Thursday, December 24, 2009

The old hanging-2-lengths-off-the-back training technique

I used to be fit enough to do this, now I am just fit enough to get dropped off the back and stay off, until lapped I mean. Glad McEwen is coming back from a bad year, anyway.

McEwen Makes His Return At The Bay |
"I've been going out to club races and I've been sitting behind the bunch - a few lengths off them - and sort of like motorpacing I put myself far enough off them that I have to make an effort to stay there," explained McEwen. "As people get dropped I go around them and back onto the bunch. I just keep going round them and across to the front group then just sit off them.

"It's quite intense like a motorpacing session, which has been good fun. At the same time I've been doing a little coaching... As the race goes along I hand out a few tips although it's pretty hard training; I've been riding around the threshold heart rate, around 170 or 175bpm. I also did a bit of training with the boys from the Fly V Australia squad on the Gold Coast and we got out into the hinterland and bashing each other up," he added.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Coogee Crit 1987

Coogee Crit 1987_040
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
This is a wet Coogee crit during the Bank Race. Judging by the mix of toe clips and Look pedals plus the 'leather hairnets' it's probably 1987 or so. Dean Woods was in the crowd but strangely enough he didn't recognise me (not that he should've!)

The Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic was Australia's biggest road tour, running for 19 years until (I think) 2000.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unusual BB design... via JP Weigle: What were they thinking?

What were they thinking?
Originally uploaded by jp weigle
I just have to share this, it's too bizarre to hold inside. The long, thin cranks are interesting, the chainring is fascinating, but the bottom bracket is just... in the wrong spot! Not to mention the chain stays...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Performance - no, not the Nicholas Roeg film of the same name

Funny? I almost laughed myself off my '88 steel frame... uh, paperweight. Definitely worth a look-see...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Local climb data - Sydney and Central Coast

Not sure of the absolute veracity of some of this data - or where it came from, actually - but you can take these figures as a starting point anyway. (Take the records with a grain of salt.) Then buy yourself an i-Bike (or similar) and check it out for yourself ;-)

I have added some description based on my actual knowledge of the climbs.

Hill climbs

Akuna Bay (east)
Start: 1.2km from boat ramp, end of railing r/hand side
Finish: West head turnoff
Dist: 2.7 km
av grad: 4.5%
Record: 6min 10sec (26.3kmh/354W)

Description: Not a hard climb, but consistent. Worth doing as part of a loop from Bayview to West Head and back via Terry Hills. Or vice versa. Little traffic and very scenic, if that helps at all.

Akuna Bay (west)
Start: Illawong Bay Ranger's box, 2km west of Akuna Bay boat ramp
Finish: Ranger's toll booth
Dist: 5.2 km
av grad: 3.4%
Record: 14min 38sec (27.8kmh/387W)

Description: Gradient looks low to me - or maybe I was always tired at this point? I rate it harder than the eastern climb, particularly steep at the 2/3rds mark. If you come back down, watch your speed around the hairpin. Worth doing as part of a loop from Bayview to West Head and back via Terry Hills. Or vice versa. Or add in Cottage Point. Little traffic and very scenic, if that helps at all.

Bobbin Head (west), Bobbin Head Road
Start: end of bridge
Finish: Ranger's toll booth
Dist: 4 km
av grad: 4%
Record: 8min 38sec (27.8kmh/387W)

Description: Not a hard climb, is almost too easy. Worth doing as part of a loop including Galston Gorge.

Bobbin Head (east)
, Bobbin Head Road
Start: 60kmh/3km winding road signs next to kiosk
Finish: Kalkari visitor's centre sign
Dist: 2.94 km
av grad: 5.5%
Record: 7min 26sec (23.7kmh/385W)

Description: Not a legsnapper, but consistent and definitely tougher than the other side. Worth doing as part of a loop including Galston Gorge.

Galston Gorge
Start: 5m from end of bridge
Finish: 50m into Crossland Rd, KOM on edge
Dist: 3.4 km
av grad: 5.7%
Record: 9min 39sec (21.1kmh/378W)

Description: Moderate to painful. Worth doing as part of a loop including Bobbin Head.

Brooklyn to Pie in the Sky
, on the old Pacific Hwy
Start:Intersection of Brooklyn Road, rolling start
Finish:Pie in the Sky
av grad: 5%
Record: 8min 21 sec (32.3kmh/583W)

Description: Not a hard climb, but consistent.


