Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter riding and winter training

My groover-half keeps telling me that I don't really know what I am signing up for when I plan to ride a bike in Europe, in March. She is not talking about cobbles or steep roads, she is talking about winter riding.

The memories of filling one of my drink bottles with hot tea and honey for the early rides to Park Road, during Brisbane's winter period, reveals the kind of measure I took for riding my bike when the temperature dropped. That, and wearing full-finger gloves and a binny, kept me warm for the first thirty minutes, after that dawn would come and the bunch would speed up, making things warmer rapidly.

She is right, going from an Australian summer to a still occurring winter in Central Europe is going to be a refreshing experience. Even a shock to the system, some might add. But comes March, and as long as it is not too wet, I will be taking equivalent measures, and adding another layer or two, to be on the road.

And as far as winter training goes, I might just leave that for the pros...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Congratulations Green Edge Cycling

Without a doubt, this is a great start for Green Edge, the new pro-cycling team. It is also a great overall win for Simon Gerrans, undoubtedly one of the best road cyclists in Australia.

Unfortunately, they didn't succeed in getting a stage win. They were as close as half a wheel on the 5th stage, only to have one of the best race-finishers in the world, Alexandro Valverde, gate-crashing the party.

Many others deserve a mention but I will keep it short today by only noting three more riders. Rohan Dennis for a top 5 finish (overall) and a few prizes, young Queenslander Jay McCarthy for his top 10 in the KOM and Young Rider competitions and, once again, Andre Greipel for his nearly obliterating sprint finishes.

Looking forward to tracking the peloton this year.

More results here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

If there is a Will... there is a possibility

Where am I going with this? As per my usual loose dissertation on these pages, I am not very sure. What I know, and some might disagree, it's my patriotic duty to write something on the premier Australian cycling event, the Tour Down Under.

I am not going to write any race reports because I am not there this year and there are many of those out. Some in blog-format and some in a journalistcly structured form. Most, by people who are possibly (and should be) enjoying a drop of a Barossa Chardonnay or a schooner of Coopers Ale right now. I will mention two names though, Andre Greipel and Will Clarke.

The German sprinter is dominating the flat finishes. Too strong for any other fast man at this time of the year, he won last Sunday's Classic in Adelaide and two stages of the Tour. What else to say, his powerful finishes and a bit more can be viewed on YouTube.com.

Only one man, in my view and so far, had the determination and spirit (plus a bit of luck) to have a go at spoiling Greipel's attempt of a hat-trick. Will Clarke was it. The twenty-six years old Tasmanian got away with a group in the first two kilometers of stage two, left everyone behind and rode alone for a gruelling stage win in Stirling. AWESOME! Stage highlights here.

Back here, in ordinary men and women's land, and as I have mentioned before, there are some preparations going on. OK, it is going on like Days of our Lives, slowly. But I can't help that, there are lots to do. The simple fact of getting equipment sorted for the Paris-Roubaix Challenge, in April, is a slow process and a contest in itself.

First, I tryed to find out what the best wheels for the cobbles were. After a lot of research and numerous pages in a local cycling forum, I decided Ambrosio Nemesys with Vittoria 25mm tubular tyres were the best choice. Easy to get and relatively inexpensive, I found. One problem: I can't justify buying a pair of wheels for one (or two races) when I need to have something else to ride when the roads turn skyward. And they will!

Next, there is the question of what bike to take for the Challenge. Another drama, like Sons and Daughters this time. Something strong but not too harsh is needed. Again, it calls for something inexpensive because it is unlikely I will be using it for the roads I mentioned before. Yes, those going up for several kilometers, averaging 7% (with 20% ramps).

Did I hear "Give the man a sponsorship!"?

Because that might not happen (and I am working on it), I decided to buy one non-cobble-new-bike (surprise!) equipped with a Campag group, something I have been considering for a while now. And (with a big perhaps here) look into buying an used cyclocross bike to ride on the cobbles. Good idea? I am sure a bike of this kind will be also useful for the rest of the trip.

The rest of the trip?

Now that the cat's out of the sack on Competitive Cycling and out on the blogosphere, I can tell we are off to Europe for a whole seven months and that Tracking the Peloton is coming alive. Can you believe that?

It will be seven months of touring around Europe, riding our bikes everywhere and up every climb we can think of and of course, making it the best enriching experience when can possibly have. Let's not forget the Peloton because we are planning to watch a few of the Northern Classics and stages of the 3 Grand Tours.

This trip can be called the ultimate cycling holiday but, perhaps, it will be more than that because the possibilities will be endless.

Safe riding!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Two teams, two presentations... a world apart

I have to say I am a bit of a sucker when it comes to good video productions, of any kind. But throw in a few guys or girls on bikes, a bit of technology, an exciting environment and a good sound track, I will watch it many times.

They don't make me go out and buy the bike they are riding or drown myself with the sports drink they are drinking but I do get inspiration from the dynamism, the visual effects and the creative effort put into the production for my own marginal cycling aspirations.

When I watched the newly formed Project 1t4i team presentation video, I immediately bookmarked it and thought of placing it here. To me, it is a great production made with the use of superior, accessible technology and style. In fact, I would love to watch it on a bigger screen...

Next, because I live in Australia (yes, a world apart) and I am an Australian cyclist, I felt it would be a nice thing to do, to look at the new Australian Pro Team - Green Edge Cycling - team launch video and observe how they presented their band to the world.

