Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Unfortunately I'm going to have to postpone my maiden participation in this event since I have a 150km sportive to ride in the New Forest on Sunday 5th July. I've been talking with friends about riding the Dunwich Dynamo for the last couple of years and it's only down to my bad planning that I'll have to miss it this year. Oh well the sportive will be very cool too, I'm sure.
For me one of the things that appeals most about the Dunwich Dynamo is that it starts a few hundred metres from where I live. The road I live on runs straight onto London Fields. Another thing that appeals about this unsupported ride is that it is ridden through the night, creating a real sense of adventure for all who take part. To top it all off the ride ends on the beach with a swim in the sea to freshen up, fantastic!
Entry into the Dunwich Dynamo is absolutely free. In fact all you need to do is turn up to the start and off you go. The ride typically takes between 8 and 10 hours depending on ability with arrival in Dunwich somewhere after 6am.
The weather looks like it will continue to be hot and fairly dry this weekend so if your up for a night time cycling adventure visit southwarkcyclists.org.uk for further information.
To get a really good feel for the Dunwich Dynamo listen to Jack Thurston's 2008 experience of riding the Dynamo over at thebikeshow.net.
Wish I was going!
Sunday, 28 June 2009
All of the excellent photos above come from the superb blog, velodramatic.com. The photos were taken at the recent 49th Nevada City Classic which took place on Sunday 21st June. Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner (all Astana) took part in the race with Armstrong recording his first victory since his comeback.
Apart from the photos being such high quality what struck me most is how ripped Armstrong looks. I'd heard he has lost 2kg since racing the Giro and it certainly looks like it. I still doubt Armstrong will be able to take the overall victory in the upcoming Tour de France, especially if it's true that he will be working for Alberto Contador, but by the looks of him he has taken the same ultra professional approach to building up to La Grande Boucle as he ever did. Good luck to him.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
Johan Bruyneel, Astana's team manager yesterday confirmed that Alberto Contador will lead Astana at the Tour.
“After winning the Tour in 2007 and then becoming the fifth cyclist to win all three Grand Tours, it’s hard to find a better stage race rider than Alberto,” Bruyneel said in a video on Astana’s website (www.astana-cyclingteam.com) as the Kazakh funded team unveiled their Tour roster.
This means Contador will not only have Lance Armstrong working for him but also previous podium finishes Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden. Add to that veteran mountain climber and previous top 5 finisher Haimar Zubeldia and it really is hard to see Contador being beaten.
Maybe I won't put money on Carlos Sastre after all.
Friday, 26 June 2009
Below are the latest general classification odds for this years Tour de France. I found the list at a website called velotips.com. The one certainty on this list is that Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) won’t be starting the Tour so don’t go putting money on him.
Who do I think will win the Tour? Simple, Contador. Unless Contador crashes, gets ill, or his own team mates turn on him (very possible) I really can’t see anyone else finishing the race quicker than him. Of course there is a chance Contador won't win.
Of the other main contenders I think Lance Armstrong (Astana) is too old. Even though it is being reported Big Tex is looking super lean I think he'll do well to finish top 5. The bookies have been caught up in the Lance hype and, for my money, his odds are way too short.
As for Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) he certainly has the potential to finish in yellow but I think he’s another year or two away from winning. Having said that I think Schleck will win the Malliot Blanc for best young rider.
Cadel Evans (Silence Lotto), well he’s going to finish second of course.
Of the remaining main contenders we have Denis Menchov (Rabobank), Carlos Sastre (Cervelo Test Team) and Levi Leipheimer (Astana). I just can’t see Menchov achieving the double. Of course he has the talent to do it, he’s proved that by winning the Giro. I just don’t think he’ll have the stamina to do it.
Leipheimer will be the ultimate super domestic at this years Tour but he won’t win.
