SuperDomestique Espresso Cup Set ©Nichiless Dey
From one of, if not the, very best cycling podcasting teams* out there comes a pair of rather charming and stylish espresso cups and saucers.
Scott and John: a pair of professional cycling obsessives and irrevocable addicts of all things vélo, are the brains behind the highly informative and genuinely laugh out loud Velocast Cycling Podcast. One day they decided that enough was enough… their devoted listeners deserved to sip in style whilst being soothed by their smooth Scottish style, suffused with scoops and saga’s from the, ahem, s-ycling sphere (sorry). J’accuse the influence of Scott and his oft jaw dropping opening monologues.
Anyway… These pleasingly weighty conical cups cups, with their jaunty angular handles, feature the Super Domestique brand logo.
The matching saucers although unadorned, and the better for it, complete a sophisticated set.
Designed in the UK, these espresso cups and saucers will be the perfect partner for your pre or post ride coffee.
They feel good in hand, not too delicate and not too heavy, and look great on the coffee table – important for us cyclists! The logo is clear and sharp and just the right side of unobtrusive. Needless to say I love ‘em.
The ordering process is secure and straightforward, the packaging substantial and the delivery time rapid; I’m based in Germany and the set arrived within a week.
Above photo (Loving family comment: ‘good grief, he’s taking photo’s of his cycling coffee now!’) is of my first test espresso – I’m glowing with pride at the crema achieved by my ancient and creaky machine. These cups and saucers do the job they are designed to, but with that little touch of panache**!
Each set contains:
- 2 x espresso cups
- 2 x matching espresso saucers.
Order from: http://velocastcc.squarespace.com/super-domestique-espresso-cups/
Right folks, I’m off for a ride. As soon as I’ve finished my espresso that is – and as soon as the thermometer reaches at least one positive figure!
Rating: 99.9%. When Compared to other ‘cycling espresso sets’ out there these are very good value for money, They are awarded a Cycling Shorts ‘Star Buy’ rating.
Hoping your Spring has sprung!
*… In my opinion the Velocast is by far the finest cycling podcast out there.
**… Soz, John, couldn’t resist!
by Jonathan Budds
Reviewed by Nick Dey
The cover tells the prospective reader so much; the despairingly single-minded Pantani-Armstrong-esque posturing, perhaps desperately imploring, to the cruel gods of victory, fortune and wealth. From the many hued brown tones on almost black, to the elongated limbs and warped, distended and shrinking body. All combine to suggest that we need to look beyond the obviously physical world of the professional racing cyclist and into the psychology of individual, sport and society. It is a book very much within the current self-evaluative zeitgeist of the sport. But not in the way you would immediately think. It is a novel of so much more.
Welcome to the first gothic novel set in the world of professional road cycling! Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write! This is sporting horror story full of wit, dark-humour, hope, insightful observations and unexpected and unpredictable plot developments.
Consumed, by Jonathan Budds, stands as wonderful novel in its own right.
It just so happens that pro-cycling is the chosen road of the protagonist. The book delivers on several levels and on the way delves deep into the psyche of isolated athlete, family, friends, teammates, lover, fans and, as topical as this is, medical doctor and associated cronies. It also holds a much needed mirror up to much of what dominates popular culture today.
It is almost impossible to impart detail, nuance, feeling and, unforgivably, plot without giving away the arcs of a very good, very, very well written story.
Congratulations Jonathan, you may well have penned the finest cycling novel to date.
In light of this critical disclaimer allow me to introduce you to twenty-seven year old Romain Mariani, professional cyclist (ranked 63rd in the world), native of a fictional Eastern European enclave, cricket loving son of an English mother and a brutal Eastern European former pro. Romain is a character to whom I took an instant liking, he’s someone I’d very much enjoy riding alongside, and that this positive engagement took place so early in the book is further testament to the penmanship of Jonathan Budds – who self-published by the way, but on this later.