And a band it was!

Not really, it was more like a laughable let's-kick-arse-choir-version of I Won't Back Down (and who the f**k is Jason Aldean?), where the real musicians in the studio looked like they were about to die of boredom.

Ok, it is an inexpensive production as money is hard to find theses days. Unfortunately, that's not an excuse for the use of the basic feature of a video making program for 1/4 of the running time. It can be considered bad taste.

Throwing in the obviously-rehearsed colloquial You Beauty! line somewhere in the middle didn't really help and to finish it off with one of the stars of Australian professional cycling walking by, looking terribly silly and failing epically in his impression of larrikinism. Oh man, that is a bad video.

But guys and girls, the results will speak for themselves (with radios or no radios), so good luck for the 2012 season and don't think the world is trying to drag you down, just put another video together for your team preso.

Looking forward to see you in Paris!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's happening?

Someone asked me another day how the training for the P-R Challenge was going. I answered that it was not going.

Excusably maybe but with a bit of time up my sleeve, I chose not to start anything too serious, training wise, because I believe I need to sort out a couple of niggling bits in my body first (again!). The last thing I want is to hit the cobbles with a body that isn't at least 90% right, if you know what I mean.

Conveniently, that was also the opinion of the renowned physiotherapist I have been visiting lately. Unfortunately for me, his painful magic isn't working quickly enough (he said it wouldn't) and my, perhaps accountable, line of work isn't helping either.

Having said that, I felt good on the bike during the two (not so easy at times) long rides I've done this year. Does that say I should quit my job and just ride my bike and attempt to write about it for that will get my body fixed and ready for the challenge I have signed up for?

Not that fast. I am having some medical investigations done at the moment, hoping that something can be found, as unwise as it sounds, and precisely dealt with. Or ignored completely so I can go on with it.

It's time to look for those moments, riding moments!

Have a good ride.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One nice clean bottle

The nice email from Scott (no sponsorship with GreenEdge if that's what pops to mind) came a while ago. I say nice email because he described the way he found my blog as "noodling through some cycling sites my Australian buddy showed me".

And I always like to know that someone, somewhere on this planet has found my blog, even through some "noodling"...

Scott works for Clean Bottle, in California. He decided to get in touch because they were starting to send their product to Australia and he wouldn't mind me trying what he described as the cleanest cycling water bottle on the market. He didn't want me to write a review on it and didn't ask me to put any free advertising on the blog, he just asked if I wanted to try one.

I got the bottle just before the end of the year but to be honest I didn't take it with me on the bike because I was doing some long rides around that time, rides that required the use of two bottles not one. I have to confess that I do not take different drink bottles on my rides. I just don't!

It would be, for those who wear team kits, like wearing a Lampre pair of nicks and a Rabobank jersey on the same ride... Don't do it!

But I did use it eventually and found the bottle to be really well designed, easy to handle and to drink from. The main feature which is the possibility of removing the screw-on-bottom to clean it is simple, very innovative and very useful after a ride.

Innovative was also the way Clean Bottle founder, David Meyer decided to introduce his product to the world. Watch one of his videos...

Anyway, I decided to write this short post and do a little more than just trying the bottle for a couple of reasons. First, I find the bottle to be a clever, well designed and well made product. And secondly, I like the culture of the company and the creativity behind the whole process of making it, marketing it and selling it.

Good work guys, this is one nice bottle.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome back, Matt Lloyd

"After a small meal, it was time to head back. This time, I wanted to stick to my low HR Zones even if that meant getting dropped by every bunch. That's what actually happened until I got picked up by a small group travelling on a smooth and constant 30 km/h.

And smooth it was, perhaps the smoothiest bunch I have ever riden with. A quick look and I noticed a green and gold band on one of the rider's jersey. Another look and I noticed the OMEGA PHARMA LOTTO kit and the race number on the Cannyon (#34).

The guy next to me said: "Yeah, some of us went to school with Matt and came here to support him on the race..."

Good on you, guys and yes, I did ride with a pro cyclist in Adelaide. And... I loved it!"
- Riding with a Pro, Jan 2010

I am happy to see Matt Lloyd back on a bike and getting the silver medal in the Australia Championships.

A Day to Remember - Cyclingnews.com

Great ride at Buninyong, mate. Good luck for 2012!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mosquera spins out this time. Next?

That should teach me not to comment on impressive performances, like I did here when Mosquera won on the brutal Bola del Mundo(Vuelta 2010).

He has now lost his job without getting even one ride for his 2011/12 team (CyclingNews.com). Who's next?

Nevertheless, as we start planning the course for the Tracking the Peloton project, we might as well make a note of this climb, just in case we end up near Madrid and decide to try a 34/27 combo.

Here is an amateur video of the Vuelta stage showing how hard it really is to get up this climb at the end of three weeks of racing. Even with the support of an enthusiastic spanish crowd...

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012, have fun!

This is going to be short, from my part.

I did start the year with my short commute. Yeah!! But it was just another nice commute to work, nothing to blog about. The ride home was better. Sandra came to pick me up and we rode and chatted for most of the way home, taking advantage of a generous tail-wind.

But I want to put something fetching here. Something we can watch and say:

Cycling is fun!

This video shows professional cyclist Michael Barry (Le Metier) doing just that. Enjoy it and make sure you have fun in 2012!


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