Posts Tagged ‘cycle’

Spinwell for Le Coq Sportif. Notes from the strada bianchi.

October 4, 2011

Aaaaargh! The Muscles on the back on my right leg begin to seize and I pull over to massage (punch) the pain out but it’s not working. I say to myself “dude, you have only ridden 40km, sort yourself out” as men twice my age crawl past me up this long and windy gravel road. It’s midday on Race day at L’eroica and I’m suffering, my training for this event has consisted of a daily 5km commute and that’s it. Like a fool I believed that since I had taken part in the event previously, this year would be a ‘breeze’. Ha! A Breeze.

It wasn’t a breeze at all, this race is a toughie. I’ve ridden up some hard climbs in my time but they were on modern bikes, with modern components and adequate gearing, on butter smooth tarmac. There’s none of that round here, let me tell you. You’re on a pre 84 bike, mate. That’s usually with 10 gears, with a frame made of Steel, toe clips and straps for your feet and tubular tyres. Now, I love all of that stuff as you probably know but out there all I wanted to do was cry into my handlebars after my hands and wrists had been shattered to pieces by the famed white gravel roads.

Earlier that morning I had felt good and strong, I had my English Le Coq Sportif jersey on and like all of my fellow team mates I felt proud but right now I’m just about cooked.

Unlike last year it’s hot as hell, my body feels like it’s been in a microwave and I need water. My bike (an early 70s Cornale) feels like it’s made of lead pipe and I’m going nowhere fast. I’ve eaten well all day at the L’Eroica food stops, Tuscan bean soup, bananas, apricots, bread and jam, the lot but I’ve nothing left, I’m on empty.

I get back on the bike and press on before anyone else passes me and demoralizes me further. There’s 30km to go and I think to myself “there can’t be much more climbing after this hill, surely”. Mike Routledge of the UK team said later on that day that “ he felt like he’d been climbing so much, he should soon be at the moon” He was right.

I’m faced with a wall of white gravel and in my head I can hear the mother out of the Belleville rendezvous film whistling my pedal strokes like a metronome. One-two-three-four… one-two-three-four. I reach into the back of my soaked LCS merino jersey and pull out some sweets that I had stashed from an earlier food stop and jam them into my mouth, right now I need the sugar. I could need these later on but to be honest, I very much doubt that there’ll be a climb as steep and as loose under tyres as this one.

I wonder where the French team are? My English team partner, Patrick and I had been riding with them earlier but we managed to drop them somewhere after food stop number one but I’m sure, given my performance today they will be along soon. I expect them any moment, all of them in the Blue, Blanc, Rouge of the Le Coq Sportif France country jersey, swallowing me up like a massive wave over a fallen surfer.

I want some Coca Cola, the elixir of life, but it’s Sunday and I’m in the wilderness. It’s not going to happen and I accept it.

Suddenly I see Patrick on the side of the road, he’s stopped for me, and we continue up and over the crest and into the descent. I always feel like I’m in a computer game during descents and this is no exception. Some hate dropping down off of hills, I for one love it. I’m an ex downhiller, I should.

With this decent and all of it’s fun comes a fresh perspective. My legs feel a little better and I no longer concentrate on the pain, instead I focus on my surroundings, Tuscany, its utterly beautiful here. Picture postcard country. So the sun is cooking my body, so what, would I rather it raining and blowing a gale? I think not. So the terrain is demanding, so what, would I rather be cycling in Worcestershire? Nope.

At the end of the day I finished the race with no scrapes or techinicals, I also finished ahead the ever-strong French team. I have no idea on how long the 75km took me, I didn’t care. I had finished and I had a cold beer in my hand. I had that elation coursing through me and I was beaming from ear to ear. Sure, I couldn’t quite get my legs to work but I had nowhere to go anyway so it didn’t matter.

- – - -

Now, that was just a taster of what’s to come, I’v plenty more to post from my weekend’s activities in Chianti, so expect more words and lots of pictures!

Special thanks go out to:
Mike Routledge and Marc Chamberlain of Le Coq Sportif UK.
Patrick and Christophe of le Coq Sportif France.
Patrick, my podna from Oi Polloi.
Ed and Brian of Hanon shop.
Beth from Tea and Cake.
Max from Tokyo Fixed Gear.

I must also give a massive shout out to the whole LCS family, UK, Italy, France, Spain all of you, thank you! You all made the experience truly unforgettable.

Peep more at the Le Coq Sportif facebook page.

