Impatience Kills

Dear Cyclists of Amsterdam,

Impatience will kill you.

Yet again on my way to work this morning, I witnessed an impatient cyclist try and skirt around the side of a lorry/HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) at a T-junction. And yes, as a result of their impatience (and stupidity) they were floored as the lorry tried to pull out of the junction.

Now, I appreciate you were brought up on roads made for cyclists, where vehicles respect you and you’re given the freedom to cycle. But sometimes, the roads are also shared by larger vehicles, and quite rightly so. Vehicles that are a lot bigger than you, a lot heavier and need a lot more respect.

Not only do they require more space on the road to maneuver than say, your average car; but visibility to the driver is also limited. They can’t be expected and definitely don’t have a 360 degree view of what’s around them; particularly of traffic coming from behind or down the side.

So, do me, yourself, other road users and the driver of the lorry a favour. Next time you see such a vehicle at a junction (or on the road full stop); please give it the respect it needs, and respect your life. Try and save that extra 30 seconds on your journey and you could be lucky to get back on a bike again at all.

Happy cycling.
Hayley

 

 

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

An Open Letter

As soon as Lizzy Armistead crossed the line to take silver in an exciting finish to the Women’s Olympic Road Race (more exciting that the men’s may I add!), she didn’t jump at the opportunity to gush about a life-achievement, but to express the disappointing reality at lack of support in women’s cycling to an international audience. She wasn’t only standing on the podium to collect her medal, but to represent a sport that is very under-valued.

Every week since Lizzy stood-up to sexism, there have been multiple articles across various national media outlets on the topic from others in the sport – both women and men alike. However, one sad reality is that the media that matters, the focused cycling magazines which prize themselves on attracting and supporting amateurs in the sport, haven’t changed their stance at all.

Walk in to your local newsagent (they do still exist right?) and you’ll notice that the covers of the magazines are still adourned with the ‘role-model male cyclist’. You’d be lucky to find a column about Marianne Vos winning the BrainWash Ladies Tour at the beginning of September or tailored training and nutritional advice for women. So, what’s the deal publishers? The girls want to read and be more  involved, and the boys are interested too (who wouldn’t want to see a picture of Lizzy, Emma or Vicky in lycra?!)

And so, I leave you with this – an open letter to Cycling Plus from a passionate reader. Karen posted this letter to Cycling Plus on September 1st after reading a highly sexist article. To date, she hasn’t had a reply and it’s unlikely they’ll respond in print… Seems they’ve lost what used to be a regular subscriber. Read on to find out what’s upset Karen most…
******
Dear Cycling Plus

Having been involved in a cycling accident, my husband bought me the September copy of Cycling Plus to read during my enforced immobilisation.

I used to buy your magazine every few months but stopped doing so because I felt that it was geared to male cyclists. However, this month you have excelled yourselves in this respect. My blood pressure started to rise when I read The Hub article on page 32 entitled ‘An old man’s game’ (my emphasis – alarm bells start to ring…). The article bemoans the lack of youngsters in cycling.

Apart from one mention of Victoria Pendleton’s name towards the end, women and girls were ignored, and even specifically excluded, despite the achievements of female cyclists this year. The opening paragraph lists the laurels of GB’s male road cyclists, including Chris Froome’s Olympic bronze, but, unbelievably, no mention of Lizzie Armistead’s well-earned silver medal in the road race.

But the real punch came later. A TT in Teesside is used to illustrate the problem of lack of youngsters; “out of…90 riders, there were only 17 male riders under 40…” (my emphasis). It then accounts for a further 50 –55 older (male?) riders leaving about 20 riders unaccounted for. Presumably these are the female riders. I make that coming on for 20% of the field who are not even deemed worthy of consideration in the statistics. With attitudes like this permeating throughout the cycling community, it is no wonder that women and girls feel like second class cyclists; no wonder that funding is withdrawn from women’s professional cycling; no wonder that Australian pro., Chloe Hosking, felt compelled to call Pat McQuaid “a bit of a dick” for his lack of support for equality in pay!

I accept the fact that there are fewer female than male cyclists, but please, please encourage women in cycling. My experience as a teacher has shown me that male and female pupils work together and respect each other much more than when I was at school – the sexism displayed in your magazine is an anachronism and I suspect that younger male riders are put off by it almost as much as younger female riders.Take a leaf from the climbing and mountaineering press – young, fit and accomplished female climbers feature, in equality with men, in every issue, often being the focus of cover photos and technical articles. Consequently, or co-incidentally, there is no lack of talented girls coming up through the ranks with the lads in climbing walls throughout the country. Respect, recognition and coverage of women and their achievements will only encourage younger people of whichever sex, it doesn’t matter, into our sport.

