Taiwan Local Bike Shop Extraordinaire

Due to the excellent T-Mosaic bike shop having moved location, my default LBS is now the Author Bikes shop about 4km from my house here in Taichung, Taiwan.

This place is massive, and in all honesty I’d be quite happy to live here. They have three levels in the store and another two above, one that holds a meeting room and the top one an apartment. I was told that it was designed along similar lines to the Storck HQ in Europe.

You may not have heard of Author Bikes, they are from the Czech Republic, and have been going for 20 years now, quite popular in Taiwan and their racing team operates out of this store too.

The store has a huge sales area over two floors, and the basement houses a big mechanic area, a gym, a roller room with custom build support/lockers. a club room, power shower and bike cleaning area. A pretty sweet set-up, though how they make their money I have no idea!

A few hastily taken images here for you to get the idea.

 

 

Uli Fluhme & Pietro Caucchioli’s little chat, doping, and the tainted legacy of certain brands

Uli Fluhme and his wife run the Gran Fondo New York organisation and have a very clear rule in, or all places, their rule book, that states that no rider that has been banned for doping, ever, can compete in their events.

3D

Participate yes, race, no.

When he got an email from Pietro Caucchioli asking if he could start at the front in the GFNY, he said no, but you can do participate and start at the back, explaining that the front line was for competitors, not riders who had served doping suspensions.

Some background on Mr. Caucchioli’s career, with Alessio, Credit Agricole and Lapmre:

2001 Giro d’Italia

9th GC, winner Stage 8 & 17

2002 Giro

3rd GC

2004 Tour de France

11th Overall

2005 Giro

8th overall

2006 Vuelta a Espana

Led the Mountains Classification, Stages 9-11

Then Pietro got suspended for “abnormal testing results” in 2009 and he was sanctioned by the UCI on the basis of his biological passport on 3 June, 2010. He was banned for two years and lost his contract with Lampre, and did not return to the top ranks. He now works for Ale bike wear.

And who says doping pays? You cynics!

Ale, left red-faced in his pink kit

Caucchioli, left red-faced in his pink kit

Uli went on a closed FaceBook page that I am a member of that discusses all things doping, a page whose other members include several former pro riders, fans, journalists and similar folk who aren’t exactly the biggest fans of doping, and posted the messages you are about to read below. He granted permission for me to publish this.

Uli Fluhme (to the FB page members): We recently had a former pro ask for a front start at Gran Fondo New York. I decided to make our conversation public because these guys haven’t understood anything. Note: parts in […] are pertaining to an expo booth and not relevant to this part of the conversation.

PC: Hi Uli,
[…]
For the race me for sure I want to race and Al [name edited] is not sure 100%, I need to pay to race? I was 3rd, 8th and 9th in the General at Tour of Italy and I won to stages also at same race, 11th and 12th at the Tour the France…
Probably I have some people who want to race also and I would like to know if they can start with me in the first group ( for them i will pay )…I don’t race to be in the front but I want to enjoy the day with some dealers and friends.
[…]
Cheers.
Pietro

UF: Hi Pietro
[…]
Of course I know your racing history. GFNY is open to everyone, pros and amateurs alike. However, riders who have served a doping ban will not receive a timing chip and have to pay their entry. Usually they will be starting from the same corral as their age group but you can start like all exhibitors in the third corral.
Rule 2.2: https://granfondony.com/granfondo-2014/race/rules/
[…]
Many thanks
Uli

PC: Hi Uli,
I didn’t read this rules and 2 years ago I start at the same Granfondo with the chip in the first 200, I don’t want the chip, I am not interested in the real race and my friends also.
I will speak with Al, about this, thanks.
I will send you an update, if we confirm the booth.
Thanks.
Cheers.
Pietro

PC: Hi Uli,
I am sorry for my late reply, I has been very busy with the Press Camp in California.
I didn’t want to give bad advertising to NY Gran Fondo, I didn’t saw the rules before.
So we will not participate to the expo, thanks.
Pietro
Best regards
Pietro Caucchioli

