Cycling to Work

19 04 2012

I really didn’t realise that it had been so long since I had written anything here, which just goes to prove that not a lot has happened.  Well apart from the trip to Wales.

Recently, in an effort to get fit, I bought a new bike, a road bike so that I could ride to work.  I know that this is against all of my Mountain Biking heritage, but I just need something that will be a bit easier, and the skinny tyres do help a lot.  Now the bike is nothing spectacular, it was the only bike that I could afford in the size that I needed, plus I got a load of Nectar points buying through Amazon (better Christmas presents for my family now).

My plan is to ride the 5.75 miles to work as often as I can, both to get fit and save money.  So far it has rained more often than not, so I haven’t got as much use as I wanted.  When I do go in though, it takes me about 27 minutes, which would be shorter if it weren’t for all of the pesky traffic lights and the level crossing that is bound to have a train coming when I need to be passing it.

It is quite good to see so many people riding to work, I invariably pass the same people going in the opposite direction every day, and they are a right miserable bunch.  None of them ever smile, it is probably my fault, why would they want to smile back at someone gurning like a fool.  But I find cycling a happy experience, I enjoy it, and it makes me smile.  I quite understand people on their way to work being miserable, but surely they must be able to think back to the fun that they had on their bikes when they were kids.  I can, and to me my bike still means fun and freedom, even if it is tempered by the fact that I have to spend the next 8 hours a day sat behind a desk in a soul sucking job.

Normally in a car my trip to work takes about 20 minutes, I would much rather spend another 8 on my bike, getting some fresh air.  It really helps that over half of my ride is on cycle lanes.  I wish it was more though.

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Cav’s SPOTY

24 12 2011

Cav won the BBC Sports Personality of the year and deservedly so. He was typically humble in his acceptance too.

Afterwards Michael Caught said that loads of kids would want to be him. That isn’t strictly true, I want to be him as well and he is 6 years younger than me.





How I Won The Yellow Jumper

7 11 2011

On Friday, I started reading the first chapter of How I Won The Yellow Jumper by Ned Boulting.  I had some time, so I thought I might read the first 7 or 8 pages to see what it was like.  On Sunday I finished the book.  It is a brilliant recollection of anecdotes of Ned’s time working on The Tour De France, from 2003 as a complete beginner, with no knowledge and probably even less interest up until  the 2010 tour, by which time he had become a convert and obsessive, which is why I will be making H read it.  maybe she will catch some of the excitement that July brings.  You never know.

However, this book isn’t really about cycling.  This is really a behind the scenes look at what happens to make the tour what it is and to be broadcast around the world.  It gives you a bit of a look into the world that we never see, of the hundreds of people working behind the scenes, not just the thin men in Lycra, and that world seems like hard work but a lot of fun.
The fact that I read it over a long weekend will tell you how much I liked the book, but it helps that the narrator is a fan of the race, just like I am.





Cav: Champion of the World

26 09 2011

This years cycling World Championships have belonged to Great Britain.  Amazing rides in Copenhagen all week resulted in Emma Pooley taking a Bronze in the Womes Time Trial, with Bradley Wiggins taking a silver in the mens event.  A Gold medal in the Womens Under 23 road race for Lucy Garner and a Bronze for Andy Fenn in the Mens, with Elinor Barker picking up a Silver in the U23 TT.  If there hadn’t been a crash in the Womens road race, there would have been at least another medal there.

But top of the heap (in my opinion) was Mark Cavendish’s win in the mens Road Race.  Cav deserves a lot of the credit for his sprint, managing to find a way through a crowd at the only possible point he coud (200m from the line, rather than the 150m that he would have liked) and he will make a brilliant World Champion (taking over from another deserving winner Thor Hushovd).  The sprint doesn’t tell the whole story though as this was just the tail end of 266km of racing that was dominated by a successful Great Britain Squad.

The team nullified breakaway after breakaway,  with Vuelta hero Chris Froom and Steve Cummings taking massive turns in front, keeping the pace high limiting time for the riders up the road from the peloton.  Not satisfied with his Silver in the Time Trial, Bradley Wiggins then dragged the entire Peloton around half of the last lap in his wake.  The confusion on the last corner could have meant the end of the opportunity, but Ian Stannard managed to get Cave a hole to dart through and the rest as they say is history.

This week should make British cycling fans proud and as far as sporting achievements go, this should be right up there with the best of them (only once before has a British Cyclist won a World championship medal, Tom Simpson in 1965), so why was this not reported in the sports section on Sky News this moring, when lots of time was taken up by Robin Van Persie saying he was too busy to sign a new contract at Arsenal.  Changing topic slightly, I find Sky’s coverage of cycling to be pitiful, especially as they sponsor not only Team Sky, but also the Great Britain track cycling and Road Teams.  Cycling is no longer a minority sport, so it should get more coverage.  I know a lot of people will say that until a British rider wins the Tour de France, nobody will care, but the way things are going, nobody will know they have won it because it won’t be on any news.

