Before I launch into the Spring Classics love-fest, take a look at Two Wheel Transit's Premier Mechanic build a bike from start to finish:
You should know that most shops don't spend the time to do all that you see here. You really are getting a better product with this level of professionalism, just so you know.
But back to the Spring Classics. This is the time of year that is my favorite for cycling. Not my personal cycling, which tends to be slow and painful, but to watch cycling on television. The Spring Classics are an incredible string of races, week after week, that add up to the best time of year to love this sport.
Here is the line-up:
March 19, Saturday - Milan-San Remo
March 27, Sunday - Ghent-Wevelgem
April 3, Sunday - Tour of Flanders
April 10, Sunday - Paris-Roubaix
April 17, Sunday - Amstel Gold Race
April 20, Wednesday - Le Fleche Wallone
April 24, Sunday - Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Just looking at the line-up makes me all tingly. It is just a joy to behold. Yes, yes, I love watching the Tour de France unfold over three weeks, and I enjoy the majesty and brutality of the Giro and even sometimes the idiocy of the Vuelta, but if I have to pick, I will take the spring classics.
In cycling the "Grand Tours" stand apart, but there are five Monuments of Cycling and the spring classics hold four of those five - Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (the fifth is the fall classic, Giro de Lombardia).
These spring classics favor riders who are the hard men of the sport. Guys who thrive in wind and rain and mud. Guys who are strong enough to handle the elements and the punchy, almost stupid, climbs that dominate these regions. The hills tend to be "short", which is a comparison to the mountain climbs of the tours, since they are half a kilometer to a touch over 2 kilometers (compared to 20-40 kms for Tour climbs), but they make up for it by being brutally steep (many of them with pitches 15-25%) and repetitious. Although, to be fair, not all feature these climbs. One just features a ridiculous length (Milan-San Remo - 300 kilometers/180 miles, but just a few climbs - two in the last 20 km) or the most brutal surface you could decide to race over - Pave (the famous cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix).
And the variety of roads, conditions and weather means that a number of riders will shine over the next few weeks. And not the prissy little climbers who don't have enough body fat to keep them from being blown sideways off the road in a wind, but the real men of cycling who get those prissy climbers to the base of the tour climbs. The real men who labor all year for their few weeks of glory. And that glory is upon us. Let's enjoy it.