Tagged: cycling

The Crashtag™ by Elevengear review

the guys at Elevengear got in touch about a new identify thing they call CrashTag, asking me if i was interested in checking it out, so i said yes, so they sent me one.



which is the idea behind The Crashtag, far as i can see. one one side of the rounded piece of Al6V4 titanium you have a pattern of your choosing from 10 patterns (they have a club special too, whereby you can get your club name and logo on the front – in fasct, i think anyone can get whatever they want put on there), on the other you have space for 159 characters that should include your name, an emergency number and whatever else you want, laser-engraved on there.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 13.36.34

there’s also a QR code on there, which links to their site and your own personal page, where you can input your photo, website address, FB, Twitter and what else you fancy.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 13.35.21

it comes with a variety of cords in different materials of differing lengths too, which allows for fastening either as a necklace or as a tag on say a bag, shoes, or the bike itself i guess.

it’s kinda cool (it’s a bottle opener too), though maybe a little overpriced at $34.50 i feel.

the QR code idea is that if you meet someone of interest whose details you’d like, rather than just taking a number, you scan their code and boom, you have all their details in one handy place. not a bad idea, interesting enough, though i had to download a QR reader app first to make it relevant. a quick poll of my amigos showed that just one person out of about 20 had a QR reader app on their fone.

i originally put it on my saddle but it was clinking every 5 seconds, then just ended up sticking it in my pocket but found that i forgot it the next time i rode. didn’t look right on the shoes, the cord was too short for my wrist but as it’s sized like a dogtag it’s too big for there anyway, and as a necklace it just wasn’t my style.

so, it’s kinda smart, looks pretty good, the QR code idea is fine but not many people i know at least have a reader, and can it compete with the bracelet-style id tags available now? not sure.

would i buy one? no, but then i don’t have an ID bracelet either. i know i should but you know, sometimes i get a little creeped out heading out thinking ‘ok so if i get hit so bad that i can’t talk then this will save me’ – you know? maybe stupid, but then i make a conscious effort never to say the word C-R-A-S-H oitloud either, so i’m safe.

i think i’ll stick it on my travel bag, will look good there.

um, realising maybe i wasn’t the best person to review this. i’m sure some people who do ride with their info on them would love this.


looks good




where am i gonna put it so i don’t forget it?

how many people have QR readers?

not cheap

6.5/10, if you’re pushing me…





cycling posters! thanks Liz!

what a find, and thanks to Liz Newbery for this.

a bicycle posters page on FB. one of the best things i’ve seen on FB, in all honesty!

that’s the great, truly great thing about the bike – it just makes you smile, and there’s plenty in these beauties to smile about.


how the Dutch reclaimed the streets from the car

my first trip as an adult to the Netherlands had me in awe at the bike lanes and bike paths, and the sheer number of people riding bikes for transport.

i had thought, until now, that that was just the way it is over there, that there had always been this respect for cycling and cyclists. however, after stumbling on this very thorough website, A View From The Cycle Path, it’s clear that the Dutch made a clear effort to reclaim the streets once the sheer volume (and number of road deaths) had reached a critical point.


if you’ve ever wondered why more towns and cities aren’t car-free or how the Dutch have it so good (not everywhere granted, but in many places), then have a look at the site and in particular these two articles about the ‘second revolution’ and on why very few people use cargo bikes in Assen.

Warning – this video shows people riding without helmets…

Kenyan Riders team in The Guardian newspaper

you may remember a fund that was set up following the death of the Kenyan cyclist John Njoroge Muya at this year’s Tour of Matabungkay (Chris Froome was good enough to tweet about the fund last week and donated, chapeau).

the team is still going strong and that’s reflected by the press they’ve been getting. here is an article on the team in The Guardian, click the image below for the link.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 20.17.45

Type A people are “overachieving monsters” – and they have invaded our sport!

