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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Good reasons for going to Heaven

I have previously featured Cycle heaven in my blogposts because of the family connection with my brother Andy, it seemed an obvious subject matter at the time but I probably did not do it justice. Cycle retail is a competitive market and to succeed its not enough to be 'good' you need to be 'very good'. With the increased popularity of online shopping time spent 'discount hunting' online is almost as prevalent as that spent using social network sites. I am no stranger to this process and often spend hours on wiggle, evanscycles or chain reaction cycles websites looking for that 'great deal'. That 'great deal' is only possible because of it can be provided without the additional expenditure of a shopfront and everything that comes with it. I only purchase clothing or other items that might squeeze through the letter box. Items that can be pushed through the letterbox where the scope for surprise or disappointment is limited. When it comes to actual bikes or other capital items, I need to engage more senses than a visual interpretation of what I can see and read on my computer monitor. I don't only want to see my bike on display, but want to know that the one I actually get assembled is going to be put together properly. By somebody who is not wearing an orange overall and is looking forward to their next tea break. Somebody who can build a wheel rather than lift one down from a ceiling rack. Somebody who cycles home rather than gets in his/her hot hatchback. Above : Anne Clarke ..............attention to detail is key That is why I am on my fourth bike from Cycle Heaven. Cycle Heaven has been in business since 1993. It is the largest independent cycle retailer in York and one of the largest in the UK. The driving force behind Cycle Heaven are the owners Andy Shrimpton and Piers Maffett, whose commitment to the ideals of urban community life are reflected in the products they sell and the values of their business. The store offers a large array of different styles of cycle and is most famous for the kinds of bike that make possible a civilised and comfortable car free urban existence - namely classic and contemporary town bikes and folding bikes. As this ethic can also embrace jaunty but nonchalant rides out into the country, this is also the place to go for longer distance cycles such as hybrids and touring bikes. They also offer a lot of family options - child seats, trailers, child trailer bikes and the like. Make no mistake, at Cycle Heaven they 'cycle to live' (and not the other way around!). 'My Ridgeback Horizon has enabled me to cycle 30 miles a day commuting to work and back all through the winter saving about £160 in fuel per the maths' Cycle heaven have also recognised the new attraction of sportive events for which they offer Scott and Cannondale makes. At the heart of the shop is their busy 'open' workshop, which can seem frenetic, come summer, but with their long opening hours and four full time technicians they can usually accommodate your repair, with a smile. This year there are plans to open up another shop at a rather interesting and innovative location. I am certain that this will be a massive hit. Not wanting to ignore the attractions of what the WWW can offer they have a great website and now offer a full range of their own branded T Shirts which can be purchased on line.
Remember all good cycles go to Cycle heaven.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cycling Upgrade

A major revamp of cycling could put the sport on a par with the Premier League, says Garmin-Cervelo's director.

Jonathan Vaughters, who is president of the Association of Pro Tour and Pro Continental teams, has given BBC Sport a 10-point plan to rebrand cycling.

"If you look at cycling's demographic it should be infinitely more successful than it is," said Garmin's Vaughters.

"It should be on the level of Premier Football. The Tour de France is maybe the world's greatest sporting event."

Doping has cast a giant shadow over cycling and the UCI - the sport's governing body - has until 24 March to appeal against the overturning of Alberto Contador's one-year doping ban by the Spanish federation.

While admitting that doping is cycling's "Achilles heel", former professional rider Vaughters mounted a rigorous and passionate defence of a sport he calls "human F1 car racing" and the "exploration of the ultimate in human performance".

"Cycling has introduced the most strict enforcement of anti-doping regulations of any sport, so you will always see more people caught," said the Garmin-Cervelo chief.

"Cycling is absolutely transparent. What do you prefer - struggling with scandals but with a fair competition, or do you want to bury the scandal and the competition is unfair?"

As a way of boosting the anti-doping fight, Vaughters called for teams to be given long-term entry to the Tour de France in return for a significant donation to combat doping.

Garmin's Vaughters is also the ACIGP president
At present teams are given entry on an annual basis, but Vaughters believes a deal of five, 10 or 15 years could help provide cycling with financial stability and also beat the drugs cheats.

