Saturday, 16 February 2013

Celebrations: not the sweets

Only a few days into the road season and those contesting this years Tour De France green jersey have put down their markers...

This week Peter Sagan has shown his hand at the Tour of Oman. We know that boy can celebrate a win in style and with more wit than any number of naff premier league footballers, but some footy pundits have suggested a need to restrict celebrations showing respect to opponents and fans.

They may have a point, but I as a cycling fan would like to actually encourage more and unique celebration. To illustrate this point I have attached a link to the Japanese world artistic cycling champion Rina Tachibana and would be pleased to see Peter perform part or indeed a whole routine to celebrate his next win.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Short film: Roller Race - Now And Then

Shame there's not more on Eddie talking but he does give some nice insights. Sadly he's no longer with us. Everyone in the cycling world down south knew Eddie, he was one of those stalwart officials who keep racing going and seemed to be present at every race. From a rider point of view he could be a bit on the grumpy side and was known for disqualifying people for taking their hands off the bars in the sprint... so you had to stay on his good side.

British Cycling President, Brian Cookson OBE said: “Eddie Wingrave was a wonderful servant of the sport at so many levels and epitomised the qualities of dedication and selflessness upon which the sport is so reliant. His career in cycling, cycle racing and officiating at many levels spanned almost 80 years and his passing truly marks the end of an era for London cycling in particular and for British cycling as a whole.” 

Monday, 11 February 2013

London Rollers Racing: Part 2 - Marginal gains of the rear triangle ‘The Bike’

I recently got chatting about the old roller racing scene with George, my 91 year old Eltham Paragon club mate. His razor sharp memory is packed with fascinating facts and one of the things that came up in the conversation was the special bike he once borrowed…

‘The Bike’ belonged to Eddie Wingrave who I’m told by George used it before World War II when riding in professional roller events. As far as I remember the bike had a longer than usual rear triangle with the sole purpose of making it extremely stable. This would enable the rider to produce a full on sprint with the added bonus of remaining upright. Considering most sprint roller events had two holders, one each side to keep the rider stable, it seems like a small detail, but to be able to ‘spin’ freely with relaxed legs is essential. Technique and style is all important... those marginal gains are not such a new phenomenon!

Flying start 440 yard time trial. Love Yellow.

George told me that at this particular event (using ‘the bike’) he was an early leader in the 440-yard flying start… until I borrowed it. I got the feeling that to this day he regrets letting me use his secret weapon.

Scratch race - 1957. Love Yellow.

Still, I was to get my comeuppance when in later life I rode a few interclub events, one of them being held by the San Fairy Ann C C. Half way through I was put up against a relative novice, and as I had already beaten several others I decided to Showboat by starting slow and roaring through to win from behind (all in the name of thrilling the spectators of course!). In the event I was soundly beaten and only learned afterwards that my opponent, despite his inexperience, had beaten most of his own club riders on his first attempt at riding rollers.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Can you take a horse to water?

Post Armstrong, commentators seem to agree a need for cycling to move on.  "Hallelujah" we cry!  Let's not continue with the endless finger pointing, anyone can make a mistake, and it would seem so many have. Furthermore, in the wake of the British beef-burger/horse meat scandal, I am prepared to fully accept Contador's tall tale of contaminated meat and hope for some sort of cleansing movement myself.

I had expected some insight into what's really going on now that Operacion Peurto has commenced in the Spanish courts but it would seem that one week on there is a near total media blackout - nothing.  Good news for all the non cycling sports involved!

"That was not the true depth of the scandal, though, with Fuentes admitting that he had clients from a range of professional sports.

Manzano backed this up, while International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid said in 2008 that he was told Fuentes had clients from football, tennis, athletics and swimming.

Allegations soon emerged of links to Spanish football giants Barcelona and Real Madrid and tennis superstar Rafael Nadal - all vehemently denied - but Fuentes refused to reveal the identities behind the remaining codenames. Which brings us back to today." (Sky Sports Report January 31, 2013)

So I've learnt; you can take a horse to water but don't make it into a contaminated beef burger, it shouldn't enhance performance, but if it does don't shout about it.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Isle Of Wight Cycling Weekend

This is the time of year when we look forward to the weather improving. In my youth this time of year also meant getting ready for the Easter Weekend.

The Isle of Wight Easter was always a big part of my cycling calendar We either set out after work on the Thursday night or sometimes leave directly after the Good Friday Track Meeting.

Our club always stayed in a small family hotel in Sandown, it was just known to us as Mrs Blacketts. Old Charlie (the club President who must have been all of Forty years old) would have been collecting our cash weekly starting after Christmas in order to make a block booking. We took over all the rooms along with the Watford Road Club in what was really quite a respectable Bed and Breakfast establishment.

Club group outside "Mrs Blacketts"

Most rode at least one time trial (promoted by the Vectis C.C.) and one road race but the main object of the weekend was the social scene. This included having informal Club Dinners in a local restaurant/cafe and the Saturday night dance at the Atlantic Ballroom.

The dance usually ended up as an almighty "knees-up". On one occasion the knees-up got slightly out of hand and the proprietors started to get a bit panicky (probably thinking that the building would collapse) and after a great effort managed to quieten the possibly tipsy mob by asking for a volunteer to go onto the stage to lead a sing song. I was on the stage in a flash but to the horror of the management I led the whole audience in a stirring version of "Knees Up Mother Brown". I was bundled off the stage but it took a long time for the building to stop shaking such was the enthusiasm of the dancers.

There were many other memorable events like the spontaneous show we did out of a bus shelter on the sea front, the boat race we had on the mini golf course and the infamous Inter club Knicker Bocker Glory Ice Cream Race. I could explain the details of this last event but It might make you nauseous.

Golf corse boat race

Looking back it seems that the Weekend was all about having a good time with very good friends and acquaintances.