crankpunk’s first proper bike features on GCN

Well it’s not actually my bike, it’s Stephen Roche’s, but it is exactly the same, down to the groupset and even the saddle, that I had when I was 17 – my first proper, proper bike. Every penny of pocket money I had went into this machine. That I sold it for 400 quid to my mate’s little brother a few years after i quit cycling at 18 breaks my heart even now, but there you have it.

I’ll never forgive myself.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 18.14.15

Ain’t she a beauty? And after you’ve watched the video you can read my article on Old Bikes vs. New, and on why Stephen let me down.

 

 

The Aussie conundrum, new UCI anti-doping regulations and their failings, and an African breakthrough

This article originally appeared on The Roar

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Can you feel it? It’s that time of year again, and I don’t mean the Tour Down Under. It’s the buzz of a new season, the sharpening of the knives, the shaving of the legs, the thrum of the media and the froth of the forums!

Bring it on.

One thing that caught my eye last week was a statement from Matt White, sport director at Orica-GreenEdge.

“Porte is the strongest rider in the world right now and he’s my tip for the race,” said White. “He’s the favourite and having seen him on the bike first hand, I can say that he’s absolutely flying.”

We all know that Porte had a season last year that’d stink up an outside toilet for half a decade, flitting between too few high notes and altogether too many lows.

Porte said as much in an interview with The Courier:

“Anyone who follows cycling would know I had a shocker of a season last year,” the 29-year-old said.

“I was pretty good here (at the road nationals) and at the Tour Down Under, but that was about it for me – my season finished up at the end of August.”

Fair play to him for getting his mojo back but I was struck by the thought: who on the World Tour roster apart from the Aussies is ‘flying’ right now?

Seriously, and not to sound denigrating, but it’s not too hard to be ‘the best in the world right now’ when now is January – you just have to be the best Aussie and you take that mantle by default.

Sure, there are always some non-Aussie riders who arrive for the TDU in smoking form but they are few and almost always the usual suspects, and you can be sure, apart from maybe Andre Greipel, that they won’t be going great in the European mid-season.

I’m aware that the Aussie cycling season follows in large part the Aussie weather, but might it not be time for the Australian National Road Race Champs to be held in line with the European national champs?

To require a World Tour rider to be in top shape in January and then to try to hit those heights in May say, for the Giro, or in July for the Tour, well, there are only so many times in a year a rider can be in top top form.

Or maybe the guy who wins the Australian nationals is in pretty good shape but not great shape? Is the competition being devalued somehow, now that so many of the national contenders are based in World Tour teams?

I’m not sure. Maybe you can tell me.

_________________________

The new UCI rules regarding doping were announced and were in large part met with a kind of wearied shrug of the shoulders it seemed, by both the press and the fans.

Some of the changes were expected, such as the 4-year ban for ‘serious’ cases of doping (but what is ‘serious’? Clenbuterol and platsicisers in the blood? Cocaine ringing the nostrils on the start line? Or EPO track lines on the arms?) as WADA had already brought them in back at the end of 2014.

Yet there is a proviso in there that states that anyone that admits ‘promptly’ can have the 4 years dropped to 2. Not sure how that will change anything, except leaving us with more calculated ‘admissions’ of guilt that change nothing.

Teams will be charged 5% of their annual budget is a second and third rider get busted for doping, which is surely too little. If three positives result only in a 10% fine then the fans – myself for sure – will feel conned.

One interesting change is the ‘banned associations’ ruling. This states that riders can be banned for associating with any banned individual in any capacity, meaning that Frank Schleck’s excuse that he paid banned doctor Eufemiano Fuentes 7000 euro because he ‘just kinda did’ will be a enough to see him banned.

But again, whilst moving in the right direction, how about taking out all former banned riders who now work in management, and applying the same rules to those now working with riders who were not actually banned but who were heavily ‘associated’ with doping and characters involved in doping other riders?

Maybe because, well, we’d have almost no management left? Probably.

That old line about ‘well they were all doing it’ is still left with the shreds of validity because there has never been an official counter to it. Why? Because the UCI facilitated it, the management encouraged it or even forced it in many cases, dopers bullied those who would not do it and drove so many of them from the sport. It wasn’t a case of ‘they had no choice’ – never. The had a choice. But those who were inclined to cheat, who lived to cheat, were allowed to not only be left alone but to actually thrive.

And those who did refused? Take it or leave it and be mocked as you walked away, that was the rule.

