- Posted by Michael Hutchinson
- comments (2)
I was contemplating the absence of a Team GB representative in the U23, women's and junior women's time trials at the Worlds last week.
Specifically, I was contemplating a rare instance of near unanimity among the internet's cycling consultants. (A fine body of men, even if they do occasionally lose a whole Pepperami in the folds of their body fat.) The consensus was clear: there is no point in giving someone a skinsuit and dispatching them to the World Championships unless they are going to win.
There is, of course, a bit of a problem with this, namely that if everyone thought about it that way, almost no one would actually turn up at all.
It can happen. My friend Bernard's first win was a time trial to which no one except for him, the timekeepers and the marshals showed up. He once told me about it - everyone else felt that due to the wretched wet, cold conditions, they ought to just call it off.
"The hell with that," he said. He commanded the marshals to marshal, and timekeepers to timekeep. "You might think the lack of any opposition whatsoever would have taken away from the victory, but actually the thought of those poor sods standing in the rain just for me made it even sweeter."
The timekeepers missed a trick. To pluck a lesson for them from my own family history, my mother, when she was nine years old, entered the Belfast schools' piano competition. She was the only entrant in her age group. She was nonetheless placed fourth, because the judges felt that her performance wasn't really podium material. I would like to say that my mother hasn't been taking this injustice out on the world ever since, but, well...
In general, though, sport needs losers much more than it needs winners. For a start, it needs more of them. And it needs them to be prepared to turn up for less personal and financial reward.
I rode the time trial Worlds last year, and my primary function was to add a little to Tony Martin's lustre when he won. Back in Germany, when his mum asked how he got on, and he said he won, and she asked him how many people had been taking part, he could say 51 rather than merely 50. (And incidentally, can you imagine my mum's conversation with my grandmother?)
Hutch beating local CW hero Hugh Gladstone
Berating the masses
If I were Tony Martin, I would include among my vanquished not only my fellow racers, but anyone else who would like to have been there too. I would imagine the multitudes who sat in front of the TV, especially those whose hopes I'd crushed at one remove by beating their local hero.
I would imagine them all gathered at once in a stadium, while I addressed them from a mighty podium on their failures as both cyclists and human beings.
I'd make them wear the same clothes. I might even invent a salute for them to do, though I concede that that might possibly give the wrong idea.
In a way, of course, I do this already. Every suit I overtake as I nip around London, every innocent pensioner I pass on the roads of Cambridgeshire, every middle-aged woman on an exercise bike at the gym whose screen I can see, all of them are mentally spirited off to my own personal stadium.
Just because someone has no idea they're in a race is no reason why they shouldn't be classified as a loser.
I think I'll get them to do that thing from Queen's ‘Radio Ga Ga' video. I'd really enjoy that. I just need to find another 80,000 of them.
Dear Dr. Hutch
I've just finished watching the World Championship time trial. Obviously we were all very disappointed that Sir Bradley Wiggins didn't win. But I wanted to ask, why he didn't just use a bigger gear? Surely the bigger a gear you use, the further you go for each pedal stroke? If he'd used a couple of gears smaller at the back, surely he'd have beaten Tony Martin easily?
Yours quizzically, Ronan Smith
Well done, Ronan. I do believe you've cracked it. This is without doubt the secret of fast bike riding. However, I'd suggest you keep it to yourself, since clearly all you need to do is find a gear big enough and you'll be able to win the Worlds yourself.
How to .. Be a Crown Court judge
Wig straight? Robes flowing ready to sweep into court in an intimidating manner? A couple of breath mints to disguise the amount of claret that accompanied that long lunch? Excellent. Sweep right on in.
Pretend to listen to the arguments presented. In a case concerning a motorist alleged to have committed an offence against a cyclist, remember that cyclists are of the flat-cap wearing variety of men one hires once a year to clean out the duck pond, and whom one has the gamekeeper watch like a hawk lest they steal any mud. On the other hand, motorists are chaps just like yourself, and honestly, whom would you trust more?
After counsel for each side has concluded their summing up, direct the jury. Tell them they must be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that not only did the motorist commit the offence, but also that he ate his own wife and children when he got home afterwards.
In the unlikely event that the jury convicts, try to resist the temptation to suggest they have another go, and move on to passing sentence. A driving ban is the worst thing you can do to anyone, so for God's sake don't do that. Remember also that imposing a community service order on a motorist rather than a prison sentence will be much less likely to prompt feelings of over-worth among cyclists.
