Tag Archives: Road Skills

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.


Tips for cycling in Melbourne’s wet weather



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.


Dealing with obstacles on the road

The Breakaway

While Australian roads don’t resemble the cobbles of the European lowlands, there is no shortage of cracks, road side debris, pot holes, grates and worst of all slippery tram lines, to navigate.  Fortunately you can learn a few skills to deal with them.

The Leadout

I was watching a time-shifted copy of the 2014 Paris to Roubaix and kept hearing, care of Phil Ligget, what great bike handling skills Peter Sagan has. No doubt on the cobbles in French roads, you need them to stay out of trouble and in the race. That triggering me to think what bike handling skills should the average commuter or amateur have to deal with the hazards of the road.

The Peloton

Skill What to do
Pay Attention The best obstacle on the road is the one you see and avoid. Steer smoothly, check behind you and indicate which direction you are moving.  Its good etiquette to point out the obstacle you have seen to other behind you.
Float on Just like the lyrics of the Modest Mouse song ‘Float on’, once you’ve identified an obstacle try to hover on your saddle, keeping the pedals level and your body weight towards the rear. You are then in good shape to negotiate what’s coming up ahead of you.e.
Go faster and apply power This is exactly what the pros do on the cobbles, lower your gear, reduce your revs and apply power. This should enable you to ride over cracks and disintegrating road surface.
Be a shock absorber ‘Float on’ the bike but let you knees and elbows bend with the impacts.  This will hopefully stop pinch flats and buckled rims..
Pull a small ‘wheelie’ Just like the lyrics of the Modest Mouse song ‘Float on’, once you’ve identified an obstacle try to hover on your saddle, keeping the pedals level and your body weight towards the rear. You are then in good shape to negotiate what’s coming up ahead of you.e.
Jump, Jump, Jump Respect to one hit wonders Kris-Kross. I have to admit I’ve never tried this, but I’ve seen the pros do it, particularly over branches and street furniture.  The theory goes, bend down at the knees to compress your calves and thigh muscles. Do the ‘small wheelie’ but a fraction of second later uncurl your legs, causing you weigh to move upwards.  This should lift the rear wheel off the ground and over the obstacle.  Sounds hard and probably is.

Braking into corners…not entering or crashing

Technique is the key to fast and safe cornering

The Breakaway

Ignoring the sheer stupidity of riding a bike eg a trendy, beard friendly fixie, without brakes, mastering the skill of braking into corners is an essential cycling road skill. You only have to watch the pros come unstuck on tight fast corners to understand how important this skills is.

The Leadout

The key riding corners well lies in three simple points, B-L-L:
Brake – Brake early
Look – look where you want to go,
Lean – lean in

Here’s detail

The Peloton

Skill What to do
Brake Alway, always, always brake before entering a corner, not whilst you are going round it. In races or your daily commute through traffic intersections its tempting to hit the gas and go round fast.
Look Sounds so obvious, but its axiomatic.  Look where you want the bike to go, not where you are and certainly not down at the road.  Looking down may result in you panicking and slamming the brakes, mid-maneuver.  This is guaranteed way to loose skin, break bones and scratch up your bike.
Lean Body position in the corner is critical. A s you enter the corner raise your peal closest to the corner so that you knee is at a 90 degree angle.  Place the weight of your upper body on same side. This counterbalancing helps with traction.