Brooklyn Hill, , on the old Pacific Hwy
Start:Brooklyn Bridge (Brooklyn side)
Finish:55kmh sign, top of hill
av grad: 4.3%
Record: 12min 57 sec (32.3kmh/583W)

Mt White, on the old Pacific Hwy
Start:Metal guard rail on the right side of road 3km from Brooklyn
Finish:65kph advisory speed sign
Dist: 3.1 km
av grad: 6.4%
Record: 7min 50secs (23.7kmh/451W)

Description: Not an easy climb, but consistent and manageable. Moderate to hard.

Mooney Hill, on the old Pacific Hwy
Start: 80kmh sign, Old Mooney Bridge (Gosford side)
Finish:KOM line, top of hill
av grad: 5.95%
Record: 9min 05 sec (24.4kmh/443W)

Description: Despite the gradient it's not too bad. Has its moments but not an absolute leg-snapper.

Kariong Hill, West Gosford - Old Pacific Highway, or Central Coast Highway if you prefer.

Start: 2nd (or last) set of lights after the Mann's Rd intersection, just before the armco starts
Finish: Lights at top, b4 Shell servo
Dist: 3.8 km
av grad: 4%
Record: 8min 38sec (27.8kmh/387W)

Description: Very consistent climb, no hairpins, but watch the traffic in the corners. Moderate.

Bumble Hill, Yarramalong Valley
Start: 90 degree left turn from main road from Wyong (at bottom of hill - it's obvious)
Finish: KOM line, just after the first intersection (don't go left, keep climbing!)
Dist: 3.58 km
av grad: ?%
Record: 14min 23sec (14.9kmh/???W)

Description: Hard. Really hard towards the 2/3rds mark. Don't do it in the wet as rear wheel traction is poor, especially when you are struggling, out of the saddle, barely getting the pedals around.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

FWIW, my take on Le Tour 2009, up to Stage 4

What did you expect the TTT to do to the GC? We always knew - because this always happens - that the strongest TTT teams - like Astana, Garmin, Columbia and Saxo - would dominate. By definition that means time gains - big ones - for GC riders embedded in these teams. GC riders outside of the top 4 or 5, like Menchov and Evans, would lose time. For both of them it was essential to stay in touch prior to stage 4, and then marshall their teams to defend and preserve. At 39km it wasn't too long, but long enough to put at least a minute into most riders. Alas, punctures and falls can cost you dearly, and losing 2 minutes was always possible. You need 5 good strong finishers, and most teams just don't have that firepower.

The less predictable event was the day before - a canny Columbia up front, driving for a stage win - no, that's not a surprise. What was a mild surprise was no one helping (who actually wanted Cav to win again?). That lack of support led to the big effort when the wind was at its best - or worst - forcing the gap and the break. And Columbia not only secured another win but took time off all the GC riders bar a lucky, informed or just plain experienced Armstrong. It's a split-second decision - shall I chase, or wait for someone else to do the work? Every bike racer knows that one. And most of us (thinking 3 weeks is a long time) would have waited, but Armstrong latched on, taking a leap in time over his GC competitors.

But it is a long race and it's not time to panic. Although the details are a mild suprise, the team directors would have thought it all through beforehand and have a plan. The strong TTT teams would have expected stage 4 to bring them to the top, but they don't want the pressure of defending the yellow jersey just yet. So Armstrong in 2nd is cool, if disappointing for his fans. Contador, Kloden and Leipheimer can just sit there and wait, knowing that they have alittle buffer - and lots of attacking opportunities - in the mountains to come.

Meanwhile Cancellara takes yellow, and the pressure of defence. But he and his team know that time will be lost in the mountains. Their are shake ups on GC to come. For Evans and Menchov in particular they would be disappointed to have lost so much time already - and it will be hard to recover - but they would have known and expected to have lost at least a minute. So they are still running close to plan. They will rise again up the order as the mountains arrive and sort the riders out. The big problem will be recovering the time gaps, rather than the placings. But we always knew that.

If we sort the riders out by colour, but in no particular order, my top 11 on GC are in red and 3 more wildcards are in yellow. I'm sure there will be ups and downs and the odd surprise, but that's my best effort for now.

