Light Enough for the Pavé: Cobblestone Skills

19“I feel totally ready and I look forward to hitting the cobblestones.”   Fabian Cancellara, Classics Winner, TT World Champion, Olympic Champion


A Hard Man with a Light Heart

Fabian isn’t famous just for his victories in cobbled classics but for his fabulous attitude. He knows that hard conditions select the classic hardmen of Spring. Dark, sometimes cold, often wet are par for the course in Belgian racing.

The light in a Belgian Spring casts short shadows over its cobbled streets. When preparing to study abroad in Brussels, our wise professor gave us a thundering overview of the country and its features. He said that it rains there more days than not, and that we could either accept this as part of our educational experience and adapt or spend a miserable term complaining and depressed. He emphasized that light in our attitude would yield a sunny disposition on dark days. So I bought a fashionable raincoat and enjoyed European studies in Belgium as my favorite semester in college.

Later when I returned to race there, I was ready again to love the schooling the region gave in its cycling environment. Like a bike made for Roubaix, absorbing the shock of the situation separates the best from the battle-weary bunch. Perhaps this is one reason Belgians do so well in the Spring Classics. Homefield advantage is about emotional support but also about recognizing local conditions and not being fazed by them.

So how do you approach dozens of 1-2k sections of hard road? Lightly: a light attitude of determination that looks forward to the challenge; a lightweight that indicates early season form for anaerobic efforts followed by sustained high aerobic states; a laser-like focus that finds the good line at the front; a light bike especially fashioned for handling heavy resistance. The best line can be the ditch or gutter or inches of worn path on the outsides that avoids the rougher sections; or carrying speed over the dinosaur-ridge in the midst of pavé. With a justified emphasis on the right equipment for cobblestones, just as important is the lightness of mind – eager and ready!

Prayer for Cobblestone Skills

“Their road is dark and rough, but I will give light to keep them from stumbling.” 20Isaiah 42:16

We are thankful for ways to elicit a lightness of being. We ask for uncomplaining and eager minds and skills to transcend rough road.

Ponder Does my attitude hinder me more than real obstacles? Affirm I am light facing any heavy difficulty. Watch your attitude.


19“Team CSC Racing on Three Fronts,” News Articles posted March 24, 2006

20The Bible, Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

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