Posts Tagged ‘London Dynamo’

Dropping performance from the team

August 3, 2016

If you were asked what kind of cyclist you are, what would you say? You might describe yourself as a racer, a road cyclist, a leisure cyclist, or even a serious cyclist. But I would bet your entire collection of bikes – and mine – that you would never say out loud to a total stranger: “I am a performance cyclist.”

I am nearing the end of writing and editing text for the new London Dynamo website, a long process which has involved expunging the “p” word from all our public-facing wording. Internally, Dynamo likes to describe itself as a performance-oriented club, which I suppose is a reasonable expression of how it cultivates a narrow band of high-performing riders which can inspire the rest of the membership and give aspirational or more talented members something to aim for. Externally, though, it can give the impression that we are all data-driven wattage nerds, which most of us are not. Sport-oriented is a simpler and clearer definition of Dynamo.

How did the ‘p’ word become ubiquitous? It’s origin can be traced to a familiar source. “Performance Roadwear” became Rapha’s slogan, even though its co-founder originally thought the term was “a slightly pompous piece of marketing copy” which he bunged underneath the brand’s logo simply to complete its design. Despite this, performance quickly became a way of denoting special features such as ventilated panels or an aerodynamic cut, which meant that the word functioned as a polite way of saying expensive. But the popularity of cycling and the consequent falling prices are now eroding that definition: for less than £45, you can buy a performance jersey and bib shorts from Aldi, and even Rapha’s performance sunnies are a relatively inexpensive £140.

When Halfords, Evans and other Johnny-come-latelys moved into the high-end bike market, smaller retailers branded themselves as performance businesses, targeting riders who were prepared to pay for a tailored, personalised service. Today, physios, chiros, personal trainers and all kinds of small, secondary businesses use “performance cyclist” or a similar term. And in this context, performance provides a useful differentiation: it tells customers they can provide them with an evidence-based explanation of how their body can perform better on a bicycle.

But what works as a branding tool fails to translate on an interpersonal level. Performance is bit like hipster: a word used to define others rather than a term a person would use to describe themselves. And coming from a newspaper background, I choose words a bit like a directeur sportif picks riders. A sentence or a phrase is a team of words working together. Performance doesn’t perform, so it has to be dropped.

Heading back to the Dynamothership

February 5, 2016

So it’s official: I have returned to the welcoming bosom of the London Dynamo committee, this time to take up the new post of communications manager. My last stint was as part of the founding committee; in those early days my job was to write an amusing and reasonably informative newsletter called DYNAMITE!, which this blog originally served as an archive for the weekly publication’s entire five-year run (you can have a gander at it by clicking the “DYNAMITE! Filed” link on the left). I doubt anything I do this time around will be half as popular as that freewheeling weekly email. So why am I going back?

I came up with the idea of a communications manager after the club had to deal with two contrasting incidents during the past 12 months: the death of Akis Kollaros, who was killed under the wheels of a lorry a year ago this week, and poor old Rory Palmer leaving the club because he got busted for riding his bike downhill at 40mph in Richmond Park. At the Hillingdon Winter Series, our riders led two neutralised laps in honour of Akis, and ran an interview with our chairman Paul Harknett about the issue of speeding in the park. The small upside of both unfortunate incidents is that they provided rare occasions for Dynamo to communicate beyond its membership, and in each case it did so in an admirable way.

But as I asked during my short speech at our AGM on Saturday, why should the club communicate to the wider cycling world only when things go wrong? Dynamo does a lot of good projects – our growing junior section Sparks, our efforts to make sure Richmond Park’s poor resurfacing was sorted out, putting on two sell-out time trials in the park every year as well as a superbly well-organised road race – and I would like to tell more people about them using the club’s social media channels and through news outlets. So that’s what I will try to do.

