The Racing Chance Foundation
The growth in women’s cycling over the last few years has been phenomenal however there is still no clear structure in place for women who want to start competing and progress up the ranks. No-one can deny that there is now more television coverage of women’s cycling thanks to events such as the Johnson’s Health Tech Grand Prix Series and now The Women’s Tour, but there is no clear pathway for women who aspire to compete in such events.
Heather Bamforth talks through bike set up with riders.
The Racing Chance Foundation is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation so it has to remain transparent. It has been registered as a charity with the Charity Commission (charity number 1156835) and has four trustees – Heather Bamforth, Alan Gornall, Colin Batchelor and Carley Brierley. The charity’s intention is to provide a performance pathway for female cyclists in the UK who currently fall outside the existing track-based national programmes. As such, the focus for the Foundation (for the time being at least) will be based on the road. Membership of the Racing Chance Foundation costs just £5 per year and gives cyclists exclusive access to races, events, a club shop, and a wealth of cycling knowledge & information.
The Foundation is currently developing sessions for all levels, from novice to elite, to help those riders who wish to develop their competitive cycling careers, with the first sessions planned for January 2015. The aim is to provide assistance to riders by offering sessions that they can attend which will help develop their skills as competitive cyclists. In addition, rather than providing grants to specific riders, one of the Foundation’s ultimate ambitions is to invite riders (at both a development and elite level) to compete in races as the Racing Chance Foundation, both in the UK and abroad, which will be funded by the Foundation.
We will be releasing details shortly regarding criteria for our elite and development squads. What we can say in advance is that there won’t be a minimum number of licence points as a requirement.
The Foundation is affiliated to British Cycling and Cycling Time Trials and club membership is available to anybody (male or female) over the age of 16 (with parent/guardian permission if under the age of 18). We don’t believe in solely trying to attract female membership; indeed the first races that we are organising in 2015 are two men’s events on the tough Bole Hill circuit in the Peak District.
As charity, the Racing Chance Foundation relies on donations to keep it going. They already have kit designed by Bioracer which is available to order, with profits going into the charity and, once established, RCF hope to be able to sell branded items in their online shop. If you feel that you may be able to assist with the Foundation by supplying branded items, please email: [email protected]
The Trustees would like to thank Andrew Middleton of Towns Needham LLP for his invaluable assistance in registering the Foundation with the Charity Commission and Anna Magrath of Cycling Shorts for her assistance with the design and maintenace of the Foundation’s website and media management.
Further information can be found at the Foundation’s website (which is still partly in development): www.racingchancefoundation.com or by following them on Twitter and Facebook.
For press & media enquiries please contact: [email protected]
Buying a new bike is always an adventure and a joy.
No matter whether you are spending £200 or £4000 on a new bike and you are a cycling enthusiast, you will probably invest as much time researching, comparing and selecting the best bike you can get for the money you are spending. You will aim to squeeze the absolute best value possible and get the best bike for the buck that you can. Perhaps even more if you budget is tight, because we all know the Velominati is right:
// It’s all about the bike.
It is, absolutely, without question, unequivocally, about the bike. Anyone who says otherwise is obviously a twatwaffle.
Talk to the sales person about your riding style.
So what do you do?
You talk to friends, club mates, read the latest product reviews, match this up to your preferred bike kit, are you a Shimano, Campagnolo SRAM fan or do you want to emulate your favourite pro (to be honest the last is never a good buying decision). Do you have a favourite brand or is there a dream bike, your Porsche, Ferrari or Aston Martin out there. We can all dream and dreams cost nothing.
But bringing things back down to earth, sadly we are all limited by the amount we can afford. Yes the there are ways to stretch your budget and make your money go further, bike to work schemes being a prime example, helped in many cases by a store that is willing to allow you to put more money in at the start so you can get closer to your Holy Grail.
Now the rub is where do you shop and to be honest this is the core of this article. The biggest question out there is where is the best place to buy a new bike?
Perhaps the easiest way to answer this question is to share my most recent bike buying experience and mingle that in with over 30 years bike component and full bike buying experiences. Obviously when I started buying parts and bikes the internet and world wide web did not exist so the driver was what your friends rode and what the local bike shop had in stock or could order. In fact Shimano had not even entered the market in the UK, gosh can you imagine a time BS (that’s Before Shimano!) but the abbreviation has got me thinking!