1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank 10:38:07
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana 0:00:19
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana 0:00:23
5 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 0:00:31

6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream 0:00:38
7 Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Astana 0:00:51
8 Tony Martin (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC 0:00:52
9 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Slipstream 0:01:06
10 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Slipstream 0:01:07
11 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Astana 0:01:16
12 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin - Slipstream
13 Gustav Erik Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:22
14 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team Columbia - HTC 0:01:29
15 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas 0:01:31
16 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Columbia - HTC 0:01:32
17 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - HTC 0:01:36
18 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Astana
19 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas
20 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:01:41
21 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Slipstream 0:01:46
22 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:03
23 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:05
24 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Columbia - HTC 0:02:16
25 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:02:17
26 Brian Vandborg (Den) Liquigas 0:02:25
27 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha 0:02:31
28 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas 0:02:32
29 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Cervelo Test Team 0:02:44
30 Nicki Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
31 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas 0:02:50
32 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team Columbia - HTC 0:02:51
33 Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:02:54
34 Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:02:56
35 Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence - Lotto 0:02:59
36 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha
37 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
38 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank 0:03:00
39 Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha 0:03:02
40 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne 0:03:03
41 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team 0:03:05
42 Rui Alberto Faria da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne 0:03:06
43 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 0:03:07
44 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Cervelo Test Team 0:03:09
45 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram 0:03:11
46 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne 0:03:12
47 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:13
48 Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:16
49 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step 0:03:17
50 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
51 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
52 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha 0:03:18
53 Luis León Sánchez Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne
54 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:21
55 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 0:03:23
56 Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:03:24
57 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:03:25
58 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team 0:03:28
59 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas 0:03:32
60 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia - HTC 0:03:33
61 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:34
62 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank 0:03:36
63 Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank
64 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:38
65 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:42
66 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:44
67 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:46
68 Nikolai Troussov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:03:47
69 Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas
70 Igor Anton Hernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:03:48
71 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:03:51
72 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0:03:52

Friday, May 01, 2009

We all know Cadel doesn't attack... so it must have been a mistake

An unfortunate error, as in "hey, where did the other riders go, Philippe?", or was it Philippe's idea and Cadel just went along with it? As the media experts have reminded us often, he just doesn't attack ;-)

Silence-Lotto's Philippe Gilbert and Cadel Evans put in a strong attack and crested the summit 15 seconds ahead of their pursuers with only 11.3 kilometres remaining.

We can at least say they both have some form, although they weren't able to hold off the chasers in the end.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Restraint of trade? UCI blocks pro cycling teams from minor races

Well this is interesting. Back in "my" day (being old and all) it was amateurs vs professionals and the restraint of trade was simple. If you earned money from cycling you got barred from the Olympics; and if you joined the local cycling club and it happened to be a pro club you may as well have joined a different universe. But that's all gone now and "amateurs" don't really exist, instead elite athletes are professionals whether they like it or not, and it's "all in". Unless you run a significant yet smaller road race or tour, in which case the cycling world's governing body, the UCI, can impose its will and stop top-level teams from competing. I guess there's good and bad in that rule, but I do like Chris Horner's comment:

On Monday, Horner said the enforcement of the UCI rule was "wrong." "It’s a pro race, you should be allowed to race your bike. If we are skipping ProTour races to do a non-ProTour event, then it makes sense. But you should never, never, never just not allow a rider to race his bike. ... every man should be afforded the right to work."

The opposing view may be that a ProTour team will simply scoop up all the winnings, leaving the other guys (also just trying to do their job) picking up the leftovers.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Transponders on your bike, not your airliner or toll road... #cycling #tech #RFID

You could be forgiven for believing that a $10,000 racing bike is at the cutting edge of what could be achieved with today's technology and materials science, but in fact the UCI, as the governing body for world cycle racing, punishes innovation with tight control over aerodynamics, weight and frame geometry (in pursuit of sporting 'fairness' and consistency). Bikes could look a lot different, weigh less and slip through the air much more easily, if designers were let off the short leash that is the UCI's double-triangle standard (just click there and search on 'frame', then come back here). In short, they'd go faster for less effort.

And you could also be forgiven for thinking that bike racers are the first to embrace new ways and materials, when in fact they tend to stick with "what works" when it comes to finishing a long ride. As a group they let someone else test it out (usually George Hincapie) and demonstrate a clear, sustainable advantage before jumping on board. It took a relatively long time for the global peloton to embrace clipless pedals, for example, let alone carbon fibre frames (mine dates back to '90, and yes, that's when I finally embraced clipless pedals, too). It's not just about the cost, or the regulations, it's "tradition" as well. One has to look like a bike racer, and be 'in the know'. For example you still hear otherwise quite sensible people repeat the mantra that 'steel is real', despite arguably better materials being available for frame-building. And then they pull on their woollen jerseys and tighten their toe clips before riding into the sunset... ahem, maybe not.

