Your humble cycling correspondent atop the Galibier with
Bike Friday – July 2003 (Lance Armstrong not pictured)
Disclaimer: This page features a few useful thoughts to share with fellow riders. But beware, and there’s no easy way to say this, I’m crap on the bike: I can’t climb, I can’t sprint, I’m slow and I moan a lot – but I love to wear lycra and I love to ride. Now read on!
- dick’s bike movies
- cool bike shops around the world
- 12 interesting rides
- 6 California Centuries
- cool bike-related websites
- cycling films
- 13 cycling books
- adventures with foldy
- 12 benefits of cycling
- on yer bike
DICK’S BIKE MOVIES
IN SEARCH OF THE LANTERNE ROUGE
Though currently in production short “making-of” clips can be seen on YouTube at:
- Col de Port Report
- Going down the Col de Marie Blanque
- Tony Hoar – first British Lanterne Rouge
- Bob Roll visits Lanterne Rouge Studios
Commisioned by Jonathan Vaughters & Doug Ellis for the Slipstream Chipotle Team Presentation in November 2007 this 12 minute film is a frank interview with British World Champion and one-time Yellow Jersey winner David Millar about his fall from grace and his successful return to the peloton. The film, broken down into two halves, can be seen on YouTube at:
Go behind the scenes at the 95th Tour de France as yours truly shoots footage for an upcoming Sundance Channel documentary. Filmed in Glorious Handicam:
Adventures with Har-V & Geraldine
COOL BIKE SHOPS AROUND THE WORLD
Listed by City
Sant Joan de Malta 1, 08018 Barcelona
I rented a bike here on a number of occasions while my Bike Friday was stuck in Spanish Customs and they were always very helpful and have a decent selection of bikes and gear squeezed into their tiny store. They close early on Saturdays and aren’t open at all on Sundays. n.b. They have two stores: the one at the beach is basically a rental place for beach cruisers and should be avoided.
BOURG D’OISANS, FRANCE
CYCLES ET SPORTS
Place du Docteur Faure – 38520 Bourg d’Oisans, France
(00-33) 04-76-79-16-19, www.cyclesetsports.com
Just a kilometre from the foot of the famous L’Alpe d’Huez CYCLES ET SPORTS in Bourg d’Oisans is located off the main road that runs through the town – you enter through the back door off the triangular square in the Eastern end of the village. (The main entrance is on one of the small pedestrian streets mostly filled with T-shirt and postcard sellers). They sell the most impressive collection of TdF-style team jerseys and shorts I’ve ever seen in a bike shop and, more importantly, two different types of matching Alpe d’Huez Les 21 Virages cycling kits that will give you extra bragging rights on those Sunday morning rides at home.
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
177 Changpuak Road, T. Sriphum, Amphur Muang,
Chiang Mai 50200
+ 66-53-410-665, email@example.com
Kim Sinclair says: “Your typical Asian hole-in-the-wall bike shop, it is distinguished by the fact that it also stocks ‘Lightweight’ components and wheels. So, if you are touring the Golden Triangle and have a sudden craving for a pair of $3,000 carbon wheels, you’re in luck. The manager speaks some English and is a road/track/time trial enthusiast.” Not many of those in Thailand.
185, Parnell St., Dublin
I was working in Dublin and someone gave me info on some bike shops. The riding was great and happily I didn’t have the need to visit a shop. So no review – just info. (If you have a review please e-mail me – thank-you).
McCORMACKS CYCLE CENTRE
31A Lower Dorset St., Dublin
107, Patrick St., Dun Laoghaire
SCARPELLI BIKES & SCOOTERS
78, Via Palazzuolo (&Via dell Albero)
Conveniently located 5 minutes from the railway station this shop is stocked with chunky town bikes (& scooters) but they do have pumps and spare tires.
ILKLEY, YORKSHIRE, ENGLAND
42a Nelson Road
Ilkley, Yorkshire LS29 8HN
They’re located up a side road off the A65 as you come into town from Otley and you’d be convinced, as you walk through the small arch into the old stone yard towards their shop, that there surely couldn’t be a decent bike shop in this quiet back-water. WRONG! They’ve got a huge selection of mountain bikes, more tandems than I’ve ever seen in one location, and some decent road and touring bikes too. Also their selection of clothes and accessories equals that of a good store in any major city. A real find!
176 High Road, Chiswick, London W4
Your typical high street bike shop – perfect for buying spares, helmets, pumps and cute trikes with pink thingies sticking out of the handle bars.
11-13 Macklin Street, London WC2B 5NH
Bikepark was co-founded by a friend of mine so of course I’m biased but they are a full service store where all the staff are riders. They specialize in road machines and stock Litespeed, Merckx, Trek and Cannondale. As well as organizing regular weekend training rides they also do training camps in Europe and trips to some of the more interesting European events. They also have a store in Chelsea: 63 New Kings Road, SW6 phone 020-7731-7012
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
8330 Beverly Blvd.,
Los Angeles CA 90048
I’ve spent a fortune here over the years and they stock an excellent choice of biking clothes, shoes, helmets etc. I’ve often seen them eagerly helping casual riders to identify the machine best suited to their needs which is a good sign. They have an excellent repair service too. I believe they are now under the same umbrella as Helen’s Cycles – see below.
BEVERLY HILLS BIKE SHOP
854 S. Robertson Blvd.,
Neighbourhood shop with a small selection of good quality bikes and a useful place to buy a speedometer or biking shades. Good mechanics too but the front-desk service can be a bit sketchy and I’m always a bit nervous when I seem to know more than the guy behind the counter.
2501 Broadway at 26th St.,
The Big Daddy of LA bike shops. They have an excellent supply of gear and, as their selection is pretty impressive, its a great place to buy your next velo. Despite the size of the operation the service is also very good. (See I. Martin – above).
Piazza S. Maria, 42 – 55100 Lucca
A great bike shop, in a town that is choc-full of bikes, featuring a notice board in the window jammed full with faded pictures of Coppi et al and a signed pic of Cippolini behind the counter. The vast array of bikes for sale and rental and the happy chatter coming from the work-shop next door lets you know you’re in cycling heaven Lucca-style. If you’re in Tuscany make sure you go to Lucca: it has fewer tourists than any other Tuscan beauty spot and, thanks to Napoleon’s sister who gussied up the ramp-parts that circle the town and made them into a gorgeous egg-shaped park, you can spin around the entire town in a leisurely ten minutes before scooting through the cobbled streets along with grannies and businessmen also riding by. It’s such a wonderful spot that even your non-riding better-half will be happy.
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA
MIAMI BEACH BICYCLING CENTER
601 5th St., Miami, 305-674-0150
Having had a dreadful time renting a bike from another bike shop up on Collins Ave. I stumbled upon this one and instantly felt at home. The store owner fitted me for a bike himself and set me up with a spare tube and a cage for free – well done that man.
NELSON, SOUTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND
109 Rutherford Street, Nelson, New Zealand
The owner used to be the mechanic for the Kiwi bike team and his tiny store is packed full of goodies. It’s the kind of place you wish was at the end of your street so you could pop in every weekend. He sells his own shirts and those really cool black and white New Zealand team cycling jerseys.
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
622 Frenchman Street
Me and my frequent biking buddy Bruce were in town for a shoot and we wanted to rent bikes for the day. The other place we rang was rude and unhelpful. Bicycle Michaels was friendly and eager to help – in the event it got too crazy to go and ride but my guess is they’re a great store. Their web-site contains the chilling reminder: New Orleans is NOT OK yet.
NEW YORK, NEW YOR
MASTER BIKE SHOP
225 West 77th @ Broadway
NEW YORK NY 10024
I was staying at On The Ave and Master Bike was right across the street from the lobby entrance. They rent bikes for $50 a day – we’re talking really nice roadbikes too – and Imbert, the owner / mechanic, was friendly and helpful.
TOGA BIKE SHOP
110 West End Ave (64th St)
NEW YORK NY 10023
I needed a new saddle for the Bike Friday and they were extra helpful and friendly and knowledgeable and had a good selection. They have their own bike team which is always a good sign. (See also Gotham Bikes 112 W. Broadway 212-732-2453). Note to self, and you of course, the closest entrance to the bike path is at 59th street.
BOUTIE CYCLE NEWAY
23 bis, avenue Auguste Verola, 06200 NICE
Apparently close to the airport and the N202. They do not rent bikes.
34, avenue Auber, 06000 NICE firstname.lastname@example.org
They’re on a steep street just below the railway station and they rent bikes suitable for a casual spin along the Promenade des Anglais but they’re not a bike shop.
GEPETTO & VELOS
59 rue du Cardinal Lemoine
If you are a literary tourist their shop is conveniently located down the road from Ernest Hemingway’s house. This is a shop which seems to specialize in repairs and renting very French looking bikes (surprise!) with 60’s technology that you could tootle around town on – no fun stuff at all. They have another branch at 46 rue Daubenton, phone number 01-43-37-16-17. They’re open from 10am till 730pm but closed for lunch between 1 and 3 and closed all day Thursday.
BICI & BACI
Via Del Vimale 5, Roma
Bici & Baci is over towards Rome’s busy Termini station and advertises its bike rental in all the guide books and hotel maps. I never made it to the store but it has an excellent website and it only seems to rent cruisers or mountain bikes but, having ridden over the cobbles in Rome, that makes a lot of sense. (P.S. Avoid the bikes for rent by the subway outside the Colosseum – they sit outside in rain or shine, day in, day out and look to be in worse shape than that bike in your uncle’s garden shed.)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
BAY CITY BIKES
2661 Taylor St., & 1325 Columbus Ave.,
Clare Unwin says: “We rented two bikes from them for a day and rode over the Golden Gate bridge and back. The regular charge is $25 for 24 hours but we got $10 off because we were staying at a hostel.” Their site promises a good choice of machines from round-town cruisers, to full suspension mountains and decent road bikes and publishes rates for them all – something that Blazing Saddles (see below) seems reticent to provide.
2715 Hyde Street @ Beach Street
One of those shops I walked past on a trip when I wasn’t riding. They seem to rent solid touring rides for making your way round town.
2797 Dundas St. W. Toronto Ontario M6P 1Y6
They once gave me a free water bottle on a hot day which, I think, deserves a mention.
1204 Bloor St. W Toronto Ontario M6H 1N2
They used to rent me brand new bikes which was very nice of them – and deliver them to the hotel!
BICYCLE SPORTS PACIFIC
999 Pacific Street
1810 Fir Street
They have their own bike team – a good sign.
Corner of Georgia & Denman, Vancouver
Conveniently situated near Stanley Park Spokes only rents bikes and has very little retail stock. But, if you’re looking for a 35lb cruiser to slowly make your way through the park, this is the place for you. Be careful crossing the road!
102-1550 Marine Drive, North Vancouver BC.
They stock a good selection of road and mountain bikes and parts in a well laid out space. They’re also open on a Sunday morning which is useful. An Italian buying a bicycle in the shop thought I was Marco Pantani – rather tellingly the salesman didn’t know who Marco Pantani was.
12 INTERESTING RIDES
1) PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY – SANTA MONICA TO THE ROCK – THERE & BACK
Los Angeles CA
Many riders start in Santa Monica and ride North on Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway or PCH) but I prefer to drive further up the coast before I start for two reasons. 1) The road is very busy between Santa Monica and Malibu and due to frequent mudslides the road can be dicey. 2) It’s not very attractive – you’ve got banks of muddy hills on your right and the backdoors of miles of beach-houses on your left. So, I park just after Carbon Canyon – where there’s a nice long straight to park your car – and head north. Pretty soon you’re through Malibu and climbing the first of many undulations that build-up your heart-rate and show off stunning views of the California coast-line. Your first hillock puts Pepperdine U. on your right and an amazing view of the Pacific on your left. – then it’s uplill and down dale for the next 8 miles till you reach Zuma beach at which point the road flattens and the traffic lessens. Further North, once you pass Neptune’s Net, it gets even quieter and it’s just you and the road (and perhaps some sea breeze) till you get to The Rock – you can’t miss it. You’ve now got around 25 miles on the clock and it’s time to turn for home. Things to watch out for: 1) Surfers changing in the bike-lane; 2) Mudslides or construction that forces you into traffic – 2 riders were killed at one such obstruction in August 2005; 3) Frequent canyons that will take you up steeply up into the hills with amazing views – Mulholland, Encinal and Latigo are my favourites. Some of these canyons are easily TdF level in grade and length. Great training.
2) RICHMOND PARK LOOP
Richmond, London, England
If you ride the Richmond Park loop clockwise there’s a moment shortly after the Richmond Gate where you crest a hill and, though you’re in the heart of rich parkland with wild deer just a few feet away, you can see the London Eye and The City just a few miles in the distance – wonderful. There’s also a good bike path if you’ve got a hybrid or a mountain bike which goes round the park outside the loop – but the pedestrians do NOT give way to bikes. Bikepark (see above) organize a team ride at three different levels round the park every Saturday morning at 9am. The slowest group averages about 15mph.