What I am not going to do is try to change the opinion of the small but noisy band who will never like Dynamo. We are more conspicuous than other cycling clubs for many reasons – for a start, our cornerstone club ride takes us past the most popular cycling destination in the world at its busiest time – so we are always going to take a greater level of flak than most when, like all clubs, our standards slip from time to time. Fighting skirmishes is self-defeating; the bigger prize is to win over those who are impartial and encourage existing supporters to spread the word.

There was one exchange of views at the end of last year that made me realise once and for all that it is pointless to try to win over the most deeply entrenched critics. As you undoubtedly already know, 18-year-old Catford CC rider Gabriel Evans was caught taking EPO and rejoined Dynamo without telling us that he was being investigated. After Dynamo expelled him in December, the club tweeted its zero tolerance stance on doping. It was the sort of obvious but necessary statement you would expect a responsible organisation to make, especially one which is obliged to deal with the welfare of teenagers.

Luke Scheybeler, who founded Rapha and as far as I am aware remains a major shareholder, didn’t see it that way. “Genuine lol”, he tweeted, later stating that the club’s stance showed “unbelieveable pomposity”. (There is, of course, the wonderful irony of being called pompous by the man who gave us Rapha.) And Mr ScheybeLOL, in what is a first for Dynamo, believes the club has a “‘let’s pretend we’re pros’ attitude that’s led to kids taking dangerous drugs”.


So every time a bunch of thirty- or forty-something blokes race up a hill on their bicycles or shave their legs, we are somehow meant to believe they are encouraging teens to take PEDs. Depending on how you look at it, this notion is either a conspiracy theory or a moral panic of the kind you would expect to be wheeled out by a clapped-out politician. And it’s not the greatest idea to slag off some of your customers, which is probably why Rapha quickly and wisely distanced itself from its co-founder’s opinions.

It may seem unusual, but Luke’s curious Scheybelogic is part of the natural process of enmity: sneer for long enough and you will eventually have to come up with new reasons to maintain the intensity of your dislike, even if those reasons are wholly imagined. Which is why on my watch Dynamo is never going to engage with the sort of cyclist whose sport is not cycling but blustering.

The 20mph limit works in Richmond Park. Let’s not try to lose it.

December 1, 2015

me on sawyer's hill

You can see it in their eyes, an expression that may be politely interpreted as “Oh dear. I’ve really made a terrible hash of this, haven’t I?” It’s a look of alarm that I’ve witnessed a number of times over the past decade or so in Richmond Park, and it’s always staring at me from behind a windscreen. Motorists sometimes concentrate so hard on safely overtaking a cyclist that they don’t see a group of oncoming riders on the other side of the road who have already started to perform their own safe overtaking manoeuvre. I’m often in one of those groups. The car moves around the cyclist in front of it and the wide space we had to snake around a slower rider suddenly concertinas to half the size, forcing our two-abreast formation to squeeze into one line. Still, it all works out fine: the motorist learns a lesson (I would hope) and our cycling club lives to see another Saturday morning club ride.

I thought about those drivers when I read about the latest cyclist to get busted for exceeding Richmond Park’s speed limit. When I started riding in the park, the limit was 30mph and traffic levels were much lower. When the limit was lowered to 20 in May 2004, my indignation was typical of many two-wheeled users of the park – apparently it was meant to benefit pedestrians, deer and even the sex life of birds (apparently the sound of motor engines drowned out mating calls) but I couldn’t find a single mention of cyclists in the consultation document drawn up by the Royal Parks (which is no longer on its website). My perception was that we weren’t asked for our opinion; now, however, I realise the lowering of the speed limit has been a happy accident for us. Rerun the scenario I’ve outlined above with the limit still at 30, and both the motorist and the cyclists have much less time to react. For that reason alone, I’m pretty much in favour of it remaining at 20mph for motorists — and to keep it that way, we have to ensure the limit can continue being applied to cyclists as well.

