Archives for the month of: December, 2010

La petit mort. The seconds begin to stretch, sound recedes. The heart is fit to burst as everything begins to burn. For some it’s about aggression, a flurry of rage. For others it’s a task of concentrated effort, the pain turned inwards. The suffering is contained in their eyes, the torture in facial contortions.

Just as quickly as it begun, it’s suddenly over. Legs slowly unwind from their frantic whir. And as this is roller racing at Rollapaluza, a cold beer can be in your hands literally seconds after unstrapping from the roller racing rig.

Is this the perfect distillation of cycling? The sport reduced to its purest form? Physical suffering rewarded by, for some, glory, and for everyone else a hard earned pint? Cycling in a bar – what’s not to love?

Monday was the second round of the Rollapaluza Winter League. Results and more photos from the night can be found here. Clubmate John ‘Coolers’ Coolahan was the clear winner, having also set the fastest time recorded on the night (21.71 seconds). Natalie Creswick won the women’s event in equally convincing style. I failed to even progress out of the qualifying round. Woeful.

Is it ironic that the only cyclist nominated for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year is Mark Cavendish? And is it any wonder he didn’t win (and beaten by a bloke who races sitting on top of a horse for heaven’s sake!)? The Manx Missile, crippled for much of the year by cosmetic dental surgery (vain), returning to win with vindictive victory salutes (petulant), causing a crash through dangerous sprinting (reckless), to moan about his lack of bonus and pay increases at HTC Columbia (arrogant, ungrateful), but then coming good by winning multiple stages at the Tour (all is forgiven! LOL! XOXOXOX). Us fan boys allow his shortcomings to be overshadowed by his lightening speed, but even we know he’s a bit of nob.

Just as well Cav didn’t actually win SPOTY (that would really spell the end of our monopoly on cycling as the mainstream – dressed in replica Team Sky kit and wearing helmets with visors – wrestles our beloved minority interest sport away from us), but even his nomination is a sure sign that an abrasive personality is no barrier to fame, fortune, dating ‘Page 3 stunna’ Peta Todd, and to cap it all, being lauded by the Big British Castle.

So, make like Cav with these handy tips on how you too can annoy and infuriate those around you, whilst basking in the protective glow of cycling righteousness: Read the rest of this entry »

In my copy of The Design Encyclopedia – a hefty and exhaustive listing of influential designers and their creations – there is no space between Thomas Meyerhoffer (industrial designer responsible for the interior of the Porsche Boxter) and Eugéne Michel (an influential French glassmaker). Pierre Michaux (inventor of the modern bicycle) is absent.

It was Michaux who first attached pedals to what was called a ‘dandy horse’, and so creating the bicycle – a form recognisable as one not much changed from the modern bicycles of today. The addition of the pedals and cranks was his masterstroke. A novelty contraption was transformed into something that suddenly enabled man to propel himself forward, twice as fast, twice as far, with half the effort. Cyclists would still be going nowhere without Michaux and his rudimentary machines of the 1860s.

Over time the idea has evolved, but there’s still not much to separate a racing bicycle of today with one built fifty or sixty years ago. That basic diamond shape remains, the geometry has been refined, iron swapped for steel swapped for aluminium swapped for carbon fibre, the wheelspan lengthened, then shortened, more and more gears added. Electronic gear shifting has only just arrived, and this latest fad doesn’t seem like the vital technological advancement its manufacturers would like us to believe. The pace of the bicycles’ evolution has been a slow one; the original design has proved resilient to improvements.

Yet that hasn’t stopped designers trying. As cycling becomes a ‘culture’ and a totem for a new utopian way of living, so it has been deemed necessary to tinker with an invention almost perfected from its inception. It’s tough trying to re-invent the wheel, as these efforts below prove. Any designer aspiring to cement their legacy through bicycle design would do well to note the absence of Pierre Michaux’s name from the history books. Read the rest of this entry »

No doubt you’ve all now started your winter training programs in preparation for next year. And if you haven’t, then now is the time to start fretting. The new season is mere months away after all.

As you all know, I aim to race like a pro. But I also aim to train like a pro too. This week I’ve already done forty hours low intensity on the bike, done a few core strength sessions in the gym, challenged the public to a race on a static race bike as part of a crass publicity stunt to placate the demands of my sponsors, and kept up with my schedule of clenbuterol micro-dosing. As you can imagine it’s tricky to juggle all this with the demands of being a successful blogger (I use the word ‘successful’ in the loosest possible terms, i.e. not at all).

However, club mate, rival and generally faster cyclist than me, Jim Ley, disagrees with my approach. He trains a mere 45 minutes a week (or something) and is still showing us all a clean pair of heals on the Sunday club run. I resolutely refuse to follow any training advice he has to offer – if it hasn’t been tried and tested by generations of professional cyclists and passed down through the years by folklore and Shamanism, then I really don’t want to know – but I’ve reproduced a recent blog post of his below. Some of you amateurs might find it useful.

Why train like a pro?

Everyone seems to want to train like professionals, they look at the professional rider and try to imitate what they do in their own training. Many of the coaches that train professional athletes develop reputations based on their subjects performances and success; this reputation is then harnessed to sell their experiences and insights to the public into how the pros train. But few amateurs can train like pros for many different reasons, so why do so many want to? Read the rest of this entry »

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