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Doc on a bike. NHS, Leicester Med School, Cycling Plus Magazine. LFCC Cyclocross Champion (old gits category). Riding's the best medicine. Follow me on twitter @awkwardcyclist

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cycling the New Football?

Cycling is on the up. Thanks to the magnificent efforts of Team Sky and the British Olympic team, it seems the sport can do no wrong. No lesser publication than the Wall Street Journal carried the headline “Britain is all about the bike”. With all this success, the sport’s profile is changing. Our cycling heroes now command front page headlines and are household names. The Sun even provided cut out and stick on sideburns before Brad’s time trial. No doubt about it, cycling is in serious danger of becoming the National Sport.


Now all this has to be good doesn’t it? All this positive press has to help build respect from drivers, give us more clout in pushing for improved facilities, encourage more kids to take up the sport. More cyclists on the road, more love for cyclists off it – what’s not to like? Whilst I’m attracted to the sort of Olympic legacy that sees happy smiling drivers waving me through as I cycle unhindered to work, I have to confess to a slight unease. I’ve been somewhere like this before and I’m not sure I like how it all turned out.


In the1980s I loved football. To me, there was nothing to beat standing on a windswept, crumbling terrace to watch a group of mostly unknown players knock lumps out of each other as rain dripped down my neck through a hole in the roof. Crowds were small, tickets were cheap, the facilities were primitive and the star player posed in the programme on the bonnet of his Ford Capri. Football and the team I followed were deeply unfashionable. It was brilliant. Players stayed with the club for years (and not just the bad ones on fat contracts), there was a thriving fanzine culture, you felt a bond with the club that made you stick with them through the bad times and in my club’s case, there were a lot of those.


Then came the 1990 World Cup, Gazza cried on live TV, Pavarotti sang the theme tune. Football was suddenly mainstream, everyone wanted a piece. Sky TV got involved, the Premier League followed and the Ford Capri’s went to the scrap yard. The money brought improvements. All-seater stadiums were safer, attracting more women and children. The leaky roofs got fixed. An influx of foreign superstars improved playing standards. It wasn’t all good though – the development of player power and big wages saw a virtual end to loyalty. That young player you were previously able to watch develop moved after a season to sit in Stoke’s reserves. Ticket prices went up, the atmosphere got worse, the bond was broken. The sport I loved was not the same. I drifted away and found cycling.


There are some similarities with cycling’s current boom. The involvement of Sky is an obvious one and I fear the day that the Tour de France becomes exclusive to Mr Murdoch’s TV channels may not be far off. There is money to be made from the current British interest in the sport and the crowds that flocked to Box Hill despite having to pay for the privilege will not have gone unnoticed. Whilst anyone watching the articulate interviews given by our cyclists during the Olympics might think they little in common with Premiership footballers, there are similarities in their relationship with the transfer market at the end of the season. Ironically, it could be Team Sky that have to accept the consequences of this, if Chris Froome’s amazing summer continues.
this article originally appeared on Velobici.cc

Friday, August 10, 2012

Knog Blinder 4V review

Anna Meares might have broken Victoria Pendleton’s heart in the Olympic sprint final, but we won’t hold it against Australia if her compatriots Knog keep banging out great products like the Blinder 4V.
Knog always take an original approach to design, producing distinctive looking products such as the Strongman lock I reviewed in April. As with the lock, the Blinder 4V backs the style with impressive performance.  Released as a companion to the square-shaped Blinder, the 4V is a rear light with 4 super bright LEDs in a straight line. Blinder is an appropriate moniker as with the help of special optics the LEDs pump out 44 lumens. Translated into lay terms, that means the light is visible up to 800 metres away – giving approaching drivers plenty of notice of your presence. There are 5 different flashing patterns available, my favourite being the “organic” mode. A lithium battery is recharged using a clever little USB plug – giving up to 50 hours of use in flashing mode.
The anodised aluminium case combined with industrial grade silicone makes the light 100% waterproof, just as well in some of the conditions we’ve had recently. The integrated strap secures the light to seatposts between 22 and 32mm diameter using a steel watch-strap style catch.
I love this light – it looks absolutely great and performs brilliantly. Expected to retail at about £30, there are cheaper options out there, but not many that match the Blinder 4V’s quality and none that match its good looks.

Leicester Forest CC Time Trial

It was my turn to marshall this week, so I took my camera and got these shots of some of the 43 riders that raced. I think Brad Wiggins may have inspired a few to give it a go!