Pavé, Dekenkolb, Jörg

Yesterday’s stage delivered everything that I’d hoped it would and more. It also gave the armchair expertmen plenty of hot air to emit in the mistaken belief that people were listening and cared about what they had to say (blah blah not fair blah GC blah) and have yet to fully understand the phrase “that’s bike racing”. They share pictures of Hoogerland juxtaposed with Neymar and yet moan ceaselessly when it actually happens in a real race.

At times it felt like a film, some fictional variant of what cycling should look like according to our endlessly mythical and epic dreams. I don’t think that’s because of Jorgen Leth, more because it had so many narrative arcs and twists that it functioned on a purely narrative level. If I was being a compete numbskull I’d probably try and map it onto Propp’s morphology and chart the transition from equilibrium to disequilibrium and back again.

It had tons of crashes. It was the crashiest race I’ve seen since every cat 4 race at Odd Down. There was something more baroque and awe inspiring though in the sight of adept bike-handlers being brought to heel by carefully placed cobbles. It made for incredible pictures. screenshot_20180715-212645

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I’m certain someone somewhere on the internet is busy trying to articulate how the bottom one is a renaissance painting, either that angrily mouthing off about how it was an awful business, using a crude portmanteau swear word like “cockwomble” in the hope that they will go up a level on the tweets, rather than just spew out the same hackneyed, unoriginal content as everyone else. The other day someone tweeted something horrible at Jonathan Edwards consisting of another tedious swear word splice. You may not like his commentary, but is that really acceptable? It’s men, of course it’s men, dishing out this year 9 oppobrium, one step across from calling everything “gay” at the back of Mr Engers’ history class.

The ending of the race was as good as it gets. John Degenkolb’s chances have been written off since he suffered a brutal accident in 2016, wiped out by a car whilst training. The narrative represented a gleaming victory for hope and determination from one of the nicest chaps in the peloton. There are two clips doing the rounds. The first one shows the immediate aftermath, whilst riding back to the bus. He is congratulated in the warmest terms by Cavendish and then his dad. The second is his post race interview. I had a wobbly lower lip for both. I think it must be the high pollen count. I was cooking tea and cutting onions.

I think Degenkolb is my new favourite cyclist.

 

 

 

Sporting Cyclist

I’ve been wading through various back issues of Sporting Cyclist, one of Jock Wadley’s magazines from the 1950s onwards. As ever, when researching, I end up getting sidetracked by almost everything else and not finding the elusive thing I’m looking for.

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Coppi and Bartali out shootin’
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TdF Chrono goes RTTC village hall

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Brassknocker in the Lewis GP, 1959
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Eileen, Beryl, Millie
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Brian Robinson
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Dave Keeler End to End record attempt
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Eagle of Toledo
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Elliott, Robinson, Brittain, Coe

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Interstellar Overdrive

After last week’s shenanigans involving getting my bongo weapon out in the balmy sunshine and showing it off to all and sundry, this week has been more sedate. There is much talk of the Hollyoaks Late storyline, suffice to see it seems to involve wanton abuse of random animals and a cast of North Africans. One day it’ll be dramatised, featuring Hugh Grant as Joe Hollyoaks and Ben Whishaw as a hapless puppy, down on his luck and down on all fours.

It has been an amazing run of weather, so I’ve been out and about commuting and general riding through the sunny mornings and close evenings. The ride to work is hilly. It makes a perfect hour long training ride, three times a week. But it is tiring. This veteran status isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, recovery times get longer and  weight loss is much harder.

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I have been enjoying the Giro. My mum loves the cycling, that she does. Today I carefully managed to manipulate naptime of a sleeping child, then had two screens running simulataneously, one showing ‘UK Freight Trains at Speed’ and the other showing the Giro Time Trial. With this elaborate set-up I managed to catch 3 hours of the race. My mum came in during the last, pivotal three minutes.

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Granny Hath Arrived

“What’s this?”

The Giro.

Who won yesterday?

No-one won yesterday.