Cycling advocacy lawyer Martin Porter has offered to defend on a no-win no-fee basis the next cyclist who is fined for speeding in the park. In a sense — a very limited sense — this would be a welcome development. “Vehicle” appears in the park’s regulations for speed limits, and the police are interpreting that word to include bicycles as well as cars. But there are some people who, like Martin but more often than not without his legal expertise, believe the police’s interpretation is incorrect and cyclists are exempt from the 20mph limit. It is an opinion which, it seems to me, has transmogrified in certain quarters into established fact through sheer repetition, so a proper challenge in court would at least determine once and for all if cyclists can legally ride at whatever speed they choose on our beloved 6.7-mile loop.

But as much as I admire Martin’s work, I think in this case he is thinking more like a lawyer and less like a cyclist. He is applying loophole logic, spotting a way out without considering what the consequences of an exit from an established system might be. Because if we can shoot downhill at around 40mph, as the two most recent cases of speeding did, what then? Would cycling in the park be safer? Would it be easier to police a two-tier system of 20mph for drivers and no maximum limit for cyclists? And would motorists be as likely to keep their speedometer’s needle below 20 if there was one rule for them and another rule (actually, scratch that — no rule at all) for cyclists?

These are questions to which the answer is no. The 20mph limit allows fast cyclists to safely overtake cars while motorists can safely overtake slower riders. Yet from the fierceness of the arguments made against it, you would think that it was an unpopular rule among cyclists, which is difficult to square with the massive rise in riders using the park since it was introduced, to the point where Strava reported that the cafe at Roehampton Gate has become the most popular cycling stop in the world.

The fact is, no one gets on their bike and heads to Richmond Park fearing they’re going to get stopped for speeding. You are not going to get pulled over simply for nudging 25. You are not a victim, and you are not being victimised. The most recent speeding cases were going at around twice the limit down the park’s smallest hill — a feat which is near impossible to achieve unless you are trying very, very hard to do so. If you think what they did was harmless, then imagine driving with either of those two behind you as you try to overtake a cyclist in front: a glance in your mirror would show them to be some distance away, and just as you move right expecting them to still be far off, they could suddenly rear up next to your door. Twice the speed limit means half the time to react.

Of course there are aggressive drivers in the park, and Martin says he would like to see resources spent more on dealing with all kinds of bad driving rather than focussing on speed — but I would argue that the police may not need to spend any more money to address this issue. As last December’s public meeting at Duke Street Church indicated, cyclists and non-cyclists appeared to agree that there are far too many drivers using the park as a shortcut, and it seems possible that the Royal Parks, which recently issued a questionnaire on the issue and set up temporary cameras to record traffic flow, may introduce road charging to keep most of them out. I reckon that if you’re driving along Queen’s Ride only to get to Bentalls a few minutes quicker, you’re the sort of driver who is more likely, shall we say, to treat cyclists as a nuisance, so let’s see if road charging happens and observe any beneficial effect it has on this kind of motorist before demanding the police act. I also think that criticising the police in this way overlooks their success: in terms of man hours, policing of the limit is actually very light, yet it has helped create an environment where the vast majority of park users are happy to abide by it. Compare that to the roads connected to the park which need speed humps and cameras to keep drivers below 20mph, or the roads near London Bridge or Southwark Bridge which have neither — and, as I witness daily, attract drivers who treat it as a normal 30mph limit.

Given that the latest cyclist to get nabbed was left £600 out of pocket following a trip to the magistrates court, I suspect that what the anti-20mph faction really don’t like is the cost of getting caught. On that point, I have some sympathy, and I suspect the police do too. At the Duke Street Church meeting, I recall one of the two police representatives stating that they would like to issue Fixed Penalty Notices (which would be much lower) but the law doesn’t allow them to. If Martin Porter wanted to campaign to get that changed, I would happily sign up. But the 20mph rule works well and we should not try to undermine it.

Lifestyle doping and the rise of the no-fessional

August 19, 2015

Here’s a true story. An accomplished amateur cyclist went round to a similarly high-achieving rider’s home for dinner. During the course of the evening, the guest confided to the host that work and family life had got in the way of bike racing. The host was unimpressed as they too had children and other responsibilities yet still found time to train and race. “Isn’t that right?” the host said, turning to their spouse for support.

