Friday, 30 August 2013

In Search of Moser's Big Wheel

I don't think this is the biggest back wheel. The frame is like a warped banana.. (and that saddle can't be level)

He did have a really big back wheel, I know he did... I'll keep looking.

Sitting on Yates's Wheel...

Warming up on Yates wheel, Leicester Track. Copyright Love Yellow 2013

Funny what the passage of time allows you to forget... this is me and my team mate sat on the wheel of Sean Yates. I think I was warming up for the 20K Scratch (won by Chris Newton looking about 12 years old) but if my memory serves me correctly Sean was warming up to compete in a pursuit match against Francesco Moser, the new hour record holder. Moser was also on the Leicester track warming up and I remember daring to sit on the great man's impeccably smooth over-sized back wheel.

Francesco Moser, Leicester Track. Copyright Love Yellow 2013

As to the result of the pursuit match, again I have no memory but I do recall a heated discussion afterwards in the changing room between Moser and his Italian minders, suited and booted (Sopranos style). I don't speak Italian but I reckon there was controversy over that disc wheel, that or appearance fees.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

When Training Goes Bad…

Bike training has been going quite well so I’ve thrown a new discipline into the mix – Jogging. On the plus side there’s more opportunity for loose clothing and on the minus side jogging is… a bit joggy. If you look up Jogging in the dictionary it says; proceed laboriously; trudge; move up and down with an unsteady motion… I find this quite an accurate description.

I’ll come clean, jogging has been in my regime since I started moving about more so I’ve built up my top distance to about 7 km. That is until last Sunday when I decided to run about twice that. It wasn't planned, it just happened.

The day before I’d done a bit on the bike so even though I didn’t feel tired I was in two minds whether to do even the long run so I proceeded cautiously for the first five minutes wondering whether I was up to the long distance and after much inner arguing I settled on the 7 k (and only one scrambled egg with no sausage for breakfast). At one point the option of an even shorter run was vying for attention but that would have meant only one square of chocolate come elevenses so that was never going to win.

After a little stop for a bit of a stretch I continued still at the pace of 'jog'. My legs, I discovered, were a bit heavy from cycling but nothing my growing fitness couldn’t handle. In fact I settled into a nice rhythm, a waltz, and encouraged my mind to wander off elsewhere.

There were loads of joggers en route. It’s central London so, unless exceptional circumstances arise (like you forget where you are) you don’t flounce along waving and saying hello to everyone like you do cycling in the lanes. When I first started trudging (the step before jogging) I’d be continually passed by loads of fellow fat fighters and sometimes, against my better judgement, I would automatically follow a steady wheel. It is an old habit of a cyclist, an affliction even, that if training seriously is fundamentally lazy (the secret on a bike is to not make any noise so no gear changing or heavy breathing. You can sit in for hours like this). The difference with sitting in on a jog is that the rewards of slipstreaming aren’t that great unless it’s blowing a gale. It just forces you to go faster which is just really hard.

Then I heard the cacophony of a knitting circle approaching from behind. This could mean one of two things, tourists are now hiring mobility scooters or I was being caught by a running group and was about to be overtaken like I was the slow one in a Red Arrows display team. I braced myself but nothing happened, then zip they came past. My mind did a quick (cycling afflicted) calculation which included a bargain; run along behind this lot for a while and you can have that extra scrambled egg. I was on the back like a shot.

After about half a kilometre I was still there and fairly comfortable. Four middle aged men absorbed in chit-chat about, I don't know what - recipes, hairstyles and shopping. I decided to stick it out and see how far I could get. One kilometre, two… three… still okay. My old cycling mentality kicked in completely; taking the shortest route around bollards and kerbs, looking for the best 'wheel'. They happily ran over cobbles, which I never do (due to my blisters) but I followed not daring to move from my pacers. Then they noticed me and, in the words of Master Chef's Greg Wallace, it got a whole lot harder.

I'd been on my limit for the last kilometre and now I had to find the energy to chit-chat! They were very good natured and I think they thought there was a chance I’d latched onto them with the hope of catching myself a middle aged bald man (bless ‘em) I didn’t have the heart to tell them I was actually there for a bit of extra scrambled egg.

After a couple more K's I realised this type of jogging wasn’t the sort I normally do because we were RUNNING. I said, ‘How far are you going?’ ‘Oh, probably as far as the Mall.’ That was it. I said my goodbyes and darted up some steps and over the nearest bridge. Actually I didn’t dart I trudged. Walked in fact, up a massive flight of steps and began my long trud- (the step before trudging) homeward bound.

