Muddy Morley Mechanical

tunnelbikeride

Mud mud glorious mud.  If you want to ride off road in Britain then you’d better get used to riding in it and not just riding in it but learning to embrace it and revel in it.  This has been a bit of a change in mindset for me as while I’ve ridden in it plenty of times I can’t think I’ve often thought “yeah mud this will be a brilliant ride out” and having not ridden anywhere else in the world I sometimes wonder if this damp rock of ours floating about in the Atlantic must be unique in it’s ability to produce the vast quantities of the slippery oozing gloopy mud.  I’d not been out on any bike for about 10 days before heading out on the garagebikes shop ride Sunday due to a mixture of a little bit of winter blues having come back from Palma and a sore shoulder that was preventing me from turning my neck to look behind me (a pretty essential movement for a cyclist).

As soon as we hit the first bit of off road I could feel myself sliding, it’s a disconcerting feeling knowing you are not in control and trying to work out how you manage that movement, I tried really hard throughout the ride to try to relax, keep my chin up look ahead,  I started to really enjoy myself and felt good while I was riding, I realised that my fitness is slowly improving and I reckon that riding in the winter should improve that even more as it’s hard work trying to push through mud.  I managed to climb ok, my lines were better and I even found myself descending with a smidge more confidence.  There were 12 of us out and all seemed to be in a good mood, enjoying themselves and encouraging others, laughing as we tried to ride up a slippery bank.  I realised over the ride to try not to fear the movement, by relaxing and concentrating on opening up my body position the bike can move and I can make subtle almost unthinking movements to compensate and keep upright.  On the last climb I was still feeling good when bang I managed to rip off the hanger so was left with no gears.  Al strapped by gears up out of the way onto my seatpost and I walked and freewheeled back to Garagebikes where fresh coffee and cake was waiting.

broken mech

I’m going to get some better mud tyres fitted to help when the bike is repaired and try to embrace the mud (next step will of course be to try and love wet roots and rocks!).  There is an alternative approach of course which was taken by one of the guys – simply buy a fat bike

fatbike

 

Preview – The Rise of British Cycling: Rod Ellingworth & Ned Boulting

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Britain arguably rules the world when it comes to cycling across a host of disciplines and both genders, we have the fastest sprinter in the world, the best grand tour riders, gold medals and world champions galore at track cycling and we are no slouches when it comes to mountain biking and bmx as well.  These current successes have been hugely publicised and the likes of Wiggins and Cavendish are household names but how did we get to this position? after all it’s easy to forget that this rampant success was not always how it was.
Back in the deep mists of time (the early 80’s) growing up in South Wales as well as my rugby and footy hero’s I also had a cycling one – Robert Millar, the now reclusive/elusive Scot had, until very recently, the best record of any Britain in the Grand Tours (which are in road cycling terms the top of the tree – win them and cycling immortality beckons). Millar was in cycling terms a climber and could be seen battling at the front on the alpine roads as they snaked upwards and I used to go out on my bike and attack the climbs of South Wales imagining that I too could wear the polka dot jersey as the top climber.  I’m now built for comfort not speed or climbing but back then I was whippet thin – about half the weight I am now but with a lot more hair! I doubt many people who do not follow cycling will have heard of Robert Millar and at the time it appeared that he was just a blip, a one off maverick in the best sense of the word.  Perhaps this was the way it was always going to be and always had been, the occasional one off cycling genius emerging once in a generation to tackle the continental greats while the general public shrugged their collective shoulders with indifference.
After Millar though ambitious plans started to be made concentrating more on track cycling with the aim of getting an Olympic medal, setting up talent identification programmes to try and build on and sustain this success and eventually transport this success across to the road with an assault on the world championships and the grand tours.  In the late 80’s and early 90’s another fantastically maverick Scot, Graeme Obree battled it out with Chris Boardman for track glory culminating in world hour records and Boardman winning Gold at the Barcelona Olympic games.  Lottery money began to flow into the sport enabling the ambitious and meticulous plans to be put into effect.  Golds flowed on the track and then in 2010 Team Sky was launched to capitalise on the track success and ensure a smooth and symbiotic relationship between the track and the road.  To much smirking in the press the stated aim at the launch was to win the Tour de France with a British winner within 5 years, some aim seeing as this had never happened before.  The rest as they say is history with two British winners within 4 years and with many of the same personnel both on and off the road masterminding a world championship win for Cavendish.
On the Road Bike crop
These are just the headlines though, how did this actually happen? many sports have grand ambitions to be the best but very few can pull it off.  Two men who know all about it will be telling all at what is bound to be a fascinating and fun event at Morley Town Hall on 12 October as part of Morley Literature Festival.  Rod Ellingworth is the performance manager at Team Sky overseeing the sports directors and race coaches, prior to which he masterminded Cavendish’s world championship win and nurtured many of today’s top riders in his earlier role as coach of the British Cycling U23 squad.
When Ned Boulting first went to cover the Tour de France for ITV a little over 10 years ago he knew next to nothing about cycling, nor the magnitude of the Tour and made the almost criminal error of referring to the leaders sacred maillot jaune as the Yellow Jumper.  Slowly though Ned fell in love with cycling in all it’s incredible complexities and took up on two wheels himself as his love turned to obsession and he turned his journalistic skills to hunting down the key figures in British cycling to try to understand what makes them tick.
It’s a real coup for Morley to get Rod and Ned sharing the stage as between them they know the key figures, the plans, the plots and the stories of how Britain has come to rule on two wheels and how more and more of us are following the sport and turning the pedals over ourselves.  Tickets to what is bound to be a fun and informative event also include bike valet parking for those who come by bike.  If for whatever reason you can’t make it (and I can’t think of one) then I’ll be live tweeting from the event via @ianstreet67
Event / Ticket Details:
The event is on Saturday 12 October 2013, 4.30-5.30 at Morley Town Hall
You can get tickets via morleyliteraturefestival.co.uk / by phone 0844 848 2706 or in person at Morley Library
Tickets are £6.00 and include free valet parking for cyclists, free pedal powered drink, a bike surgery and information to browse about cycling clubs and groups in the area.
All information of this and the other great events this year at morleyliteraturefestival / @morleylitfest

Olympic Torch

Now I’m fully aware of the controversy and issues surrounding the Olympics this year and the torch relay and I very much agree with most of them.  However this is another story that many who knock the games may not be aware of and that is the amazing dedication that countless thousands of primarily young people put into training into their chosen sport.

In Leeds for example if you go down to the John Charles Centre for Sport on any night of the week you will see the place packed with young swimmers, divers and athletes all putting in effort, training hard, learning new things, progressing and having a great time.  I’ve spent countless hours over the last few years watching this and have come to the conclusion that these young people are the complete antithesis of the general “oh young people today” mindset of some people and it is here that the papers should come if they want a reflection of young people today as this picture, which is no doubt replicated up and down the country, is a far more accurate reflection than is generally portrayed.

So for me it’s not the cost, sponsorship, ticket sales etc etc that I think of when I think of the games or the torch it’s these young people and the thousands like them that are simply putting in effort, having fun and doing the best they can which is symbolised by the torch.

Yesterday on the torch’s vast journey round Britain it passed about 20 yards from my house and I so I popped out with the kids to see it before school.  I must say the atmosphere was fantastic, there was a real community feel the like of which you don’t experience very often.  Staff from the local shops and factories came out, school children were there, residents young and old, the builders from the site nearby all packed a quite residential street on the outskirts of Leeds, chatting and having a good time.  It was simply good fun and we all need more of that I’d say.