Rant over.  Back on topic, the main reason I think that Cav will make a great world champion is because whenever he wins, he  doesn’t count it as his win, he counts it as a team win and is the first to thank the team that he knows he couldn’t win without.  Like him or loathe him he is a legend and now Champion of the World.





A Word about Mark Cavendish

25 07 2011

Sprinters have always been my favourite types of cyclist.  Watching the tour when I was young formed this opinion.  The sheer speed and danger of the final Kilometer of the race was what made it exciting for me and it still does.

Djamolidine Abdoujaparov (aka the Tashkent Terror) got me started, I even named a goldfish after him. After him, names like Chippolini and Zabel were who I looked for in the results.  Now however, all of these have been blown away by Mark Cavendish.  Fresh from his 5th stage win in this years tour and 20th stage win altogether he became the 5th highest stage winner of all time.  

People call him big-headed, but I think that they get it confused with confidence, and what is wrong with having a bit of confidence.  It is so un-British I guess, but its about time we felt we could boast about something.  The nation (and the Isle of Man in particular) has a sports Superstar to be proud of.  But Cav’s wins are more than just him, he will be the first to tell you that, his HTC team have got his lead outs to a fine art, and are always the first to be thanked.  Bernie Eisel and Mark Renshaw are the 2 best lead out men in the world and Cav wouldn’t have been as much of a sucess without them (although I don’t doubt he would have still been a success and a multiple stage winner).

David Miller the Garmin-Cervelo rider is right when he says that Cav should be seen in the same light as David Beckham.  He is a true superstar, revered in nations where cycling as a sport has a higher profile. 

Anyway, Legend.





Thoughts on Le Tour 2011

22 07 2011

I have been a bit slack posting things on here of late, with lots of things going on to distract me.  One of them being Le Tour De France.  Pretty much everything stops while this is on and the 7pm nightly highlights become part of my life for 3 weeks in July.  It has been this way since the eighties. Phil Ligget, Paul Sherwen, Gary Imlach, Ned Boulting and Chris Boardman provide the soundtrack of 21 Days. 

This year has been something special for the armchair cycling fan, I can’t ever remember a tour that has been this open.  With 3 stages left any of the top 5 riders could conceivably still take the yellow jersey in Paris on Sunday.  So through the flat stages and the dominance of Mark Cavendish  (what a legend now with 20 Tour stage wins), the 2 stage wins for Edvald Bosson Hagen (who rides for Team Sky, so is an honorary Brit in my eyes), World Champion Thor Hushovd taking 2 breakaway stages, Andy Schleck taking the mammoth stage to the Col du Galibier and a huge chunk of time out of the current leader Thomas Voeckler.  There is a lot that you can say about little Tommy V’s heroics this year, keeping the Yellow through the Pyreneese and into the Alps and keeping himself in contention still.  The effort has been amazing and I hope he keeps a place on the podium.  He won’t win, but I hope he is there. All of this has gone on to make this a great version of the greatest stage race.

The final 3 stages will shape the Tour’s podium and an Alp d’Heuz finish today and a time trial tomorrow will provide the Yellow Jersey (please not Cadel Evans).  The final stage to the Champs Eleysee in Paris will provide the ideal stage for Cav to claim the Green Jersey, providing he gets over the final mountains.

This month has provided more sporting excitement than any football/rugby/cricket/F1 season than I can think of and is an ideal armchair sports fans viewing.  Allez Le Tour.





France

24 05 2011

I have just come back from a week in France, but to be honest, I don’t really have that much to repot.  It was nice and relaxing, apart from the first day (after a night on a ferry with no sleep) where we rushed around the D-Day beaches, to give H a brief over-view of what happened.  To be honest, touring those sites is emotionally draining, especially after no sleep. 

After that we went down to our farmhouse in Hirel on the Baie de Mont St Michel.  Just across the road from the beach, the house was large enough to sleep about 20, and incredibly comfortable.  We went to Mont St Michel on one of the days, but the main thing was the food and wine.  We ate far too much (mainly seafood) and drank too much too, but we were also quite active, going for long walks on the beach and bike rides.

We had oysters straight from the quayside at Cancale, and mussles from the bay, as well as the best piece of Pork that I have ever had (the cheek, cooked in local cider). 

All of my Photo’s are on Flickr, and I will add some to my photo blog in the next week.

Good stuff.  I did add another couple of books to my reading list though:

Cant be Arsed by Richard Wilson

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell