Book Review, Gary's Blog

Kathryn Bertine – The Road Less taken

17.09.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

Not From The Ordinary

I have to confess I’m growing weary of the traditional cycling biography/memoir. Rider is born, rider gets first bike, rider has prodigious 2-wheeled talent. Rider gets a contract, rider wins races. Graham refers to this as “..And Then We Went To The Tour”.

Kathryn BertineKathryn Bertine never went to the Tour. Actually, that’s not strictly true. This summer she raced for Wiggle Honda at La Course, the women’s race on the Champs Elysees that preceded the final stage of this year’s Tour de France. And rightly so, as she’s a major force behind Le Tour Entier, the campaign to have a women’s race alongside the men.

But I digress. Bertine also didn’t follow the traditional route into professional cycling, turning pro sufficiently late in life that the usual stories start heading towards “and then we went to the osteopath”.

So The Road Less Taken isn’t your typical cycling book, although Bertine herself concedes in her introduction that this series of essays “ will probably end up on the sports shelf, smushed in with the heroes and how-tos of athleticism, though I wrote it not for athletes but for anyone who has ever had the simplest desire to try something different in their own life.”

Life – real life – is invariably an afterthought in most sports memoirs. Perhaps it’s a lone chapter called “Mum” or the name of a spouse. But real life is interwoven throughout The Road Less Taken. For a solo athlete representing an amoeba-like cycling nation such as St Kitts and Nevis, real life is everywhere. The problems faced by the solo pro are exactly the same as those faced by a Cat 4 racer or just any normal person: how do I get there? Where do I eat? Where do I sleep? How do I pay for this?

An underlying theme of The Road Less Taken is Bertine’s quest to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, one which takes her from the USA to Europe, via Central America and back again. Several times. It’s here that you get the true glimpse of the single-minded purpose of professional athletes chasing a dream: there’s no programme here, no stated goals, “Olympic cycle” or medal quotas here. Instead there’s the pursuit of “what if?”. What if this (almost certainly doomed) solo break sticks or even just means I can stay with the peloton after the catch?

Being brave enough to chase “what if?” means being brave (or at least resilient) enough to deal with the setbacks. The broomwagon, the UCI, the mechanicals, the having-to-do-it-all. The fear (dodgy hotel rooms in Central America!), the failure. Actually, not the failure, as Bertine herself reminds us that “DNF is better than DNS” – in cycling and in life.

The setbacks are, however, just part of the book’s subtitle, lessons from a life spent cycling. As you might expect, Bertine talks passionately about inequalities that loom over women’s cycling (and later in the book, women’s sport more generally) but never makes that the point of her existence. She’s an activist (Le Tour Entier, Half the Road), not some whinger on Twitter. Crucially, it is about women’s cycling through the lens of women’s cycling, not within the shadow of the men’s sport.

The Road Less Taken is just a chapter in Kathryn Bertine’s story. Her previous books chronicle her incarnations as a pro figure skater and triathlete (among other sports!). And here we see her as a cyclist, a daughter and a ‘Bonus Wife’ – you’ll have to read the book for that tho’!

An honest and inspiring read, it’s bike racing, but it’s also life.

The Road Less Taken is published by Triumph Books and available in the UK from Amazon.

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Blog Posts, Book Review, Graham's Blog

Balint Hamvas – Cyclocross 2013/2014 The Album

15.09.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Graham

I am never really sure about the term coffee table book. It seems to damn with faint praise and suggest a conversation piece rather than a serious resource. “Welcome to my home. Why yes, I do like the scenic landscapes of Iceland, please feel free to flick through my coffee table book on the subject.”

It would be easy to look at the Cyclocross 2013/2014 photo album with its heft and its full-page images and just see it as a coffee table book (indeed it is referred to in this way on Balint’s own site) but I prefer to see it as the stories that made up a season, albeit our story teller is a photographer, with a little help from his friends.

Balint Hamvas, who we have interviewed on the pod on a couple of occasions (you can listen here and here), has been producing these season-long photo memoirs for several years now. His commitment to the sport is up there with the riders, the teams and the helpers – just ask him how many miles he travels in a year to cover the races.

Nikki HarrisThe 2013/2014 album opens, fittingly, with an emotional piece written by Simon Burney remembering Amy Dombroski, whose death in an accident whilst training cast a shadow over the ‘cross community that would darken the entire season. The picture of Nikki Harris’ finish-line tribute in Ronse will surely become one of the enduring memories of the season.  An image that you can’t look at without sharing a terrible sadness.

Balint then leads us through the season courtesy of his wonderful photos, punctuated by some great writing, such as the Battle of the Lowlands piece by Car0line Cardinaels, which charts the rivalries between Belgium and The Netherlands in the muddy fields of cyclocross.

Fans are treated to a photo essay of (one of) Britain’s darlings of ‘cross, the ever popular and entirely lovable Helen Wyman.  Notable in this story is the lack of specific cyclocross photos, suggesting that Balint is not afraid to step away from the competition arena and bring us the personal side of the sport.  This is a theme throughout the book, which doesn’t just settle for standard race photos but instead seeks to give us a flavour of the whole event.