UF: Hi Pietro
We have no problem with you riding. You just wouldn’t get a free entry or timing chip. You would start with the other exhibitors.
Best regards
Uli

PC: Hi Uli,
as You know Alé is a new Brand owned and made by APG, one of the biggest company for bike clothing, I don’t want to risk nothing, we never know.
I wish you all the best for the event, thanks
Best regards
Pietro Caucchioli

UF: Pietro
I know Alé and APG well and like what you guys do. If anything, it’s a bigger risk not to come because that would mean Alé is shunning events that are antidoping.
We strongly believe in antidoping and implement a lifetime competition ban at first offense. However, while we don’t give a second chance in competition, we believe in second chances in life because everyone can make a mistake.
Cheers
Uli

PC: Uli
I don’t think is a big problem for Ale’, but I am not stupid.
I don’t think you believe in a second chance on the life otherwise you should given me a different reply.
Thanks
Pietro.

UF: Pietro
Life yes, competition no. You had your chance in bike racing. A stealing cashier at a bank will never work as cashier again. A doctor misusing his license to sell drugs illegally will lose his license for good. You got caught cheating in bike racing so we think you should not compete again. But we certainly give you a chance in your new role at Alé.
Uli

PC: Uli
I’ve never asked to compete in the GranFondo, just ride. I closed with the competition in 2009 and I promise to me and my family I’d never raced again. I don’t consider the granfondo a race, because the races are different.
For you this is business, for me is different I have spent most of my time riding a bike and I like to mix work with fun.
You can think what you want about me and I don’t want to persuade you I am a good person.
Sorry if I have taken your time.
Take care
Pietro

__________

If that seems a little long and convoluted I apologise but there is something very important going on here.

When Uli stated that Pietro would have to pay and that GFNY had this anti-doper regulation, Pietro decided not to book a place for the company he works for at the expo. You could say that this is because he did not want any bad publicity for Ale, and that is understandable. However, it amounts to a blacklisting of this event because of the anti-doper rule.

What if Ale had just decide not to employ a former doper? You might think ‘well, he has a right to make a living’ but would a doctor fired from his job for misconduct be an ideal candidate for a company selling medical equipment? And was part of Pietro’s appeal to his employers not his success as a rider?  Successes that, at least for a part of his career, would seem to have been ‘aided’ by illegal substances.

If there were no non-doper rule at GFNY, Uli and his organisation would now be preparing a booth for Ale and would receive payment from Ale for that service. However,  because of this ruling, and Caucchioli’s past, and the fact that Ale employs him, that will no longer happen.

I have spoken with more than a few former dopers and for all intents and purposes they are nice folk, but they cheated in cycling and so should have no role in cycling thereafter. Whether that means no gran fondos in their name, no role in managing or coaching riders, no role in commentating on cycling, nor working with a bike brand, whatever, it should be a no.

It’s time that companies accept their responsibility for their role in this circus, time Specialized stop supporting Levi’s Gran Fondo and Astana (though it might have taken them being kicked out to finally get them off Mike Sinyard’s bikes), time Lake stop giving Hincapie shoes, time Oakley and Nike faced up to supporting Lance all those years (a Lance that many in those companies must have at the very least suspected of being juiced), and time Trek did the same and apologised to Lemond.

Regarding Trek, there was an article recently in SportCal.com that read less as journalism and more as a statement from their marketing department. The writer asked whether the association with Armstrong has tainted the brand, and this was the reply:

“The bicycle, regardless of what is going on with the rider above it is still the bicycle. So we have that experience to be proud of.”

Trek also has ‘declined to comment’ (what a nice, f&ck you phrase that is) on whether Armstrong remained a shareholder in the company.

Doping in our sport, in every facet, in every nook and crannie and under ever slimy stone goes so deep that it is literally off the charts, like a giant, rotting iceberg with only it’s venomous tip above the oily waters.

The past is the present, make no mistake about it, and it was ever thus.

That’s not to say there is no hope though, but we’d be fools to expect change to come from above.

 

 

 

 

 

Lee’s Lowdown on PEZ: How to lose a Classic by EQS

I covered the Etixx-Quick Step fiasco very briefly here earlier in the week on CP, but here Stannard’s win and Lefevre’s failure get a proper outing.

