A testing cobbled climb during the Tour Series Round 1 in Durham. Photography by VeloUK
…with Bertie reducing the Giro into a race for second place (in every sense of the word – any victory may well be stripped from him if/when the CAS appeal finally goes ahead) the domestic scene steps in to offer a fix of more honest racing. The Tour Series kicked off on Tuesday evening in Durham with a technical circuit that saw the cream of the crop emerge at the top, and tonight ITV4 are showing coverage of yesterday’s round in Aberystwyth from 8pm. The series continues every Tuesday and Thursday evening (TV highlights following the day after) until the final round in Canary Wharf on the 16th June…
Is it ironic that the only cyclist nominated for this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year is Mark Cavendish? And is it any wonder he didn’t win (and beaten by a bloke who races sitting on top of a horse for heaven’s sake!)? The Manx Missile, crippled for much of the year by cosmetic dental surgery (vain), returning to win with vindictive victory salutes (petulant), causing a crash through dangerous sprinting (reckless), to moan about his lack of bonus and pay increases at HTC Columbia (arrogant, ungrateful), but then coming good by winning multiple stages at the Tour (all is forgiven! LOL! XOXOXOX). Us fan boys allow his shortcomings to be overshadowed by his lightening speed, but even we know he’s a bit of nob.
Just as well Cav didn’t actually win SPOTY (that would really spell the end of our monopoly on cycling as the mainstream – dressed in replica Team Sky kit and wearing helmets with visors – wrestles our beloved minority interest sport away from us), but even his nomination is a sure sign that an abrasive personality is no barrier to fame, fortune, dating ‘Page 3 stunna’ Peta Todd, and to cap it all, being lauded by the Big British Castle.
So, make like Cav with these handy tips on how you too can annoy and infuriate those around you, whilst basking in the protective glow of cycling righteousness:
In my copy of The Design Encyclopedia – a hefty and exhaustive listing of influential designers and their creations – there is no space between Thomas Meyerhoffer (industrial designer responsible for the interior of the Porsche Boxter) and Eugéne Michel (an influential French glassmaker). Pierre Michaux (inventor of the modern bicycle) is absent.
It was Michaux who first attached pedals to what was called a ‘dandy horse’, and so creating the bicycle – a form recognisable as one not much changed from the modern bicycles of today. The addition of the pedals and cranks was his masterstroke. A novelty contraption was transformed into something that suddenly enabled man to propel himself forward, twice as fast, twice as far, with half the effort. Cyclists would still be going nowhere without Michaux and his rudimentary machines of the 1860s.
Over time the idea has evolved, but there’s still not much to separate a racing bicycle of today with one built fifty or sixty years ago. That basic diamond shape remains, the geometry has been refined, iron swapped for steel swapped for aluminium swapped for carbon fibre, the wheelspan lengthened, then shortened, more and more gears added. Electronic gear shifting has only just arrived, and this latest fad doesn’t seem like the vital technological advancement its manufacturers would like us to believe. The pace of the bicycles’ evolution has been a slow one; the original design has proved resilient to improvements.
Yet that hasn’t stopped designers trying. As cycling becomes a ‘culture’ and a totem for a new utopian way of living, so it has been deemed necessary to tinker with an invention almost perfected from its inception. It’s tough trying to re-invent the wheel, as these efforts below prove…
As has oft been kindly pointed out on club rides (or mocked – I’m not quite sure which), I’m quite partial to a bit of Rapha. So it is with some interest that I took a look at their new 2010 collection (it gives me some clue as to what items I’ll be able to afford when they make their way into the clearance section of the website in a year or so).
Paul Fournel wrote in his book ‘Need for the Bike’, “You have to know how to look good when you’re riding. You have to impress your adversary with your elegance. To look good is already to go fast.” Cycling is one area of life where the phrase ‘style over substance’ is made redundant.
However, for some reason Rapha seems to attract its fair share of critics and detractors. Surely it’s not the ‘premium’ price tags that are offensive? Or the irksome pretentious product descriptions? Or their forays into producing superfluous luxury accessories such as silk scarves and tool cases? The irrationality of ‘Rapha Haters’ is beyond me. All I know is that what’s good enough for Gary Kemp and Jake Gyllenhaal is good enough for me.
From the new 2010 range it is the Stowaway Jacket – in the pink ‘colourway’ (above) – that most piques my interest. A hitherto unexploited colour in the performance cycle wear market, anyone brave enough would certainly cut a dash at the Sunday club run.
It’s also worth studying closely the aspirational photoshoots for on- and off-the-bike styling cues. Riding with aviator sunglasses is definitely IN. As are long flowing locks, loose and tamed only by a cap with its peak inversed. OUT go helmets, Oakleys, and undertaking any rides that are neither ‘epic’ or not on beautiful sweeping roads of Sicily, Girona or other such continental cycling nirvanas.
Fear not, there’s no need to replicate such scenes on Col du Box Hill – Rapha now run luxury trips to more suitable poseur locations. They may be the only rides you can safely undertake without the fear of having your pink cycling jacket laughed at.