I have used the word story several times, deliberately.  Each photo serves to give us access to the races as if we were fans in attendance.  Just as you can smell the beer and taste the frites of Koksijde, you can almost hear the whistling wind and see the tumbleweed barreling across the deserted grounds of Rome’s poorly received effort.Stairs

A sense of melancholy rounds out the book with a look back on the career of Niels Albert who was forced to retire earlier this year as a result of cardiac arrhythmia.  He is to stay in the sport in a management role but anyone who has watched cyclocross over the last few years will lament the end of his riding career.  This chapter serves as a fitting tribute for one of the sport’s biggest names.

Balint’s love for cyclocross has given those of us who share his passion a wonderful way of reliving each season & we should be quick to thank him for his efforts.  As he moves on to the next logical phase of his career, that of giving up the day job and becoming a full time freelance photographer, we wish him every success and we look forward to sharing in the stories of many seasons to come.

You can purchase the book from Balint’s website and it should come as no surprise to you that I highly recommend that you do.

Many thanks to Balint for sending us copies of the book and for allowing us to reproduce these images as part of the review.

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Podcast

Episode 73 – Diplomatic Immunity

04.09.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

lethal-weapon-2-movie-still-1We are half way through the Vuelta, so what better time to express ill-founded opinions on Froome’s performance & Dan Martin’s riding style. We look at the final round of the MTB World Cup, indulge in idle speculation surrounding rider transfers and congratulate Daryl Impey’s legal team.

 

Links:

Daryl Impey’s very unusual case on Sport 24

Don’t forget to check out the full video for Bike Rider by Mungo’s Hi Fi on YouTube. The album Serious Time is available on CD, vinyl and download from Scotch Bonnet Records as well as iTunes and other download-type interweb emporia.

 

Please leave us a comment below or e-mail us at veloclubdonlogan@gmail.com – we’d love to hear from you! You can also use the Wiggle & Chain Reaction Cycles links to help support the show.

Subscribe on iTunes

 

 

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Podcast

Episode 72 – Just Blow Into This Bag, Sir

21.08.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

stage_21__contador_podium_600In this episode we break the mould by bringing you our Vuelta preview before the race has even started.  Gary brings you the MTB news since Graham was too lazy to even bother watching it.  We also discuss JTL’s epic bender and conclude that he’s a very silly boy!

Interesting Things That Caught Our Eye Over the Last Fortnight also include the 2014 Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series, Grit.cx – a new cyclocross digital mag and website from the people who brought you Singletrack magazine and cycling art from listener Rudi Nadler.

Enjoy!

(And, yes, we know this pic is from the 2012 Vuelta but it’s the only way we could get a cheap ‘Tensions at the Vuelta after-race party as Alberto Contador lifts Jonathan Tiernan-Locke’s brandy…’ gag in here)

 

Please leave us a comment below or e-mail us at veloclubdonlogan@gmail.com – we’d love to hear from you! You can also use the Wiggle & Chain Reaction Cycles links to help support the show.

Subscribe on iTunes

 

 

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Blog Posts

Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series

15.08.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

It’s almost time..

WebBanner_Rectangle_SCX - Ridley_Lazer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dates for the 2014 Ridley Scottish Cyclocross Series and Scottish CX Championships have been confirmed.

The 6-round series kicks-off at Callander Park, Falkirk on Sunday 5 October and zig-zags its way across the country before concluding at Glengorm Castle on Mull on Saturday 13 December.  The Scottish nationals will take place at Knockburn Loch, Banchory the preceding week.

The full calendar is:

2014 Ridley Scottish CX Series & Championships

5th Oct – Callander Park, Falkirk

12th Oct – Strathclyde Park

26th Oct – Irvine Beach

2nd Nov – Auchentoshan, Clydebank

23rd Nov – Lochore Meadows, Lochgelly

13th Dec – Glengorm Castle, Isle of Mull

 

2014 Scottish Cyclocross Championships

 7th Dec – Knockburn Loch, Banchory

 

Full details and links to online entry (via the British Cycling site) can be found over at the Scottish Cyclocross website, where you’ll also find links to other non-series races.

 

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Gary's Blog

Rudi Nadler

13.08.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

paris-roubaixListener Rudi Nadler emailed us this week to say he’d done some sketches during the Tour de France. “Hang on,” I thought. “I know that name from somewhere.”  Sure enough and if – like me – you ever read Dirt Rag magazine, there’s a fair chance you’ll have seen Rudi’s work or even read his work.

Rudi is a painter and a cyclist living in Tucson Arizona. Cycling is not the only focus of his artistic talents, but when you consider he completed the Tour Divide in 2012, it’s about as big a passion as it gets.

“I love cycling,” Rudy told me. “I find it a microcosm for my imagination. I love capturing in ink and paint the moments that move me because the best images tell a story that inspires me.

Peter Sagan, Stage 5, Tour de France 2014

Peter Sagan, Stage 5, Tour de France 2014

“Cycling is literal and figurative for me. Bernard Hinault’s face as he would pound the pedals was the first thing that captured my imagination. I remember reading about the Tour in 1979 and just having my mind blown.”

