Posts Tagged ‘Bradley Wiggins’

This is how I want to see Cancellara, Wiggins and Martin do the Hour record

November 25, 2013

Quite a few people are getting terribly excited that Bradley Wiggins, Fabian Cancellara and now Tony Martin could all attempt to break the Hour record within the next few months. But the interest surrounding time trialling’s triumvirate throwing their pointy hats into the ring is surely in inverse proportion to the low level of excitement involved in watching the event itself. Basically, you’re looking at 60 minutes of a man going around in circles – or three hours if they all end up doing it. Watching Strava updates would be more thrilling (although if an attempt fails, you may in theory have witnessed the fastest time for a brand new segment).

So here’s how I’d like to inject some interest into the proceedings: Bradley, Fabian and Tony attempt the record at exactly the same time in their home countries, all linked up by a live simulcast. Now that’s what I call a race.

The Hour, of course, has been attempted behind closed doors, but in an age where we can watch feeds of small, obscure races, that approach would just seem retrograde and not befitting the prestige of the event. Plus, this is a unique opportunity to supply the cycling community with exactly what it craves: an orgy of raw, uncompromising and constantly-updated data. Split the screen into three, show where each competitor’s distance is in relation to the other two and how close they are to beating the record. If that doesn’t get your stat bone tingling, then nothing will.

The combination of what fans love most about the sport – athletic achievement matched by a dynamic use of technology – would make my fantasy Hour record a fascinating spectacle. The Superbowl of cycling, no less. Who’s in?

Why Chris Froome might not win the Tour de France

June 14, 2013

Chris Froome is likely to win the Tour de France because he has won this year’s edition of the Dauphiné. If you crunched the numbers and analyzed the manner of his victory, that might turn out to be an accurate prediction. Purely from a historical perspective, though, the opposite is true: Froome is unlikely to win in July, chiefly because he won in June and has never won the Tour before.

Only Luis Ocaña (1973), Bernard Thévenet (1975) and Bradley Wiggins (2012) have won the Dauphiné and claimed their first or solitary TdF victory in the same year. That’s three riders in the 66-year history of the Dauphiné, with a 37-year gap between the second and third. And the notion of the Dauphiné as a harbinger of a debut Tour win becomes even flimsier when you consider that Ocaña, a winner of the Dauphiné on two previous occasions, had the advantage of Eddy Merckx’s absence from the ’73 Tour.

I want Froome to win this year. I would also like him to take at least two more Tour wins. Because if he does, he will have bested Thevénet’s achievement of being the only member of this select Dauphiné-Tour club to take a second Tour de France victory.

The rules of The Rules

November 16, 2012

Against The Rules

1. To follow The Rules, you must resolutely ignore the obvious truth: it is not your duty to follow anyone’s arbitrary rules. If it were, you would never ride a bicycle in the first place. You would be a gym slave, or a couch potato, or a golf nut.

2. But if you want to be treated like a golfer, then you’ll fully embrace the second rule of The Rules: cycling is one big clubhouse and, as such, there must be a dress code, or chaos shall reign. Sock length, correct usage of caps and the positioning of eyewear – these things are the equivalent of designating which ties are acceptable in the bar area. And by obsessing over sartorial details, you’re attempting to obviate the most marvelous aspect of cyclists’ appearance: their inherent, proud, glorious daftness. What other pastime would allow you to routinely adopt the aesthetic of a superhero (Zabriskie), a mod (Wiggins), a human-sized sex toy (Cipo) or a tweedy fop, all without violent repercussions? Ridicule, to paraphrase a wiser man than myself, truly is nothing to be scared of in the realm of the bicycle.

3. Another man who is also much wiser than me recently opined: “Lists move in when love moves out.” And so it is with The Rules. For its adherents, the pure joy of riding has dissolved to such an extent that you need a rule to remind yourself of that long-forgotten pleasure (it’s entry number six, if you’re looking to somehow reclaim that feeling). You have become a librarian of the soul, observing an empty superstition that cultivating the correct tan lines or avoiding frame-mounted pumps will somehow make things better. It won’t. The magic is over. The romance has gone. But hey – there’s always golf, fellas!

4. If you need to go on the internet to learn the guidelines for courteous, safe cycling, then you don’t ride with a club. You are alone. Of all the rules of The Rules, this one is the most tragic.

