Category: random stuff

cycling: the new aphrodisiac?

by crankpunk

all the possible titles i could have gone for on this post, they were just too lewd, but one thing is for sure, this kid has a hard on for cycling.

or, wait – because of cycling?

anyway, for this 22-year old cyclist, a mishap with his handlebar resulted in irregular blood flow to his old boy and a month of day-long morning glory.

that’s right, a 24 hour, 4 week erection that must have put his mother’s cushion collection to good use.

reading the article on the Irish Examiner website, i couldn’t help but wonder if he was still getting out on the bike. fortunately he’s a mountain biker, so i guess the baggy shorts are better than lycra in such a situation.

the Examiner, a paper i think i’ll have to check out more often, started out with this:

“What goes up must come down — unless you’re a mountain biker whose pecker stays erect for so long that medical intervention is necessary. After a month of gravity-defying behaviour, the offending organ was finally laid to rest at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.”


seems all fine now though, so it was a happy ending in the end… boom boom!

thanks to Ryan Laughton for sending me this!


London to get cycling superhighway?

by cp


damn, how amazing would this be? and how wet, for about 70% of the year? where’s the roof?!

seriously though, this project, called ‘SkyCycle’ and designed by architect and bike geek Norman Foster, actually has the backing of the UK’s Network Rail and Transport for London. ingeniously, the pathway would be “hoisted aloft above railway lines, allowing you to zip through town blissfully liberated from the roads.”

sounds fantastic. interestingly enough, there was a precedent, back in the 1890’s in California, though the elevated platforms that were built soon fell into disrepair once the auto industry established its hold on the American imagination.

California dreaming

California dreaming

seems we’ve come full circle in the past 120 years. now is the time for the SkyCycle – let’s hope it comes true.

read the full article on this in The Guardian.


get angry to get them safe

this article originally appeared in SPIN Magazine, out of Singapore – catch my new column there every month, entitled ‘Rubber Side Down’

from the January 2014 edition of SPIN

from the January 2014 edition of SPIN

I’ll never forget my first ever group ride…

There I was, 15 years old and stick-insect thin in my brand new 7-11 uniform, which despite being an XS size still left me looking like Chris Froome wearing Fabian Cancellara’s kit. The slightest breeze and I almost fell off my Harry Hall newbie special, all 17 kilos of it, as the sleeves of my jersey became de facto parachutes.

I huffed and puffed my way that cold winter evening to the roads around the aerodrome where the Wednesday night chaingang ride was held, seeing a throng of about twenty grizzled older guys gathered. I got a nod from one of them whilst the rest eyed me up for a brief second, then carried on with their conversation about the local barmaid.

I looked around at the bikes, far superior to mine with their late ‘80s Campagnolo and Shimano groupsets gleaming in the evening light, and stared in awe at the bulging calf muscles, intimidated right from the off.

‘Crikey’, I thought, ‘I’m gonna get battered here.’

And then with a signal from the leader of the pack we were off, barreling down the flat road in no time, with cars and trucks whizzing close by. The front pair did a couple of minutes then peeled off, as I watched on from the back, eventually finding myself up at the front with an old timer next to me.

He started half wheeling me, then pulled away by a bike length. I changed down  a gear, dug in a little, then pulled alongside. In a moment of youthful exuberance I pulled ahead the same way he had and forged on. This was how I’d been riding for the past three months, since I started cycling, banging along the roads of North Lancashire alone as fast as my legs would permit.

I knew nothing else really, and the old guy’s half wheeling had got me thinking I was in a race. Suddenly I heard a shout from behind and turned to see a guy break out of the group, chasing up to me, pulling alongside.

“Oi!” he shouted again. “What the &*%# do you think you’re doing! It’s steady pace tonight! Go on, *&%# off to the back!”

Thoroughly browbeaten, I peeled off and did as I was told. As I reached the back, the guy next to me then had a go at me for wobbling and told me to get behind him. Luckily the effort I was putting in hid my burning cheeks, now a deep red more from actual embarrassment than from the effort.

After another half a loop, another guy dropped back to me.

“Listen,” he said, “this is a group ride, it’s fast, but we’re not trying to drop anyone. You don’t attack on rides like this.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know,” I replied sheepishly.

“First time?” he asked.

“Yes, can’t you tell?” I answered.

He laughed.

“Well, now you know. And try to keep your wheel steady or no one is going to want to ride next to you. Watch and learn lad, and there’ll be no need for anyone to shout at you.”

And in that moment I went from being a newbie to being a learner. I watched, I studied the other, older guys, copying their style, holding my upper body and the wheel steady. It was something of a baptism of fire but it was a massively valuable lesson I’d just learnt.

I might have been younger than them, and maybe even stronger than a good few, but there was a hierarchy of experience amongst the group and I had to put my time in. I had to serve my apprenticeship.

And then, as I got older, it was my turn to bollock the new kids! That, has to be said, was a sweet moment!

Ok, I’m joking there. Maybe…! However, that experience when I was younger and living in England is one that is mirrored in many countries in the world, where young riders are taken under the wing of older riders who use their experience to guide and teach new riders how to behave on the road.

