Monthly Archives: April 2009

Getting it wrong Pt2

Some days whatever come out of my mouth is the wrong thing to say or do. Today appears to be one of those days. I will struggle on.

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Catching up

Being back in the UK more us a godsend. It is still fragmented, and not without it’s stresses, but is infinitely preferable to the alternative.

Friday was wet. After a week of preferable weather (which allowed me us to go for a run on Thursday night) the bank holiday weather seemed sent to aggravate. The Pretty One was working an early shift, and my intention was to return to Crowthorne to revisit the singletrack handling skills school which it seems to be. The prospect of the filth and filling the car with mud was unappealing. I sat around for a while debating with myself. I switched on the TV to be greater by a non-cyclist on a well known TV programme riding across London in dull and damp weather. It inspired me to kit up and scout the local area.

There are a couple of rivers near where I live. The Thames and The Jubilee river. The latter is actually flood relief for the former. It is man made and forms a bird sanctury. At both sides it is flanked by cycle paths, which while utterly unchallenging allow you to get away from traffic and ride for about five or six miles. In the rain, despite it being a bank holiday, this was as good as deserted. At times, like I have written in the past, riding is just about having fun, this time it was about freedom. it was also about taking the heart rate up a bit.  The way home was from Maidenhead, down the Thames path to Windsor and Eton, through Eton’s ground and back to the flat.  A pretty good little ride of about an hour and fifteen.  No one is going to get super fit from it, but every little helps, right?

I did the same ride again on Monday with slightly more pace which allowed me to feel justified in the huge amount of food I had eaten.

Saturday saw me visiting Windsor castle with The Pretty One and three friends.  This is something that I really needed to do, having not been there for 15 years or so.  What is good is the ticket is valid for re-entry for a year following your initial visit.

LHR FRA

Early start this morning after the Easter break. Back to the German Office. A lot to write about in the last couple of days. Being back in Germany should allow me the time to update a little better. It is always difficult at the weekend as I try not to have my head in the laptop the whole time.

Newsflash White Bike Is Dead

The bike I sold is no more. It lost a battle versus a BMW in London. The frame is cracked. My friend is bruised but wasn’t kept in hospital overnight. If there are pictures I will try to get hold of them.

Reading material

There are no end of cycling magazines. On a monthly basis we get Bike (Germany), Bike (USA), Bicycle, Tour (Germany), MBR, What Mountain Bike, Trekking Bike (Germany), Pro Cycling, etc etc etc.

Recently though I have seen a trend towards more upmarket, more exclusive publications. Perhaps they are aimed at the stockbrokers like the scathing reviews of Rouleur which suggest they were just cashing in. My personal opinion is that Rouleur was fabulous, aimed at a different market to the traditional, perhaps formulaic magazine. The weight of the paper, the quality of the photography and the lack of adverts (although product placement is beautifully done) as well as the locations, and the nostalgic and romantic approach had me all misty eyed. Not all cycling fans want to read about the latest carbon this or that, and the lifestyle and cultural side of things was where they spotted and filled the gap.

Mr USE (Trevor Allen*) gave me a new publication yesterday. The Ride seems to share a fair amount of Lifestyle positioning with Rouleur, but is crossing over to the mountain bike segment. The list of contributors reads like a list of who is who for the last 15 years in cycling. Names such as John Tomac, Jo Burt, Chris Hoy, Dave Yates and even Pharrel Williams!

Perhaps this is what we should expect from publications in the future. There is no rivalry, there is very little product snobbery (high end is the name of the game, but experience and lifestyle articles look at everyone, regardless of what they ride, or what their financial investment is, or isn’t. It is about their investment in the sport). To be honest, the MTBers versus Roadies thing had become very tiresome to me over the years, as has the baggies versus lycra, downhillers versus cross country, and every other petty little war within the mainstream press. Magazines should embrace everyone. Ride seems to be going the right way. Intelligently written articles for the intelligent cyclist perhaps.

The downside? It is £7!

Issue 2 of the Ride.  Great artwork

Issue 2 of the Ride. Great artwork

*Trevor is in fact a student at Bath University. He is doing his placement year at USE / Exposure and is a top lad. Currently targetting 24 hour racing and going for a Solo effort, he is always up for a ride and is more of a face in the UK than I am – deservidly so. To catch up with him, visit Exposure at the Exposure Big Night out… details here

USE and I

Beginning to feel like I am a cyclist now. It has taken a while and I am still trying to get back in the correct frame of mind. I am moving in the right direction, with three rides in 8 days. Of course, very little by Jeff’s or Dave’s standard (Jeff being completely insane and having one of the best jobs in the World, and Dave being completely insane, and just insane – he recently scouted, and rode Wales coast to coast – 328km and 11,200m of climbing in 22.5 hours – madness).

This evening I decided that I needed to ride. In fact, yesterday I decided that tonight was the night, and so I emailed the boys at U.S.E / Exposure to see if they were interested in a ride. As a result, I met up with Mr.USE at Crowthorne Woods, which adjoins Swinley (where I rode the other day). Mr.USE was far fitter than I was, so it was a good challenge to try to keep up with him. He had one advantage, that being that he knew the trials really well, but this was perhaps balance nicely by my riding a full suspension XC bike against his hard tail. The riding here is fast, furious and technical. There is not a dull moment as the miles and miles of singletrack that is there, can be pieced together in a never ending roller coaster. The roots and the tight switchbacks between the trees being the only thing that could catch you out. My bike flattered me, with the suspension eating up my mistakes with both wheels. I dread to think what it would have been like on the Klein! Mr.USE on the other hand showed his superior skill and fitness throughout, but at least he was nice about it. Oh, and it wasn’t the Mr.USE you might think!

The forest this evening was again full of riders. Serious riders though. We must have seen about 40 people out with their bikes. It must be the dry spell, but it is encouraging to see.

I am feeling the addiction coming back. It’s great.

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