Never underestimate the power of one wheel drive!


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Monday, 26 December 2011

The end is nigh

As 2011 draws to a close I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a belated Merry Christmas and hope you all have a successful 2012.

The Secret Cyclists top banana Pro Cyclist Mark Cavendish did. He finished 2011 by being voted as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Well done Cav!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Heart Rate max- how to get it up.

I went out for a run on Saturday afternoon, just a gentle jog of a couple of miles.

About half way through I came across the immediate aftermath of a car V pedestrian accident. An elderly gent was laying in the road with a young guy leaning over him on the phone. He was the only person who seemed to be getting involved whilst cars tried to drive past and pedestrians gawped but kept walking.

I want over and found that the young guy was the driver involved. he was in a panic but was on the phone to ambulance control.

I took over, rendering first aid to the casualty and the driver, commandeering drivers to block the road and pedestrians to pass info to the impatiently waiting traffic. I also got nearby businesses to get blankets etc. Having done that I was introduced to the wife of the driver. She was in the car when the accident happened. She was a) 7 weeks pregnant and b) going in to shock. I rendered first aid to her.

On arrival of ambulance and police I passed all information I had established to them, helped where I could and then continued on my gentle jog once surplus to requirements.

Throughout the entirety of the run I barely got out of breath but on checking my heart rate monitor when I got home, my max heart rate was measured an 179 bpm!

Incident management is certainly a good cardio workout!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cav gets another medal

Secret Cyclists favourite Pro Cyclist and all round Good Egg, Mark Cavendish has been in the news again. He has been nominated as one of the shortlist of 10 for the 2011 BBC Sports Personality of The Year.
The full list is as follows-
Mark Cavendish (cycling)
Darren Clarke (golf)
Alastair Cook (cricket)
Luke Donald (golf)
Mo Farah (athletics)
Dai Greene (athletics)
Amir Khan (boxing)
Rory McIlroy (golf)
Andy Murray (tennis)
Andrew Strauss (cricket).
The winner is apparently selected by public telephone vote on the night so, Good Luck Cav!

In addition to his SPOTY nomination, Cav went to the Big House at the end of The Mall, London the be awarded his MBE by Her Majesty the Queen- Cav gets a gong
On talking about his conversation with Her Majesty, Cav said "We were talking about the Olympics and my event finishing on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace next year - I told her to give me a cheer when we come past."
He is a wag isn't he?
Well done Mark!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

I hate running but....

I used to go out running on a regular basis. It was part of my regime to keep me in shape for some of the specialisations I used to undertake. Since giving up those specialist tasks four or five years ago, I stopped the running.

To combat the danger of a spreading waistline that spending 80- 90% of a working day sat at a desk presents I joined the local gym. This worked fine and the weight stayed hovering at around 80- 82 kilos (I have always had a rapidly fluctuating weight within a half a stone region). I started to get very annoyed with the gym bunnies however, spending more of their time checking themselves out in the mirrors or chatting to their barely active buddy whilst occupying a piece of equipment or floor space I wanted to use so got a bit dispirited. Alongside regular back and elbow joint pain brought on by doing weights I got a bit dispirited so decided I couldn't justify the expense of continuing my gym membership, letting it lapse at the end of September.

I have started to run again. Initially just a mile/ mile and a half loop in 12-15 minutes but I am now extending it. I will stop at a maximum of about a 6 miler (and this will take a several of months to get to) with the possibility of once a week running home from work and then back to work the next morning.

We shall see.

I still hate running but......

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Somewhere over the rainbow

Yesterday evenings ride home from work started off dry but cool. 5 minutes up the road however and the cloud I was approaching decided to unload, so I endured 15 minutes or so of rain.

Not to worry, it is only water and skin is waterproof.

Another bonus for me is that the route I ride home is generally North West so I am cycling towards the sun with the exception of the descent from Winter Hill and the ride into Marlow itself which is Northerly (ish). As I come down from Winter Hill I am initially into the sun but the hairpin puts the sun over my left shoulder. Yesterday this meant that after the turn, the sun was behind me and the rain was in front of me. This presented me with the most vivid rainbow I have seen in a long time. The rainbow had a duller twin outside it and outside that, hints of a third!

I really need to get me a helmet camera.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

10 days out of the saddle

Due to work commitments and a chest that sounded like a cement mixer mixing a vat of the slime that drips from the jaws of the alien in the film Alien, until my ride home from work yesterday I had not turned a pedal for 10 days.

My bike let me know that the neglect was noted by delaminating a puncture repair patch whilst it relaxed in the drying room at work. I had arrived at the bike all bouncy and raring to go.

That'll learn me.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Golden Years

Today, Ma and Pa Secret Cyclist celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

Well done them!

Clan Secret Cyclist will be visiting them on Sunday and we will drag them out for a nice dinner and the odd glass of bubbly to celebrate.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Jeebus! That was close.

On the ride home yesterday afternoon, I had one of those life flashing before your eyes moments.

I rode up to a T junction and was positioned just left of the broken white centre line, at point. I looked right and saw a car a little way off but too close for me to risk going for it. I looked left and saw a car a little bit closer than the one to my right, indicating to turn right. I had the feeling the driver was going to risk it so looked back again to see if he was going to make it.

I was right about the car to my left. I heard the sound of wheels locking up and saw the front of the car approaching my front wheel, taking the short cut through the junction in his efforts to save a second or two. My heart was in my mouth as I waited for the inevitable collision and pain.

Somehow the driver managed to avoid me and execute his turn- having slowed to a crawl and brought the car coming the other way almost to a standstill.

The driver who nearly had me gave an embarrassed wave and continued on his way whilst I tried to get my heart out of the way so I could draw breath and continue my journey.

No further incidents after that.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Autumn rides- sights and sounds (and smells!)

Yesterday afternoon I decided to head out on my Cannondale R800 for a countryside loop.

I am fortunate in that I have some wonderful lanes to ride within 5 minutes of home.

The ride took in a few climbs which would normally be reasonably easy on the 'Dale (lighter than the commute bike and no luggage) but, I am on the recovery phase of a cold and have an annoying cough. The upshot of this was that the climbing was painful, really laboured breathing and heart rate maxing at 178 bpm at one point (Apprentice crumbly less than a year from the half century) so not good. Hurry up and bugger off cough!

Anyway, as it is autumn, farming folk are quite busy, preparing the land for the next crop. Part of the route I rode took me out of Hambleden village and towards the little hamlet of Parmoor. As I rode this, a farmer was ploughing a field beside the road. I could see something was occurring from a distance as there were 12 or 13 Red Kite gliding overhead watching what was going on. When I got level with the field, I could see 20 or so more Kite on the field itself checking out the freshest furrows for goodies. They leapt into flight as I passed, settling back again soon after. A wonderful sight.

Other farmers had been busy feeding their fields and the smell of well rotted manure was everywhere. Not so wonderful but, if you can't stand the smell- get out of the countryside!

A lot of the loop had tree cover over the roads and many of the trees were Beech. The roads beneath the trees were strewn with beech nut husks and riding over the husks sounded like muted automatic gun fire! I was waiting for the hiss of rapidly deflating tyre but I got away with it.

Autumn afternoon rides are only bettered by those bright, autumn early morning rides with mists over the fields.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Mark Cavendish is on top of the world!

Bloody awesome performance from Mark Cavendish at teh UCI Worlds in Copenhagen!

Not just Mark though. Every member of the GB team buried themselves kepping the race under control and deliveing him to the launch platform in the final few hundred meters. I was watching live and, to be honest, thought the other temas had done enough to thwart the Team GB efforts, managing to make him loose the wheel of Gerraint Thomas as the bunch was in the last kilometer or so. I should have known better and kept the faith.

I have only one problem with yesterdays outcome.

Mark Cavendish spends the next 12 months wearing the Rainbow Jersey as the winner of the Elite Mens Road Race. He was first accross the line.

7 other Elite men got him there- David Millar, Bradley Wiggins, Gerraint Thomas, Ian Stannard, Jermey Hunt, Steve Cummings and Chris Froome. They should all have the right to wear some form of symbol on their jerseys to show the world that they were partially responsible for their man winning the jersey.

Former winners of the World Championship wear rainbow rings around the cuffs of their jerseys as homage to their achievement. Perhaps the other 7 riders from Sunday should be allowed to wear one rainbow cuff for the year that Mark is World Champion?

