|Photo by Ken Conley|
Saturday, 28 February 2009
As the title of the book suggests Denson takes us on his journey from growing up in Chester and owning his first bike at the age of 12 through to riding for some of the very best riders in the world and back again to amateur competition after his retirement from the pro peloton.
Denson's first high profile contract saw him working for legendary classics rider Rik Van Looy on the Solo team earning himself a reputation as a gentle but hard working rider. Although Denson acknowledges Van Looy was indeed a fantastic rider it is fair to say he didn't think too highly of Van Looy as a person managing to leave the Solo Team after only one season to get himself a contract on the then biggest team of all Ford-France. Working as a super domestique for one of the all time greats Jacques Anquetil, Denson describes this period of his life as, 'the golden years'. What a team that was with Raphael Geminiani at the helm as directeur-sportif.
It was Denson's time spent working with both Van Looy and Antquetil that were of particular interest to me. Denson provides a rare insight into his relationship with these greats and their teams. An English journalist at the time wrote about Denson's role as super domestique for Anquetil saying:
"..being a super domestic was like being a valet....,'If you're going to be a valet, you may as well be a valet to the Duke of Norfolk.'"
As the term super domestique suggests Denson was no ordinary rider, victories included winning the Tour of Luxembourg as well as winning a stage of the Giro d'Italia. Denson is one of only 3 Brits to have a won in the Giro with the other 2 being Robert Millar and most recently Mark Cavendish.
The book also goes into some depth about the tragic death of Tom Simpson on that sweltering hot day on the high slopes of Mont Ventoux. In particular Denson describes the extensive period of mourning that followed the death of his good friend and the effects it had the the subsequent part of his career.
Denson is a truly honorable character with a genuine passion for cycling that, as far as I am aware, exists until today. The Full Cycle is his, very well articulated account of his remarkable life, a story I found both entertaining and insightful. Highly recommended!
The Full Cycle - Vin Denson costs £12.95 plus worldwide shipping and can be purchased from Urban Hunter.biz.
Friday, 27 February 2009
Thursday, 26 February 2009
My good friend Dan, the same friend who pointed out the bike shop from where I purchased my De Rosa Neo Primato, happens to be amongst other things, a photographer. One summer day he decided to travel down from Cambridge to do a spot of shopping and take a few snaps along the way. On returning home he emailed me saying something to the effect that he had taken a photo of a De Rosa bike exactly the same as mine. With the email came attached the photo. Upon opening it I instantly realised it was a photo of me on my bike on my way home. I thought maybe Dan was joking with me by not mentioning that he knew it was me. I emailed him back and told him it was me he had taken the photo of, obviously he was surprised. Of all the shots he had taken that day of various cyclists passing through central London he had managed to take one of me and email it over completely unawares.
That is pretty much the story, one of coincidence. London is a very big city but now and again things like this happen. Shortly after receiving the photo I decided to start writing my blog and there was of course only one contender for profile photo......
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
The race, started in 1933 and now entering the 67th edition (there was no Paris-Nice between 1940 and 1945) is organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) who are also responsible for organising the biggest stage race of them all, the Tour de France. The event has changed hands many times being previously organised by Tour de France winner Laurant Fignon before being passed to the ASO.
Recent winners of the race include Davide Rebellin in 2008 and Alberto Contador in 2007. The rider who has won this event more than anyone else is legendary Irish hardman Sean Kelly with a stunning 7 consecutive victories from 1982 through to 1988. The photo below shows Kelly crossing the finishing line in Nice in one of his earliest Paris-Nice victories either in 1982 or 1983 when he rode for the Sem-France Loire team.
Paris-Nice runs from 8th March to 15th March 2009.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
Monday, 23 February 2009
Sunday, 22 February 2009
On the way back to Dan's place we passed this very cool chopper bike although I don't think I be prepared to put in the effort needed to ride one. It's a bike for slow cruising that's for sure.
