Archives for the month of: January, 2011

The Ride Journal is a lovingly – and beautifully – produced magazine that celebrates cycling in all its many incarnations. From pros to postmen, the magazine captures the personal stories of anyone who has found their lives touched by the bicycle – whether road or cross, mountain or track, or any other shape or form. If it’s about bikes or cycling then you’ll find it in The Ride, and the editor Philip Diprose (who started the journal with his brother Andrew) is more familiar than most with our broad church…

Give us a brief account of your cycling background. Excluding childrens bikes my real cycling background began when Andrew (my brother and the art director of the journal) and I started mountain biking in the late eighties. I was a mid-teen at the time and it made me realise that my hatred and inability to play ball sports didn’t mean I was useless and that exercise could be fun. Once the nineties began I raced XC, and did my bit to make the faster riders look even faster. Someone needs to fill the ranks and keep the mid-pack chugging along. Through years of mountain biking I moved from fully rigid bikes to full-suspension and back to hardtails. Gears to singlespeed and now bikes with both. A brief dally with BMX had me sitting in A&E after breaking my nose and almost putting my teeth though my lip on a bad landing down in Brixton. Commuting on the mountain bike lead to a singlespeed road bike, which lead to a fixed gear then a geared road bike and a CX bike (I’m sure you can see a theme emerging here). I was quite late to the road side of things and it was only last year that I had a proper road frame built for me. And later this year I’m finally getting to take it to the Alps. Read the rest of this entry »

1. Guiseppe’s father was the first in Campagnolo’s small Vicenza factory to perfect the shape of this precise component on a manual lathe. When he retired after spending forty years working for the company, Guiseppe took over where his father left off. His sister Silvia also works in the factory, delicately knitting carbon fibre for the construction of seatposts, and his aunt Gabriella owns the local cafe where the factory workers stop en route in the morning for their daily espressos. Guiseppe’s son is called Tullio after company founder Tullio Campagnolo. Read the rest of this entry »

…January really doesn’t seem to be a good month to start the year with (it’s mid-winter, cold, dark and there’s not much pro racing to follow) and if to reinforce the point, cyclists seem to be baring the brunt of it. A couple of weeks ago the whole of London seemed to be caught out by an unexpected overnight frost which saw many aborted club runs, though obviously not before many had slipped and crashed on the icy ungritted roads. Many have had to put up with dozy drivers, still seemingly in the midst of their winter hibernation. I’ve come a cropper on one of the many new and gaping potholes that have sprung up all over the place. And the first race of the year the Tour Down Under has also seen its fair share of crashes, with Mark Cavendish (above) being one of the race’s losers so far. But on a sader note, this week has seen the deaths of two young riders: Carla Swart had recently signed with HTC, and Lewis Balyckyi was a member of the British Cycling Talent Team. Both were killed whilst out training on the roads. So be careful out there everyone…

…as mentioned earlier this week, the London Women’s Cycle Racing League has announced its 2011 race calendar. It’s a great initiative that supports women’s racing around London and the south east. They’ll be organising a series of informal rides for any women who are interested in racing and would like to give it a try. Contact the league for more info…

…it almost pains me to include this, but Rapha are holding another of their infamous sample sales next week (28-30th January) in London’s Spitalfields. I’ve picked up some great bargains in the past, so I’m hoping you all do the recent thing and wait for me to visit before going ahead and snapping up all the decent gear. More info here

…in case you missed it, the Real Peloton podcasts are back again after an intermittent winter of broadcasting. Matt Rendell and Ned Boulting are still communicating via unreliable technology (Matt is currently in Columbia, the country he made his second home after writing about its national cycling heroes in his book Kings of the Mountains) which makes for some frustrating listening as telephone lines are dropped and wires become crossed. Hopefully normal service will resume shortly…

Photograph Sarah Reed, Adelaide Advertiser

Turbo training is like penance for the racing cyclist, paying the price of boredom and tedium during the winter in order to be fighting fit when the summer season comes around. Fortunately for us David McQuillen – fed up with staring at the wall or listening to some hyped up fitness instructor – began creating the Sufferfest workout videos when training for an epic ride across Tibet and Nepal. Combining real race footage with a motivational soundtrack, it’s the best – if not the most painful – way to get through those winter turbo hours…

Give us a brief account of your cycling background. I started riding when I was 16. At first to get to the ice cream shop down the road. Which sort of defeated the purpose. But then my brother and I got into junior racing. Since then I’ve raced a bit, toured a bit, crossed Tibet on my bike, done cyclosportives in Europe and now ride road and mountain bike. And I commute by bike to work and back everyday.

