Category Archives: Road Skills

Knowing how best to cycle on the road, solo or in a group is something all cyclists should seek to improve.

Week 2 of the Tour De France 2015

 

Dear Roulers,

Unless Chris Froome makes a catastrophic error, he has the 2015 TDF in the bag. His co-ordinated attack, with Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte, on Day 1 of the Pyrenees created buffer that he has sat on ever since.

The probable winner of TDF2015

The probable winner of TDF2015

It is also clear that the average French yobbo thinks he’s another Lance Armstrong. Chris Froome is made of sterner stuff. I’m not sure that I would have taken a face full of urine so calmly. If he had been more like Bernard Hinault, that spectator may have ended up in hospital.

Speaking of hospitals, I think its time that the excellent work of Warren Barguil (Team Giant-Alpecin) was recognised.  Warren has single handedly brought back the subtle art of biffo and bad sportmanship in TDF2015. Geraint Thomas of Team Sky must have seen his life pass before his eyes when Warren Barguil took a bad line on the descent into Gap and forced Thomas head first into a telephone pole and down into a ravine. Fortunately, Thomas was unhurt and finished the stage. Barguil, however, rode on rather than stop and help a rider in a crash he caused, even if it was by accident. Chapeau!! Warren.  Someone who clearly doesn’t give a toss for TV copyright has posted the SBS coverage of the incident on youtube.  You can find it at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q0eWT16IQY  I’ve watched it and wondered how the hell Thomas didn’t wipeout or take a couple of spectators with him.  The only thing I’ve seen that’s freaked me out more was that footage of Mick Fanning starring in his own personal ‘Jaws’ movie.

Big Bad Warren Barguil

Big Bad Warren Barguil

Barguil’s other TDF 2015 highlights include being involved in the Stage 3 crash that took out Fabian Cancellara and the Stage 6 crash that took out Tony Martin, both of whom were wearing the Maillot Jaune at the time.

Perhaps Barguil has been watching ‘Death Race’ either 1975 Stallone version or the 2008 Statham version and decided the quickest way to the top of the GC to take out the competition, one crash at a time. Perhaps this is a new and exciting twist in the Le Tour and would draw a younger Gen Y audience. I’m sure that Henri Desgrange would approve. I digress….

So given the last 16 days of drama where are all the Australian and how is Orica GreenEdge performing? Well glad you asked. The overall GC standings, end of stage 16 for the Aussie contingent is as follows:

 Place Name Team Arrears (H:MM:SS)
32   Michael Rogers   Tinkoff-Saxo   1:01:00
60   Richie Porte   Team Sky   1:30:28
102   Rohan Dennis   BMC Racing Team   2:02:57
136   Adam Hansen   Lotto-Soudal   2:26:04
141   Nathan Haas   Team Canondale-Garmin   2:30:12
153   Luke Durbridge   Orica GreenEdge   2:39:15
157   Mark Renshaw   Etixx-Quickstep   2:45:13
165   Michael Matthews   Orica GreenEdge   2:57:52

As far Orica GreenEdge go, they are unfortunately last out of the 22 teams by a very large margin.

OK that’s it for now.

Marv

The end of the Magic Spanner??

Dear Roulers,

I was reading a recent article in Cycle Sport July 2015 edition, talking about the end of the ‘magic spanner’. Apart from terse warnings from the UCI Commissaries, the article was a showcase for a number of nostalgic photos demonstrating the bravery of team bicycle mechanics.  Leaning out of vehicle traveling at 40 to 50 Km/h looks like an easy way to end up in hospital.   Unfortunately there is no easy way of directing you to the article, as far as I can tell, there is no online copy…boo 🙁

For those of you that have no idea what the magic spanner or its close relative the ‘sticky bidon’ are, its occurs when a rider drops out of the peloton, on the pretence of requiring an adjustment to brakes, cleats, cables, whatever, and catches a presumably well earned rest hanging on the team car.  Here’s an example of an intrepid FDJ mechanic braving life and limb. Impressive core strength, young man.

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Its close cousin is where a rider seems take a very long time to secure their grip on a bidon ie 1 or 2 minutes, before taking a drink.

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Neither of these ‘tactics’ should be confused with hanging on to a motorbike…

20150626-Justplaincheating

….which is just plain cheating.

Nor is Richie Porte’s ‘wheelgate’ fiasco, which basically cost him any chance of maglia rosa in 2015.

So, naughty, naughty, very naughty, which is no doubt why the UCI issued a reminder just before the 2015 Paris-Nice race and fined a couple of team  a 1000 Swiss Francs. The article’s author seems to make great sport of team Sky who have a number of photos included in the article.  Oh well…….

As the sole rider on Team Marv I have to say that I want one of these magic spanners.  I’ve had 3 punctures in 6 weeks and having a Team Marv support vehicle would be just awesome. My personal pick would be the Team Sky jag that’s been going around in the ‘hot lap’ that’s been going round on SBS’s Bike Lane.

