Previous Posts

  • Souplesse and Winter Training December 31, 2019Teocalli3676

    Lead Photo by Sportgraf

    A couple of years ago my wife bought me a set of Rollers for indoor training.  I fancied trying them as an alternative to the Turbo Trainer.

    At first they are somewhat terrifying – you quickly find out why some people recommend you start by setting them up in a doorway!  Though you also discover that if (when!) you come off the rollers the bike stops – it does not shoot you off through the patio doors,  though at first they can feel like a short cut to A&E.

    After 15 mins though I was up and running, so to speak, and after a few sessions managed to ride them Hands Free.

    Anyway, that’s not the point of this article.

    Riding Rollers I find that time passes quicker than on the Turbo Trainer as you do need to concentrate but given there is no resistance, unless you buy one of the newer models or have conductive rollers to be able to use induction resistance with magnets, what can you work on other than intervals?

    Well I have found there are two benefits of Rollers:-

    1.  I have increased my cadence.  I used to be something of a grinder but after my first winter using Rollers my cadence increased significantly and I was much more comfortable spinning.
    2. My Souplesse is much improved.  When riding on them I focus on having a consistent sound as I pedal.  Rather than having Woosh – Whoosh – Whoosh etc I focus on using the sound of my pedalling to smooth out my pedal stroke.  To some extent it comes as a natural feedback from riding Rollers.  If your rhythm is chopped you tend to be much less stable on them, so there is some intrinsic feedback loop just from learning how to ride on them.  Adding focus on the sound adds an extrinsic feedback loop to the process.

    The following two video clips try to illustrate this.  You may need to turn up the sound to hear the difference.  It’s not quite as clear as I hoped – I may try again.  Ha – forgot I’d put on those bibs!

    First chopped rhythm or pedalling squares. (Click to see Video)

    Square

    Second a smoother rhythm or pedalling circles.

    Souplesse

    Finally, a link that explains how to set up a DIY induction resistance on conductive rollers.  Unfortunately mine are plastic so I will have to wait till I wear them out.  Though I still have an old dumb Turbo for resistance sessions.

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  • Possibly the Perfect Pocket Pouch December 22, 2019Teocalli3705

    Over the years I’ve gone through numerous iterations of pouches for my emergency tool kit on the go.  Key criteria is that it and the components have to be minimalist, not rattle and fit easily in a jersey pocket.

    Some iterations have been close but until this year each had some limitations be it too long, to fat, too wide, too heavy, too big.  I know there are some versions of purpose designed pouches but they invariably are expensive and mostly somewhat bulky.

    Finally this year I think I’ve found possibly the perfect Pocket Pouch.

    Key criteria,

    1. Fits a jersey pocket – tick
    2. Lightweight (it’s single thickness nylon but well made) – tick
    3. Perfectly holds my spares – tick
    4. Cheap – tick

    The item in question came from Muji, a shop that describes itself as “with the purpose of restoring a vision of products that are actually useful for the customer and maintain an ideal of the proper balance between living and the objects that make it possible”.  I’ve previously come close with a couple of their pouches but this summer I found one in the local store that seems to have come up trumps for my requirements.

    My emergency kit precisely fits in this pouch and it’s just the right size for a jersey pocket.

    Contents of my emergency pouch are shown below.

    Emergency Pack Contents

     

    Left to right and top to bottom:

    1. Topeak patch kit holding spare valve core and quick link
    2. Lezyne instant patches
    3. Nitrile gloves
    4. Inner tube
    5. Tyre levers
    6. Multitool
    7. CO2
    8. CO2 adapter
    9. Tyre boot (piece of old tyre with the bead cut off)

    Just need to find a purpose for a drawerful of nearly but not quite samples.

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  • It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! December 22, 2019chuckp3699
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    Rode my Hollands yesterday and today. Starting out temp was in the 20s (F) both days. Am now road tubeless with Conti GP5000 TL tires on my Irwin AON TLR 38 wheels. And new Marque Hex bar tape. At a distance, it looks white. But it’s actually a black/white hex pattern. I like the look. The hex pattern is raised and creates a very grippy feel.

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  • The Kelly Legs by Wiscot December 13, 2019Teocalli3683

    Photo:  The Kelly Legs

    There they stand, not really on a podium, but some kind of platform, shared with various unknown well-wishers. There they stand, the stark personification of their profession to the point of absurdity; not a single extraneous bit of fat, just lean, honed muscle encased in thin, grimy skin. It takes more than 10,000 hours to get legs like these. These are the legs of Sean Kelly. These are the legs that have just spent 6 hours, 47 minutes and 51 seconds riding 246.7 kms to triumph in the 1984 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, beating Phil Anderson and Greg LeMond to win the oldest of the five “Monuments.” 193 riders started, only 55 finished.