There are too many caveats in the new rules to make this whole thing effective in the way it could be, in the way it should be.

It is better but it is not enough, not by a long shot.

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Finally, some great news: MTN-Qhubeka are going to the Tour de France!

Yes, the African team received one of five wildcard invitations Wednesday from race organizer ASO and they are going to the big boys’ party in July. Amazing! What an achievement that is.

Shame their kit is the worst in the history of cycling but you can’t have it all I suppose. Don’t they know vertical black and white stripes have a slimming effect? What cyclist needs that? Sometimes there is a reason why no one ever tried something before…

Mtnkit2

But it’s not surprising that the team is thrilled (if not with the kit), after being founded with this very dream in mind, back in 2007.

General manager Brian Smith said:

“The team is different and the Qhubeka foundation makes a difference, that’s why I took the job on. When I stood in front of them at the team camp in South Africa, I told them that I’d help them reach their goal.

“The Tour de France invitation … It’s emotional. I shed tears realizing that this team is coming along. I’ve seen how Qhubeka makes a difference in the townships. This will make the world ask, ‘What is Qhubeka?’ And it will give so much brand awareness.”

Yeah, what is Qhubeka? As they say these days, google it.

Well done lads!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Hebdo, le dopage & cartoons

Very interesting article in today’s The Guardian by Suze Clemitson about how Charlie Hebdo taught her more about the reality of doping in cycling than she would ever have read in the pages of Pro Cycling or Cycling Snooze.

“I learned more about the murky world of cycling from the cartoonist’s pen than from the editorial team of L’Equipe and their ilk'” she writes. “The cartoons – those precise, puerile, perfect slashes of black pen on white paper – gave the game away by daring to show openly what others could or would only to hint at.”

Clemitson tells of how, after moving to France, it was through Charlie Hebdo and its ‘wiser’ older brother Le Canard Enchaine that she learnt the language and the culture, seeing cartoons such as this, published just after everyone’s favorite GoldenBoy had declared his comeback but before most magazines dared vice their concerns, in 2009.

humour-cabus-mental

With the great champions, it’s their mental attitude that makes the difference” reads the caption, as our Maillot Jaune jumps from one bend to another to get ahead of the pack.

Another reads ‘Legalise doping, for a French win.’

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Both, you will note, are by Cabu, one of the cartoonists killed recently in Paris.

I came across a few other cartoons on my search that also show the power of the form.

And my two personal favorites, the first of which could be LA, Hincapie, Leipheimer, Hamilton, O’Grady, etc:

cartoon092013

And one that isn’t quite a ‘toon, but does show the man not as a chicken but as a cock, which he undoubtedly is:

rooster

“The cartoonists who have stabbed their pencils at the dirty heart of professional cycling have left an indelible visual vocabulary,” writes Clemitson. “It’s cheap humour, but it makes its point with elegant economy. It says the unsayable in a way that, once seen, can never be unseen. Armstrong is right when he says that the history books may no longer record his victories but that nothing can unstop us seeing him in Yellow in Paris year after year. That is the power of the visual image, the power that Cabu and Charb, Tignous and Wolinski exploited with such deadly effect.

“Armstrong reacted to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity by tweeting “PariSTRONG’, a pun as painfully self-referential and egotistical as he could possibly have made under the circumstances. But he is forever a cartoon character with a syringe sticking out of his arse, skewered on his own perfidiousness. And that is why Je Suis Charlie.”

Lee’s Lowdown on PEZ: The Early Days of Bicycle Advertising

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Gaining inspiration from that bunch of cool old bike posters I found last month and posted about, this week’s Lee’s Lowdown (the second of my weekly columns) on PezCycling News takes a de eper and more focused look specifically at the early days of bicycles and the advertising that promoted it.

Check out some great Art Noveau posters, learn about Victor Bicycles and Columbia and their spoons, about how the bike was central to the liberation of women at the turn of the last century and send a message to the owner at PEZ to tell him how much you loved the article!

Ha! Click the image below to access the article, many thanks.

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Pre-Season Training Plans: $6.99 per week on Crank Punk Coaching Systems

CPCS will get you in top shape for 2015

CPCS will get you in top shape for 2015

How do you go from the splurge that is a good Christmas break into some smart, sensible training that will lay a solid foundation for the new year of riding and racing?

How do you get back into the groove without overtraining or wasting your time doing things you don’t need?