So it comes as a bit of a shock to see RFID transponders, those handy little gadgets that adorn the race bikes of the professsionals, drifting into the admittedly elite end of the local Sydney racing scene. OK, it's the State Crit Championships, but it's still a bit of a jump up from the traditional number on a fabric or vinyl square, attached with safety pins: ALL RIDERS, PLEASE NOTE THAT TRANSPONDERS WILL BE USED AT THIS EVENT. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ATTACH YOUR TRANSPONDER IN THE CORRECT POSITION IN ORDER TO BE PLACED IN THIS EVENT. Note that they saw fit to SHOUT about it, 'cause some of those bike riders will be in a state of shock.

We can expect to see similar transponders used more regularly at state open level, gradually drifting down to club level. They remove the need for sharp eyed observers (a hard-to-find resource) and eliminate (I hope) the 'but-I-thought I won it' close-finish dispute. In a big bunch gallop it may be the only way to truly pick out who won. They are also light, the widely-used Chip-X being around 15g.

In fact these transponders, also used in warehousing, logistics and on toll roads, by the way, open up a whole world of data collection and analysis. Not just for bike racers but for anyone - or anything - involved in circuit racing. You can collect timing data on every lap for every participant, for example, and post updates live, either on the web or to a mobile device (like a cell phone). So if you are coaching or managing a team you can see how your charges are going, and perhaps later analyse where they went wrong, without needing to even watch the whole race. (Check out MyLaps, to see what is already happening.) Of course GPS can do that, too, and you probably have that integrated with your power meters anyway, but as a cheaper option it's not bad. We've already seen how a mix of these types of devices (especially GPS) can be used to plot the course of a road cycling race, too, in real-time, on the Web. You can also easily imagine such a live datastream being used to animate a super-realistic avatar of, say, Cadel Evans, as he takes on Lance Armstrong's avatar in a virtual Le Tour, live on screen. It could be the future of live cycling 'vision' on a converged television-Internet platform, without needing the cameras and helicopters, if we wanted it to be... or the basis for a training program, or a game...

So there you go, cycling at the cutting edge. Mind you, it's all been done before. For example the aviation industry has been using transponders since WWII, although they were somewhat larger, heavier objects at that stage. It just takes a while for these things to shrink, get cheaper, and percolate both down - and sideways. That's innovation.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Now he attacks: Cadel Evans just can't win

In hindsight, it may have been the wrong time to attack... but then again, who was going to bridge the gap if he didn't? As Cadel says, "Funny, usually people tell me I don't attack...".

Post-race it's always easy to pull things apart and make declarations about what would have happened if.... but until we can set up some parallel universe and trial all of the options, we'll never really know. At 5th, Evans was ahead of some big names. (Worth noting too that Simon Gerrans had another good race, finishing 8th.)

And come July we'll get to see Cadel defend his now traditional 2nd place in Le Tour. He may even attack!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Davis drops, Haussler tops - funny old UCI points score this year #cycling

We are well into the pro cycling year and still it seems that the early-season winners have the edge - although the edge is beginning to crumble.

Haussler took over the UCI world ranking lead from Allan Davis (Quick Step). After another strong performance in Paris-Roubaix, Haussler leads the rankings with 197 points, ahead of País Vasco winner Alberto Contador (Astana) with 188 points. Davis slipped to third with his 183 points.

Nice to see Davis hang in there so long, and good to see Haussler get his name in lights - if only for a little while. The 3 big tours will shake it all up, of course.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Drug testers take blood, sweat and tears - Armstrong's behaviour 'unusual'?

Just what constitutes 'unusual' behaviour when 'surprised' by the blood, urine and hair-sample-taking team I don't know:

Lance Armstrong's behaviour during his 24th anti-doping control since returning to the sport may have landed the American in hot water with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD). L'Equipe has reported that AFLD, which conducted the March 17 out-of-competition test, submitted a report to the International Cycling Union (UCI) and WADA on March 30. The report apparently details the abnormal behaviour observed before and during the surprise visit from the French agency.