You can also read my account from last year’s event here, and here.

Bristol Bespoked.

June 7, 2011

Just grabbed my tickets and it’s fair to say I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m pretty much going to spending all of Saturday ogling fancy bikes, but aside from that I hope to meet a lot of the people I have emailed and spoken to through here, it’ll be great to put a few faces to some names.

See you saturday!

Bespoked.

Now I’m not a fan of folders but…

April 1, 2011

This is awesome.

BMW Zoombike Prototype. Germany, 1989

Commuter folder bike study from BMW with alumiunum framework. All integrated systems like 3-speed drive train, front and rear light with rechargeable battery. Carbon disc wheels.

Designed by Richard Sapper for BMW car company. Only some prototypes had been made, no serial production. Very original except upgraded Flite titanium saddle and brake levers.

Via.

Early Eighties.

February 10, 2011

Peep the winter training on a brakeless fixed gear bike, tough guy! Seen over at Doug Siple’s super, awesome flickr spot.

I have posted on this guy’s photographs and scans before but honestly, he has so, so much good stuff, if you have the time, go trawl.

Stall Holder Pass.

December 3, 2010

We headed up to the ‘tradesman’ entrance where the flurry of smug faces with badges on chests that read ‘stall holder’ entered empty handed and exited with frames slung over shoulders. Each time I turn up to a cycle jumble – normally an hour or so before official opening and for reasons I still do not know – I can’t help but look on in absolute envy at these men who trade goods before the curtain goes up.

One morning, this morning, the early rise had paid off. As my partner and I stood, watching the line of items enter and exit the building like leaves carried by an army of ants, there was an opportune gap. The man who had been standing there, guarding the door had gone for his flask of tea. My girl, now standing beyond the golden threshold gestures at me to enter also, me, being a softy, I shake my head from side to side, she grabbed my hand and pulled me along behind her. I was in and it was 8.30am, not the 10am advertised on the flyer, and all thanks to the wife.

Did I manage to grab the vintage cycling bargain of the century? Nope, not really. I actually spent 50p. Right before we were escorted from the beige leisure centre and consequently shamed by the stern organiser, I managed to pick up one of my most treasured possessions today; A book, the 1979 published TI Raleigh story, 52 pages of printed wonder and all featuring the magnificently dominant TI Raleigh team of the 70s. My favourite. Now, having been read, and the pictures ogled it now sits proudly on my bookshelf.

I recently visited Tuscany for Le Coq Sportif’s L’Eroica and, while I was there to ride the race, I was mostly looking forward to the jumble. I wanted to see how the Italians do things and, well, it was mostly the same as here in the U.K but in another language, and outdoors, and hot, with more good stuff. I wandered around, a few paper Euros in my pocket, eyeing up Delta brakes, boxed gruppos and complete bikes dripping in Campagnolo but I found myself, after a few rounds, settling at one stall.

He had, as well as the obligatory sea of componentry, a large and fruitful selection of golden era magazines, badges, bunting, stickers, catalogues, mascots and postcards. Dandy. He wore an oil stained blue jumper, sleeves rolled up, with grey hair and chunky fingers and he chatted with his apple-eating friend. I leafed through a section of Pink Cyclisme cards. On the cover, Maertens, Thévenet, Poulidor, Hinault, to name but a few and all with penned signatures. I pick them up and enquired as to the price of said items. Then, after a lesson, shouted in Italian and pointed out with sausage fingers about the greatest cyclists of all time we agreed on €1 each. I bought ten.

I love a cycle jumble, me, I think they are great. All of that goodness under one roof, the hardware going for an asking price and not to the highest bidder, where you can handle the items and not just be reliant on jpegs on screens, the folks you meet have knowledge and enthusiasm dribbling off of their tongues and relish any opportunity to inform you of the origin of any item sat on their wooden wallpaper pasting table, you can slice their delight with a knife. It is also a social gathering where friends meet, you’ll most likely come across many unmanned stalls as Barry will be over there chatting with Pete. Unfortunately for me there won’t be one around these parts for a good few months as they only seem to spring up in the warmer months, but I suppose that leaves me with plenty of time to garner one of those ‘stall holder’ passes.

AITA & Bilenky.

November 29, 2010

Bilenky Cycle Works was founded in Northeastern Philadelphia in 1983 with the goal of meeting the specific needs of the individual cyclist. Stephen Bilenky recognized the need for specially proportioned frames and components for riders of all shapes and sizes, and began creating a range of custom products to answer the outfitting needs of recreational, fitness and utility cyclists from all over the world.