Spot The Clash reference if you can, there was also one in last week’s article too.

Click the image below to head to PEZ, cheers!

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 18.01.20

CrankPunk to partner with Velocite for 2015

Awesome news, Velocite, the makers and purveyors of fine bicycles are to be my sponsor for 2015 on the road and on the dirt!
logo_square_400x400
I’ve known Victor and Jessica Major for a good few years now and we’ve always talked about working together, so it seems the recent Chinese New Year looked down on us auspiciously and made it so, and so, I’ll be cranking through their range from now til this time next year, and possibly beyond.
 .
Soon I’ll be getting on this intriguing machine, the Velocite Syn.
Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 15.05.37

The Velocite Syn

It’s a design that has drawn extremes in reaction, personally I am a fan (and I already said that before we talked about a partnership for this year, for the record), but as ever the proof is in the pudding, so expect a review when I’ve put a thousand Ks or so into it. However, if it’s anything as stiff and fast as the Velocite Magnus that I rode and reviewed years ago when I was editor of a Japanese cycling website, it’s gonna rock.
.
 Speaking of the Syn and how it came about, Victor pulls few punches:
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“The Velocite Syn started off more cautiously. I wanted to replace the Geos [Velocite’s ultra-light race bike], but relatively early into the process I though “f#ck it” and went nuts. I decided that playing it safe is not aligned with our mission and vision and that here was a chance to concentrate everything that we know into one product.
.
“I did not know how far to push the design however as the bike consumers are very conservative and the entire industry is in the yoke of the UCI Luddites who do their best to destroy the sport by keeping it all, including the technology, firmly in the 20th century.
.
“With the Velocite Syn design [we show] that it is possible to challenge the status quo and that thinking outside of the box, while risky, can be rewarding.
.
“Making the Syn was also important to Velocite as it serves as a visible signal that we are capable of pushing the design parameters and very likely the performance beyond that of well regarded incumbents. “
.
UCI Luddites, destroying the sport… as you can see crankpunk and Velocite agree on some key points.
The Magnus, stiffest bike I've ridden to date

The Magnus, stiffest bike I’ve ridden to date

Velocite will also be supplying me with their Flux carbon MTB, which will be carrying me across the wilds of Mongolia at the Mongolia Bike Challenge once again this year. Yeeha!
Velocite Flux MTB

Velocite Flux MTB

What’s in the future for Velocite? This, says Victor:
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“To be a bicycle industry design and technology leader. Become the default choice for any customer seeking the highest performing products. For style and stories about heritage and alternative science they are welcome to go elsewhere, Velocite cannot and will not please everyone.”
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‘Cannot and will not please everyone,’ how true I know that to be…
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I’d like to say a huge thank you to Victor, Jessica and all the staff at Velocite, let us crank on.
Velocite-LOGO_black-red-&-white-bg

 

 

 

 

Arnie Mostowy, Hitler and The Dopers

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.08.55

Brilliant. I use that word a lot but this work by Arnie Mostowy justifies it.

Is Hitler funny? He is when he’s portrayed as one of the US DoperClique getting pissed off at being busted for taking PEDs.

Lance had his tent, Hitler had his bunker. Wonder if he shaved his legs?

I will serve my suspension. Retire. Then prepare for the gran fondo…

Enjoy.

Michael Troy describes the joy of the broken collarbone and learning to become ambidextrous with toilet paper

Like I said before, you get the best headlines on crankpunk! Sarvesh, this one is for you…

Many thanks to my friend Michael Troy for this one. Classic.

Cheers Mike!

_______________

The Clavicle Diaries, by Michael Troy

 

 

T’was the end of a long road season, 2009 to be exact. My coach, good friend and mountain bike nut Mark Fenner suggested for something different to come out and try the dirt. I consider myself a pure roadie, or definitely did back then, but jumped at the idea.

So using my collective resources as a bike mechanic, I borrowed a bike, got cheap shoes and pedals and threw myself at the world of dirt, suspension and knobbly tyres. No experience, hadn’t even done a lap of the course and was standing on the start line. Plenty of road fitness and no off road experience.

