Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Grand Departs

by Rod Ismay

For tough, cultural, Yorkshire cyclists, pulling a grand piano uphill is perfectly normal.

Especially in celebration of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Départ from Leeds just 72 days away.

Yoked together, 18 bikes towed the piano and  international concert pianist, Kathy Stott, up the 5 mile climb from Mytholmroyd up Cragg Vale, the longest continuous incline in England. This climb features in Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France. At nearby St Michael's Church, the bell ringers not only provided accompaniment but strikingly launched the Grand Departs on its way. A deliciously post modern post medieval fusion of church bells, piano and hip hop from the cars the result.

A headline event of the Yorkshire Festival, the first ever 100 day cultural celebration ahead of a Tour de France, "The Grand Departs" was an idea born in a pub, a ludicrously wonderful play on the "Grand Depart."

At the Robin Hood pub, the name "Bernard Hinault" appears atop the Cragg Vale climber's leader board, a hint the Badger visited just the day before.

Welcome to Yorkshire, as they say in Yorkshire!

Watch the Grand Departs on the BBC One Show here 

For more information about the Yorkshire Festival, click here.

Check out the bellringers' story in full at Bells and Bikes 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Contador, buzzing the tower

Let the Chute Doc heal your wounds with a light hearted look at the world of cycling. A play on the word "chute", French for fall or crash, used a lot in cycling, and also an anagram of Tour de Couch. (This section was formerly known as That's So Couch.)

You all saw that tweet of Michelle Cound's before she protected her account from the ferals?  I'd be amazed if you didn't, but if not it's on this post. But basically, after watching The Armstrong Lie over someone else's shoulder on a 10 hour flight somewhere, she became angry. Subconsciously, she knew Froome would never look as good as Bruyneel in chinos. Consciously, she was maddened by doping and the open bunny ears, scrutiny, close bunny ears, Froome received at last year's Tour. So she went a bit..ahem..postal wondering if let's say Contador does well at this year's Tour, Tinkoff Saxo will receive the same level of doping questions as Sky and Froome did last year.

Yeah...cycling's Lady Macbeth probably has a point. But it's kinda uncool. And after this:
...Porte giving up the Giro for the Tour, Wiggins' beard and cobbles, and Brailsford quitting his job at British Cycling, it looks like Sky are battening down the hatches.

Sure, she tried to back up the dump truck:

(via )

...but the trash was already out there. Hang on though. Did she actually watch The Armstrong Lie?  How can trash talking ever faze the guy who put up with what he did during the 2009 Tour de France, still attacked and then managed to put this look on Bruyneel's face:
Bruyneel's reaction here reminds me of the traffic control tower guy in Top Gun who shouts "Maverick" and spills his coffee all over himself:

I can just imagine this year's tour if Sky, used to controlling everything, get buzzed by Contador. "Ah, Pistolero," Brailsford will say, spilling his unicorn milk drink.

Whatever is going on, Contador doesn't seem fazed.

An interim disciplinary system  

Before the football card or an actual workable disciplinary system arrives, BMC's Manuel Quinzato is happy to dish out corporal punishment to alleged wrong doers:

Why women's cycling can't have nice things #2

Remember this?
 Now, there's this.

Other news 

These Yorkshire cyclists took "riding piano" literally:

...yep, those Yorkshire folk are really loving the Tour coming to town!  

Mark Cavendish enjoys some alone time to listen to the Frozen soundtrack 

Jurgen Roelandts passes a stone

Preparations for Paris Roubaix differ somewhat for Sep Vanmarcke and Fabian Cancellara

That's it, have fun on New Year's Eve - I mean Paris Roubaix - Christmas was last week after all (Flanders!)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On the Couch - stuff to read, and other...stuff - 10 April 2014

I haven't done one of these for a while but I was looking through my Twitter favourites - bookmarks for me, and just felt like it today.  Here's some stuff to read and watch for this bleh Thursday afternoon/evening. Well, it is here anyway.