How do you utilise the new research about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into your routine, whilst being sure to use Long, Steady Distance riding effectively too?

And when and how should you start using shorter, medium intervals so that you do not compromise the gains you’ve made with your longer workouts? Finally, how and when do you take it from that middle period into the high-end stuff, the top-end workouts that will get you ready for your first week?

crankpunk-mirror-cpcs-logo-1

With Crank Punk Coaching Systems you’ll find one of my pre-written plans to suit your pre-season needs perfectly, with a 6 Week Winter Plan on offer that can then be switched to the PowerUP Plan that will get you up to that next level, and a Comprehensive Pre-Season Plan that will incorporate both the base training and the move into longer HIIT work, with a final chunk that will take you from that middle area into getting ready for that first race.

At $6.99 per week the plans won’t bust the bank but what you will get in return is a proven plan constructed using my experience and expertise in creating winning coaching systems, including a guide which will offer instructions as to how to adapt the plan to your needs and time schedule. You will also get a free TrainingPeaks account.

Also available is the 1-2-1 Fully Personalised Plan, please email me at leerodgers202@gmail.com.

Crank Punk Coaching Systems: as my Mum says, “They’re the best!”

CrankPunk Mum: she knows the form

CrankPunk Mum: she knows the form

Iron Deficiencies: training with weights to get stronger & faster

crankpunk was a gymrat for a good 7 years or so, serious for a couple, getting up to a ridiculous 96kg. From there I got down to 74kg at my lightest when riding for Fuji-Asia, but I do believe that the muscular strength I had as a meat head served me well as a cyclist once I had dropped all the daft lumpy stuff! Here is a little guide to working with iron to get better all-round on the bike.
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Chris Froome in the off-season

Chris Froome in the off-season

Most cyclists would rather lose a few non-essential digits than risk ever putting on weight, so the idea of going to the gym to actually pump iron would have many fleeing to the mountains to cram in another 3 hour hill session.Yet in fact a quick, smart workout program at your local gym or at home could mean substantial gains in your cycling efficiency and all-round strength and health.

We are though of course cyclists, not weight lifters, so we can make mistakes in our gym work – indeed, this is one of the major factors that deters many cyclists from working out, as they don’t know where to start.

If you can get your workouts right though and steer clear of exercises that could injure you and avoid doing the wrong training and thus not build non-essential muscle, you will soon be riding with a better position and utilizing your leg and back muscles to the max.

Recovery can also improve quite noticeably.

Firstly, decide what you want from your workout, in accordance with this:

  • 1-6 repetitions: create strength
  • 8-12 repitions: foster muscular growth
  • 15+ repetitions: build muscular endurance

So, short, heavy lifting will not give you bulging muscles but rather build strength. Muscular endurance should be built on the bike, not in the gym in my opinion. If you want more explosive power, about 5 reps is perfect for each exercise, in sets of two or more traditionally three.

Personally I prefer to use one set to warm up (12-15 reps, lightish weight), then on the second I will do 8-10 reps at a medium weight, then do one set with heavy weights at 4-6 reps (maintaining good form though the whole way).

As with interval training, intensity is critical here.

Secondly, choose the right kind of exercises. There’s little point doing immense bench presses or too much shoulder work, as you don’t need this on the bike. The upper body portion of a decent workout can be done in ten minutes or even less.

One area of the body many cyclists neglect is the stomach, yet a strong core can really help improve all aspects of a cyclist’s performance. There’s a whole range of exercises you can find on-line, so I won’t go into that too much, but the abdominals are a muscle group that can be worked almost daily. A strong core not only improves posture and allows the rider to generate more power, it also looks great on the beach!

Of course a cyclist should also work the legs, but be careful here. Free-weight squats have long been a favorite exercise of cyclists but can lead to knee injuries if not done strictly. Personally I favor lunges as they work the glutes (‘arse’ to you and me), thighs and calves all at once. Seated squats are also good as there’s a decrease in the chance of injury, and you can at the end do a few calf pushes on the same machine.

An intelligent workout should have you in and out of the gym in 30 minutes. Short, intense bursts are the way to go, and if done three times a week you’ll soon notice the changes.

Below is a guide I wrote for my Crank Punk Coaching Systems clients.

 Why weight train?

Some studies have shown that training with weights have no effect on stamina or endurance yet there are many more that have shown the opposite.

In a study of elite cyclists from the Danish U-23 National Team, strength training plus cycling improved performance during a 45-minute time trial to a greater extent than cycling alone [1].