We first meet Romain ascending the final climb of a stage race. The racing description here is somewhat reminiscent of Tim Crabbe’s The Rider. High praise indeed, but fully justified. All seems to be going almost to plan. Almost. He’s so close, there are just a few percentage points difference between him and the very best… But then, with the stage winner found dead, Romain finally arrives at the long aspired to yet dreaded cross roads. How will he handle the descent, both literal and metaphorical? And what unexpected twists does fate have in store?
Romain is, through his childhood experiences, vehemently and uncompromisingly anti-doping. But what is he to do? How can he bridge the tiny yet almost insurmountable chasm to the very top of his sport? He is at a cross roads with unexpected and long dreamed of (and feared) opportunities presenting themselves almost daily. Ah, the life of a promising pro. Much truth is hinted at here.
Meet Hans Banquo; Herr Wunderschön, Hansi the Conqueror. The leading rider of the day. Utterly dominant, yet approaching the end of a highly lucrative career. He may remind you of someone, just a little, but then again, perhaps not? Other characters enter the story but to describe them in any detail would give too much away. I can, however, dare to inform that there is amongst a smorgasbord of fascinating and often larger than life characters a rather odd and messianically obsessive doctor with the gothically obligatory oily assistant as front man, a girlfriend, also a leading but injured athlete, her highly driven and wealthy father, Romain’s family and village friends, a rather unpleasant Aussie pro with an unsettling mother-as-manager relationship, a gypsy community desperate to make ends meet, a philosophical taxi driver, and a mythical -or is it – giant wild boar called Golgotha. The latter of which both fascinates and haunts Romain. It all becomes rather more pro-tein than pro-team*!
It would be remiss of me to tell more of Romain’s tale as key plot details would be revealed and the joy of discovering his story for yourself, gone.
I can only urge you to read this excellent and, at least in my experience, unique novel*.
Still unsure if this book’s for you? Go to www.consumed-novel.com where you can download the first 10 chapters of the novel for free. There is also a limited edition musette pack containing a signed copy of the book, 200 hundred were produced, however I am not sure how many remain unsold (I bought one, it’s of real quality!)
As I’ve already stated, Jonathan self-published this superbly dark and witty book. His need to do so is, to my mind, a sad indictment indeed of the publishing houses and their narrowing priorities.
Jonathan, a veteran of twenty years in advertising, has competed in many cycling events including the Etape de Tour and the longest and largest bike race in the world, the Vätternrundan. Consumed is his first novel. His second, Chronic, in which a man is shot by his wife for no apparent reason, will be published later this year.
* vegetarians, vegans, plant-based athletes, and those with a sensitive disposition beware!
CyclingShorts Rating: 100%. A book I will certainly read again.
Available in Paperback and digital
RRP £15.00 +P&P (Limited Edition with Musette)
RRP £6.99 (Digital)
RRP £6.99 (Paperback)
How to buy:
- The limited illustrated edition (1 of 200) is available for £15 + Post and Packaging. Each 6″ x 9″ copy comes in its own specially-designed musette (cyclists’ feed bag) and is printed on 115 gsm paper, double the weight of the pages of a standard paperback. Available from the authors Consumed webpage: http://consumed-novel.com/buy-the-book/
- In paperback from Amazon UK for £6.29 (at date of writing): Click here to view in the Amazon Store
- In eBook format from Amazon UK Kindle Store for £2.62 (at date of writing): Click here to visit the Amazon UK Kindle Store
Robust construction and a smart design combine to allow for a more comfortable and ergonomic viewing line when riding your racing bike.
Two bolts secure the unit to the bars, adjacent to the stem. A single bolt clamps the adjustable head mount to the unit. All leading to a very secure and well positioned fit.
The simple, and very solid, twist-&-lock mechanism secures the Garmin 800 to the mount.
The positioning in front of the stem allows for a more accessible reading, especially when on the drops and hoods.
Highly recommended. It’s a bit pricey but it’s the most secure mount for your not so cheap Garmin Edge so worth the investment.
You don’t get vibration because it’s not plastic like other mounts, nor is it likely to break, it has a lifetime warranty. What’s not to like? Well some may be unhappy with the price at double the price of models like the Barfly, but I feel it’s more robust. The K-Edge model clamps rigidly around a 31.8mm diameter handlebar with two bolts (unlike other brands), and the length-adjustable arm is solid and flex free. It weighs in at 31g which is about 10g more than the plastic mounts but I feel this design is more streamlined, compact and robust than Garmin’s own mount and the BarFly.