BCW’s philosophy of perfectionism shines through in every bike they build. Their frames can be compared to a bespoke suit, tailored to fit both the rider’s aesthetic and physical needs. Whether it’s waiting four weeks for a retro-fit to come back, or four months for that super-customized nit-picked-over-every-detail dream bike, one ride on a Bilenky bike will prove that it is in a league of its own.

For the month of November, Art in the Age and Bilenky Cycle Works will demonstrate the craft of custom framebuilding. By creating a miniature version of the Bilenky shop within AITA, Stephen Bilenky and his crew will highlight the specific build qualities and artistry that set a Bilenky bicycle apart from the rest. Join us at AITA for a unique behind the scenes look at this rare craft.

Thanks to Dan at AITA for pointing these vids out, they are ace and Stephen Bilenky comes across as such a lovely man!

Via Art in the Age.

Ras.

November 4, 2010

Bit sparse on the posts of late friends, sorry about that. I have been pulling what’s left of my hair out at my day job… But I can now report that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

In the meantime, while I get myself back together, get your chops around this fantastic footage.

Gazzetta goes from Strength to Strength.

November 1, 2010

With his new website, new online forum, newly formed cycling club; GS Gazzetta ( with a killer team strip! ) and his acclaimed pre and post ride muscle oils, Simon Lamb of La Gazzetta Della Bici is absolutely smashing it.

Big, monsterous shouts to Simon Lamb! Go check out his blog right here.

Two of my Favourites.

October 27, 2010

Bikes and once upon a time… Scooters.

Love these photographs, taken in 1976 outside Bill Phillbrook’s bike shop in Welling, UK.

I had a couple of scooters once. My first, a 70′s Vespa special was smashed up after an impact with a car and the other I stupidly sold to pay for driving lessons… It was a ’64 Lambretta TV 175, I loved it and I want it back! Not likely though.

Seen.

L’Eroica 2010. Spinwell for Le Coq Sportif.

October 5, 2010

What a weekend. Unbelievable, awesome, rad, mega, ace!

Having never been to L’Eroica and only having seen pictures on the internet I didn’t fully know what to expect but what came was among the best all-round cycling experience I have ever encountered. The atmosphere the whole weekend was electric, where 3000 like minded, fanatical individuals descend upon Gaiole in Chianti for two days of pure cycling nostalgia. Woolen jerseys and steel bikes aplenty, any man interested in the traditions of the cycle race can certainly find his fill here.

Day one on Saturday sees the flea market come into town, I say flea market it is a great big cycle jumble in English terms. Stretched out either side of Gaiole’s main road this jumble is big and not only is it big, it is good, very good. Everything you ever needed for your period build and all the accompaniments to go with it can be found here. Even the rarest of the rare is on the tables, it seems that the cream of Italy’s cycle merchandise dealers have landed in Chianti for the day to bless all of the hungry with their wares. You simply do not get a selection this good in the U.K.

If you are unhappy to ogle pantographed cranks and embroidered jerseys all day then you can visit the museum, where books, posters, videos and actual race bikes will greet you. Maybe taste and buy some local meat, fresh pasta, wine made in these hills, the food here is, well it’s just the absolute epitome of rustic goodness. This is, after all a cycling ‘holiday’ so it must be approached as such, take your time, see the sights, chat to the locals and the not so locals. Sometimes trying to speak to someone about your passion for cycles and cycling can be tiresome, remember though that every one here, each of the 3000 are more than happy to exchange verses on the virtue of the spoked wheel and tubed frame for they too are here for the exact reason you are.

The evenings see most people go off to their hotels or chalets to eat food and wine bought that day but we saw Le Coq’s Citroen HY van, looking fabulous in red, white and blue crank up the soundsystem for a grappa fuelled ipod party, but not after food with the stars. A sit down dinner with speeches from Italy’s cycling greats, it was like come dine with me with Fausto Coppi, yes, these were very old men.

Day two sees the cycle race along the fabled white gravel roads and Le Coq Sportif, my hosts, did a perfect job of organising cycles for everyone ( I rode a Campagnolo equipped 1977 Paletti ) and the registration procedure was just seamless. You need a number on your back, one on your bike and a stamp card and you are good to go, good to enter ‘race mode’ or ‘sportif mode’ for a day jam packed full of excitement and surprise. Depending on how your legs feel you can choose to ride either 38km, 75km, 135km or 205km but every one will be as pleasurable an experience as the next. Should you have any technical difficutlies someone will be along to help you out soon enough, such is the kinship on the road.

