Sunday, 27 June 2010

Thor brings out the big hammer

Thor Hushovd wins Norwegian National Road Championships
27-Jun-2010: Thor Hushovd has won the Norwegian National Road Championships. There was break of nine, then with 60 km Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen made the counter attack and took the 9 riders one by one. Hushovd dropped Boasson Hagen with 30 km to go, and took the last rider Christer Rake (Joker Bianchi), in the final and won the race solo.

“I am really happy with this. It is my first win of what has been a very difficult season so far. I actually forgot how nice it is to win,” said Hushovd after the race. “I’ve had to wait some years before winning this race again, and now I look forward to wearing the national jersey in the Tour de France.” 

1. Thor Hushovd - Cervélo TestTeam 5.09.00 
2. Christer Rake - Joker Bianchi + 0.04 
3. Roy Hegreberg -  Sparebanken Vest – Ridley + 0.39

Great news. Really pleased for Cervelo, they've had a great weekend across the mens & womens Teams. Might not be much White & Grey on show over the next couple of weeks. I think that with Thor winning the National jersey is a great indicator for the Green Jersey come July. 

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Cervelo BTP2 - #03 pt 2 - TOUR OF CALIFORNIA 2010

Check out this video on YouTube:

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Haussler, Lloyd and the story of three beers

When this news came through the other day I found it had mixed blessings.  I was gutted for Haussler as he's had a season so far plauged with niggling little injuries that kept him out of the Classics, and now the Tour. For me his stage win last year was the hi-light of the whole Tour. It was full of drama, passion and excitement. 

So Hausslers loss is Dan Lloyds gain. I always try to say hello to Dan whenever I am at a race, and gracefully he always has some words for your over exciteable writter. Like many of you I've followed Dans story over the years & frankly it'd make a good book someday. I admire him that he manages to be a top level professional bike rider, father and has still somehow managed to stay a normal bloke. 

He was (Lloyd) sitting in a bar meeting up with friends (Dan seems to have a real high quality of friend as well). One of his friends happened to mention to my that Dan said 'better stop here (at three pints) as I'm a reserve for the Tour'. Little could he have known that a few days later he'd get the call up. 

I can't help but wishing Dan all the best, and I hope he makes it through to Paris. Chapeau Dan. 

Haussler's knee keeps him out of Tour de France 2010
25-Jun-2010 - Basel: Cervélo TestTeam’s Heinrich Haussler, stage winner of the Tour de France 2009, will not be participating in this year’s Tour due to further knee problems. The 26-year-old rider has been plagued by knee problems since a crash in the Volta a Algarve this spring. Despite taking time for recovery, knee problems continued after crashes at Paris-Nice and most recently at the Tour de Suisse. 

“Heinrich’s knee pain came back during the Tour de Suisse,” said team doctor Andreas Goesele. “He did not finish that race in order to have some days off the bike. He felt better and everything seemed to be improving as he prepared for the Tour de France. But in the last few days the pain has come back again more intensely than before and so it was obvious to us, he could not race. Now we will operate and do arthroscopic surgery on him next week and after that he will start rehabilitation. We will then have to wait until after the operation before making any further statements regarding his plans for the remainder of the season.”

“It is a pity that I cannot compete in the Tour de France this year. I am well aware that for a Tour de France you must to be 100% healthy. Though my season so far has not been under a good star, I will not give up. I hold my head high looking ahead to my next goals. I am young and will get my chance again,” said Heinrich Haussler. “My focus is now on the recovery process and we will decide later when I can make my comeback. The health has first priority and I want to be 100% fit before I return on the start line.” 

For Heinrich Haussler, Daniel Lloyd (GBR) will complete the 2010 Tour de France roster of the Cervélo TestTeam.

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The Weather…

This weeks weather has been nothing short of stunning. It started off a little cooler in the week & the temperature dial has slowly been turned up day by day. Currently it's around 7am & well the Met office says it all.

Today looks like being a little cooler than yesterday when it hit 30'c.