Finally, point out that if the cyclist had been wearing a helmet, no harm could possibly have befallen them. If they were wearing a helmet, suggest that perhaps they should have worn two.
This article was first published in the October 3 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!
- Posted by Robert Garbutt, Editor
- comments (2)
One year on and Lance Armstrong is looking for a way back.
It can't be a coincidence that on the anniversary of the United Sates Anti-Doping Agency publishing the 200-page document that brought down the Texan, the rider stripped of seven Tour de France wins is courting publicity along with his former manager, Johan Bruyneel.
Armstrong has been talking with several journalists and has even been riding with staff from the American magazine, Velo News. Meanwhile, in London, Bruyneel has been putting his case to those who want to hear. Both argue they are being victimised - their crimes no worse than any other drugs cheat.
Surprisingly, there may even be a softening in attitude from USADA boss Travis Tygart. A new book, Wheelmen, reveals that Tygart was very concerned about Armstrong's mental health last December, around the time he tried and failed to persuade Armstrong to give evidence.
He recently told the Times: "I can't control the fact that our American cyclists entered a really dirty sporting culture, although they did Americanise it to a certain extent, made it more sophisticated, more professional and more successful when they were in it.
"Make no mistake, they walked into a culture that existed well before they arrived as the US Postal team."
Tygart, however, doesn't hold back regarding former UCI chief Pat McQuaid. "The fact that the president who oversaw the sport during this dirty, corrupt period is gone - I think this is a huge victory for clean athletes," he says.
This article was first published in the October 24 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!
- Posted by Robert Garbutt; Photo by www.sportivephoto.com
- comments (1)
Well done and a big thank-you to everybody who took part in Sunday's Box Hill Original Sportive.
If it wasn't the worst weather I had ever ridden in, it was pretty damn close. Never mind the absolutely torrential rain, those low temperatures and gusting winds, it was perhaps the flooded lanes that caused the biggest challenge.
It was certainly very grim and I am simply amazed that there were more than 1,300 starters, including 30 extra riders who signed on that morning. I actually doubted my own sanity as I collected my rider number and headed out into the darkness. Some four hours later I was cold and soaked to the skin but I was happy in the satisfaction of having completed what was undoubtedly an epic.
Whether we were best described as finishers or survivors, we'll certainly be talking about ‘the Wet One' for some time to come.
I wouldn't describe my experience as enjoyable in the conventional sense but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Which other sports can revel in such adversity? Despite it all, the overall mood throughout was upbeat and jovial and that's despite all those punctures, potholes and pathetic drivers.
What a day, and what a ride.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly magazine
- Posted by Robert Garbutt
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A big thank-you to all those who made Sunday's inaugural Cycling Weekly Lakeland Monster Miles event in Keswick such a success. With some 700 riders tackling either the 100 or 71km courses, the craze for mixed terrain sportives looks set to continue.
Despite the typically blustery Lake District conditions the general consensus was it had been fantastic day's riding in this most picturesque setting. A perfect mix of quiet lanes and tracks made for a challenging and rewarding outing and most riders were ready to sign up for more next year.
If you fancy a more conventional ride, there are still places available for this Sunday's Box Hill Original sportive, our final promotion of 2013. We've had a phenomenal response for this end-of-season classic, with 2,000 riders having already booked a place by press day. We're filling up fast, but don't panic, as entries will still be taken on the line. Venue is the famous Epsom Downs Racecourse.
There is a choice of three routes: the 103-mile epic, a 80-mile ‘standard' ride and for magazine
editors and the other less fit riders, a 44-mile circuit. All three rides feature the iconic slopes of Box Hill, the main climb in last summer's Olympic road race.
Registration is from 7am, with last riders starting at 9am. Book your place at Book My Ride. See you on Sunday.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly
- Posted by Michael Hutchinson
- comments (0)
Women's road cycling has spent the last few years in a deadly spiral - less money, fewer races, less media coverage, leading to less money, fewer races,
and so on.
The centrepiece of this, and the reason it's impossible to do anything about it, is the universal truth that no one wants to watch women's cycling, because it's slow and boring.
Other than the Olympics, of course. At the Olympics the women's road race was better than the men's, we can all agree on that. And the Olympic track programme's star was without doubt Laura Trott. But apart from the Olympics, and apart from the World Track Championships, and the Track World Cups, and (now I think of it) the Tour Series crits this summer, where Hannah Barnes has been a bigger draw than any of the men... apart from them, it's too dull to contemplate.