Did he run away? Slam the door? Abuse them? Or is this L'Equipe beating things up? He is recovering from a broken collarbone, so maybe he was a bit tetchy... I would be. Later, Armstrong's rebuttal came and it was quite reasonable - someone turned up to take samples who simply didn't appear convincingly authorised to do so, so they checked on his credentials:

"I returned home that day after a long training ride to find a man chasing me as I rode up to the house. He stopped me and told me he was from the French laboratory and was here to test me. I had never heard of labs or governments doing drug testing and I had no idea who this guy was or whether he was telling the truth.

Despite all of that reasonableness, the "drug testing laboratory" in question was concerned about the 20 minute delay between turning up and actually getting the samples. Without wanting to get carried away about it, having a shower could have been a cover for time to take a masking drug, but then again it could just have been a shower. In any case 20 mins is not long enough to mask much, especially so when blood, urine and hair was taken. Surely he didn't get a hair transplant in 20mins?

Postscript: The UCI's Pat McQuaid wonders aloud what the AFLD is doing: "Normal proceedings between institutions such as national anti-doping agencies, the international federation and the World anti-doping agency (WADA) are normally done in a professional and confidential way until a decision or sanction has been taken," he continued. "In this case it was leaked to the press and I do find that disturbing."

Monday, April 06, 2009

Last Gosford Hill for today: Kincumber Sth 234W 15.5pc

Kincumber Sth 234W 15.5pc
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
It probably has another name, but it's that sharp bump between Bensville and Kincumber South. Ouch.

Gosford hillclimbs: Scenic Drv Terrigal 147W 13.7 pc

Another one. Again I did this a few months ago, but in an idle moment thought I'd post it now.... part of my plan to run my ibike wattmeter over all the local hills around Gosford, NSW.

Gosford hillclimbs: Avoca to Kincumber 182W 12.3 pc

Did this a few months ago, but in an idle moment thought I'd post it now.... part of my plan to run my ibike wattmeter over all the local hills around Gosford, NSW.

The iBike calculates Watts from changes in speed, altitude (via a barometer) and acceleration. Whilst the numbers aren't large (I'm not Lance Armstrong) It gives me some way of baselining my training and working forward.

These aren't necessarily my best rides, highest speeds or biggest Wattage - just representative screenshots to give you an idea of hill slope and shape. If you don't have this sort of equipment you may find it interesting or useful.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Raw vegan #cycling on 30 bananas a day... and training with Oscar Pereiro

A radical guy fueled with a radical raw vegan diet... and plenty of cycling: Adelaide's Harley Johnson. On a bamboo bike, too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In-form Contador loses team in Paris-Nice boilover

So where did the Astana team go? There one moment, gone the next. Paris-Nice has been enlightening. Contador's skill, luck and good form won him the short TT section and the lead, much to the annoyance of the prologue specialists, but now his team has gone missing when the heat was on. Still, losing a minute is not the end of the world, it just puts him back where he probably should have been.

Once Rabobank hit the front Contador was in the fourth group on the road. He knew he had to do something. "I saw I had no teammates. The situation was very difficult, but I saw there was a short steep slope coming up and I accelerated." Contador looked good on the uphill, but closing the gap proved to be hard. He received some help from Christophe Moreau (Agritubel) to reach the group ahead. "This was the only possibility for me to save the race," Contador said.

I am guessing that Astana will get their act together in May and July. But there are some quietly good achievers steadily working to put roadblocks in the path of Armstrong, Contador and Co. Should be interesting.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Graeme Brown wins again in Vuelta Murcia

Good to see Graeme Brown has sorted out his bike problems, or handling issues or whatever they were - you may recall him pulling his foot/getting baulked/breaking something in the finale of the Tour Down Under. He is obviously flying right now... and Rabo teammate Menchov won overall.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Join your own Open Source-style pro cycling team #cycling

Not such a new idea for pro cycling fans as is made out on the Crowdriders site, but a good idea nonetheless that (admittedly) takes the fan-as-owner idea a step further than before, where the crowd will (in theory) manage the pro cycling team as well as provide sponsorship (or capital, if you prefer). That should be interesting - 40,000 people voting on what to do with the cash raised! Basically if enough people get together and raise enough money they'll sign up riders and start a UCI-registered team. It's certainly not impossible, but others have tried to crowd-source and failed. Especially tricky will be getting the management side right - balancing the "democracy" that is promised for the crowd against the professional management and governance that is required. What if the majority want to do something crazy, or risky, or just sub-optimal? What if the guy starting this idea off is not the best guy to run the show yet remains at the epicentre just because he, umm, started it? Who will tell him that he's just one voice and what will he do - change the rules? I guess that will be explored in the fullness of time.