Mentally noting that the accomplished amateur cyclist was aided by a personal trainer, a nutritionist, support for their family and ultra high-end kit, not to mention a complete lack of paid work, the long-suffering spouse coolly responded with the admirably Salteresque aversion: “Up to a point, dear.”

This anecdote, which I stumbled across a couple of years ago, popped into my head when I saw the Daily Telegraph’s John Critchlow provide a breakdown of the eye-popping £25,000 he had spent to compete in top-level amateur races. It was the first in a planned series of missives which will detail his racing progress, and I suppose it’s in the nature of these sorts of serial blog posts to inspire others who would like to take up a similar challenge (although I can’t seem to find any follow-up posts in the intervening four months). In any case, more knowledgeable people than myself have done a good job of ridiculing the idea it is necessary to spend the equivalent of the average UK salary just to ride the Surrey League and other events that no normal person gives a flying toss about, so I’m not going to throw another log onto that particular bonfire of hilarities. What interests me is how Critchlow, like the nameless dinner party host I’ve mentioned, seems unable to acknowledge a simple truth: that in the pursuit of sporting excellence, emptying your wallet and your schedule may give you an unfair advantage.

This isn’t about harvesting results. The High-Achieving Dinner Party Host has a considerable list of wins to their name, whereas a comment on Critchlow’s post points out he had yet to score a single BCF point this season. The advantage I’m talking about is psychological. Would the dinner party guest be quite as demotivated if they too had a paid backup crew? And be honest: aren’t there bleak moments when you wished you had the pro-level of support that the Telegraph’s Mr Mid-Life Crisis has afforded himself?

I’d call this sort of thing lifestyle doping – injecting litres of dosh and keeping a secret stash of expendable time, both of which enable you to be competitive at a high level. In truth, a form of lifestyle doping was around when I started riding semi-seriously around a dozen years ago. I remember my amused clubmate Chris Chapman telling me after a chipper race that our Dynamo chum Sam Humpheson had “won the race for people with jobs” by taking the bunch sprint after a break had already crossed the line, led by a particularly unloved crit racer who did practically nothing else at the time except train and race. It was a few years later that we entered into The Era Of The Golden Parachute, a period immediately after the global financial crisis which saw some high-earners of my acquaintance suddenly finding themselves with no paid employment, bags of cash from a redundancy settlement and even bigger bags of free time, which they filled up by punishing themselves on a bicycle for months on end. Then another job would come along, and living the pro dream came to an abrupt halt.

These Golden Parachutists, or at least the ones I knew, quietly went about getting into the form of their lives without drawing too much attention to themselves. But now lifestyle doping has bred an altogether less modest cyclist: the No-fessional, the sort of rider who will never have a professional contract but behaves a bit like they do. Like a professional cyclist, the no-fessional revels in the attention and admiration that comes with a life spent in the saddle, which in their case is attained by blogging and tweeting about every ruddy mile they ride. But unlike professional cyclists, the riding no-fessionals do isn’t exactly racing, even though they like to give the impression it is. I know of one no-fessional who boasted of completing a Grand Tour when it was actually just the route they were riding (and – whisper it quietly – they didn’t complete all the stages). Another no-fessional, my chum Chris Ward, recently qualified for a glorified sportive called the UCI Vets World Championship Road Race where every rider is lifestyle doped up to the eyeballs – which, as another friend who took part in a previous edition noted, consequently means the quality of the field isn’t the highest that it could be. There are probably faster guys on your club run.

I should pause here to say I am not knocking Chris (or, indeed, anyone else I’ve mentioned) for becoming fitter, faster and healthier. But Chris’s aim was to prove that it’s possible to work more than 40 hours a week and still conquer an extraordinary challenge, to which I would say: up to a point, dear. One of the reasons he’s able to train when he wants is because he has a number of factotums who are willing to work antisocial hours to get his projects completed on time. And I would know, because I was one of them.

