Condor Race Socks

Condor Cycles have released a new model of sock just in time for summer, this time tipping a nod to the cool euro styling seen on PRO racers within today’s peloton. Their lightweight-tech white sock features a simple striped contrasting rear logo (available in both black and red, perfect to pick the coordinating colour to your S-Works heel cup!). In a longer incarnation of their previous sock, the race model boasts a 7cm long cuff section, perfect for those looking to enhance their bronzed pins for uber-euro points. 

Priced at £8.99, I can confirm from the featured pictures that even after a decent 40 wash cycle, the socks came out like new. A welcome piece of information for those prone to heavy washing of their kit. The midfoot section is crafted from a meshed version of the microfibre yarn, improving ventilation to this part of the foot, along with ease of moisture transfer – bound to a nice bit of respite on those hot summer days in the saddle. The toe and heel area offers a thicker blend of fabric, resulting in a comfortable and secure fit.

The socks are available in-store now, in two sizes, a S/M & M/L. Alternatively, those non-London residents can ping the good folks at Grays Inn Road an email or phonecall and take advantage of friendly mail order option. Another nice sock staple to add to the summer riding wardrobe.

Cyclefit

A few days ago I paid a visit to the Cyclefit outfit, based in London’s Covent Garden. I had decided to get my position looked over, but my main reason for the visit was to identify and hopefully correct the myriad of issues causing some stability issues in my lower half. I had developed what I termed ‘disco-ankle’ over the past few years, where my right ankle kicked out in a random motion every few pedal revolutions as my foot fought to find footing on the pedal axle. I suspected my shoes would require perhaps a shim or two, and I looked forward to having an expert properly set-up my speedplay cleats, the adjustable float not ideal for a self confessed fettler like myself to ever set up in a 100% satisfactory manner.

It was over 2 years ago I last had a fitting and my shoes set up, at the very capable hands of ex-pro Adrian Timmis, now running the successful shop Cadence Sport full time. However in that time iv acquired a very different bike to the old aggressive bianchi, the Condor Acciaio. Im also running a vastly different pair of shoes, the S-works road show, compared to the old ill fitting Sidi genius 6 I wore at the time. So all in all lots of equipment and even body changes to address, hence seeking a set of eyes to yet again examine how I can eke more comfort and a little more efficiency out of my cycling.

Ringing the buzzer at the shop-front of a discreetly pretty Covent Garden backstreet, I was met by Matt, Cyclefit fitter, and he ushered me inside to a well decorated unit. Delectable builds graced the walls from brands such as Passoni, Seven, Serotta and Guru. I took a seat, waited for my coffee and soaked up the gear p0rn. Not a bad way to start a Tuesday morning at 9am!

The first part of the session was a sit down chat with Matt while he noted everything about my riding and riding past. Ambitions, injuries and bike measurements were noted in detail for input into my unique document (which to my delight was available after the session online). We spoke about my crash, around 3.5 years ago, and how it may have affected how I hold myself on the bike. I was then asked to pop up on the physio table, and I was stretched whilst matt recorded my flexibility (or lack thereof haha). I had tight hams and calves, which probably wasn’t aided by the fact I had partaken in a long run the evening before. Still, my feet angle, femur length and other measurements were taken down, and again placed in the rider document.

I then had white dot stickers strategically placed to track my joints using their Dartfish motion capture software. Then it was time to mount the Ben Serotta designed SiCi (Serotta International Cycling Institute) fit bicycle and be recorded and observed. A laptop read out my efforts through each part of the pedal-stroke, and Matt circled the floor umming and ahhing, asking about any discomfort I was feeling.

Matt then explained that my randomized ankle spazz-out, was actually in no small part down to an aggressive kick back up and into the pedal stroke. In effect Im failing to pedal properly, using my legs as vertical pistons, and instead trying to pull up and around on my upstroke, which Matt explained should actually serve as the recovery period of the pedal revolution. I explained I imagined this was down to being a bit obsessed with pedalling a perfect circle, and then it became apparent watching the video on the dartfish software that actually the pedalling motion is more of an vertical oval shape! So Iv come away trying to learn how to pedal properly, and after years of habit its actually incredibly hard to undo my bad habit! The laptop in front of the bike displayed some alarmingly red outputs on the graph that perfectly illustrated to me how I was yanking that foot back up to the top of the stroke. I spent a good ten minutes cycling on the SiCi trying to eliminate that horrid red bar from the screen, no small task!

I opted to have the sidas custom insoles moulded for my shoes, in order to further stabilise my pedal-stroke. Having to jump onto a curious inflatable moulding system I apologised profusely for the state of my feet, looking battered and shrivelled due to having put in a large amount of running miles the past few months. I was assured that worse feet have been seen, although I suspect that this was a case of keeping the customer happy 🙂 Once in the correctly moulded insole, I definitely felt they were more firmer than the cushy flimsy stock footbeds in there already, and I knew these might take a bit of getting used to. Popping back onto the bike I instantly noticed how much more engaged I felt with the pedal, and definitely noticed an increase in my output, which in teaming with correct cleat placement and a shim in each, really enabled my to get that correct piston like tracking in my knees.
My position was tweaked by a minute amount, less than a cm in the saddle fore position, but to be honest I was attending the session about 90% happy with my bike set-up, it was more to address the waist down issues and tracking, so I was happy that it reinforced I had the bike set up correctly in the first place (hats tipped to Condor and Sammy for that).