Hitler has now popped up twice in my week, first on my receipt from 7-11:

not sure what he's saying but let's assume it isn't very nice. bad Hitler.

not sure what he’s saying but let’s assume it isn’t very nice. bad Hitler.

and then in my reading material about psychotic cyclists A Type personalities (who are psychotic cyclists).

fascinating stuff. not sure if the two are connected though. that would be weird.

anyway, back to that that term, ‘Type A’.

“It first reached the mainstream in a 1974 book called “Type A Behavior and Your Heart”,” reads this interesting article by Emma Brockes on the AlterNet website, “and its 1996 follow-up, “Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and Treatment”. These books were not written by a psychologist but by a cardiologist, Dr Meyer Friedman, who described the type A category in mostly negative terms, as a group of angry, thoughtless people whose behaviour put them at heightened risk of a heart attack. You know who else was type A in this schema? Hitler.”

Brockes points out that the term Type A has been appropriated by these very people – and indeed society at large, especially the media, to the point where it’s now something that people brag about.

“The people identifying as type A in these circumstances use the term as a synonym for success,” write Brocke.

“Type A, in common parlance, is an advertisement for the self along the lines of: Hey, I may be a bit maddening at times, but it’s only because I have higher standards than you. Anyone who objects to the way of the A-type is merely displaying her position further down the evolutionary chain.

“So universal is this interpretation of type A that it has become a principle of marketing. The New York Times just ran a story about Unplug, a new meditation franchise that has opened in Los Angeles, specifically offering “meditation for Type A personalities” and – brace yourselves – “a SoulCycle for meditation”. (Unplugged may be brilliant, but this particular sales spin is bonkers: meditation seeks to dismantle the very hierarchies and categories of achievement upon which the pitch relies. SoulCycle, on the other hand, is about re-reinforcing those categories by pretending the stationery bike you’re on is a mountain that you are conquering – a mountain probably made out of cash and the skulls of type B personalities.)”

we know what “I’m a Type A personality” really means.

it means you look down on people who you consider to be Type B or C or D or however far your scale goes. it means you put people into ‘types’ in the first place, which kinda sucks. it means you give yourself free reign to behave in ways that otherwise would be considered rude, selfish or just downright sh*tty, and that you expect others to allow for that because hey! you’re Type A!

you’re an achiever, a go-getter, a WINNER.

(nothing wrong with that, but do you have to be a d**k off the bike too?)

does Type A sound familiar to anyone out there? how many of these do we have in road racing? in road cycling? in our clubs and in our coffee shops?

this sport is littered with these guys and they are all over the forums, spouting bile and ill-informed crap like it grows on trees – which, unfortunately, it does.

it goes all the way up – or all the way down, depending on how you look at it. think of the guys who have been at the top of our sport over the years and yup, guess what – loads of Type A folk.

there are indeed however many more lovely folk out there riding and racing bikes, and indeed many pros are very nice people – it’s just that these Type A types, they do seem to be increasing in numbers, don’t they?

like plankton.

or mold.

it seems also that there is a mindset that believes that to be a winner you have to be an uber-aggressive, antagonistic personality that won’t brook failure (something i believe should be embraced) or ‘weakness’. it must suck to have to bend your head to think that way. it’s a pretty cold, hard slab of a mentality.

and it can’t be healthy, not in the long run. i wonder how many dopers would descrive themselves as Type As? interesting thought.

“Whatever the context, using the words “I’m type A” is often a prelude to some form of conversational douche-baggery,” surmises Brocke.


cranky indeed.

i’m off for a bike ride.

crankpunker spotted in Denver, Colorado: punkhunt ensues

Michael Sagermann, a.k.a Bobby Snowballs Smith, was last spotted pedaling about in an area just north of Denver, taking scalps and Strava KOMs willy nilly.

Sagermann  is easy to spot in lycra as one of his famed snowballs is bigger than the other.