Image from Cycling Weekly article here

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Brisk but Beautiful

When I got up this morning to get ready for work, I went through the usual routine- you know the score, unmentionables in the bathroom, feed the cats, make the families lunches etc.

When the cats had finished their breakfast I let them out and noticed a distinct nip in the air. Cool summer mornings have given way to brisk autumn dawns.

I decided that this morning would be the first commute of the post summer period where knee and arm warmers were order of the day.

I'm really glad that I did because it was a tad on the chilly side as I headed out. Once again though, I had the opportunity to experience one of those glorious mornings- mist rising over the meadows, cattle chewing the cud, steaming breath as they did so and the sun lighting it up with a diffused golden glow.

The moments like this are the reason I ride all year round.

To cap it all off perfectly, the hot water system at work has been repaired so I indulged in a nice warm shower on arrival. Much more enjoyable than the recent mains cold water temperature affairs.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Have travel- will take bike.

I'm on a course this week, 5 days residential at Wyboston Lakes.

During my prep for the week, I decided that I would bring a bike with me so I packed some bibs and a jersey, my shoes and other stuff required and tooke the wheels of my 'Dale, which makes it all fit snugly in the boot.

Tonight, after the days education and prior to dinner, I got changed, rebuilt the bike and headed out for an hour or so in the saddle.

A 23 mile loop through St Neots and some of the surrounding lanes was a very pleasant change. The only problem was, this area is reasonably flat so I was in wind the whole route.

Can't have everything though can I?

Friday, 2 September 2011

SRAM Wagon

I have just seen a link to a Pinkbike post relating to SRAM's new on site competition workshop trailer.


Well done Garmin Cervelo

Every so often stories are printed or aired about arrogant sports stars treating their fans like crap. No specific sport is as guilty as any other and no sport that I can evidence is more accommodating than any other. There is good and bad in all aspects.

It is nice however, to read something that paints the stars of a sport in a better light.

One of my regular haunts is the blog created by Eldon Nelson- The Fat Cyclist. Fatty is away for a little while and in his absence he has a guest blogmeister, Paul Guyot. On Wednesday, Paul uploaded a lovely post about an experience he and his 8 year old son had involving team Garmin Cervelo. Have a read

Thursday, 1 September 2011

September? Where did summer go?

Well, that is the end of summer I suppose, though British weather will probably throw up some far hotter weather in Autumn than we have had recently.

At least my mileage for August was slightly more respectable than July. Nearly double but still a long way off what I used to do. I need to make more time for riding on my days off. I'm on a residential course just outside St Neots all next week so commuting miles will be out. I will have to consider taking a bike and getting some miles in after hours. Cannondale or Fixie, that is the question.

Todays Yehuda Moon made me laugh. It brough to mind my first 50mph + descent a few years ago. Woo Hoo! doesn't come close.

Currently, pro riders are engaged in the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain). Well done to Team Sky who are doing well, with Bradley Wiggins currently in the leaders red jersey, which he took over from team mate Chris Froome. To steal a line from the great Marlon Brando, I think Wiggo Coulda been a contender for the overall victory in the Tour de France if he hadn't spanged his collar bone. If only.....

Friday, 19 August 2011

Garden Beastie

Rescued from my cat earlier today-

A very beautiful bug.

Pay attention to your kit......

..... or else it will bite you on the arse.

I had a chain snap on me the other day. Fortunately I was only a 5 minute walk from home. It could have been a lot further. I was also fortunate in that I wasn't honking up hill on the way to work or standing out of the saddle accelerating like a mad thing. If I had been, the sudden loss of resistance could well have resulted in a VERY painful manbits/ stem or top tube interface. That doesn't bear thinking about!

Anyhoo, on examining the chain I found that my maintenance had been somewhat lacking. I had been religiously cleaning and oiling the chain but, my inspection of its integrity was somewhat flawed. I had been suffering a slightly sticky link section which had responded to WD40 application, lateral pressure to loosen the links and much manipulation after soaking in oil. I thought this had solved it. What I didn't realise was that although the side plates had freed up, the rollers on the affected link were seized. Look at the profile of the rollers on this section of chain-

See how they have worn away and deformed.

In this image you can see a small stub of metal protruding beyond the side plate. This is part of the roller also-

Look after your kit folks, then, once youv'e done that, look after it again- just to be safe.

Friday, 12 August 2011

London Riots (And Elsewhere).

I haven’t had much chance to get on the blog recently as I have been otherwise engaged. Not on duty dealing with the disorder but helping to back fill and cover other stuff whilst my colleagues have been deployed.

This post isn't about the disorder in particular. I am going to say a little about it before I get on the thrust of this post though.

First, I feel absolutely gutted for the family of Mark Duggan. They are dealing with the loss of a member of their family. I'm not going to post about the circumstances. It is being investigated and to my mind, we should wait until the investigation is complete before saying our piece. No, I feel gutted for them as a result of the objective of the original peaceful protest being hijacked and turned into a number of nights of criminal activity. Shameful.

I also don't want to get too embroiled in the war of words between the Police leaders and the Political leaders about tactics and who did what or what could have been done better. This will also be decided after an investigation. My Bosses probably could have done better and reacted mores speedily. Perhaps they felt apprehension, a fear of being torn to shreds by our political masters if it was perceived we went over the top? I don't know. What I do know is that we need to keep Prime Minister Cameron, Home Secretary May and the rest of them close. Best know where your enemy is. They should have stepped up and backed us up to the hilt initially, when the bricks were flying and the officers were going down. Save criticism for afterwards, when my colleagues have stepped back from the front line and the inquiry into events has provide the real answers, not the knee jerk spin the politicos seem to thrive on.

I'm not going to go into hang em high or hand wringing apologist modes. I have my views about those engaged in the criminal activity and I will save them, maybe for another time.

No, what I DO want to talk about is the good stuff that has come out of these last days of chaos, fear and tragedy.

I will start with one of the most noble and heart rending moments of recent days. In Birmingham, 3 young Muslim men were run down and killed by a car whilst they were on the streets, looking after their community. Tariq Jahan, the father of one of the young men, Haroon, spoke out the other day. Was this in anger? No, it was in grief but, despite his grief, he still had the dignity to appeal to his community to not escalate things, to live together and not allow themselves to find themselves in the situation he was in- the loss of a loved one. This is a man with dignity.

I then want to mention the various groups around the country of all backgrounds who have come together to protect their communities, be they Turks looking after the local businesses, Sikhs and Muslims preventing criminals attacking their temples, Joe Public preventing the attack on local shops. Some may criticise this perceived vigilante action. I applaud it. They are not being vigilantes, they aren't roaming the streets hunting down hoodie wearing looters and dispensing summary justice. They are just stepping up and saying "No. Not in MY community."

Next I want to talk about the Broom Brigade. Recent news footage has included many images of ordinary folk getting together and clearing the streets of the debris of the overnight battles. Men and women of all races, religions backgrounds and ages getting on the streets and trying to restore as much an element of normality as they can. Not in response to some TV request by a politician. In response to a feeling that their community has been hurt and needs to be made well again.

Finally I want to talk about the unknown folk who, having seen the plight of people who have lost their homes to arson, hard workers whose businesses have been looted or destroyed and many other victims who are now struggling to get by after becoming victims of violence and thuggery who have felt compelled to lend their support in the best way they can. In some cases it is turning up at a ransacked shop and offering to help the owner to straighten things out so they can get back into operation. In other cases it is the offer of financial assistance to businesses and families who have lost everything. It may only be £5, £10, £20. It may be more. It doesn't matter. It is help. That is so important now.

Over the last week, Britain, particularly England, has been in the news spotlight. The rioting and looting and destruction isn't Britain. Not MY Britain.

The dignity in adversity. The coming together and saying NO. This will not continue. THAT is MY Britain.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

90.5 mile!

What a p**s poor month for mileage July was!

I don't know what happened but 90.5 miles is terrible. Only beaten in 2011 by the just over 70 miles in February.

I did have a stinking cold for a few days and a week or so away from work doing DIY type stuff (I HATE gloss painting!) at home didn't help but, 90.5 miles?

Me! You are a looser!


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Yet another thing of cycling beauty

When I recently fitted my Brooks Team Pro saddle to my commuter bike, I was unsable to fit the saddle pack I had been using as the rail spacing was too wide. As a result, my spare tubes and tools were carried in my pannier. The outcome of this was them migrating to the bottom of the bag, hiding under the poly bag I use as a waterproof liner. Not an ideal situation so I decided to invest in some new luggage.