I managed to do some se7en hours riding in three days this week. Massage, a bit of stretching seems to have helped with the back pain. A couple more weeks of the same should certainly help.

Ok, it's time to get up for a quick spin and enjoy the day before it gets too hot. Ciao.

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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Teething Problems

So I'm having a few issues getting it all to work, but I will persit with it if only to use the post from email option. I think it's a great way to post when busy and on the move. So hang in there readers, I'll get it sorted but I'm no tech geek.

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Bloggers Super Site

Many of of like to blog & post our thoughts up on their own site. Today I thought it'd be cool to have a Super site. Instead of just posting on forums people of a like mind could get together when they had the chance to pop something on.

We've seen print magazines like The Ride do this with great effect. I think it'd be pretty cool to have something like it. No egos no agendas just bikes & the world surrounding it.

Now what to call it? Maybe a note from my friends at C3 Products: Bikes, Beers & Blogs

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The new GOLF

The new GOLF

Cycling has been described as the 'New Golf', I'll explain why and who I think has some responsibility for this rise.

What do I mean that cycling is the 'New Golf', well in part it is the acceptance of the sport by different social and economic groups. Road cycling had always had it's routes in the working classes (with I am sure the lower middle classes being caught in this group), take a look at the winners list of any major race and you'll find the riders ambition is fuelled by the need to better ones self, much in the same way boxing does in the USA & UK. It could be argued that a childhood of hardship of have have nots provide a deep rooted motivation to be better than where you are now. Of course there are riders through history which will buck this theory, but just as us the case in Boxing it rings true.

So the sports once reserved for the prolartaria are now open to all. But it is not racing at the PRO Tour level where the 'Golf Cyclist' term has found ressinance but at a domestic one. Sportives and Domestic racing has seen the multi thousand pound bikes common place as first bikes & bikes being transported in Flash cars and not in the back of some well used Ford.

I think many riders main objection is what I'd call the 'Chelsa Approach' and buying tech, experience and knowledge without going through the hoops to get to the end result. I think it is the removal of the hard knocks, earning your spurs approach that can agrieve many as the 'Green mentallity' of knowledge bought & not experienced is at the root.

Clothing wise there are a couple of sources which must stick there hands up as a responsible influence on the draw to this new Sport for the Upper classes. Rapha with it's clever marketing & simple designs led the charge. Creating a mood which made the sport look glamouress & sexy it helped push the sport into new sectors. Not being afraid to embrace new channels of media they have captured hearts and minds.

Garmin, when it changed it's kit to use arygle seems to have again captured a new sense of style. With arygle being incredibly popular with Golfers the link is there and very tangiable. Also the strong anti doping stance is attractive to people coming fresh into the sport as they do not have the baggage of the European system.

Lance Armstrong can not be left out of the equation. Nikes connection with high profile sports stars raises awareness across all sectors. So important to Nike is the cycle market that they continue to sponsor athletes while no longer manufacturing goods. Maybe the attraction of a multiple winner of the race with greatest media exposure, coupled with his story of triumph over cancer is no doubt an inspiration for many.

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The Hurt Locker

I woke up Friday morning and the dull pain that has been with me on and off for over 15 years was back, yes my back had gone again. It's been like having a persistant bully working on you trying to beat the human spirit that lays within all of us. The root of my pain comes from a RTA I was involved in all those years ago. I was on a bicycle he was in a car (no license and uninsured!!), my right of way but he smashed into me. It really was a moment went I actually thought I would be dead, and when I woke up 20 feet down the road in one piece and (seemingly) Ok I counted my blessings.

There are lots of these dotted all over Flanders, I find them strangely calming.

I used to be a lot fitter then, rarely taking the tube in London and making most journeys by bike. So for many years after my accident I never had any issues. Then one day I had the worst spasm to date, which was also slightly embarassing. I was getting changed after my commute to work (around 15-17 miles) and I was taking my tights off, lifting my leg up my back went into a painful spasm and I hit the floor like a sack of spuds. I couldn't move for ages and must have been there for 15-20 minutes. I wife came and collected me, I was a grumpy mess.