Emma Pooley, Marianne Vos and others decided, some time ago, to tackle this by trying to pressure race organisers into putting on more and better races. This is probably as good a crack to put your crowbar into as any, because the other links in the spiral of doom, money men and journalists, are almost impossible to shame into action. Their suggestion was a women's Tour de France running at the same time, over the same course, as the men's event.
This produced yelps of outrage from people who claimed that, never mind the principle of equality, the logistics made it utterly impossible. That's right, we can't have a women's Tour for the same reason you can't have your next-day parcel delivery until tomorrow week.
I've got the solution to that problem right here - run the Tour as men-only and women-only races in alternate years. Logistical challenge neatly reduced to annually changing over the signs on the start-area loos. I'll do that myself, if it helps.
The problem is not ‘logistics', and certainly not ‘boredom'. The problem is the will to actually change things. Cycling is, from top to bottom (but especially bottom), a very male-feeling activity. And most men rather like it that way. Cycling is, in all the respects that matter, the world's largest shed. There are things to tinker with, things that are not totally reliant on electronics.
Bikes are the last chance most of us have to have a manly-feeling fiddle, without the dire consequences that come from trying to improve your iPhone using a screwdriver and some garden wire, or ending up, as a friend did, with a loo that flushes with hot water.
Heinz of the time
It's an opportunity to exaggerate. Women are (I generalise) good at spotting male exaggeration. I can only assume it's millions of years of experience and disappointment.
Men are highly credulous, and the benefits to the ego are considerable. My next-door neighbour still thinks I'm Maurizio Fondriest, and on the same basis I accept that he once competed in World's Strongest Man, but has been missed off the relevant Wikipedia list. We both like this arrangement.
Cycling offers men the chance to dress amusingly - and that's all most men want from life.
After a working week constrained by convention, spending Sunday morning dressed in a jersey printed to resemble a giant Heinz ketchup bottle is a blessed relief.
There are things to secretively, guiltily spend unjustifiable sums of money on. Let's be honest, if a Pinarello Dogma isn't the equivalent of a £5,000 handbag I don't know what it is.
The Tour could include women, of course it could. It would be all the better for it. It's the shed that would never recover. Soberly dressed men and women would ride sensibly priced bikes that worked. It would be awful.
With both Fabian Cancellara and now Bradley Wiggins expressing interest in the Hour Record, surely it is time that the UCI in its wisdom repaired this once great event by rescinding the ‘drop handlebar' old-style rules that they introduced in response to the ‘Superman' position record of Chris Boardman. Instead they should let riders use a current track pursuit bike.
Alvin Jones, email
Alvin - the problem is that at the moment there are two hour records - the ‘athlete's' drop handlebar one and the ‘best performance' Superman one - and if we went with your suggestion we'd have three. The chaos and confusion would be even worse than it is at the moment. Bearing that in mind, will you promise me you won't suggest this plan directly to the UCI? Please?
Great inventions of cycling - 1870 The club
The early cycling clubs were posh - among the first were those of Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the somewhat eccentric Pickwick Bicycle Club, whose members to this day refer to each other by the names of characters from Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers.
The aims of clubs have remained the same. They are, in ascending order of importance, companionship, fresh air, stopping at cafes to eat buns, criticising the puncture repair technique of members on club runs, and telling anyone who buys anything from a new hat to a new bike that, "I could have got you that at trade price if you'd asked." Trade price deals are tense sensitive - they only exist in the conditional perfect.
The benefits of membership are numerous. Often there is a discount at a local bike shop. In one instance a club in Yorkshire managed to negotiate a rate of 2.5 per cent from a local shop, and counted it a triumph.
You can enjoy a free critique of your riding style, clothing choices, and nutritional preferences ("Eat buns, young man, and only buns, not this energy food rubbish"). While this can be irritating, bear in mind that it will only last as long as it takes the next new member to sign up.
As if all this was not enough, remember that a club run can go faster than you can on your own, so you'll be able to update your Strava records at fully half the effort. It's now quite acceptable to spend an entire club ride staring mutely at your GPS. It's what everyone else will be doing.
This article was first published in the September 5 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!
- 2 October 13:
- How it all went wrong for the Brits in Florence
- 25 September 13:
- Brilliant Tour of Britain is proof of bike revolution
- 16 September 13:
- Dr. Hutch: who ate all the pies...
- 15 September 13:
- Graeme Obree on speed record: 'At least I had a go'
- 14 September 13:
- Graeme Obree has sights set on British HPV speed record