage race), one stage in the mountains was 251 km (155 miles) long and took seven-and-a-half hours to complete.

  32. Those are some amazing facts about cycling. Who knew?

    I haven't gotten on a bike in years, but it would be fun to try again.

    This excerpt is awesome!

  33. @KendallGrey - I hope you enjoyed the cycling tidbits, and I'm so pleased that you definitely enjoyed the excerpt! I'll most certainly take "awesome" any day! :)

  34. Hazel,
    Yeah, I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle number 7 either, but we can still enjoy ourselves peddling around our neighborhoods. There's lots to see especially as the spring weather brings out the flowers.

  35. Shelley,
    I'm with you. My rides are short in comparison too.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  36. Kendall,

    I bet you haven't ridden much because you've spent your time on the ocean with the whales. :) I'm becoming a whale fan just by visiting your blog.

  37. Kimberly,
    Thanks again for coming and sharing your writing and biking passions with us.