Which brings us back to that dinner party and Critchlow’s blogging for the Telegraph. Because that’s the common theme of the high-profile lifestyle doper: tell your audience you can do what I do while glossing over the advantage they have over the schmucks. To quote the great American philosopher S. Twain, that don’t impress me much. Riding with riders who are wiser or fitter than you and learning from them will help you reach your goals. Listening to hollow bragging probably won’t.

Dynamo at the Dynamo

July 13, 2015
Dunwich beach, 4am, Saturday 4th July 2015

Dunwich beach, 4am, Saturday 4th July 2015

This year, for the first time, London Dynamo had a group at the Dunwich Dynamo. It’s taken us 11 years to get round to the one ride that’s practically got our name on it, and there were only a handful of us. But hey – from small acorns, right?

It was, of course, huge fun going at a fair old pace through the night with my club chums en route to our breakfast on the beach. But it was during the journey back to London that I was most grateful for their presence.

Thanks to an engineering train smacking into a bridge, all services from Ipswich to London were cancelled. This was obviously not the news we wanted to hear having cycled 30 miles from the beach after the century we’d clocked up getting from London Fields to Dunwich. And now it had started to rain. To get home, we had to take a train to Colchester and a cab to Chelmsford, where we ran back and forth with our bikes between two platforms because no one had a ruddy clue when or where the two trains were going to arrive. What a bleedin’ palaver.

Having had practically no sleep, lesser riders would’ve crumbled under the pressure of the dangerously large crowd packing out the platforms at Chelmsford and the general ineptitude of the station staff. So I’m grateful to Andres Roldan (left in the photo above), Lily Liu and Nick Dove for maintaining their calmness and good humour throughout. I’m particularly indebted to my former neighbour Nick for seamlessly executing my rather hazy plan to get us into a people carrier at Colchester just as some cyclists appeared to be on the verge of seriously losing their rags in the station’s car park. Next year, I hope, we’ll either be on one of Southwark Cyclists’ excellent coaches or in a specially-commissioned Dynamobile.

If you want to know about the Dun Run itself, you can read a short piece I wrote for I also took some photos as the sun came up which you can view over at Exposure.

Me and heart rate straps are over. I’m glad I got that off my chest

January 13, 2015

I had a stroke of luck at Christmas. Jen didn’t know what to get me and I honestly couldn’t think of anything I wanted, but by chance I remembered a recent contribution I had made to a thread on the London Dynamo forum about the tendency of Garmin’s heart rate straps to give up the ghost. Two of the buggers have died on me, and I suggested to my fellow afflicted ‘Mos that a Mio Link Heart Rate Band, as recommended on Twitter by Pretorius Bikes’ very own Mike Miach, might be a smart alternative. So, in a spirit of inquisitiveness and practicality, that’s what I asked Jen to get me.

And, my goodness, I’m very pleased that she did. I have experienced a sense of liberation that is surely similar to the burning of a bra. My chest is no longer enclasped: the Mio band sits above the wristbone on my left arm and detects my pulse. It’s as easy as putting on a watch, and never again will I have to go through the hassle of partially undressing in a bleary-eyed state after forgetting to strap up before putting on a baselayer and bibs. (Oh come on – we’ve all done it, haven’t we? No? Right, just me, then.)

The actual unit sits in the middle of a rubber strap. Press the button at the lower end of the unit and after a few seconds a light will flash in time with your heartbeat. Get your Garmin to detect its presence and bosh – you’re ready to go. The blinking light changes colour as your heart beats faster (blue is the lowest, red the highest) which I suppose is useful for runners or anyone else not staring at numbers on a little screen while they train. I just like looking at the electronic blinking because it makes my arm look a bit like a robot’s.

During three long rides the Mio band has stopped transmitting only once, and that was easily remedied by using the traditional, centuries-old IT solution of turning it off and on again. Powering up is simple: pop the unit from the strap and slip it onto a little charging tray which magnetizes the device into place.