In another, strength training increased time to exhaustion at maximal aerobic power by almost 20%, as well as improving cycling economy by 5% [2]. Eight weeks of strength training has even been shown to improve cycling performance in subjects (albeit untrained beginners) doing no cycling at all.

Who should train?

Just about everybody, unless you’re either severely disinclined or feel you don’t need to make gains in power or strength. There is some validity to the school of thought that believes that the bike is all the training you need, but this is true more for top-level riders (who are natural athletes, more often than not) who can ride 25-30 hours a week and who are more instinctive in their training than the average rider.

For the rest of us, getting in some strength training is definitely worthwhile.

When Should I train?

In season (mid-February-September/October traditionally), most cyclists do not train with weights, as at this time there should be enough on-bike work to keep you busy and to ensure that you are working the necessary muscles – namely, the legs, core and lower-back.

If any exercise indoor with resistance is to be done in season, some core work 3-4 times a week with nothing more than a few push-ups and/or dips should suffice.

The reason for this is that we don’t need any additional upper-body weight whilst on the bike. It might look great on the beach to have rippling pecs and boulder-like shoulders, but on-bike these are less than useless, they actually slow you down.

So, the following exercises are best to do in your ‘off-season’, anytime from say November to the end of January/mid-February.

Think of them as more of strengthening exercises than body-building ones. Slim, sleek, athletic and powerful should be the watchwords.

Train when rested, train if possible at least 6 hours after riding and, ideally, keep ‘heavy’ gym days for non-bike days. One day off between workouts at the very least is required.

And remember – this is about getting faster, stronger and more powerful on the bike. Not about getting buff like Peter Sagan!

How should I train?

There are different theories in what kind of training is best for cyclists. Some believe that mimicking on-bike training is best, meaning high reps with a low weight.

Others believe that heavier weights and lower reps (between 6-12) bring about better gains for cycling.

Personally I prefer a mixture, one that will help build muscular strength and also work a bit on building endurance (especially important if you’re home-bound due to cold weather).

For the legs, heavier is good. This would mean weight that allows for between 2-3 sets and a descending number of repetitions, starting at about 10-12 as a warm up for each exercise, and going down to 8-10 for the next, 4-6 for the last.

A LOWER BODY workout:

  1. Stretch
  2. Lunges
  3. Leg Press
  4. Hamstring Curl
  5. Calf Raises (calves can be worked more as they are ‘stubborn & sturdy’ muscles)
  6. Stretch

Legs can be done three times a week, more than that and you will eventually overtrain these muscles. Less than that and you will still feel gains but they will be harder to sustain and to consolidate.

Also with the legs – when doing these workouts it is essential, like with the training on the bike, to mix things up. So if doing squats, you can go really light (ie just with the bar, no weights) and practice jumping up so that your feet leave the floor (though as mentioned, be wary of squats). If on a leg press machine (safer), push off the leg plate with your toes and ‘catch’ it on the way back, working the calves as well as the thighs.

For at least one set (the last usually), cut down the reps and increase the weight, so as to ‘break’ the muscle fibers, encouraging repair (hence the need for adequate rest) and growth.

Be sure to start with light weights on any program and to build up. Allow for enough rest between workouts.

Here are examples of a UPPER BODY exercises, the idea here would be to chose, as stated, two or three of these and to rotate them each time. I would do chest and biceps on Monday for example, then back and shoulders Wednesday, and so on. Over and done in 10 minutes max, nothing insanely heavy.

  1. Stretch
  2. Chest: I prefer dips and pushups here but also incline bench dumbbell flies from time to time – as ever, it is important to mix things up
  3. Shoulders: I prefer the  Lift and Press as it works almost the whole shoulder area and also the arms
    How to do: Standing straight, hold dumbells or barbell with straight arms, resting on thighs, with straight back, lift to chin, pause a moment, then press overhead. Dumbell flies also great.
  4. Biceps: Again, not too many, not too heavy.
  5. Lat work: I rely on the dips and pushups to give the lats all the work they need. Some overhead lat machine work also good, as are chins.
  6. Deadlift: A great general exercise, not one I would do each time but a great all-over body workout, works glutes, back, arms, neck, the lot. If pressed for time, this and some leg work is a good solution.
  7. Core: Any combo of exercises are ok, aim for somewhere in the region of 100-150 reps in total once strength has been built up.

