Posts Tagged ‘road.cc’

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 road.cc 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”.

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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.

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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 Road.cc. I also took some photos as the sun came up which you can view over at Exposure.

The centenary that’s not quite a centenary

January 24, 2014

I had a gander at Guy Andrews’ Twitter last week and found a baffling response to Road.cc’s review of his company’s latest venture, the Rouleur Centenary Tour De France. To bring you up to speed: a photographer by the name of Dan Kenyon considered the writing “lacklustre” and the photography “poor”, pointing out that the £40 book only contains one picture of the race’s winner – and a partially obscured one at that. “It’s putting the art before the sport,” he concludes. In response, a few photographers – including, oddly, one he actually praised – have tetchily pointed out that Dan got some of the technical aspects of their craft incorrect, which I suppose reveals one of the great hidden truths of publishing: the only group more sensitive than writers are the snappers.

Being one of the former tribe, as well as once being responsible for ensuring Guy’s magazine contained reasonably comprehensible English, there was one line in Dan’s review that leapt out at me: “Someone at Rouleur doesn’t know the difference between a hundredth edition and a 100-year anniversary.” This was a reference to the book’s title: the centenary of the Tour de France – it’s 100th anniversary – was in 2003, not 2013; last year’s race was the 100th edition, the two world wars accounting for the total of 10 years’ absence.

I should point out Rouleur is not the only journal of record to refer to the 2013 Tour as the centenary. And actually, Dan isn’t entirely correct: Chambers, the dictionary I’ve used for most of my professional life, including my stint at Rouleur, defines “centenary” as “a hundred” or “a hundredth anniversary”.

chambers definition of centenary

But 2003 was referred to as the centenary in the Tour’s own branding, and there was even a book about the ’03 race that had “centenary” in the title. So I think it is a mistake for Rouleur to name their book the Centenary Tour De France, simply because it confuses two editions of the race.

Guy’s response was to tweet the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of centenary, which is “the hundredth anniversary of an event”. Which, of course, is the point Dan was making in his review. Now, I would like to think that Guy could have been waving the white flag here, but I doubt it: having spent a good deal of time in his company, I know that the word “surrender” is not in his vocabulary. Maybe “centenary” isn’t either. Did he misunderstand Dan’s point? Or does the editor of “the world’s finest cycle racing reportage” erroneously believe that the Tour began in 1913? As I say, it is an odd reaction whichever way you look at it.

More to the point, does any of this matter? Rapha once put the Hungarian flag on its Italian jersey and the Dutch flag on its French one, but those gaffes don’t seem to have affected the company’s fortunes. It’s the great contradiction of road cycling: its fans set their own pernickity rules and seethe when they are broken, yet don’t seem to care when the more conspicuous and useful ones are disregarded.

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #17

September 16, 2011

5 DOWN Kara Kum
It’s been seven days of utter confusion in our famous soundproof bunker. On Friday we thought Rapha had launched a range of jerseys designed to be worn in an insalubrious area of south-east London, until we opened their email and realised it wasn’t that sort of “New Cross Collection”. Then, on Tuesday night, Guy Pearson ended a day at his intriguing new bike boutique in East Sheen by asking “who has the longest regular vomited”, and it took us a few minutes to work out his phone had autocorrected “commute”. So, naturally, when we stumbled across a mention of a bike called Kara Kum on page 195 of the latest Cycling Plus, we thought that too was a typo. But no: Dawes really did christen a bicycle – a women’s-specific bicycle – with a name that sounds like it belongs to a porn star. Which could explain why you don’t see that many women riding them.

4 DOWN Dating
Speaking of rude matters, a matchmaking website called freedating.co.uk has interviewed 10,000 of its members and concluded that cyclists of both genders are less likely than average to get up to a bit of how’s-yer-father on a first date. Reporting on the survey in road.cc on Tuesday, Simon MacMichael mused: “Perhaps the finding reflects the typical cyclist’s behaviour when it comes to buying a new bike, which after all is a relationship that all of us hope will last a long time when contemplating it, and not to be entered lightly.” And you can see where Si is coming from: it may well be the case that fellas are looking for smooth, assured handling, while ladies perhaps want a model that’s stiff yet compliant. But knowing cyclists the way The DYNAMITE! Files does, it’s more probable that competitive cyclepeople equate dating with training, enduring many long, gruelling sessions before the “big event”. Which ends, of course, with bitter disappointment and self-loathing, no matter how vigorous the final spurt.

3 UP The Italian national team’s speed suit
Cycling is all about cultivating an air of mystery; the less you know about a rider, a team or a DT Swiss anodised nipple, the more you want to know. So well done to Cycling Weekly for running a blurry photo of the Castelli San Remo aero skin suit which the Italian team will be wearing at the World Championships in Copenhagen. We should all fool ourselves into believing that the hi-tech outfit is so fast you can barely see it – for the day when a more detailed photograph emerges showing how the design allows you to easily answer a call of nature will be the moment that the spell is broken.

2 UP Green
As a predominantly text-based outlet, this blog cannot claim to know much about colour or design, but we are nevertheless concerned by road.cc’s report that the hue du jour for bikes next year will be green. It’s such a conspicuous colour that having lots of green bikes cluttering up the visual landscape will surely be the equivalent of PUTTING EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS. WHAT A – sorry, didn’t realise the caps lock was still on – what a pain.

1 UP Hurricane Katia
Sombre faces at the Tour of Britain on Monday as the 130km stage from Kendal to Blackpool was cancelled to avoid Hurricane Katia transforming the peloton into a human version of a record-breaking domino-toppling display. “In my 30 years of organising cycling events,” said downbeat race director Mick Bennett, “I have never once had to cancel a stage before it even started, so this is not a decision that has been taken lightly.” All of which makes it sound like this wasn’t a great day for the ToB. But it so was! Because the United Kingdom has finally stepped out of the shadows of road racing’s European heartland. Forget the snow-smothered Gavia and the mud-covered cobbles up the Kopp – our proud sceptred isle can now boast that it has hosted a stage so bloody dangerous nobody was actually allowed to race. And our country achieved this milestone by utilising a mainstay of British life: godawful weather. So thank you, Katia – you may from the west coast of Africa, but you will always be British to us.