After a bit of research, I decided to invest in a Carradice Barley-

Carradice of Nelson are manufacturers of a range of bike luggage, clothing and other equipment. The Barley saddle bag is from their "Originals" range which hark back to their begginings. In the early 1930's, keen cyclist Wilf Carradice was looking for a good saddle bagbut was unable to find what he wanted. He had the brainwave of trying to make one for himself. His resulting bag was so succesful that his friends started to aske him the make bags for them. Carradice of Nelson was born. Their craftsmanship (or craftswomanship) is plain to see. Their Originals (and possibly othet ranges) are all signed by the person who made them. Mine is a Christine

My Barley is made from traditional materials- Cotton Duck, a tight weave heavy duty cotton fabric proofed with naturally sourced waterproofing and leather straps. As I said, it is a thing of cycling beauty and, being British made, complements my Brooks saddle perfectly

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The boy done good

As did the Aussie!

Well done to Cadel Evans on finally nailing the yellow jersey in Paris. A really gutsy performance in the Alps. I think there are going to be some very overhung Aussie heads for the next few days.

Even better though was Mark Cavendish finishing the Tour with his third Champs Elysees victory in a row and winning the Green Jersey overall. Last year Cav became the first rider ever to win in Paris two years in a row. Doing it three times just confirms what many along with I think. Cav is now a legend.

Congratulations also go out to Samuel Sanchez for his King of the Mountains victory, Pierre Rolland for his Best young Rider win and to Team Garmin Cervelo for taking the Best team prize.

This year has been the most exiting Tour I can remember. The organisers came up with a cunning plan to liven things up. It worked a treat! Roll on next year!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Rest day

So our heroes are taking a well deserved rest day today, not that they won't get out and ride for a couple of hours just to keep the legs moving.

The last few days have been very interesting, watching the GC contenders watching each other and apparently not knowing what to do. I expected at least one of them to use the Pyrenees as a spring board and launch an attack on the rest of the contenders and maybe pull out a decent lead. I expected wrong. What the indecision from the favourites has done however, is leave Thomas Voeckler in the yellow jersey. It has now reached the stage where everyone (except Tommy himself) thinks he can do the whole hog and win the Tour. The Alps will be extremely telling. If Tommy can dig in and hang on in the Alps like he has in the Pyrenees, the favourites will have to do him in the individual time trial on the penultimate day.

It was nice to see Jens Voigt doing what Jens Voigt does best the other day. Two unscheduled dismounts and he still gets back on board and makes the rest of the peleton feel pain. I love that guy!

A Layman's (or Laywoman's) guide to the Tour de France part the second.

Some tactics.

Just about every road stage in the Tour involves one or more riders launching themselves off the front of the peleton after a few kilometres in a break. Why? Well, sometimes this is for commercial reasons. A lone rider (or small group) gets a lot of airtime on TV and this is very good exposure for the team sponsors. Other breaks are for good tactical reasons. The protagonists might be feeling good and believe they have a chance to win the stage. Generally, if there is no one in the breakaway that is a GC threat, the peleton will allow them to build up a considerable time advantage only for a team to start upping the pace to reel them in. More often than not, this reeling in process is completed in the last 3-5 kilometres however, sometimes it can go right down to the wire, with the break getting swallowed up in the final few hundred meters. Occasionally, the break will succeed and one of them wins the stage. I believe this was more prevalent in the days before all the riders were in radio contact with the team cars. A break could launch and the peleton might get its calculations wrong in the chase, or they might think they had caught the breakaway but not realise that a lone rider had broken away from the breakaway. Technology is progress though, right?

By this I mean the practice of riders following each other very closely. Why? Well, apart form the sections of a stage where a climb is going on, the most difficult thing for a rider to do is cut through the air. If a line of cyclists are riding along, each rider only separated by a couple of inches between back and front wheels, the lead rider is probably putting in as much as 20% more effort than the rider behind him/ her. If you look at the peleton closely, the riders across the front of the bunch may all be down on the drops of their handlebars, pedalling hard to make progress. Those in the middle of the bunch may well be sitting up on the hoods, hardly turning a pedal, chatting away. This is because their effort level to maintain the pace does not include breaking through the air.

In a small group of riders, you will see them in a file, riding what is known as through and off. In this instance, the lead rider will stay on the front for a few hundred meters and then you will see him/ her flick their arm as a signal for the following rider to come through to the front as they peel off and tag on at the back for a slight rest. As the group progresses they take repeating turns at the front.

Some riders may abuse this slightly to increase their chance of a win by feigning fatigue and either taking very short stints at the front or just hanging on at the back or wheel sucking.

The ultimate exhibition of drafting is the Lead Out Train. This is a tactic used by the teams who have a sprinter to challenge for a stage win. They will probably be the teams that are dictating the pace of the peleton in the chase to reel in the breakaway. In the last couple of kilometres you will see the team trying to hold a line with their sprinter at the back. The lead rider of the line will ride as hard as they can to keep the pace high, limiting the opportunities for a last minute lone rider break. As they run out of steam they break off and the next rider keeps the pace going. This repeats until the last 500 meters or so when the last lead out rider goes hell for leather with the sprinter right behind him/ her. Their mission is to use all their energy to deliver their sprinter to a position where he/ she can kick out from behind them and take the stage win. HTC are prime examples of this skill with Mark Renshaw being the man who delivers Mark Cavendish to the line. Cav can (and does) win stages by following the wheel of other sprinters but, his team have become experts at bossing the peleton and putting mark on the launch pad. He rarely lets them down and his appreciation of their hard work is evident in his interviews.

These are diagonal lines of riders combating cross winds. A cross wind is very disruptive to the peleton as shelter from a headwind is easier to find and organise- just get riders in front and swap out regularly. Having a diagonal line only works for the riders in that line. Once the edge of the road is reached, another echelon has to be formed for the tactic to be effective. Because of this, an astute team can cause chaos and, with a perfectly timed acceleration, cause a split in the bunch. The reason a split occurs is because concentration lapses with fatigue and combating a cross wind is hard work.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Catch up

A good couple of days on the Tour recently. Europcars Tommy Voeckler maitaining the Yellow Jersey, Johnny Hoogerland not only continuing to race but holding on to the Polka Dot Jersey, Mark Cavendish winning another stage and now in the Green jersey. NO SERIOUS INCIDENTS!

Lets hopet his can continue.

A big shout out to Johnny Hoogerland though. Watching him step off the podium today, he looked to be really stiff and sore. Hardly surprising after 33 stitches. Jens Voigt better look out. He has competition!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

What an aweful day on the road.

Todays 9th stage of the Tour de France was marred by a couple of incidents which were bad, but could have been much worse.

The first was a crash involving a number of riders where it looks like someone overcooked it on a bend and went down. Others followed but the problem was they were on the outside of the bend on a descent and many went over the barrier and down the hill. Astanas Alexandre Vinkourov was one of those and he has had to abandon with a fractured femur and possible broken hip. A horrible end to what he was billing as his last TdF. Also involved were Dave Zabriskie of Garmine Cervelo (retired with fractured wrist) , Omega Pahrma Lotto leader Jurgen Van Den Broek (retired with broken shoulder blade) and Frederik Willems also of Omega Pharma Lotto (retired- broken collar bone). Others went down in tbe crash including David Millar of Garmin Cervelo but were able to continue.

Whilst this was going on, a breakaway including the ultimate winner of the stage Thomas Voekler of Europcar, Sandy Cassar of Francais des Jeaux, Johnny Hoogerland of Vacansoleil DCM, Juan Antonio Flecha of Team Sky were up the road some 4 or 5 minutes.

In another moment of madness, a TV car started to pass some of the breakaway riders on their left. It suddenly swerved to avoid a tree the driver obviously hadn't noticed, colliding with Flecha who went down heavily on the road. As he did so, Hoogerland was unable to avoid him and hit him, sending him off the road and tangling him up with a barbed wire fence. Flecha was able to get up and running again quite quickly but Hoogerland needed extracating from the fence. Elsewhere on the web are images of Johnny tangled in the fence and with his shorst ripped to shreds. I'm not going to link to them because they are not pleasant for Johnny but, the evidence of his pain is there to see. Later footage showed him with blood streaming down his legs whilst one of the Tour doctors treats him on the move. It turned out he needed a total of 33 stiches in various injuries to his calf, buttocks and thigh. He finished the stage 16'44" down, 139th of 180 finishers. His efforts today saw him taking the King of the Mountains jersey. He was quite tearful on the podium. In his interview after the presentation he was very composed and forgiving of the driver. He put things in perspective reminding everyone that he and the others were still alive. Other incidents this year have been worse. Respect to Johnny.