This was not easy. My legs felt terrible, my breathing slightly out of control. I’d entered the danger zone and I was about as far from home dressed in jogging Lycra as I’d ever been. I'd forgotten my Visa card ready to purchase croissants, cappuccino, water. My mind started to wonder what might happen if I suddenly got the hunger knock, which as a cyclist used to affect me terribly (memories of longing for a whole box of French Fancies 30 K from home floated through my mind). I saw someone with a McDonalds bag - which IS next to the word disgusting in my dictionary – but I wondered if asking for a bite would be wrong, or could I leave my name an address in a café so I could settle the bill at a later date?

I found myself crossing another bridge and passed a squashed cup on the floor with the word TREAT printed on it. I passed a triangular road sign on the bridge informing me that CHIPS were down. I looked up to see a tower with OXO emblazoned on it. I trudged on mumbling about food… and wondering what size my blisters were. I tried a bit of visualization but images of blisters the size of dinghy’s appeared, and quicksand with swimming floats tied to my feet. People coming toward me began to look alarmed my face was so red. Head down, I stared at my comfortable looking trainers knowing full well what was going on inside and wondered if permanent damage was being done…

Three days later: Obviously I made it home. My feet are still in rehab and the rehydration process is ongoing. To gain benefits from hard training Shane Sutton uses the expression To Recruit, that is to rest up in order for the body to repair and improve. I reckon I’ll be recruiting for about a fortnight.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

FINAL RESULT: 7th Route de France 2013

RESULTS: better late than never!

7th Route de France 2013 (Women's 7 stage race)

Italian GEORGIA BRONZINI wins SIX Road Stages!

STAGE 6 (127.4 km) - Bronzini (Wiggle Honda)
                                      Lizzie Armistead (DLT) 2nd

STAGE 7 (130.2 km) - Linda Melanie Villumsen (Wiggle Honda)

Villumsen broke away for the solo win nearly 6 min ahead of the next group to take overall victory (superb!) Lizzie Armistead was 2nd winning the group sprint and finishing 6th overall.

GB Women G. C. standings
6th      Armistead at 6:06
19th    Sharon Laws at 6:32 (great ride after her bad early season crash)
           Lucy Garner was a DNS on stage 7  (good for such a young rider)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Super Foods: I never attempt a training ride without the aid of a banana

If you look up the word nutrition in the dictionary it says: The process of providing and receiving nourishing substances. The first of those substances I’d like to talk about is Chocolate.

I used to think Banana Power Bars actually tasted good rather than of cardboard, which they do, and were a treat (!) but nowadays and for any length of ride I’d recommend a square of chocolate before, during and after (a big square – the chocolate equivalent of a doorstep - of lovely stuff not the cheap rubbish). I am now most definitely not training in the conventional sense, i.e. for racing, going fast or really getting out of breath too much, so can freely advocate that chocolate is a fantastic food that can be enjoyed as part of a training programme.

Five A Day Super Foods Pie Chart by Fuzzywork Illustration 2013

The Jelly Baby is a Delicious Fruit that though eaten sparingly can be slipped into your back pocket and slipped into the mouth when necessary throughout your ride.

I never ever used to attempt a training ride without the aid of a banana. Make sure it is in peak condition as overripe it can be a nasty experience in the mouth, hand, pocket and washing machine if you forget to take it out. Having said that I was once able to mend a puncture with one once – on that occasion a less ripe banana might not have had the same adhesive qualities.

KitKat. Strictly speaking this is another form of chocolate (in the loose sense) but does contain a bit of roughage in the form of wafer. Why would I advocate KitKat as one of my super-foods?… It’s nice.

You can breath a sigh of relief… Bread Pudding. It’s got everything! It’s solid yet runny and saves your digestive system a hell of a lot of work as it wends its way along, if you know what I mean.

I hope this nutritional advice has been useful. There are plenty of fabulous Gels and special formulated bars and drinks on the market these days, but to be honest they’re not very nice.

Monday, 12 August 2013

My Badly Documented Cycling Career: Winning / Losing / Somewhere

Another sort out of the desk and I continue to uncover these wonderful photographs.

I was hoping to find a picture of me crossing a finishing line, arms thrust aloft accepting the plaudits of an admiring crowd (I’m sure that’s how it really was), so with great sadness I share this disappointing offering.

Winning a race, somewhere...

Apparently this is me winning a race in Kent; yes it is a bunch race! Note the lack of celebration equalled only by the lack of audience. Racing back then really kept my ego in check.