3) LAKE MOERAKI – LAKE WANAKA
South Island, New Zealand
The longest, most extra-ordinary ride I’ve ever done. We did the first 6 hours in the pouring rain and we vowed that we would get in the van as soon as we could. We rode down a long valley away from the shore watching waterfalls cascading loudly down towards us. We ate soggy sarnies at the foot of the Alpine pass but moved on inside ten minutes because the sand flies were so annoying and then grunted and moaned our way to the top of the Haast Pass where it still poured.
My cycling Buddy Kim at the
summit of the Haast Pass.
Only 4 hours till we get dry.
As we arrived on the heights beyond a marvelous tail-wind appeared followed eventually by the sun and we scooted on towards Lake Wanaka by which time nothing would have stopped us from completing the journey on 2 wheels. As I recall there was but one habitation along the entire road – a cafe where we stopped for hot coffee, buns and chocolate. By the time we rode victorious into Wanaka we had ridden ourselves dry. We walked into the hotel beaming only to find the same grumpy tourist hogging the telephones that we had pissed off when we left the hotel in Moeraki 9 hours previously!
4) BODEGA BAY – RUSSIAN RIVER – HEALDSBURG
Can’t remember, 30 miles?
This was the last day of my first Backroads trip and I did most of the journey on my own. I remember riding North on the coast road leaving Ocean Bay with just the sound of the waves below, the breeze in the grass at the roadside and my chain-set spinning smoothly beneath me. It was absolutely intoxicating. Then the road turned inland and started through the redwood forests!
5) LA MARATHON (BIKE TOUR)
Los Angeles California
It starts at 6am down on Exposition every year the day of the LA Marathon which is around the first Sunday in March. This is the only time you’ll want to cycle through some of the tougher neighbourhoods of the city and the early wake up call is always worth it. Like all rides of its type you’ll find Litespeeds, recumbents and tricycles riding alongside that bike from the garden shed which hasn’t seen an oil can for twenty years. People in pyjamas wave at you from their front lawns and, though the start is always a bit chilly, the warmth from the spectators means you turn up the finish line with a big smile on your face.
6) LONDON TO BRIGHTON
London – Brighton, England
I haven’t done the ride in a while now but I remember it being a great day out. It was once billed as the biggest bike ride in the world and had something like 22,000 riders on it. The number of riders was so vast they had to do staggered start times and I recall them saying that by the time the first riders were arriving in Brighton there were still people leaving London – thus the field was stretched out over all 52 miles of the course. Fond memories include seeing tandems from the Blind Owls Cycling Club passing me at speed on a hill – the guys on the front were all sighted – the stokers (guys on the back) were all blind. Unlike the well organised OCW Amtrak Century there was never any organised method of getting back to London – perhaps that’s changed.
At the end of the London to Brighton 1984.
7) CHIANG MAI TO THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE
Another day on a Backroads trip where I lost the van – or did it lose me? I remember stopping at a small roadside cafe which had no walls and no running water where I bought a bowl of soup (How much rat in it? I don’t know), some chocolate and a plastic bag full of Coca Cola with a straw (they recycle the cans but don’t care how much plastic you trash the roadside with) for a buck. And then as the sun got lower and the light turned to liquid gold I came up to the mighty Meekong and eventually my hotel. My room was as beautiful as any I’ve stayed in and there across the river on one side I could see Laos and there to my left I could see Myanmar (Burma) – wow!
My bike beside the mighty Mekong River, Thailand.
8) GOING TO THE SUN ROAD
Glacier National Park, Montana
You have to be up early to do this ride because if you don’t summit before 11am they’ll kick you off the road – the road is too narrow for bikes and cars. But the early rise and the hard slog is definitely worth it. First you meander up the narrow gorge and then, as the sun starts breaking through, you turn back on yourself and start climbing hard. As you ride further upwards you are presented with scores of incredible views down the valley you’ve just climbed. Could it be that just an hour ago you were down there with those toy cars? In July you will still find the road damp with melting snow and when you reach the saddle of the pass you truly feel like you’ve achieved something. If you’re riding onwards to East Glacier, as we did, don’t linger too long – there are many miles ahead of you and as you turn back on yourself to ride the last ten miles to the next hotel you encounter a continuous and savage head-wind the like of which I’ve never encountered before or since.
9) PARKER RANCH TO ROYAL WAIKOLOAN BEACH RESORT VIA NORTH KOHALA MOUNTAINS
Big Island, Hawaii
This ride, which commences at an elevation of 3,000 feet in what was once the largest cattle empire on American soil, starts off with a blissful down-hill and eventually drops you to sea-level with amazing views of the coast to your left and the rolling sheep pasture on your right. Once down in the little town of Hawi you turn over your left shoulder and start working your way back along the coast through the moonscape-like lava fields.
10) SAGRADA FAMILIA TO MONTJUIC
While shooting in Barcelona in 2002 I would escape at the weekends through the streets and pedal furiously past Gaudi’s Casa Battlo, down towards the railway station (where I later shot a video for Darius) and then start the climb up Montjuic to top out with an extraordinary view over Barcelona. No matter how much pressure I felt under from the movie I could happily sit and look at the view and forget all my troubles as I looked at the Sagrada Familia where I had started my ride and out to the sparkling Mediterranean which looked so inviting.
11) L’ALPE D’HUEZ
Bourg d’Oisans – L’Alpe d’Huez, France
14.1 km = approx 8.8. miles
One of the mighty mountain-top finishes of the Tour de France and I defy you to find 8 miles of road with more famous names painted on it than this one. The bad news is that the first mile or so is absolutely the worst part of the climb. The good news is that the approach from town is quite flat and the views as you climb the mountain are just spectacular. As you start to sweat bullets and wonder why you journeyed half way across the planet to do this to yourself you’ll realise that you’re pedalling amongst cyclists of all colours, creeds and abilities trying to put this valhalla of climbs into their memory banks. How the real racers stand on their pedals and race up this after 180 km of racing is just beyond me. Marco Pantani’s record time is 37:35 minutes – mine was 2 hours 20 minutes! But in my defence I had jet-lag, I’m 20 years older than Pantani and I was taking pictures.
Halfway up l’Alpe d’Huez, July 2003.
(photo by Andy Murray).