The roads ridden upon are made up of mainly white gravel paths called the Strade Bianche, fairly narrow in width and rutted like an ice ravaged mountain pass these roads are not to be taken softly. I have never ridden them but I can only imagine it to be like the cobbled straights of the paris-roubaix. Hang on tight, it’s going to get bumpy!

Along your way you will find a handful of food stops fully stocked up with local edible delights and alcohol too should you have the stomach.

Is it a race? Is is a ride? Who knows? But there are all levels out on the road, from the locals who hurtle past you and the vintage service car in front like a roller coaster coach direct and unrelenting to 90 year old men in full woolen suits being pushed up hills by boys half their age. This ‘race’ is legendary and I now know what the fuss is about. The moment tickets go on sale next year, I am buying one, or two.

Big thanks go to:
L’Eroica.
All the team at Le Coq Sportif. Check out their blog.
Matthew Sparkes of the Guardian
Andrew and Phillip Diprose the brothers of The Ride Journal.
The lovely gents from Hanon shop
And everyone else involved. Thank you!

Find many, many more L’Eroica images on the S P I N W E L L Flickr spot.

H – A – R – D.

September 16, 2010



Stage one of the Rapha CCC Alps ridden by all. Some fast riders at front, setting a fierce pace. Interesting to see if they are still this competitive in eight days time. Some stragglers at the back, but they should be able to ‘get round’… Some have already gone into survival mode. Could be a long ride…

Read more about this epic adventure here.

Beautiful Machines.

July 7, 2010

Photos sent in to me by my good pal and London correspondent, Kieran Young.

From what I gather this is the Rapha Cycling Club’s latest exhibition of ‘beautiful machines’ that were at some point ridden in the grand tour. Anyone want to correct me on that, feel free.

Either way, lovely bikes and that Raliegh has me salivating no-end.

Cheers for the link up K.

Contemplation in B&W.

June 22, 2010

So I went down Polo…

June 17, 2010

… didn’t play but I did take a couple of snaps.

My ‘sports’ photography needs a lot of work so apologies for the lack of action shots here guys. Next time I’ll do better, promise. Actually f**k that, my picture of the Pollard with the ‘wommed’ wheel is ace!!!

If you would like a blast at polo ( you really should, it’s hella fun ) feel free to join the Black Stabbath Polo club ( great name ) every wednesday at Calthorpe park in highgate from 6.30 pm onwards.

For more info check out the LFGSS page.

Tonight.

May 28, 2010

In Birmingham tonight?
Got a bicycle?
Fancy a little race?
Get yourself involved!

Rapha Pops up.

May 4, 2010

On the 8th May Rapha Cycle Club will open in London. A combination of gallery, shop and café, the Cycle Club is a meeting place and hub for road riders. Unlike most ‘pop up’ stores, the Rapha Cycle Club will be more than just a retail space. With live screenings of road races and a full calendar of exhibitions and events, the Rapha Cycle Club will be a home for the sport and culture of road racing. This is the ultimate Rapha experience.

An extensive range of Rapha products including a limited edition collection of Cycle Club items, as well as food and drink. Various screenings and exhibitions will take place including every stage of the Giro and the Tour, and exhibitions celebrating Fausto Coppi and the centenary of the Col du Tourmalet.

Definitely need to check this out.
More info.

Amsterdam in Black & White.

April 26, 2010

A little bit of an ‘off topic’ but here is a small selection of the photographs I shot whilst in Amsterdam, recently.

Alexi Grewal.

March 25, 2010

Spotted.

Vans Supercorsa Italian Cycles.

March 24, 2010

A model which saw an introduction into the Vans Vault roster last season, the Supercorsa makes an appearance yet again, this time as part of the Vans California Collection. Presented within Vans’ “Italian Cycles” Collection, this new pack showcases the Supercorsa in an all-canvas motif, with each colorway representing specific honors per Italian cyclists. Featured is the white jersey (Best Young Rider), Rose (Leader-Champion), Green (King of the Mountains), Pink (Best Sprinter), and black (Last Place). Look for these to drop in July of 2010.

Looking good. Via Hypebeast.

Porteur in Black and White.

March 24, 2010

Great work. Seen.


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