Sagermann is easy to spot in lycra as one of his famed snowballs is considerably larger than the other.

armed with deep carbon rims and some serious power thanks to Crank Punk Coaching Systems, Sagermann is considered legged and dangerous and should be approached with caution.

or an espresso, as he is quite fond of those, with one of those Italian cookies on the side, the hard ones. with almonds.

here is the last known image of the man, bedecked in the fantastico CPCS kit that is still available in any damn color you can find on the Pantone chart (contact me for prices, sizing, a chat about life, advice on mullets, et cetera).


the Classics are coming! get yer fix with these great little videos

a shot from my trip in 2014

a shot from my trip in 2014

i know i know, you love them too, which is why even in November it’s worth getting ready for 2015 by indulging our guilty love by, well, getting all indulgent and watching some videos featuring these great races and fantastico courses.

last year i was fortunate to be invited along with Peter and Lisa Easton on their Velo Classic Tours week (thanks to PEZ Cycling) which featured a ride over the Paris-Roubaix and Flanders courses, as well as front row seats at both those races and the Scheldeprijs mid-week race. the trip featured amazing rides, incredible food and some very cool bike-mad folk, as well as – most surprisingly – brilliant blue skies all week.

Rodgers takes the win, and no one else (not even the crowd!) in the picture

Rodgers takes the win, and no one else (not even the crowd!) in the picture


a highly recommended adventure.

first up is a great little video by a bunch of guys who went to the race last year and also rode the route. as bucketlist items go, this has to be top three on every discerning roadie’s list.

the Tour of Flanders history up next.

Boonen gets spanked by Fabian. (We rode the Muur on the Velo Classic Tours trip).

“He’s [Boonen]  just got to keep him in sight over the top, he’ll catch him if he can.”

Ah Phil, too Liggett to quit!

and finally, not exactly connected to the Classics but it is set in Belgium. incredibly, though Belgium is essentially the home of cycling, in its capital Brussels only 4% of traffic is person-powered.

great stuff…

they even let you take a shower (if you sneak in, that is)

they even let you take a shower (if you sneak in, that is) [image-cp]

Italian cycling is the dirtiest and most corrupt, right? Think again…

*use Google translate please on the Italian websites featured)


The Italians. Reel off the names of the heroes of Italian cycling and it reads like a Who’s Who of serious heavyweight dopers.

Mario Cipollini, Ivan Basso, Danilo di Luca, Francesco Moser, Riccardo Ricco, Emanuele Sella, Michele Scarponi, and of course the great imbiber, Marco Pantani. Let us not forget also Graziano Gasparre, busted for transporting a veritable drugstore about under his skin.

Gasparre was busted for amphetamine, EPO, HGH, testosterone and cocaine.

If you’re gonna do it proper, Graziano, do it proper!

anyone got a straw?

Gasparre: anyone got a straw?

Il Campionissimo, the great Fausto Coppi, is the greatest rider in a fine tradition of snorters, poppers and needle heads from the Old Boot, and he wasn’t shy about admitting it.

In a TV interview back in the day, he admitted taking ‘la bomba’ [amphetamine] pretty darn regularly.

Question: Do cyclists take la bomba?

Coppi: Yes, and those who claim otherwise, it’s not worth talking to them about cycling.

Question: And you, did you take la bomba?

Coppi: Yes. Whenever it was necessary.

Question: And when was it necessary?

Coppi: Almost all the time.

amphetamine: the chemical diagram of choice for riders in the 50s... and 40s... and 30s... and 60s...

amphetamine: the chemical diagram of choice for riders in the 50s… and the 40s… and the 30s… and the 60s… how they got this down their throats i’ll never know…

There’s no doubt that then that there are some pretty high profile dopers in Italian cycling, and you will often hear people – particularly the English and the Americans – cite the Italians (along with the Spanish) as being the ‘worst for doping’.

But is that actually true? In the past few years surely the highest concentration of dopers have come from the English-speaking nations, in particular from the USA.

‘Ah but ya see, like Lance said, they were just doing it to catch up!’

Yeah and that completely justifies driving what has been called ‘the greatest fraud in sporting history’ – and that is even if you believe that guff.