Vincenzo Nibali, Stage 18, Tour de France 2014

Vincenzo Nibali, Stage 18, Tour de France 2014

Rudi’s been working on a whole raft of drawings from the 2014 Tour and we’re looking forward to seeing these over the coming weeks. You’ll get a chance to get your hands on some of these works later this year, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at some works in progress…

Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger, Stage 15, Tour de France 2014 - Rudi Nadler

Jack Bauer and Martin Elmiger, Stage 15, Tour de France 2014

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Podcast

Episode 71 – J Geils Band

07.08.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

_76715668_walesbikermanFueled only by enthusiasm and Belgian ale, we wrap up the last few stages of the Tour de France and mull over La Course.  The MTB World Cup returns and we pick up the action from Mont Saint Anne as well as lookng ahead to 2015.  After a cracking couple of weeks’ action in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games, we round up the road and cross-country events.  Finally, we look at Danny MacAskill’s PR faux pas (what’s French for faux pas?) and Graham’s Malaysian adventure (oh, had it only been Thailand) in our general-stuff-catching-our-eye segment.

Episode Links

Cycling Time Trial Podcast – check out Mark Florence’s interview with Specialized Lululemon owner and General Manager, Kristy Scrimgeour, who chats about Project X and the future of women’s cycling.

 

Please leave us a comment below or e-mail us at veloclubdonlogan@gmail.com – we’d love to hear from you! You can also use the Wiggle & Chain Reaction Cycles links to help support the show.

Subscribe on iTunes

 

 

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Blog Posts

Shand Cycles Hand-Built Hoy Kierin

29.07.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

Scottish Framebuilder teams up with Sir Chris Hoy

14579484319_1b7e9e68a1Having led Team GB at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012, Sir Chris Hoy went on to win two gold medals in the London velodrome, making him Britain’s most successful Olympian of all time.

To commemorate Sir Chris’ seven Olympic medals, Hoy Bikes commissioned Livingston-based independent bicycle manufacturer Shand to produce a bespoke hand-built Hoy Keirin bike. A truly Scottish partnership, the collaboration is also a timely tribute to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games – Scotland’s largest ever sporting and cultural event.

Hoy represented Scotland at three Commonwealth Games, winning his first major championship gold medal at Manchester in 2002. Sir Chris Hoy is now an ambassador for the Glasgow 2014 Games.

14785994353_feae86349c_zThe bike has been built as a one-off for Sir Chris after he met with Steven Shand in Edinburgh last year. The pair discussed at length their experience of Japanese Keirin racing and the specifics of the steel track bike, and so the idea to custom-build a unique HOY Keirin bike was born. Chris’s love of the Japanese Keirin was the genesis of this bike and his name in Japanese on the top tube is both out of respect and reference to the importance of the Keirin in his career.

Sir Chris’s Keirin experience and Shand’s frame building expertise combined, make a great partnership, but it was a process which provided new challenges for HOY bike designer James Olsen: “Sometimes costs and timelines have to take a step aside to allow for new methods to shape the brand’s product development. It’s a process that is different to our usual production bike design and realisation methods, and one that we’re excited to see the end results of.”

14579489938_ba4c07d808_zThe tubing and geometry was specified by Chris and the construction details are Shand’s expertise. The result is a bike worthy of bearing the gold and silver bands of Sir Chris Hoy’s career and maybe the start of more development in this area.

All photos: Shand

 

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Podcast

Episode 70 – Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink – Say No More!

28.07.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

tour-de-france-logo-font-1We’re well into the 3rd week of the Tour – what better time to bring you our preview of Week 3 and to tie up the standings on the second rest day, which was 3 days ago. Yup, business as usual for the VCDL Cycling Podcast.

 

Please leave us a comment below or e-mail us at veloclubdonlogan@gmail.com – we’d love to hear from you! You can also use the Wiggle & Chain Reaction Cycles links to help support the show.

Subscribe on iTunes

 

 

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Podcast

Episode 69 – Tour Preview (or TUE Preview)

03.07.14 | Permalink | Comment? Posted by Gary

Up Yours, JV!
Zut alors! C’est Le Tour! In a break with tradition we bring you our Tour preview show – before the race has even started! Beer is drunk, nonsense is spouted, rash predictions are made. In short, pretty much the sort of merde you’d expect from us.

We also tackle yet another “gate”. This time it’s Millargate – was JV correct to leave St Dave out of his Tour squad?

Garmin’s loss is – of course – our gain, as David* has already entered our Velogames Tour de France mini-league with the petulantly-named Eat My Shorts Vaughters squad. If you haven’t already joined us, details on how to enter are here. Be quick as the deadline is 1200 CEST on Saturday 5 July.

Finally, being the switched-on media luvvies we are, BBC Radio 6 Music will be celebrating cycling over the weekend of the Grand Depart.  Excited?  Us?  Not ‘arf!

* Possibly not real David Millar

 

Please leave us a comment below or e-mail us at veloclubdonlogan@gmail.com – we’d love to hear from you! You can also use the Wiggle & Chain Reaction Cycles links to help support the show.

Subscribe on iTunes

 

 

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