    In 1984 cycling was on the cusp of clipless pedals becoming the norm in the peloton, a move spearheaded by Bernard Hinault in a collaboration with Look, better known for their ski bindings. Within a couple of seasons almost all riders would use them but some opted to stay with the tried and true clips and straps that had been ubiquitous for decades. It wasn’t that Kelly was against developments such as aluminum or carbon frames, better, non-wool clothing (he had turned professional in 1977 when the bikes and clothing hadn’t changed much in fifty years), but when it came to how he was connected to his bike, Kelly was old school and resolutely, determinedly, stuck with clips and straps well into the 1990s.

    One issue with clips and straps was the wear and tear the strap buckle could do to the outside of the shoe. Kelly’s solution? Duct tape. Ride/race specific and carefully trimmed, duct tape achieved several things: it protected the outer side of the shoe and added some security should laces come loose. Remember, this was before Velcro straps with their ease of one-handed adjustment became commonplace. The mystery here is just what brand of shoe Kelly’s wearing. 1984 was truly Kelly’s coming out year. He won an astonishing thirty-three races. Soon Sidi, Gaerne and Vittoria would come offering big money to the Carrick man to wear their shoes, but in 1984 he was still riding  . . . what? I’ve seen pictures where he’s clearly wearing the (now non-existent) French brand Rivat, but then in others he seems to be wearing Adidas shoes while in some Puma shoes with their distinctive “swoosh” seem to be that day’s choice. However, close inspection of several pictures tell an inconclusive story which jives with the times. It was not unusual, in fact it was commonplace, for riders to ride frames made by a preferred builder but decaled with another name. Even today, non-sponsor compliant logos are often covered up or obliterated.

    Close inspection of several Kelly photos from 1984 seem to show him wearing Adidas shoes with rather clumsily rendered Puma stripes on the side. This photo offers little concrete proof save to say they are mostly black mesh with plastic soles, and low cut around the ankle. Puma cycling shoes of this level had white soles; I think they’re Adidas Eddy Merckx shoes with the three white stripes literally blacked out and the tape helping with the cover-up.

    Shoe brand aside, from a more aesthetic point of view this picture has always been a favorite of mine. The incredible curvaceous muscularity of Kelly’s legs is emphasized in contrast with the nondescript pant legs of his companions. His black, curved sole cycling shoes jar marvelously with the assorted sneakers and heels around him. The various faces in the background, including the little boy who looks at the camera from between Kelly’s ankles, seem miniscule in comparison to the legs, giving the latter an almost monumental quality. And for a rider who won four of the five “Monuments” a total of nine times, monumental seems to be the perfect word.

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  • The Winter Bike by Wiscot November 26, 2019Teocalli3659

    Growing up in the west of Scotland, the weather was generally mild enough to ride year round – you just wouldn’t want to do it on the “good” bike. Every keen cyclist I knew had “the winter bike.” Usually it was older and had cheaper components, and mudguards (fenders) were basically obligatory. Woe betide the rider who showed up on a wet ride with no mudguards and proceeded to spray those behind him with road filth! Once the racing season ended – usually mid October, bar a few hill climbs – the good bike was retired and the winter machine bought out for the long slogs down the coast to Largs or around the Three Lochs (Loch Lomond, Loch Long, and the Gareloch).  These were the days when the old maxim of putting in the long winter miles still held true.

    My first decent bike was a 24” red Holdsworth. I bought it in 1981 I think, as that’s when I joined the Johnstone Wheelers. Then, when I bought my (team  colors) Raleigh in 82, the Holdsworth became the winter bike. When the Raleigh died in a collision with a car in 1984, I bought a gash steel frame (ruby red, “Frontiera” brand) and built it up until I got my Colnago in late 1984. The Frontiera then became the winter bike and remained so until a crack appeared in the right-hand chainstay; it wasn’t worth repairing and it was duly replaced by a green Brian Rourke time trial frame (bought from Malky Little, I believe) which was built up for winter use.  Bizarrely, when my parents moved house in 1993 (I was in the US by then) the Rourke went “missing” in the move. – along with my good racing wheels and tool kit. I’m still not sure I’ve ever gotten over this . . .

    Living in Wisconsin means two things: usually late spring, summer and fall can be lovely – and winters can be nasty. This year winter arrived in early November. Out came the winter bike. It’s a pretty standard aluminum frame, microshift brifters, Nashbar gears and brakes and odds and sods for everything else. It has some pretty great pink Vittoria tires I picked up on sale a few years ago – good tires, nice tpi and so what if they’re pink – they’re on the winter bike! And, of course, it has mudguards. Ironically, it’s probably just as good as my #1 bike in the 80s. The frame is good, the brifters work great, there are some carbon bits and the wheels are definitely decent.