We had a really good chat about the strengthening and conditioning that’s going to aid me this coming year, iv a lot to do in terms of getting my core solid, strengthening my back to avoid a recurrence of the bulged lumbar discs that ruined my cycling a couple of years ago, and also I need to work on getting my strong but very dormant glute muscles to fire on the pedal-stroke.
Overall it was a really enlightening and worthwhile way to spend 3 hours as I look to enhance my comfort and performance on the bike this next year. I thought it was great how also each client is given the link to their fit videos and a cracking spreadsheet detailing rider history and changes to the bike/position.

There’s no denying the pedigree of Cyclefit, and id thoroughly recommend it to anyone who, like me, felt ‘ok’ but not ‘quite right’ in the saddle. Whilst it is on the expensive side, its a really worthwhile investment in comparison to other things, and I don’t think you can put a price on comfort and the enjoyment not having those on-the-0bike niggles can bring. In this day and age, riders are dropping serious coin on bikes, clothing and shoes, so think about if you could benefit from a fitting session and if so, get to it. I plan to pen a follow up in around four weeks time when iv done some serious miles with my current setup, and il try and identify any real world change (if any, no matter how big or small) the fit has made to my riding.

A Couple of Reads

I recently picked up a couple of real nice books to enjoy over the festive period. First up is a wicked photo book chronicling the UCI World Cup Cyclocross season of 2009/2010 by a really awesome snapper, Balint Hamvas.

The format of the book is a great introduction to the world cup racing scene, with each round of racing summarised nicely in prose, with a bit of pre race background about the riders and their standings, before launching into a succint edit of great photos from that leg of the competition. 

The photos capture the real essence of the race, with some cool key moments. I also love that Balint shoots the ladies equally too, and he has some truly cracking pics of girls shredding it on the circuit.

This is a great little reference book, useful and enjoyable for both hardened mud fans and newbs like myself. I really hope Balint plans to produce one for this season which has been so far really cool to watch (its probably the first year iv bothered to follow the races and riders that much, being a self-confessed die-hard roadie). The book can be ordered from Balint directly, shoot him an email through his website

Next up is the unique offering from British bike stalwart, Condor Cycles, a beautifully curated collection of stories, history and ideology of the brand and their racing heritage. Entitled “Past, Present and Future”, the book serves up delicious anecdotes from such names as Eric Clapton, Jon Snow, Monty Young and Kristian House. Delving deep into the brands history as well as referencing the current rise in cycling popularity and exposure, the book serves as a perfect anchor point for all things Grays Inn Road.

The range of articles is great, and I was honoured to be asked to submit a short personal story for the book, and there are some other awesome personal customer stories, all unique and interesting, bound with the common thread of riding condors.

I love the inclusion of stories from all sphere of the brand, from racers, staff members, old school heroes , Mr J Herety himself, and a piece on the new-school resurgence of the steel frame (something condor have truly mastered in the acciaio IMO). Its a truly really interesting read, having dipped into it a dozen times since receiving a copy, I find myself going back to it for more stories again and again…

The book is priced at £15 and available instor or via telephone from condor or online at rapha.

Condor Tennant & Clancy Specials

Condor have produced these amazing one off custom bikes for their star track riders and olympic hopefuls, Andy Tennant and Ed Clancy. Claire has very kindly hooked me up with some images to share of the beautifully painted frames, with Andy opting for the stealth bomber number, and Ed riding the dream (or nightmare) inspiring ‘Scream’ by Edvard Munch! 

The lush paint-work is the handicraft of the talented Chris Grove, of Performance Race Art, who has undertaken two very diofferent design briefs and delivered truly unique bikes for top-class riders. Check out their website for the insane custom designs they produce. I have to say im a fan of the Clancy’s ‘Munch’ bike, just because its so unique and off the wall, but also its executed really well! 

Past, Present, Future

Condor cycles have launched a book chronicling the stories and faces behind the legendary brand, covering the heritage and the ever-changing design shaping the future of the forward thinking bike shop. With stories from the likes of John Herety (DS of Rapha Condor Sharp), Neil Manning (Condor Production Director), Monty Young (Condor Cycles founder), various Condor cycles staff and riders of their bikes.

Produced in collaboration with the fellows behind The Ride Journal, Philip & Andrew Diprose, The book is a feast of cycling related stories, studio portraits and street style photos. I had my photo taken for the book and submitted a short story, so obviously im super excited to see the finished product.

The book is priced at a very reasonable £14.99, with 146 pages (complete with a section estolling the virtues of steel as a frambuilding material that im particualrly stoked to read). The book can be purchased in store at Condor Cycles, but for those not lucky enough to call it their LBS, do give them a call or email and im sure they will be more than happy to assist in the mail ordering of an edition.