12) MONT VENTOUX
Boudoin – Mont Ventoux, France
22 km = approx 13.7 miles
There’s a Provencal proverb which says: “You don’t have to be mad to go up the Ventoux, but you’re mad if you go back.” You start in the gently undulating Provence countryside and look at that gentle giant of a slope (which appears quite easy) over to your left. About 5 km out of Boudoin you make a sudden sharp turn and you enter the Bedoin Forest and the gates of hell. As you cycle up through the stunted trees of the foothills you notice the kilometre markers going from 8% grade to 9% to 10% and then 11.something %. It’s hot, it’s winding, it’s unending and it’s really dull. There are no cute mountain views or picturesque little buildings as you grind upwards, just piles of empty gel-packs by the road-side where other fools have trod. As you reach the one usable building on the hill (Le Chalet Reynard – a cafe open all year) you swing to the left again and you’re out of the trees and amongst the endless vista of white stones that famously cap the mountain. You have 6 km still left to go and please try and do this part on a day with no wind. 1km from the top you’ll pass the famous Tom Simpson memorial on your right and you’ll realise how close he was to completing the climb. At the top (1912 metres) you’ve got one heck of a view – I looked down on planes flying past. In his book about Tom Simpson William Fotheringham famously notes that you have travelled, in climatic terms, from Provence to Lapland in just over ten miles. Louison Bobet, who conquered it in the 55 Tour has said: A son at the summit of Mont Ventoux is not a sight to show his mother.
On-top of Mt. Ventoux July 2003.
(photo by Andy Murray)
I don’t think I’ll ever do Ventoux again. It took me three hours and I had to stop about 20 times! (Oh yeah I cheated too – I rode the last 6km first, took a break for lunch, waited for the temp to dip below 96 degrees and then did the first bit. If I’d done it in order I don’t know if I’d have made it.) At either end of the ride I reccomend the Pasta Carbonara at the Portail de L’Olivier – the restaurant on the left of the roundabout as you leave town to start the climb to Ventoux.
6 CALIFORNIA CENTURIES
TOUR DE PALM SPRINGS
The course takes you North into the wind farm you see from the 10 Freeway and then in a large clockwise loop that takes you south towards Palm Desert before you turn North and hug the mountains on your way home. It can be a cold start in the morning and as someone who hates headwinds (don’t we all?) I question the logic of riding a century that goes through a wind farm! However I’ve ridden it four times and been lucky with the wind – I’ve heard stories though. The directions on this ride are questionable – I lost my way three times as did a lot of other riders. Apparently this pic was taken right on top of the San Andreas fault!
Difficulty 5, Course 5. (Difficulty probably higher if that fault buckles!).
The big brother by which all other California centuries are judged. Very well organised The route starts and finishes in Solvang and does a clock-wise loop that takes you close to the coast at Lompoc and then Northwards through Vandenberg Air Base. There’s two hills which will scupper first-timers but just keep in a low gear and it’s over quite soon. However hard I try I always bonk about 80 miles in which is a shame on the beautiful home straight. Good to know: it can be freezing at the start (literally) and sweltering in the afternoon (high 80’s) – how do you dress for a bike ride like that? Book your hotel room NOW!
Difficulty 7, Course 8.
WINE COUNTRY CENTURY
The most beautiful century I’ve ever done despite having to ride myself dry three times during the course of the day. Ride starts in Santa Rosa, heads West to Occidental, North to Guernville, doubles back on itself and goes North to Lake Sonoma before coming home through the Alexander Valley. Beware there’s one hill in the woods somewhere which is Ventoux-type tough – though about 21km shorter!
Difficulty 7, Course 9½..
CRUISE THE CONEJO
(Confession: I’ve only done the metric). You start in Thousand Oaks, go due West through Hidden Hills Valley (?), which is the nicest part of the ride, and then enjoy a glorious freewheel down towards Point Hueneme…which means you have to somehow climb back to the starting point. The Last half of the course is very dull.
Difficulty 5, Course 4.
SAN DIEGO CENTURY
The ride starts within 5 minutes of the San Diego Freeway and takes you on a couple of inland loops – the first is green, rolling and lakeside – the second is dusty and climbing and includes a circuit of a rather smelly plateau out by Ramona. If you like a century with lots of hills, a Purple Monster, plenty of ladies in your peloton and many traffic lights you have come to the right place. But if you expect your rest stops to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches then you’ll need to go elsewhere.
Difficulty 7½, Course 5
COOL BREEZE CENTURY
Starting in Ventura you go North up the coast and eventually turn inland at Carpenteria and climb a long hill which takes you up and around the back of Santa Barbara towards Goleta. Lunch at half way means that, with the exception of that hill, you retrace your steps pretty much all the way South even stopping at two of the SAG stops on the way home. I hate that bit where you cycle in the slow lane of PCH – riding with semis hurtling past about 20 inches from my left elbow gives me the willies. Book early for a decent hotel room.
Difficulty 6, Course 6.
Excellently organised by the Orange County Wheelmen the ride starts you off in a non-descript part of Irvine (which is saying something) and takes you to the coast and then South along the Pacific Coast towards San Diego – and of course as you’re continually riding South it’s down-hill all the way! Since 9/11 the trip no longer side-steps through Camp Pendleton and now takes you for a very dull step along the beach parking lot and a very dangerous spell along the 5 freeway! It’s an easy century and quite unusual in that it’s NOT a loop: the first lucky 1,000 riders to apply get a special train to take them back to Irvine at the end of the day – hence the moniker. Book early, the tickets go fast.
Difficulty 5, Course 5.
COOL BIKE RELATED WEBSITES
Bike Friday build collapsible bikes that fit neatly into a suitcase…perfect for the travelling cyclist. When I ordered mine (The Pocket Rocket) I had to fill in a form with the exact pedal to saddle, saddle to front bar dimensions of my favourite ride so they could build the bike exactly to my specifications. Pretty damn cool. Of course they aren’t cheap but having tried to rent bikes all over the world (always a frustrating experience) I thought that the cost was worth it. Their after sales service is very good too though the spread-the-word cards they give you are a bit over the top. A word of warning – the first time I took my Bike Friday with me overseas I shipped it instead of taking with me on the plane as excess baggage (mine weighs about 40lbs including the case, wrenches, spare tubes etc) and it took weeks to get it out of customs at the other end.
My BF has been christened “Foldy” by a fellow cyclist and you can check out Adventures With Foldy here.
Backroads arrange bike tours all over the planet and I recommend them highly – a great way to spend a holiday if you fancy some exercise and a good nights rest in a decent hotel. I’ve done twelve holidays with them now (from Vietnam to Hawaii) and have been very impressed with their pre, during and after sales service. Here’s some tips for you. If you are a real cyclist (i.e. do over 70 miles a day and know the difference between La Vuelta a Espana and The Giro d’Italia) then they are not the touring company for you – a holiday with them is the perfect way to see a new place, do some fun rides, meet some good people and stay in some neat hotels. Word on the street is their main rivals, Butterfield and Robinson, are far more expensive and the rides are easier and the people snootier.
My Backroads bike half way
up the Ngoan Muc Pass in
Vietnam’s Central Highlands.
