Monday, 30 November 2009

24 Hours of Gent (or Ghent, if you prefer)

Part business part fun I've just spent 24 hours in Gent. In the 24 hours I managed to meet the new Belgian Prime minister, Johan Museeuw and catch some track riding at the six days.

It's difficult not to like Gent. As a University City it is brimming with life and energy that only those Towns and Cities have. The brush of the temporary residents against those who have lived there for generations creates a natural and harmonious relationship. It's a city of great food, beer, wine and shopping and lest we forget it's a CYCLING city.

It was my first trip to the 6 Days and in many ways it seems right that Gent should be the first one as it has a close ties with English speaking riders, especially those from the UK.

As part of the evening we had a formal dinner. Arriving in jeans we looked out of place in the world of stripped shirts and formal wear. Within a few minutes it is all forgotten as the subject naturally spreads onto cycling. I am keen to get track side and I find myself clock watching and hope that the service is quick so I can make a speedy exit. Unfortunately the service was slow (there must have been a couple of hundred people in there) but the food was excellent. Eventually I got track side at 10:30, although it felt like 7:30.

Our tickets where for section B and my seat 86 right opposite the finish line, I couldn't have wished for a better view. Upon ascending the stairs the first thing that hit me was the singing (a lady called Wendy), I'd come at a break point in the evenings entertainment and second was the heady smell of sausages cooking (everywhere!).

Having waited for what seemed an age (but was probably 15 minutes) the racing started again. The format is slightly different from a world cup event and at first was very alien to me. You can see how the racing was set up around betting as the multiple disciplines makes sense in that context but less so in the form of the Olympic version that we excel at. The derny racing was my favorite as I enjoyed the physical and motor aspect of it.

Gent Track is a tight beast and shares some of it's madness with Calshot near Southampton. Both are short tight steep banked mini tracks that look out of place in the modern era of longer less steeped beasts like Manchester.

Track viewing was interspersed with trips back to the bar for vital fluid replacement. My highlight of the evening was watching the my final derny race of the evening. These are monster 60 lap dogfights with the lead changing hands multiple times until the critical 20 laps to go point. Once this is in sight the action really hots up with both the pilot and rider knowing that a slip in concentration could cost them the race.

The 6 Day racing is a great event to attend, even with some rides being a little scripted. I'd recommend you to put it on your to do list as you should experience cyclings wide and colourful church.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

In response to Pave Blog

I thought I'd post the comment I left on Pave blogs site about his comment on Specialized: To see his excellent post go to

"Charisma Contador, I must of missed that do you have a YouTube link Josh?

My guess is that many at Specialized may be on one hand happy to get Contabore, but are equally unhappy to that he is linked with Astana again.

I agree with DanO. Once upon a time SBC was at the forefront of design and cutting edge. In the road scene they were early adopters of the Compact shape after Giant made it acceptable all those years ago (12 now). They managed that perfect balance by being a big player but also maintaining that hard to define 'cool factor'.

Sponsorship on one hand is about chasing results and seeing a return for your investment. It depends on whether this is a long term or short term goal. Investors can apply pressure to companies sometimes so they need a more immediate return. I have always seen SBC as being in for the long term, it maybe a case that they have got bored waiting. Feeling frustrated they have decided to back the current champion, and at the same time tackle their closest rivals for showroom space at the same time.

In making this move they may have enabled other smaller brands enter the minds of the riding public and take the place that used to be occupied by Specialized on the 'Cool Wall'."

More thoughts, since my post:

It'll be interesting to see what Specialized will reap from the Contadore arrangement. I doubt if he'll push the designers in the same way that Boonen et al did and help define a bike for the Big S. In the world of 'Cool' I am unsure how much a Tour winning bike translates into sales, I think the Lance effect on Trek was bigger than that. Lance, love or loath, has a personality and charisma that Alberto is missing. I was standing 6 feet away from at an airport recently, he lacks any of that real superstar aura that many great champions give off. For many people that is appealing, for me it's not a draw. Having met Merckx a few times, for me it's like meeting the Pope, but one who's a pretty cool and humble bloke (so maybe not like the Pope?, don't know)

My guess is that with both SRAM and Shimano trying to keep an eye on the public opinion of not being involved with dopers I suspect that we will see Astana and Contadore on Campag for next season. Wheels, unsure but we can be sure it's not Bontrager, Hed or Zipp.

For Quick Step the move to get Eddy Merckx bikes on board will be a good one. Recent project developments with Pinarello have resulted in a lighter bike with new advancements in carbon technology. Merckx bikes last big win was in 2002 when Johan Museeuw piloted a Scandium framed Merckx to his third, and arguably best Paris Roubaix win. I expect that the bikes will be stunning and that the Team will do well aboard there new rigs.

Monday, 16 November 2009


Hello Folks.
Sorry for not posting for nearly a month. Life has been, and continues to be busy, so I am unsure to how much I will get done before Christmas. Yes it's just around the corner and with less than 6 weeks to go many riders will no doubt be thinking what little bit of joy they can bring to their bike world.

There are some links on the side bar. Unlike many people I don't have a list a mile long. I tend to include peoples blogs I like. Whether it's the person, the writing or a combination of both I suggest you pay a visit to them.

For now this will have to do, but I'll be back with some proper ramblings soon. Oh and I have included this image from the Castelli site, it's a great iamge and he's using one of my current favourite products the Diluvio Gloves.