I believe you now live in Singapore – what’s the cycling like out there? I moved here from Switzerland, which is probably as close as you can get to cycling paradise. I figured when I moved to Singapore, which is only tiny and has more than five million people in it, that I’d have to give up my bike. But since getting here, I’ve found an incredibly passionate, vibrant cycling scene that rivals any place on earth. It’s incredible. If you look out your window here at six o’clock on a weekend morning, you’d think the country was run by cyclists.

If you were to play a cyclist in the film of their life, who would it be and why? Who was the guy who got all the girls, drank and partied lots and won everything? I’ll be him.

What’s been your greatest achievement on a bike? Several years ago, I rode my bike from Lhasa, Tibet to Kathmandu, Nepal with a friend to raise money to fight illiteracy. That was a brutal ride, and the day we rode up to Mt. Everest base camp was the single hardest thing I’ve ever, ever done physically. It was brutal. I’m very proud of what we accomplished on that trip.

Power meter, heart rate monitor or perceived effort? I don’t care how you measure it, you should be suffering.

Read the rest of this entry »

The hot topic recently, lighting up blogs and fuelling the ping pong of Twitter debates, has been the inequalities endemic in cycling. The hand wringing, the scratching of heads, the unfathomable truths; how can it be that female riders are paid so little compared to men, why is women’s cycling practically ignored by the mainstream media? What can be done to correct these injustices? How do we move towards a fairer sporting world where everyone can live in harmony and draw a decent living wage from professionally pursuing their calling in the services of the great God of Sport?

No money, mo’ problems

Men’s professional cycling has been around for quite some time – the culture, folklore, infrastructure, fan base all well established. And yet it remains a minority sport in pretty much every country in the world except for maybe a couple of northern European exceptions. Only a handful of men, in an extraordinarily competitive and poorly rewarded profession, make a truly comfortable living, and even less end their career in the knowledge that their financial future is secure. Many teams – aside from the likes of Sky and Katusha – struggle for funding, many smaller races fight for their existence in the face of backers withdrawing funding.

And it is with this backdrop that we have calls for parity with men’s and women’s cycling – more money, more airtime, more column inches. It’s a noble aim, but with even the men’s sport poorly funded in all but the highest stratospheres, is it really feasible? Read the rest of this entry »

Cycling is not just a sport, but for its participants (and some of those don’t even participate very often) it’s a whole lifestyle too. A lifestyle primarily modelled upon a fictional vision of continental café culture and what it means to be a Euro Pro; perfecting sartorial elegance whilst in the saddle, training at speeds slow enough in order to check your look in shop windows, and supping espressos with your riding chums in a sleepy village piazza.

Unfortunately our aspirations rarely match up to the reality; drinking coffees from Costa in the grey drizzle of Croydon town centre with portly gentlemen in lycra is hardly living the dream.

You can’t do much about the drizzle or unglamorous riding companions, but fortunately it is possible for you, with a bit of effort, to recreate that authentic Euro coffee experience. The Kingston Wheeler’s own gourmet and coffee aficionado Richard ‘Zorro’ Walden (a man regularly spotted commuting to work in full white Italian national champions kit – credentials that speak for themself) guides you through the process…

The gold standard

Cycling and coffee go hand in hand like, well, cycling and coffee. Whether it’s the double espresso buzz before your training ride or a social cappuccino while kicking back with fellow club mates, coffee is the perfect accompaniment to any kind of ride.