The first night of a Backroads trip is deadly embarrassing (Hi, my name is Nigel, I live in Los Angeles and my favourite food is Lemon Meringue Pie!) but within a few days you’ll feel right at home. I’ve made great friends on the trips from all walks of life but have noticed that the more expensive trips attract a less friendly crowd. Also the singles trips are not ‘singles’ trips if you know what I’m saying though I do know of a few people who have been lucky enough to hook up after a holiday.
Lots of cool stuff here.
Online cycling zine which covers road-racing.
So you always wanted to know what it’s like to ride through Manhattan AGAINST the traffic while listening to Welcome To The Jungle? Now your wish has come true thanks to one man’s diligence / bravery / insanity! (Pick one). Tune in, TURN IT UP and get your diapers ready! (Click on Drag Race NYC).
Graham Watson is that guy on the motorbike who follows the TdF etc and takes those great pix. If you can’t get tuned in to a channel showing the Giro or Vuelta or any other big race check out his site at the end of the day and it will have the story of the race in ten or fifteen great shots and the GC classification too. However we have to tell him that his captions are a) beaucoup de fromage and b) need a spoiler alert. E.G. “It’s Cunego who starts the descent…but watch out for Bettini!”
Bizarrely there is another site on the web hosted by a one-time architect who works in film and is also a crazy cyclist. Kim however, has better pics, is obviously tougher than me in the biking stakes, and also can claim to have worked with Tom Cruise. Thank-you to Kim for the Chiang Mai info.
Ever thought of making a bike about ten feet long that could carry three suitcases and a bunch of building supplies? Ever considered riding a bike about seven feet tall with its own built in sound system? Of course you have. However perhaps, like me, you’ve just never figured out how to do it. Moz has – and he’s even got the pictures to prove he’s done it! And people think I’m nuts because I have a folding bike….
SOLO CC CYCLING GEAR
Cool retro cycling gear from New Zealand. Pity they don’t do bibs…
Once-upon-a-time FEDEX took it upon themselves to deliver my Bike Friday to Palm Springs instead of LA the day before I left for France. As I scrambled for a replacement Veloloco, who are based in Aulus-le-Bains in France, were very, very helpful trying to find me a replacement.
The movie that brought cycling to the big screen, broke the careers of Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern wide open and even won an Oscar for best screenplay. A working class teen in Bloomington Indiana is crazy about cycling and dreams about life in the peloton while his buds spend the summer dreaming about balling the chicks over on the university campus and not growing old. As the story develops resentment boils to the surface: Quaid frets about his doomed football career; Dennis Christopher, as Mike the cyclist, worries about going to university while his father fumes at his weird eating habits, his fondness for Italian music and that he shaves his legs. Is it the best movie about cycling ever made? I hope not. Is it the best movie ever made with cycling in it? Hardly a big genre – and the answer is still probably no. But it does the job, is directed by the guy that did Bullitt, and perfectly captures the feeling of a long hot summer. Dick says: Give it the points jersey for the neat Campagnolo hats but hiss at it loudly and give it the lantern rouge because they put the image of the rider on the DVD box the wrong way round so that the chain and gear-set are on the left side of the bike! Favourite scene: “No ‘ini’ foods!” Interesting trivia: The ‘too good to be true’ one-guy-wins-a-team-race concept that ends the movie is based on a true story. American Flyers, the other studio picture about bicycle racing, was also written by Breaking Away’s writer Steve Tesich.
THE FLYING SCOTSMAN
The biopic of Graeme Obree: terror of the velodrome and self-taught bike builder who was much feared by washing machines throughout the land. For a while there’s a sense that Mackinnon’s movie could do for cycling what Local Hero did for desolate Scottish fishing villages but soon it becomes apparent that the film will never get to grips with Obree’s defining trait – his overwhelming depression. Supporting crew Billy Boyd, Laura Fraser and Brian Cox are all excellent as manager, wife and mentor, but no matter how hard they pedal they can’t pull this pic back to the peloton.
HELL ON WHEELS (Hollentour)
Atmospheric and intense look at the 2003 Tour de France and T-Mobile sprinter Eric Zabel in particular with some of the most beautiful cycling footage I can ever remember seeing. Sadly, for us and the film-makers, EZ comes a cropper early on in the race and, with Petachi burning up the pavement, there are no magic, winning moments from Zabel to be had. The good news is that this results in disarmingly frank ruminations from EZ about whether he’ll make it to Paris or even over the next mountain. The white elephant in the room during all of this is the fact that T-Mobile regular Jan Ullrich, now riding with Bianchi, is actually doing rather well in the tour and that some American guy is wearing yellow a lot. Eventually there’s no escaping that the Tour isn’t about Eric and the camera is forced to spend some time watching Lance and Jan battle it out in the wet and slippery final time trial. Dick says: Despite the wound up to 11 score this is the film Overcoming and The Quest wanted to be. The photography is stunning and the film nobly stays clear of behaving like a two hour T-mobile commercial. It could however have been 20 minutes shorter.
As Lance pedalled inevitably to win #6 Tomas Gislason and crew quietly crept aboard the CSC bus and followed Basso, Julich, Sastre and co. everywhere apart from the toilet. If you wanted a chance to look inside the heart & soul of of a bike team, and hear bikers whining about their mechanics, this is as close as humble bikers like you & me are likely to get. It’s short on biking thrills but full of personal drama and emotion and nary a talking head in sight: this is a film about what happens inside a team before and after the race. Team boss Bjarne Riis is certainly impressive dishing out instructions, encouragement and criticism in at least four languages and yet he often seems vulnerable and introspective – not quite the stern, confidant leader you might expect. Dick says: A must see if only for the awesome footage on the bonus disc of Jens Voigt riding his arse off and then losing his cool when he’s unjustly criticized by T-mobile for helping Lance.
Jamie Paolinetti and crew descend on Philly to shoot the Wachovia USPRO Championship (2003 I think) and it’s certainly refreshing to watch a bike race without hearing Liggett, Sherwen & Roll trot out their increasingly overused descriptions. Paolinetti & crew do a fine job of setting up the race and manfully try to add some tension but, though all the players want to wear that gaudy jersey real bad, many of the riders either come across like friendly surf dudes or are in dire need of a powerful charisma injection. Suddenly the intensity and class brought to the table by Lance, Mario et al seems sadly missing. And then there’s the race which goes round and round in circles for hours – no amount of cleverly placed music cues or dramatic commentary from Mr. Deep Voice can hide the fact that there are too many sideburns in the peloton and that it’s going to come down to a field sprint at which point you wish that Liggett & co. had been invited after all. Dick says: In the end the film-makers were outdone by the event itself though you’ve got to give them the points jersey for trying. Someone please give them the cash to go to Europe and shoot something there. www.prothemovie.com
Let’s face it there aren’t a lot of films about cycling and you want to give full support to any piece of work that tackles a grand tour – in this case the 2003 Giro d’Italia. But there’s no escaping the fact that The Quest is full of talking heads and is completely lacking in any kind of tension no matter how frantic the voice-over gets – and why reveal the result of the race in the opening moments? You have to concede that the only way to create a mezmerizing piece of work about a race that crosses Alpine passes is to get the kind of coverage we are used to seeing on the box and inevitably director Greg St. Johns has to resort to TV footage for help. Dick says: The long-winded interviews with every member of the Saeco team turn this noble enterprise into a 104 minute commercial for Cannondale and Italy’s famous red-shirted team. Shame.