Why didn’t they win yesterday?

It was a rest day.

Why is he in pink?

It’s the pink jersey. It’s like the yellow, jersey, but pink.

So why is it pink? Why isn’t it yellow?

Because they have pink instead of yellow. Like in yorkshire, where it’s blue instead of pink, or Spain where it’s red instead of blue, but pink in Italy.

So this is a hill climb is it?

No.

Oh it’s not a hill climb. (Yates crosses the line) So he’s beaten all the riders?

No he came 22nd. 

But he’s winning the race?

Yes. 

But he came 22nd? And he’s beaten all the other riders? So he’s won the race?

No

It’s like watching Interstellar, being utterly engrossed for three hours and and just prior to the final head-bending elliptical loop of space where everything is resolved in comes Granny to ask why that man is touching a bookshelf  in  space with weird strings and making dust and the world is curved and his daughter is older than his granny and old people are talking about dust-storms and you have to explain it whilst also giving a primer in quantum theory and the nature of time and space and a traditional narrative arc.

Granny did bring an excellent bit of signage though which I have put up on the wall. I don’t think Belle will notice. However, she might accidentally end up in the garden when needing a wee.

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Suddenly I’m lurching off to the right. I can’t work out why.

Lastly, my new shoes have arrived. That’s another tale for another day.

Do You Even Race, Bro?

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BONGO

I went down to the Lake yesterday, for to enjoy the evening air and partake of cycling in triangular perambulations. It ended up being quite a long day; I rode to work full-bongo, even if my strava suggests that it was anything but a full bongo ride. I left the bongoweapon in the classroom and it successfully distracted nearly all of the children from the job in hand, namely, the furtherance of a successful education, rather than the pursuit of carbon things. I then rode to the Lake, did the Lake and then rode home again, by which time I was in distinct danger of dropping myself.

It was great fun. It was a balmy evening where nothing really mattered and everyone was out to ride their bikes as quick or as slowly as they wanted to, without fear of anything other than ridicule and club-style abuse. The headline event was the three-way bongo-battle betwixt the young pretender, Josh “POC-TASM” G, Mr Nick Greipelthighs and erstwhile teen hearthrob, Joe Hollyoaks.

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This is taken from Joe’s showreel for Hollyoaks Late. It was a risqué storyline which I can’t repeat on a family blog. 
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Sir David of Braidley was doing the honours at the side of the road. Club TTs are where it’s at.

They all smashed the 19 minute barrier. I ended up just the wrong side of 20 minutes, which I was more than happy with. I think my PB is 18.25 or something stupid, but I was possible more chuffed to not experience abject disgrace on an evening such as this, whilst returning to the scene of many battles as a slightly jaded and greying sage. I rode well and dispensed wisdom to various people. It is a role I think I might grow into.

Midweek Club TTs are the staple of British time-trialling, the life and soul. It’s about camaraderie, and can be the first, and sometimes the last, taste of competitive cycling. They are lovely things. I was reading Chris Boardman’s book today. Jens Voigt was staying over in the GAN days and they both went out to the Wirral Velo evening ten and did 19 minutes on their road bikes. I would love to have been there. It’s a good book, I recommend it. It’s all the better for Gary Imlach doing the edit.

Today I went to try and get some new commuting shoes. These should be cheap and sturdy. I already have a pair, but they are black and lace-up, two reasons as to why I shouldn’t have bought them. I feel like a football player now summer has come, and for that reason I find it upsetting. The fact that they fit beautifully is very much beside the point. I went to a well-known shop on the edges of the motorway to try on shoes. I said I wanted…

“A pair of your cheapest road shoes please for commuting.”

To which they replied;

“Yes that’s fine, we have a range. Have you ever worn a road shoe before?”

I BEG YOUR PARDON??

Imagined, but not stated:

“Yes, but only the once, when I was racing against Bradley Wiggins. Did you not see that race? National Championships 2014.”

Not imagined, but stated:

“Yes, I have.”

