Why should professionals be the only ones to answer the sport’s biggest questions?From the UCI’s ruling on the “super tuck”, to why cyclists still shave their legs in the depths of winter, we go deep with cyclists from around the globe to get the real answers to some of the sport’s biggest questions, from the people who matter most.
Tucked away in the spectacular Trois Vallées, Haute Route’s favourite Lantern Rouge Adrian “Ade” Hill runs epic cycling tour company Alpcycles with his wife Shelley. Moving to the French Alps over 15 years ago, the former British racer set up the business to give other riders the rich experience of riding in the mountains. Over the last five years he’s also taken up a post at the end of the Haute Route Peloton as Lantern Rouge. With a remarkable depth of experience at the front and back of the field, Ade is the perfect candidate to share his take on cycling’s biggest questions.
Shimano or SRAM?
100 percent Shimano for me. SRAM doesn’t come close, I’m afraid. I’ve been riding it for 25 years, so always Shimano right through. But also, I’m still mechanical. No electronic gears for me either. I work as a tour operator, so I spend my life trying to fix electronic gears and I don’t know what I’m doing. The mechanical stuff, you just change a cable and you’re all good.
So mechanical Shimano all the way for me. I don’t dislike SRAM, but to be honest when you’ve been riding Shimano for so long, you just stick to what you know. It’s because I’m old, I don’t like change [laughs].
Giro d'Italia or La Vuelta
I think for me it would probably be the Giro because I’ve ridden more of the climbs so you can relate to it. I think they’re both pretty cool races and both of them are probably preferable to watching the Tour de France to be honest. I think the racing is more exciting compared to the Tour de France, which is just a bit too scripted these days.
Have you seen Chris Froome's recent comments about disc brakes on road bikes ? What did you think ?
Oh yes [laughs]. Well I still ride rim brakes at the moment just for the fact that I can fix everything. But I’ve ridden disc and I think they’re really good for stopping, especially for newer riders. I’d say the braking is on par; I don’t think there’s a massive difference if you’ve been riding a long time. I think for Chris it was a bit of a suicidal thing to say because you don’t say that about a bike they’ve given you.
I do think in a few years you won’t be able to buy rim brakes anymore anyway. It is the future, and I do agree in a little way that they need to perfect them. Like when I’m in the peloton as Lantern Rouge, you can constantly hear peoples discs rubbing and it can be very annoying. So I kind of agree with him, but if I were Factor I wouldn’t be happy.
What do you think about the UCI’s ruling about the “super tuck”?
I think for professional cycling, you don’t really see crashes due to that particular position. Professionals are obviously very skilled in their trade and its awful they have banned it because they do it every day, they know what they’re doing and they’re doing it on closed roads. But we have lots of people try to copy it and they don’t know what they’re doing.
I think it’s course design that causes the crashes in pro races. But I still don’t think amateurs should try it. I don’t do it. I’ve been in that position before and it’s really, really scary. If you hit a bump in that position you’re going down fairly quickly. And nowadays I’m just never in that much of a rush, to be honest. I don’t race anymore, so I don’t need to do it. I don’t think it should be banned but I think maybe anyone who isn’t in a professional peloton shouldn’t bother doing it; its just too dangerous.
Shaved legs, yes or no?
100 percent shaved, without a doubt. My son has watched me do this his whole life so I think he thinks it’s totally normal that men shave their legs. He’s like 12 now and he came into the bathroom to brush his teeth yesterday while I was shaving my legs and he doesn’t even say anything anymore; it’s just totally normal.
So yeah, 100 percent, if I see hairy legs I’m a little bit scared normally. Why? I don’t really know to be honest. I think the whole truth about it is that if you’re not a professional cyclist, you’re just doing it for a better sun tan. Also, then the worst thing ever is that when someone with hairy legs overtakes you, you’re gutted. If someone with shaved legs overtakes you, that’s one thing, but when someone with hairy legs overtakes you, you’re devastated. I’m shaved now actually and it’s the middle of winter and I’m not wearing shorts so there is absolutely no reason. I think I just do it because I’ve been doing it since I was 19. I’m 44 now. I don’t think it would even grow back now, I think it’s just gone.
Obviously the next most controversial question is how far up your leg do you shave…
If you could be a pro rider in the 70s or now, which would you choose?
I think I’d have to go back yo the 70s when everything was pioneering. You didn’t have to wear a helmet, you could just wear a hat. I think people were a bit harder back then; a bit tougher than nowadays. You had to fix your own bike and the bikes weighed a ton, so I think the guys were tougher back then, and harder. I’m definitely a 70s rider, 100 percent.