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.


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.

Active Weekend

20 04 2010
Why is the weather mocking me so much, I need to be outside on a day like today.  I have had such an active weekend that I want to be out there again.
I woke up on Saturday and went out for a massive walk, I reckon it was about 10 miles, it was a beautiful cloudless day.  With the Volcanic ash of doom about there were no planes, so in some parts it was incredibly silent, but walking through the fields was nice.
H came round later on Saturday afternoon after work and after much deliberation we decided that we would go to the pub, so we went to the Ship at Langstone, and sat by the sea drinking a nice pint of Fullers Discovery, which I do like.

Reflection from Hayling Bridge

On Sunday we got our bikes out after we had decided that we were going to  ride to Hayling Island.  We left from mine and cycled down to Farlington before heading along the marshes to Langstone.  We crossed the bridge and headed up the old Hayling Billy Railway line, which was closed due to the Beeching railway reforms and is now used by vast amounts of Walkers, Cyclists and Horse Riders.  Once we had reached he end we decided to ride along to the Ferryboat Inn and have a pint in the sun, which was lovely, before riding back.

This is about a 20 mile round trip (I just Google mapped it, and its not far off as the cycle path runs down by the road).  I am incredibly impressed as before last week H hadn’t been on a bike for over 10 years.  The padded shorts she has purchased are obviously working.
Later on Sunday afternoon we went and had dinner sat in my parents back garden, which was lovely and warm.  The rubbish thing is I am wishing the week away, because I want it to be next weekend now so that I can do this sort of thing again.

Review of 2009

4 01 2010
I have been neglecting this blog for a while and concentrating on my photo blog, which I really enjoy doing.
So to kick off this year, I thought that I would do a kind of review of the year for 2009.  I don’t think I am doing a Spex awar this year, mainly because I can’t be bothered.  I am getting Lazy I think.
January started off with New Year in the most random pub in the world and a trip to a brewery for May-Z’s birthday, and then not a great deal happened, until February when I started going to Gigs again, Iglu and Hartley was the first of the year.
In March, not a lot happened again, but I saw a couple more bands.  April was great though, I met the wonderful H and we had a lot of fun.  I also formed the Victorian Gentlemans Amaretto Drinking Club (Fingers Up) in a pub in Worcester and went to Thorpe Park for the first time that year.
May was pretty good, my birthday was superb, we had a lot of fun, and then I went on Safari, this took me until mid June and was one of the most amazing things that I have ever done.  June came and went with more gigs and a trip to the Isle of Wight.  July flew past with Mark Cavendish winning 6 stages of the Tour De France and the Ashes starting.
August saw the completion of the Ashes, with England victorious, me failing to walk the Southdowns Way because of injury.  September included Bestival, which was superb, (Elbow were sublime) and Love Albert Road Day which was good too.
October was my month of blogging and to be honest it is some of the worst things ever written, I did start taking a lot of photos though.  In November I saw the Flaming Lips, which was about the only thing I did that month.
December flew past, with ATP and christmas, and I cooked for H on New Years Eve.
All in all, not a bad year.

Tour Finale

27 07 2009

Regarding the cycling, its been a fantastic tour for the British contingent.  Cav got his 6th stage win of this tour on the Champs Eleysee, and with that became the most successful British stage winner ever.   More impressively though was that Bradley Wiggins has turned himself from a time trial specialist to a genuine contender finishing 4th overall.  His climbing has come on in leaps and bounds and loosing weight but not power has been key for him.

Well done to both of them, as well as David Millar who had another solid tour and Charlie Wegelius competing for the first time.

Next year could be exciting with Team Sky hoping to compete with their strong British contingent.  I am doubtful as to whether any of the four this year will be racing for them, but you never know.

Here Comes The Train

16 07 2009

I have been watching the tour for a long time now, and I can’t remember another lead out train as good as Columbia Highroads.  I am sure that the teams of Chippolini, Abduzhaporov and Zabel were just as good, but I don’t seem to remember them.  Perhaps I am taking more notice as its Cav that is winning the stages.  4 in this years tour, and 8 Tour wins altogether have taken him above Barry Hoburn now.

More today?  Who knows.

2 In A Row

7 07 2009

So Cav took his 2nd stage in 2 days yesterday, taking advantage of some strong winds and even stronger riding from his team.

The road into La Grande Motte is notoriously windy at this time of the year and with the entire Team Columbia at the front making the pace, a split in the peloton was inevitable.  27 riders managed to move away from the bunch on a corner and take the race by the scruff of the neck.  In the group with Columbia were Lance Armstrong, and a couple of Astana riders as well as Fabien Cancellara the current yellow jersey holder.  This group opened a lead of 40 seconds over the bunch, and bought Armstrong on his return up to 3rd overall.  Surely now he must be staking his claim as Astana team leader, although the mountains will be the telling point.  I still think that the team will back Contador more.

Anyway, I digress, Mark Cavendish is a lucky man, not because he needs luck, he is by far the fastest rider about, but that he has a team that are willing to drag him to the line.  George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw are incredibly strong and some of the best lead out men in cycling.  Without them, Cav would have had his work cut out today.  Thor Husovd was close, but not close enough as Cav made it 2 from 2.  A British record 2nd day in green today for the him in the TTT awaits.


29 04 2009

They are at it again. Bloody cyclists…well one cyclist…well at least one that has been caught anyway. News has recently broken that out of the 6 athletes that have tested positive for banned substances at the Beijing Olympics, one of them was a cyclist.

I don’t know why I am surprised, actually, thats a lie, i’m not at all, I am however angry. Italian Davide Rebellin, who on his 37th birthday came 2nd in the mens Road Race has been caught for CERA, and advanced version of EPO. He is one of the first to be caught for this new type, and I doubt very much that he will be last.

I find this incredibly annoying, and I wish that for once the sport that I and millions of others worldwide enjoy on a regular basis would get its act together and clean up. I know that it won’t happen, the stakes are too high, the cheats (that is what they are) want to win, and they want to win at any cost. Whether Davide wanted to prolong his career, by performing at a high level one last time, or taking a last big payday is open to interpretation, but the fact that he won the Fleche Wallone classic for the 3rd time this year might point to something.

“This was my nicest win of the three,” said the Serramenti Diquigiovanni rider after his win, who also won in 2004 and 2007.

I’m not surprised it was nice, you were probably so stoned that you thought you were flying.

Rant over.