Roll Model

Il keep it short and sweet but i thought that the news today over on Velonation was worth adding my two-pence worth. Graeme Obree has come out as gay. Given Graemes battles in the past with depression and suicide attempts, its amazing that he has taken the brave step of being true to himself, and I don’t doubt that with the making public of this part of his life he is facing upto a huge issue that keeping to himself will have literally eaten away at him and destroyed any chance he ever had of a well mental being. If I look at professional sport, its not hard to work out that homophobia still exists and athletes feel they don’t have a choice in being open with their sexuality. The sad tale of professional footballer Justin Fashanu who came out, only to be disowned by his brother and later commit suicide has perhaps acted to only reinforce beliefs that athletes are not expected to be gay. Things are getting better these days with the likes of Gareth Thomas but its still such a hostile environment within sporting society for people to be open about who they are…. and with Graeme taking the brave step to admit this he is, perhaps even without realising, acting as a role-model to people within the sport that sexuality is actually completely irrelevant within our world today (or at least it should be). So Graeme, I salute you on your bravery – you are a legend!

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Motivation

Over the colder months I find it increasingly hard on occasions to garner the motivation to prize myself away from the warm cocoon of bed, to suit and saddle up, hitting the freezing tarmac to get those all important and often trumpeted ‘winter base’ miles. Recently iv discovered that moving around my cycling, whether it be to a different time of day or a different route to play on has reignited the passion and im finding it increasingly easier to cast aside the covers with reckless abandon…. grabing fistfulls of lycra carefully laid out the evening before, and jumping atop my winter bike to roll out on another early morning solo adventure. Simon Gerrans recently summed up the motivation experience with such a great quote from his coach Dave Sanders – 

the hardest part about going training is putting on your socks”
I always lay out my kit in anticipation of an early morning roll out – it softens the blow of waking up at  5:30am to simply remove pyjamas and jump straight into the soft comforting arms of super-roubaix and softshell fabrics. Another tip is to lay out the baselayer on the radiator… instant toastiness that no winter warrior can resist passing up.
You see, however hard it is to get that initial motivation and get-up-and-go feeling, once im actually out there on the open road, i NEVER regret the decision to train, no matter what ungodly hour I see the city, it matters not that I have a busy day ahead with a late night finish… for this moment i have zero regret that im out riding my bike and enjoying the city before sunrise.
Atop some cheeky little north London climbs, lie the rewards ready to be reaped for the season ahead. Legs will become stronger and more efficient as you dance atop the pedals up a particularly steep climb, or choose to grind out a slow lingering hill. But its not just the fitness rewards that await the early morning intrepid stealth-cyclist… its the breathtaking views and the ability to enjoy a deserted cityscape, inhabited only by other early-morning risers. There can be no more rewarding feeling than to sit smugly at the apex of a climb and take 5 minutes to soak in the surroundings, knowing so many others opted to pull the covers over their heads, ignore the early morning alarm that was set with all the best intentions, whilst you took the bull by the horns, you decided today was the day to set the training in motion on the new loop you discovered perfect for that pre-office workout.
So with the little training loop done I head back to the office bike part, hanging up the Colnago in the bike park area until the commute home later. I cant help but feel chuffed and happy and warm (proper layering and good quality clothing like gloves will make all the difference when tarting around before sunrise on your bike this time of year). The rewarding glow will last all day, even if you don’t, and find yourself dropping off before hometime

Lights + decent clothing + good music + handful of haribo + bidon of water = perfect training


You’ll Know – Eliphino
A Town Called Obsolete (Mount Kimbie rmx) – Andreya Triana
Fort Teen – Dorian Concept
Always – Hackman
Snow & Taxis – Gold Panda
Kaili (Walls rmx) – Caribou
CMYK – James Blake
Earthquake (Gold Panda rmx) – Little Boots
Leave House (Ikonika rmx) – Caribou
The Floating World (Eliphino rmx) – Kidkanevil
Snowburst – Italtek
Rock Wit U (Yoruba Soul dub) – DJ Jazzy Jeff
Tilt Shift – Mosca
Will Be Gone – Dave DK
Channel One (Dave DK rmx) – Pablo Bolivar
Pushin’ – Duncan Powell

