Saturday, 3 August 2013

Bookworm



Hi all, I am going to attempt to right a little on a few books I have been reading recently.  I really enjoy reading and that coupled with my enthusiasm for cycling has led me to try and learn more about the history, culture and the professional element of it.

Domestique

Domestique is a really interesting read as it is from the perspective of someone who wasn’t a winner of big races but fulfilled a very necessary role within the teams he rode for.  As a fairly new cycling enthusiast I have watched a lot of the races and Grand Tours and started to learn about the intricacies of the Peloton.  There are lots of books on the big names of cycling but this book offers a genuine if slightly self pitying view of the world of a domestique.  The book is written in a very frank manner and tells mostly of Charly Wegelius career from junior ranks to respected senior professional.  He tells of the struggles of trying to make it in the world of the pro-tour, the pitfalls of the era he rode in and the constant struggle to maintain form and usefulness in this highly competitive sport.  Overall a very easy and informative read.  I picked up a copy for £10 from Amazon.  Highstreet best price is £12 from Waterstones.

Hunger:  Sean Kelly

A massive name in the world of cycling and a much anticipated release of a book from this Irish legend.  As with most autobiographies the book starts with Kelly’s beginnings and works through his career.  He has chosen only to pick up on a small number of wins but I guess if he had written about all of them the book would have been somewhat bigger!  It’s again a frank read.  Kelly talks about his rivals, a tragic episode in his personal life and the ups and downs he encountered during his career.  I really enjoyed the book and found it difficult to put down.  This was probably my favourite book amongst the ones I have reviewed here.  Picked this up for £17.69 from Amazon but matched on the highstreet by Waterstones at the same price!



The Man Who Cycled the World

This is something a little different but peaked my interest as I would love to do some travelling on the bike.  My hatred of camping may make this a little difficult and more expensive but this book was a great read.  Mark Beaumont the chap who wrote this book is the current World Record holder for a round the world trip.  There are certain rules which must be followed to qualify and the trip must also be mapped by a number of technical gadgets of course.  The book is obviously very broad in that it starts with Marks background and moves on to a day by day coverage of the ride itself.  There are lots of interesting stories and anecdotes and the constant struggle to find food and water was very interesting especially when covering the Asian countries.  What I struggled to get my head around was how Mark could cycle 100+ miles per day with so very few rest days for the entirety of the trip.  Anyone who has done 100 miles in a day will know how sapping it is.  I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it if you like cycling and travel.  I picked a second hand paperback copy up of Amazon for £2.18 and it was good entertainment.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Greater Manchester Cycle 2013



This Sunday (30th June) we completed the Greater Manchester Cycle again.  That could be the end of the blog but for the fact there was a slight twist this year.  We had put together a group of customers and staff from around Trafford Community Leisure Trust and had been preparing to do the event for a few months before.  New jerseys ordered, printed and distributed, entries filled in and meeting points sorted the first wave arrived at 07:30 to a lovely morning not glorious but decent (no rain and hardly any wind).  After picking up people from around the start zone due to a combination of our distinctive jerseys and mobile phones we started at the back of the couple of thousand strong field.  Again there were many people young to old on many many different types of machines, the atmosphere was one of nerves and excitement.  We finally got away at about 08:20 after a small wait, understandable considering the mass of people, for our four laps of the 13 mile course.  We had set off and were in a nice group getting onto the Mancunian Way when we saw the lead peloton coming back the other way with their police outrider.  I still cannot understand why people see fit to come and race a sportive but each to there own.  We managed about two laps with the group in relative tact before we split up and rode our own pace.  The second lap also heralded the arrival of a really strong wind down the back of the course.  This kept us ‘entertained’ for two laps and meant a sapping of reserves for some of those newer to the ride.  I managed to finish at 2hrs and 44mins, which I was pleased with as it was faster by about 10minutes from the last year.  I didn’t feel that I emptied the tank but it was difficult due to starting at the back of the field and having to dodge people.  We were still overtaking people as we approached the finish.  Everyone of the seven finished with no issues.  Some tired faces but a general feeling of enjoyment and accomplishment was expressed! 