ROAD TO PARIS
You know in your heart of hearts that if you’d ever had the chance to go and watch Lance prep for Le Tour and hang with U.S. Postal that you’d have spent more time with the guys on the bus than you did with Lance. Road To Paris, which judging from its production credits was originally envisioned as a 52 miinute Nike commercial, almost busts this preconception and provides some intriguing moments with Lance as he defies both the weather and Johan Bruyneel and keeps on riding. Dick says: This DVD, with the mandatory out-takes, was probably the template on which the Lance Chronicles were modelled. This is infinitely better.
16,000 FEET ON A FRIDAY
Movies don’t come lower-tech than this one. Shot entirely on an Elph digital camera this 40 minute gem was made by Lynette Chiang as she rode over the world’s highest paved road in Peru with RAAM dude Ron Haldeman and some other greying pedallers who never say a word. Their goal is to deliver some food to an orphanage in the heart of the jungle before turning around and cycling all the way back again. Chiang is irrepressible and her eager enthusiasm captures moments that a more thoughtful film-maker would never achieve. Dick says: It’s a travelogue, a glorified what-I-did-on-my-holidays, and proceeds from the DVD go to the orphanage; it certainly makes you want to get on your bike and go somewhere RIGHT NOW! Available from www.galfromdownunder.com
A SUNDAY IN HELL
They say it’s the best film about cycling and they may be right. It’s certainly the most atmospheric. Who knew that a lingering shot of an empty parking lot somewhere outside Paris at dawn could be so mesmerizing? Here we are at Paris Roubaix in the golden age of cycling: Merckx is on form, the riders all wear those woollen jumpers that we now think are so cool and there are no ear-pieces and stylish team buses – the riders arrive in their own cars with their bikes strapped to the back. But what seems most bewildering is that, with less technology at his disposal than current TV folk, director Jorgen Leth has captured the intensity, the passion and the shear speed of the cyclists and, when he cuts footage of the peloton moving through sun-blessed trees to cello music, the shear beauty of the sport. Dick says: The chanting monks singing “Paris-Roubaix” over and over may be crap but next time you tune in to the tour perhaps you should bang some Mozart in the hi-fi and give Liggett, Sherwen et al the early bath. (Footnote – like every other cycle-race film even Leth has to eventually lower himself and use TV coverage at the end!)
THE TOUR BABY
In 2000 an American cycling fan zips across the pond to follow the Tour and decides to buy a video camera just before he leaves. Before you can say Allez Lance! he’s turned into a director and, like Survivorman, is turning the camera on himself all over France as he follows the Tour. During the course of his trip he somehow manages to get up close and personal footage of Robin Williams, Miss France, Lance, Tyler, George and even gets to the point where Messrs Liggett and Sherwin are waving at him rather than the other way around. The man’s French accent is appalling but he certainly is bold and he uses the film to raise over $150,000 for Lance’s Livestrong Foundation for which he deserves a hearty salute. However…Dick says: If you’re going to stand in front of a camera and make a film about anything but surfing you might want to examine how wise it is to say Awesome and Dude over and over again.
WIRED TO WIN (IMAX)
Bad news: W2W is not really a cycling movie at all – more of an educational film that shows how your noggin computes and sends and receives signals interespersed with 5 storey high shots of rolling French countryside during the Centennial Tour. The original plan involved following Tyler Hamilton through the ’03 TdF and the film-makers must have laughed themselves silly when Tyler fell off his bike at the end of stage 2, wrapped bandages around his shoulder and valiantly carried on towards Paris winning a stage and baskets of bravery medals along the way. And then it all turned to crap when Tyler was booted out of the sport for blood doping. Baden Cooke has been substituted as the rider-to-watch and this late subtitution manifests itself in coverage that was clearly shot long after the Tour was over and numerous takes where the camera follows a CSC shirt and not an FdJ one. In the end you just wish the animation of neurons flashing away in a sea of infinite blue goop would just go away so you could see more of that delicious French countryside baking in the sun.
13 CYCLING BOOKS
BOBKE II – Bob Roll
See him on TV and Bob Roll comes across as a balding, joker with a wild line of aphorisms and hand gestures. (My favourite describing another winning sprint finish by Mario Cippolini and his team: Mario Speedwagon). When you discover he has ridden every classic road and Mountain Bike race in the book you reassess your opinion fast. By the time you’ve read the book you realise he is the kind of guy who is the bricks and mortar, the soul, of any civilised society or club that you might consider joining. And when it comes to riding he suffers just like everyone else, if not more so. This diary recalls all the ups and downs and is full of personal memories of the greats of his era: Hampsten, Armstrong , Hinault and many more. And his similes are pure genius: “As nervous as a balloon in a pin factory.” And “as spastic as a Devo guitar solo.”
FRENCH REVOLUTIONS – Tim Moore
Lazy English scribe and Tour De France-watching couch-potato takes it upon himself to purchase a velo and waltz around the 2,500 mile course six weeks before the pros give it a whirl which, with little planning and no training, is either incredibly brave or bloody daft – actually both. Mr. Moore then takes it upon himself to out-Bryson Bill Bryson but, whereas Bryson usually connects with the place he’s visiting, Moore’s journey is mostly a solitary venture and the book suffers as a result. However there are some hilarious moments and some great TDF anecdotes and trivia and the final page is a corker.
THE HANDSOMEST MAN IN CUBA – Lynette Chiang
Imagine the concept – small lady on folding bike rides around third world country with a good map but a terrible sense of direction. She also has five loaves, no fishes and a collapsible black dress that is apparently good at the beach or at dinner. She has just a vague idea of where she plans to go and she does it all on her own. What she discovers is the warm heart of a nation that perhaps does not match our preconceptions as she pedals uphill and down dale. It sounds like enormous fun and makes you want to set off on your own adventure right away. Dick says: Lynette has a Bike Friday too and if you think you’ve done some riding you should see where she’s been! http://www.galfromdownunder.com
IN HIGH GEAR – Samuel Abt
Abt is a writer whose style is economical and spare yet also consistently elegant and witty. Reading this fascinating collection of essays, ending with Greg Lemond’s amazing 8 second victory over Laurent Fignon in the 1989 TdF, one can’t help but conclude that the super-sensational byte-heavy style of journalism that pollutes the world today is just a tawdry replacement for such considered work. Example (while talking about how many Dutchmen have been victorious at Alpe d’Huez): “Some fine climbers come from a country as flat as a punctured tire.” …Love it.
