Thursday, 11 September 2014

Scrap and Scrapping

I’ve been holding this video for a while with so much else going on, but it’s well worth a look to see what it’s like somewhere where the convenience of well stocked bike shops and internet shopping don’t exist and so getting parts is more of an issue.

Havana Bikes from Kauri Multimedia on Vimeo.

There was more racing in both Spain and Britain as both Tours really get in deep. In Spain the race is definitely getting heated as yet more accusations of fighting abound. This time it was Rodriguez who was accused of punching Sky rider Deigan in the face. The Spaniard tried to play it down, but some people weren’t buying it.

Aside from all that there was racing, on a flat stage that gave the sprinters a chance in between the brutal gradients of the mountains. It was a day with the potential to be ruled by the wind, but it had a minimal impact in the end and Sky did a lot of work to gain Froome some time before the big sprint teams wound up to drag in the break and a final showdown where John Degenkolb came out in front.

Behind all of that Dave Millar is riding now with what he describes as a “permanent rock sign” after breaking two fingers in a fast crash at the weekend.

Meanwhile in Britain the home tour raced from Worcester to Bristol, so I was perhaps more interested in the end than ever. They would race up Bridge Valley Road, which offers a bit of a kick to the end. Otherwise it really started to go into familiar territory for me as it wound down the Severn valley through Gloucestershire to Bristol.

The attacks on the hill would sort out the GC and the stage win. Annoyingly for any bike bloggers it was the tricky-to-spell Kwaitkowski who made it to the line first, with the big names behind him, and Wiggins losing some time to him overall.


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Following Up

If you can think back for a couple of day’s you’ll remember the World Championships Downhill race and the drama that went on to make it amongst the best races I can remember. With the modern world of the internet we can get a whole load of different angles on the drama.

First up, Mullaly’s chainless super-run.

And then for those of you with strong stomachs, Josh Bryceland’s run from his point of view:

Also, there’s this.


He seems in good spirits even so.

So that was that. Elsewhere The Tour of Britain went uphill and got all serious, even if some people didn’t enjoy their day as much as they should.

Racing to the top of the Tumble it was a day of breaks dragged in by the work of Cav amongst others and then setting up for the big GC guns on the hill climb. The win would go to a solo effort by Zardini, with Kwaitkowski and Roche behind, with Wiggins finally showing up in fifth to take the same position overall.

Lots more good racing to come.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Races and Riding for Fun

The Tour of Britain headed to Wales yesterday and began to find some hills in a stage from Knowsley to Llandudno. It was still a pretty solidly sprinters’ stage with the lumps making it a day for the slightly more all-rounders. It would be Ben Swift and Mark Renshaw who raced it out and Renshaw who would take the win.

Follow the action on Twitter while you pretend to do work:

Today it gets hillier still as they race from Newtown to Abergavenny, with a hill finish and a day where anyone who wants to take control of the GC in the race should make a move. Expect more than just drilling the front of the peloton from Wiggins.

Meanwhile in Spain Froome showed some form and attacked the Vuelta on the mountain climb of Stage 16. He failed to unhitch Contador, but has jumped up to third overall and now sits only around three seconds behind Valverde in second, although still over a minute and a half adrift from Contador. While all of that might have been interesting it’s not as fun as what was going on behind as two riders came to blows during the stage resulting in them both being disqualified.

For my part I found that a week in Wales dramatically spoils you for the less interesting riding that anywhere near where I live can offer. I tried some therapy with a ride around Princes Risborough. I’d struggled with this one before in the deep mud of December a few years ago, and was interested to see the way it would ride in the dry. I started stunningly well by heading off in the wrong direction and having to backtrack in order to follow the directions in the book I was using, but then settled into the ride which is broadly flat and pedally, offering a long cruise with some hefty hills rather than a technical challenge. I was overbiked for the ride really, with my suspension barely let out and the saddle dropped maybe three times on the fun downhills that broke up this less technical end of the Chilterns.

It was a ride where I struggled to find a rhythm, and is no Welsh mountain ride, but still there’s something good about being on a bike at all.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Stacked Podiums

Well I missed a day on Friday due to work pressure, which meant I didn’t tell you about all of the things that were set to happen on the weekend.

The Vuelta continued on Sunday with Contador being challenged in the lead finally by Chris Froome and the other contenders as the mountains reared their heads with serious intent.

At the same time Liverpool saw the start of the Tour of Britain, with bigger names than ever lining up behind Wiggins who is riding to defend his title. Today would be a sprinters’ stage and went as expected, in that a break went out and was brought in in the closing kilometres to set up the sprint. With favourites undoubtedly Kittel and Cavendish the stage would go to the German with the recovering Brit in third. Look out for more sprints between these huge names in other stages of the race. Wiggins stayed safe at the front of the race and avoided a crash.

More thrilling than any of this was the Downhill World Championships from Hafjell in Norway on a big bikepark track that gave huge jumps and brutal rock gardens. The women’s race was dominated by the British stars and it was no surprise to see Rachel Atherton and Manon Carpenter up there. What we got was an all-British podium:

The men’s race was even more exciting, with more riders who could make a race of it and create a surprise. After an early swapping of hot seats amongst the lower riders, with the usual selection of bigger crashes as riders who aren’t usually on the World Cup circuit plunging down the mountain. Later even the big names like Sam Hill and Danny Hart would crash and ruin chances of a top finish. Another rider looking to have finished before he started was Neko Mullally who lost a chain on the first jump. However his commitment and talent took him down the course surprisingly up on every split, and eventually surprising everyone by taking the lead by a considerable margin. With no chain.

The surprise continued as he held this position through the field, only being beaten by Gee Atherton on an absolute flyer into first, and then Troy Brosnan who slotted in behind the leader. All that was left was the stunningly on-form Josh Bryceland, who looked incredible all the way down the hill and was a solid good few seconds up at all splits, leaving him with just the last jump and the finish. The final bridge jump was huge and Ratboy went way too massive off it and landed flat off the backside with such force that his ankle gave way. In clear pain with a broken leg he finished and came in behind Gee Atherton to take second.

All in all one of the most dramatic races I’ve seen demonstrating the depth of talent in the field, and providing British riders on five of the six elite podium spots. Highlights are here.

A thrilling weekend of racing and there is more to tell you as the Tour of Britain gets going and I can tell you about a ride I had at the weekend as well.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Looking Good

After a day off the bike that gave me a gap from the week that I had thoroughly enjoyed riding Welsh trails, I felt ready to get back on for another ride, before I got back to London. After a week camping my phone was dead so there was no chance of tracking the ride, however the borrowed GoPro was charged up and that meant one more trip out with it before it had to go back.

I seem to have managed to make the riding round Henley look like an epic downhill session, to challenge Bike Park Wales. It’s not really all like that but it gives an idea of the local riding that I get to play on from time to time.

In other news there was actual drama on the Vuelta as Quintana followed the theme of race favourites falling over by crashing on Tuesday’s time trial and then crashing on yesterday’s stage to then retire from the race the day after he ruined his chances of realistically winning it against a rampant Contador.

Froome moved up a little, but remains a minute behind the leader.