The second group doing the 26miler, two laps of the course, arrived and were ready to set off at 11:30.  Heather was leading them and they set off in one of the first waves.  I looked out for them on their first lap and tried (and failed) to get some pictures.  They all looked pretty fresh on the first lap.  I decided to go to the finish and take some video of them.  I managed to get some of everyone looking a little more tired then the first lap.  Heather had a slow puncture and managed to get over the finish line before we had to change it.  Again everyone was pleased about completing and complementary about the organisation of the event.

As for the event itself it was again very well organised.  The course had been tweeked this year after last years pinch point which caused a few problems.  It was a lot better then the previous years course.  The Council had filled in some pot holes which was nice for the start of the event.  The only things that were a little strange were the trip through Old Trafford car park and a u-turn out at the far end of the course.  Maybe they will look at that for next year!

I really enjoyed the cycle and one of the main things for me was getting more people down to enjoy the experience.  Seeing people regain their enjoyment of cycling is something that I get a massive kick from. 

Some pictures :-)




Monday, 24 June 2013

Greater Nottinghamshire Cycle



Hi all, the third leg of the charity rides this year for Cyclists Fighting Cancer has been completed…just!   

Lindsey, Evie and I travelled down to Nottingham the night before to stay with The Garrods as Matt was taking part in the event also, his first 100 miler.  May had put on a massive spread of meatballs and pasta.  I have never seen such a big bowl of awesomeness!  I think even Adam Richman himself would have had issues trying to consume it all!  It was a great pre-‘race’ meal.  We had been doing some last minute tyre work on Matt’s bike and had managed to pinch a tube so that changed and confident it was ok we went to sleep as it was an early start the next day at 05:30 for launch at 07:00.  Had a decent nights sleep but Evie’s snoring was bad the little tike!

We woke up to a howling gale outside in the morning.  After consuming some muesli and cornflakes and refusing Matt’s kind offer of beetroot juice we crammed the bikes into the car and set off for the start.  We met Matt’s friend Darren Warrior (such a cool name) at the start and were taken to our holding pen along with the other ‘cattle’.  We set off in waves at around 07:00 with a really strong tail wind.  For the first hour we were ticking along at around 20mph avg it was that strong.  The inevitable happened and we had to turn into the wind after an hour and a half as we turned along the top of one of the loops.  The wind really killed off our good start.  Matt, Darren and I struggled along at a misely 13mph cursing ever so slightly the wind.  The countryside was really quite stunning and the weather apart from the wind was really nice.  After around three hours we entered into a downpour but it wasn’t so bad as we had turned again and the wind was now coming in from the side.  I shouted to Matt and Darren that we should form an echelon but as none of us knew what that meant or how to do it we ended up single file.  We had decided on a two stop strategy one at 50miles at Matt’s parent and one at 75miles at the last feed station.  This proved to be a sensible ploy as we all struggled a little near the end from the adverse conditions.  Matt’s mum and dad really looked after us a hot cup of tea and some peanut butter sandwiches were just what the doctor ordered.  We also had opportunity to towel ourselves off and that was most welcome to.  We thanked Matt’s parents and cracked on.  Around about the 90 mile mark we went past Matt’s house and Evie, May, Louca and Lindsey where cheering us on and videoing.  This gave us the extra boost we needed for the last ten miles.  The weather was everything from rain to bright sunshine but we kept going and after taking a short detour (same mileage) to avoid a dirt track we arrived back at the finish to a great fanfare, well a few people waiting for other participants and a soggy field.  I was given my medal and I am not sure if I was looking like a lady at that point as I also received the female finisher’s goody bag.  My hands are now lovely and soft from the hand cream.  I am still trying to work out how to use the hairbobbles. 

I really enjoyed the ride chatting with Matt and Darren it was great to be apart of their first 100miler and I have to say a massive thanks to Matt for getting everyone to contribute to the charity total. 


You can still make a donation here:


Every penny goes to the charity as I am meeting my own costs for the events and travel
:-)


Here we are at the finish.
Me (Left) Matt (Centre) Darren (Right)
Here are the ride stats to :-)

Safe Riding! 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Majorca Part 2



Its a long one so forget about your Sunday paper and give it a go!