Below is a photo of something happening, I believe this to be somewhere on the Ashdown Forest showing me attacking my breakaway companions. Admittedly you can’t see it’s me and I have to confess I have never won a race on the Ashdown Forest so as a tactical move it can’t have amounted to much.

Something happening in a race, somewhere..

Rochelle Gilmore - In Touch With Her Inner Tube


Don't try this at home... this is not something you discover you can do by accident.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Lycra Is Painful & so is Dismount

Catching sight of yourself in Lycra is a bit like looking up to the ceiling for the first time in months only to see an industrial sized cobweb with dead flies hanging all over it - misshapen, unattached in places but potentially still able to function to a purpose.

It’s a difficult to know how best to approach tight clothing when you reach a certain shape. If like me you’ve what we commonly call, ‘let yourself go a bit’ then there’s no choice but to man up, or woman up in my case, squeeze into your old training kit and not really give a damn.

My Lycra hurdle overcome, it’s time to reintroduce pain. Firstly, don’t do what I did and think you can jump casually onto your bike like you used to. Make sure your leg still lifts to the required height It’s a good idea to practice in your bedroom beforehand… (away from the window and remove all mirrors – sight of yourself now could set you back weeks)

Once confident, steady yourself and slightly tilt the bike, then counter lever your leg and body into position. Visualization is often used in sport so imagine the elegant leap of a gazelle or that final sack of spuds lobbed onto the back of the truck by a rustic farmer.

At this point it is a good idea to check you have all the essentials on you; a puncture outfit, a full bidon (don't confuse with bidet, that’s something else entirely), a large bar of something - could be Galaxy, Cadburys or I prefer something a little more luxury like Divine or Green & Blacks - these sort of nutritional details will become clearer once you’re more attuned to your body’s needs. I will be covering nutrition at a later date. It’s a good idea to take a mobile (it’s something to look at if nothing else) and lastly a credit card. Actually I’ve just remembered my first mistake, check you’ve got all this stuff before you get on. Now you’re ready to roll.

Always take your mobile. Love Yellow 2013

On with the training:

Disclaimer:  I’ll take you through my first training session but whatever happens to you is not my fault.

Right, lick your finger and hold it aloft. Whatever way the wind is blowing go towards it. Set off on a low gear at Tapping pace, i.e. cycling along not making much effort. When the road goes up turn off at the earliest convenience. This is what I did even though it lead me up a bridle way (completely legal and safer than most designated cycle paths providing the local lunatics aren’t out killing foxes). Riding along bridle ways is what was known as Rough Stuff (also know as Rough Stuff: the current state of the road surface round here)

In my regime Tapping Along is Level Minus 8. The aim of Level –8 is to be able to get home. Training guru Peter Keen has a similar level in his training theory that advises this type of training when returning from injury or sickness which fits in well, what with my initial leg lifting incident and years of laziness.

After about twenty minutes of Tapping Along it is time to face every cyclists’ most feared challenge – getting past the café. Even if you see bikes leaning by the door where others have succumbed, you must not go in – you’re just not ready. Getting off for cake and coffee WILL be your undoing. You Will Not want to get back on, even if you can.

To head home take as many Left turns as required (this turns you around, a bit like a tanker) and continue on at Level –8. You might want to exercise your upper body now by reaching down to your bidon and lifting for a drink. So reach down, lift up, drink and reach down again. This will sharpen your motor skills. Do this with both hands (not at the same time) and then repeat but instead of going for the bidon, extend behind to your back pocket for a square of chocolate. I repeated the chocolate exercise twice on each side, then did an extra one for luck as cyclist often neglect their upper body and I wouldn’t want to do that (5 Chocolate lifts in all).

It should be plain sailing now until you reach home, if not I can’t help you, you’ve gone too far on your first ride because you assumed you were fitter than you actually are. Once home the dismount should be easier but to be safe wait until your neighbour has finished putting his bin out (the nosey git) before attempting it (visualisations: nothing you’ve ever seen on You’ve Been Framed, blancmange or a cat sliding off the back of the sofa)

Recovery could be anything from an ice cream smoothie to a sickie off work the next day depending on how much you enjoy your job.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Bicycle Pump: Most Important Piece of Kit

Making good progress with the new bike but I have had an unexpected problem. Because of the frame shape of my new bike I have been unable to carry my old pump on the frame. Obvious solution, buy a minute but perfectly formed pump to carry in jersey pocket. Problem solved.