The Point Of No Return

You know the score…… rifling around your sock drawer like a madman/woman trying to find a pair of non cycling specific socks. Making space in the cupboards as various tubs of fantastic carb-laden potions clutter up the shelves. You have a specific area (that seems ever expanding) dedicated to bikeparts no longer used but stored away for that emergency requiring some long-retired chainring. Pots of soothing lotions, rubs and balms fill the bathroom cabinet. A neat plastic box holds a plethora of crazy looking bar and gels in all manner of fantastic flavours. The bookshelf seems to be spread about 30% dedicated to literature and 70% to cycling magazines. Then there’s the wardrobe, what originally started out as one shelf dedicated to cycling lycra now spans a whole section of the wardrobe, and its still stuffed to capacity. You have a dedicated ‘accessories’ bag – housing caps, scarves, snoods, gloves and of course oversocks in every colour of the rainbow. You sit at work, and whenever there is a spare moment you without a moments thought navigate to a cycling bookmark. You enjoy browsing cycling twitterers, engaging and feeling an affinity with like minded enthusiasts – even though you never met them. You log your training miles, even down to the lowly commute, and its never quite as good as it could be. You are strict with carb intake…. only before big rides and a lactic sprint follows after consumption. You weigh yourself every other day, constantly ruing the result. You designate a weekend morning or day off to ‘cleaning the bikes’. The grin on your chops is from how gleaming you got your chain. You scremble for something to write your shopping list on…. Its a Skil Shimano team card.


Others on the outside call it ‘obsession’….. 
those of us ensconced inside the bubble call it ‘passion’.


What’s In Your Pocket?

How long have people stuffed their ride essentials into a jersey pocket? Certainly much longer than I have been around on the planet that’s for sure! Every rider has been there – reaching into a packed rear jersey pocket and fishing around for those elusive sugary bars, attempting to fish out rogue pound coins for the obligatory coffee stop, or yanking out one tyre lever, having lost its way from its accompanying mate.
So step forward 3 solutions to storing all your tranklements, each differing in looks and prices yet all essentially performing the same function, albeit to varying degrees of storing said trinkets.  I picked three different types of jersey bags, but in essence they all do the job. That’s the job of keeping your back pockets organised and offering protection from the elements – be that some gnarly back sweat after a hard session in the saddle, or a glorious downpour and mud spray (for those that forgot to fit their mudguards).
First up is the “Lezyne Caddy Sack”. Crafted from a tough pvc plastic and sporting a sealed waterproof zip, this was the biggest capacity-wise of all three pouches due to its width. Its dimensions are 10 x 14 cm and wouldn’t struggle to fit everything needed for a long ride. But its size may not be suitable to cram into all jersey pockets – It wouldn’t quite fit without a struggle into quite a few tops of mine (a UK size 8 or XS). That’s not to say this is definitive downer on the case though – just something ladies of a smaller stature should be aware of. It will fit just fine into two pocket jerseys and of course one pocket jackets. If in doubt measure the width of your pocket. Its big capacity and toughness makes it ideal as a commuter case to sit inside a backpack or messenger bag. I keep a spare tube, a co2 and affixing head, 2 x tyre levers, a condor mini tool and a patch kit comfortably in this pouch – with room to spare. Available in wither silver as pictured or black, it may not present itself as the most refined solution to handling your goods, but for less than £8 one would be hard pushed to find a better solution to keep all your items safe.
Rapha launched their aptly titled ‘Essentials Case’ in 2010. Made of supple soft leather, the case has dimensions of 15 x 10 cm. Inside a card sleeve holds debit cards securely, whilst a splash of pink is found with the ‘Bon Courage!’ motif inside. Smaller in capacity than the Lezyne, it will hold a tube, levers, patch kit, keys and a small multi-tool just fine. Costing £30 (now reduced in the January sale) some people won’t stomach the perceived ‘rapha pricing’as always  – I purchased mine and am actually using it as an everyday wallet, thus retiring my ancient and much loved Comme Des Garcons turquoise number to the drawer. It’s also perfect size for those with an iphone, although you will struggle to do it up with an iphone and tube contained. Its also slimmer in width than the lezyne so slipped easier into jersey pockets of all sizes. Its a very stylish little number, and a great gift for any cyclist. A more expensive Paul Smith version in purple highlighted colorway is set to launch soon should you want something even more swish.
Lastly is the rudimentary looking ‘Jersey Bin’. Its basically a sleeve of plastic with a secure ziplock style closing designed to offer water protection to your bits and bobs – rather than storing equipment and spares as the examples above. They also work with touch screen phones so you can text home in an emergency whilst raining! Available as a two-size-double-pack for £6.20, they measure 9.5 x 17.5 cm. I picked up a nice Sigma Sport branded one on a La Fuga club run some months ago, and it provides a neat solution to keeping phones and notes from getting a soaking. These are tall and narrow, fitting easily into most pockets. (They are available in two sizes and a variety of prices on jerseybin.co.uk)
If your looking to avoid that unsightly jersey sagging that can occur when loading yourself down then I couldn’t recommend one of the above more highly. One plus factor in having a wee bag is of course its incredibly stylish and debonair (come on be honest – we all strive for that out on the road) but another major tick in the box is that it encourages you to only take out necessities. How many times have you ridden a long route only to get home and discover you didn’t need the extra two bars or two tubes? Streamlining is a good thing here, meaning you will only carry what’s truly needed. Feel free to comment below as to what your ‘ride essentials’ are and what you keep them in…