5. Alpha males do not need to read a list telling them it is vitally important to own bicycles more expensive than their car, or that they’re a “badass” for riding in inclement weather. They do these sorts of things instinctively, because alpha males are creatures of action, biologically programmed to thump their chests. Of all the rules of The Rules, this is the most comedic: you will never be an alpha male, but you must try your absolute hardest to be a facsimile of one. Even though the real silverbacks are genetically predisposed to not give a toss about you.

6. Similarly, you may not be a sexist berk, but the rules of The Rules demand that you snigger at a story about Sean Kelly valuing his wife less than his car or his bike, even though he may not have said the words attributed to him in rule 11. Oh, and there’s beer. Apparently beer is a key component of your identity as a man. True, there is also an admirable rule advising men not to get all antsy if they are overtaken by a woman. But only two mentions of female cyclists among 91 entries? We’re back in the metaphorical clubhouse again!

7. “Hey,” the Ruleistas might say, “lighten up, dude! The Rules are funny!” A sensible response is to direct them to the photograph at the top of this post. Seriously, is anything in The Rules as funny as that guy breaking them? And if you can’t be funnier than the thing you’re mocking then, surely, you have failed.

Lance falling

October 11, 2012

Nine years ago, Jen and I went to a bar on the Haymarket, had a few drinks, met some fellow cycling fans and watched Lance Armstrong fall off his bike. The famous tumble on the road to Luz Ardiden caused by a spectator’s musette caught in Armstrong’s handlebars had taken place earlier that day, although we hadn’t turned up with the intention of watching the yellow jersey and Iban Mayo have a whoops-a-daisy. We didn’t even know it had happened – both of us had been at work, Twitter hadn’t been invented yet, and mainstream news outlets didn’t give a toss. The reason why we went to watch a big screen at a West End watering hole had something to do with engaging in what was a unique experience for us in 2003: being in a room with other bicyclepeople who liked watching bicycle races. Because we knew very few people who did.

The shindig at the Sports Café was organised by Phil Cavell and Julian Wall of Bikepark in Covent Garden, which later evolved into Cyclefit, the business which is more or less responsible for bicycle fitting becoming a standard part of the bike-buying process. Paul Callinan, who had chatted to me at the Hillingdon circuit when I tentatively started racing, was among those attending. A few months later, after Bikepark stepped down from organising its two popular weekend group rides, Paul and a couple of friends would seize the momentum by reviving a name that Jules had coined in the mid-nineties for the early incarnation of his shop’s team – and so it came to pass that the all-new London Dynamo, which started life as a discussion in Paul’s kitchen, became a phenomenon that swiftly (and inadvertently) grew to be bigger than every long-established club in the south-east. Also propping up the bar on that July evening was Nick Peacock (he later sold me his Merlin frame after he became Dynamo’s second club captain, although I think we didn’t get round to speaking to each other that night) and triathlete-turned-demon-time-trialist Martin Williamson, one of many kindly ’Mos who gave me a lift to races during my first season as a non-car-owning fourth cat. But that night we were all more or less strangers to each other.

So there we all were, the many and varied chums of Bikepark, watching Armstrong fall off, get back up, wallop his groin into his top tube as he came out of his pedal and then solo away to victory. Chapeau! Except no one exclaimed “Chapeau!” or “Hat!” because it hadn’t occurred to any of us yet that pretension or irony had a place in cycling. The mood was more of muted amazement rather than the whooping, roaring enthusiasm you now get at Look Mum No Hands! during an eventful moment of a big race. This was fascination before it evolved into fandom. And we all know the aspects of Armstrong’s story that fascinated us: beating cancer and then beating everyone, a singular character with a single ball. Personally, I loved watching his movements on the bike, swaggering when he was out of the saddle, and the robotic, propulsive, high cadence when he was seated – a contained, measured ferocity. Yet most of the conversations that night weren’t about Armstrong or pro cycling, but about our own, more modest, adventures: where we had been riding, where we planned to ride or race, each of us glimpsing the others’ characters and experience (invariably much greater than mine) by learning about their cycling history.