Australian XCO Championships: Green & Gold 

Peta Mullens writes thrillingly here about her attempt to take back to back XCO National jerseys. What makes this story even more "wow" inducing is reading it knowing Peta was hitting the gutters on a roadie for Wiggle Honda in the Middle East only a month before, and a week later, was doing the same in the Netherlands. HARD. AS.
The gun fired. I clipped in fine for the tarmac start loop and moved myself up on-to second wheel behind Row, then nearly forgot to turn onto the fire trail! ‘Calm down Peta’.

Stromlo is calling - Skyline and Luge

Stromlo Forest Park put out this video profiling its Skyline and Luge trails. Looks awesome.

No Magic Wand

Bridie O'Donnell honestly shares her frustration and sadness as she watches the unambitious unconsciously waste their lives and thinks about the deaths of those who gave up everything to truly live. I want to write like Bridie when I grow up. 
"But their perspective is no less real, and certainly no less valid, I'm learning to be a better listener, hear their lives in context and quietly celebrate the extraordinary lives I'm privileged to witness." 

The Magic of the Ronde

The quote below from Gracie Elvin's write up of the Tour of Flanders for Cycling Tips says it all really. The Aussie National Jersey travelling over cobbles to cheers? Goosebumpy stuff. 
I rode solo up the Oude Kwaremont between the first and second group, and received the most amazing cheering. I looked up from the jagged biting road and took in as much of the atmosphere as I could enjoy through my pain. There were plenty of “Go Aussie!” cheers, and even a few yells of my own name. I couldn’t help but turn my grimace into a grin. I threw a bidon into the throng of revelers just to see their excited faces.

Boss of the Peloton: Ina Yoko Teutenberg 

I purchased a digital subbie from Peloton just so I could read Heidi Swift's story on Ina Yoko Teutenberg. (OK, so they eventually published it online, but hey, I'm not upset!) I love Heidi Swift's writing (another person I want to write like when I grow up) and she wrote an excellent piece about an excellent rider.  

Written for a uni assignment Chloe's piece  is equally well written and perhaps provides extra insight as she's a former teammate.
"Ina dismounts her bike, "hold this for me" she says to her teammate on her right and starts to push her way through the sea of bikes. If anyone can look tough in cleats and lycra it's Ina. 
Cyclocross 2013/14

Balint Hamvas is a fabulous cyclocross photographer. In this blog post, he tells the story behind self publishing books of his photography - a labour of love. It's an interesting read - AND, he's a past sponsor of #TDF133! You can order his books here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to watch the UCI highlights of the Women's World Cup

The last two races on the Women's World Cup calendar have been covered on the UCI You Tube Channel in the videos below.

This was the first effort with the Ronde van Drenthe

They obviously heard some of the complaints and added a bit more, which was good.

And the current summary from Trofeo Binda Cittiglio

So all in all, not bad, but not great. I'm not complaining. Really I'm not.

But I can't help think after reading a few pro's blogs that a lot of the exciting stuff (ok, the second effort van Drenthe excepted) is being missed and therefore, missing marketing opportunities.

I'm just saying, let's get the word out there to those who say women's racing isn't exciting who watch these highlights: read these pieces as companions:

Chloe Hosking's Inside Line: Ronde van Drenthe


Tiffany Cromwell's Inside Line: Trofeo Binda Cittiglio 

And of course Sarah Connolly's excellent round up of coverage here.

There's been some bloody great racing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

@digger_forum to join Team Sky

Prolific keeper of the online cycling forum and anti doping flame, @digger_forum will soon join Team Sky as staff, it was announced today.

David Millar's sibling, Sky's PR darling Fran, said "We are all about marginal gains and efficiency here at Team Sky. This way I don't have to engage with him all night on Twitter, I can just talk to him while he drives the bus, massages Wiggo, or gives Froome VO2 max testing."

"Plus, he highlighted some real problems for us that we now know embedding David Walsh did not address," Fran Millar added.

While Digger did not respond to our tweets, he said in a forum somewhere that he was thrilled to finally have the insider access he could only dream about. "I might even change my mind, especially if I get a chance to rifle through all their bins at the hotel."

More to come...or not..soon.