That leaves mountain goat, Sastre. Let us not forget that Sastre is the current Tour de France champion and a worthy one at that. He rode himself into some pretty decent form at the Giro this year finishing a credible fourth. With the entire Cervelo Test Team focused around their captain it is very possible we could see Sastre take the Malloit Jaune in Paris for the second year running. If I were going to put 10 quid on somebody to win the Tour I think it would have to be Sastre. With generous odds currently at 27/1 that could potentially make for a tidy pay day.
For a super dark horse bet I would stick a couple of quid on this years Paris-Nice winner Luis León Sánchez (Caisse d’Epargne). With Valverde out of the picture Sánchez could be this years surprise package.
Latest betting odds for the 2009 Tour de France Winner
General Classification Betting Odds @ 10:00 (20/06/09)
Contador at 2.1 (11/10) with bwin and PaddyPower
Armstrong at 8.00 (7/1) with Stan James
A. Schleck at 9.00 (8/1) with PaddyPower and Unibet
Evans at 13.00 (12/1) with Unibet
Menchov at 17.00 (16/1) with Ladbrokes and Sportingbet and PaddyPower
Sastre at 28.00 (27/1) with Unibet
Leipheimer at 40.00 (39/1) with Unibet
Kreuziger at 55.00 (54/1) with Expekt
F. Schleck at 67.00 (66/1) with Bet365
Rogers at 67.00 (66/1) with Bet365 and Sky Bet
Soler at 67.00 (66/1) with Stan James
Cunego at 101.00 (100/1) with Stan James
Gesink at 101.00 (100/1) with Stan James
L.L. Sanchez at 101.00 (100/1) with Bet365 and Stan James
Pellizotti at 101.00 (100/1) with Betfred
Kloden at 101.00 (100/1) with Betfred
Vandevelde at 101.00 (100/1) with Blue Square and Bet365 and Betfred
Kirchen at 151.00 (150/1) with Stan James
Devolder at 151.00 (150/1) with Bet365 and PaddyPower
Valverde at 151.00 (150/1) with Blue Square
Periero at 150.00 (100/1) with Expekt
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Friday, 19 June 2009
In reality ramping up the kilometres means I got back into Saturday training only last Saturday. It was the first opportunity I had since returning from my honeymoon. The organised ride is called the New Forest Road Challenge with a distance of 150km. I haven't seen the parcours, there doesn't seem to be any information on it on the website. However, knowing the area, a little, I doubt there will be too much elevation to worry about. In theory it should be a nice introduction to my sportive season.
So getting back to last Saturday I rode for 3 hours. Tomorrow I'll ride for 4 hours and next Saturday I'll ride for 5 hours. That will be my training, on top of a reasonable base fitness (I ride around 30km each working day plus run a few times per week), for the New Forest Road Challenge. I'll be hoping to finish in around 6 hours.
Although the weather forecast for London tomorrow predicts light showers I am looking forward to getting out on my bike. My day won't start too early. I'll probably wake up at 8am with the aim of getting out of the front door at 9am at the latest. Breakfast will be a decent size portion of porridge made with jumbo oats and a squirt of honey. I'll also take a fresh black coffee (strong) and a few glasses of water. In addition I'll knock back the usual fish oil tablet. I tend not to over do it on the coffee for fear of awakening its diuretic properties.
I consider a 4 hour ride a longish ride so on board nutrition will be important. In terms of drinks I'll take 2 bottles, 1 with just water (or with a hydration tablet if it's very warm) and 1 bottle with carbohydrate energy drink. I'll have to refill whilst out and will probably get through 2 to 3 litres of fluid during my 4 hour ride. In terms of food I'll take a couple of gels and a bar.
Tomorrows ride will take me to Richmond Park right across London from East to West. At 3 times the size of New York's Central Park it's certainly worth the trek across London's busy streets. Although the road that circles Richmond Park is open to cars it's predominately used by cyclists either trying to put in the kilometres or simply enjoying the natural beauty the park has to offer. I'll ride around the park for a couple of hours until it's time for me to head home again. The ride to and from Richmond Park to where I live in Hackney takes the best part of 1 hour each way. If I'm feeling particularly jaded after a hard session I'll stop off for an espresso at the Park's cafe before heading home.
