Posts Tagged ‘Surrey’

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?

Victory this way

August 8, 2012

There was a time when I would ride my bicycle into town, thinking that the portly physique I had in those days would never be able to convey me any further. Then one day I fell in with the right crowd (long story – I’ll tell you about it another time) and found myself doing 50-mile rides around Surrey. When you combine these two distinct parts of my life, you have, broadly speaking, the collective routes of the Olympic road races and time trials.

I witnessed parts of these races by the roadside. Jen and I walked from our flat to the mini-roundabout on Fulham Palace Road, where we cheered the men’s road race rolling towards Richmond Park like a procession of dignitaries. A few days later I watched the women’s time trial in Hampton Court. But it was seeing the roads I know well on TV that had the most impact on me.

Staple Lane’s steady ascent, the hairpins on Box Hill, the punchy little climb after Box that Gilbert was the first to tackle – they are only tarmac strips bordering fields, but these are the places that broadened my perspective on how far and how hard I am able to ride. They made me. It was like seeing your first kiss, your old friends, jobs you once had – or lost – gathered together behind the Perspex screen, depersonalised by the context of the race, and all the stranger and more moving for it.

On Monday, I did my usual 70-miler through the Surrey hills. I do the same ride regularly because, regardless of whether I’m planning to race or not, losing myself for five hours a week does my mind a bit of good. I have wondered over the years why more people don’t do the same. This time, I saw the messages that fans had painted on the roads before the pros raced by. One, on Box Hill, reads: “This way to… victory”. And I like to think this kind of graffiti is a victory in itself: a permanent reminder of cyclists’ presence on these roads, and invitation for others to join us and be changed.

Making a mountain out of a Mole Valley hill

November 21, 2011

As an informed cycleperson, you would probably know what I was referring to if I constructed a headline beginning with the words “Olympic cycle route row at Box Hill”. “Yes,” you would say to yourself, “this is a story about the route for the Olympic road race. There’s a bit of a hoo-ha about restricting the number of spectators at Box Hill because of environmental concerns. In fact, some are questioning why the Olympic officials didn’t choose any one of the many other challenging hills in the Surrey area to accommodate more spectators. I wonder what’s the latest development in this long-running saga? I must read this story to find out.”

This, reader – naive, trusting reader – is not an unreasonable assumption to make. Not an unreasonable assumption at all. But, in the case of a story that appeared on the BBC website on Thursday, you’d be bang wrong, buster.

Olympic cycle route row at Box Hill sparks police patrols”. Police patrols? Are mild-mannered cyclists, emboldened by the global mood of fed-upness manifested by makeshift campsites at Wall Street and St Paul’s, now protesting about their own crisis on Mole Valley’s famed Zig-Zag? No. No, they are not. Read on, and it becomes clear that the story is actually about police telling cyclists – ordinary cyclists like, perhaps, yourself – to observe the rules of the road because they’ve had complaints from local residents. In the context of the story, there is no “row” about the Olympics. There is a suggestion that the tensions have been triggered by more cyclists coming to try out Box Hill because it is part of the Olympic route, but the police sergeant quoted seems to think otherwise: “This isn’t an issue solely of cyclists but an issue of increased visitors to Box Hill full stop.” So despite the headline and the angle of the story, The Olympics has bugger-all to do with anything.

And, as an informed cycleperson, you may also be aware of how the story about cyclists supposedly behaving badly on Box Hill first emerged. A couple of months ago, Mole Valley Police handed out leaflets warning cyclists, ungrammatically, that they would be fined £1,000 for dangerous or inattentive riding. The force later apologised for their “blunt” and “inappropriate” warnings (see number two here). These facts are absent from the BBC report.

But let’s look at it another way. Perhaps the Beeb’s headline-writer was using the word “Olympic” to mean “very big”, in a similar way that Little Chef has an “Olympic Breakfast” on its menu that wouldn’t exactly fit into the diet plan of a world-class athlete. And, once the dust has settled, maybe the police could tell us exactly how many cyclists they have had to apprehend on their patrols of Box Hill. The problem, despite the complaints, may not be Olympic-sized after all.