Day 3 was a bit of a chilled out rest day ride…it was supposed to be anyway.  David P, Jean and I decided to head up the coast for a coffee and a short 25mile ride to ease the legs into the sportive on the Saturday.  We stopped at Tolo’s cafĂ© which is Wiggin’s hangout when he is in Majorca.  There is a signed yellow jersey framed in there from him (see below).  Again the coffee and company was exceptional and we headed out to the Cap de Formentor for a spin up to the first viewing point.  This was my first real taste of the climbs I could be expecting the next day as I had flown in a day after the big ride for Sunvelo.  It was a couple of kilometres long between 5-10% in gradient.  I managed it quite easily and this instilled a bit of confidence in me for the next day.  Unfortunately this is where the enjoyment was tempered.  My build up to the sportive had gone as well as I could have wanted.  200+ miles in the three weeks building up to the event and another 250 under the belt including the sportive in Majorca had made me pretty confident.  Other then the wobble the previous day when trying to get my foot out of the pedal I was 100% confident of my preparation.  We arrived at the car park at the first viewing area.  I tried to take my foot out of the pedal…it didn’t budge…I tried again still no joy…I start to panic a little but think I will go round the car park and try again buy myself a bit of time…unfortunately a car pulled out which sent me towards a bush which I thought wouldn’t be to bad to have a lie down in better then the tarmac.  Unfortunately I had not seen the small protruding rocks to the right of the bush which when I came off I landed full force on with my elbow puncturing it and leaving a nice proportion of DNA on the floor.  It knocked me sick a bit to as I hate seeing blood especially my own.  I was a bit dazed didn’t see the views or take any pictures which I am annoyed about.  David and Jean did there best to pick me up and stem the flow of blood from my elbow, which eventually reduced to a small trickle.  We then went back descending the climb which was fun even though my elbow was hurting.  On the way home we stopped off at one of the many pharmacies where a kindly old Majorcan lady cleaned up the wound using a liquid antiseptic which was a tad painful.  Once back at the hotel David P used some steri-strips to seal the gash/puncture wound.  Needless to say I had enjoyed the ride but was fuming at myself for the way in which I had injured myself. 
Here is the route for you to have a nosey at.
 



video

D-Day – It was an early start up at 0400 for a 0500 breakfast.  I had managed to get a few hours sleep despite not being able to sleep in my favoured position due to the elbow and also that in the night I knocked the elbow a couple of time, which obviously woke me up.  Everyone was quiet at breakfast as the weather was looking ominous.  We met in the garage at 06:00 and had a final check of equipment and some pictures done.  I had opted for bib shorts and short sleeve jersey with windbreak gillet.  Even though it was raining the temperature was still between 15-20 degrees and the rain was warm to so was bearable.  I don’t think I regretted the kit decision even when the weather was at its peak due to the warmness the only place I really struggled was on the massive decent from the Puig de Muir (video from last year of the descent - http://youtu.be/BbrVqFH5Hwo) mountain which took around 20 minutes and was averaged at about 24mph.  That kind of gives you an idea of how big the climb was also!  We arrived at the start for 0645 for a starting time of 0700.  The Germans had got there first, sure there is a sun bed joke in there somewhere, and there was already a big build up of riders.  The support team for Sunvelo where happily snapping pictures of our tired and pensive faces and doing there best to cheer us up which they had success with.  At the briefing the previous evening we had spoken about getting a group together and looking after each other but it was already clear at the start this was going to be difficult with the volume of riders there.  We set off at 0700 and within the first 20km we had split as a group and where just riding as best we could sitting in groups with other participants.  I didn’t see anyone for around 30miles from our group.  The first hour was quick as the race was neutralised for safety reasons coming out of Alcudia.  Once the police split off the sportive exploded.  Fast riders going off and a real selection of riders being made and distributed into many groups.  I found myself on the first climb alone but this was what I had expected and wanted.  I am not the best climber and didn’t want to hold people up.  I was climbing at a steady rate of between 7 – 11mph depending on the gradient.  Lots of people where passing me but I was not to concerned about what anyone else was doing just trying to tempo away and get to the top.  The first 60km of the ride where were the mountains and climbs where coming thick and fast.  I knew once I had done this part that the rest would play to my advantage of being faster on descents and on the rolling flats we had.