Roll on Saturday morning!
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
It was a good day in the office for Mark Cavendish (Columbia-High Road) yesterday as he sprinted to win stage 3 of the Tour de Suisse. The 198km stage from Davos saw the peloton ride over Lukmanierpass (1940m) at 70.6 remaining kilometres to go.
"It was another perfect win for us and having four riders there to help me in the last three kilometres showed how good and strong we are as a team," Cavendish said.
"It was a great lead-out and all the guys worked perfectly. Thor Hushovd tried to get a jump on me but I was able to get him before the line."
A year ago Cavendish probably wouldn't have been able to tackle such a high mountain pass and still have the legs to battle for the sprint finish at the end of the stage. This win goes along way to substantiating the belief that Cavendish has to be considered as a contender, if not one of the favourites, for the Green jersey at the Tour de France, although Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) will be tough to beat over the 3 weeks.
Monday, 15 June 2009
It was during the 1967 edition of the Tour on stage 13 to Carpentras (which passed over Mont Ventoux) on 13th July that tragedy struck the world of cycling. 3km from the summit Britain's Tom Simpson collapsed and was pronounced dead soon after arriving at hospital in Avignon. The verdict was that he died of a heart attack. An autopsy confirmed finding traces of amphetamine and alcohol in his body.
Much has been written about what happened in the 45c heat of the upper slopes of the Ventoux that day and I'm not going to go over it here. What I will say is that Simpson, a Nottingham lad like myself (that's where the similarities end), was a pioneer, a winner and a champion. Simpson, who rode for Peugeot for his entire professional career, certainly immersed himself in the European continental life style becoming fluent in Flemish and French. He was regarded as an honorary Flandrian, settling in Belgium and winning the 1961 Ronde van Vlaanderen. Other great wins included Bordeaux-Paris, Milan-Sanremo, World Road Race Championship, Giro di Lombardia, Paris-Nice and Two stages of Vuelta a España. Not bad eh?
Using inspiration from this years stage finish on Mont Ventoux, Urban Hunter and Gage & Desoto have teamed up to produce the above Tom Simpson t-shirt. For me it commemorates Simpson's great achievements as well as the remembering his death at the young age of 29.
I've cycled to and paid my respects at the memorial that was placed at the spot where Simpson's last words to Harry Hall were On, on on. It's a desolate and magnificent place. I will again remember Mr Tom on Saturday 25th July. As the grimpeurs lead the charge up the Ventoux I'll be wearing my Tom Simpson t-shirt.
The Tom Simpson t-shirt costs £21.95 plus worldwide shipping and can be purchased from Urbanhunter.biz.
Friday, 12 June 2009
Whilst away on my honeymoon one of the books I read was Ultra Marathon Man - Confessions Of An All-Night Runner by Dean Karnazes. For those who have never heard of Karnazes, he's one amazing athlete who specialises in running ultra marathon distances that sometimes defy belief. Having read this book there is no way I could consider the kilometres I run or cycle to be pushing my body hard. Over training, not a chance!
The book details Karnazes life from his first memories of running home from school everyday, because he didn't want to burden his mother (school kids take note), through to taking part in some of the worlds craziest and toughest ultra marathons such as the Western States Endurance Run and Badwater.
Karnazes' formative years as a runner bought him into contact with three very different coaches. Each coach made statements to Karnazes that would stay with him for the rest of his life; It's supposed to hurt like hell and Don't run with your legs. Run with your heart. It was the third of the coaches who mocked Karnazes for saying he ran with his heart. This lead to Karnazes completely dropping out of the running scene for fifteen years.
It wasn't until after the death of Karnazes' sister and later whilst celebrating his 30th birthday that he started running again. He was disillusioned with what many would consider a successful life, beautiful wife, good job, nice car. All these things weren't enough with the death of his sister leaving a big whole in his life. He started to use running to not only help bring fulfillment into his life but also to bring the family together and make it stronger.