"Guaranteed participation could help teams generate more sponsorship," said Vaughters. "In return teams would be obliged to donate 20% of new money to combat doping."

The Garmin-Cervelo director argues such a proposal could generate a donation of up to 50m euros for anti-doping initiatives over a five-year period.

Vaughters put the proposal to the UCI soon after his election as president of the Association of Pro Tour and Pro Continental teams (AIGCP) in 2009, but never heard back from the sport's governing body.

"The UCI's willingness to hear and give credence to ideas put forward is fairly limited," added Vaughters, who is unhappy that he has so little say in the running of the sport, despite representing 28 teams and over 3,000 employees.

"My ability to vote on any regulation is essentially nil. The AIGCP is cycling's biggest stakeholder, but has no power to veto new regulations. That is ineffective governance."

The AIGCP is already in dispute with the UCI over its ban on radio communication in races and has threatened to boycott the Tour of Beijing in October if the sport's governing body does not withdraw its veto by 1 May.

"This a team sport that is conducted at 80/kmh," added Vaughters. "If we are going to have a modern sport there has to be communication and just as importantly that rule was introduced without speaking to anyone in the field.

"The regulations are limiting creativity, intelligence and engineering. There is so much more that could be done to improve cycling, but we're being held back by decision making."

Vaughters' 10-point plan to reinvigorate cycling:

1. More races of the highest level outside of Europe.

2. Consistent, understandable formats for cycling fans.

3. Long-term guaranteed entry to the Tour de France for professional teams.

4. More focus on prevention of doping, in the first place, as opposed to catching cheats.

5. More team-time trials more often.

6. Technical innovation, such as cameras on bikes, inside cars, helmets, inside team buses to make the "craziness and danger of the peloton more real to the viewer".

7. Equipment innovation to see if the the smartest team wins sometimes, rather than the strongest.

8. Open radios to the public and listen to your favourite team and what they are doing.

9. GPS tracking of individual riders to make races fun to watch.

10. Have an understandable and consistent way of determining the best rider in the world and the best team in the world. That might mean riders have to ride Paris-Roubaix, and if they do not finish they would be docked points.

Article by John Sinnott on BBC Website

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This Charming Man

A punctured bicycle
On a hillside desolate
Will nature make a man of me yet ?

When Morrisey wrote the iconic song 'This Charming Man' I am quite certain that 'cycling' was the last thing on his mind or was it?

Music can mean so many different things for, so many people. Who am I to question whether or not the erudite 'Smiths' front man may have actually known the difference between his deraillers and his front bracket.
I do believe that the opening to the song is pure genius and it can work in a number of different ways.

Does the punctured bicycle refer to an actual tyre 'puncture'?
Or could it be that the gradient of the desolate hillside has punctured the riders ambitions?

'Will nature make a man of me yet'
Surely this must mean that being 'at one' with nature allows you discover yourself - to become a man.
Or if you climb lots of hills, your fear of the more arduous aspects of cycling will lessen - you will become a better rider.
Not wishing do be sexist will 'Man up'.

Anyway Mr Morrisey as well as banging out a half decent tune you have also got my brain working. Is that not the aim of art????
Enough literary stuff...........

This weekend saw my 15th consecutive day cycling.

Rather than look for an excuse to lie in or get a rest, Bob and I searched for some desolate hillsides of our own in the form of Dalby Forrest and the North Yorkshire Moors..................before finally heading to Scarborough.
It was a tough arduous ride but with the constantly changing scenery it felt like we travelled across a whole country.
Enjoy the pictures....Happy cycling

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wrong Legs

When I prepare for my longer weekend ride I am far more methodical about my approach. There is no longer the need to simultaneously drink coffee, empty my bladder and brush my teeth - My pedal deity actually affords me some preparation time.

Whats more the time is now in daylight.

This enables me to have a fair chance of actually seeing what I am doing and also wearing.