Tomorrow is a rest day and hopefuly the time will enable a lot of sore riders to recover. It will also give Christian Prudhomme, the Tour Director, time to decide what he and the Tour staff are going to do to reduce the risk posed to the riders by dodgy drivers/ moto riders. Two incidents this Tour are two too many.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Sweet and Sour

That is my take on yesterdays stage of the Tour- the sweetness of another stage win for Mark Cavendish marred by Bradley Wiggins leaving the tour with a broken collar bone. Bradley was on good form this year and I believe he was a contender for a podium place. Give him his dues though, the interview he gave as he left the hospital was quality. The morphine or whatever it was that was killing the pain made him very entertaining.

Anothet casualty of yesterdays crash was Radio Shacks Chris Horner. The winner of this years Tour of California ended up in a ditch in the same incident as Bradley. He obviuosly took a serious crack on the head as, after he crossed the line, he had no memory of the crash and didn't understand why he had finished 12 minutes down. As he was being laid on a stretcher to be taken to hospital afetr finishing, he was still asking if he had finished and where he was. He was withdrawn from the race this morning.

Also retiring before the off today was Tom Boonen. His crash on stage 5 I think it was, also resulted in a concussion, which he was still suffering from. That meant 189 riders staretd this morning.

Today was the first day of more serious climbing with the first category 2 climb of the race and the finish being at the top of a category 3 climb at the ski station at Super Besse. A 9 man break headed out after 6 kilometers and one of them- Movistars Rui Alberto Costa hung on for the remaining 183 kilometers to take the stage. A great ride.

In the peleton, the usual suspects were together, Alberto Contador, Andy and Frank Schleck and Cadel Evans. Cadel finished ahead of the rest but on the same time. He looks in good shape so far.

Not the sort of stage for MArk Cavendish but he got 3 more points for the green jersey.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sky 1

Well done to Team Sky in general and specifically Edvald Boasson Hagen for notching up their first Tour stage win. A really good effort and a much deserved result. The smile on David Brailsfords face was good to see. This could be the boost the team needs to help it settle and capitalise on its good performance so far this tour.

Not so well done to Levi Leipheimer. He lost 1’05” on the main bunch, finishing 91st. His problem was caused by the road markings. White lines and other markings can get very slippery in the rain and yesterday was very wet. It looked like he was on the outside of the bunch, to the right of the road and he drifted onto an edge marking and down he went.

Looking at the start list for yesterday, I saw that the Euskaltel Euskadi rider that I had seen laying in the gutter on stage 5 was Ivan Velasco. He had to retire with a broken collar bone. Hard luck Ivan. He finished the stage on Wednesday, rolling in 12' 43" down on the winner in 193rd place. Gutsy stuff riding with a broken collar bone.

At the start of this morning- stage 7 from Le Mans to Châteauroux, there have been 5 withdrawals, so the race is currently running with 193 riders. Stage 7 is about as flat a stage as you get and looks to be an ideal opportunity for mark Cavendish to add to his tally of wins. In fact, Châteauroux is the scene of his first ever TdF win.

Come on Cav, give it some mate.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Now thats what I'm talking about!

What an epic stage that was yesterday! There are more than a few riders licking their wounds and feeling sore this morning.

I can’t believe how many crashes there were, all on what looked to be very innocuous roads. Bradley Wiggins, Sylvain Chavanel, Laurens Ten Dam and Levi Leipheimer all got involved in a crash early on, necessitating Wiggo having to swap his bike for a while whilst the Team Sky mechanics put it right for him.

Next, Team Radioshack leader Janez Brajkovic crashed with Rabobank rider Robert Gesink. Brajko had to retire and was taken to hospital with a minor head injury and apparently, a busted collar bone. GWS Brajko.

Not content to miss out on the tarmac kissing, the next star to fall was Alberto Contador. He seemed unflappable and just calmly waited for his team car to help him out. He soon lost his cool slightly however as he was seen throwing his bike down whilst waiting for his mechanics later.

Nicki Sorensen got tangled up with a passing Tour motorbike which dumped him onto the verge and tangled his bike up with a passing team car, dragging it 200 yards down the road.

Another crash involved one or two Euskatel Eskadi riders and one was left laying in the gutter for a while. I hope he was OK.

Tom Boonen was also felled, along with team mate Gert Steegmans and Lars Boom of Rabobank. Tom looked very sore, with much road rash and, for a little while I feared he had bust his collar bone also. He rode on but seemed to be favouring his right arm as if in lots of pain.

That wasn’t the end of Tom’s trouble. In the earlier intermediate sprint, Tom, Jose Rojas and Mark Cavendish were all pushing for the 5th spot. Tom and Rojas were all over the road, baulking Cav. Tom and Rojas had their points docked by the commissars after the end of the race. This dropped Rojas out of the Green jersey position, which he had been awarded on the podium post race.

With the main peleton going hard and post crash stragglers trying hard to catch up, with just over 30 km to go Europcars leader (and a top bloke) Thomas Voeckler launched himself off the front in an attack. He was followed by Francaise Des Jeux rider Jeremey Roy and they hung it out there until the 3 km to go banner when Roy got swallowed up. Tommy managed to keep it going for another kilometre but soon got caught.

It was then down to the lead out riders. HTC booster rockets Tony Martin and Matt Goss were in line at the Flamme Rouge (1 km to go banner) and were riding hard. I think Cav had this planned. It was an uphill finish and he wanted the run in to be so fast that others couldn’t launch a sprint. He just stuck to the fastest wheels he could and went for it with about 300m, at which stage he was down in 9th or 10th. He just flew and managed to get past Philippe Gilbert with about 25m left. Now that’s what I’m talking about (thanks Big Al Simpson, my IPMBA Instructor trainer for that one).

That is stage win number 16 for Cav and that puts him up there with Tour legend and 5 time winner Jaques Anquetil. It also gets him back into the points competition fight.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Freedom of the Press?

This post is inspired by my disgust at the developing News of the World phone hacking debacle.

Recent allegations suggest that Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who was jailed for 6 months in 2007 for unlawfully intercepting other persons voicemail messages, managed to hack into the voicemail on the mobile phone of Millie Dowler. The suggestion is that Mulcaire listened to frantic messages from Millie’s family and, when the mailbox was full, deleted messages to make room for more. The fact that messages were being accessed and deleted was probably available to Police investigating her disappearance. The obvious conclusion to draw was that Millie was probably alive. We know this not to be the case as Millie’s body was found 6 months later and, last month Levi Bellfield convicted of her murder.

This activity is, in my mind, outrageous and indefensible. It is only right and proper that the Press maintains its freedom to investigate and report as this is an important weapon in the fight against wrong BUT, there are limits beyond which even a totally free press may not step. Mulcaire overstepped. Anyone in the hierarchy at the News of the World, News International or News Corp with knowledge of this activity needs to be brought to book.

Aussie Rules

Way to go Cadel!

A gutsy ride by Cadel Evans and good support from the Team BMC after the mechanical within the last 20km or so. Just hung on long enough to pip Alberto Contador by the width of a tyre at the line.

Not the sort of stage to suit Mark Cavendish who, after gaining 7 points on the intermediate sprint, rolled in with the rest of the sprinters 4 minutes 17 seconds down.

Today could be another for him to target though. The route between Carhaix and Cap Fréhel is 165km and include only one categorised climb, the 4th cat. Cõte de Gurnhuel at 45.5 km. The rest of the stage is relatively easy going with gentle rolling hills, setting up for a sprint finish?

What could put the cat amongst the pigeons however is the fact that the last 70km run lose to or along the Brittany coast so, wind could play a major part.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Well done Tyler Farrar. Not so well done the Commissars

At last Garmin Cervelo rider Tyler Farrar has got a TdF stage win under his belt. A good sprint by him and his team. It was quite moving to see him saluting his friend Wouter Weylandt who we lost at the Giro Click for image and story

Tyler and Wouter were best friends and Tyler was absolutely devastated by his loss.