And when Dynamo began, I still didn’t know who my riding chums actually were. They each had a name, a bike and stories about their riding, all of which helped to identify the less vocal members who dwelt beneath the ubiquitous mask of helmet and sunglasses, but the life they lived beyond our weekly 50-mile training loop across the Surrey Hills was a distant vista. Before setting out one Sunday, Paul muttered wearily to me about having practically no sleep because he had been on call all night. Ah-ha, I thought – a doctor! It took a while for me to discover that he actually worked in IT for a bank, and being on call involved piping zeroes and ones to the Far East in the early hours of the morning. But at least I knew his name – I can still recall the delight at discovering “Nicholas Peacock” on the finishing list of Dynamo’s inaugural Beginners’ Series race, because the surname was part of a long-standing in-joke between myself and Jen. (And as it’s a slightly bizarre gag which isn’t aimed at Nick, it’s probably best Jen and I keep it to ourselves…)

Dynamos were Dynanonymous to each other – but the one name everyone knew, whether they had a rich history of riding or had just started out, was Lance Armstrong. There was a unique combination of factors that led to Dynamo confounding a British Cycling official’s prediction to Paul that we would probably attract a total of around two dozen members: as the only club to have a regular ride in the cycling mecca of Richmond Park, we were conspicuous; we welcomed all-comers; we were, and still are, a friendly bunch; and, in a major departure from the aesthetic of the time, our jersey didn’t comprise a clumsy mélange of fonts and colours or resemble something an estate agent might hammer onto a stick. But I think the main reason why Dynamo grew so rapidly was due to a pool of new, unaffiliated riders who had recently taken up the sport after an English-speaking athlete had caught their attention by repeatedly winning the Tour de France. Armstrong was the key that unlocked the entrance to a previously clandestine world – and if he could get on a bike after what he had been through, then why couldn’t you?

So the blue train of the US Postal Service team unwittingly begat a blue, black and orange locomotive – although it is there that the parallels, like two diesels thundering towards each other, must screech to a halt. I can dimly remember a line in Procycling magazine claiming that Armstrong-related catchphrases such as “No chain! No chain!” and “How d’you like them apples?” had become de rigueur on club runs – and oh, how I cringed, because from my experience of Dynamo, amateur cycling didn’t take hero worship or wish fulfillment to those extremes. Talking about Armstrong, or pro cycling generally, was an excuse for men (sadly, there were only men in those days) to indulge in the necessary human act of gossiping, sharing our awe about feats that had amazed us, trading information, often as a means of trying to work out who would do what the next time around. Would Jan Ullrich ever win another Tour? Could winning the Dauphiné prove to be a poison chalice for the Texan? And, inevitably, along came the only question that never went away: do you think Lance is clean?

Fast forward a few years, and half a dozen ’Mos are sitting on one of the benches outside the Roehampton Gate café in Richmond Park after the Parkride. I’m one of them; two others are also long-standing members (although they’re not the Dynamos I mentioned earlier). Armstrong has decided not to contest the US Anti-Doping Agency’s case against him, and the consensus around the table is that, as a result, no one will truly know if the man stripped of his seven Tour wins ever cheated. Most think the case should never have been pursued because it happened a long time ago, everyone was at it, and USADA doesn’t have any authority in the matter anyway. One Dynamo calls USADA boss Travis Tygart “Travis Dickface”.

Well, Mr Dickface does have the authority, and USADA’s 200-page report released yesterday, featuring damning testimony from every American Tour rider who rode for USPS and Discovery, may convince the doubting Dynamos I listened to that morning. Perhaps I should have pointed them in the direction of the truth: there were some professional cyclists who asked Tygart to sit in as an observer when they were questioned as part of the original federal investigation into USPS – so USADA had to pursue the allegations, because this is what they are funded to do. Anything less would have been corrupt.

But I didn’t say anything. And I’m pleased I kept my trap shut, because the opinions I heard that morning were not those of diehard fans desperately clutching at straws; they were an expression of disconnection from a complicated story that has been twisting and turning for years. True, a few of my cycling chums have followed the slow, inexorable exposure of the EPO years, but they tend to be the minority whose interest in pro cycling began prior to Armstrong’s appearance. I get the impression that most of the cyclists I know have simply not followed the diffuse trail of whispers and nose-tapping which has been played out mostly on fan sites and forums. They’re not angry or disappointed about Armstrong’s fall from grace, because they’ve not been exposed to much of those areas of the internet where anger and disappointment reigns. Threads on our own forum these days about tyre choice, groupsets or any other quotidian aspect of bike riding dwarf those about Armstrong, while the full-throated, joyful cheers we’ve given to Wiggins, Cavendish and other home-grown heroes are more passionate, more engaged than the interest anyone had showed for the Texan. One reason for that enthusiasm is that the likes of Wiggo and Cav are British, and their Olympic exploits were performed on roads we’ve all ridden. Another reason, of course, is that the performances have become more believable.