Cycling Shorts Rating: I’d give the mount 96% as its so much better than the one supplied.
Compatible With: Edge: 200, 500, 510, 800 & 810
•Fully adjustable for the different size units
•No plastic parts
•Fits 31.8mm handlebars
•Long-lasting protective anodised two-tone fade finish
•K-Edge products are proudly CNC machined in the USA and have a lifetime warranty: you break it, K-Edge replace it!
•Ensures the security of your Garmin computer with three locking points
•For MTB & Road
•RRP £39.99 (Available from Amazon at a discount)
Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners
a quick start guide to cycling indoors to explode your fitness fast. (20 interval workouts included).
by Rebecca Ramsay
Reviewed by Nick Dey
Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners is written in no-nonsense, ‘does what it says on the tin,’ prose and offers the novice indoor cyclist – of whom there has been an exponential population explosion this delightful winter – plenty of valuable and pragmatic advice on how to, as the Amazon Kindle page Amazon Kindle page
“get you up and running quickly and efficiently with turbo training so you can maximise your fitness when you can’t get outdoors for cycling training.”
The guide begins with a useful introduction by Rebecca and succinctly contains her raison d’être; the essence of which is to help those cyclists who feel intimidated and overwhelmed by the prospect of indoor cycling, offer a purpose to their turbo training and, not least, to inspire them to give the turbo a prolonged go (not just a session or two!)
The book begins by addressing the obvious in Section 1: what equipment do I need for Turbo Training? It covers pretty much everything from the Trainer + your bike (and tyre) through cadence, heart rate and power and onwards to hydration and the use of towels. If you can think it then be reassured, Rebecca has probably covered it. I’ve been using a Turbo for a year or two and still picked up many instantly useful tips.
Section 2 asks the question: What is Turbo Training and why bother? A short section that dispels a few myths and sets the agenda for what follows which is Section 3: Where is best to Turbo Train? Section 4: How do I go about an effective Turbo workout? Is where Rebecca’s experience as a professional cyclist really comes into play. She covers, with justifications, the warm up, the work out, including intervals training, and the cool down. If you think the latter unimportant then look at how many teams are now mimicking Team Sky’s approach (which they themselves introduced from the world of swimming.)
Section 5 hopes to help you overcome the perennial gripe about Turbo Training: 10 Ways to overcome Turbo Training boredom. It is condensed and thus easy to access and contains much that may help all cyclists, irrespective of experience. As does the oft neglected section 7: recovery from Turbo workouts!
So, now you’re familiar with the fundamentals it’s time to choose your Turbo Trainer and section 7: Which Turbo is right for me? Will help you make a reasoned choice, without any insidious marketing hype. Rebecca has ridden many trainers and reviews them without obvious bias, although she does have her favourite(s). What about rollers, I hear you ask? Well, section 8: Rollers versus Turbo Training – which is best? Sheds some light onto the debate and clearly explains the pros and cons of each system.
Ok, you’ve made your purchase and are now rearing to ride. Section 9: understanding pedalling technique and cadence, presents a vital, and sometimes omitted aspect of the sport. It is here you get a taste of Rebecca’s depth of experience and her workout paradigm, that of the structured interval, through a suggested cadence workout. It’s very good, I’ve tried it.
The book closes with a sack full of really well planned and explained Turbo sessions: Section 10: 20 Turbo charged workouts to explode your fitness! It starts with beginners intervals and progresses steadily through various structured-interval programmes: pyramids, negative splits, isolation, crossovers, threshold, power, etc. There is a definite progression here so the novice would be well advised to start with in the lower digits of the workout chronology – many are tough! Simply reading it gives you an insight into how to correctly and usefully structure your training. Riding them will only help you to become a better rider on the road.
An Aside: I notice that Rebecca appears to be using www.trainerroad.com on the book cover to record her sessions. Trainer Road is a superb addition for those of us without a power meter (a review is soon to follow).