Back in the day when steel was king and the choice was between Reynolds or Columbus tubing, the dream bike had to be hand built and had to have the most intricate lug work, hand crafted from standard castings. For me, my Ferrari was a hand crafted, red, Colnago with full Campagnolo Record groupset and handbuilt wheels with Mavic rims, who knows maybe one day!
To get close to your dream you had to visit your Local Bike Shop (LBS) search through their brochures of Peugeots, MBK, Raleigh and Vindec to find something that might just allow you to live the dream at your price point. But in your heart of hearts you knew it was going to be a Ford Escort L and not a Ferrari Dino.
Today however the story is very different. Every bike company has a website and the number of bike supermarkets has gone through the roof, offering last years models at amazing discounts and in some cases very attractive deals on the latest models. But where do you go to get the biggest bang for you bucks and the best advice?
I can hear you screaming online! online! buy online! or one of the big stores. Maybe you are right, but I urge you to read on and remember the motto ‘buyer beware’.
I would be lying if I said I did not use the internet and the world wide web, I do and I gain a lot of useful information using this method. I have a lot of bike and product knowledge stored away too. I have a very good BS (no not Before Shimano) filter to sift out the marketing hype from the real facts. I should know I used to walk the talk when I was in technical products sales and marketing!
My most recent buying experience was very illuminating and really backs up my gut instinct for where you should also go to get your best advice and bike deal. Actually its not really a gut instinct but rather a rule.
The Velominati has it in a nutshell:
// Support your local bike shop.
Never buy bikes, parts or accessories online. Going into your local shop, asking myriad inane questions, tying up the staff’s time, then going online to buy is akin to sleeping with your best friend’s wife, then having a beer with him after. If you do purchase parts online, be prepared to mount and maintain them yourself. If you enter a shop with parts you have bought online and expect them to fit them, be prepared to be told to see your online seller for fitting and warranty help.
Perhaps rule 58 is a little harsh but the sentiment is true, but what is your Local Bike Shop? Halfords, Evans and Decathlon are all on my doorstep, are these my Local Bike Shop or are they bike super markets, we all know how well Tesco’s et al are doing at the moment! For me a LBS is the shop that is an independent one, run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts and potential enthusiasts. It’s the place where you can get great advice, irrespective of whether you are buying a bike for your 5 year old or spending £4000 on yourself. It’s staffed by knowledgeable people, who never look down their noses at you and have ‘the customer is king’ tattooed on their brain.
I was in the market for a new CX bike so I thought I would do a little bit of undercover research as a secret shopper, ‘the name’s Bond James Bond!‘. The first port of call was the world wide web to research the brand and model I would go for (but that’s for another time). After a lot of looking I decided to go for a Cannonade Super X, now to find a supplier.
My choice obviously ruled out some of the big players, gone was Decathlon and Halfords. To be fair to both of these companies they do, in general, have some good bikes on offer. Decathlon brands get some good write ups for value for money and my experience of the in store staff has always been pretty positive, both in the UK and France. Halfords also have some good product range now, Boardman and Cinelli, but from feedback from others you would need to know what you want and be prepared to rebuild post purchase to ensure all was safely put together. It did leave Leisure Lakes and Evans in the frame, both of whom have stores close to where I live.
Leisure Lakes has been a good store for me in the past. The founders having a great vision for the enthusiast, with good product range. But as the market developed into cycle to work bikes, they seem to have reduced the range available and targeted the ride to work buyers, which is great for core business but has left the specialist side behind a little. So I thought I’d give Evans a go.
A well stocked, knowledgeable Local Bike Shop is a great place to shop.
I took a few key measurements off my current CX and road bike and armed with these and my height and inside leg, off I went to the local Evans store at the Trafford Centre. I knew what I was after apart from sizing, on which I need some advice, so what could be easier. Oh how wrong can one be!
The shop was fairly busy but not to the level where sales staff would be overwhelmed with work. I took a quick look round to see if they had what I was after in store (was not really expecting they would), the only CX bikes they had where own brand and all below the magic £1000 bike to work price point. Never mind I can always ask them to order in a bike for me to have a look at.