 This has no cycling reference, I just like butterflies, amazing things.

So I needed to get fixed as I refused to let this beat me. Many times in my life I have been told you'll never do this or that again and I didn't want to walk down that corridor again, but that's a different story. I had been to the Osteopath before and had some great pain relief and made progress enough to actually not be in constant pain. This time I thought I'd try a Chiropractor and ended up going to see some good people on the recommendation of an Australian massage therapist friend of mine. X-rays where taken and a when they sat down with me they struggled to see how I should be able to ride at all. My spine was not straight! It resembled a piece of cooked spaghetti as both my lower and upper vertabrae had compressions on either side which was twisting and pulling on me.

I think the process took around 10 weeks in total, and cost me loads of money. I was off the bike for around six of those weeks, which as it was coming into Spring was a pain and thr frustration of missing one of my favourite seasons was hard. Since that period of getting fixed it has flared up again, but thankfully I know how to ease the pain. This involves some stretching, massage (with oils), core stability work, painkillers and riding the bike. Ironically one of the things that can set it off is lack of fitness. My body needs the pain and the hurt locker of exercise to stop the pain that can come by being unfit, it does seem perverse.

That's one of the things I love about PRO riders is that they go out to train in all weathers. They look like normal people but they seem to have an extra few ounces of grit & determination comapred to us meer mortals.

So why has it flared up again and so badly, well these where my thoughts at 5:30 this morning. I think it's a combination of things as if it was one or two they wouldn't bother me and I would continue in my normal world. Lack of riding and core work, this makes my body soft and doesn't give me the strong muscles I need to support the skeletal system. This leads onto the next one, I'm too heavy at the moment. I've found shifting the weight that Swine Flu added (post illness and no exercise, not during) to be tough, due in part to not training (it's a viscious circle) and this does not help. Finally the last contributing factor is 4 plane flights in 5 days in the last 10 days or so. Being 190cm of 6ft3" planes are cramped unless you can afford the expensive ticket, but normally it's not an issue.

So the recovery process needs to begin. Stretching, massage, core work and riding the bike. It'll take as long as it takes, and God willing, it might be only a few days. I don't want this piece to sound as a big downer as I am generally upbeat about it. Unlike many people when they are ill or in pain I am in the position to know what is wrong with me, and on a whole know how to deal with it. Having this issue has given me an extended reason to be happy as it makes me appreciate the days with no pain, and as a father of three boys I need my body to work as they are active and enjoy the outdoors. I suppose what I am trying to say is 'don't take for granted what you have got' as my fitness was robbed from me by somebody who should not have been driving at all. Maybe I need to do something crazy again soon, and I'm not a one for causes (another story) but maybe I need to raise some cash for victims of bicycle related car accidents, any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

So enjoy your ride today it's a great day out there, and in the words of Faithless 'This is my Church, this is where I heal my hurts' and I'll enjoy mine again once I can get back on a bike.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Tour de Suisse - stage 7

I wish we could readly get good coverage like this in the UK. I've had the opportunity to ride in Switzerland only the once (so far) and I found it to be excellent having a lovely mix of France and Italy about it. It's been a good Tour for the BMC crew, which I am sure comes as a welcome relief to all of the other headlines they made a couple of months ago. And yes for those keen listeners out there the co-commentator is a certain Johan Museeuw.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Cane Creek, Angle Set

This product has been designed around suspension bikes to adjust and tweek the angle to make sure that you get the exact ride dialed in. This got me thinking, could the same process be applied to road bikes?

So often Teams are required to make slight changesd to stock bikes for certain races, normally those that feature in the Northern Classics, where altering the wheel base has a massive effect on the handling of the bikes. Typically these days it is made possible by lengthing the fork blades and adjusting the trail on the dropout to give a slightly longer feel to the bike. A similar proccedure is carried out in the rear. Another possible application is in the use on TT bikes where a Team mechanic could adjust the head angle to suit the rider or course.

