Thursday, 30 April 2009
I've never ridden any sections of the cobbles but from what I've read and seen on the television it looks like one needs excellent bike handling skills as well as having enough stamina and power to drive over the cobbles without falling off and getting seriously hurt.
Now try to imagine how difficult it might be to ride the course on a track bike with no brakes. I'd never considered the idea of anyone attempting such a feat until I read about a guy who plans to do exactly that on 6th June 2010.
It's a fascinating idea and one that I'm sure with gather much exposure as the big day draws closer. Apparently the guy who is doing the ride (sorry I don't know his name yet) is also looking for partners, presumably to accompany him on his crazy adventure.
For more information about his project including details of the bike he's using and footage of him cycling a section of the cobbles click here.
Thanks to Richard at Urban Hunter for giving me the heads up on this one.
Wednesday, 29 April 2009
I love this photo of the beautiful wooden velodrome in Hanover, Germany. Hanover holds particular significance for me as it's the city I fly into with Betty whenever we visit her parents who live a short distance away in Hameln.
I haven't yet visited this velodrome but will search it out when I'm next over in Germany and have a little time on my hands. I'll be sure to take a few snaps when I do and post them here.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
In the previous year Boardman won the prologue time trial becoming only the second Britain after Tom Simpson ever to wear the yellow jersey. He also clocked the fastest ever time with an average speed of 55.152 kmh. On his day not even the mighty Miguel Indurain could live with him.
On a different note, as I mentioned yesterday, today sees the 5th East Midlands International CiCLE Classic (Rutland - Melton) being raced. I have a feeling viewers of British Eurosport may well be treated to highlights of the race at 6.10pm (GMT) since it is a British Premier cycling event being shown.
Saturday, 25 April 2009
Although I didn't get a chance to spin the pedals last week I did manage to fit in four 5 mile runs which went some way to combating the number of very tasty burgers I ate. I've arranged to head out with James for a three hour ride tomorrow. Should be interesting considering the lack of sleep. Thankfully James hasn't ridden for a while so hopefully we'll be sensible and just take it easy rather than trying to turn the screw on each other like we normally do.
Going back to the subject of running, tomorrow sees the 28th London Marathon taking over the capital's streets, maybe they'll be fewer cars on the road, hurray! Unfortunately Paula Radcliffe won't be running, the world record holder broke a toe last month. Kenya's Martin Lel will be looking to win the race for a record fourth time having broken the course record last April with a time of 2:05.15. Superhuman is a word that comes to mind when I think about times like that.
Back again to cycling and Liège-Bastogne-Liège isn't the only big race happening tomorrow. The East Midlands International CiCLE Classic or Rutland - Melton will be taking place relatively close to Nottingham, where I'm orginally from. Although Rutland -Melton is only in it's fifth year it is fast becoming one of the most popular events in the British cycle racing calender not only attracting the best British teams but also a number of riders from Europe including former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt. The popularity of the race is due to the variety of roads used. They range from wide roads through to narrow farm tracks reminiscent of those to be found in the Spring 'classic races' in northern France and Belgium. You can find out more about the race here.
I'm off to bed.
Friday, 24 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) finished second with Damiano Cunego (Lampre-NGC) finishing off the podium in third place.
All eyes will now turn to the final race of the three Ardennes classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which takes place on Sunday 26th April. Highlights of the race will be shown on Eurosport at 5pm (GMT).
Friday, 17 April 2009
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
The favourite mountain bike I owned was a Marin, although I can’t remember the name of it was pretty high spec for the time (XT throughout) with oversized silver aluminium tubing and purple forks, it was a real looker.
Like many people the mountain bike craze got me back into cycling. I hadn’t really ridden bikes since I was a young teenager. It was the mountain bike that re-ignited my interest in bikes, which as time passed became a passion. During the mid-eighties and early-nineties it seemed like everyone wanted a mountain bike. They were the coolest type of bike to own even if they never saw an off-road track or mountain. All it took was to swap out the knobbly tyres to slicks and the mountain bike was ready for the streets.
As you can probably gather I do have fond memories of my mountain biking days which all came back to me after watching Klunkerz.
Klunkerz is a documentary movie about the people who invented mountain biking back in the 1960’s and 1970’s and how they turned a local underground bike scene into the global commercial success seen to this day.
The movie starts off by introducing the different characters that were to play a big part in the evolution of the mountain bike. Those characters came from wide ranging backgrounds, from hippies to road racers and include the now elder statesmen of mountain biking, Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze and Tom Richey. All of them headed to the hills around Marin County, in California, to race their 50 pound (that’s 50 pounds in weight!) 1930’s and 40’s Schwinn Excelsior bikes or Klunkerz. Actually, prior to fitting gears to the bikes, most of the early years appear to have been spent pushing these heavyweight bikes up the hills before being able to race back down.
The movie goes on to talk through the difficult transition from small scale business into large scale production and the effects this had on the original players and their relationships with each other.
I found this movie absolutely fascinating. To see how such a small scene blossomed into something so big reminds me alot of how the hip hop music scene developed from a similar small scale scene in New York in the early 1970’s into the huge industry it is today.
This movie deserves to be in my cycling movie top ten. If I put together a new top 10 Klunkerz will probably feature in the top 5 and if you see what other movies I have in there at the moment you'll know that's praise indeed.
The Klunkerz DVD costs £22.50 plus worldwide shipping and is available at Urbanhunter.biz.
