Nov 292014
 

Bradley_Wiggins,_2012_Tour_de_France_finishFor the first time in what seems like a lifetime there will be no contender from the world of cycling at this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

The ten nominees were announced earlier this week with the likes of Rory Mcilroy (some golf bloke) and Lewis Hamilton (some car bloke) leading the nominations. Not one cyclist made the cut. After the glory years of 2011 and 2012 when Cav and Wiggo consecutively claimed the BBC honour, it is quite the comedown.

Of course after Cav’s disappointment in Harrogate and Froomey unfortunately not staying upright long enough to defend his Tour title, there were perhaps no glaringly obvious candidates. However there were riders who should have been in with a chance.

Sir Wiggo is perhaps the most obvious snub. The word ‘snub’ looked like it was going to be the defining one in Wiggo’s season after he was surprisingly left out of Team Sky’s tour squad. However his season soon got better. He won a silver medal on the track at the Commonwealth Games before focusing his attention on the World Championships time trial. In preparation he won the time trial around the streets of London in the Tour of Britain. He went on to absolutely smash the World Champs time trial, beating the great German Tony Martin by an impressive 26 seconds. It was a truly incredible performance and an achievement which should have earned recognition at the Sports Personality of the Year awards. His magnificent beard alone should surely win some sort of prize.

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Nov 212014
 

LemondAmerican history is littered with tales of great pioneers. Settlers moved west into previously uninhabited land in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, establishing the settlements which would evolve into the United States we know today. Following his great ancestors before him, Greg LeMond also battled difficult terrain (mainly the Alps and the Pyrenees) as he ventured into strange new territories.

Unlike the pioneers of yesteryear, LeMond was not in fact discovering new land. Instead he forged a path into the equally alien world of professional road cycling. Much in the same way that many of us Brits look at American Football and think it is a truly ludicrous sport, cycling was similarly frowned upon Stateside in the 1980s. One man helped to change those perceptions.

Greg LeMond was born in June 1961 in California and raised in Washoe Valley (imagine cowboy country and your mental image won’t be far wrong). He initially took up cycling as he was advised it would help in his ambitions to become a skier. However after bombing around on his bike he decided that two wheels were far better than two weird long things strapped to your feet and started to compete in cycling seriously. Weekends were regularly spent piling his gear into the back of the family VW campervan, setting off to various races around California, winning, and getting back in time for school. The kid was a natural, as they would probably say on American sports commentary.

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Oct 242014
 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been tipping you off on how to survive the winter commute by being visible in the dwindling light, keeping yourself warm and dry and making sure your bike is ready for the season’s inclement/biblical weather. All well and good and sure, no one wants hypothermia, but there’s really no substitute for being aware on the roads and cycling safely.

The chances are, many regular cycling commuters have probably experienced at least one incident on the roads that was hairier than a back-combed member of ZZ Top. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about the taxi driver who doesn’t actually understand basic principles of driving or the woman posting venomous Tweets about #bloodycyclists while at the wheel of her car. There are, however, a number of ways you can lessen the probability of becoming another grim statistic, besides illuminating yourself like the Blackpool Tower.

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Oct 242014
 

trottBritish cycling star Laura Trott successfully retained her omnium title at the European Track Championships after another last gasp victory.

Trott battled back to claim the gold medal on Sunday by winning the very last sprint of the event. This moved her one point ahead of her Belgian rival Jolien D’Hoore (we’re not too sure how it’s pronounced either) and secured a second successive win to reclaim the European title which she gained last year.

The win capped a successful week for the ever-mighty Great Britain team as they claimed six gold medals at the championships in Guadeloupe.

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Oct 172014
 

eddy

Belgium. Famous for chocolate, waffles, waffles with chocolate on top and… not much else really. Cycling perhaps isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when most people think of Belgium, but perhaps it should be. Belgium, after all, produced the greatest cyclist of all time.

Edouard Louis Joseph Merckx, Eddy to his mates, was born in June 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem (we’ve never heard of it either, it’s sort of near Brussels). After acquiring his first bike at the age of eight, Merckx subsequently showed that he was destined for greatness by beating all comers in local amateur races. His phenomenal will to win, no doubt fuelled by a healthy diet of chocolate waffles, was clearly apparent even in these early races.

At the age of 19, while most of his friends were still battling with acne and the mystery of the opposite sex, Merckx announced himself on a global stage by winning the world amateur title in France. Eddy turned professional just a year later in 1965 and won his first Milan-San Remo after a typically frantic sprint finish. He would go on to win the tough one-day classic an unprecedented seven times throughout his career.

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Oct 152014
 

There’s so much to this cycling lark, it seems. Especially when the inclement Great British Winter kicks in, with its rain and wind sending you perilously close to a very different path than the one you may actually have chosen, i.e. upright on the road. Not in a ditch/gutter/under the wheels of a bus. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been giving you handy hints on how to make your winter commute more bearable, by making yourself visible and kitting yourself out to get the better of the elements. This week, we’re talking about getting your bike ready for winter.

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Oct 032014
 

As the nights draw in and we move to the end of the summer road racing season it seems appropriate to reflect on the twilight of two of the peloton’s big personalities. Both David Millar and Jens Voigt have been possessed of mercurial talent at times, have had the mental strength to push their bodies to incredible levels of torture in the name of glory, but are also both characters about whom everyone around the world of cycling has an opinion. Continue reading »

Oct 022014
 
Photo courtesy of Raleigh

Like it or not, e-bikes are slowly but surely becoming a more mainstream product in the UK.

Chances are a large percentage of people who read the term ‘e-bikes’ in the opening sentence ran (or should that be cycled?) a proverbial mile, muttering something about cheating along the way. So kudos to those of you who are still with me.

Traditionally of course used by OAPs to teeter along to the Co-op, e-bikes are starting to enjoy something of an uplift in popularity. This is thanks in no small part to a rather surprising new target audience. Continue reading »

Oct 022014
 

When I started cycling last year, nothing could have prepared me for the senseless pain I experienced on a twice-daily basis, commuting through the howling wind and lashing rain of the Great British winter. The bad news is that this is largely as a result of the one thing you can guarantee (apart from death, but let’s not go there just yet), which is that winter in the UK is going to be cold at some point. The good news is that the way you prepare for that eventuality is going to have an enormous bearing on the level of pain you experience. Continue reading »

Sep 252014
 
Hopefully not your commute

As the days draw shorter, temperatures plummet and a new crop of Freshers arrive in Hollyoaks village, it can only mean one thing – that’s right, the holidays are over.  But that doesn’t just mean the return of the X Factor and unsuccessful attempts at layering.  It also means your commute to work is about to get approximately 400% more annoying. Over the next few weeks we’ll be giving you tips on how to stay safe, warm and dry on your commute over the coming months.

Being Visible

Colder temperatures and lashing rain do have implications for safe cycling and are environmentally certainly less pleasant to cycle in, but the most noticeable seasonal difference is the dwindling light and one of the most important elements of cycling safety is visibility. Continue reading »