Gun goes off, straight up a fire road climb, I’m gunning it and loving it. Red mist descends. It’s a race!

Second into the turn, and oh wait, shit. Cornering. Rear wheel drift, lose surface. What am I supposed to do here! I’m a bit at sea here…

Ah well I’ll go full tilt in the straights and just hit the anchors and go around the corners slower than a granny with a Zimmer frame…

So three quarters of a lap around, maybe 10 minutes in, I’ve been passed by nearly everyone as there were many more corners the straights and I’ve been pin balling off trees and rocks and say to myself “right, time to slow down or you’ll hurt yourself”. So I slowed down, and came a cropper. Went straight over the handlebars through a little dip and laying on the ground with my borrowed bike somehow on top of me I knew straight away I’d done my collar bone.

No strength through the right arm, sore but not excruciating. Straight away in that tell-tale position of my right hand to my left shoulder nursing it. My friend drove me into town, he’s a physio, and has had more broken collar bones himself then fingers on one hand…

Go to the hospital, X-Ray (the most painful part of the ordeal – “Could you please just push your should back against the plate…” Grind, crunch – “Ouch!”). Yes, broken. Nothing too bad apparently according to the X-Ray.

See the orthapedic surgeon, and surgery booked for Monday (it was Saturday). Monday comes around, no sleep, difficult to wash, wipe my arse, or do anything really. Surgery in and out. Easy. Surgeon comes around later, explains that what looked like a simple fracture on the X-ray was instead 6 breaks and 7 pieces of collar bone floating around in my shoulder area.

So 2 inches of titanium and 10 screws are now holding it in position. 4 weeks minimum off the bike, he would prefer 6. No heavy lifting, actually no lifting at all. Sling for 4 weeks. Best to sleep in the sling too he says. Help keep it in place and stop you flapping about he says.

11012243_10155243257035375_195213293_n

 

So now comes the bit where I go stir crazy. No exercise, no bike riding for six weeks!!! Like a caged lion, pacing in his den. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. I drive everyone around me around the twist with my craziness. It was close to turning me to drink. Only thing is back then I didn’t even drink (don’t worry I’ve seen the light now!). So sleep is pretty rubbish. Can never get properly comfortable. I do find out that the surgeons idea of sleeping in a sling is a good idea, I just wish I followed it.

I wake up one night after some bizarre dream with a jolt and am swinging my arm around. Jesus wept! The pain! So 3 weeks go past. I can’t lift any of my university text books, still can’t get enough movement to wipe my arse with my right hand, so I’ve had to learn to be ambidextrous for that and other tasks.

 

High with pain killers, which as a side effect of most of the good ones is constipation, makes me need to strain that bit harder which adds to the pain. Right, I’ve cracked it. 3 weeks, no riding. That’s enough. Let’s get on the trainer. More pain. Trying to lift and move a turbo trainer, then set a bike in. The agony. Sweet baby Jebus…

Finally on the bike, and the boredom! Not winning here at all. Right so 4 weeks (well nearly 4 weeks, more like 3 1/2 , or really just over 3 weeks post surgery), f&ck it. Getting back on the road.

I’ve had my arm out of the sling now a week (and a bit), ok 2 weeks (pharmacists [Michael is one of these] and all health care professionals make terrible patients). I think let’s be pro, so I double wrap my bars, thick and cushy. Get out on the road. Such a bad idea. Such a bad experience.

Every ripple in the road feels like the Forrest of Arenberg and its cobbles. I’m super skittish around traffic, like a wayward mare, for fear of getting knocked off (never have been hit by a car, but the fear was there) and destroying my shoulder (since that plate, with 10 really small screws holding my jigsaw puzzle clavicle together goes right from the tip of my shoulder to my sternum. If I crashed I think my shoulder and it’s structure would be done and dusted!)

11047097_10155243256710375_1825134175_n

Anyway, so I have zero fitness. Can’t get out of the saddle (oh yeah that hurts too much too). It took ages for some resemblance of strength to return (as much strength as road cyclist can every say they have in their upper body). Range of movement was pretty bad too for a very long time. Lots of stretching kinda helped, my massage therapist gained lots of joy from poking and prodding to help free it up.