The 30 MINUTE Workout

Traditionally, body builders would work the legs one day and the upper body the next, but for the time-constrained cyclist this kind of a workout style is not possible, nor, in my opinion, desirable. When I was addicted to the gym even then I would be in and out in 25 minutes, 30 tops.

I recommend a 3 day per week to a 4 day per week cycle (once you are sufficiently dialed in and if you do really need the strength work), one on which you work both the legs and the upper body, as well as the core, and it’s a workout you can do in about 30 minutes.

We want to do almost the whole leg workout each time, being sure to do a calf exercise, a thigh exercise, and a quad exercise. Go for the full 3 sets on each muscle part.

For the upper body, we can omit one part each time and rotate them in the next workout. One way to decide what to leave out is to look at your body and to see visually which area needs more work and which less.

Personally for the upper body I prefer to use weight-free exercises as much as possible, meaning push-ups, chin-ups and dips with some weights used from time to time for biceps, shoulders and for the ever-useful deadlift.

Start with push ups, do 40 say, then the shoulders, and finally the dips. Three exercises, all the muscles used and done in 10 minutes or less.

Next time, do the biceps instead of the shoulders.

Cram the crunches in between the legs and the upper body and you’re done and dusted in 30 minutes tops. Move quickly between sets and exercises to keep the blood flowing and to save time, however do not move too quickly between upper and lowed body as the blood needs time to ‘re-jig’ itself.

3-4 times a week on this and you will see the difference. Use weights that you can manage – train smart, not macho.

[1] Aagaard P, Andersen JL, Bennekou M, Larsson B, Olesen JL, Crameri R, Magnusson SP, Kjaer M. (2011). Effects of resistance training on endurance capacity and muscle fiber composition in young top-level cyclists. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 21, e298-307

 

[2} Sunde A, Støren O, Bjerkaas M, Larsen MH, Hoff J, Helgerud J. (2010). Maximal strength training improves cycling economy in competitive cyclists. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24, 2157-2165

 

 

 

EXERCISE TUITION YOUTUBE LIBRARY

(Livestrong features heavily, please don’t hate!)

 

For Core:

 

  • Excellent one here from Garmin, for CORE STABILITY and for Stretching:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmHqBYFYwmc

  • To strengthen the lumbar spine – hyper-extensions or ‘super mans’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc6UVRS7PW4

  • To strengthen the abdominals – crunches on physio-ball, planks, bridge on ball

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xyd_fa5zoEU

  • Some new ones here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OO8ckYzmT6k

For the Legs:

  • To strengthen the quadriceps – lunges, leg extensions, dead lifts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mN1IUo18HXs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2n58m2i4jg (my favorite)

  • To strengthen the hamstrings – hamstring curls

No weights? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLJ1YuRRTOE

  • To strengthen the calves – seated or standing calf raises

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwLzBJYoWlI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iYwv4QVFjM

Amother word on SQUATS:

Two very good cyclists that I know had to quit cycling due to injuries sustained from doing traditional squats. Personally, I prefer the seated squat machine:

For the Upper Body:

  • Lat pulldown (Back):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B2ayE9LfRE

Without weights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T78xCiw_R6g

This one is great:

  • Dumbell chest press

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vE9KK77nddw

Decline Push Up (chest, shoulders, triceps):

  • Dips (back, shoulders, triceps, chest)

  • Shoulders

  • Bicep

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKpPmiMZ_QE

Stretching

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehVo7huKEd0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_BQvN9YmGM

Cycling in Taiwan: The Hidden Gem of Asia

This article originally appeared in Action Asia, the leading adventure sports magazine in these parts. To download the pdf, please click the link below. The article contains tips on what to bring and when to come and all you need to know on choosing the best roads to ride.

COMING SOON : I’m currently planning a cycle tour here in Taiwan, interested parties are more welcome to get in touch and I will get you on a mailing list that will let you know the latest developments of the new venture.

Click below for the article pdf, downloadable:

Taiwan Feature Action Asia Jan 14 NEW

Thank you to Andrew Kerslake for the contribution to the article. Check out his excellent Taiwan In Cycles site here.

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Money, pump… gun? Is a weapon necessary for a bike ride?

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I read a cycling article last week that rather brilliantly had the word ‘bandits’ in it, not something you see every day.

Darwin Atapuma attacked by bandits in Colombia” read the shocking headline.