It is, all in all, a very clever little gadget – although I reserve the right to lose my rag when I inevitably mislay the recharger and render the band as useless as my old, defunct Garmin ones.

You can thank God the meeting about cycling in Richmond Park didn’t become a bunfight

December 20, 2014

Leaflets handed out at meeting about cycling in Richmond Park

Strange times in Richmond this week, where a public meeting to address the tensions between cyclists and motorists in Richmond Park ended with panellist and GLA cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan noting that it hadn’t been the scene of confrontation that some might have anticipated. I think there were many small reasons that helped to bring about this Christmas miracle, along with a very big elephant-in-the-room-type one. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a moment. First, though, I’m going to run through what I consider to be the notable moments during Wednesday night’s event at Duke Street Church, which was chaired by Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston (and if you want a briefer and less analytical look at what was said, then by all means have a look at my running commentary on the night).

The audience’s most consistent response, judging by the level of applause whenever the issue was raised, was that far too many motorists use the park as a shortcut. The most visceral reaction came in the form of two collective gasps from the crowd when Sergeant Michael Boulton, who leads the park’s policing team, revealed that the average speed of motorists who had been caught breaking the limit was 38mph, and the fastest was 56mph (the limit is 20). By contrast, cyclists were not as badly behaved as they are often perceived: Simon Richards of Royal Parks observed that they are only really speeding on the downhill sections – damn you, gravity! – and Kingston’s police commander said the number of tickets issued in the borough for jumping red lights was “low”.

On the issue of special facilities for cyclists, there is very little enthusiasm for a cycleway. The Friends Of Richmond Park said they are “wholeheartedly” against the idea as they believe it would turn the road into a dual carriageway, while Peter Treadgold, the panel’s expert on sustainable transport, drew the line at adding “heavy infrastructure” and would only go as far as suggesting that a separate cycle lane on the uphill sections might enable cars to pass more easily. A comment from the floor that motorists should travel in one direction on the circular roadway and cyclists on the other was met with a few groans of displeasure. Through traffic is through traffic, I guess, regardless of which way it goes.

Zac Goldsmith suggested that one of the areas that might be explored by interested parties was opening the park at different times of day for different users. He asked for a show of hands which showed there was broad support for looking at this concept. I understand that various groups and individuals will be meeting to discuss ideas generated by the meeting, and I’ll be interested to see what becomes of this one, as well as the idea of road charging which was also raised by Paul Harknett, my chum and London Dynamo club captain.

There was, of course, a bit of hostility to cycling, most memorably with one motorist declaring that Richmond Park was “plagued” by cyclists (the irony that the park is a facility principally for outdoor pursuits seemed to have escaped him). I could hear some grumbles and snorts from my corner of the pews whenever a cyclist made a reasonable point, but they were too quiet to register in the room. So why, given the strength of feeling about the issues at stake, was this not a noisier and more confrontational affair?

One reason could be because the anti-cycling brigade felt inhibited because they didn’t have a visible platform: as you can see from the picture above, we were all handed leaflets publicising Royal Parks, the Richmond Cycling Campaign and Zac Goldsmith, but there is no such organisation as Friends Of Motorists Who Choose To Drive In Richmond Park. There was also clear common ground between cyclists and non-cyclists on the issue of through traffic. Paul, Dynamo’s club captain, sounded reasonable and engaged, which probably helped build bridges (although I admit to being biased on that one). And even though Zac apparently received hundreds of strongly-worded emails prior to the meeting, it appears no one on either side of the debate is brave enough to be as angry in a public setting as they are behind the safety of a screen and a keyboard.

But my theory is that the venue itself took a bit of the heat out of the mood. We were in a church. Many of those who clearly appeared to be against cyclists were of an older generation who are more likely to be religious or at least show greater deference to its customs. And they were, thank the Lord, unwilling to raise their voices in a house of God.