And think of this, a lot of your male readers may actually like to see photos of young, fit and accomplished female riders in your mag. – may even sell a few more copies…

Yours etc.,

Karen Newman

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

“Like a virgin, track for the very first time”

Must learn to smile next time (and breathe!) ©Korneel Wever

Track cycling has always been a favourite of mine. To watch that is. The anticipation of the cyclists lining up on the track, skin-tight lycra and a face full of determination and concentration, the whirring sound of the wheels spinning at 60kmph+ on a banked wooden track; the creaking boards going un-noticed under the sound of excitement.  There has however, always been that little ‘voice’ inside, whispering at me with excitement at watching the pros do what they do best ‘you should do this Hayley, you’d love it!’. As a spectator though, the thought of taking the leap from a comfortable seat in the grandstand to the saddle of a track bike is daunting. But, I remind myself that I am Hayley *fearless* Davies, and I can do this!

Technically I had 9 months to prepare myself for my first experience, having had to cancel my initial session last January due to injury. Taking a leap of faith however, means committing, and so I booked myself on to the first ‘basic training’ session of the 2012/13 season at Amsterdam Velodrome.

Besides excited anticipation starting to form, small niggles of doubt were also playing on my mind in the weeks running up to the session; ‘what happens if I don’t enjoy it’ – counting on this experience to transform me from an average roady to a hooked-tracky; ‘do I have the power and speed it takes… let alone the lung capacity to get me through it?’  But, having built a network of track cycling friends around me, they yet again assured me in knowing my passion for speed; I am not only capable, but I will love it too. If they have faith in me, then I can have faith in me too!

Feeling confident! © Korneel Wever

With 3 indoor tracks throughout the Netherlands; the same number you’ll find in the whole of England and Wales, you could say we’re pretty lucky. When I moved to Holland 2 years ago, I jumped at the opportunity to watch the World Championships in Apledoorn, my first experience at seeing the events live. However, nothing can prepare you for the moment you are stood on the edge of the 200m track, overshadowed by the 47 degree banking; steeper than an average track of 250m – ‘oh my god! I can’t ride on that!’. Shutting the thoughts out, I get down to finding a bike (small enough) and circling the centre court ‘don’t forget you can’t free wheel. And you may find it easier to grab the side to clip in/out’ shouts the instructor. ‘Oh god. The banking is nothing. I have to clip in and out when stopped?!’ But, much to my delight, as seen on my face here, this bike is pretty comfy, and after completing a couple of event-free laps, I feel in control. I am ready!

The instructors gather us on the track and talk us through (in both Dutch and English, happily accommodating our expat needs!) a series of skill exercises from cruising the concrete, getting comfortable in the Cote d’Azur (the blue strip), and slowly coaxing us up onto the boards and around a set of cones set out and slowly moved up until we’re right up at the barriers on the top straight banking; all while looking around and becoming aware of the other rides on the track.  Wow, that’s a lot of things to think about! Of course, I have a minor panic attack when a rider in front slows suddenly as I climb the boards, letting out a little squeak (much to the delight of my friends who happened to be sat on the barriers at that exact point); but, I control it and carry on… this isn’t so bad!

Happy with our track-maneuvering skills, we move on to the fast-flying laps. The part, to be honest, I was most nervous about. Split into two groups of 8; the first group is lead out by an instructor and told to build their speed to a minimum of 35kmph, the speed at which you have enough momentum to hug the boards through the banked corners. ‘What you won’t know’ the instructor starts, pointing out the lack of speedo, ‘is if you are actually at your optimum speed. You just have to go for it’. Thankfully, I was in the second group which gave me the opportunity to watch what the other riders were doing; and what they shouldn’t be doing!

