Monday, 27 September 2010

Deux Cols to Trois Cols

I've got to know Chris through Twitter (one of the riders in the film), and as yet we have not met, but I feel if we did I feel that we'd get on and have a few Belgian beers and go for a ride. In the process of chatting he told me about a ride he and some of his buddies did around this time last year.

They wanted it to have an Epic feel about it, while at the same time being rooted and not pretentious. Watch the video, it captures a great essence of what a great day in the saddle is all about. Last year it was a small group of friends, which for this year has been expanded to include a whole bunch of new riders.

Having watched the video I so wanted to be there this October to ride it. If after seeing this you'd like to join you'll have to wait next year as the entries are now closed. The more I see of the great riding in the States I'd love to take a month off and travel with the family.

The ride is run off at a sensible Fall pace, and it's not a Race, even a Gentleman's Race, but a true Epic Ride. Last year it was deux cols and this year trois. The ride itself will be around 88 miles or 142km, and will be a little more lumpy, but still an epic day out for guys with a little bit more round the middle.

I'm hoping that in the coming weeks I'll get chance to partake on a similar ride, a real end of year triumph, a celebration of everything from the change of seasons to Good Times with friends, old and new. I look forward to Chris's report back and if you want to know more I'll put you in touch. Chris tells me next year it'll be open to International invites, better start saving now!

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Sunday, 19 September 2010

Matti Breschel ... the moment

Was this the moment when Breschel decided to look for new oppoertunities outside Saxo Bank?

Sitting here today I am wondering if Saxo Bank will be a name mentioned in any of the cobbled Classics next year with Breschel off to Rabobank and Cancellara off to ......., well I'm unsure who will fill their tyre tracks at the moment. Riis has always been able to unearth talent where other DS's can only buy it. So will someone rise to replace them (O'Grady included), be interesting to see.

I find Breschel interesting, in some ways an enigma. That might be because the English speaking press at large don't interview him much. Because of that I don't really know where his racing passions lie (I've probably missed some big interview, if I have I apologise). I thought he was super strong in Flanders, as strong as Fabian, but unfortunately two bike changes, one being the wrong size was probably just too much.

The Northern Classics will be interesting next year as allies are now enemies (I say that loosely and tonuge in cheek) for next season. Rabobank (*) have failed to impress and struggle to get the best out of riders, look at Flecha. I hope this isn't the case for Matti as I'd really like to see him be an agressor in these races. Without have to play second fiddle to Fabian, it'll be interesting to see what he targets in the early season. I'd say Flanders suits him more than Roubaix, as of late unless you can ride away from your fellow riders.

as an ex-model I am hoping he can throw a little bit more style to that kit as it's been the same for ever, and frankly orange isn't a great colour on everyone.

(*) I find Rabobank really frustrating. They is something I really like about the Team and as of late they have failed to perform in recent years. Oscar gets them out of the shit plenty of times, but many of the other riders are just not present when it comes to the final selection. I really hope that with the new signings there comes some new direction and drive, oh yeah please update that kit, give the riders something cool to straighten out when they reach the finish line.

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Fabian Cancellara to leave Saxo Bank ....

.... well this is the current rumour hitting the peloton. He's acheived a lot under Riis and no doubt some of his victories would not have happended without his guiding hand. He's been at Saxo (CSC before it) for some time and so like many things all chapters require a full stop.

This will be chapter 5 for him. Chapter 1, none Pro. Chapter 2, Mapei. Chapter 3, Fasso and Chapter 4 the Riis years. So Fabian is off to ................................................. well, I can't tell you as yet but I do know. It will be a change for sure and I hope he's made the right decision. As soon as I get a Green light I'll tell you.

So after what has been a pretty exciting year in cycle racing, it looks like we are in for another really interesting year ahead. As the sport slowly becomes cleaner and in the UK appreciated on  a wider level, all is looking good.

p.s. don't ask me where he's going on Twitter, soon as I can say something it'll be on here.

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The Shock

In the UK the kids have (finally, my wife would say) gone back to school. I know my kids really enjoy the break but after about 4 weeks they are prety keen to get back, or that is how it seemed this holiday. I've wondered for a while is the current holiday allocation out moded. Part of my thoughts come in the form of a parent as trying to book holidays is a pain and the weather isn't as good as it used to be in August (rose tinted spectcles removed, honest). Maybe a more even spread acros the year with a big chunk at the Summer would be better.

