Posts Tagged ‘Hillingdon’

The DYNAMITE! Five: the month in cycling, remixed. February 2013

February 28, 2013

5 UP The Pope
God moves in mysterious ways – so it could have been divine inspiration that prompted an inquisitive journalist to ask Marcel Kittel, “Did the Pope’s resignation give you extra motivation?” following the young German’s victory in the opening stage of the Tour of Oman. Commentator Matt Keenan reports that the question “was met with bemused silence”. Maybe the heat had got to the unnamed hack – or he thought the relatively little-known early season race was called The Tour Of Amen. It’s an easy mistake to make.

4 UP Osen
This little-known Rapha rip-off, spotted by former Perren Streeter Luke Scheybeler, could do with a viral marketing campaign if they want to make their Korean brand a No.1 hit in the UK. How about a pop video of a dapper loon doing an exuberant dance which mimics riding a bike with one hand? Chaingang-nam style. Over to you, Luke. Op, op, op!

3 DOWN Cycling to school
“It would be a national scandal if a school situated within view of the 2012 Box Hill Olympic cycling race introduced a policy that forces pupils into cars.” Well, it should be a scandal, but apparently it isn’t, despite concerned parent James Harvey’s eloquent summation of the decision by North Downs Primary School to ban pupils cycling or walking to two of its sites because of the perceived danger. Memo to Surrey County Council: if the roads really are that dangerous, then maybe you should be targeting motorists instead.

2 DOWN The Guardian
Taking up the cause of his chums in the US who are, like, totally pissed that Lance Armstrong is now using Strava, the Guardian’s Matt Seaton writes: “Of any segment of the American public, this is probably the community that is best-informed, cares most about clean cycling, and feels most betrayed by Armstrong’s cheating.” To which non-Stravistas might respond to the adoptive American’s buddies: relax, er, ‘dudes’. He won’t be using any of Dr Ferrari’s Special Sauce this time. Strava is the one ‘race’ Armstrong can win without doping and, in a just world, he should have been sequestered to it a long time ago. If he doesn’t end up in chokey, getting mired in an online willy-waving ‘King of the Mountains’ purgatory could be the next best thing…

sean yates at hillingdon winter series 2013 3rd cat race
1 UP Sean Yates
Meanwhile, back in Matt’s homeland, an altogether more tolerant attitude to the EPO era was on display when an alleged friend of the infamous Motoman decided to slum it in the lowly 3rd cat race at the penultimate fixture of the Hillingdon Winter Series. Sean Yates (yes, that’s him above on the Team Sky Pinarello, and there are more pics here) was given a warm welcome, which is more than can be said for Eurosport’s Tony Gibb, who was ejected from the series for bollocking his fellow competitors. First Lance, now Tony – who can we believe in anymore?

Cycling clubs should be less popular, but they aren’t

January 25, 2013
The Dynamo club championships: racers and non-racers, united. And not arguing.

The Dynamo club championships: racers and non-racers, united. And not arguing.

You know me, reader. You know the sort of person I am. I’m an honest man, and I will always endeavour to give you the unvarnished truth. So I feel I can tell you that London Dynamo hasn’t been travelling a smooth road lately.

Behind the walled city of our members-only forum, a few ’Mos have loudly complained that the club has lost its focus. Dynamo finished a mere sixth in the Surrey League last year – please, hold back your tears – and some of our more experienced racers feel the club’s racing culture has been eroded as more sportive riders have flooded in.

Despite my fondness for a good old ding-dong, I’m not too bothered by this contretemps. A lot of our big Surrey League point-scorers stopped racing for the club because they moved out of London or had kids. But a healthy number of newer members are going to Hillingdon to try out racing at the Imperial Winter Series, and more riders will make the transition from sportives to road racing. You’ve just got to give it time.

Nevertheless, the issue of how to handle the club’s ever-expanding size is likely to provide animated discussion at this year’s AGM, which takes place tomorrow. Some disillusioned members might not come along to join in with the arguments because they have decided not to renew their memberships. But it is notable that many more haven’t already left. Veteran club cyclist Tim Hilton, in his charming, freewheeling cultural history One More Kilometre And We’re In The Showers, observed that any cycling club’s maximum number of members was usually around 100. “The history of British cycling tells us that defections will occur, or a formal split, if this number is exceeded.” London Dynamo reached Hilton’s benchmark within 12 months, and by the end of 2012 – its ninth year – there were 560 paid-up members.

And these days there isn’t an imperative to join a cycling club in the first place. With GPS devices, newcomers to the sport can easily discover and navigate training rides themselves. Personal trainers can provide you with a training plan, or you can filch knowledge from books, magazines and the internet to create your own. You could even learn the basics of roadcraft from YouTube.

In this context, London Dynamo and other large clubs should be the HMVs of the cycling world, lumbering beasts struggling to adapt to the digital age. But instead of facing extinction or decline, membership numbers in most large clubs I know of are rising or remain high. Strava’s virtual club runs haven’t made a dent in the popularity of our rides, and the Rapha Rendezvous app, which aimed to connect users looking for others to ride with them, quietly disappeared some time during the past year.

So why are cycling clubs doing so well? I think the fundamental reason is that cycling can be bloody miserable. Before reaching the sunlit uplands of peak fitness, you must endure scores of desultory, rain-soaked miles, so it helps if you can be among a large group of people offering each other moral support along the way. The other key reason is the randomness: you can turn up week after week for a club run and never know exactly who you’re going to meet. A big club like ours can be a new club, or at least a slightly different one, every time you turn up for a ride.

But you can’t have amity without enmity, which is why I value the sometimes vociferous debates that take place within Dynamo, and the wide differences between members’ participation in the sport. The club will never be just a load of stats and info on a screen; we’re a living entity, and arguments are a sign of life, however ugly.

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.

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