    The winter bike is #4 in my road bike stable and it sees action from November through March. I’ve always called it my “winter bike,” never, ever does it get called a “beater” bike as such a moniker seems disrespectful: if it gets dirty it doesn’t complain and my conscience rests easy if it becomes so; it gets its fair share of maintenance. Over the summer it sits waiting quietly for the weather to turn and I forget just how nice a ride it is. It’s not super light or responsive – just a sweet, smooth ride which is just what you want when you’re going out when most folks would twitch the curtains and open a beer.

    And in Wisconsin we have a lot of beer.

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  • Ride Around The Bay – 2019 November 25, 2019sthilzy3645
    135 map.jpgIMG_0927.jpgJEF_6727-w43ahtiiw916wxxhia4i_.jpgIMG_0925.jpgJLL_8614-iyni1ni4r1m3giqtcsor.jpg

    Sharing my 14 year old epic ride on October 6, 2019,  doing 135km to raise funds for disadvantaged school kids.

    To get through the ride, I broke down the ride into days;

    Geelong to Queenscliff = Monday 35km

    Ferry to Sorrento = chill

    Sorrento to Safety Beach = Tuesday 62km

    Safety Beach to (via hills) Frankston = Wednesday 90km

    Frankston to Mordialloc = Thursday 106km

    Mordialloc to Albert Park Lake/finish = Friday 135km

    On Wednesday, my son started to crack as the road was undulating. He entered the “Pain Cave”, met “The Man With The Hammer”, brought to tears, processed distance traveled with distance to go at Frankston, 90km and he knows the road from Frankston to Albert Park, picked himself up, and completed the ride with gusto! Had me chasing his wheel in the the last 4km!

    Huge Chapeau to my son, and is now a legend at his school as a teacher recognized  his huge effort!

     

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  • Raymond Poulidor by Wiscot November 14, 2019Teocalli3636

    Photo:  Raymond Poulidor by Le Parisien

    Eternally Second, Eternally Beloved.

    For eighteen years he was there. Always, always, there. Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Luis Ocana, you name the superstar and Raymond Poulidor was riding alongside them shoulder to shoulder. Over a stunningly long career that stretched from 1959 to 1977, his palmares might not have matched those of his illustrious rivals but he had something that cannot be rendered in figures and words: respect. Many of the aforementioned riders would undoubtedly say that they rode harder because Poulidor was right behind them.

    Raymond Poulidor, who just passed away at the age of 83, may have earned respect from his fellow professionals, but from the French public he got more than that, he got love. The two are very different: Anquetil got respect, but was not loved. Poulidor received both. For an illustration of how much esteem Poulidor was held in, here’s a tale of two French cyclists in the mid 1960s.

    By 1965 Anquetil was cycling’s dominant rider. He had won five Tours de France, two Giros (including the Tour-Giro double in 1964) and one Vuelta, eclipsing Coppi’s record of seven grand tour victories. Nevertheless, the diminutive Norman was not as popular as his more solidly-built arch-rival Poulidor. Perceived as aloof and calculating in carefully rationing effort to maximum advantage, he was regularly jeered and booed upon winning whereas Poulidor, “the eternal second”, was greeted with adulation. Anquetil’s manager, Raphael Geminiani hatched an audacious plan: set Anquetil up to ride—and hopefully win—the Dauphine Libere and Bordeaux-Paris double. It was a calculated move by Geminiani to assert Anquetil in the eyes of the public as the greatest French rider.

    Anquetil did the double against all reason and odds and tearfully received the rapturous welcome in Paris that Geminiani had hoped for. The double had been accomplished. Never before, and never again, would a rider attempt such an audacious feat. But whether Anquetil ever truly won over the French public’s affection vis-à-vis Poulidor is debatable. Many would argue not. Certainly, Geminiani thought not: “I can still hear the way he was whistled when he rode. More than once, I saw him crying in his hotel room after suffering the spitting and insults of spectators.”

    Such disdain was never directed at Poulidor. Indeed, his nickname “Pou-Pou” was one of warmth and affection; Anquetil’s was “Maitre Jacques,” a moniker more suggestive of cold efficiency. The length of Poulidor’s career—18 years with one team, Mercier —and his easy-going demeanor charmed the French public. The son of poor farmers, he worked the fields, training after work. His rivals would poke fun at his humble background, suggesting that he could buy another cow with his winnings. This didn’t bother Poulidor who remarked, “No race, however difficult, goes on as long as a harvest.” His natural strength and stamina was coupled with a seemingly insatiable and irrepressible aggressive style of racing which won over the fans even though he often seemed to falter at the last asking in one race in particular: the Tour. Outside of his home grand tour he won Milan-San Remo, Fleche Wallonne, the Grand Prix des Nations, the Baracchi Trophy, the Dauphine Libere, the Vuelta,. The Tour du Haut Var and Paris-Nice. A superb career by any standard.