INSIDE THE PELOTON – Graeme Fife
I remember Graeme Fife as a bespectacled young school-master who played guitar on a rocking version of High Heeled Sneakers my first band played at a school concert. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he’d written not one but a number of books about the world’s most beautiful sport of which Inside the Peloton is my favourite. Each chapter is based around a cycling personality – some well known (Bernard Hinault) some not (Charlie Holland), some brilliant (Eddy Merckx) some a little less so (Paul Sherwen) – and, having established who the chapter is about, he digresses at length to talk in great detail about the history of the TdF and shares his memories of some of its most exciting moments. His writing is infectious and he comes across, not as a frustrated rouleur who is still wearing lycra at an age when he should know better (like me), but as an enthusiastic supporter with panniers and a steel bike who has ridden just about every col the Tour has to offer – which he has. Dick says: If you’re interested in the history of cycling and Le Tour de France I have yet to find a better place to start (and end) your search.
LANCE ARMSTRONGS’ WAR – Daniel Coyle
Coyle, a former editor of Outside, moved his family to Girona in 2004 so he could follow LA on his pursuit for TdF win #6. Coyle certainly admires his subject but luckily for us is professional enough to keep some distance so that he can view Armstrong and his acolytes with a certain amount of dispassion as the Postal machine gears up for its final Hurrah. Armstrong emerges as a complex and uncompromising man who may be admirable but not particularly likable. The book’s charm lies in its dry humour and entertaining chapters on the other players: Vinokourov, Ullrich and Floyd Landis: “…for these hard-eyed boys…the hope lies in the idea that pouring all your energy into a bicycle can raise you up, make you different than you are.” Dick says: I couldn’t put the damn thing down.
MOODS OF FUTURE JOYS : Alastair Humphreys
Once upon a time a guy from Yorkshire dumped his girlfriend, jumped on his bike, and set off to ride around the world. 46,000 miles and 4 years later he gets back home again though this volume only gets him as far as Capetown. Sadly it appears that no one wanted to publish his memoir so, like the bike-ride, he had to do it all by himself. The book is short on details like how many punctures he got, whether he actually ever spoke to his girl again or hooked up with that Siren on the beach in South Africa but, despite his prostestations, it’s well written and sits right up there with Theroux or Bill Bryson. Dick says: Any guy who can cycle across a country, let alone a continent, using a toothbrush to change gear on a broken bike deserves some kind of brightly coloured jersey. The follow up, Blue Mountains, is on the way and, in a friendly e-mail, AH warned me: Get ready for Bolivia – 15 punctures in one day!
ONE MORE KILOMETRE AND WE’RE IN THE SHOWERS – Tim Hilton
British art critic and child of communist parents from Solihull Tim Hilton makes an unusual cycling fan – especially as he concludes in his book that most cyclists have working class rather than intellectual roots. His rambling essay starts out in his father’s garden shed and ends in a review of forgotten English track cyclists and place-to-place riders who pedalled furiously from Lands End to John O’ Groats. In the course of his reminiscences he reveals much about cycling that’s been long forgotten – example: an ASP bicycle is ‘Assembled from Spare Parts.’ He explains the mythlical heart and the noble soul of cycling and, when you are finally wooed by his elegant prose, you realise how limited most cycling journalism really is. He notes “It seems to me that an earthbound mortal is closest to man-powered flight when he is on a good racing bicycle.” On the Hell Of The North: “Today’s witness of Paris-Roubaix cannot live in the present, however gripping the race may be. He will see the slums of the industrial revolution, battlefields and cemetries, the wretchedness and despair of those who scratch their living from the soil. No other sporting event has this kind of resonance.” My favourite comment is his least profound one: “Black bikes always look heavier than in fact they are.”
The finest passages occur in the middle of his book and detail the classic feuds between Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi as they clambered over the rough mountain roads of Europe – heroic fighters in the blissful days after the war. His descriptions of their battles and other feats between feuding cyclists resemble exciting descriptions of noble battles and crusades.
Whether intended or not his tome is a lonesome collection of wistful memories of what it was like to be a cycling fan when Coppi was still alive and carbon fibre and Lance Armstrong still hadn’t been invented.
Interesting trivia: He reveals that Samuel Beckett the playwright visited the famous Velodrome d’Hiver in Paris (where many Jews had been collected in the war before being dispatched to the camps) to watch the famous Parisian track cyclist Roger Godeau. He asked the young autograph hounds outside what they were doing. “On attend Godeau” they replied. We’re waiting for Godeau.
PUT ME BACK ON MY BIKE: IN SEARCH OF TOM SIMPSON – William Fotheringham
Quite simply the most compelling book about cycling I’ve ever read. WF sifts through the misconceptions, the memories and the facts to discover what Tommy Simpson was really like – and it seems he was a lovable, passionate, determined man who also became reliant on a vicious cocktail of pills. However what emerges is a very different world than today’s glamorous and professional peloton. When he died Simpson was the only professional on his team and rides in excess of 340 miles in a day weren’t uncommon! What is more the Tour de France rules forbad riders more than 2 bidons during a stage (water was not dispensed from team cars as it is today) and some trainers thought that drinking more than two bottles in a six hour stage was a sign of weakness. Also bear in mind that the ’67 tour was 1,000 miles longer than today’s paltry 2,500 mile jaunt!
THE QUOTABLE CYCLIST – edited. By Bill Strickland
A book for the bathroom full of homilies that will inspire you on and off the bike. Dick says: It’s interesting to note how many non-riders see the bike as a confusing, ugly machine whereas all riders seem to fall into two categories – those who are entranced by the zen-like rewards cycling brings and those who are convinced that in cycling, like life, all rewards are the result of considerable pain and suffering.
THE RIDER – Tim Krabbé
Krabbé describes himself as a competitor in the fictional Tour de Mont Aigoual and he uses the 137 kilometres of the race as a template, not only explore the emotions of a rider as he competes, “Nothing hisses quite so sweetly as a rival’s puncture,” but also to look back over the important episodes of his athletic life. Like watching every mile of a 100 mile stage race in which much of the journey is about cranking the pedals and keeping an eye on one’s opponents, Krabbé’s book is interesting for its wry observations and details rather than its broad scope. For instance: “Pulling the pace line wasn’t (Despuech’s) favourite pastime, and he couldn’t climb – his speciality was the sprint for sixth place.” In the end you suspect the journey would have been more fascinating if he’d been less ambitious in the scope of his book and just kept to a more conventional approach peppering it with the kind of delightful details, such as the mysterious rider from Cycles Goff, he is obviously so adept at.