So let’s remember the Tour de France 1999-2005 in this way: lots of people took loads of drugs and did some amazing things, and we all had a good time witnessing them. But like the big screen looming over our conversations that night at the Sports Café, Armstrong’s adventures have proved to be just the background noise to our own experiences on bicycles. It’s not about the bike rider who brought us together – if, indeed, it ever was.

Bradically different

July 26, 2012

It isn’t discipline or drive which defines serious cyclists; it’s a lack of focus. You can hear it when we talk: a climb in Surrey, a mountain in France, a Tour stage from 20 years ago, last week’s chipper race – all tumble and flow into our conversations. With cycling fans, nothing is small, long ago or far away.

By becoming the first British rider to win the Tour, Bradley Wiggins is, to me, a living expression of this culture that expresses road cycling in all its forms, all at once. I saw him at the now-defunct Eastway circuit quite a few years ago, dressed in his Française des Jeux kit, racing among amateurs (he lapped the field and sat up, allowing the race to be decided without him). More amazingly, Jen inadvertently saw his willy as he got changed in the car park. Imagine that: a professional cyclist sticking to the age-old amateur tradition of disrobing in front of a car boot (even though Eastway was, at the time, the one circuit in London that had proper changing facilities…)

Some Tour winners are like stone icons standing upon a mountain. To me, Bradley is the boy on a poster inside the bike hut at the Hillingdon circuit, holding his winner’s bouquet. He’s the fella who conquered the mighty Pyrenees and once trained by riding up the pimple in Richmond Park. He’s here, there and everywhere – like cycling is at the moment. Like we are.

Tea de France: week four and the Tea GC

July 22, 2012

Stage 19, Saturday 21 June
Bonneval – Chartres (ITT), 53.5km
Winner: Bradley Wiggins (Sky)
Brew: Fruits Rouge Wu Long
They say: “Raspberry and wild strawberry flavors. Low in caffeine.”
We say: Yeah, sure – it’s just raspberry and strawberry, like Wiggins’ time trial victory was just pedaling and a funny helmet. The brief description above doesn’t do justice to the full, rollicking ride this tea takes you on. Open the sachet and whompf – we’re rolling down the ramp with a fizzing raspberry aroma. Empty it in the pot, pour in the water and you’re settling in to the scent of wet earth. Then comes the long, steady brewing section (at a recommended time of seven minutes, this was the longest wait of all our teas) followed by a woody taste hitting the finish line at the back of your palate. Bravo!

Stage 20, Sunday 22 July
Rambouillet – Paris Champs-Élysées, 120km
Winner: Mark Cavendish (Sky)
Brews: Pu Er Imperial and Dong Ding
They say: Pu Er: “A very fine crop, with many buds for this very particular type of tea. Its powerful scent is reminiscent of damp soil and bark. Its name means ‘trouser bottom’. A Chinese folk tale tells how the tea pickers keep the best leaves for themselves, hiding them in their pockets before taking them home with them. Pu Er tea is highly regarded in Chinese medicine for its curative properties. It lowers cholesterol levels, they say, it dissolves fats, helps digestion, improves blood circulation and lowers the effects of alcohol. This tea improves with age, owing to the specific type of fermentation that affects the tannins.”
Dong Ding: “This tea which grows on the eponymous mountain, means ‘Icy peak’. It is considered by tea lovers to be one of Taiwan’s best. The leaf, which is pearly and moderately fermented, gives the liqueur a particular yellow-orange colour that is unique in the world of tea. Its scent is both silky and lively, its taste recalls the flowery side of the little fermented Wu Long (oolong) teas and also that of the fruitier, woodier Fancy teas. An exceptional crop.”
We say: The final day of the Tour is supposed to be simple: a procession into Paris, a crit on the Champs Élysées and we’re done. If only the last section of our tea odyssey had been as straightforward. Pu Er, while in the packet, smells more like ordinary tea than all the other brews we’ve had. Add hot water and the scent is transformed: we’re in a wood-paneled room that retains the oddly comforting aroma of old cigarette smoke. A sip reveals that it actually tastes like tobacco, too. A few more gulps of this red-tinged oddity and we’ve acclimatised. I have a second cup; Jen passes. We decide to give Dong Ding a spin and our opinions become more sharply divided: I think it has a gassy odour, while the taste reminds me of farts and wet, miserable afternoons in Balham; Jen smells the perfumes Opium and Amarige and tastes… well, nothing really. But at least we both agree that Dong Ding is a bit of a clanger.