Back to Italy and their innate need to cheat – cos that’s what we feel it is, let’s be honest here – take a look at this report in VeloNews from back in 2011:

Doping controls on Italian juniors’

Is it a sign that things have gone too far? Or simply an effort to nip the doping scourge in the bud? Officials from Italy’s anti-doping brigade at CONI carried out controls on junior cyclists racing in an event Sunday in northern Italy. The Giornale di Vicenza reported that officials took urine samples from junior riders 13 to 14 years old. CONI confirmed it tests up to 40 juniors throughout the racing season. Italian cycling federation president Renato di Rocco defended the practice, telling the newspaper:

We have to come to accept the fact that we have to start with prevention at the age of 13. The parents and society can have a guarantee that sport will be cleaner, that everyone is racing at the same level, something that’s been questioned for a long time now.

“But something must be said, with all honesty, that there are parents who put high concentrations of caffeine in the water bottles of their own children. It’s time we make a reflection and do all we can to prevent the next generation from entering the road to doping. It’s called prevention.”

I read this and I thought ‘Whoah, those Italians are doping their kids!

I’m sure you will agree, that is hardcore. My initial reaction though ignored the other vey important factor here, and that is that the President – no less – of the Italian Cycling Federation – no less! – was coming forward and saying that yes there was a problem, that yes, the ICF intended to do something about it, and that hell yes, parents of young kids who were coming into the sport deserve to “have a guarantee that sport will be cleaner, that everyone is racing at the same level.”

Is this happening in America, where some very questionable characters still dominate USA Cycling?


(If need be, google Steve Johnson or Thom Wiesel or, alternatively, just read this from me. For some real fun though, go read about American juniors being doped way back when by Chris Carmichael – damn, what a GREAT coach he is, deserves every penny of that wonga he sits on…).

Is this kind of an early, grassroots prevention plan that they have in Italy being presently undertaken by the UCI?

Not that I know of, and certainly wasn’t under Pat MacQuaid.

Even if the kids aren’t doping, and let’s hope they aren’t, this is exactly the kind of thing that this sport needs. I know it is terrible and awful to say that we need to test juniors and oh my goodness please let them be kids for just a little while longer but if this is all part of a system that educates them against doping later and means that parents have peace of mind that there kids aren’t going to be thrown to the wolves once they move up the ranks then yes, do it.

Italy isn’t shy at taking the lead on anti-doping in other respects either. You may remember that the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) went after Alejandro Valverde for doping when everyone else was happy to look the other way, it seemed.

As the article on Podium Café stated at the time:

‘According to CONI, Valverde has violated section 2.2 of the WADA code, “use or attempted use of a prohibited substance or method.” Note that a ride need not actually use blood doping to violate the WADA code, but only “attempt” to use. The Basso case provide the precedent in this context. If CONI can prove its case, the violation carries a two year suspension.

‘In Italy, the Valverde case has never sat well. While Italian star Ivan Basso sat out for two years after conviction in the Puerto case, Valverde continued to win races. Few in Italy believed that Valverde was innocent in the Puerto case. The Spanish authorities have all along proved slow to act on the Puerto evidence. So, too, has the UCI.’

The UCI? Slow to act on a doping case involving a major star? Never!

Did the Spanish federation assist CONI in its case in any way? Or at the very least, let them get in with the case unobstructed?

No. They rushed to Valverde’s defence, as they did when Alberto Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol.

Valverde got a two year ban as a result of this, thank CONI, though he still protests his innocence, as any smart doper will, because fans prefer to be lied to and know it is a lie than to be told the truth as it will mean they’ve been taken for chumps.

Funny old world eh?

Still not sure about the claim that Italy is really not as bad as you thought?

Let’s move on then to Italian gran fondos and some information provided by Uli Fluhme, director of the Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) series.

“Italy,” Uli says, “is at the forefront of doping control in amateur cycling.”

How so? Well, let’s let Uli explain.

“A Gran Fondo in Italy means racing at the highest amateur level. Anyone who doesn’t make the jump from “dilettante” (elite amateur) to pro at 23/24 years old, races granfondo. Any other kind of masters racing is almost non-existent.