So what has this all to do about cycling then. Well my eldest has moved up to Senior School, for those reading around the world he's 11, so please attribute this to your countries system. The move up to Senior School has meant a change in the time he needs to be at school, which is now 8 am! This means our households day is starting earlier than usual, which frankly, three weks in, is still a shocker. Ironically he's adjusted better than me.

So I lie here tapping away lacking the urgency to get up, even though the skies are blue and the heart is in it. Adjustment, to life, comes on many fronts and I just wanted to say to all other parents, it's okay it's the start of term for all of us. Now it's time to get up and greet the day.

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Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Long Way Home

It's been a long week, with Thurday and Friday seeing me depart in the dark of the Autumnal evenings, makine it feel like the nights are drawing in faster than they maybe are. Friday I decided to leave early, I left at five and what a difference a few hours make.

I wasn't expecting anything special from my ride home, except to surprise the kids and the Good Lady by actually seeing them at a resonable hour. Sometimes when you are not looking for something that is when it finds you, a ride filled with joy, questions and answers.

The weather was perfect, and this is the reason why this (and Spring) are my favourite times of the year to ride. Mother Nature is trying one final push to throw out some colour and varity before the dull months of Winter set in. There are lots of berries on the bushes, which normally means a harsh season ahead (spiked tyres anyone). The dark moody skies of the last few days had been replaced by glorious sunshine and the Met Office had got it slightly wrong on the forecast, result.

Like many people I use my ride home to unwind and leave work at work and it is also a time of reflection and lamentation for me. Many things crop into my head on the ride today's was the following.

  • My family are awesome. I'm so blessed to be involved in my kids lives. I've never really understood the Public School thing, pack them off at 8 and see you at 18. i've had friends who have been through that system and they definately think diferently about relationships and life. So with great joy I was told stories of their days at school. Theres no sound better to coming hime to a house full of laughter.
  • I had a ride home which lifted my spirits and reminded me firmly of why I work in the industry. A road I have travelled hundreds of times rose up to greet me in a new way yesterday. It greeted me as a friend and encouraged me to leave the problems and stresses of the week on each tuen or rise in the road. The baggage I'd had at the beginning of the ride was lost and I felt kilos lighter, not actually unfortunately (although I've had two people say I'm looking slimer this week). It's a great way to end the week, leaving work at work.
  • I also spent a fair chunk of time thinking about a Winter Bike, which is perverse since it was glorious weather yesterday! What I became blissfully aware of last year was that my curent Winter bike, although bombproof and reliable, was a beast and weighed too much, It's ironic as the kit on it is a mix of 10spd Ultegra old Dura Ace and old Kysrium Elites, so not heavy kit but the frame and fork, being a Surly is where the weight comes from. Thoughts of trying to save up for another frame kept cropping up and the internal debate of what I could/should buy came up. Currently I don't have the cash to throw at anything, so it will require some budget cuts to fuel the next purchase. I've planty of odds and sods of kit around to throw something together (I've got some Microshift shifters and deraileurs which I'd like to give a go), but the question buzzing around my head was what. 

My FELT F1 has become a firm friend and I realy enjoy riding it as a machine, no matter what wheels I've chucked at it. But I have wondered a lot about trying to get a cheap Z bike (or frame) as basically the geometry is the same (well the seat/head angle and top tube), although the rake of the fork is longer that's no bad thing as it will make the handling more stable over shit roads. I could switch the fork out for a F series one and get the same wheelbase. The higher front end provided by the Z series is no bad thing either as it would negate the use of some spaces. I'd like to try and get some regualr riding through the week in through Winter as three days provides me with 150 km in the bank which is all required if I am going to hit my objectives come the Spring and Summer.

So I hope you all manage to bag a ride this weekend, I'll be up and out early tomorrow. Today I'll say good bye to a friend as I don't know when I'll see him next as he's off to live in the States, So a day filled with joy and saddness, but they are important chapters in our life as they put full stops to periods and allow us to start a new adventure.


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Monday, 13 September 2010

The Tour of Britain 2010 – Gallery 2010

© Copyright Tour of Britain | 2004-2010 | All Rights Reserved | Brought to you by SweetSpot | contact | volunteer | web design and web development by positive

Maybe it's National Pride, or knowing a few of the people who work behind the scenes to make this happen but i have to doff my cap, shout 'Chapeau' as so far this has been a stunning race. In many ways the short one week Tours offer the closest experience to the Single Day Classics for Stage Racers. Already the jersey has changed hands three times and with Stage 4 tomorrow I'd be shocked if it doesn't change again as on paper it is the toughest day.