For me though, the stage was spoiled by the reaction of the Commissars to what they must have thought was outrageously dangerous riding. Disqualifying Mark Cavendish and Thor Hushovd from the intermediate sprint results. Yes there was a bit of contact but hey, that is what sprinters do. It looked like Thor wanted to get onto the wheel of the rider ahead of Cav, which is a legitimate tactic. Cav wasn't going to let him, which is also a legitimate tactic. Thor tried to ease Cav out of the way, Cav leaned into Thor a bit to stop him. Both are experienced and skilled sprinters so, no risk, no danger, no problem- unless you are a Commissar.

The Commissars are the 'referees' of the race, keeping an eye on wht is going on, ruling on any disputes and dealing with any breaches of the rules. This time they got it wrong, horribly wrong. If sprinters are going to be penalised every time there is a bit of contact in the race, things are going to get very pedestrian and boring.

Thor lost 4 points in this but Cav, who was first across the line in the peleton (but 6th across the line in total because of the breakaway), lost 10 points. Thor apparently offered to take the punishment alone but Cav was still disqualified. A nice gesture by Thor.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Tour continues

Well done to Team Garmin Cervelo winning todays Team Time Trial and getting Thor Hushovd into the Yellow Jersey and David Millar into second on the same time. A very good ride. In fact, there were a few good rides today, BMC surprising many by getting second spot and putting Cadel Evans into third in the GC, just 4 seconds off the pace. Team Sky had a good run at it also, finishing third and getting Geraint Thomas up to 4th in the GC, also 4 seconds off the pace. If Sky play their cards right over the next few days, Geraint could find himslef in Yellow, the first Welshman to do so. Give it some G!

Mark Cavendish and the boys had a good ride, finishing in 5th place. They were hindered today though as they lost Bernard Eisel from the train very early. It looked like he and another HTC team member may have touched wheels in a tight left bend which took Bernard down. The course being so short, they rest of the boys couldn't really afford to wait for him so they had one less person to take their turn on the front. Chin up guys. Early days.

And they're off!

So the Tour is under way.

A good stage today to get the ball rolling (or at least I thought so). Good result for Phillipe Gilbert, he's having a stonking year! Not so good for Alberto, what with being on the wrong side of that big crash with about 10k to go. Over a minute and a half down I think.
I bet that spectator that collected the Astana rider to set crash in action has got a sore shoulder.

It looks like the organisers have changed the rules for the points competition. Instead of 2 or three intermediate sprints earning the firs three riders 3, 2 and 1 points, this year there is just one intemediate sprint per stage with 20 points on offer to the first rider and the next 14 riders also earn points. The stage finishes have different points totals as well-

On Flat stages, first place takes 45 points, then 35, 30, 26, 22, 20, 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2.
On Medium Mountains stages, first place takes 30 points, then 25, 22, 19, 17, 15, 13, 11, 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
On High Mountain stages, first place takes 20, then 17, 15, 13, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
For Time Trial stages, first place takes 20, then 17, 15, 13, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
This seems, on first glance, to favour the sprinters like Mark Cavendish. It may result in some tactical changes however. We will have to see.

More on tactics when I do the next Laymans (or Laywomans) guide.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Allez Allez!

This evening sees the commencement of my annual three weeks of staying up late to watch the highlights of the days Tour de France stage.

The race actually starts tomorrow but, British Eurosport being the Damn Good Eggs that they are, are showing a Mark Cavendish special plus two previews, one about the main contenders for the race and the other being the official introduction of the teams.

Seeing as how Cav is the Official Pro Cyclist of The Secret Cyclist blog (not that he knows, but I know), it would be very remiss of me not to watch him wouldn’t it? The other two programmes are proper fan fodder and I will watch them cos it is cycling on the tellybox, which is A Good Thing.

A Layman’s (or Laywoman’s) guide to the Tour de France (TdF) Part 1

The TdF starts on the first Saturday in July each year and finishes on the Sunday, 3 weeks later. This entails 21 days racing with 2 rest days. This year, the rest days are between stages 9 and 10 and stages 15 and 16.

Most years, the first day is a prologue, a short Time Trial stage of 5 to 10 kilometres. This year however, stage 1 is a full on mass start stage of 191.5 kilometres.

There are 4 types of stage in the Tour. Time Trail (TT) stages, ‘flat stages’, medium mountain stages and high mountain stages.

For TT stages each rider sets off individually at timed intervals. Stage lengths are between 20 to 50 kilometres roughly and it is literally a race against the clock. There is another TT type, called the Team Time Trial (TTT) where each team sets off together and rides as fast as it can over the course. The Teams time is taken as the 5th rider crosses the line. If all 9 members of the team finish together, they get the time of the 5th rider. If the team splits, the first 5 riders get the time of the 5th rider. The remaining riders get their own actual time.

Team Lampre's TT bikes at Monaco the day before the prologue for the TdF 2009

Cav on the prologue in Monaco for the TdF 2009

Flat stages are pretty much just that, flat of lightly rolling roads with no climbs of note. These tend to be targeted by sprinters for stage wins.

A team Liquigas Cannondale being prepared for Stage 1 of the 2009 TdF (Mrs Secret Cyclist in the background)

Medium mountain stages involve more strenuous climbing but not the really hard mountains.

High mountains are just that, lung busting, leg killing mountain passes and summit finishes.

There are 5 separate competitions within the race as follows-

The General Classification (GC). The leader in the GC is the leader of the race overall. He is identified by the fabled Yellow Jersey (Maillot Jaune). This is the rider with the smallest aggregate time for the race at the start of each stage. Contenders for the ultimate prize need to be very good all round riders. In recent years, contenders have been strong climbers with good time trialling ability.

The Points Competition, often called the Sprinters competition. The leader in this competition is identified as he wears the Green Jersey (Maillot Vert). Each road stage includes one or two intermediate sprints. Points are awarded in descending order to the first three riders across the line- 6, 4 then 2 points. The same happens at the end of stages also but, a stage winner can gain up to 35 points on a flat stage, with the first 25 riders earning points down to 1 point. On Medium Mountain stages it is the first 20 riders with the points range between 25 and 1. On High Mountain stages the first 15 riders earn between 15 and 1 point. TT stages also have points, ranging between 15 and 1 for the first 10 riders.
The winner of the point’s competition is the rider with most points who finishes the Tour

King of the Mountains (KoM) who is identified by the Polka Dot jersey (Maillot a pois rouges). This is a white jersey with red polka dots. This competition is another point’s competition, where the points are earned by being in the first number of riders to cross the line on climbs. The climbs in the TdF fall into 5 different categories, depending on their length, gradient and where they occur in a stage.
The easiest climbs are 4th category climbs with 3, 2 and 1 points being awarded to the first 3 across the line.
Next is 3rd cat climbs with between 4 and 1 points awarded to the first 4 riders.
2nd cat climbs have the first 6 riders earning between 10 and 5 points.
1st cat climbs earn the first 8 riders between 15 and 5 points.
That leaves climbs that are beyond classification or Hors Categorie (HC). These are the steepest, longest and hardest climbs in the Tour. The first 10 riders on HC climbs earn between 20 and 5 points.
The winner of the KoM completion is the rider with most climbing points who finishes the Tour.

Best Young Rider who is identified by the White Jersey (Maillot Blanc). This competition is amongst all riders under 26 years of age as of 1st January that year. The leader in the competition is the qualifying rider highest up the GC competition.

The Team Competition is similar to the GC but is worked out using the time of the best three riders of each team, each day. The team leading this competition is identified by the numbers on their jerseys being black numbers on a yellow background as opposed to the standard black on white.

It is common for the same rider to lead several competitions. In the event this is the case, he wears the jersey of the higher competition so, a rider leading the points and GC competition would wear the yellow jersey. The rider second in the lower competition then wears the competition jersey. As a result, not every rider you see wearing a competition jersey is actually the leader (apart from the GC jersey).

Not a competition but, seen by many fans of the race as a badge of honour, is the Lantern Rouge or red Lantern. This is the rider last in the overall classification- the rider who has taken the longest time so far. In early years, the Lantern Rouge was just that, a small red light on the back of that rider’s bike. I think (though am not certain at the moment) that the Lantern Rouge wears red numbers on a white background.

More later.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

The countdown begins

Tomorrow night is the start of three weeks of late nights as I sit up after Mrs Secret Cyclist has gone to bed, watching the days recording of the Tour de France highlights.