It’s like having a football pitch in your own backyard

November 6, 2014

Sawyer's Hill in Richmond Park on sunny afternoon in October
I’m not sure Jen and I live in London anymore. We have a telephone number that begins “020”, but I spotted a temporary sign near our flat which warned that a leafy road was “closed for toad migration”. That was some time before we moved here in July. Since then, I’ve woken to hear parakeets squawking in the garden and breakfasted to the sound of clopping hooves outside our living room window. We didn’t get those sorts of things when we lived within earshot of two Premier League football clubs. Although we did get a lot of shouting on Saturdays.

I knew this area from years of cycling through it (in fact, I am only a 25-minute bike ride from our old flat) but it didn’t seem quite as pastoral before we began living here. We have moved to the edge of Richmond Park and, as I write this, I am looking at a row of trees which define part of its perimeter. On rainy days like this one, those trees are a forbidding wall, telling me to stay where I am until less inclement cycling weather comes along. During sunnier days, the branches sway in the breeze, beckoning me for a quick three laps. And how can I possibly refuse?

Imagine if you had somehow managed to buy a home that had its own football pitch, tennis court or Olympic-sized swimming pool; as a cyclist, that is how it feels living with the capital’s cycling Mecca on your doorstep. I am a mere seven minutes away from the meeting point of London Dynamo’s ever-popular Parkride (you missed a key selling point there, Zoopla) which enables me to fall out of bed at ten past eight on a Saturday morning and still make the eight-thirty start. I’m usually starving, and I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. But, hey, I’m there.

Or rather, I’m not. Recently I’ve been knocking out laps much later on a Saturday, the idea being that I can still put in a good workout by trying to finish before the sun sets. It works, but for some reason the sorts of cyclists who frequent the park at that time of day are much less likely to leave you alone. Lone riders chase each other down, form a cluster, and then interpret my gradual easing past them as an attack. Even when I slow down and leave two bike lengths between us, I still get the old elbow flick telling me to come through.

I mean, really. What rudeness. Don’t they realise this is my park now?

A rare sighting of a 1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa in the wild

March 30, 2014

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa profile

Fellow Dynamo Jonathon Stacey was in Richmond Park on Saturday morning proudly showing off a vintage bicycle he has restored to its former glory. My chum Martin Garratt was one of many Parkriders at the Roehampton Gate cafe who were taken by Jonathan’s glistening beauty, and he asked me to take a few snaps to show his brother because he didn’t have his phone on him. Obviously there are many more people who would like to drool over these images, so I thought I may as well stick ’em on here.

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa rear mech

I didn’t know Jonathon and I asked him very little about his pride and joy, so I can’t give you a terrific amount of detail about it. But I do know that it has a Campagnolo Nuovo Record groupset, the pedals are made by Christophe (which later became the Zefal brand) and the frame was originally yellow. Oh, and the whole thing cost him £4,000. Enjoy!

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa badge

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa chainring

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa pedal

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa rear brake

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa shifters

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa seattube badge

1974 Cinelli Speciale Corsa top tube

The history of London Dynamo in pictures

July 26, 2013

Rapha-clad Guy Andrews with Dynamo co-founder Paul Callinan (centre) and former club captain Nick Peacock, Mallorca 2006

Rapha-clad Guy Andrews with fellow Dynamo founder Paul Callinan (centre) and former club captain Nick Peacock, Mallorca 2006

London Dynamo’s social secretary Nigel Smith recently asked me to write an account of the club’s brief history for a short book he’s putting together as part of our forthcoming tenth anniversary celebrations. I declined because I would struggle to accurately chronicle all the events that have taken place since I stopped writing the newsletter five years ago. But I told him I’d provide a link to issues 100 and 200 of DYNAMITE!, which together comprise a reasonably humorous synopsis of Dynamo’s first half-decade and could be reproduced in his members-only tome. Nigel also wanted to have a look at some old Dynamo-related photos in my possession which he could consider for inclusion. So instead of emailing all that stuff over to him, I thought I’d stick it on here instead. Behold the contents of my virtual musty shoebox!