I started the morning with a run down to the River Trent to do some interval training in preparation for a 10k race I'm taking part in next Sunday. After the run training I headed home and grabbed some breakfast, then Betty and I headed out on our bikes for a gentle ride around South Nottinghamshire close to where my parents live in West Bridgford.
The plan was to ride out to Colston Bassett where we'd meet my parents for a pub lunch at The Martins Arms after which we'd carry on riding for a while.
First port of call was a visit to Colston Bassett's dairy factory shop in the hope of picking up some of my favourite Blue Stilton. For those of you who are cheese lovers and enjoy the taste of blue vein cheese I highly recommend their Blue Stilton, it's regarded as one of the best in the world. Unfortunately the factory shop was closed by the time we got there but we did get a snap of me in front of the factories signage.
Colston Bassett holds alot of memories for me as it's the village my grandfather used to take me to as a child when he was a cricket umpire for the Colston Bassett cricket club. On long warm summer days I'd sit on the grass or explore the surrounding area while my grandad umpired cricket games. After visiting the dairy we cycled over to the cricket ground to take a look. The ground looks alot smaller than I remembered it 25 years ago. I took a snap of Betty in front of the entrance but we didn't go in, it was far too muddy. You can just see the pitch in the background along with the club house were the cricketers stop play at lunch for sandwiches.
After having a pub lunch with my parents Betty and I continued on with our ride into a still sunny but very windy Nottinghamshire country side. We must have clocked up a good 40 to 45k in total on our ride, not a huge distance but enough to give Betty a flavour of the area that surrounds the City of Nottingham. Next time we're visiting my parents we'll head further out and explore some areas neither of us have been to before.
Friday, 20 February 2009
Whilst watching the racing last night one of the commentators made a good point about the difference between Cavendish and Tom Boonen. He said Cavendish needs the support of his team in the form of a lead out train in order to put him in the right place to sprint the last few hundred metres, whereas Boonen has more overall sustained power. An example of this is seen in Boonen's many classics victories such as Paris Roubaix where a massive sustained effort over a huge distance over difficult terrian is needed in order to win.
However, when it comes down to a pure sprint finish I can't see Cavendish being beaten as long as he has a strong lead out. Considering he is only 23 years old I'd have to think Cavendish will remain the number one pure sprinter for many years to come. He has every chance of matching or even beating Mario Cipollini's record of stage victories and I'm sure he'll finish a few Tour de France in the process, something Cipollini didn't do.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Boonen must have been hoping for revenge after a similar incident happened last year at Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen where Boonen lifted his arms in a victory salute only to be surprised by Cavendish's winning lunge to the line.
I'm certainly looking forward to watching the rivalry between the two of them over the whole season. With the likes of Thor Hushovd, Daniele Bennati and Robbie McEwen to add to the mix I think it's going to be a very exciting season for fans of the sprint finish.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
After the ride I quickly changed into my running kit, at home, and headed out to Victoria Park for a 13k run. I suppose I did what a triathlete would call a brick workout although I have to say I'm not training for either a triathlon or duathlon. I do have a 10k race coming up soon as well as a number of sportives over the next 6 months but I did today's session simply because I enjoy getting out and pushing myself.
Betty and I are off to a local Vietnamese restaurant this evening to celebrate my birthday. Fresh rolls and deep fried squid, mmmm, can't wait!
Monday, 16 February 2009
Sunday, 15 February 2009
As soon I removed the gloves from the box I could see they were top quality and they smelt great too! Made from goatskin leather the gloves are hand stitched with double stitching at the key wear points. The palms are padded with suede for greater comfort and there are velcro fastenings on the cuffs.
Although the gloves aren't meant for use in extremely cold weather I have worn them on a number of occasions over the last week through the rain and can honestly say they're very comfortable. Like all quality leather they'll become even more comfortable as they wear in over time.
Ride Hard gloves come in sizes small to XL (I'd suggest buying one size bigger than you'd normally go for) and can be purchased from Urban Hunter, http://www.urbanhunter.biz/, for £29.95. An absolute bargain I'd say!