It took me a while but I eventually tracked down a sales person. Quick chat and asked to have some guidance about the Cannonade. “Yes sir what would you like Small, Medium or Large?” a very interesting question I thought, considering the frames are sized in cm from 44cm to 58 cm. This was not inspiring confidence in me. I pointed out to the sales guy that the bikes are sized in cm and to be fair, he said he was not sure about sizing. He said he would look on the Evans system, oh but wait there’s no information. ‘Sorry I can’t help’ came the reply. What you have a customer in front of you who is probably going to spend at least £1500 and you can’t help?!!
Trying to help things along I suggested he look at the bike company website for details of the product. To be fair the the sales guy he did exactly that, not that it really helped as it was clear by now he was well out of his depth. My desire to support the super market round the corner was waning and waning fast.
After a bit of discussion and a review of my road bike sizing we plumped for a 54cm frame. I was a little uneasy as I was really not sure this was the best way to go. But I parted with my £50 refundable deposit (not that he told me that) to bring a bike to the store for testing. Away I went looking forward to getting the call to come in and try to bike for size.
If I said all was well with the world when I left the store I would be a bit like a politician telling you that all is well with the world and you will be much better off after the next budget. I was stewing over the whole experience and after an hour or so at home, cooling off time (rather bubbling and boiling time) I decided to change my mind and cancel the order and, at the same time, vent my frustration about the poor level of service.
To be fair to Evans they refunded the money very quickly and within days a store manager was on the phone to discuss the issue, offering nearly the world for me to come back as a customer. Did you know they had a full bike fitting service? Well that was news to me, no body mentioned that and it is not even mentioned on their website. Hmm do they really have a full on bike fitting service. I really feel that although they may dress themselves up as an amazing bike store and that they are a LBS I’m sorry your not, you are just another Halfords but at least Halfords do not try to be anything better!
Its good to talk to someone who knows.
So back to the drawing board, where was I going to buy from, I needed a truly independent shop, that had the product I was after and had some top flight levels of service. After a bit more research I found Bikechain Ricci in Redruth Cornwall. What a different experience with Richard Pascoe and staff. A quick call with Ricci and it was clear he and his staff are passionate about bikes and that they know their stuff. I sent Ricci my current bike measurements and my key body measurement. He was back within a day with the advice that for the CX I should really be riding a size down from my road bike. This would allow me to move my weight around the bike more easily to deal with a range of surfaces and terrain. This all made perfect sense and matched with the additional research I had done since my Evans experience. Ricci’s product knowledge and riding experience really shone through the whole process, so their it was decision made, deposit paid and estimated delivery date provided, mid November (a bit disappointing but never mind it will be worth the wait).
Time to sit back and reflect on the whole process. I think an online review of Evans I have just found whilst writing this maybe sums up the experience better then I can “Evans cycles – the McDonalds of bicycles?” (http://road.cc/content/forum/92017-evans-cycles-macdonalds-bicycles) I am not sure I would call them the McDonalds but they are a bike supermarket with supermarket service. If its in stock and cheap great, otherwise give them a wide birth.
For me it has to be a local independent bike shop, yes I know Bikechain Ricci is not on my doorstep, but the point is they gave service above and beyond. No other local store to me could provide the product I wanted. Over the phone the guys at Bikechain went the extra mile, talked, listened and discussed needs and really knew their product. That really is what counts and that only comes with passion and experience. I have always had excellent service from the smaller independent guys over the years and sadly a few no longer exist as they get swamped by the big chains.
Stop shopping at the big chains and get yourself down to the local bike shop and talk to them, you might just find you get much better advice and if they can they will give you a bigger bang for your bucks.
If you are looking for an excellent local bike shop I can recommend the following, all based on excellent personal experience.
Bikechain Ricci Redruth Cornwall
Eddie McGrath Cycles Urmston, Manchester
Geoff Smith Bolton
Wallis Cycles Higher Walton, Lancs
Broadgate Cycles Penwortham, Preston
Cycles Laurent Avrilla Sion sur L’Ocean Vendee France
M Steels Gosforth Tyne and Wear
Cookson Cycles Whitefield, Manchester
- Races to take place on Sunday 28th September
- Prize of ￡1000 for both men’s and women’s races
- Raleigh, Condor, Hope, Pivot, Ridley and Kinesis in attendance with latest products
Opening its doors from the 26th-28th September, The Cycle Show returns to the NEC Birmingham, and new for 2014 will be a series of cyclocross races on the Sunday [28th September].