The tour kicks off on Saturday but tomorrow, Eurosport is showing a Mark Cavandish special which, seeing as Cav is the Official Pro Cyclist of the Secret Cyclist blog (not that he knows, but I know), it would be wrong of me not to watch, followed by two previews, one about the General Classification contenders and another being the official introduction of the teams.

Get in there!

A brief idiots guide to the Tour de France-

It starts on the first Saturday in July and finsihes on the Sunday 3 weeks later.

The first day is usually (though not always) a prologue, a short time trial (TT) stage of around 5 to 10 kilometers.

There are 6 competitions within the race-

General Classification or GC. This rider wears the fabled Maliot Jaune or yellow jersey. It is worn by the rider who has clocked up the shortest combined time for the race as it progresses. A GC contender needs to be a good all round rider but recently,good climbers with TT ability have faired well.

The points competition (often refered to as the sprinters competition). The leader in thei competiton wears the green jersey. Points are awarded in most road stages at intermediate sprints (usually 2 per stage) where the first few riders accross the line get points in descending order. There are also points (a larger total) won at the end of a stage, which is why the likes of Cav or Thor Hushovd are seen in the jersey a lot. Sprint stage winners can gain 35 points per stage.

The King of the Mountain (KoM) who wears the polka dot jersey (white with red polka dots). This is similar in style to the points jersey but the points are won by being first to cross the line on classified climbs. There are 5 classes of climb from Cat 4 being the easiets categorised climb, getting harder (steeper and/ or longer) through Cats 3,2 and 1 and then onto Hors Categorie (HC) of out of category. These climbs are those that are so long and sustained that getting up them sometiems leaves quality climbers shattered.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

I found someones map!

On my ride home after work this evening I happened across a couple partaking of a cycle touring holiday. They were riding in the opposite direction and needed directions to Maidenhead. As I helped them, I thought I detected a Dutch accent (Yes Tommy, a Dutch accent. The time spent with you has rubbed off and added to my accent identification skills!).

I pointed them in the right direction and left them to continue their journey. About 5 minutes up the road however I spied a map laying in the middle of the road. I stopped and checked it out and found it to be a tourist map of the Thames Valley. I guessed that one of the couple I had met a few minutes ago had lost it so tucked it into my jersey pocket, turned round and gave chase.

I followed the route I had given them but got to the main junction with no sign of them. I had looked along a couple of side roads as I passed without seeing them either. Not happy I decided to turn round and try the main side road but got a considerable way along it without finding the couple. I thought al was lost and turned round again to make my way home but, as I rode back towards my route home I saw the couple riding towards me. I stopped and handed their map over.

It turned out that they had seen a small cycle path sign saying Maidenhead was 2 miles along a cycle path. They had tried to follow but, British cycle facilities being what they are, they found that they couldn't get their luggage laiden Dutch Bikes through the narrow barriers just along from the start of the route. They had turned round and decided to follow the road.

We chatted for a little while and I learned that they started the day in Oxford and had cycled along paths along the banks of the Thames, planning to ride to London but, on reaching Marlow they decided that the route was too rough so decided to head for Maidenhead and get the train into London. I was right about their accent, they were from the Netherlands, living near to Arnhem. I explained that I had a friend who was a Bike Cop in Den Haag (The Hague) and the guy said he was born in Den Haag and their son lived in Scheveningen. I know someone who lives in Scheveningen don't I Tommy?

I said goodbye to them and finished my ride home. An extra 22 minutes and an extra 5 1/2 miles on the commute. All miles are good miles.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Awesome light this morning

As I went to bed last night, I was wondering where the thunder storms that the weather bods had suggested were coming had got to.

Their absence led to a hot sticky night but, on waking up at stupid o'clock this morning, the sky had clouded over and the temperature had dropped quite markedly.

Whilst I was in the kitchen preparing my (and No.1 Sons) lunch and feeding the cats, there were a couple of flashes of lightning, followed a second or two later by rolling thunder (for Vietnam Veterans I mean the noisy natural weather phenomenon, not the noisy B52 induced phenomenon). I expected to get very wet on the ride in.

Once the lunches had been done, tea drunk and Shredded Wheat consumed, I got dressed and went out to the bike. The sky was still dark but no rain was falling so I decided to risk no waterproof jacket as that would have been far too hot. Within 5 minutes of setting out the sun started to make a concerted effort to break through. The light was amazing. I can only describe it as glowing silver, a sort of mean and moody black and white film atmosphere. Something to behold.

I bet the drivers didn't even register it.

I arrived at work without getting rained on, though the last half mile or so were on damp roads. There was a lot of very wet cycling kit hanging in the changing room.

I love riding my bike.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Legs still missing

Rode home this evening (bike lives at work over the weekend) and my legs are still missing in action.

Just under 7 miles took 1 minute 30 seconds more than my average summer homeward commute.

If you have got my legs, can I have them back please?

If you see them skulking around somewhere, have a word with them and direct them home.


Where have my legs gone?

That was the question I was asking myself yesterday afternoon as I rode a gentle but steepening climb out of Stonor, near Henley.

The day started really well. I managed to delay the getting out of bed bit until gone 9:00 a.m. Result! Then it was into the garden for a bit of leylandii butchery. A couple of hours trimming a couple of trees in our garden resulted in a bin and two bags full of cuttings and me covered in scratches. I then relaxed with a coffee surveying my domain.

After lunch I decided it was time for a ride so kitted up and headed out. By this time, the warm day was getting decidedly hot so I was expecting a bit of a sweaty expedition. As I rode out of Marlow towards Henley I was passed by a guy who eased off once he was just ahead. I caught up and we had a nice chat for about 5 miles until we got to Henley. It turned out that he and a mate were out for a bit of an Iron Man training day. They had been open water swimming (very tempting in the heat!) and were finishing on the bike. He reckoned he would have done about 110 miles all told by the time he got home.

After we parted company, I turned right towards Nettlebed and, on reaching the right fork toward Pishill and Stonor, I followed this route. It was the climb up towards the junction to Christmas Common or Watlington that had me wondering what the hell had happened to my legs. They just weren't working. I was struggling to climb an ascent that barely registered normally. Hopefully it was the heat.

On reaching the top I turned left towards Nettlebed and got my oomph back as I rode the gently rolling road. When I got to Nettlebed I turned left onto the A4130 back towards Henley. As I did so, a peleton went past in the opposite direction, towards Wallingford. I guess a race was on as the peleton was followed by a few vehicles including an AW Cycles van (cracking bike shop in Caversham but don't enter if you have your credit card with you- you have been warned about the ensuing spend frenzy urge) and an ambulance.

I continued to recover as I rode into Henley and decided to turn left and retrace my route back to Marlow, planning to finish with a 30 mile ride. The best laid plans however tend to turn to crap when I try them. I got to Hambleden and should have kept going but, for some inexplicable reason, turned left. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I turned off and, sure enough, a few hundred yards up the road, as I saw the sign for the left turn towards Rotten Row, my bike inexplicably took this left turn. A couple of hundred yards of relatively flat road then it starts to go up. Once it has finished going up it goes up some more! There I was, standing out of the saddle trying to dance on the pedals. I must have two left feet however because the 'dancing' turned into me barely being able to keep going forward. My legs had done another disappearing act. Gits!

I just made it to the top and was able to keep rolling, with a few little descent s and minor ascents between me and home. It turned into a 32.68 mile ride.

Just to add insult to injury, on arrival home I stripped down to my bib shorts and sat in the garden to relax a bit. It was at that time that the sweat boost hit me and the leylandii rash started to sting like you wouldn't believe. Why do we do it eh?

Monday, 13 June 2011

Trophies and Medals

Well done to Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky for his GC win in the Criterium du Dauphine. Wiggo is only the third Brit to take the trophy after Brian Robinson in 1961 and Robert Millar in 1990. This was a tremendous performance by him and his team, some of whom roded themselves into the ground keeping him safe and defending the gold jersey.

Another shout also goes out to The Secret Cyclists adopted Pro Cyclist. None other than my boss, Queen Elizabeth II has seen fit to declare him a good ol boy by awarding him an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in her Birthday Honours list. Well done Cav.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Mark Cavendish

The Manx Missile

I have just finished reading his autobiography- Mark Cavendish, Boy Racer

and thoroughly enjoyed the read. The opening few pages, aptly named the prologue are him talking through the final 100 kilometres or so of a stage in the TdF where he feels he can take it. As the stage winds down to the last few hundred meters the tension climbs and for me, I was right there with him.