Saturday, 14 February 2009
I can empathise with both camps. Kimmage is an ex-pro cyclist turned journalist who very bravely rejected the traditional code of silence in favour of speaking out against doping. Cycling needs people like Kimmage with his openly staunch anti doping stance in order to help turn the tide against cheating, without the likes of Kimmage and his ilk it would take cycling far longer to rise from the depths from which it has fallen.
As I mentioned in my second ever posting Armstrong's mission to raise awareness of the global cancer burden and in turn raise millions for the cause is an extremely worthy and noble one. Even if Amstrong is using the cause as a smoke screen to cover up a different reason for his comeback I say, so what? He still raises awareness and he still raises money. Amstrong's Livestrong cause will always be the trump card he can use against detractors such as Kimmage.
Although I agree with both Kimmage's and Armstrong's causes I find myself disliking both of them. Kimmage should never have called Armstrong a cancer, he made a big mistake doing that, it was a very distasteful and offensive comment to make. Armstrong's arrogance, and for want of a better term, strong arm bully boy tactics are equally dislikable.
Ultimately though I believe when both Armstrong and Kimmage are old men reminiscing about what they have achieved in their lives they'll be able to look themselves in the mirror and know they both brought more good than bad to the world.
Friday, 13 February 2009
(Correction to the You Tube title, Paul Kimmage is Irish not British as I'm sure Mr Kimmage would want pointing out.)
In the third set of photos the first is of the Kapelmuur during the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). I believe the second image is also a section of road taken from the same race.
Courtsey of Rouleur.cc
Thursday, 12 February 2009
thebikeshow.net broadcasts live on London's Resonance 104.4fm. You can also find thebikeshow.net podcasts on itunes.
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
My new head protection is a Catlike Whisper Plus as worn by Euskaltel Euskadi and Cervelo Test Team pro cycling teams.
Weighing in at 290 grams for a size large, it isn't the lightest helmet on the market although at 15 grams heavier than the Atmos the difference is minimal. After having worn it a couple of times I have to say it is very comfortable. I'll have to wait until the summer to see if its 39 air intakes help cool me down.
I popped down there yesterday evening and took a few snaps of the place. If your in the area go and check it out.
You can find more information about Tour De Ville here.
Sunday, 8 February 2009
Friday, 6 February 2009
Those of us who are fans of pro cycling know only too well the disappointment and disillusionment felt when we hear that yet another one of our cycling heroes has fallen from grace due to a positive dope test. There are so many memories that spring to mind where you can remember watching one of your favourite riders climbing up a mountain at an amazing speed or winning a race with power and finesse. Then soon after the doping results come back positive and the realization dawns on you that what you were really watching was a lie.
I’ve just finished the immensely readable Bad Blood: The Secret Life of the Tour De France by Jeremy Whittle. Whittle takes us on a journey from naive fan through to cycling journalist, Tour De France insider and confirmed sceptic. His first hand accounts of broken friendships and having to choose sides in the war against doping really do provide an honest perspective on the reality of cycling at the elite level.
This book really changed my view on who the real heroes are in cycling, men like Christophe Bassons and Filippo Simeoni. It’s a real shame their careers had to suffer so much just because they told the truth.
If your looking for an intelligent and thought provoking account and what has gone on, and probably still does, behind the scenes in pro cycling then look no further.
Bad Blood: The Secret Life of the Tour De France is published by Yellow Jersey Press.
Thursday, 5 February 2009
On cold and gloomy days like today, well in London anyway. It's nice to sit back and dream about the greatest bike race on Earth. Enjoy and chapeau!
(click here, when the website appears press play).
Wednesday, 4 February 2009
About a year or 2 ago I attended an exhibition of Vanfleteren's Flandrien work at the Host Gallery (funnily enough it is the same gallery I attended the exhibition of Rouleur's 2007 photo annual) in London. Although I hadn't been there on the opening night when apparently Johan Musseeuw himself had been in attendance I did manage to pick up a copy of Flandrien.
Carlos (Eddy Merckx aficionado)