The Tea GC
It’s been a historic three weeks of racing, and an incredible four weekends of drinking teas. Now we reveal which brews are our Wiggins, Froome and Nibali.
Third place: Thé des Moines. Light, calming, floral. A delight.
Second place: Thé du Hammam. Creamy, vanilla-like, echoes of Earl Grey. And it leaves a mild tingle on your tongue.
First place: Margaret’s Hope. Malty with a rich, woody aftertaste. Deep and enriching. A classic.

So there you have it. Our tea journey has been drained to the very dregs. If you fancy some of the brews me and Jen have been tasting, have a look at Le Palais Des Thés. Happy supping!

The Bike-Chucking World Championships

July 18, 2012

For some reason, Bradley Wiggins threw his bicycle into a ditch during Monday’s stage to Pau.

The Tour de France leader calmly removed his bottles before jettisoning his Pinarello. And what sort of behaviour is that? You’re never going to win the Bike-Chucking World Championships without completely losing your rag, fella.

But then Brad doesn’t have anything to prove: he already has the bike-chucking bronze medal for throwing his Felt to the ground in disgust during the 2009 world time trial champs in Switzerland.

The standard of Tour de France bike-chucking was set by Bjarne Riis, who takes the second step of the podium for his spirited two-handed throw at the Disneyland time trial in 1997.

But it’s a Brit who is the undisputed King of the Flingers: step forward David Millar, who lost out on a stage win at the 2008 Giro due to a mechanical failure one kilometer from the finish in Contursi Terme. The Garmin man’s chain snapped while he was out of the saddle, causing him to bash his gentlemen’s area on the top tube – and the resultant pain and frustration inspired a magnificent, spinning throw over the barriers.

Bravo, sir!

Tea de France: week two

July 11, 2012

Like an ambitious third cat switching from a heart rate monitor to a power meter, Team Tea has upped its game this week by investing in a valuable piece of hardware: the Home-Tek Aqua Sensor Kettle and Water Filter.

With this handy device, we are now able to prepare each brew to the manufacturer’s recommended temperature and keep the water warm for a second pot should we so desire. And we did very much desire another swig of a certain brew last weekend – so come with us now as we describe the highs and relative lows of our tour of teas. Strainers at the ready – let’s par-tea!

Stage 7, Saturday 7 June

Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles, 199km
Winner: Chris Froome (Sky)
Brew: Thé Des Alizes
They say: “A green tea enlivened by flower petals and delicately scented with pieces of white peach, kiwi and watermelon. The green tea and the juicy freshness of the fruit are wonderfully balanced. Can be drunk hot or iced.”
We say: On screen, the sensational double act of Froome and Bradley Wiggins taking the stage win and the yellow jersey respectively; in our mouths, a much less impressive double-act of fruits and green tea. Peach dominates, but who really wants peaches in their cuppa? Well-blended, so not the unpalatable taste you might expect, but for us it’s not worth a revisit. A curiosi-tea.

Stage 8, Sunday 8 June
Belfort – Porrentruy ,157.5km
Winner: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ–BigMat)
Brew: Margaret’s Hope
They say: “Fruity with a great character. Special feature: it is invigorating and dark because of the greater proportion of Assam tea plants (20%) than Chinese plants on the plantation, something that is not very common in Darjeeling. It is a much sought after tea, which Darjeeling enthusiasts find ideal in the morning.”
We say: If yesterday’s tea was an oddi-tea, today’s was back to normali-tea. You could, if you wished, happily throw a splash of cow juice in this one. But as cycling history fan Thibaut Pinot proved with a thrilling solo stage win which got his directeur sportif Marc Madiot banging his car door with joy, a love of tradition doesn’t mean you have to be dull. This brew has a lovely malty Assam base and a rich, woody aftertaste. The overall flavour is deep and enriching. Unquestionably our top tea thus far.