I'd like to say thanks to the SweetSpot team for all there hard work and for selecting the right mix of Teams. This, along with the course, is a super important thing to get right as it adds the right dynamics to the race. WIth Pro Tour Teams, Pro Continental, Continental and Domestic squads it gives all the roadside (and armchair) fans someone to shout for. Again, well done.

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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Cyclocross / DFL ~ USA

This is a great little Cross film showing that the sport isn't a minority like in the UK. It's closer to a passion thing as you'll experience in Belgium. Enjoy.

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Cyclocross and IF

There's lots of talk about cross at the moment, and while I'm no racer (even when I do) I love to ride a cross bike when I can. Why, well it combines the raw speed of the Road with the freedom of an MTB ride, which for me is the traffic free arena. Enjoy, I did. 

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Monday, 6 September 2010

John to leave the Velocast .....


I'm sorry I can't think of anything more witty to say but these are my first thoughts. I am truly gutted. In a world of American voices the Velocast came out of the wilderness from the country that brought  you the modern bicycle and it seems fit the best Podcast.

Maybe as an industry it's our fault as the old formats of advertizing are fading away as they fail to engage the readers and the smart money should move to the listeners. Maybe they are too ahead of their time as with some good solid advertizing behind them John and Scott could have added a pay check to their already full time status. All I know that is in life we have to make choices and I understand the challenges that have faced John.

What will Scott do. Well although I think that the interllectual banter, with a good mix of pub humour was a great mix between two people who clearly know each other well will be difficult to replecate, unless all of Scott's mates are like John! I hope he continues, but he will lose no respect of mine if he doesn't. Many people spend their whole life trying to do what he (and John) have acheived over the last 18 months, CHAPEAU (that's for Cycling Weekly, as they can't spell it)

Tonight feels like the ens of Seinfeld, or when the Tour finishes and you wonder what the hell you wil do tomorrow. I wish them both the best, and as the road rises up to greet them I hope it is a long and winding road filled with good memories and tales to be told.

I'd like to say thanks, they made me laugh, question the way I think and have kept me company on trips around the country and world, cheers Guys I owe you a beer.

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.... issues

I'm having a few issues with the site this morning and the Eurobike Part 4 isn't appearing on the front page. Heres the link - - enjoy



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Eurobike Part 4 . . . Canyon and Fi'zi:k Shoes

So this year I had less time for a general wander around the Halls than I'd have liked. This year twelve Halls where in operation plus a Central section in between either side plus additional space taken over by other big brands probably took the overall space used to 14-15 halls. With around 1100 companies showing their products Eurobike is massive and my feet know it today (Sunday), thankfully though they have been firmly rooted in my Birkenstocks which has pampered them all day long.

So Sram Electronic didn't come to light, and in regards to Road groupsets from them I saw nothing new. This is a shame as I think that the Red Group needs some refreshment, if only because the Force group is now so good you'd only really buy Red if you are Brewstered or a bit of a pimp (maybe both!). I'm hoping that the engineers are working on something special for the racing season next year and we can see the Pro's riding it then.

The Canyon bike was nice, but it'll hardly set the world on fire, well my world for sure. I thought it was nice but I can't see myself rushing out to part with some wonga to be on one. I think it's great that more companies are embracing the Aero Road Bike category as it makes more sense for most of the time. I think currently the Scott version looks the most attractive and I can see (when it gets released) that it will be as successful as the models that have gone before it.


One of the products of my show, and I say that as someone who didn't see all Halls or stands was the new Fi'zi:k shoe. My thoughts are thus on it, having spent 20 minutes listening to Steve Delacruz from Fi'zi:k explain it to me. The shoe upon first glance looks like a cross between an Italian dress shoe and a Sidi, for many no bad start. The weight in the hand is impressive with the R3 being the lighter shoe as the R1 is made out of the heavier Kangaroo skin. Having a shoe already (Lake CX401) in the bike closet made from this I can testify that you don't need mouldable uppers to achieve a perfect fit. The outsole of the shoe in many ways doffs it's cap to both Sidi and Lake who have always been at the forefront of multi stiffness in shoes. Sidi came very late to the market with a carbon sole, maybe 5-8 years in some cases because they wanted to control the stiffness and comfort in the key areas of the shoes. Lake have always had the same mindset, stiff around the cleat (read power area) and with some degree of flex (read comfort) around the arch. Both companies have always had shit hot heel support.