The weather had really closed in now and the rain was heavy for around 100km.  There were patches of sun but mostly rain and a persistent fog which unfortunately blocked off some of the views we would have seen.  Fortunately when it we descended from the Puig de Muir it was dry and safe and gave us some fantastic views into the valleys below.  It was like looking out of an aeroplane window coming into land.  All of the houses and roads where so tiny.  As you can see from the video above the descent can only be described as epic.  Barry and I had linked up just before the descent and rode most of the rest of the way together until the crash…more to come on that.  One rider took it upon himself to nearly kill himself on the descent making some rash overtaking manoeuvres and nearly getting taken out by a coach.  A number of riders where shaking there heads and shouting at him in different languages.  We hit the second food stop which had been taken over by a load of tanned Italian looking chaps all huddled under the gazebo sheltering from the rain.  I managed to get in and get a couple of rolls and a tin or two of coke for me and Barry.  An Italian gentleman started to shout at me but as I didn’t speak the language so I just smiled, shrugged and walked away with the loot!  We set off again and saw the split for the race those doing the 167km and those doing the 312km.  We made absolutely sure we turned onto the 167km.  We started to pick up speed down another decent and headed on to the flatter part of the course.  We had picked up Tony from Sunvelo and a German chap who we had been speaking to whilst going up the climbs.  Barry and I upped the pace to a decent 21-22mph and started to motor.  When I next turned around we had picked up around ten riders.  I said to Barry ok mate you have done a lot of work lets start rolling through and letting the others take a turn then we can get home faster.  Barry pulled in in front of me and I gave the signal for another rider to come through.  Our German friend Uwe kindly obliged then nothing.  I waited a few seconds then tried again.  Nobody wanted to come through and help.  They all just wanted to tag on and sit in the wheels.  This upset me a little but there wasn’t really much I could do.  As we were taking the next roundabout the crash happened.  We were single file with me following Barry’s wheel when Barry must have hit something on the road or a bit of oil.  Both of Barry’s wheels went from under him and he skidded on the tarmac.  We were travelling at about 22mph and I had very little time to react.  Barry had slid away from the bike slightly as he had come away from his toe straps if he hadn’t I would have gone straight over his torso as I went over the back wheel.  I somehow managed to stay on the bike and ended up on the wrong side of the road again.  Fortunately no traffic.  Barry got to the side of the road and I could see that his rear derailleur was a right off.  Barry was relatively unhurt with a bit of road rash down his left leg.  My bike miraculously was in good shape.  We made sure Barry was ok and then set off to see if we could link up with the support car and send them back to Barry.  The others had just ridden off without a thought for Barry.  Tony and I set off I was pulling Tony along for sometime and we met with the car about 5 miles away grabbing some food and letting them know what had happened.  Then we set off again.  Some time after this is when I had my first puncture.  I was just ticking along nicely when the dreaded noise occurred.  I stopped to change it but was having issues getting the tyre off as I was cold and tired by now having covered around 80miles.  An Irish guy came to my rescue and sorted the tyre out.  He then left me to put some air in.  I couldn’t get the valve out far enough to put any in.  A German trio stopped to help.  That’s when we found out that the Irish chap hadn’t taken off the circlet on the valve and it was inside the tyre.  I felt stupid but the German people where really nice about it and sorted it out.  After putting some air in I set off again.  I came across Morris and Barry…yes Barry he had fixed the bike with a stick at the roadside and managed to continue.  We rode on for a bit but then Barry’s bike completely broke as the rear mech sheered from the bike.  Day over for Barry and an immense feeling of sadness that he would not be able to complete the ride.  We had ridden together through 70% of the course through the hills and I was gutted for him.  A few miles after we had left Barry I began to feel bumps through the rear tyre.  Morris and I pulled over and the tyre was soft.  Slow puncture.  I nearly gave up then I thought of the kids with cancer and that Evie and Lindz were waiting at the finish for me.  I pumped some air in and carried on as I was close to the finish.  I was very angry at this point.  The effect of two punctures, crap weather and Barry having to stop had enraged me and I apologise to all the people who I rode past at speed cursing under my breath.  It took another couple of stops to reinflate the tyre then I was home or so I thought.  Just to top things off I had taken a wrong turning and was now at the far side of Alcudia.  So I had just done an extra 10 miles for fun.  I finally got back on track and rode down the finishing straight.  There where still a number of people there and the announcer said “James Crossland, United Kingdom” I put on my best attempt of a smile and crossed the finishing line to cheers from Lindsey and Evie.  I was glad to have finished and be home.  The official time was 8hrs 29minutes by the board.  My Garmin read close to 7hours but I think there was about 40minutes of unrecorded due to the crash and punctures after which I had forgotten to start the timer again.  I was pleased with the time not knowing the route and with so many issues.  I was under the 9 hour mark and got my finishers jersey.