But do cyclists really take their coffee seriously enough? The proliferation of high street chains marketing themselves as ‘coffee experts’ or ‘authentically Italian’, but then utilising lazy and slapdash methods has created a very low bar for the general public’s perception of how good coffee should be prepared and more importantly, how it should taste. In reality they are miles away from delivering you the equivalent of a hand crafted Colnago in a cup. Read the rest of this entry »

So you like cycling. That’s cool. What’s your job? I’ve seen you riding to work a few times in the morning, or at least the days when it’s not raining. I pass you on the way into town – I think you’re headed towards Soho. You’ve probably noticed me too, right? I’m guessing you do something creative because you obviously start at half nine, or around ten – probably in a studio or someplace cool where you work on Macs with large monitors and all the guys have beards and wear skinny jeans. I’m not saying you’re a hipster – you ride a Colnago for Chrissakes! – but maybe you keep a fixie at home and you ride that the days I don’t pass you on High Street Ken?  Of course I wouldn’t know that sort of stuff ‘cos it’s not like I’ve been following you or anything (although I’ve maybe considered it).

Was that guy your boyfriend? The one I saw you riding with a few times back in the summer? He kept waiting for you at the traffic lights and rode around you like some patronising prick as if you don’t know how to ride a bike. Maybe he’s just a work colleague you bumped into on the way into town, or maybe just some guy you know? But I haven’t seen you with him for a while. Maybe you dumped him? He rode some crappy Trek anyhow, and he wore those dorky jerseys like the ones you get from Evans in the sale.

Are you on Strava, or Garmin Connect? I noticed you have a Garmin so I bet you probably are. Maybe I could check out what riding you’ve been doing? I wonder how quick you go up Box Hill. You could check out my rides too, though my times are pretty slow this time of year. Just doing base miles over winter – obviously I’d be going much faster in the summer.

Are they Oakley glasses? They’re cool. In fact you have some nice cycling kit, and I notice you wear a lot of Rapha. Their stuff looks particularly good on girls, but you don’t see much of it around. Everyone seems to think it’s mandatory to wear those naff sweaty hi-viz jackets like it’s the law or something. So unflattering. I guess you get hit on by a lot by guys riding to work – you look totally hot in lycra.

Do you race? I’m only asking because I think you’d be pretty good. Sometimes I get out of breath catching up with you, then have to rest a bit before overtaking. I’m not saying I have a hard time getting past you or anything, but then again I’m a pretty good racer myself and it’s only natural that I’d be quicker than you. What I mean is you’re pretty quick for a girl and that. You should give racing a go if you don’t already. I could give you some coaching tips, write you a training plan or something?

Are you sure you haven’t noticed me? I passed you once whilst drafting a moped, must have been going 45kph at least. I didn’t look, and you didn’t say anything, but I could tell you were impressed. Ok, I don’t wear Rapha everyday, and sometimes some of my kit doesn’t match (I got rid of those crusty old cycling shoes by the way, and my new Mavic ones are white and really smart). I write this really cool cycling blog too, you might have seen it? I guess you’ve probably been plucking up the courage to speak to me too. Next time I’ll wave or something, maybe even compliment your Colnago at the traffic lights. So, yeah, I might see you Monday morning – if it’s not raining.

Photography from the Rapha Womenswear range

At this time of year it’s particularly important to choose your riding companions carefully. Those long steady winter miles tend to drag when your ears are being chewed off by someone reliving in the tiniest detail every race of the previous twelve months. It’s like spending too much time with an elderly relative over Christmas who reminisces over the same few anecdotes over and over again.

And so it is with your club mate who would have made the winning break if only they hadn’t dropped their chain at the crucial moment, or sprinted to victory if they hadn’t befallen the misfortune of pulling their shoe from the pedal. Those pesky worn cleats! Or stormed through the Etape if only for an ill-timed mechanical, or befalling the unfortunate effects of the local cuisine, or choosing the wrong gearing, or, or… A full year’s worth of could-have-beens and should-have-beens is just waiting to be endured – I for one can’t wait for the new season so these tales of regret can be put to bed for another year. Read the rest of this entry »

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