They teach you how to train intelligently, how to corner, to descend, and, most importantly, how to ride safely in groups and how to respect other riders.

I’ve lived out in Asia now for 15 years, and I’ve been in group rides in Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, and I’ve raced all over Asia, and if there’s one thing I’ve noticed in that time, it’s that older and more experienced riders seem to be less and less common, as more and more new riders of all ages are coming into the sport.

As a result, there’s less of the ‘old hands’ in comparison, and less of the knowledge of the road and of the bike being handed down to these new riders. And the result of that is often group riding that is not only erratic and more akin to all-out racing, but at times very dangerous indeed. Now, I haven’t ridden in a group training ride in the UK for some time, but I would presume that this situation is replicating there and in Europe and the US too, as more and more middle class and middle aged riders are joining the fray.

It’s gotten to the point now, here in Taiwan especially, where I hardly ever ride in groups of more than five or six riders. The last time I went on a group ride of more, there were thirty riders who clearly had never been shouted at in the way I was way back when I was 15!

The result? Utter chaos. Older guys who should have known better, even if they weren’t that experienced on the bike, were sprinting off from traffic lights or even cutting right through red lights, dodging between slowing cars and just generally riding like it was Paris-Roubaix and the approach to the Arenberg Forest, not a Sunday ride through a congested town.

I couldn’t help but think that the example they were setting was irresponsible at best and potentially deadly at worst. There was no cohesion in the group, and little respect for differing levels of ability.  At every other convenience store the front guys would slow to a halt to wait for the stragglers, and then, once they reattached, they’d bolt off again!

I ‘d had enough. After thirty kilometers of that madness I turned off and rode alone. I would have had a good old rant at them but my Chinese unfortunately isn’t good enough…

Riding in groups is where young and other new riders learn their race craft. It is, in fact, where they learn how to ride their bikes for the rest of their cycling career, learning habits, be they good or bad, that are hard to shake. So, beter they be good ones.

And so, for those older guys out there who do know what they are doing, I encourage you to get angry!

We have a duty and a responsibility to shout at people who ride like idiots. Sometimes they know no better, simply because no one has ever told them – though sometimes, it’s true, they are just idiots! Either way though, a quick, verbal cuff round the ear can do a great deal of good.

That, or a quiet arm round the shoulder at a rest stop and an encouraging word in their ear would do. If enough of us do that then maybe we won’t be complaining about all the crashes that racing seems, inevitably, to bring these days.

Clubs and teams also should create beginner rides where new riders learn the craft of handling their bikes with others around. It can, ultimately, save lives.

Right, I’m off to learn some more Chinese. I’ve got some bollocking to do!

Graeme Obree Kickstarter fund – goal achieved!

yep, great news, the Kickstarter appeal that Journey Pictures started to find the 20,000 GBP needed to complete post-production on their film The Oustider: Graeme Obree, has been successful!

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 下午4.29.48

with three days to go, the goal was reached and ba-da-bing, we will be seeing this fantastic film in 2014!

cheers to all who donated, great work!


and in case you missed it, read cp’s interview with Graeme here…

NEWSFLASH! crankpunk & company is up and running


after plowing my lonely furrow here for what must be about a year, i’ve decided to extend the roster from just me to include a host of fantastic writers who will be contributing to the site from here on in.

we’re gonna give it two months and see how it goes. expect some great writing on all kinds of topics coming your way very soon indeed!

onwards and upwards!

crankpunk takes over the world media – no, really!

thanks to my friend Damian Barrett for putting me onto the latest Velocast podcast, episode 35, in which i get a mention from Cillian Kelly in regards to crankpunk and the doping problem in Asia.

check the link below, Cillian goes all punky at about 27 minutes…

bike. life.

you make a decision and a choice. every time you clip in. it is the enactment of your will. drop through the gears. arse on saddle. flex in the thighs. the body leads, the mind follows. in a world where demands are made and must be met, be they taxes, departures, working hours or any other obligation that tethers us to the bind, strips us of our sight and leaves us blind, when you ride you enter the environs on the outskirts of liberation. you are on the approach to freeness. you’re fighting against the curse of our times – doing nothing. a movement against inertia. you are making a statement. heard through action. every pedal stroke a word, every kilometer a sentence, every hundred a chapter. writing a book with your being. letting the world know that this tribe will not pass by into the dust. that you will not desist. no matter what else it is you do, you are doing this, conscious or not. the mind leads, the body follows. it works both ways, it becomes one and you know you are of the earth just as you leave it, however fleeting, like a seed on the wind, to grow, to build, to become a fulfillment, forcing into the bend, easing out of the curve. impossible in the limitless of what you can achieve, for a singular moment. maybe two, if you are very lucky. but you made this. it is not luck. it is the enactment of control, of self, and, lest it be forgotten, left to gather cobwebs like so much else we once believed in, it is the exhumation of a dream. relinquish and release, relax, through the tension and concentration of stress. the sweat. the tightness. the ache you love. when you get closest to realizing the magnitude the words fall away, thoughts vacate. [now] becomes real. and it comes again and again and again, every time you leave that door.

a life on two wheels.

life, indeed.

the Modern Cyclist – hard core devotee, or a secret shopper?

this article originally appeared in SPIN magazine

'the Norfolk Suit in aubergine, please!'