I didn’t buy them. They were very nice, but not nice enough. After trying a few shops, I came to the conclusion that shops no longer stock road shoes in a range because it isn’t worth it because everyone buys them on the internet.

This shop also had the new specialized allez, which I have been eyeing up as a potential fast and relatively light commuting bike. It looked very nice. It has eyelets across the board. No wait, it has eyelets at the back, and rack bosses. The front fork has no eyelets. It’s effectively the world’s first cut-and-shut bike on the open market. Specialized did a fork recall after some american hurt hisself. They replaced all the forks with non-eyeletted forks. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Or as the wife said, “Who signed that off?”

Madness.

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Good to see the horns are catching on. This is Ed’s version. It’s a remix, if you like, a sort of care in the community version, to show that club 10s are inclusive and you can ride them in the little ring, even with a shonky horn. Go Ed!

Testing Times

I’m planning on riding round the lake tomorrow. It’s something I used to do a long time ago when i was thinner and faster. I’m now fatter and slower. The bike is ready. I stuck some Alf stickers on there. I’m aiming for sub 23 minutes for the 8.6 miles. That’ll give me bragging rights over myself.

I’m going to use my Strada skinsuit because it’s big and baggy. I’d love to use my BSCC one but I tried it on earlier and got it halfway up my ankle before giving up. It was like trying to stuff a turducken into a peperami wrapper.

The Alf book is done, now sitting with Adrian Bell for his final run through. Fingers crossed. It should be out in July.

 

 

 

Tour De Yorkshire

I’ve been watching the Tour de Yorkshire on the terrorbox. I would have liked to have gone up to see it but had to settle for the vicarious thrill of seeing my mum see the race live on the terror box. She loves the bike racings, in fact, it’s her new favourite thing. This is only tempered slightly by the knowledge that she has a burgeoning interest in the triantelopism, which she in turn tempered by saying; “Well Alf did triathlons too you know”. I suspect she has been looking for a riposte to my deep-rooted abhorrence of all things tritardular for some time. She has found it.

Anyway, by way of preparation she asked me what hat to wear.

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She has a lot of good hats which she has ‘acquired’ over the years. Every time I go there I come back with one less hat. These two things may well be linked. I advised the PC one, and sent her an interweb link regarding Macloml Letioll so that she could come across all knowledgeable on the bergs. Second up was the Raphael number, on account of Sowerby Bridge resident Brian Robinson. She went full Piers Plowman. I advised against the carrefour special, there is too much of the recent bike boom convert about it.

She then staked out her place at Haworth, I think near Oxenhope somewhere maybe, Pecket Well, and waited for her moment of glory.

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Top image is native Yorkshire chap and photographer, our Ian. He is in full winter plumage, unwilling to accept that summer hath truly med it t’ top o’ moors. You can tell it’s our Ian by jizz of t’ bird.

Bottom image is our mum rollin’ with the southern power stance, PC cap at a jaunty angle, a little bit artful dodger, with a double hip-hop knee roll. Below is the photo she took.

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It’s pretty goddamn meta isn’t it? I can’t stop looking. It’s a rabbit hole, mum is on TV taking a photo and I took a photo of her on TV and got the photo she took and it put it on the internet next to the photo of her through the lens of the mad eye of terror.

And you’re back in the room. The Tour De Yorkshire was amazing, right down to the ASO approved franconomenclaturated Cols. Day 4 was brutal, beyond brutal, beyond the thunderdome. As oof as it gets. The contrast with the Giro D’Israelitalia could not be more profound, where the best/only shots consisted of a lady showing her breasts at the camera as the peloton rode through a desert for 40 days in quarantine, with accompanying tweets carefully worded to avoid accusations of mysogyny. Most failed. There’s a certain irony to a Grand Tour alledgedly visiting God’s actual country only to be usurped by a Minor Tour’s visit to God’s own country.

I can’t wait to see what the Worlds brings us. I suspect it will be a whole lot of ouch and some rugged Yorkshire beauty.

 

 

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