So what does this mean for the rest of us. Well I think potentially there are some interesting advantages. One being choice, many times a manufacturer will choose a head angle, and you may or may not like it, too twitchy, too laid back, but with this headset you should (theorectically) be able to change the handling of the bike. This also opens up a host of fitting options for the consumer. Where a steeper head angle may not suit a Sportive rider this adjustment opens up te performance of a high end frame but with angles that would be more long distance friendly. Not being an engineer these are my thoughts rather than a sound tried and tested approach, but it'll be interesting to see if they are employed anywhere in a pelotoin near you.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A Weekend with Sportful

Seven months working for C3 Products, UK distributor of Sportful, it's no time at all..... I would compare those 7 months to the first season of a neo pro, you're still figuring things out, everything is new, everything exciting. Like every job it has its good days and not so good.

But for one memory packed weekend in May, it was spectacular and for that reason I’d like to share a few highlights, with you. A weekend in Fonzaso, Italy, home of Sportful.

Fast forward to the moment when I get handed my kit bag, its waiting in the hotel room, my name attached (that's pretty PRO in my books - Rich). Like the first training camp of the season, I find myself in the enviable position of being issued with a full set of Saxo Bank kit, we’re talking gillet through to track mitts!! Lack of ability, somewhat quashed childhood dreams of being the next Maurizio Fondriest but I can assure you, at that precise moment I felt like I’d just signed a contract with Bjarne Riis!

Fast forward to the first espresso, a mere 20km into the bike ride and we’re stopping for coffee, this is Italy and who am I to argue. The sun is out, everyone is in good spirits. Steve Smith (Sportful brand manager), a man who can recall all the names in the pro peloton, translates the Gazzetta, it sure makes up for not reading Cyclingnews that morning! 

Photo above - Wanabe Saxo Bank Pro with Steve Smith (Sportful Brand Manager)

Fast forward to the moment when I’m riding one of my favorite climbs, the Monte Grappa. A climb that has the perfect ingredients, the perfect blend of gradients, tunnels, sweeping bends and incredible views. But its not the geographical features of this climb that make it special this morning. Complete contentment, sore legs aside, I was perfectly happy to be there. Who’d have thought you’d have to go up a mountain to find that?

Photo above - The Monte Grappa - is that not the most perfect piece of road?

Fast forward to the Zonchalon, close to 7hrs have passed since we left the coach, a roadside lunch has been consumed, laughs have been had, hawds of cycling fans have passed. The wall which was comfortable only a few hours ago is killing us, shifting to find a position thats comfortable, when we know there isn’t one. The rotor blades of the helicopters are getting louder, the noise of the crowd below is audible. The front group passes, Basso, Evans, Scarponi!!! Not a single rider goes by without some kind of encouragement. Then all of a sudden Neil (C3 Products boss) spots Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo) the people around us think we’re crazy, our shouts of encouragement to Basso and Evans were subdued in comparison! Despite the steep gradient, Dan is seated, upper body motionless, as he shares the pace with Nicki Sorenson (Saxo Bank ). He is about to pass us, when he says, and I quote “....I’d love to stop and talk but I'm kinda busy...
I’m sorry but how good is that! To see your mate racing the Giro and the fact he takes the time out to say hello, on a 22% gradient!!! 

Photo Above - Cervelo Test Team Pro, Daniel Lloyd. Picture was taken on the Monte Grappa. Too busy to take a photo on the Zonchalon!

Fast forward to the Monday night, a day of checking out the summer 2011 Spring / Summer line has left us excited for next year but somewhat overloaded with information. We sit in a great big restaurant, surrounded by other distributors, friends of Sportful. Our Italian is poor but the encouragement and effort made by the employees of Sportful mean we’re not left out. Perhaps too much Prosecco has been consumed but I sit back from the conversation and pause for a moment. Imagine working for a company where the people are passionate about product, what they’re doing and most importantly cycling. Is every company in the bike industry like this?

A Special thanks to Mike Cotty for the photos - much appreciated mate! (If you were going for a bike ride with Mike Cotty, wouldn't you want every reason and excuse to slow the guy down?)