This, as Amazon states, is a highly recommended read if you’re new to indoor cycling, or have been turbo training a short while but want professional guidance on how to take your indoor cycling fitness to the next level.
Who is Rebecca and why should I take her advice?
Rebecca Ramsay, nee Bishop, is a former multi-sport athlete: cross country ski champ, international triathlete and international cyclist with elite status who signed as a professional in 1998. She is also a certified personal trainer (NESTA, NCCA accredited).
At present she is a full-time mother of two and is focused on writing on the subject of cycling fitness and training. She also has an active interest in helping mothers become fitter, happier and healthier and plans to write eBooks for this market as well.
Rebecca answers the question – why should I read this guide? I aim to keep my guides short and simple to understand. I know you don’t have time to read a long, detailed science laden cycling book, so I summarise the science and try to give you exactly what you need to know to improve, and I keep the language simple.
If you would like more free cycling training or general fitness help, please visit my cycling website www.easycycling.com. At present on the site I have a FREE 4 Week Winter Training Programme download on sign up to my Ezine.
Additionally, you can find me on my Facebook Page where I’d love to hear from you!
Rebecca has a second eBook that has just been released, it’s available for the Amazon Kindle: The Time-Starved Cyclist’s Training Formula: how to find TIME to train for 100-miles – and NOT get divorced!
A review of this will follow shorty on Cycling Shorts.
CyclingShorts Rating: A real help for the busy novice – and not so novice – ‘indoor’ cyclist, we give it our Star Buy status giving it 100%…. you can’t fault it!
Cycling Turbo Training for Beginners – a quick start guide to cycling indoors to explode your fitness fast. (20 interval workouts included).
Available for Kindle
RRP £1.99 (Digital)
The Castle Ride 2007 – Action Medical Research: My very first cycling event and a journey into the unknown.
Here’s hoping to break the 6 hour barrier in 2013!
The Castle Ride was a brilliantly organised event and my thanks must go to Mike Trott and all the team at Action Medical Research for their very thorough and thoughtful planning and I must admit to approaching the event with great trepidation as I’d been rather ill over the previous weekend and had, as a result, missed almost a weeks training.
The Map shows the six castles en route. A simply wonderful 103 miles.
Having received advice ranging from ‘don’t ride when ill from Sue and John (runners extraordinaire),’ go for it, it’s not a race (typical PE teacher talk, Mr. Dainton!),’ and ‘you must be bloody mad! (my mum)’ I decided to indeed go for it and packed my bag with my poshest Lycra (10//2 if any fashionistas are reading, vintage 1995 – rather foolish of me in light of recent events!) and as many energy bars & gels as I could carry.
Team Barnes-Bulllen-Dey (sponsored by Gregg’s pies and the legendary Tour of Britain stage winner, London to Holyhead champion and bastion of all knowledge two-wheeled, Alan Perkins, who gave me some Jelly Belly beans – I assume no sarcasm was intended, Alan) left N E London thanks to domestique #1 Keith Bullen (Winner: Le Tour de Tesco, 1959, The Giro d’Pizza Express, 2007) who provided luxurious ‘white van’ transport (complete with school chair) for which I was very grateful. With domestique #2 David Barnes (Winner Le Grand Stag night and runner up in the classic ‘Paris-cafe in Paris’; who provided the stale whiff of fine wine and stale granite-esque brownies, along with a plethora of mumbled promises about a future embracing only temperance, study and more than four hours sleep, safely strapped into the passenger seat, we made our way through the emerging buildings of East London and onwards towards the more refined airs and graces of Tonbridge castle.
It was now 6 a.m on a Sunday morning and I was not impressed and just a little grumpy, although this silly emotion was loosing the battle with that of a growing sense of excitement!
Having arrived in Tonbridge and changing into our sexy Lycra in a car park, to the cheers – or should that be shocked-jeers – of many a morning shopper (in our defence… it was very cold!), Team Bulllen-Dey, with a green-hued David in tow, headed for the start line and event registration. Little did we anticipate what David would do today, despite his condition.