ROUGH RIDE – Paul Kimmage
Kimmage is an honest and decent man who dared to break the cyclist’s code of omerta and openly discuss doping within the sport – for which his honesty was rewarded with banishment. Pictures of this stocky man on his bike in the 80’s suggest an athlete whose work was all heart – for him this banishment must have been cruel and unusual punishment. His view is that dopers, and those that collude with them, have destroyed the beautiful sport – a sad counterpoint to David Millar’s idea that there’ll be dopers and cheats as long as there is competition. Dick thinks: The truth is that most all cyclists suffer as they ride and, in this excellent tale, it is clear that Kimmage suffered as much, if not more, than most.
WE MIGHT AS WELL WIN – Johan Bruyneel w. Bill Strickland
This famous Belgian rode the Tour de France, won a couple of stages and once wore the Maillot Jaune, before retiring from the bike and becoming the most successful Directeur Sportif in history. JB is a master tactitician who can read a race better than anyone in the peloton – just ask him – and consequently his book is more of a smug management seminar in self-motivation than you’d like and sports such exciting chapter headings as “Find A Victory In Every Loss.” Isn’t this the kind of phrase you’d find badly scribbled upon a white board outside the conference room of a cheap hotel on a European ring-road? Dick wonders: Is this why Lance’s 7 wins were ultimately inevitable, mechanical and somewhat passionless affairs: the world’s most beautiful sport distilled into a dull, regional business meeting?
THE YELLOW JERSEY – Ralph Hurne
Terry Davenport is a lazy, womanizing man who, despite his promise to marry the owner of a Belgian antiques shop, frequently spends most afternoons banging her daughter. But wait! It gets worse! He is also a retired racing cyclist. One day Terry, who is now chasing another piece of skirt, agrees to come out of retirement and ride another Tour de France. As ‘any fule kno’ banging babes, drinking heavily in Belgian bars and lazing around the back of an antiques shop is not the ideal training regimen for the world’s toughest bicycle race. If you’re a bike nut like me you wish the Desperate Househusbands bit was shorter and the Tour de France bit were a whole lot longer. Dick says In that small sub-section of contemporary literature entitled Gripping Pieces of Fictional TdF Drama this is right up there with the best of them.
ADVENTURES WITH FOLDY
Foldy is the nick-name given to my Bike Friday by a fellow biker. Foldy fits inside a suitcase and travels all over the world with me. Here are some high-lights with more to come I hope.
On a ten day trip to the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne I did a number of bike rides hoping to see a kangaroo. I saw nothing that hopped but did find out that every road in Australia has a head-wind – no wonder that Robbie McEwen is so tough.
Whilst scouting for a Nickelback video North of Hanna I found this desolate road. I would have kept on riding but the soft, muddy gravel and my thin tires weren’t compatible so I turned back to the highway. We’re in the Prairies up here – more head-winds.
England’s North Yorkshire can be sunny and beautiful or very cold and desolate but whatever the weather there are always cyclists out on these amazing roads – this is just a few miles from the area that Tom Simpson learnt to ride in. This picture was taken on the road to Storiths just North of Ilkley. Though this is a fabulous ride be careful – five miles further and you’re on narrow roads with 20% grades, wet leaves on the tarmac and fresh cowpats!
Pompano Beach a few miles North of Fort Lauderdale. Like Holland this part of the world is flat as a pancake. Unlike Holland it’s not famous for its Alp-conquering cyclists. This pier was later featured in a particularly grizzly episode of my new favourite show: Forensic Files.
FRANCE – THE ALPS
Where else do you see scenery like this? That’s the Galibier up ahead and to the left.
FRANCE – THE PYRENEES
Atop the Col de Port just a few hours after the 2007 TdF passed by – this was the first col on Stage 15 between Foix and Loudenville. While there were thousands to cheer eventual stage winner Vino onwards the place was deserted and socked in when I got there.
Halfway up the Col de Marie Blanque also during the ’07 TdF. Here Foldy is loaded with rack, 20 lbs of camera gear and home-made handlebar mount. Doing a Cat 1 climb with that lot on board certainly slows you down.
FRANCE – NICE / COTE D’AZUR
On a rainy Monday afternoon Foldy rode the entire length of the Promenade des Anglais, some of which is the finishing straight of the spring classic Paris-Nice, sadly no movie stars or bike pros waved at either of us.
ITALY – ROME
For a country that’s mad about cycling there are precious few riders in Rome which speaks volumes about a) the road surfaces and b) the driving. However, having dragged Foldy 6,000 miles, I was determined to unpack and get some miles in and tried to navigate my way to the Via Appia Antica in the pouring rain. Instead I found myself on a busy arterial road eating backwash from Italian cement trucks and, fearing I would wind up like so much fettucini, I turned for home and grabbed this snap as we passed the Colosseum. Interestingly this same view and the same horrid weather was much in evidence for 2009’s final ITT stage of the Giro when winner Menchov crashed going in a straight line! I told you the road surfaces were crap…
ITALY – TUSCANY
I meant to ride West from San Gimignano but instead went south and passed through Castel San Gimignano. On the far side of CSG I took this pic with the well-known towers of San G about ten miles away on the horizon – that other building in the middle distance is a large jail! Set off early on this beautiful rolling-road or by 10 o’clock the tour-buses and the camper-vans will turn your ride into a living hell.
12 BENEFITS OF CYCLING
This info I found in an English Newspaper is very useful info when you’re looking for an excuse to go out and ride and the wife starts making noises about you spending more time on that damned bike than you do at home…
1) Provides you with both a cardiovascular and a resistance workout at the same time.
2) Shapes and tones the muscles of your entire body.
3) Strengthens core muscles in the back and abdomen, which helps prevent lower back problems and encourage good posture.
4) Boosts your immune system.
5) Gives a healthy appearance to skin and hair.
6) Encourages better sleep.
7) Burns calories so it is an excellent form of exercise for weight loss and control.
8) Improves circulation and strengthens your heart; in some cases, it can lower blood pressure.
9) Minimises strain on joints and bones because the bike carries the rider’s weight.
10) Increases energy levels.
11) Lifts mood.
12) Improves ability to concentrate.
Of course this may be all a load of old crap – but until someone can prove it’s tosh I’m sticking with it. Guys please note: there’s no mention of wearing brightly coloured lycra turning you into a chick magnet.
ON YER BIKE
At the end of the Palm Springs Century 2004: 5 hours 44 minutes – I told you I was slow!