It’s fair to say that ageing American pro-cyclist Chris Horner divides opinion.
With that long association with Lance Armstrong, his ‘surprising’ first Grand Tour win at the Vuelta Espana back in 2013 at the age of 41, and a general air of ‘oddness’, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
But whatever you think of him, we should all be thanking him for his recent version of the classic pro-cyclist-in-a-tantrum-bike-chuck at the Philadeliphia Classic bike race in America.
The beauty of any bike chuck is that it shows the cyclist outside his natural habitat. On the bike, your average pro cyclist is one half of a graceful union between man and machine. Off the bike, it’s a different story.
With muscles so highly tuned to the pedalling motion, simple tasks like walking, or sitting in a chair, resemble a practical test of the laws of physics. If you’ve ever watched someone negotiate a shiny floor or a steep staircase balanced upon cycling shoes and cleats, you will know that attempting something as fraught with danger as a bike chuck is an act of madness.
The cyclist in question has either taken leave of their senses, or has an appreciation for the finer points of slap-stick comedy and wants to share their gift with the world.
Horner’s bike chuck had all the hallmarks of a classic; he fiddled with his chain, frantic under the gaze of rows of spectators, growing visibly irritated as the seconds ticked by. Then he snapped. Rag was lost, toys were thrown, gasket was blown, and he slammed the offending bike wheels-first into the tarmac. He then realised that no-one was helping and, actually, he still needs the bike, and so wandered over to grumpily to have another go.
The swiped kick at an errant bike bottle was a lovely touch.
As we all know, the true classic of the genre is Bradley Wiggins. He chucked his pristine Pinarello Dogma in frustration against some strip of non-descript Italian Tarmac back in 2013, only to see it roll obediently away and park itself neatly against a wall.
It remains a study in nonchalant rage.
Talking of nonchalant, Marcel Kittel is a man who projects a cool unruffled image at all times, and it seems this image conscious approach has informed his bike chucking style. His overhead warrior-style bike slam from 2014 is a new, and decidedly more macho development in the world of bike chucking.
Could it be that he’s spent time in training perfecting his bike chuck? Does he spend weeks on end locked away on team training camps chucking bikes at altitude?
For us mere mortals, of course, we don’t have the luxury of risking serious damage to our best bike. We have neither the sponsorship of a major bike manufacturer, or a team of mechanics flitting around us to fix the damage. The best we can manage when the fury descends is to fling our mitts, offer a few swear words, or maybe chuck a bike bottle into a hedge.
Also, with very little beyond personal pride at stake, we amateurs really shouldn’t be getting dragged into the realms of the bike chuck.
If it’s nonchalant rage you’re after, you’d better leave it to the pro’s.