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
The latest upgrade is a brand new 9 speed Shimano Dura-Ace rear mech. This will replace the current Shimano 105 rear mech. I have to admit that although the 105 mech is around 8 years old and has been very well used, it is in fact still fully functional. All of the 105 components I've used have lasted for a long time. It's a very robust groupset and, I think, worth every penny.
Why spend more money on Dura-Ace? Well, not only does it look good but if it works even better and lasts even longer it's got to be worth the money especially if your able to pick it up a few quid cheaper like I did on Ebay.
I have two other major Dura-Ace components to replace before I'm done, they are a chain set and STI levers.
George Hincapie is one of my favourite riders, he's got great style and looks so cool on a bike (he also does a great job looking after and leading out for Mark Cavendish). I hope he'll return next year for another crack at the Hell of the North.
If like me your a Hincapie fan you may be interested to know there's a documentary on its way all about his life. For a little taster take a look at the trailer below.
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Tom Boonen rode to his third victory in the Queen of the Classics putting him in some very special company. Eddy Merckx, Rik Van Looy and Johan Museeuw are among the select band of seven riders to have also won the race three times. Check out the final kilomtre of today's 2009 Paris-Roubaix below. Oh the glory!
Thursday, 9 April 2009
The 1996 Paris-Roubiax saw Mapei-GB take 1st, 2nd and 3rd with Johan Museeuw, Gianluca Bortolami and Andrea Tafi in that order. Fast forward to today's modern incarnation, Quick Step, who will be fielding Tom Boonen, Stijn Devolder and Sylvain Chavanel. It isn't beyond the realms of possibilty to imagine the three of them riding into the Roubaix Velodrome together ahead of the rest of the peloton with arms held aloft in triumph.
Check out the Eurosport footage of the Mapei-GB team do just this back in 1996 (it gave me goosebumps watching it). It was heaven for Museeuw and his teammates that day. Will it be heaven of hell for Quick step on Sunday? I can't wait to find out!
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Monday, 6 April 2009
Fans Cheer on Devolder as he reaches the top of the The Muur
The Muur van Geraardsbergen (Wall of Geraardsbergen), also known as Kapelmuur, Muur-Kapelmuur or simply Muur is the sixteenth of seventeen hills included in the current Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders).
At 90 metres high and 475 metres in length with an average gradient of 9.3% and maximum of 19.8% it is neither the highest or the steepest of hills but by the time the riders reach the Muur they will have battled over 249 cobbled and hill strewn kilometres. Many will be on their last legs but for the chosen few it is a place from which to launch an attack.
This is exactly what Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) did for the second year running with devastating effect. At 16 kilometres from the finish Devolder powered away from Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) and team mate Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) to take the win.
Before then all eyes will turn to Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday. Expect Britain's Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) to feature strongly.
Friday, 3 April 2009
Lovin' this magazine cover from the February 1975 edition of British magazine International Cycle Sport. Sadly the magazine is no longer in publication.
The cover photo is of, in my humble opinion, the two greatest cyclists ever, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil. After looking at the photo I quickly realised it couldn't have been taken in 1975 but must have been from a number of years before. Merckx rode for Faema between 1968 and 1970. Anquetil rode for Bic between 1967 and 1969, his last team before retiring. Also Merckx is wearing the world champions rainbow jersey which he'd won the previous year, 1967, therefore the photo must have been taken in 1968.
The photo is symbolic of the transfer of power, like the passing of the baton, from Anquetil who would have been around 34 years old to Merckx who was around 23 years old. Anquetil had won all of the grand tours including the Tour de France 5 times and the Giro d'Italia twice as well as winning a number of other stage races and classics. Merckx was on the upward curve, not yet at his peak but already a world champion and classics winner including Milan-San Remo twice, yes not yet at his peak!
1968 was a good year for Merckx he destroyed all rivals in the Giro taking the overall, mountains and points competitions as well as winning Paris-Roubaix for the first time. Anquetil wasn't the rider he'd been just a few years before. His final victory came in 1969 in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Many years ago, 48 to be exact, another local favourite won this race. However, this local favourite wasn't from Belgium, he was an Englishman named Tom Simpson (Rapha-Gitane-St Raphael-Geminiani). Simpson lived and raced in Belgium for a number of years and was taken in by the locals as one of their own.
1961 saw Simpson win the Tour of Flanders stylishly in what was an exciting race. (Incidentally there hasn't been another British victory in this race since.) Simpson got into an early break with Rik Van Looy (Solo) then was joined by 4 other riders including team mate Jo De Haan. Race favourite Van Looy was expected to do well but disaster struck for him on the climb of the Kruisberg where he crashed heavily. He tried to continue but had to abandon in Zottegem.
As the breakaway entered the closing laps of Wetteren Simpson jumped away with Italian Nino De Filippis (Carpano), however, De Filippis was known as being faster in the sprint so Simpson had to think of a way to outsmart him. Simpson started the sprint with about 1km to go with the Italian sitting on his wheel. At around 300m Simpson eased off a little, with De Filippis thinking Simpson was finished he jumped past on the right. Simpson immediately switched across to the Italians right. The Italian looked over his left shoulder thinking he had the race won, saw there was no Simpson at which point Simpson lunged past on the right to take the biggest win of his career and his first ever classics victory.
It was at this moment Simpson became an honorary 'Lion of Flanders'.