I think as a consequence of the plate in the shoulder and connective tissue running over it, it would tighten up and become all gnarly and nasty very quickly. Using ruck-sacks was never a joyful experience with the plate in place. The shoulder strap would rub right across the skin and the scar and the plate. So commuting to work was not enjoyable, the saving grace was that it wasn’t a long ride. Call it what you will. But I cannot clean anymore (with my right arm… and it isn’t something that I particularly want to become ambidextrous in…).

The circular scrubbing motion or vacuum cleaning is awful. So after gaining some resemblance of strength, and movement in the shoulder, (oh and bike fitness), there was always a nagging fear in my mind of crashing again on that right side. There would be nothing there for another plate or any room for my orthopaedic surgeon to fiddle with. So 2 and a bit years after getting the closest that I have come to owing a titanium bike, I went under the knife again, with the same surgeon who got the electric drill going and removed each of the ten screws and my titanium downtube from my shoulder.

Through some more rehab again, thankfully things improved much quicker than the first time around. I could wear ruck-sacks again (once the scar had healed). There wasn’t the grabbing catching sensation when I was moving my arm around like I used to get. Where I could feel it catch half way through a tennis swing, or when bowling a cricket ball. Unfortunately my ability to clean didn’t return (for good or for bad…) and I do actually mean that. It is a really uncomfortable, even slightly painful motion when you have the outward pressure of scrubbing or vacuuming.

My right shoulder sits quite a bit lower then my unbroken left shoulder. I have a really good scar running across my collarbone. They always say ‘Chicks dig scars’ – thank goodness as I make quiet a good patchwork quilt of scars.

I was always scared of returning to the scene of my accident, or really any non-paved riding adventures, but was finally convinced into re-trying the dirt. This time, no racing. Just riding in the forest. Learning to corner, brake (not break). Basically to re-learn to ride a bike. Actually I would consider myself more than a novice these days. Actually, while sick for over a year, mountain biking was a great escape.

At a time when I had zero fitness, I couldn’t pedal fast, and I learnt to go around a corner, had mounds of fun all while not putting much physical strain on my body. Going for a cruisy mountain bike ride is a lot more fun than a 30 minute road ride at 24km/h in boring countryside!

I still do dabble with it. It makes for a good adventure and even recovery ride.

Michael Troy

Michael Troy

Jonathan Vaughters graces Twitter with a description of crankpunk as a “talentless wanna-be writing [a] self-promotional blog”… Compliment accepted

A Twitter spat. My first. And with the mighty JV. I am honored.

Some back story…

It’s no secret that I feel that all former dopers – all – should not be welcomed back in any capacity whatsoever into the fabric of cycling, be it as managers, coaches, team owners or administrators.

I also feel that the UCI has to work to foster an environment in which teams are encouraged to and feel perfectly at ease with adopting employment policies which mean former riders and doctors that were/are considered tainted are no longer able to find work within the sport too.

This would mean no Riis, no Vino (well he might be off soon enough), and no Jonathan Vaughters. I’m not the only person to think this way by a long shot, however opinions like this are not often aired on CyclingSnooze nor on any of the other major sites and magazines, because if they were then these media outlets would lose access to quite a few teams and they may lose advertising booty from the team sponsors.

You also have certain former dopers now in management running or on the board of ‘important’ committees and organisations. The oft heard claim is that these former dopers know how to steer the sport along a new course because they have been there, done that.

Or been there, done this, and that, and yeah a bit of that, oh and yes, a shit load of that! And so on.

The problem here, as many can plainly see, is that you have former cheats supplying their own, often-changing narrative, one that justifies their doping in the first place (‘Everyone was doing it’ – not true) – a doping that was uncovered either at the time or years later yet never was confessed to until their pants were already down and their d**ks in hand – that therefore justifies the wealth and status they acquired with it – and finally justifies their position in the sport now (‘I was there, I am sorry, but let me help!’).

It is, as my Gran used to say, a proper bag of bollocks.