So there we are. Margaret’s Hope leads our tour of teas – and, appropriately for British cycling’s domination of the Tour, it’s the only brew in our selection that has an English name. Who will be its competition for the top of the tea GC? We’re giving no tea-sers. Come back soon to find out…

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #12

August 12, 2011

5 UP A dog in a jersey
Look! It’s a dog wearing a British National Champion’s jersey! And his name is Bradley Waggings! Or Grrr-aint Thomas! Or maybe – ha ha! – Ni-collie Cooke! That’s right! Look at the picture of the doggy which Cycling Weekly tweeted! Not at the news – the doggy! Don’t even think about bike shops being looted, races being called off at Crystal Palace and Hillingdon or that chap from the Telegraph getting knocked off his bike and robbed – just LOOK INTO THE LOVELY, CALMING, UNTHREATENING GAZE OF THE DOGGY! Bad thoughts gone away? Equilibrium restored? Good. Now we can get on with our usual weekly whimasathon…

4 UP Nicolas Sarkozy
The burden of the pretend pro, or “no-fessional”, is a heavy one. While their chums are stuck in an office, perhaps reading a sporadically amusing cycling-related top five run-down to help them get through the day, these aspirational amateurs must focus on one thing and one thing only: cranking out huge mileages, and perhaps tweeting or blogging about it afterwards. But the scope of their obliviousness – which mainly involves paying no attention to a dwindling redundancy fund and an irked spouse – pales in comparison to that of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who last week ignored the entire eurozone almost going down the crapper so he could go for a pootle on his reasonably-priced B’Twin. To restore British honour, The DYNAMITE! Files is calling on David Cameron, our own pedalling premier, to lead an Armstrong-style Twitter ride through the locality of the next inner-city conflagration while it’s still going on. It is the only way to show the French that we are better than them at blind indifference.

3 DOWN George W Bush
Staying with World Leaders On Bikes News, issue 25 of Rouleur contains a brief appraisal of George W Bush’s crash history, courtesy of an admirably frank exchange between two staff members at Trek’s Wisconsin headquarters. “Bush had, like, eight [bikes] come through,” reveals paint technician Patrick Sullivan. “He just kept wreckin’ ‘em. He’d take ‘em round to his ranch and stuff, and I dunno how the hell he does it. I haven’t ever wrecked a bike in my entire life. Maybe he fell a lot.” Well, the former US president always did seem to be a few spokes short of the proverbial full Ksyrium, so maybe he was as clumsy with his Treks as he was with his words. Or perhaps he did what some careful owners of carbon dream machines would secretly love to do if they didn’t have to pay for them: ride the bike into the ground and then simply get a new one. We’ll just have to wait for Bush’s memoirs before this mystery is solved.

2 DOWN Pendragon – Le Col – Colnago
“Eritrean Halie Dawit was refused a visa, while Libyan Ahmed Belgassem was stuck in his revolution-affected country.” Not the sort of sentence you usually get from Cycling Weekly, and not the type of thing you expect to happen to riders signed by a British racing team. But apparently that was part of the “catalogue of circumstancial [sic] situations” that affected Pendragon – Le Col – Colnago, which announced yesterday it is disbanding at the end of the season. If only The DYNAMITE! Files had a few quid to keep the south-west squad going – then, one day, we might get to read about, say, a plucky Afghan tearing it up around Smithfield, or an Egyptian standing on the podium of the Tour Series. We can but dream.

1 DOWN Artcrank
An urgent announcement for “velophiles” everywhere: mobs of confused, pitchfork-wielding lunatics have been known to drive paedatricians from their homes, so for the sake of your own safety, you may want to find a less unusual term to express your bike lust. In the meantime, an organisation called Artcrank is selling some nice posters next Friday at Look Mum No Hands! which, according to the event’s promotional blather, is the home of all things velophiliac. It’s possible, of course, that the American organisers are living up to the “crank” part of their name by using the made-up word “velophile” in the hope that it will be adopted by a café full of gullible twerps. And, hey, anything could happen after necking a few Slags (the Look Mum unofficial house beer) – although you’d have to be really sozzled to make sense of the Yanks’ assertion that “bicycles now ply the busiest areas of the city”, as if there were once swathes of central London where cyclists never rode. “Riding a bike is like an invitation to be creative,” says founder Charles Youel – a bit like writing a press release, it seems. (The DYNAMITE! Files is going for a lie down now. It’s feeling a bit Artcranky.)