It ensures that I am not later mistaken for a two wheeled advert for Josephs and his technicolour dream coat.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to choose items other than clothing to accompany my ride.....Like a slim Torso, a thick mane of hair to protrude out of the side of my helmet, but most of all to have some 'bike legs'. I usually find my own about June time but it would be nice to borrow somebody Else's in the meantime.

For the flat I would have those belonging to Fabian Cancellara, for the climbs Marco Pantani, and for the mixed Terrain Miguel Indurain

Saturday saw my 8th consecutive day of cycling and 78 miles deep into the Yorkshire Wolds to the tiny village of Thixendale. Most local cyclists shudder at the name as it is usually features in all of the local sportives providing challenging descents followed by gruesome climbs by four different routes out of the village.

On this particular morning my legs were definitely not my own.

I strongly suspect that they had been provided from Shaun of the dead or donated from Douglas Badder they quite stubbornly decided that they did not want to obey my request for high tempo spinning, electing instead for a more sedate rotation.Seemingly this obstinate stance was contagious with the elements catching on.

We set off heading North - Gentle Northerly Breeze.....OK

Then North East - Brisker North Easterly Breeze ............mmmmmmmmmm

Then East - Brisk and cold Easterly.......Not Funny

We then headed back towards Beverley due South.

The wind playfully turned to a near gale and moved over to the South West.

NOT AMUSED !!!!!!!!

Still there was sunshine and good company, with the exception of my legs.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Music to my Ears

Before February had turned into March and the snow had disappeared from the Wold tops I managed to break through 1000 miles for the year.

By the same time last year I had only done 368 miles, so I am well ahead of schedule for my goal of breaking 6,000 for the year.
In fact 7,000 may come into my sights very soon or even 8,000 (Steady Philip).

Although most of the cycling has been on my own I am always accompanied by my I Pod Shuffle.
Which is almost as helpfull as having Lance Armstrong riding beside me...although he may tell me off.
I know that the use of headphones raises emotions in a similar way to the 'helmet' debate, but I do believe that you can use them responsibly. I certainly try too.

If I am in a rural area I have both plugs in with the sound turned way up
In the commuter urban traffic I have no music at all.

The rest of the time I cycle with one plug in only or with both having music turned down.

I really do notice the difference in my riding styles with and without music.

With the right sort of music I am able to sustain a high tempo with perfect rhythm and little concentration.

To attain the same level without music requires much more concentration and my cadence is too variable, being affected by the wind or gradient.

My 'Shuffle' is clipped onto the shoulder strap of my 'bibs' so its covered from the elements.

Being less than 2 inches long and the same weight as £1 coin it is far removed from the original portable Music device - The Sony Walkman.

I owned several over the years and would wear them for running. If you got any faster than a mild trot you ran the risk of disengagement and the humiliation of having your priced asset broken and scattered all over your adjacent highway.

With long distance runs I would often come home with a sore hip from constant banging

If neither of the above affected you you always ran the risk of having to perform some improvised skipping as the Head phones tried to match make with your ankles.

My musical taste is wide ranging and for a long ride I have a complete assortment of Tunes from Wagner to Taylor Swift.

When I'm training though it has to be something with a fast tempo beat.

Having been brought up in the Disco age, i missed out on the Dance Rage and always believed that 'E' was actually a useful letter to have whilst playing scrabble.

Although I'm not about to strut my stuff on the dance floor I have certainly adopted some Dance tunes to keep my legs spinning.

Here are a few that are on my current play list.

Tiesto - 'Hes a Pirate'

Happy Mondays - 'Hallelujah'

Black eyed Peas - 'Ive got a feeling', 'The Time (Dirty Bit)', 'Imma Be'

Fat Boy Slim - 'Acid 2000'

New Order - 'Blue Monday'

Supermode - 'Tell me why'

David Pearce - 'Sandstorm'

Nelly Furtado - 'Promiscuous' (Axwell reMix)

Eric Prydz - 'Pjanno'

Last year when I was doing the Natchez Trace I would often hit the front at speed.My fellow Mules would just shake their heads and mutter 'Those Dammed Black eyed Peas!!!!'

Please let me know if you have any tunes to share.

The weekend weather looks promising so my Camera battery is on charge and I'm ready to do some dancing on my pedals.