While out on a training ride the BMC rider was accosted by two men who tried take his bike from under him. The attack resulted in cuts and bruises to Atapuma’s arm, and though the report states that the men were arrested by police it does not say whether they actually made off with his bike before that.

Personally, I’d have targeted Nairo Quintana for his Canyon Ultimate CF SLX, a far superior bike to the BMC time machine SLR01, but I suppose bandits can’t be choosers.

In all seriousness though this attack does highlight some interesting points, the first of which is, why doesn’t this happen more often?

Think about it – we are off in the middle of nowhere quite often, rolling along alone a lot too, on machines that are worth thousands of dollars, more than some of the cars that whizz by us.

We’re skinny, lack upper body strength and wear shoes we can’t run more than 10 feet in. We may as well be wearing bright multi-coloured kit to announce our presence…

This brings up the second point: should we carry guns?

I laughed as I wrote that because it does sound ridiculous, but the truly astounding thing is that there are cyclists out there who do indeed pack heat on their daily jaunts.

There is a thread on http://www.cyclingforums.com that is entitled “How many of you carry a gun as part of your cycling equipment?

Joe West, the author of the thread, opens by saying he prefers a .45 when out touring.

Here in Arizona we can legally carry open and concealed (concealed with permit).

For long distance touring and bicycle camping… I think I’d feel safer carrying my .45 semi-auto pistol (concealed so it doesn’t freak people out).

Anyone else carry while biking?

JW

Weisse Luft then chimes in with his preference.

My current choice is a Kel-Tec P3-AT. 10 ounces loaded, locked breech, recoil operated semi-auto with a six round magazine. Its good enough in my hands for “velo-dog” use (small revolvers traditionally carried by cyclists in the early 1900’s) but being .380, adequate for self-defence when loaded with +P Cor Bons. A spare magazine is only an additional 3 ounces. For the weight of a small water bottle, I have adequate defence. I have yet to use it and my cycling partners don’t know I carry.

Three ounces huh? Wonder if there’s a gun thread on WeightWeenies too? (I checked, there isn’t, unless a ‘grease gun’ is a weapon?)

To balance the gun-carriers, Routier wades in with a slightly hysterical comment but one which I am sure most of us have some sympathy with.

Are you sick? What attitude is that? You also wear a gun while going to the theatre with your girl?

         Well I guess it’s just typical American behaviour. I saw that movie Bowling for Columbine. You should watch that, it                 gives you a whole other look on the carrying of weapons.

         Answer to you question: No I don’t carry a weapon on training! But many do, most of whom, it seems, are Americans.

Here’s a fellow on YouTube showing off his pistol pack

It seems mad to me, an Englishman living in the relatively calm, relatively gun-free Taiwan, that people would ever think of carrying a gun anywhere. And yet should we as rational people consider actually riding armed and ready for an attack? Would Atapuma have been better off with a Magnum in his back pocket? Or would he be awaiting sentencing for manslaughter?

I was involved personally in an attack by a motorist when I was 16, out riding with my 18-year-old teammate in the north of England on a remote hillside.

A large BMW came speeding by, bringing an involuntary middle finger from my companion. The car stopped, drove back, and out stepped two massive blokes. My friend got a smack in the mush that wrecked his front teeth and we had our bikes thrown about too. It was terrifying.

Do I wish I had had a gun? That is a question I want to say ‘No’ to, but, thinking on it, I just don’t know.

And then there is the issue of female cyclists and safety. If my soon-to-be-born daughter decided to take up the sport and was off on five hour rides alone in the hills, would I insist on her carrying a whistle and mace? Would it be enough even if she had them and was attacked?

What next? A knife? A telescopic striking stick? Or a snub-nosed automatic? Maybe Garmin could make one with a bike computer on it, might do well.

Many will say ‘Well that is America, more people have guns there’ but this misses a point – just about anyone who rides more than to the corner shop has encountered an angry motorist. Scary encounters can happen anywhere, you needn’t be in Texas or Wyoming.

South Africa is also known as a relatively violent place, as this video here attests to:

And it’s not just in America that cyclists are carrying weapons. Road.cc ran a story back in March 2014 that told of David Best, 64, who had been hit by a car and was subsequently discovered to be carrying an airgun, a knife and – best of all – nunchucks!

Nutter!

Seriously though, I hope I never live in an environment where I really have to confront my indecision over carrying a weapon of any kind.

Finally, for those of you considering going all Dirty Harry (the shaved leg version), here’s a bit of advice on making that first gun purchase.

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