The sportive itself was epic.  I would love to do it again in the sunshine although I think the weather was better for it not being to hot.  The climbs where long and hard and the descents where amazing.  The Majorcan people and countryside did a great job of keeping my spirits up during the ride and there was a real sense of achievement at the end of the sportive.  I would recommend whole heartedly to anyone to go and cycle in Majorca and to do so with SunVelo.

Ride stats for you


Thanks for reading guys hope you enjoyed it!

Bit of a picture gallery for you also.  I seem to be eating in most of the pictures...nothing new there then!

Barry and one of the support ladies

Mr David Percival


At the start
In the dark at the start

Check out the standing water


Half way up a mountain

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Majorca Part 1




The trip was the first part of a bigger picture for me for 2013.  Raising money for Cyclists Fighting Cancer throughout the year via a number of sportives through the year.  


I was looking to do a few days cycling then the Majorca 167 sportive as the first part of the challenge.  I had been to see the best physio in Manchester Marek Holowenko (http://www.mhcpt.co.uk/) in preperation and he had sorted my legs right out!  I took the girls with me in the hope that they would have a great time and to spend some time with them over the few days.  The first thing I noticed on the coach to the hotel was the enormous amount of cyclists around.  It was a utopia for cycling.  I was beginning to get very excited about the prospect of being part of the community.  We had booked with Sunvelo (www.sunvelo.com) who are a cycling adventure holiday company based in Alcudia on the island.  The hotel was the Viva Blue, which was very nice and had ticked all the boxes.  We were looking for half board, nice rooms, kids activities and importantly for me cycling setup.  The hotel provided an excellent range of food for breakfast and evening meals.  I was astounded by the variety there was something for everyone and the food was always excellent.  Dave from Sunvelo was my contact for booking and everything went very smoothly.  This was the case when dealing with Sunvelo for the entirety of the holiday.  The weather was to prove a different matter over the five days we were there.  The first couple of days where nice with a strong breeze.  After that it was mostly wind and rain and would stay this way for the sportive on the Saturday.

We had booked the same week as two friends of ours David and Jean Percival and the friendship was strengthened through the week via the cycling and the meals we all shared together.  Evie was in her element drawing with Jean which was really nice to see.  David also looked after me when I had a bit of a spill on our easy ride day (more to come in part 2).

The first days riding was very windy and we had Dave the company boss leading us out.  The ride took in the beautiful Majorcan countryside and involved a coffee and cake stop something that reoccurred throughout the riding on different days.  I had my new pedals (Look Keo Carbon) attached to the Ridley Orion bike I had rented from SunVelo.  I was very impressed with them as they provided a tight attachment and were light.  I am saving them for my new bike which hopefully I will be able to purchase later in the year.  The Ridley was really nice and was the first full carbon bike I have ridden.  I didn’t have any complaints over the four days with the bike although I did have three punctures during the week.  This was probably down to me being too heavy still though.  I did however have some small issues with my new pedals and new cleats in that they were a little too good and had me struggling to release when we stopped.  We had just left the coffee stop and I was beginning to see what strong riders Dave and one of our companions Harald from Norway were.  They were dragging us along at a fair old pace just manageable for me but dropping a few of the others on the small drags.  Harald was residing on Gran Canaria for the winter and was doing 120km a day over the mountains there.  The legs on this guy were massive and near the end he decided to leave us on the climb of the day Cancellara style and head back to Alcudia.  As we reached the climb there was a stop sign, which I had seen around 200 metres before we got there but was having issues getting my foot from the clip…this resulted in me turning the wrong way up the road and round a traffic island trying not to fall off and ending up facing the oncoming traffic.  Luckily there wasn't any and other then worrying Dave a bit I ended up unclipped on the climb but in the big ring.  I had to dismount and change the gears manually very embarrassing as a few groups of Germans went past looking at me in disgust.  I climbed back on to the group with a little assistance from David P.  I met Barry for the first time today also he was struggling a little to stay with the group but working together we arrived back into Alcudia with the group.  Barry improved through the whole trip and was a very tenacious rider especially using toe straps!



