Archives for category: random

Introducing a new, possibly regular (possibly not) series where I ask various cycling folk what they’re liking right now…

First up is illustrator and designer Richard Mitchelson whose distinctive work can often be seen in Rouleur Magazine, on jerseys from Milltag and on a very desirable collection of new mugs.

  1. Screen printing… every time I see it – such as this piece by illustrator Will Scobie – I know it would suit my own work. I love the results, even when they go slightly wrong and don’t match up properly.
  2. Cyclocross… I’m about to pick up my first ‘cross bike, a Cannondale CAADX 105 – nothing too crazy expensive or whiz bang, just a good quality bike that will do the job and something I can upgrade later. I’ve been drawn to ‘cross by the countryside in and around where I live in Sussex. The nature of the single track on the South Downs is perfect for Cross training, and I cant wait to get racing in the autumn. I’ve found myself looking out of the window on the train looking at fields in a new way, wondering whether they would be a good spot for training. Read the rest of this entry »

At the weekend we saw the spectacle of the world’s greatest one-day race, Paris-Roubaix – a sort of perverse celebration of France’s worst roads. Many sections are no more than crudely cobbled farm tracks, with only the strongest rides able to negotiate them with speed. Despite being one of the most highly prized addition to a rider’s palmarès, the race is equally revered and reviled by even the toughest men of the sport – Bernard Hinault called Paris-Roubaix “plain-stupid”. Many simply stay away completely.

Back on the roads of Surrey and racing has developed a whiff of the ‘Hell of the North’. Ordinarily, life in the bunch isn’t so tough; gliding along at a steady rhythm, being sucked along in the slipstream of the guys up front. But throw into the equation the wide deep potholes caused by our recent bitter winter, and the story changes. Any rider without a clear view of the road ahead encounters sudden obstacles – made no easier by the riders around them; the swerving, the evasive action, braking, hopping. The smooth shoal of the peloton becomes chaotic and staccato.

Positioning in the bunch has taken on a greater importance this season. You can expend far too much energy mid-bunch slowing, then accelerating, hitting holes with gritted teeth and crossed fingers. But there are gains to be made for those canny enough, either installing themselves firmly near the front, or for those even braver, taking their chances in a small breakaway group able to navigate through the obstacles at greater speed and fluidity.

In addition to the bone rattling, it feels as if money is literally being shaken out of my pockets. The pitted roads of Surrey have been gradually bumping my bike to pieces – spokes are loose, rims are crooked and bearings are shot. Just this last week potholes have claimed a bottle cage and my bike computer (its innards knocked loose and now rattling around inside). In some ways I’ve been let off lightly having raced so far without puncturing or having all my teeth shaken out of my head. Others have been less fortunate, as the long list of DNFs on each result sheet shows.

Let’s hope that as the winter disappears and the sun emerges, we’ll see some cleaning up of the roads this spring. I am definitely not made in the mould of Fabian Cancellara – my delicate body appreciates a bit of velvety smooth beneath its bottom.

EDIT The Tour of the Milbury’s has been cancelled due to poor road surfaces. Read the story on the British Cycling website here
EDIT 2 If you spot a pothole that needs repairing, register it on www.fillthathole.org.uk. Fingers crossed the relevant local council will get around to mending it. Eventually.

As has oft been kindly pointed out on club rides (or mocked – I’m not quite sure which), I’m quite partial to a bit of Rapha. So it is with some interest that I took a look at their new 2010 collection (it gives me some clue as to what items I’ll be able to afford when they make their way into the clearance section of the website in a year or so).

Paul Fournel wrote in his book ‘Need for the Bike’, “You have to know how to look good when you’re riding. You have to impress your adversary with your elegance. To look good is already to go fast.” Cycling is one area of life where the phrase ‘style over substance’ is made redundant.

However, for some reason Rapha seems to attract its fair share of critics and detractors. Surely it’s not the ‘premium’ price tags that are offensive? Or the irksome pretentious product descriptions? Or their forays into producing superfluous luxury accessories such as silk scarves and tool cases? The irrationality of ‘Rapha Haters’ is beyond me. All I know is that what’s good enough for Gary Kemp and Jake Gyllenhaal is good enough for me.

From the new 2010 range it is the Stowaway Jacket – in the pink ‘colourway’ (above) – that most piques my interest. A hitherto unexploited colour in the performance cycle wear market, anyone brave enough would certainly cut a dash at the Sunday club run.

It’s also worth studying closely the aspirational photoshoots for on- and off-the-bike styling cues. Riding with aviator sunglasses is definitely IN. As are long flowing locks, loose and tamed only by a cap with its peak inversed. OUT go helmets, Oakleys, and undertaking any rides that are neither ‘epic’ or not on beautiful sweeping roads of Sicily, Girona or other such continental cycling nirvanas.

Fear not, there’s no need to replicate such scenes on Col du Box Hill – Rapha now run luxury trips to more suitable poseur locations. They may be the only rides you can safely undertake without the fear of having your pink cycling jacket laughed at.

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