The level of organisation and the splendour of the medieval castle walls and grounds proved only to enhance the positive emotions of the morning. We were itching to get going and we didn’t have to hang around for long. What an amazingly
friendly bunch cyclists are and what a pleasure it was to finally meet the outstanding AMR staff face to face, busy as they were marshalling the troops.
Castle 2007 start – ©Nick Dey
What a magnificent setting from which to start a sportive.
About twenty five cyclists, from the gathered five hundred or so, set off in a group at around 7.30 a.m. Keith is in yellow, I’m looking down. The plan was to take it easy, to do a pleasant 25 km/h until we had warmed-up and had more of an idea what to expect. So much for the plan. We averaged over 40 km/h for the first eight kilometers!Psychologists, please comment here on the male ego! This was 8 a.m and not only was I bitter and twisted about being dragged from my bed, but now I was also unduly fatigued (a phrase my old PE teacher instilled in us when we actually meant… totally knackered!) We still had a daunting 95 miles to go!
The first hill …
A sharp right led us onto a seemingly endless incline that caught out a few, myself included. David had long since vanished into the distance (so much for the late night!), and Condor-Keith was battling to stay with the mighty ’06 Madone 5.5! Foolishly I decided to ‘have a go’ at the hill. Predictably I was found, a few kilometers later (having thought the hill was a few hundred meters long) slumped twitching over the Bontrager bars about 20 meters short of the summit! My entire body seemed to be bursting with lactic acid and I’m sure I could taste iron and blood. My lungs had long since vacated their cage and only photosynthesis kept me going!
The next 40 miles were not too pleasant as my body struggled to recover from the minds misplaced, and definitely unrealistic, enthusiasm – four months light training through the gentle, but beautiful & cafe laden lanes of Essex do not a Bradley Wiggins make! David, like the good domestique he is, was found waiting for his elders by a field full of gently swaying corn, basking in the sunshine of a glorious morn, sipping from his designer bidon – The swine (one hell of a rider though!) We cycled together for twenty-or-so miles in a peloton of ever changing dimensions and met and chatted to several cyclists about life, the charity, Le Tour and the road ahead. A pleasant morning it made for all concerned. Thanks for the draft to the chap from Sevenoaks (Dulwich CC?) whose wife went to the School I now teach at (Forest, small world) and whose advice probably got us, or at least me, through the event. He left me for dead up the hills though and I didn’t see him again. The route seemed to get better and better as the sun rose high. Some of the scenery was stunning and he roads seemed almost devoid of traffic. Bliss – if it wasn’t for the burning lungs and legs!
Campag Chaos …With each pedal stroke inducing spasms of pain and discomfort Keith and I were focused only on luncheon and Michelin-starred recuperation (OK, the food wasn’t that good. but it was close and never has plate of tuna pasta been more gratefully received). Unfortunately about 10 miles short of the fine Tavern whence luncheon was based; restorative pasta, banana’s and peace, KB’s Campag top of the range set up decided to trap his chain between hub and cassette. Interestingly my sexy shimano Dura-Ace 9700 was performing perfectly, as, of course, I expected it would! With the aid of a very kind motorcycle steward and protected by a deliberately parked, and thus cyclist friendly, ambulance we spent a good half an hour with the Italian beastie before we could resume. Thanks to the steward and to the Ambulance crew for their vital help. After about two miles it was decided that I ‘race’ ahead and meet David at the lunch stop. Keith assured me that he, and his beloved Condor/Campag would be OK. He was.
You don’t want to fall off here – not with everyone watching!David, who’d arrived about an hour earlier, and I were dining heartily when we saw a cloud of dust and heard the clatter of bike, body and road, right in front of the gathered throngs of Castle riders. An ‘unnamed’ cyclist had taken a slapstick tumble whilst coming to a stop… Was that a Condor bike? Isn’t that the dreaded Campag? Who was this mysterious rider? Thankfully nothing more than pride was bruised and about twenty minutes later we resumed our adventure.