The Black R1, the Red R3 and the Womens R1 (the best looking shoe by far)

So the Fi'zi:k shoe uses smart design to acheive some key goals of stiffness, support and comfort. It does this by using three different types of material to create the right mix across the outsole. Carbon and poly urethene will be used. Carbon for stiffness in the sole and anchor points in the heel cup, with the softer material adding both comfort (outsole) and a degree of mouldability (heel cup). All shoes share the same sole so the differences between the R1 -R3 are small, kangaroo leather, carbon injection moulded pieces, and well that's about it.

The straps look funky and while on the black shoe look out of place with the retro air holes on the side of the shoe, in the white and red the straps really work. the white that you can see is a material that has come from sails and so is UV and weather proof, while being light and strong at the same time. It gives the shoe a look, without needing to have a lot of obvious branding on the shoe so it would still stand out in a crowded peloton. The big shame for me is that the R1 isn't (as yet) going to come in a White colour. Not that I'm all about the high end shoe, but having ridden a shoe with kangaroo leather it's super comfy, and I don't wear black road shoes.

From memory stack height is low at 11mm, not crazy low but a good height all the same. They will only come in a three bolt design and currently there are no plans to release a MTB shoe. Although I am sure if sales go through the roof that might change. Construction wise they are about some of the best cycling shoes I have seen, more skin to a quality set of brouges rather than a mass production sports shoe. The stiching is small and neat and the gap between the pieces is super tight. This all makes for a better fitting shoe but more importantly one that will resist small bits of grit working its way into the seams. Fit wise they look to be between the afore mentioned Sidi and Lake, which probably goes back to Delacruz's time as a tester for Lake, and as he's a serious bikey I'd be shocked if he's not had a pair of Sidi on his feet at some point. The prices aren't cheap but they really are a great looking pair of shoes and I hope from the interest created at Eurobike that they ride well. Fi'zi:k might just have a production problem on their hands if they do.

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Sunday, 5 September 2010

Eurobike 2010 ~ Part 3, Chris King & Cielo

Part three belongs to the good folks from Chris King. Having spent Saturday morning in meetings with suppliers I wanted to spend some time feeding the geek and enjoying bikes and the whole show from a bike riders persepective. I'd passed over the site a couple of days earlier but today I actually got chance to talk to Chris DiStefano and Jay Sycip. I've been a fan and user of Chris King headsets for a long time, and in my ideal world all of my bikes would have a King headset fitted, they truly are a fit and forget item. The bottom bracket looks stunning and Chris King are one of the few companies that manage to combine both the wow factor of a gem encrusted eternity ring, while providing the bomb proofness of a Toyota Hi-Lux. It is rare for any company to combine the two together and the name of Chris King has been built on this, and it is truly a set of products that deserve its legendary status.

Cielo is another line of bicycle frames built originally by Chris King himself and now with a key group of frame builders and fabricators. But if you want a Chris King built frame by the man himself you can get that also, just in a limited run and I am guessing for a few dollars more. The Cielo frames ended up being a real hi-light of the show. I'm no retro geek and for me a good frame is built around good design principals and not the tubing it's made from. We can get all hung up and concerned about lables on the seat tube. I've always liked the Steel builders who won't comment on the exact tubes they use, rather than focussing on that it is the ride that is the real thing to be making the fuss about. From what I can tell from talking with Chris (DiStefano) that this is at the core of what the frames are about. I asked the question, 'what about fitting a carbon fork', the reply from Chris was 'the bike has been designed with the fork to work in harmony together'. You may think that this would be a common place thing, but it isn't alwasys the case.

So after spending some serious time on the stand I'd really like to own one at some point. They look simple and in essence that is part of the charm. The lines are clean and timeless, and any real bike fan needs a bike like this. The toughest decison would be which one to have, the Cross bike has the biggest draw, but the Sportif is also a great looking machine.The frames aren't cheap but compared to other exclusive frames they seem to represent a good buy.

the last two galleries are full of images from the Cielo site, thanks for allowing me to use them as they convey the nature of riding they enjoying the area that they ride in.


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