Here is the first days ride with a few stats if you are interested!


Day 2 saw another 0930 start we all met at 0800 for breakfast, which really fostered a team atmosphere throughout the holiday.  Today I would be riding with Alistair, who I found out after the ride was a double bronze Commonwealth track cycling medallist, David P, Nathan and Barry.  Alistair took some massive turns on the front into the wind at a very decent pace he had the biggest calves I have ever seen!  It was all Barry and I could do to sit behind him and David P!  We had cake and coffee at a small place outside of Alcudia and got there doing about 22 mph average the whole time.  It was a recurrent theme that the coffee was cheap and nice tasting.  As I love coffee this was a massive plus.  We tucked in behind Alistair and David but about 20km from the end of the ride I had my first puncture.  Alistair gave me a masterclass on how to change a tyre.  Even though I can do it he took about 5 mins!  Nathan left us to go and have a look at one of the local climbs later we found out that he had got some way away and then the heavens opened and drove him back to Alcudia.  Alistair then led us back to Alcudia being buffeted by the wind off the sea.

Here is the second days ride with a few stats!


The second part will be arriving shortly and will have some video and a few pics :-) 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Fresh Thinking



Just brushing the cobwebs off my blog it’s been a while.  Not sure why, I think mostly because I haven’t really had that much to report.  More importantly I didn’t blogwhinge about the wind and the crappy weather we have been having!

I am feeling very positive this week on a number of fronts.  I am beginning to think I am solar powered both physically and mentally.  The long winter months and events have taken their toll and I am glad that things are starting to settle down.  The first three months of the year have been tough.  I have some major news in that I have decided to finish the coaching with Mercury.  This wasn’t through anything that Mercury has or hasn’t done and I would recommend them to anyone still.  I am hoping to continue to do some testing with them in the future and keep in touch of course.  The main reason for finishing with them was that after some of the tests I didn’t feel that I could achieve a level of competition that would be acceptable to me.  Most of you know how competitive I am and the results I achieved meant that I would struggle to achieve a Category 1 or 2 licence.  I am sure that the results would have improved, I have no doubt but it would have required a commitment of more time which I just can’t commit at the moment. 

I have gone back to using Strava as a training tool and have to say have been impressed so far with the results I’m seeing.  This week alone I have been setting personal records all over the place which is very pleasing and has given me a massive boost on the mental side of things.  Still looking for a regular riding buddy though.  The original wingman Mark O’Reiily was back for the weekend and I really enjoyed him being around.  I miss his lycra clad ass leaving me far behind on the ascents.  This week saw 200miles covered and 12 hours in the saddle.  This was from an extended commute and a couple of rides out.  There is of course an aim to all this.  There are a number of events I am doing this year for charity the first of which is the Majorca Sportive at the end of April which is 103miles over mountains!  There is also a second motive Strava in April have set a challenge of riding the combined distance of some of the major one day races on the calendar which comes to 1319 kilometres.  At the end of this week I am sat at 23% of that total. 








I will be cycling a lot this year still and raising lots of money (hopefully) for Cancer Fighting Cyclists.  This is something I really enjoy doing and I have some events etc in the pipeline so keep your eyes peeled.  We recently raised £63.50 from a cake sale at Stretford which was excellent.  What is always good about the cake sales is that a lot of friends get involved baking for me.  Without them the stalls wouldn’t happen and their time and energy is very much appreciated!  Again these same friends have stood up to be counted and I am currently sat on £370 or the £2000 target for the year.  Thanks everyone for your donations so far!   I will be doing some more cake sales between now and the end of the year.  There will also be a Spinning Masterclass at Stretford Sports Village which should hopefully raise some more pennies.  I would also like to say a massive thanks to Nat for designing my new cover on Facebook it is amazing.  Talented guy!