Then comes our turn. With a deep breath, I push off from the side, behind 4 other cyclists and the instructor on my wheel. We build the speed to what must have been a comfortable 35kmph, until we’re riding in the ‘sprinters line’ – between the black and the red. Within the first fast lap I find myself gaining on the cyclist in front of me– ‘Over take Hayley!’ I hear from behind. Over take?! Is he mad?! That requires going higher… ‘OVER TAKE HAYLEY! DO IT NOW, BUILD YOUR SPEED’. OMG ‘I can’t do it’ I shout back ‘YES YOU CAN! DO IT NOW!”. That’s it, I’m going. I push through the pedals building my speed with power I didn’t know I have, take a quick glance behind and the next thing I know I’m up beyond the blue line, passing the 4 other cyclists that were in front of me, with the cool wind brushing against my skin. OH MY GOD!!! I’M FLYING! THIS IS AMAZING.

I don’t know whether I am holding my breath or if I am over come with adrenaline, but the room is spinning. I slow my speed and head back down to the Cote d’Azur, but after only one recovery lap, I’m back up and flying around again before the whistle is blown for us to gather back at the centre. The instructor gives us a couple of words of advice; to me ‘don’t build or break your speed so fast, other cyclists around you may not be able to respond’. Got it. We’re soon back on the track, riding in two groups, wheel to wheel until the final whistle is blown. Two and a half hours, over so soon? I was only just getting started!

Many say track cycling, regardless of whether it’s your first go, or your 10th go, is addictive. They’re not wrong! Speaking with the instructors after the session, I’m approved to move up into the ‘introduction level’. Not five minutes at home and I’m logged on to the website booking myself in for next Sunday’s session. My track cycling experience; to be continued….!
**********

Basic introduction clinics are held at Amsterdam Velodrome on Sundays throughout September – March and include a 2.5 hour skill session with qualified trainers. Bike, shoes and helmet hire are also available starting from 11 Euros for the session.

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

l’édition Française e.1

When considering a cycling holiday, one of the first destinations many will think of is France. The rolling mountains, the colour littered fields, the warm sunny weather and all the fresh carbs you can dream of from the local patisserie.

So, I guess it’s no surprise that I spent a week en France this summer dans ma velo!

The Vercors, a region not familar to most, is a range of mountains in the Rhone-Alps, otherwise known as the Prealps; a 1.5 hour drive from Lyon or half an hour from Valence (Eurostar/TGV drop off). The scenery is simply stunning. Sheer rock faces suddenly appear on the horizon, displaying thousands’ of years of history, as the surrounding farmlands provide green tranquility. And, the roads through and around the Vercors are not only well kept (no sneaky pot holes) but quiet too. And by quiet, I mean you’ll see only 1 or 2 cars on a 4 hour ride!

Within riding distance are the beautiful and historic towns and view points of Pont en Royans, who’s houses hug the cliff-side; St Nazaire en Royans which is over shadowed by its aqueduct and fresh water lake; and Europe’s largest gorge, the Combe Laval; which, when cycling through can only be described as a scene from a James Bond car chase.

I stayed with Velo Vercors, a small but specialised cycling holidays company run by Roger Dunne – an ex GB pro cyclist, and his wife Teresa. Velo Vercors cater for everyone, that is, families that may get out on their bikes a couple of times a year but want to explore the French countryside, through to training camps for cycling clubs (sounds familiar!). And, with a broad range of abilities they also provide a range of suggested/mapped rides from 10-20km routes to spend the day at the lake; to a climb (and descent) up Alpe d’Huez, only 1.5 hours drive away. Arranging bike hire prior to your arrival, travelling there couldn’t be easier.

Their typically ‘French’ property, in the heart of St Jean Royans, one of the larger towns in the region, boasts self-catering gites (rural cottages) for a weekly break or B&B accommodation with independent front door access for shorter stays. All surrounded by fantastic gardens, a ‘summer lounge’ and of course, over-looked by the stunning mountainside. Plus, there’s an open-air pool a 2 minute walk up the road for the well needed rest days, and a masseuse on call to ease out the tight legs after a hard day’s climbing.

Roger, cycling clearly in his blood, is available as a cycle guide or domestique, which makes riding in a new area a breeze – there’s no worrying about taking the wrong turn, plus with his experience, he provides great advice and tips on the climbs and descents. God knows how he keeps going though – Alpe d’Huez twice and Mont Venteux in the space of 1.5 weeks? He must have a motor hidden somewhere!

All in all, a week at Velo Vercors may be absolutely shattering, but is definitely a holiday worth taking!

– Local area ride I took: http://runkeeper.com/user/hayleydavies/activity/100305127
– Tour of the Vercors including Pont en Royans, Col de Carrie and Combe Laval: http://runkeeper.com/user/hayleydavies/activity/100676919

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk