Monday, 30 August 2010

The Bones of it

So I'm there charging around with a juggernaut brow
Overdraft, speeches and deadlines to make
Cramming commitments like cats in a sack
Telephone burn and a purposeful gait

When out of a doorway
The tentacles stretch of a song that I know
And the world moves in slow-mo
Straight to my head like the first cigarette of the day

And it's you and it's me
And we're sleeping through the day
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

Do I have time? A man of my caliber stood in the street
Like a sleepwalking teenager I know
And I dealt with this years ago
I took a hammer to every memento

But image on image like beads on a rosary
Pulled through my head as the music takes hold
And the sickener hits, I can work till I break
But I love the bones of you that I will never escape

And it's you and it's me
And we're sleeping through the day
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

And I can't move my arm
For the fear that you will wake
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away

And it's you and it's me
And we're sleeping through the day
And I'm five years ago
And three thousand miles away"

Lyrics by Elbow. 


Sometimes a song says what your looking for the words to convey what's going on. 

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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bike Rider

I have been many things on a bike in my time. I started off as a learner, a grommit, a boy let to discover the passion. Even though the first bike I remember having, a Raleigh Tommahawk which was a hand me down from my cousin, it didn't ignite my passion for bikes. It really was my gold Falcon BMX, yes bling tastic even back then. This was the bike which fuelled and changed me as a person. It's one of my strongest memories as a child, getting the bike on Christmas day, and the adventures that I had on that bike have stayed with me longer than many other things which Aunties and Uncles remind me of when I see them.

I've been obsessed with MTB's and still enjoy digging mine out to ride with the kids. With the recent(ish) move to the South Coast and with the Downs being so close I can feel a 140mm travel bike being on the purchase list at some point. I rode my first road bike in the 80's suicide levers and all, but I left it there for many years. Lots of things got in the way, as life does.

Road bikes, well I'm slightly obsessed and have had more than a few and less than a factory. I love them for everything that they allow me to do, and the freedom they bring. If you'd have asked me a couple of years ago I would have said "Yes, I am a Roadie", now I'd firmly say "I'm a Bike Rider". We can become so compartmentalised, and need to put ourselves into a box. If it's got two wheels I'm happy, and I'd even try three wheels at somepoint.

The thing is I love the weekend ride, but ironically, and no doubt like many, I spend much of my riding time commuting. When I lived in London, this could be a chore, a battle ground constantly fighting for space, trying to be aware of everthing around you. The combination of cat like ninja skills and an acute sixth sense made for many an interesting ride. I am sure that those skills will be lessened by the lack of a constant battle ground, but it's a trade off I'm happy to make. I still feel spoilt when I take the long way home, it's so different from the urban sprawl of London. The first 5 miles of my new commute are all urban sprawl (when coming from the work direction), and once this is over I have 11 miles of lanes to enjoy. The elevation gain is minor, but some of the views are stunning. The last three miles are on a local TT course which means its a fast little roller coaster. Recently I've found a road which allows the lanes to continue for another few more miles before I join the last 3/4 of a mile of the roller coaster.

When I can't commute I miss it. The ride gives me the time in the morning to be a better person when I arrive in the office and more importantly the ride home allows me to switch off ready to become a father, a husband and most importantly me again. I love being a Bike Rider.

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Rapha Continental | Ride the Rockies

<p>Rapha Continental | Ride the Rockies from RAPHA on Vimeo.</p>

The thing is what is really cool about this short film from the Rapha Continental Team is their passion for the 'The Ride'. The clothes, the bike is doesn't really matter as it is the journey that counts. The experience is shared, and maginified if spent with other people. I like the fact that the bikes of the Rapha Continental are all in the same colour scheme, black, white and pink. I am really pleased to see that they have moved on from just steel, you mean you didn't see that horny looking Moots, take another look.

The riding that they undertake is the kind of thing I love. In many ways it's the Punk Rock of Road Riding, mixing fun, competitveness and a spirit of adventure. I've always referred to this as Noddy Riding. The Rockies look amazing, and I'll have to add it to my 'To Ride List', which is a long one as I'm always finding new places to explore.

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Friday, 27 August 2010

News on the Wire ~ Team Lux

So the news coming through tonight is that Craft will be supplying the new Team Lux (wish they'd announce a bloody sponsor).

The staff & riders have previous experience having been the Team's (Saxo) clothing sponsor in the 2009 season.

Having seen the Winter & next years Summer kit they should get a well thought out product, and they produce some fantastic baselayers.

We are still to here who the major sponsor will be along with what Groupo and bike they'll use. Hopefully Eurobike will see some annoucements as the suspense is killing me.

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Thursday, 26 August 2010

Press release from Cervelo, and a bit from me on the bottom!

Cervélo looks to new opportunities
26-Aug-2010: Cervélo confirmed today that it would not continue as a cycling team title sponsor after the end of the 2010 season. 

Certain subtle changes in the rules that govern pro cycling, have established a trend towards bigger budgets to ensure participation in all the big races, and this is not something with which we are comfortable. We were okay with the significant commitment we originally made to the team, but to increase it is not prudent. 

To create the best opportunities for riders, staff, sponsors and other stakeholders, a bigger team environment is needed. At the same time, the very positive response to a focus on "more than just racing" has been great. 

We look forward to continued involvement in pro cycling at the highest level with an emphasis on product R&D, as we have since 2003. To that end, we will announce the details soon. 

Peter Donato | Cervélo Public Relations

So that's the official statement from Cervelo. Does that mean that the UCI are to blame. Man this will set Scott and John off from the Velocast. It's a shame a real shame and I'll be sorry to see the Cervelo project end, no matter how many issues I've had with my S2. 

I hope all the riders, team staff and personel that we never see all mange to get secure jobs. Cervelo Test Team RIP, thanks for two fantastic seasons. 

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Garmin ~ Cervelo, my take on it

Every year just before Eurobike there is usually a big story that breaks. I'm not sure I can remember last years but I know it happens.

So Garmin & Cervelo merge, well kind of. It's been reported Haussler, Hushovd, Hammond & Kiler are all to be donning a new uniform come January 1st.

So we know that the Team will be using Cervelo bikes, but what about the other kit.

Cockpit ~ bar, stem & seatpost. I can't see any change here & 3T will still remain.

Wheels ~ again I think that this will remain unchanged & the work that the Garmin Team have done it seems crazy to switch back to Zipp, even though all the riders have ridden on them.

Tyres ~ there will be a switch to the Mavic rubber, well as long as they stick with the wheels.

Saddles ~ again I don't see a change here either as both Teams perches have been supplied by Fi'zi:k.

Groupsets ~ here's the tough one. Garmin have long been close to the Shimano brand & have been early adoptors of the new technology. Cervelo made the switch to Sram this season & cite performance advantages as their made reason. So where do I think they'll go, Sram is my guess.

Pedals ~ well there are three contenders. Shimano, Speedplay & Mavic. Shimano well follow suit if they go for the Japanese brand. Going for Speedplay would make sense as Cervelo currently use the San Diego brand. Mavic, well what better way to get people to use their pedal by getting a 'Blue Ribbon' team on them. As the pedal is basically a cross between a Shimano & a Look the transition from existing system shouldn't be too painful.

Clothing ~ I think this will go to Castelli. Given the choice I would.

Helmet ~ I think this will remain with Giro as I reckon JV is tight with the Giro crew.

But the biggest question is what colour the new Team kit will be? Black, White & red argyle anyone.

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It's the rumour mill, again!

Ok so the current hot rumour is that Cervelo Test Team won't function in the format that it currently does. Hushovd, Haussler, Hammond & Kiler are all linked to a move to Garmin. For sure this would add some serious fire power to the American team for the Classics. I think the experience of these riders could help develop the riders on Team Garmin who have a passion for these races to a new level. It would be like taking an advanced learning course by adding the knowledge of Hammond & Kiler into the mix.

So what may become of CTT? Another theory is that the rest of the team would go to the new Team Lux. I mentioned recently that Andy Schleck needs to get some performance advantage from the bike to beat Contador. I'm sure, as they have rieden them before, that the Schleck's know this to be true, especially Frank as he won on Alp d'Huez on an Aero bike. This advantage maybe short lived if the rumoured Specialized Aero bike finally makes an appearance.

What about other long standing suppliers & the existing sponsorship agreements. Depending on what happens we may see some going to Garmin & others going to Team Lux. Castelli will be an interesting one, new to Garmin or the Lux Team, either way the riders would be happy bunnies as the team kit is among the finest ever made.

Lots going on & I'm sure as Eurobike hits next week I'm sure there will be many more rumours to come. It'd be great to see an announcement, but we will just have to wait until then.

The last two years in Pro Cycling have been filled with excitement. It looks set to continue into next year. Remind me again why we have an off season, I'm so excited I can hardly wait.

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Saturday, 14 August 2010

Pictures tell a Story ~ Part Two ~ Jered Gruber

Continuing my little series on photographers. I'm lucky enough to be allowed to use images from a whole bunch of guys and this is my way of saying thanks, and if you are from the Industry take a look at these guys (well so far no ladies) and if you can use them do as they have some great stuff. Jered works (freelance, please correct me if I'm wrong Jered) and writes/photographes for various online and magazines. You can see his stuff on which is a great site and should be on your favourites list.

Like many photo journalists he has to cover lots of subjects, be it the newest bike, a race or a ride feature. I've tried to pull together a collection of shots that I like and I hope you do too in a way to showcase his work. Once you've seen these you'll begin to recognise his work when you see it. Jered and Ashley (I've inclued a shot of her in the 2nd set) are getting married in early September so I wish them all the best for that special day and their life together.

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Friday, 13 August 2010


Clothing and the colours that fill our wardrobe probably say a lot about us. Not being trained it that area of anaylsing, I'll refrane from commenting. But it I look at my cycling wardrobe it's filled with a lot of black, white, red, blue and a little orange.

Black is probably the classic Armani look, timeless & it hides a multitude of lumps and bumps. White, darling confident and best employed in the summer months when the tanlines have developed nicely.

The Red, Blue & Orange, well a bit of colour never goes a miss, although I'm not a big fan of yellow.

So for next year I think shades of blue will be popular and in some wardrobes a welcome break from the favourite hews that I'd normally go for. I think the flashes of fluro will hark back to the late 80's, but from what I've seen with bundles more style.

So when looking for some new clobber this year, take a step back and see if there's a second colour that might take your fancy, adding some more colour might brighten your day.

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Goodbye Ridley

Rumours doing the rounds is that Katusha will no longer b&w riding on the great Belgian bike brand Ridley. This is a shame as the Team & brand seem to fit. Who will replace them, that's not confirmed as yet.

So I'd the rumours are true does this open the door for Ridley to be the brand of choice for the new Team Lux. This would seem to be a good fit, but I'm sure it'll be a few weeks before everything is confirmed.

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Friday, 6 August 2010

Stage 2 synopsis

This Tour has a real feel of Epic about it. Normally the first week is pretty boring, and has always made me ponder should Grand Tours be two weeks, but that's another article all together.

I thought that the climbs, the general terrain and the weather would all come into play today. What I forgot to factor in is the most unpredictable element, the human one.

Crashes again have marred what was set to be a nod to the ASO races in the Walloon region. The final climb proved to be instrumental but not for a rider making a daring escape and dancing away on the pedals. But no it would be greasy roads that would force Cancellara to exhurt the power of the yellow jersey (combine with his patron status in the peloton. The peloton was encouraged to let them regroup, but this in the end proved to give then

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Thursday, 5 August 2010

Beach and Bikes

I'm not the worlds biggest beach fan, or maybe I should rephrase that I'm not a fan of crowded commercial beaches, groomed & so clean as they have been raked & scraped each morning. The beach at Bamburgh is lovely rugged, with rock pools and swept clean by the waves & nothing else - truly beautiful.