Thanks for reading and go make a donation if you can!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Moving Forward



Hi everyone.  This year I am going to be trying to raise as much money as I possibly can for a charity called Cyclists Fighting Cancer http://cyclistsfc.org.uk/ .  A few friends of mine already do great voluntary work for them and they have been part of the inspiration for me to do this.  The other reason is that a colleague and friend of mines son is recovering and the charity helped them out with bikes.  He gains a lot of joy from riding his bike and the family are more united because of the bikes.

The charities mission is

Cyclists Fighting Cancer gives bikes, adapted trikes and tandems to children and young people whose lives have been affected by cancer.

Something as simple as a bike makes a remarkable difference to their daily lives and brings back smiles

If you have a look at their website you will see the great work that they do and how many people’s lives they have changed for the better.   



You will all know that I love cycling and I want to help provide the excitement and health benefits I get from riding my bike to other people. 

I will be doing a number of sportive rides during the year for the charity and am again looking for you to support me in whatever way you can.  The first ride I will be doing is in Majorca at the end of April.  It is 103miles around the mountains where Bradley Wiggins trains.  It is going to be tough and will probably take me near to 9hours to complete.  I am hoping to do some other events on top of the cycling such as cake stalls and race nights so if anyone can help or has any other ideas that would be amazing.

You can make a donation on my JustGiving page here;


You can make a one off donation or perhaps make a pledge to donate a small amount each month for the next 12 months.  Thanks again for your continued support.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Armstrong Revisited



Revelations or confirmation of that which we already were 99% sure of Mr Armstrong raised his ugly head again this week to a bandwagon of publicity but with the majority shouting out that he should not be forgiven and that he was not contrite enough.  I spent an hour and forty five minutes watching the interviews (thank God for Sky+ to get rid of the adverts) and was absorbed by it.  Like a great many people I had been taken in by Mr Armstrong and the story of his survival from cancer and miraculous rise to the pinnacle of the Tour de France several times no less.  I have many thoughts going on in my head regarding the subject and will try and share some the best I can with you.

The first thing that struck me about the interviews was the number of times I had a feeling that Mr Armstrong was trying not to break out into a wry smile.  He answered the questions very honestly that were put to him but he didn’t seem genuinely concerned.  Another point which I scoffed at was that he was unaware of what a big deal he was.  How can someone with a massive foundation winning a marquee sporting event each year not have a clue that they are ‘big’? 

I am I have to say a little sympathetic in some respects.  A majority of the competitors at the time were doing a cocktail of drugs and there are a few things that rangle with me still in that Armstrong has been made a scapegoat for the generation and that if it wasn’t him it would have been someone else.  I am not trying to justify it the whole era was a farcical mess which will have a massive impact on cycling for years to come.  I don’t think it helps that certain individuals were welcomed back with open arms to compete again after a few months or years bans.  In my opinion once you are banned you should not be allowed to compete again within elite sport.  This is regardless of peer pressure etc being put on people to take drugs in the first place.  The other issue that I have is that Mr Armstrong did create an organisation to help people with cancer to cope.  This has undoubtedly helped a large number of people over the years and will hopefully continue to.  It would be a huge shame for this organisation to fail on the back of one man’s obvious and gross flaws.  If there is one thing that he has done right though it is Livestrong.

Having read a number of witness accounts, the USADA report and a platitude of column inches over the past few months along with a number of programmes and internet videos I am now long since over my hero worship of Mr Armstrong.  I don’t think Mr Armstrong can be given a second chance.  He ruined too many people’s reputations, lied for too long and was nonchalant about the fact he had doped in the context of the racing believing still he was on a level playing field.  After this I do not want to hear his name for a long time although I fear there is more to come.

I want to move on swiftly from this and concentrate on the sport I now know and love.  Geraint Thomas summed it up perfectly for me in an interview with the BBC
"I don't think he deserves any more air time than what he's (Armstrong) got.
"We can all just finally move on and learn from it, and stop talking about him and actually talk about what's happening today
"Talk about the future, the clean riders that are doing everything that they can. That's what it's all about."