If you want to read more on my opinion of Vaughters and these others being in the sport, read here and, if you want to know why I think he should be out of Change Cycling Now, read here. It’s not the first time JV and I have ‘chatted’, previously we were going to have a chat on the phone but it never quite worked out, with, as far as I can recall, nothing but work getting in the way for both of us.

Which brings us to Twitter.

Earlier today I saw a little tweet from Vaughters about how he wished to invite two guys to listen to a talk he was giving in London about something connected to cycling and doping.

I then asked via a tweet if that was after the talk on dopers managing cycling teams.

Vaughters then replied with this:

Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) tweeted at 10:03 pm on Mon, Mar 02, 2015:
@crankpunk101 It was going to be right after the talk on talentless wanna-bes writing self promotional blogs.
(https://twitter.com/Vaughters/status/572396774544969729?s=03)

The original I either can’t find or has been deleted, but here is an image of the tweet in Q:

1425311801655

Let’s take a look at this, a little more closely… Well, we don’t have to get too close do we.

It’s the Omerta again. ‘Shut up please, your opinion does not coincide with the reality I have constructed so please go away.’

Self-promotional? I can take that, there is an element to that in all we do, and yes there is that here in crankpunk, ego is as ego does, but the points I am making – we are making, meaning a large chunk of cyclists – remain to be answered.

As for the comment on Twitter – thanks. Compliment accepted.

___________________________________________

Postscript

Jonathan Vaughters apologised for his original tweet on Twitter which I read after I posted this and asked to talk. I stand by the article above though, and will be arranging an interview shortly, watch http://www.crankpunk.com for that.

Lee’s Lowdown on Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne

Watching Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on my ‘new’ telly (borrowed off one of my girlfriend’s relatives ‘for a while’ (I love indefinites)), one of those huge high-definition monsters that I used to say were unnecessary (until I finally got one, I might add), I was all misty eyed and dizzy for the first half an hour, what with the picture quality, the almost nauseating vibrancy of the colors, Boonen and that ultra-solid position of his in full romp and just the fact that the Classics are back!

It got me all emotional it did.

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I thought the TV was broken though when Ian Stannard appeared on the front of the break, since he displayed such an aversion to being there the day before at the old Omloop – except for in the last 15 meters. Rumor has it that Lefevre has banned all his riders from flogging on to PornHub.com this week as the Sky’s man win has been uploaded in the Bike Porn Money Shot Belgians section, and there’s little doubt that a) he did have the EQS boys all from behind and b) they could barely walk afterwards.

If that wasn’t bad enough they got another solid spanking on the team bus afterwards.

Speaking of the aforementioned arse-whupping, Lefevre said “YOU F*&%ING IDIOTS HOW THE F*CK DID YOU LOSE THAT?”

Oh wait no, he didn’t, not publicly anyway, what he actually said was: “It hurts, that’s true. I can’t blame the team for anything. I’m proud we added color to the race. We’re ready but it’s very hard to win. With Stannard on the wheels for thirty kilometres everybody was getting nervous. Maybe they made a couple of mistakes but we decided the race. We excelled as a team.”

How do you not blame the team and actually blame Stannard for that epic cock up? It’s obvious that B should not have gone first, but that it should have been T then V if T was unsuccessful then T again if V was not able to get away and then perhaps B if not V again, but B for the final sprint, though for sure the B of old – and I mean last year – would surely have had the gumption to win even if there were no attacks beforehand.

And We decided the race? Talk about selective memory, unless the finish line in Lefevre’s World was 10 meter earlier than in the race I saw…

Back to KBK, which was all far more straightforward. In fact it was so predictable that we can take a moment out to look at the bike fashion going on at this year’s edition of KBK, of KuBuKu, as the French call it.