‘the Norfolk Suit in aubergine, please!’

We all like to think that we are two-wheeled Ninjas, like lycra-clad shuriken slicing through the air. It’s not just about being fit and lithe, it’s also about The Look. Everything has to match, to look just so.

Bar tape has to complement the frame, the wheels have to bling a little, whether they be stealth discs or of the louder variety. A new team or club and with it a new jersey means we need a new helmet, right? Obviously!

And when your better half complains, well, they just don’t get it. Scuffed shoes? Need new ones. New SRM console in blue? Better get matching cable housing.

I am the same, my better half would say! In fact, most cyclists are. Looking pro is about feeling pro – the two go hand in hand. But is there a tipping point? Is there a moment when the delicate balance between being in the sport for the fitness and competitive benefits gets skewed, and the sheer buzz of  – dare I whisper it? – shopping takes over?

I’m going to say, not for me. I’m hardcore, baby. I train hard and race hard. It’s intervals twice a week, 90km TT training on Wednesdays, hill repeats on Thursday and epic rides on the weekends.

Get me out shopping in the city with my girlfriend for clothes or shoes or whatever else she drags me round for and I go into a catatonic state after 2 hours. Put me on a bike for 6 and it’s a different story, I’m tired but not drained, more elated and very much alive.

But then again… why is it that I go into the same bike shop just about every single week and look at the same stuff every single week? And still feel a little buzz, a little tingle up my hair-free pins?  How odd is that? Same with the big web-stores, I can click away on there for aeons.

In a way, consuming is such an intrinsic part of our priveliged, modern lives that it’s not surprising that we like to think about buying and then to go actually purchase these little objects of our heart-thumping desire. And in a sense, cycling, known annoyingly in some circles as ‘the new golf’, is the perfect sport for the habit of consumption.

Look at soccer. What can you really buy? Shoes. A ball. Shinpads. Whoo! Er, no, not exciting at all really. Tennis? A racket. Shoes, again, and some little furry balls. Again, you can only have so many, there’s no real built-in need to shop in most sports.

But cycling, like golf, requires lots of little bits and pieces, and some bigger ones.  I used to laugh when I saw golfers with golf belts, golf socks, golf pants, golf everything. I mean, who needs gold socks to play golf? What a rip-off!

And yet look at cycling, it is exactly the same, everything is sport-specific. Clothing, obviously, but also now socks, watches, glasses and even headphones. In the old days when I was a kid, you couldn’t even buy the stuff the pros used, it was too elite, too secret, too. People didn’t have the same expendable income and free time to obsess over the stuff and then to actually buy it. It was almost unheard of.

Now though everything the pros use is available – at a price. The industry is quite clever in that way, in that it exploits something that is central to endurance sports. Namely, the idea is this: “If only I had more time to train, I would be as good as John X. And if only I have these wheels, and that frame, and that power meter, wow! I’d be great!”

See, in soccer, a very healthy 20 year old kid who is half decent can come up against a 50 year old – say, Maradonna – and have a kick around, and within 30 seconds you will see who is naturally better. But in cycling, it is stamina based. Yes, it is still largely about genes and DNA but we tend not to see that.

Instead we believe we can be as fast as the fastest guy around, if only… If only I did this, or knew what he ate, or had the equipment he had. Many cyclists are constantly on the look out for the secret  – the training method, the short cut, the aero advantage, the lighter gizmos.

It’s not intrinsically wrong to think that way, but it is potentially damaging to your development.

Why? Well, when you get into constant upgrades, you lose sight of what is crucial to becoming a better rider – namely, good old fashioned hard work. It really is that simple.

When you go on a club ride any weekend in japan, or Taiwan, or, dare I say, Singapore, you will see bikes that would make the Pro Tour guys salivate. There are machines worth more than any car I ever owned! They are incredible and great to look at, to pick up, to imagine racing on.

Now, go to any elite bike race where the guys pay for their own machines and you will see some top end bikes but most will be a little tatty, a little scuffed, and some will be absolutely battered. Drive trains will be clean but the undersides of the bottom brackets will be a bit mucky. Bar tape will be fraying and cable ends may be coming apart.

To these guys, the bike is a tool, not necessarily a possession. Again, neither is right nor wrong, but for those seeking to improve who are also addicted to upgrades – the Secret Shoppers – it might be an idea to reassess their cycling philosophy.

Why do I ride? What am I doing this for? Will those $5000 wheels really make me faster?! The answer, more often than not, is no. Only one thing will really do that – and that is suffering!

With all the clutter of modern life, all the accumulation of stuff, it might be an idea to trim a little, to get back to basics, and, if your goal is really to get better, to foster that Ninja philosophy of improvement through repetition, to aim for simplicity and efficiency rather than its opposite.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, no matter how expensive that outer layer!