“Because cycling is extremely popular in Italy, it is also highly competitive. I’ve raced as an amateur in many countries around the world. Nothing comes close to the level of racing in Italy. While the first granfondo happened in the 70s, the real revolution came in the mid 90s with the introduction of chip timing.

Uli Fluhme

Uli Fluhme

“It allowed cyclists to compete in various categories throughout one big peloton. With that kind of competitiveness you get teams, team cars, sponsors, ex-pros – and of course doping. By the late 90s the level of racing at the front was so high that doping was the only explanation. More and more the regular rider and racer got fed up with granfondo superstars that raced like professionals – and doped for it.

“At first the bigger events liked the racing and the magazines talked about the races. But soon doping controls became the norm. More and more riders got popped. Thanks to a very strict antidoping law, the Italian police started crack-downs on doping rings that sometimes involved a pro here and there but most often dozens of amateurs.”

Hence those reports that come out of Italy and seem to make no sense to the rest of us about doping operations getting busted that come with a long list of amateur riders’ names. It’s not as simple as saying ‘well in Italy even the amateurs dope.’

It’s closer to the truth to say that these guys are doping because the prestige that comes with wining these races – and many are screened live on TV – is massive. You can see a similar trend in the USA in Masters racing. It is not the cash prize that so attracts these guys, but the lure of celebrity.

“In 2011,” continues Uli, “under the tutelage of the late Andrea Pinarello (he died of a heart attack at a race, only 40 years old), the Five Stars League was formed. It contained of the 5 most important granfondos in Italy.

“It had the following rules:

 1. Ex-pros are not allowed to race granfondo for a certain number of years

2. Pros can ride but not race granfondos.

3. The Top 100 riders of the previous year are subject to blood testing before each 5 Star League event

 [the TOP 100! – cp.]

“As a result, the speeds at the races dropped and many of the Top 100 riders disappeared from the 5 big events. Of course it didn’t stop all dopers but it was a good start. While the league does not exist anymore (trying to get the 5 biggest events at one table was probably too difficult), its spirit lives on in each of the event. Ex-pros are still not allowed to race for a number of years and doping controls continue to be done by the federation at numerous granfondo events.”

The number of names, the vast majority amateur, here on this list (in fact on the first page alone!) is impressive.

“The conclusion,” says Uli, “is not that Italians are all cheaters. The conclusion is that there is testing happening at races and events (Triathlon, Half Marathon, Gran Fondo) where other countries look away.

“Look at the Granfondo Roma, where organizer and attorney Gianluca Santilli also works for the Italian Cycling Federation (Federciclismo) and is part of the amateur cycling committee in the UCI. He’s at the forefront of the antidoping movement in Italian cycling. One of his race rules is that a rider testing positive at his event has to reimburse the cost of the test. Furthermore, if he/she is part of a team, the team can be held liable as well. It’s a rule we also implemented at GFNY.”

the Gran Fondo Roma - quite popular, then

the Gran Fondo Roma – quite popular, then

And finally, another notable first that I know of in cycling, the Italian national team management decided back in 2009 to no longer select former dopers for the national team, a decision that saw them clash with the Court of Arbitration in Sport.

The British team adhered to this rule until the British Olympic Association rescinded its ban on the selection of former dopers, meaning that David Millar could compete at London 2012.

If an athlete cheated in any other way though – for example a marathon runner getting in a taxi at KM12 and getting out ahead of the field again at KM39 – would they be allowed back?

What exactly is the difference there?

Anyway, I’m wandering. Back to the Italians.

One forum commentator said back in 2009 when the Italians selected their World’s team and left out Basso that “It is ironic because Italy does have some of the toughest laws but most corrupt administrators.”

‘Most corrupt’ – not sure how to measure that, but yes, there has been corruption in Italian soccer, cycling and athletics (such as in this case , but do remember Carl Lewis et al before you start spitting feathers), but with all the evidence, noted above, to indicate a real attempt by the Italians to clean up their most beloved sport, can we deny that they are leading the fight against doping in cycling in several major areas any longer?

I think not.