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #9

July 1, 2011

5 UP “Jen, London”
Stories in the Daily Mail that are reasonably sympathetic to cyclists are rarer than a tweet in the Fablish tongue that doesn’t take less than half-a-dozen reads to fully understand – so there was some surprise in The DYNAMITE! Files’ famous soundproof bunker on Thursday when we came across the tale of the dad-of-two allegedly cut up by a police car. But was Paul Brown of Hull as blameless as he makes out? He appears to have gone straight to the Mail instead of complaining to the police, and the inconclusive screengrabs taken from his helmet-cam footage have triggered a blizzard of amateur sleuthing in the comments section. The most Monk-like theory comes from “Jen, London”, who asks: “Does he look like an amateur cyclist? NO. Obviously you cannot judge by image alone, but being a cyclist myself you don’t wear expesive [sic] lycras [sic], cleats and ride a road racer if you’re going to sit in the middle of the road.” So there you have it: a Daily Mail reader who can use the word “lycra” without following it with “lout”. Although if she sees one of those non-amateurs next week, she’ll probably wonder why they’re not doing that big race in France.

4 UP Pigeons
As the excellent Inner Ring noted on Tuesday, television coverage of the Tour de France killed off the inventive, hyperbolic and often fictional manner of newspaper reporting associated with cycling’s golden age. If that grand tradition of making things up in flowery language is to make a comeback, there would have to be a sporting event that TV cameras cannot practicably access, such as a race across France where all the competitors are, say, pigeons – and as luck would have it, that’s exactly what is happening this week. See how they soar above mountains! Watch them reach speeds of up to 110mph! Except you can’t. So it’s down to students of Antoine Blondin and Henri Desgrange to unleash their powers of invention. Gentlemen, only you can transform the descendents of Speckled Jim into heroes of legend!

3 UP Bob Kemp
Interesting if somewhat far-fetched “facts” department: by next summer, every man, woman and child in Britain will have appeared in a newspaper or TV report moaning about not being able to get tickets to the Olympics, even if they didn’t apply in the first place – so hats off to the Daily Telegraph for breaking the mood of perpetual disgruntlement with Monday’s lighthearted story about Chris Hoy’s father-in-law Bob Kemp. Thrilled Bob noticed that an amount equal to the cost of four tickets for the velodrome had been taken from his account – and it was only after excitedly planning the trip down to London that he realised “Olympian Seats”, the name that appeared on his statement, was actually a store he had been to. “He got four seats alright,” said Hoy. “Four garden seats.”

2 DOWN The Cervélo S5
The unveiling of the S5 aero road bike on Wednesday prompted this expert appraisal from Cycling Weekly’s Mike Hawkins: “Regular Cervélo admirers will already understand the design language the Canadian frame manufacturer has used, as it borrows much from the P4 time trial machine.” Hmm… design language, you say? Well, as the predominantly text-based appearance of this blog shows, The DYNAMITE! Files is far from fluent in the language of design, so we are in no way fit to pass comment on the opinion that the bike is, aesthetically, a bit rubbish. But wouldn’t it be obvious even if you hadn’t ever seen a P4 that the S5 is essentially a time trial frame with drop bars? Coming next week in CW: how you must be fluent in the language of the French people to know that a restaurant is a place where you eat food and a bidon is something you shove in your gob when thirsty.

1 DOWN David Millar
He’s reinvented himself as an anti-doping advocate – and now reformed EPO user David Millar has inadvertently demonstrated the dangers of another easily available substance after he revealed exactly what he thinks of former teammate Bradley Wiggins. With the demon drug alcohol still in his system following the boozy launch of his autobiography, the hungover Garmin-Cervélo man told The Guardian’s Donald McRae that Wiggins’ lack of leadership skills has left Sky “pretty f***ed” and he would be “very surprised if [Wiggins] made the top 10 of the Tour again”. Ouch! Compare Millar’s admirably frank appraisal with his more circumspect verdict on Wiggo published the day before in the Independent (“I think the top 10 is realistic”) and the lesson becomes clear: don’t swig anything stronger than PSP22 the night before a big interview.

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