Archives for category: idle thoughts

Photography from Rapha women’s collection

Hi ‘In the Saddle’,

A friend of mine kindly brought to my attention your blog post ‘To that roadie girl…’. Unfortunately I think it might be about me.

I do ride to work about that time, but I’m not one of those hipster types working in some digital agency or design studio pushing little blobs of colour around a screen all day. I actually have a proper job, and I certainly don’t ride a fixie. In addition to my Colnago I have a Cervelo P2 with Dura Ace.

In fact it was guys like you who convinced me I’d be better off racing triathlon. You roadies are like Neanderthals, so unused to seeing girls riding bikes that you practically fall over your handlebars trying to impress and chat them up. And here’s a newsflash – giving someone the benefit of your infinite ‘cycling wisdom’ is not the effective seduction technique you seem to think it is. I don’t care what you think about my cadence, or what gear I should be in, or if my stem is too short or too high. Plus most of you lot are still ‘riding on feel’. I mean, come on! It’s 2011! Get a power meter, or at least a heart rate monitor – and please, learn to use it!

Tri guys are totally cool – they train hard and have focussed goals, and combine their sporting achievements with demanding careers. My boyfriend is a corporate lawyer and is one of the top triathletes in his age category, plus all the swimming and running he does gives him a really hot body. Triathlon guys aren’t stick thin wimps, obsessed with every ounce of food that passes their lips like a teenage girl. Pigeon-chested cyclists are really not my cup of tea. And if you thought I looked good in lycra, well you should see me in a swimming costume.

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A Kingston Wheeler’s prize giving from the early sixties. Obviously a more formal affair back then.

At the end of last season I was fortunate enough to win a trophy at my club’s annual prize giving. I can only assume it was a lean year. On the bus home at the end of the evening I realised that the cup was in fact older than I was. And after finding my way around the hotchpotch of engravings I discovered the first winner was some lad called T.C. Sharpe way back in 1957. It may have been this, and the sense of history and legacy it conjured, or the several pints I’d consumed in celebration, but a lump formed in my throat. I felt a little emotional.

A few years previously I turned up to one of the Kingston Wheelers‘ regular Sunday club runs. I’d blotted out my fears at being out of place on my cumbersome hybrid with its flat bars and triple chainring. My intimidation mounted as the car park used as the meeting point started to fill with an cornucopia of expensive looking equipment. As the various groups filed out onto the road I latched on to the one billed as the slowest. No one laughed at my helmet with its attached visor, or my slightly baggy jersey, or my ugly commuter’s bike with its comfy padded saddle, and within the space of a morning and a few hills in the Surrey countryside I was ready to sign up and become a member.

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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 »

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

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 »

Earlier this week, The Telegraph published a report that showed that, not only was cycling on the increase, but that sales of high-end bikes in particular were on the up. To investigate further, the newspaper made the most of their journalistic talents and ‘bulging contacts book’, and approached a leading retailer of expensive racing bicycles – Halfords.

A spokesmen for the retailer confirmed the trend: “Its limited edition Carrera TDF bike, featuring a lightweight compact aluminium frame and 16 gears, sold out during the Tour De France tournament.” Aluminium frames, 16 gears, tournaments – our sport has an exciting future. I, for one, can’t wait to ditch my archaic carbon steed for something a bit more ‘high-tech’.

So just who are all the people buying these ‘premium’ bicycles? I ran the numbers from the Mintel research through the super computer I keep in my spare room and its sophisticated profiling software. After a couple of days of disgruntled whirring and reams of magnetic tape, this is the analysis it reluctantly churned out:

I think that just about sums things up.

On Saturday the young Garmin rider Dan Martin – son of ex British pro Neil Martin, nephew of past Tour de France winner, Giro winner and World Champion Stephen Roche, and cousin of current Irish national champion and team leader of AG2R in this year’s Tour Nicholas Roche – won the Tour of Poland. And with a pedigree like that it’s not really surprising, is it?

Dan Martin is popping with raw natural talent and a formidable power to weight ratio. So far his form has been slightly erratic, but some impressive performances have marked him out as a young rider to watch. His rise into the professional ranks and to the top of the sport seems like a formality considering his inherited cycling genes. Read the rest of this entry »

That’s me above, on my fourth birthday. That was my present. I don’t think I’ve ever regarded as fondly any bike I’ve had since. In fact any I’ll own in the future either. Not even a whizz-bang carbon thing or a sophisticated titanium affair or any of that other stuff.

I  met a chap at university who had never learnt to ride a bike. I was aghast. It seems unimaginable that riding a bike can be absent from a persons childhood; at times it seems that’s all me and friends ever did. At first we were allowed up to the cobblestones at the end of our street, but no further. But then it became the park, and beyond. We whizzed around in our little gang, exploring the nooks and crannies of the small world around us.

Not much has changed, even as grown ups we want to roam the countryside, be the first up the hill, to find new roads to ride. Only we stop for tea and cake, and our bikes now cost more than our pocket money could ever afford.

They say you never forget your first love – do you remember yours?