For a previous take on a subscription-based sponsorship of a cycling team, check out David McKenzie and iTeamNova

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tackling your first bike race - the criterium

First up, this is cycling, not football - no tackling required, thank goodness. In fact I've "tackled" this subject a few times, including right here. Crits are short, sharp races run at higher speeds than road races, usually with more corners and fewer hills, around a short course. The skill and fitness levels are high but endurance is less than a longer road race.

The essentials go a bit like this:
1. For a criterium you need a road bike. One with curvy 'dropped' handlebars and a pair of brakes will do - yes, you need to use the back brake too!

2. You need a bike with 2 lightish but stiff wheels, as flexy wheels in tight corners are not good as they feel soft and squishy and put you off

3. The bike itself could be around 8 or 9 kg in weight but extra kilos on the bike are not that much of a problem as crits are usually pretty flat. Light wheels will assist your acceleration more than a light bike. In any case you shouldn't stress about the bike. Your fitness will matter more

4. Having said that, the bike should be well maintained and unlikely to break under load!

5. Remove extraneous objects before the race - like streamers, plastic gear guards, bells, toolkits, books, magazines - and keep 'em for later

6. Pump up the tyres. 100psi sounds good but whatever you see written on the tyre will be a better guide. A harder tyre is a faster tyre, within limits (don't over-inflate as that may be dangerous, especially if the tyre blows off the rim!)

7. Join a bike club and get a racing licence. In Australia it's around $200 a year but varies with each club and your age. You get 3rd party insurance with that and a cool licence to prove you are a racer. Consider private health insurance as falling off at speed may be costly

8. Crits go round and round so you'll pass the pits several times. If you puncture (or have a 'mechanical') you will be allowed 'a lap out' but unless you are fabulously prepared and have a buddy following you with spare wheels it's unlikely you'll be able to take advantage of that in your early races. You can often leave spares at the start line anyway, just let someone know to watch 'em, in case they 'walk'. You won't get a lap out if you have reached the final lap, btw, you'll have to just watch - obey the race judge (the 'commissaire') in any case

9. Assuming you have followed my earlier advice and have trained at least enough to have sufficient endurance for the event in question, arrive at the racing venue with plenty of time in hand (30mins minimum, preferably an hour)

10. If you haven't already done so, get your licence from the club secretary. If you haven't paid, pay now.

11. If you have your licence, look for the entry desk. It could be under a marquee. It could be in a club house. There may be a queue of fit looking lycra-wearers to guide you. Queue up and pay your entry fee (could be $10 or so, more for open races). You will be graded, probably in a low grade at first. They will give you a race number (cool!) and may hold your licence untill you return said number after the race. Race numbers are often colour coded to show grade

12. Put your number on (usually pinned low on your jersey and slightly to the side where the judges sit (it pays to check out local custom here).

13. Pay attention to what's happening as races are often organised in unusual orders. Like A grade (fast guys) first, then B grade, then C and D combined, or totally in reverse. Local customs apply - don't miss your start!

14. If it's OK to do so, roll around and warm up on the course. Don't start cold in any case!
15. Don't miss the start!

16. Don't get in the way of faster grades, especially when you've finished

17. Hand your number back afterwards

18. Learn from your experience!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Extreme cutout saddle_0748

Extreme cutout saddle_0748
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Not sure this is the saddle for me, but it certainly is good in theory. The cutouts work as, well, cutouts, and the droop snoot nose is great for those almost-out-of-saddle moments. It gives you more control over bike movement, they say.

Well equipped Teschner_0747

Some more Teschner detail!

Well equipped Teschner_0746

Some Teschner detail...

Well equipped Teschner_0744

Lincoln dropped by with one of his (many) new bikes. It's a Teschner. It's light.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

LA pic from Adelaide via Twitter

Just sharing a pic from Lance in Adelaide (for the TDU):

Out for a ride in Adelaide with Stuart O'Grady, Pat Jonker, a... on TwitPic

Nice to see a fit Pat Jonker (past winner, retired from pro riding but still looking good). O'Grady looks like he has been working out - preparing for the Euro-season cobbles?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Track racing of a kind we don't usually see...

40-42 G's? I don't think so... but it's obviously narrow and maybe even poorly cambered in parts... in short, scary!