The book then goes on to take you through his involvement in the 2008 Tour with each chapter represented as a stage, each stage also looking back to a particular period in his life and his development from a keen young rider, through amateur to the fastest sprinter in the world. The edition I have also includes a chapter taking in his epic 2009 6 stage wins. I recommend this book.

One thing about reading this book is that my opinion of Cav has changed. I always liked him but, I thought that he was a somewhat arrogant bloke. He says in the book that a lot of folk have him twigged as an 'arrogant prick', well, I didn't take it that far but arrogant was in my description. Before the book, I thought this was the natural, necessary arrogance for someone who is and wants to remain, the best in the world at what he does. I now understand that he isn't so much arrogant, as driven. Driven to repay the balls out effort and suffering of the team mates he loves and knows are so important in his ability to get the results he does.

Mark Cavendish has now been officially adopted as The Secret Cyclists supported Pro Rider.

Others will get my support but Cav is the main man.

Mrs Secret Cyclist has booked the hotel and flights for us to be in Paris for the weekend of 24th July 2011. Hopefully I will be cheering Cav across the line on the Champs Elysées for his third win on that stage in succession.

Go get em Cav.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The hills are alive with the sound of- PAIN!

I have been watching the highlights of both the Giro d Italia and the Tour of California over the last few days. The last 2 days of the Giro and Saturday’s stage of the Tour of California both involved some rather 'lumpy' territory.

Watching the Radio Shack duo Levi Leipmheimer and Chris Horner as they went up Mount Baldy was a sight to see. How the hell Horner can keep smiling whilst he does this is beyond me. Plus this dude being 39 years old! Well done that apprentice pensioner. Respect. The mountain name is quite apt as well considering the tonsurial elegance of our two heroes.



The climb of Baldy looks to have the potential to become the ‘Mythical Stage’ for the ToC that all tours need- Ventoux/ ď Heuz in the Tour de France, Zoncolan/ Mortirolo in the Giro. The fans were all over the place on this climb, right in the face of the riders- like they are in the other classic climbs. Just the sort of spectacle to improve the feel of the ToC.

As for the Giro, Watching the suffering going on on Monte Zoncolan was awesome. Some of the sections looked like they were almost vertical. The climbs in the Giro are not as long as they are in the TdF but they are certainly steeper. To add insult to injury in the Giro, some of the climbs they use finish on unmade tracks. The riders can’t stand up in the pedals and honk up the hills as the wheels spin out!

I love it.

Friday, 20 May 2011

(Not) On Yer Bike

This month is proving to be absolutley abysmal on the commuting front.

Because of stuff I have going on at work, I am spending far too much time driving to and from work and various other locations.

To date, I have commuted 2 journeys, one to and one from work. That is out of a possible 16 journeys.

How crap is that? The way things are going, it isn't going to improve any time soon.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Cruel and Unusual punishment

Thats what I call it anyway.

On Saturday afternoon, Mrs Secret Cyclist and I were walking along Maidenhead High Street when we passed DNA Cycles. I stopped in my tracks because, hanging in the window was this beauty-

"That is a gorgeous bike" says I.

"Yes it is. Do you want it?" Says Mrs SC!

Do I want it? Of course I want it!

Bank Manager says No at the moment though.......

Cruel and Unusual.

Secret Cyclist activates Scheming Mode.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Wouter Weylandt

As I have mentioned before, I love to watch the Giro 'd Italia and the first couple of days had me glued to the TV, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. HTC coming out on top in the Tea, Time Trial for Stage 1, Mark Cavendish getting the Maglia Rosa after Stage 2.

All this eneded yesterday when I saw the news about the tragic death of Wouter Weylandt, a talented young rider who was to become a father for the first time in September.

I don't know what happened to cause his crash and I don't expect to find out any time soon. What I do know is that there is a bunch of guys this morning, probably as I write, who are riding the roads of Italy, taking part in one of the best sporting events in the world, and they are feeling low. It is now up to the spectators to show their repect for Wouter and appreciation fo the rest of the riders and do what they can to raise the spirits of the athletes as they pass.

Some may suggest that the race should be cancelled. Some may suggets his team mates should go home. I suggest that the race continue and his team mates ride like the wind to win for their fallen colleague.

RIP Walter.

Monday, 2 May 2011


I never thought of myself as a 'Club Rider' when it came to my leisure riding. I had looked at various clubs in my area and they seemed to be too competitive for me.

What I was looking for was company when I went out of a weekend, someone to chat to whilst riding, someone to share experiences with, someone from whom I could learn.

Well, I seem to have hit the jackpot.

Marlow Riders is a new group in my area, born from a group of runners called Marlow Striders. A number of this group are/ were apparently suffering the problem that hits many long term runners- their knees were telling them to knock it on the head. Then another of the group had a brainwave. He wanted to invite as many friends as could make it to join him in paris for dinner to celebrate his 60th Birthday. The qualifier? He and they were riding to Paris. Many took him up on his offer and had to go out and buy bikes and other riding equipment. They then had to put in the training as the ride was over 3 days, finishing with an imperial century to the Champs-Élysées. They made it and a jolly good time was had by all.

I now have folk I can meet with on a Saturday or Sunday morning for a social ride.

One unexpected benefit of this is that I am discovering parts of the area surrounding where I live that i didn't know. Over the last few weeks I have been introduced to some stunning scenery and some cracking new climbs.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Brooks saddles

The other day whilst sorting through my 'Box 'O Bits' I rediscovered my Brooks team Pro-

This used to be fitted to my work patrol bike and I removed it when I 'retired' from bike patrol. I decide to fit it to G G G G granville, my commuter/ tourer.

A Brooks saddle is a thing of beauty. All I need to do now is get my backside reaquainted with the saddle.

Yehuda believed it?

One of my regular sites to visit (and one of my favourites) is Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery.

On visiting today I saw that they were inviting folk to add the daily comic to their blog.

"Why not" thought I.

Hope you like the addition.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Time Travel

I don't know about your riding habits but I am an all weather cyclist. I commute by bike come rain, shine, ice, snow- whatever.

I will put my hands up and admit to the odd chikening out session when the wind is stupidly strong and gusty (I do not want to get blown accross the road into/ under a truck or bus).

I do have favourite weather conditions however and this time of year is when my favourite conditions start to crop up. Warm but not too hot, clear and bright.

These conditions make me smile and feel far too chirpy when I'm in the saddle.

Another benefit of this warmer weather is that it creates my new found ability for time travel.

My regular commute to work takes in Marlow High Street, accross William Tierney Clarks suspension bridge, left after the Compleat Angler Hotel and up Quarry Wood Road. This first section of my commute takes me 10 minutes to the top of the hill. This morning saw the time travel kick in and I got to the top of the hill in 9 minutes.

Dr Who eat your heart out.

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Bats are back in town!

Every spring, SWMBO and I spend time in the evenings keeping an eye out through the patio doors waiting for the first bat of the year.

Last night was the night. At about 7:30 we spied a lone bat doing aerobatics around the garden hunting bugs for dinner. It spent about 10 minutes doing circuits and loops and wingovers, at times nearly bouncing off the windows.

In previous years we have had usually 2 but occasionally 3 bats doing their thing at the same time.

I love watching bats.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Happy Birthday Mrs Secret Cyclist

The young lady (in the red T shirt) below is Anne, Mrs Secret Cyclist, my loveley wife. She celebrates her birthday today.

I'm too much of a gentleman to tell you which birthday but, it is a milestone.

Needless to say, I love her as much today as I did mummmbley mumbley years ago when I first met her.

Happy Birthday Darling


Thursday, 24 March 2011


The other day I posted about Cherry Blossom and it being Spring hurrah!

Well- Spring? Hurrah!

Chuffing Hayfever? Gaaaahhh!

That is all.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Punishing killers on our roads

Yesterday the family of Rhiannon Bennett, a teenaged girl killed when she was struck by a cyclist on a road in Buckingham in 2007 were present in the House of Commons when their MP presented a 10 minute bill to the house. The Dangerous and reckless Cycling Bill will now receive its second reading in November 2011.

This incident was tragic and I believe that all road users who, by reason of reckless or negligent action, cause the death of another should be punished accordingly.