It was pretty much empty, & if there was 50 people on it I would be amazed. It's funny that with all that space people still gather towards the same spots and in this case gravitated towards the rock pools.

Coming home at nearly 7pm, the weather was still very warm & the sky was clear. The long walk back to the car loomed & now feeling like a pack horse as the helpful children of a few hours previous had transformed into tired hungry ones hardly able to lift a foot, never mind a bag.

So coming through the dunes & just in front of our car was a whole collection of bicycles. They weren't the most fancy of bikes but I loved the fact that they'd ridden to the beach. I can't wait till I can get back on mine, the two combinations of the freedom of a bicycle & beach are a heady combination, halcyon days for sure.

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Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Chain~L HIMO a review

There seems to be a few products that over the years I seem to have tested a lot, and lubes are one of them. What my usual motivation is that it is normally spurned on by the fact I'm not happy with what I'm currently using. What is different this time is that I'm really happy with my current lube so the Chain~L stayed on my shelf for months.

I decided I'd apply it about 4-6 weeks ago. This seemed to be timed nicely with a foaming degreaser arriving on my desk (cheers Andy) so it was a good time to utilise both products. I'll review the degreaser properly later, but I was super impressed and in short it works.

So chain is cleaned and looked fantastic, you know what I mean that silver glow normally reserved for a box fresh product. I went for the none warmed application option and applying it was like using a quality honey. Yes it really is that thick. It made application a pain in the arse & less precise than a slightly thinner product. So I left if overnight and removed the excess lube in the morning pre-ride.

The proof is in the pudding. Riding it the chain felt smooth & very quite. These are very appealing as there's nothing worse than a squeeking or creaking bike. As I expected the lube went black after the first ride. I removed the excess, but I was surprised to have to repeat the process for a second, and a third time (after some riding inbetween)

I kept on using the lube for about three weeks, until a heavy rain storm forced me to think about reapplying it. The chain became sticky, lacking that silky smooth feeling that had been common place until then. Remembering how thick the lube was I decided to warm the lube as mentioned on the bottle. This made the whole application process a lot smoother. It wasn't totally like a conventional wet lube, as it still had more weight behind it, but it was better.

Okay to the plus & negative points:

+ points:
The lube gives a smooth feel under the pressure of pedal strokes.

It does seem to last, and although I can't report on the 1000 mile claim I wouldn't be surprised if it could. The rain that caused the wash out was heavy so no minus points in my book as any lube would have suffered the same fate.

- points:
I don't like the spray off from the lube when pedalling. I'm surprised that when the surface appears to be clean of the lube a few kilometres pushes out the product from inside, quickly making the chain black. The secondary splatter is annoying as the rear mech & jockey wheels become sticky.

The applicator nozzle is crap & doesn't allow the product to flow easerly, which on a super thick lube is a pain.

This next comment isn't really performance based but I really didn't like the smell. It smelt like I was running along with a Chinese takeaway as it had a strong sesame smell.

It works for sure & although I can't really comment on the longevity of it, 3-4 weeks of riding indictaes that results could be favourable. I didn't like the mess, even after cleaning off the excess it would reappear a couple of times & the extra cleaning to remove the throw off spray became a process I grew quickly tired of. So it really hasn't made me want to switch brands although I have plans to use this on the Winter & MTB bikes as I think it has better applications there.

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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Cake Watch ~ Bamburgh Castle

You can see the large selection of cakes on offer from the photo below. The choice was hard.

After this discussions on Twitter this morning about Cappuccino, I opted to play it safe with a café latte. It's a bit too hot at first but it's ok. Nothing to write home about.

For the cake I went for an Orange & Lemon drizzle cake. Great texture, firm but beautifully moist. The combination of the two citrus fruits is a taste bud tingling sensation, a real winner. It's the kind of cake that deserves to be a bigger piece as you can't help but saying 'here try a bit'.

So scores on the doors:
Coffee 6/10
Cake 9/10 (a bigger piece would get a ten)

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