Saturday 7 July 2012

French Dragoons

Tour de France Peter Sagan - Stage 6

Bit of crazy carnage last night in stage 6 on the road to Metz .. it was a bit like watching live coverage of Borodino !

At the end though ... somehow .. Peter Sagan held it all together to jump just at the right moment, and power over the top of Greipel.

Amazing effort. Im stunned.

So, Ill pull out some Dragoons for today's stage of the tour of the French Army.

Dragoons ?

Mounted troops in Green uniforms ... riding in formation at a thunderous pace.

1 base per squadron.

The Orange Jersey ...   thats reminiscent of Greipel, of course, who is used to wearing the Ochre Jersey after dominating many a race in Adelaide during the Tour Down Under :

And the flag bearer, lets see ...

There we go, done a pretty good job of covering the whole race now in miniature !

Surely a first in the history of sports reporting I think.

1 regiment arrayed side by side in line of battle.

Cavalry tactics of the time .. from what I have gathered so far, relied very much on depth on the attack, utilizing successive waves of lines.

Prior to a big charge, cavalry usually fan out into lines as part of their regular movement.

In Empire at least ... cavalry units can double their deployment wide / or halve their deployment with free of charge as part of any regular tactical movement.

Here is more of the carnage from last night about 26km out of Metz in case you missed it :

.. and a bit about crashes in general , with coverage of the above events. Interesting from a wargaming point of view - this is how experienced troops act in the middle of a disaster :

And I found a shot of Peter Sagan's new secret weapon that he put to good use to keep himself clear of the troubles .. haha... a BELL !

Thats something you never see in the Pro Peleton.

... incidentally, that little green 'computer' thing hanging off the front of the handlebars is what is known as an SRM PowerControl Head Unit, and that IS something you see in all of the Euro-Pro teams.  (along with many other TellTale signs of the true EuroPro Rider)

It is one of these technical masterpieces that makes 21st Century road bikes so damn interesting.

Inside the pedals / crankshafts on the bikes, there is a series of 8 electronic strain gauges per pedal that measure the force being applied as each pedal is turned. These measurements are recorded every few milliseconds, and then transmitted wirelessly to the head unit via RF.

Measurement interval from the cranks to the head unit is adjustable by the rider, from every 1/2 second through to around 5 seconds.

Here is a shot of how the crankset fits together, with a the strain gauges set inside the casting to measure torque  :

The head unit then picks up the encoded signal, stores each reading in memory, and from that calculates the current power output for display on the screen.

For some of the riders as well, they have extra transmitters on their bikes that send that data across the airwaves to the team cars that are following - providing a live data feed of numbers to help the generals back in the cars to see whats really happening the pack up ahead.

All up - around $5000 worth of additional engineering and computer kit per bike, if you are counting dollars.

The riders pay close attention to these power output figures all the way through the race, in order to measure exactly how they are performing -  and to ensure that their output stays just in the right band for as long as possible - not too slack, and not too hard.

Keeping a close eye on the figures - a good rider will calculate in their heads how much they need to eat to keep the fuel levels just right .... and more importantly, they can also calculate top end power reserves that they should have left in their legs for any short bursts that are coming up.

For sprinters, these are all critical aspects of the chess game that plays out as the bunch starts to accelerate in the final miles. Fascinating, huh ?

.... So why all the waffle about bike bits and mind boggling engineering on a miniature wargaming blog ?

Well, its quite simple really.  All that cool, over-the-top technology is all well and good for the Formula-1 blokes on their bikes, but what about the average weekend warrior ?

In one word ... trickle down.

OK, thats 2 words. Here are some pictures that might do a better job of telling the story :

That ... is an average everyday iPhone with a special mounting that sits on the bike handlebars. $200 worth of electronics, and you have a built in GPS based speedo and data recording for your ride.

Here is another more sophisticated one for a bit more money :

This one, priced a few hundred is .. a full on recording powermeter. Not as  crazy as the $5000 German made SRM unit ... but it does the job none the less. Measures everything from power output, altitude, speed, cadence, temperature and wind speed .... every second, and records it in memory.