My slight problem with this matter however is that the outcry over the incident that caused the family to lobby their MP was because the cyclist, Jason Howard was convicted of Dangerous Cycling and fined £2200.

I imagine that Rhiannons family expected a custodial sentence. If this was their expectation I fully understand it. This was not an option available to the Magistrates however as there is no prison sentence tariff for this offence.

I believe the option of sending the responsible party to prison should be open in all cases arising from a death of another being the result of someone’s actions. All I ask is that the punishments are used equally and fairly- driver, rider, or pedestrian.

There are plenty of examples of drivers causing deaths and being 'punished' by paltry fines.

Hollywood Happenings

Yesterday Captain Kirk (William Shatner) made to to Birthday number 80. Well done that man.

Today, Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor)passed away aged 79. Thanks for the memories Liz.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Yay! Spring had sprung.

Cherry Blossom!

Loads of it on the trees on the way in to work this morning.

Crocuses, Daffodils, Snowdrops.


It makes me sad also though. The Cherry Blossom is very important to Japan.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Japan- Tsunami.

Recent days have been quite stressful for the likes of me and my colleagues, what with reports being published after reviews of both police pay and conditions and Public Sector workers pensions. Needless to say, I and many of the folk I work with are not exactly happy.

I woke up this morning however, to see the news about the earthquake off the north east coast of Japan and the devestating effect of the subsequent tsunami. Watching some of the footage of the deluge as it literally ate up the land was horrifying.

It certainly put my minor worries into perspective.

My youngest son was in Japan until November last year and, had everything panned out the way he wanted it to, he would still be out there now. Admittedly he was in Okazaki, some way south of the area hit by the catastrophe but, who knows, he may have decided to take himself to other parts of the country to explore. I don't want to think about the worry I would be going through right now if he had still been out there.

My thoughts are with the Japanes people.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The bond between Man and his Best Friend

I watched the news last night and it included an item and documentary footage about this incident.

L/Cpl Liam Tasker was working in Afghanistan with his explosive detection dog Theo when Liam was shot and killed by a sniper. Sadly the incident seems to have been so traumatic for Theo that he sufferd a siezure and died back at base.

I have worked with dogs and handlers in both the Police and Army and the bond between the members of these little teams is painfuly obvious, particularly within the military.

I am not ashamed to say a tear came to my eye as I watched the item.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A right result!

A few days ago I posted about some friends who had a lot of their bikes stolen. Well, Check this out!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Frinds have had their bikes stolen!

See here

I have just learned that some good friends from ealing have had a goodly selection of their stable of bikes stolen. Have a look at the above link for me and, if you see or hear about any of the bikes, let Charlotte or Liz know.


Doping in sport

I have kept away from the debate whilst the Alberto Contador saga was played out. Now it has come to a conclusion and, with the comments from some folk following Lance Armstrong announcing his retirement, I thought I would say my piece.

Alberto Contador has undergone examination by his national governing body and was found to be not guilty of doping. End of. Time to move on.
Fans of our sport may not agree with the findings but the verdict has been passed and we need to put the matter behind us.
My personal feelings are that I pray he was truthful. I enjoyed watching him in the 2010 Tour de France and to have that enjoyment destroyed if he had doped would be tragic for me.

Lance Armstrong continues to be subject of accusations and rumour about practices he allegedly involved himself in during his epic journey to 7 Tour de France victories.
I think he should be left alone. During his career, he has been subject to numerous in and out of competition tests, each of which he passed at the time.
The thought that Armstrong is a liar and cheat is something I do want to contemplate. Watching him race was great. The time trial ability, ‘The Look’ that Jan Ullrich received as he was passed by Lance, the recovery from the spectators bag induce crash, the cyclocross escapade after Beloki crashed out- all fantastic memories, memories I want to cherish. If it turned out he doped, these memories will be diminished. Not destroyed because they were still good things to watch, but sadly diminished all the same.

What is my take on the fight against the scourge of doping?

I think the time has come to take the responsibility away from national and international sporting governing bodies and national anti doping agencies.

All aspects of doping control should be the responsibility of one international agency with law enforcement status in each signatory country, perhaps overseen by an already existing international organisation - the United Nations. I know we have WADA but, they seem to be more an oversight committee than a control agency. I will call this agency the ADA for the rest of this post.

Doping and associated offences should be subject to criminal conviction in the countries where either the sporting event took place or the home country of the athlete involved, with custodial sentences the automatic outcome of positive tests, which strikes me as a stronger deterrent than a 2 year ban. This is a good reason to have the UN oversee the ADA.

This one agency should be responsible for sample collection, delivery to labs that they control and testing. Knowledge of what labs are being used during a particular competition should be possessed only by staff of the ADA.

International and national governing bodies should be required to sign up to the ADA constitution under penalty of exclusion from international competition. The International Olympic Committee would obviously need to be a very early signatory.

In competition testing should include all athletes finishing in the top 3 of an individual event and random testing should account for at least 10% of athletes not falling within that category by the end of an event (so 10% of riders in the TdF for example, who did not top 3 on any stage would still have been tested by the conclusion of the last stage on at least one occasion). Team events such as Football, Cricket, Rugby etc should be subject to 10% of the players at each event being tested.

Out of competition testing should be unannounced. Athletes should be required to keep the ADA appraised of their whereabouts at all times if away from home overnight. They should also be contactable at all times. The ADA should be able to contact an athlete to establish there whereabouts at all times. This would then facilitate testers attending the athletes’ location and obtaining samples. Procedures should be established to take into account such situations as an athlete being at a cinema/ theatre/ other venue/ situation where having a mobile phone go off would get them lynched.

Athletes not wishing to be subjected to these stringent lifestyle intrusions have a choice- don’t compete. If you want to compete, you sign up.

Retrospective testing of samples e.g. testing Lance Armstrong’s samples from the 1999 TdF in 2011 doesn’t happen. If it passes the scrutiny of the day, it passes.

Breaches of confidentiality and integrity of the processes and systems should be treated as criminal offences in the country the breaches occurred.

Testing labs should ideally be owned by the ADA but, in the event this is not possible, ADA officers should be posted to each accredited lab on a permanent basis with the responsibility of ensuring the labs comply with the rules, practices and conditions required for robust and resilient results.

This is going to be an expensive undertaking but it is a necessary expense I think.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Rising to the challenge

I got jumped on the way to work this morning.

I was riding the tourer along Quarry Wood Road, minding my own business when a 20" wheeled bike passed me at about 4- 5 MPH faster than I was progressing. The pilot was dressed in all the wrong gear for a folding type bike, but all the RIGHT gear for a commuter race - tights, waterproof jacket, ski cap etc. As he passed my ears heard a cheery "Good Morning" but, my Babel Fish translated this to a cynical "Race is on you sluggish, tourer mounted toad"

This narked me slightly so I started formulating my attack. We were fast (he faster than me) approaching the climb out of Marlow towards Cookham Dean and, knowing I was good on that climb, I relaxed. I let my prey eke out a lead of about 100 meters and, as he negotiated the right hand bend at the bottom of the hill, I looked on with glee. Just as I expected, my prey was exhibiting all the characteristics of a flat road sprinter. He could not put any more distance between us on the start of the climb.

I too negotiated the bend and dropped down a chainring and a sprocket or two. As I did this I stood out of the saddle and started to spin. I gained on my prey quite quickly and, as I passed him I said, breathing easily "There you go sucker, eat my dust", which I think his Babel Fish translated as "I can't think of a better way to start the day". he responded "Yes, it certainly gets the blood pumping" which was Babel Fished to "Ye Gods Sir, your awesome climbing power is too much for me!" I was through the hairpin and gone before he got half way up the first straight.

Commuter Racing- I love it!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Band of Less Brothers

I was sad to read yesterday of the recent death of Major Richard Winters in the USA on 2nd January 2011.

Dick Winters and his men were subject of a book about their experiences in WW2 during the invasion of Europe, which was subsequently filmed as the HBO mini series 'Band of Brothers'.

As a young Leiutenant, he commanded a platoon of paratroops- 'Easy' Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division when they dropped into Normandy on D Day and beyond.

He and his troops were decorated for a number of actions and one of them- The Brecourt Manor Assault on a fixed position of German artillery pieces shelling Utah Beach is still taught at West Point today as a text book example of such an action.

An inspired and inspirational leader.