20150626-TeamSkyJaguar

I’ll be passing the hat round shortly. Don’t be shy, chip in 🙂

Until then ride safely

Marv

Tips for cycling in Melbourne’s wet weather

20150425-WetBikeBanner

 

Well Roulers,

April has been a really crap time for riding and blogging. The combination of bad weather and an early Autumn cold has me off the bike and off my game. I wasn’t able to do the MS Melbourne Cycle weekend either.  Bother…

This morning was the first longish ride I’ve done since returning from holidays and it was a sodden and cold 34 km, with the last 7 km into a driving headwind. I don’t know how the Dutch and Belgians ride in these conditions in the lowland classics.  Breakfast at Balderdash has never tasted so good.

Notwithstanding a pretty slow and miserable ride it made me thing about my personal safety and what I should be doing while riding in the wet.  I figured that would be a good topic for an Autumn blog entry.  It is also revisiting a topic I wrote about back in August last year after seeing Chris Froome bow out of the Tour de France.

So here’s some on tips on wet weather riding:

  1. Your tyres only provide traction for one activity at a time: braking, steering or accelerating. Don’t risk losing traction by braking or sprinting around bends. Brake on the approach, flow round, ride away.
  2. Avoid riding through puddles, particularly if you can’t see the bottom of them. They could conceal shards of glass, potholes and slippery surfaces like painted lines or ironworks.
  3. Your brakes will be a lot less efficient in the wet, especially if you have rim brakes and are on very wet roads. This means your stopping distance in the wet is greatly increased so you’ll need to leave plenty of room to slow down and stop.  You may need to “pump” the brakes a little to dry the rims. In addition, don’t forget to give your brakes a really wipe to remove all the grit that’s splashed up during your ride.   An old toothbrush is perfect for this.
  4. A back wheel slide under braking can be controlled with practice.  However, a front wheel slide isn’t quite as easy to recover from.  So take it easy on that front brake and use more emphasis on the rear brake.  If you’re on very slippery surfaces keep pedalling while you use the back brake to prevent the wheel from locking.
  5. Drivers may have problems seeing through wet or steamy windscreens when it’s raining. This means you need to take extra care to be visible with front and rear lights on your bike and helmet.  Bright clothing high visibility clothing and pannier covers will also help.
  6. Pedestrians are doing their best to get where they’re going in without getting wet.  They may have rain hoods up or have visibility shielded by umbrellas.  This will means they may not see you coming so you have to be extra vigilant (and visible) and be prepared to avoid them.
  7. In low light, clear or yellow lenses for eye protection are critical. When riding in the rain, normal sunglasses cut out too much light and can make road obstacles hard to see.
  8. Warm and waterproof clothing will make you much more comfortable so you can concentrate on riding safely. Wear good gloves and overshoes as well as a waterproof jacket.  If you wear glasses consider wearing a hat with a peak to help keep the rain off of them.
  9. Newly laid tarmac may be greasy and slippery so you need to be extra cautious on new roads.
  10. If you’re a regular commuter consider fitting mudguards for the winter season. They will stop the spray into your face off the front wheel and the wet strip up your back from the rear wheel.
  11. Avoid these slippery things where possible: Painted markings, metal drain covers and manholes, metal studs and cats eyes, rainbow coloured oil splotches, wet leaves, wooden surfaces, mud.
  12. Even when running good tires, traction on wet roads is hard to come by. An easy way to increase traction on wet roads is to lower your tire pressure. A drop of just 5-10 psi could improve traction noticeably.
  13. When riding with others, it is best not to ride directly behind the rider in front as this throws up spray and grit. Also, stopping distances will be affected in the wet so it is best to keep a safe distance apart to avoid collisions.

See you on the roads.

Marv

Marv’s Law of Bicycle Punctures

Carrying on from previous posts about irritating punctures, I’ve compiled a list of clauses which I’m now proposing as my law describing the likelihood of getting a puncture.  Some people may think I’m getting a head of myself here but, sad to say I’m basing this on empirical observations of my own stupidity.

Clause (i) If you are going to get a puncture, it will be at most inconvenient time, when you are late for work, a dinner date or an important and you will not have brought a spare tube or puncture kit.

Clause (ii) It is inevitable that you will have more punctures on your back wheel, as this carries your weight.  Consequently, if you are like me, heavier you will have more punctures.

Clause (iii) It more likely that you will have rear puncture when you haven’t cleaned your rear running gear and/or are wearing new clothing.  Grease will find its way into places and clothing that can’t be easily cleaned.

Clause (iv) It is more likely that you will get a puncture when it rains as more debris is washed onto the roads and wet tyres are more susceptible to damage.

Clause (v) It is more likely that you will get a puncture and then have the weather turn bad with heavy showers making your machine’s parts that much harder to handle.

Clause (vi) It is more likely that you will get a puncture when you are riding alone when there is no one to help you.

Clause (vii) It is more likely that you will get a puncture, if you are stupid enough to boast about never getting one.  This is hubris which greatly angers your fellow cyclists and Velos the Greek god of bicycling. You will be smited by his wrath 🙂