WHO: Paul Harknett
WHERE: Tour de Langkawi
PHOTOGRAPHER: An excited local

paul harknett langkawi 07
A world exclusive for The DYNAMITE! Files: this is the only photograph on the interweb (try a Google image search if you don’t believe me) where you can see the face our elusive leader Paul Harknett. The image captures Lord Harknett’s brief moment of fame at the Tour of Langkawi’s opening stage in 2007, where many confused Malaysians lingering around the finish thought he was a professional cyclist (bald head, compact physique, blue jersey, getting on a bit – yeah, it’s probably Levi Leipheimer). As the real pros disappeared into their team buses, Paul was only too happy to pose for a number of photos and conduct an interview for a Japanese TV station. What a gent!

WHO: Phil Cavell
WHERE: GPM10 Etape training camp

phil cavell gpm10 etape training 05
In 2005, when his Covent Garden bike boutique was the club’s main sponsor, Cyclefit guru Phil Cavell ventured up a few French mountains armed only with a bicycle, a sense of self-belief and a substandard level of fitness. I don’t know which mountain he was on when this photo was taken, and judging by his face, neither does he. Cycling is truly a cruel mistress, and a love of her charms can make a happy man very old.

WHO: Stuart Spies and Guy Powdrill
WHERE: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub, Fleet Street

stuart spies guy powdrill cheshire cheese

Taken at the Christmas social pre-dinner drinks in 2005, this classic image remains the most succinct expression of the two chums’ contrasting characters. Guysie on the right, so focussed yet slightly confused. Stu, probably slightly confused and certainly unfocused. Also, by scribbling two words on this image, I have introduced an exciting new angle on a well-worn “which is better?” debate.
stuart spies guy powdrill cheshire cheese campag shimano

WHO: David Streule cycling up some steps
WHERE: Mallorca
PHOTOGRAPHER: Paul Harknett (I think)


Poor Streuley. Arriving at Palma airport for the Dynamo training camp in April 2006, the former mountain biker discovered all his luggage and his bike had gone missing somewhere between Heathrow and Mallorca. But did he let that get him down? Of course not – and here’s the proof, as the baby-faced wonderman delights in showing off his superior bike-handling skills during a rest day coffee stop.

WHO: Guy Andrews
WHERE: Mallorca 2006 training camp time trial


To a casual onlooker, it may seem like Rouleur’s head honcho, seasoned time trialist and Dynamo co-founder Guy Andrews wasn’t taking this prestigious event entirely seriously.

WHO: Jenny Lloyd-Jones stuck between Stuart Spies and Dave Gardner
WHERE: Christmas social

jenny lloyd jones dave gardner stu spies xmas social

A frankly terrible photo from a compositional perspective, and I apologise to Stu for cutting off half his face. Although, come to think of it, he could have been photobombing – in which case, Stu, you bloody idiot, you’ve spoilt a perfectly good snap of the 2006 Christmas social. Anyway, Stupot isn’t the most important element of this scene, and it was only a few months ago that the person in the background pointed this out to me. Look behind ‘Pinky’ Gardner’s left shoulder and you will see none other than Richard Simmonds – Jenny’s future husband, who she met later that evening. Awwww!

WHO: Russell Short and Martin Garratt
WHERE: Richmond Park

russell short and martin garrett riding

It’s always a unique joy to see Dynamo’s lankiest rider side-by-side with the appropriately-named Mr Short. Despite seeing this scene many times during the past decade, I only thought to take a photo a few weeks ago as we enjoyed a leisurely post-Parkride lap together.

WHO: Someone or other
WHERE: Eastway
PHOTOGRAPHER: John Mullineaux,

sideburns eastway

Seven years before Bradley Wiggins sported a pair of sideburns during his victorious Tour de France, a trailblazing Dynamo showed off a magnificent pair of chops at the legendary Lea Valley circuit. I wonder whatever became of him.