Trying to get out on the bike between rain showers, and with the untidy state of my garage (plus less than perfect eyesight) I could not find the new pump anywhere. You know what it's like... when it might rain any minute... and you need to get out on your bike -

I went out without the pump.

slightly untidy garage

Sods Law about eleven miles away from home the rear tyre deflated. Typically I was unable to get a signal on my mobile to ring my wife. While trying to make up my mind what to do I got on and changed the puncture. Amazing enough just as I got the tyre back on a friendly cyclist stopped and loaned me his pump. After my heartfelt thanks he proceeded on his way. Problem solved?

I set off for home feeling quite pleased with myself having overcome my little bit of trouble. I had ridden about half a mile when I realised that the back wheel was not riding as smooth as it should. To my dismay I saw that because the replacement tube had a short valve it had not seated correctly and the tyre was lifting off the rim. No option but to let some of the air out and lower the pressure to stop it blowing. All I had to do now was ride out of the saddle to prevent the rim from being ruined.

New pump now installed on new bike

Pleased to say that I managed the journey home but I now know that it takes several days for 78 year old legs to recover from eleven miles of "Honking".

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

History Of The Bicycle In One Paragraph

Once, we were happy to scoot along on a hobby horse. Then some bright spark required a more sophisticated form to propel themselves along. This saw in an upgrade to direct pedal power. The penny farthing. Lots of crashes (enjoyed by dentists). Then breakthrough with the invention of the chain. Wheels became smaller. Bikes more stable. Improvements in materials made lighter more aerodynamic so we now have finely tuned machines we see used by the current Tour De France champions.

So it begs the question, why would someone make this?


Monday, 5 August 2013

WOMEN'S RACING RESULTS: 7th Route de France 2013

Route De France is a 7 stage women's race. Results so far -

Prologue (38 km) - Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS)
Stage 1 (121 km) - Georgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda)
Stage 2 (89.3 km) - Georgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda)

Overall Standings:

Emma Johansson OAIS (3:22:00)
GB riders:
Lizzie Armistead DLT (17th 00:15)
Sharon Laws LBL (28th 00:23)
Emma Trott DLT (44th 00:3:32)
Lucy Garner ARW (82nd 00:6:56)

Bikes En Masse at Ride London

Choc-a-bloc cyclists at Ride London

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ride London 2013 - Have to Admit, it Was Good Fun

As three generations of our family joined the traffic-free 8 mile circuit at Tower Hill yesterday I wondered what we'd let ourselves in for. The speed was... a snail's pace, the pace... a bit stoppy and starty but I have to admit it was good fun. It was also great practice for a bit of close contact riding for my young nephew and he was soon looking over each shoulder and nipping around happily amid groups of smurfs, big blokes (on several grands worth of bike imagining they're riding a stage of the TDF) and several dogs-in-bike-trailers.

Our first stop was at a fantastic Samba band... I forgot to get my camera out so no picture here. We pushed on and before we knew it we were passing through Westmister with Big Ben to our left. It was great to be able to ride past such landmarks with a ten year old child and feel completely safe on the road.

For the second time on the circuit we passed a huge sound system being towed by pedal power then swung right up toward Buckingham Palace. Completely missing the turn off for all the fun going on in the park and being on the wrong side of the road we continued, waving to the Queen as we passed Buck House (I'm not sure but I think I saw her holding the new baby in one of the front bedrooms... was that the baby's first wave I saw?... I'll never know). Still forgetting to take any photos we ploughed on.

I managed to elbow my nephew, pinning him against the barrier to take the sprint on the line (this type of tactic is a family tradition, age no concern) as we flew (possibly as fast as 12mph by now) down the Mall. Through Trafalger Square we stopped a couple of times to share the road with pedestrians and let them cross, then onwards back alongside the Thames with yet more dogs, more surfs, unidentifiable costumed people and sound systems being pulled by penny farthings - so a normal day out in London, which I sadly forgot to record with my camera.

St Paul's was our next landmark and opportunity to stop off for some festival fun and once again we were on the wrong side of the road and got carried along past the festivities. All we could do was glance over our shoulders to see what might have been (later, having discovered it was smoothies made by pedal power and bmx tricks... all was not lost). On we went to Tower Hill, our finishing point.

Coffee, sandwiches and some drumming on a live stage completed our Ride London experience. My nephew wanted to go round again but we all thought.. 'can we ride that slowly, again'. No.

Looking forward to watching the Elite women's and men's races... and of course next year.

The backs of some people on the ride