    For all these victories, if we should remember Poulidor for one ride, it came in the 1964 Tour. Poulidor had finished 8th in the 1963 Tour and was enjoying a great season with wins at Fleche and the Criterium National and top ten finishes at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Flanders. That year stage 20 of the Tour finished atop the punishing climb of the Puy de Dome. Poulidor was second on general classification, just 56 seconds behind Anquetil. A win in Paris was not out of the question. As the gradient grew harder the Spaniards Julio Jimenez and Federico Bahamontes zipped up the road leaving the eyes and passions of the estimated half million spectators focused on the battle royale behind. So evenly matched were Anquetil and Poulidor on the steep slopes they rode side-by-side, each at their limit. This wasn’t just two French riders seeking the same prize, this was a battle of France: The slim, calculating Norman who represented the “new” France of the early 60s and the “son of the soil, the “old” France in Poulidor. This was a sporting match-up that divided the country. Literally bumping elbows, each aware yet oblivious to their rival, they ground their way up the baking slope of the Puy, drenched in sweat. Slowly, inexorably, Poulidor eased ahead of Anquetil to finish forty-two seconds ahead of his shattered compatriot. With just three stages to go Poulidor was 14 seconds behind his rival and victory seemed even closer. However, the next two stages were won by Jean Stablinski and Benoni Beheyt, and alas for the Mercier man, the last stage was a time trial into Paris. Anquetil’s specialty. Final result? Anquetil the winner by fifty-five seconds, but Poulidor was quoted as saying, “I know now that I can win the Tour.”

    The rest is, as they say, history, and that win would never come. Poulidor finished second in his native Tour three times. Five times he was third and on another three occasions he finished in the top ten. That’s 11 top ten finishes out of 12, yet he never once wore the maillot jaune – a stunning fact that ranks up there with Freddy Maertens not winning a Monument. But for the rest of his career and life Raymond Poulidor had a place in the hearts of the French public. In his later years he was a fixture at the Tour – his smile and shock of white hair immediately recognizable by riders and fans alike. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s France would see home-grown Tour winners in Lucien Aimar, Roger Pingeon, Bernard Thevenet, Bernard Hinault and Laurent Fignon. All were popular, all were respected, but none ever matched the level of affection Poulidor enjoyed.

    On youtube there is video of that epic Puy de Dome battle with his Norman nemesis and pictures of it have come to define Poulidor’s career: always fighting, always giving his all. His last battle was fought not on the roads but in hospital, where he suffered his final loss. But even in death, he has still won, as the outpouring of genuine grief and loss has shown. Farewell Pou-Pou, the eternal second, eternal champion, eternally beloved.

     

     

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  • Is modern Cyclocross too soft? November 5, 2019Teocalli3587

    Came across this and given that the ‘cross season is upon us I thought it too good not to share.

    Are the hills and obstacles in modern cyclocross too easy – and the bikes too fragile?

     

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  • Life is a coffee ride October 29, 2019chuckp3623

    My ride yesterday put me over 5,000 miles for the year. Cortado at Velo Cafe at The Wharf in DC. One of my favorite stops when I’m doing city riding. This is a really cool place. Hardware store, bike shop, and coffee shop combined. Indoor bike parking. #tbt Renault jersey and #steelisreal Hollands.

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  • Climbs you Love to Hate October 19, 2019Teocalli3509

    Photo:  Hill with no reward by Teocalli

    Actually this isn’t so much about a climb but rather a hill or road section that you cannot easily avoid but is a pain with no / low reward.

    For me there is a section of road locally that is neither long, nor steep but it is just steep enough and long enough to be a grind but is not steep enough, nor long enough to to feel rewarded by the effort to get to the top.

    I suspect it is made worse by the fact that the gradient gradually increases and the section of road is straight and the first part visually looks like it should be about flat.

    At one point a while ago someone labelled the section of Strava as “Bastard Climb” and I could see their point.

    Unfortunately, it is hard for me to avoid as it is about my only route back for rides out and back in a particular direction and it is also towards the end of many of my routes.  So I just have to love to hate it.

    The nuts part is that I can do most of it in the big ring, in fact all of it if I monster it on the last bit.

    Bastard Climb?

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