The rest as they say is history. Karnazes goes on to describe multiple jaw dropping feats of running endurance one would think not possible for the human body to cope with. It is this part of the book that I found truly inspiring. I mean if Karnazes can go out and run for four hours every morning before work what the hell have I got to moan about trying to keep up with my one hour run a few times per week. I read this book and it makes me want to run more in the same way I read Lance Armstrong's first book many years ago which made me want to get on my bike and ride, more!
I stumbled across this book pretty late, it was first published back in 2006. I'm sure Karnazes has embarked on many more amazing feats of running endurance since then although this book is certainly a good starting point in understanding such a unique and inspiring man.
Marathon Man - Confessions Of An All-Night Runner is published by Penguin Books.
To find out more about Dean Karnazes visit http://www.ultramarathonman.com/.
Monday, 8 June 2009
I write this post, my first since getting married, as we ascend into the clouds, 9,000 metres and climbing, over the Andaman Sea, then on to the Bay of Bengal, India, the Middle East and finally home to Europe and London.
Betty and I are returning from a fantastic honeymoon trip to Malaysia having spent the majority of our time on the beautiful tropical island of Tioman.
The island is undoubtedly the most naturally beautiful place I've ever had the privilege to visit. With warm clear sea and mountainous jungle the small island of Tioman boasts a wealth of wildlife I have only previously experienced by watching David Attenborough programmes on television.
During our 9 days on the island I neither had access to my mobile phone network or to the internet. In fact it was only yesterday (as I write this Saturday 6th June) I found out Denis Menchov (Rabobank) won this years Giro d'Italia.
I couldn't completely cut myself off from the subject of cycling though. Whilst sat on my veranda, looking out on to the pier with the sound and smell of the sea washing over me and cicadas playing their harmonies from the jungle behind, I read a most fascinating and touching book......
(see post below or click here)
Louision was the first to win 3 Tour de France in succession for those unaware of his achievements. It was a feat that should be thought all the more special when one considers the competition of the time; Ferdi Kübler, Hugo Koblet, Fausto Coppi and Charly Gaul. But forgive me for I digression.
Tomorrow, We Ride is an account of the lives of the Bobet brothers, from growing up in rural Brittany through to Jean accompanying brother Louison to glory in the worlds biggest races.
Stories of Louison's victories are interwoven with Jean's early struggle between life as a promising amateur cyclist and life as a talented academic. As time passes Louison confirms himself a France's number one champion while Jean's struggle continues when his career as a professional cyclist is interrupted by military service.
As well as providing the reader with an insight into the world of cycling, in what Jean considers a golden era (who could argue?), Jean also ventures into describing the subtleties and joys of cycling particularly in the chapter entitled La volupté.
Most of all the book provides a fascinating insight into the relationship and lives of possibly cycling's most successful brothers.
It's clear from the outset of the book that Jean followed success on the bike with success as a journalist and writer. His prose easy, graceful and touching, especially when he talks of brother Louison's decline.
My only criticism, and it may be considered harsh by some, is that I would have liked more detail in parts. I feel some chapters skip over stories and thoughts that many of us will find very interesting but that Jean may have considered more trivial. Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed Tomorrow, We Ride and would recommend you read it too.
'Shoulder to shoulder, keeping pace exactly because we had automatically selected the same gear, we climbed the slope at a speed that amplified the darkness. Images and sounds receded, apart from the lights of a few isolated houses and the barks of a few dogs, surprised by the passing of this yoked pair. United, side by side, we were at one with the rhythm of the perpetual motion we had engaged. It was magical. But the headlamps of an enraged car woke us with a start. It was over. The magic had evaporated, but it still comes back to me now, 50 years later. I remember: we were not touching the ground; we were flying' - Jean Bobet
Tomorrow, We Ride is published by Mousehold Press.