Unexpected fun …
The next fifty miles were a distinct pleasure. I’d be very grateful if anyone could explain why I only managed to average a painful 20-23 km/h for the first 50 miles and then an easy, pleasant even, 31 k/h for the next 50, despite the unfriendly undulations? I’m at a loss. I can only put it down to fuel, rest, a gentle stretch and a grupetto going at a pace I could cope with. David, once again, vanished into the distance (to his credit he always asked for permission – not that we would, indeed could, ever say no) and Keith and I decided it would be best to go at our own pace. it made for solitary bit-and-bit along some roads but it also made for a splendid afternoons cycling. Tagging along and playing hopscotch with small groups and individuals we were rarely passed and I owe a debt of gratitude to the gentleman who urged me along for the final undulating 20 miles, without his support, dragging me up the climbs at a pace far greater than I would have managed alone, my average for the final 50 would surely have plummeted. I’m afraid I didn’t catch his name so if he’s reading this … I thank you Sir (you should become a teacher – inspiring stuff.) A big thanks to Helen and Oly from AMR, whom I met at an isolated feed station and whose encouragement was far more important than all the sweets on offer, and also to all the folk who gave up their time to run the event. Special thanks go to the Halford’s mechanics for a free tune up. How wonderful it was to collect our first ever endurance medals and to avail ourselves of the free sports massage in the grounds of Tonbridge Castle.
What a way to end a glorious day.
This image is courtesy of Keith Bullen and his funky Garmin-Memory Map duo. It is the actual route Keith followed – we did a slightly shorter one as we didn’t get lost – did you enjoy the extra hill KB!!!
If Garmin or Memory-Map are reading this then sponsorship would make my life a little more fun, I’ll even add your logo and link!!! Cheers Keith.
Should anyone ever read this then I most heartily recommend the Castle Ride for a superb days cycling.
Can’t wait until next year.
It is the one event I miss most now I spend most of the year in Deutschland.
The Castle Ride 100 today:
SALE 20% off entry fee for limited period. Use voucher code SALE! Offer ends January.
One of the most popular bike rides in the South East, the Castle Ride 100 attracts 1,000 riders on this must do event. The North Downs offer up some big climbs including the mile long climb of Hollingbourne Hill along the way. Quiet lanes make the route through England’s garden a real joy to ride even though this is a tough one.
With a choice of 100km or a tougher 100-mile route
, you’ll have a great day in the saddle with the Action Medical Research team. Whether you are an experienced rider aiming to get a fast time or a rider aiming to make a day of it and take in the sights, this ride is for you.
Expect excellent feed stations manned by friendly volunteers and a buffet style lunch mid-way through the ride that you will find hard to tear yourself away from! Riders will be supported by first class medical support, mechanical services and a sweep vehicle.
Many riders have experienced a RIDE 100 event, and thoroughly enjoyed the social atmosphere and return to enjoy the unique experience that we offer. Make 2013 the year that you take part in a RIDE 100 sportive! You won’t be disappointed.
Still not convinced? Perhaps knight of the realm can encourage you to register?
If you’ve enjoyed this post and have a few pennies to spare please would you consider sponsoring me for my 2013 fundraising for Action Medical Research.
It WILL make a difference.
Seven Deadly Sins
My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
by David Walsh
David Walsh’s Sisyphus has finally emerged victorious over his eternal struggle with the boulder – half man, half media – named Lance Armstrong. Beautifully written, shocking, occasionally heartbreaking, often resulting in the ‘ah, of course, now that makes sense’ sigh. A vindication, indeed beacon of hope, to all real journalists eking a living out there in the nether world that professional sport has become. Ask the questions that demand asking, without fear. Cycling is a truly great sport, once a leveller, it will be all the better for the eradication of the blind romanticism, myth-making and marketing that the wearying followers of Mammon seem to pedal each and every year. Thank you David, I just wish I had said it to you when you stood almost alone. I’m awarding this book 100% just for sheer persistence!
Read this book and enjoy riding and racing your bike in 2013.
Have a warm and wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.
Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong
Simon & Schuster UK; Hardback edition (13 Dec 2012)
Available in Hardback, iBook & Kindle
RRP £18.99 (Hardback) RRP £8.99 (Paperback) RRP £9.99 (Digital)