After the ride, take the computer off the bike and plug it into the computer using a USB cable.  Ride data can then be transferred to he PC (Or Mac, or Linux machine), where you can play with it to your heart's content using free open source software such as the excellent Golden Chettah

OK, you say ... that is completely and utterly NUTS !

And you are perfectly right ... its NUTS. But its accessible nuts, easily within reach of mere mortals.

And its this trickle down effect of crazy insane technology, open source software, low cost electronics, and hugely awesome internet connectivity that is finding its way into just about everything.

Everything .. including our beloved tabletop miniatures games.

Its inevitable, its exciting, and we are all privileged to be living at just the right time to see it unfold, and be part of.

Beautiful ! 

French Dragoon Facings 


Regiment Coats Collars
Turnbacks Cuffs Cuff Flaps
1st Green Scarlet Scarlet Scarlet Scarlet
2nd Green Green Scarlet Scarlet Green
3rd Green Scarlet Scarlet Green Scarlet
4th Green Scarlet Scarlet Scarlet Scarlet
5th Green Green Scarlet Scarlet Green
6th Green Scarlet Scarlet Green Scarlet
7th Green Crimson Crimson Crimson Crimson
8th Green Green Crimson Crimson Green
9th Green Crimson Crimson Green Crimson
10th Green Crimson Crimson Crimson Crimson
11th Green Green Crimson Crimson Green
12th Green Crimson Crimson Green Crimson
13th Green Pink Pink Pink Pink
14th Green Green Pink Pink Green
15th Green Pink Pink Green Pink
16th Green Pink Pink Pink Pink
17th Green Green Pink Pink Green
18th Green Pink Pink Green Pink
19th Green Yellow Yellow Yellow Yellow
20th Green Green Yellow Yellow Green
21st Green Yellow Yellow Green Yellow
22nd Green Yellow Yellow Yellow Yellow
23rd Green Green Yellow Yellow Green
24th Green Yellow Yellow Green Yellow
25th Green Lt-Orange Lt-Orange Lt-Orange Lt-Orange
26th Green Green Lt-Orange Lt-Orange Green
27th Green Lt-Orange Lt-Orange Green Lt-Orange
28th Green Lt-Orange Lt-Orange Lt-Orange Lt-Orange
29th Green Green Lt-Orange Lt-Orange Green
30th Green Lt-Orange Lt-Orange Green Lt-Orange

Dragoons wore brass helmets that had brown fur bands. Those of the Imperial Guard wore leopard-skin bands.


  1. These prangs every night are mad aren't they? I wonder whether Schleck,mF. will try to do something massive in tonightsvfirst mountain stage.

    I'm most impressed with your vontinued figurevproduction Steve. Keep it up!

  2. Apologies for all those typos. I am using the iPad and thr figure miss-typed!

    1. Lol - bloody technology ;)

      Good race tonight, tis really starting to open up.

  3. Nice troops, Steve; my wife is training for a triathlon at present, although her strength is swimming rather than biking!

    A nit picky point, if you even care, LOL - the green saddle blankets/portmanteaus should all be trimmed in white- only the "wolf's teeth" border of the sheepskin saddle covers are in the facing color.

    1. Cheers Peter - there are a lot more Dragoons where this lot came from, so Im keen to get it right.

      Can you just confirm please - are we talking about the border of the green saddle cloth, blanket type thing with the thick red border that makes a right angle ? Of the rolled up bag thing at the back of the saddle ?

      Re the triathlon better half - feel free to ask any Qs about that if you like via email. I have been racing (unsuccessfully) for some years, and training others (successfully) for a little less time. Always happy to help out if needed. She may be able make up good time on the bike leg without a lot of effort, depending on where her head is at. Its a bit of a Zen thing sometimes. Like I said - happy to help if needed.

  4. Steve, Peter is referring to the edging of both the shabrack and the blanket roll on the back, which in both cases was white; the edging on the sheepskin being in the facing colour. Have a look at Histofig ( and the Armées et uniformes tab at left, it's a wonderful, accurate and free source.

  5. Oh aye, another pedantic point - French cavalry trumpeters almost always rode Greys. Some officers fancied them as well, but in general they were not used for troopers mounts. Since they have a fairly low natural incidence as a horse colour, that all makes perfect sense. Doesn't mean there weren't any Greys in the ranks, just that they were not preferred and not very available.