Love the old school tires coming back in. Good.
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Dig the Canyon Katusha bike even though Katusha should be racing as a Continental team, sort that one out Brian.
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Thoughts on Cav and Boonen getting their own color bikes? Not quite one for all and all for one is it? I was on a team once where the leader got some model paint and painted yellow stripes on his helmet one night at a stage race. When asked why he’d done it the ever so comradely reply of ‘Well I don’t want to look like the rest of you losers do I?’ came.
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Which was nice. Nicer still was that in the middle of the stage people started taking the piss out of him because several insects had become stuck on his still-tacky paint job. Now that was a classic…
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Anyway, the bikes look pretty cool (even if they are Specializeds which, even though yes they do make good bikes they should stop supporting doping teams and riders, there, said it).
Boonen's Blue Bomber

Boonen’s Blue Bomber

Cav's Sparkly Speedster (without handlebar streamers in this pic, though they will be attached for San Remo)

Cav’s Sparkly Speedster (without handlebar streamers in this pic, though they will be attached for San Remo)

Worst bike/kit combo of 2015 awarded to Lotto-Jumbo and their TdF yellow kit (which is not terrible) that clashes with their celeste Bianchis. I’ve never been a fan of the Bianchi blue (or is it green?) but this match up just doesn’t work for me at all.

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No.
One bike you don’t see many amateurs riding is the Argon 18. I can’t remember which team was on them at KuBuKu but I’ve test-ridden a couple of their top models, very solid machines.

Back to the racing. It was good to see the echelon rearing its ugly head again, been a while since we had really nasty winds in the classics. I used to think headwinds were the worst and they are bad, suffering sometimes for up to an hour if there’s a strong team on the front just praying for a turn, but if you’ve ever been in a race with teams that really know how to ride a hard echelon, then you understand suffering on the flat.

Everyone wants to be in that first string but it’s so hard to get in as all the strong guys will be smashing it to the turn before the crosswind, then they form quickly to keep everyone else out. The guys behind have two choices – either to form a second echelon and risk losing contact with the lead line, or to just string out behind the last guy in the head echelon and ride solo and unprotected in the gutter and hope and pray they find a gap to join the front.

Being in that echelon means you have to work in the wind but critically it affords you some respite. It’s better to be barely fit and to be in it and to hang on than to be quite strong and be behind it, cos eventually the wind will shred you.

Once the break came back it was more or less a procession to the end apart from Gilbert’s attempt, though that was more a training effort than a really hopeful attack. He should be coming better for the Ardennes Classics, though he looks a bit heavy –  was it just me or did anyone else think the Belgian looked more muscular than in previous years?

bettiniphoto_0199324_1_full_670

Before the race came into the city, Sky gave a beautiful example of how to do a completely pointless lead-out (basically start 4km too soon and then disintegrate with 3km to go), but wasn’t it mesmerising to see the peloton strung out through the street of Kuurne from the helicopter camera? Absolutely gorgeous shots. That’s the kind of city traffic I’d like to see more of.

The race wasn’t finished quite yet and we were treated to an enthralling sprint that saw Kristoff of Katusha come second to a flying Cavendish, who saved the weekend for EQS.

Decent race, all in all.

Early MTB film might make you cry a little

a whole pack of fanny

a whole pack of fanny

Fanny pack? Check.

Daughter’s backpack? Check.

Bike cop uniforms? Check.

Bad-ass attitudes for no obvious reason? Check.

How the heck did these two not get arrested? They’re clearly terrorising this city with their knobbly-antics!

This MTB video from is just awesome in so many ways. It kinda hurts to watch though because I recognise myself in this… I had that helmet and yes, I thought I was this cool too…

Anatomy of a Taiwan bike ride

You see all kinds of mad things here, and in 15 years out in Asia I can honestly say that I have never been bored on a bike ride. The landscape is fascinating, you have the jungle and the mountains, crazy drivers, and of course you see some weird stuff on a daily basis, like this sign of a dog crapping out a boulder.

That is one sick dog.

Today’s ride (in shorts and jersey with not even so much as an undershirt) took me up the hills near Taichung into the Taiping area, with about 800m elevation gain in a 45km ride. It took me past my favorite temple out here, ‘The Temple of the Incestuous Dragons’ (as I call it), on past the local Bat Cave (no joke) and on up through the lovely, quiet hills.

Beauty. Crankpunk Taiwan Cycling Tours coming soon, watch this space!

 

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