Organised by the Derby Cyclocross team, the races will include categories for elite men and elite women, plus a mixed industry race for staff from bike shops, distributors and cycle media. What makes the stakes even higher is the large ￡1000 prize pot on offer for both the men’s and women’s elite races.
The course will start and finish inside the show with outdoor sections taking in parts of the woodlands at the NEC. The course will be a suitably tough challenge for top riders and guarantee some great racing to showcase the sport to visitors.
Chris Holman, Event Director at organisers Upper Street Events, said: “It’s really exciting to be hosting cyclocross races at the show and arguably it’s long overdue given the growth in interest in the sport here over the past few years. Hopefully by showcasing cyclocross to a wider cycling audience we’ll help to develop that interest even more.”
Exhibitors including Condor, Hope, Raleigh, Kinesis and Pivot will all be showing their latest cyclocross bikes and kit, as well as having experts on-hand to give advice about the sport in what is set to be an exciting line-up for cyclocross fans and enthusiasts.
Condor will be showcasing their Bivio-X and the championship-winning Terra-X framesets, which have all been tested by the Rapha-Condor JLT pro riders. The frames are hand-built in Italy, disc brake-ready and feature internal cabling and a tapered head tube for easier shoulder carrying. The company provide their expertise in helping customers choose the componentry that makes up the full bike – offering truly bespoke machines for their customers.
Lancashire based Hope Technology is exhibiting at the show with particular focus on their range of disc-brake compatible 700c wheels, all of which feature sealed- cartridge bearing hubs. Keen to show off more of its British innovation, visitors will also see the V-Twin hydraulic disc brake conversion kit that enables riders with cable discs to easily and economically upgrade to hydraulic discs, and their Retainer Ring – a narrow-ride ring – specifically designed for use on cyclocross cranks. The brand will be represented in the Sunday races by a strong team lead by National Series Champion Paul Oldham.
Additionally, famous British marque Raleigh will also have several riders taking part in Sunday’s event, including Jake Poole and Matthieu Boulo. It will be demonstrating all of its 127 years of experience from humble beginnings in Nottingham, with the RX Pro – an aluminium model featuring a lightweight frame, all-carbon 15mm thru-axle fork and SRAM’s powerful Rival 22 HRD hydraulic brake. Alongside that will be the top line RX Team model featuring ‘speed blend’ direct-connect carbon frame and fork, Cole tubular wheels and SRAM’s new cyclocross-specific Force CX1 groupset – which will also be displayed in its own right by Fisher Outdoor.
Kinesis UK are demonstrating the exceptional value and versatility that cyclocross machines can bring to the rider; it believes that its Crosslight Pro6 frameset with cutting edge, disc-ready technology teamed with quality branded components makes for great package of functionality and value. It will also bring the Crosslight FiveT model, which offers superb versatility with clearance for 3 rings, twin bottle mounts, rack and mudguard eyelets making it suitable for touring or commuting.
Ridley pride themselves on being the worldwide leader in the cyclocross market, which is reflected in their large range of cyclocross bikes. The standout model for us this year is the X-Night 20 Disc. This is built around their lightest CX frameset, the X-Night but brought up to date with Ultegra Di2 and the new Shimano R785 hydraulic disc brakes.
American brand Pivot Cycles will also be on-site giving visitors the chance to get up close to their Vault bike, which shares DNA with their LES MTB model. The full carbon frame offers the latest innovative cyclocross geometry with a lower bottom bracket height, slightly shorter chain stays and an overall fit and finish that the brand believe to be the “ultimate cross and gravel crushing design”.
Adult tickets for The Cycle Show are priced at ￡13 per person when booked in advance – offering attendees a saving of over ￡3 per ticket – while children aged 14 and under can attend for just ￡1 each with an accompanying adult. Concession prices are also available to students and those over 65.
To buy tickets or for more information on The Cycle Show 2014 and for more information about the cyclocross racing, please visit www.cycleshow.co.uk
Can You Reinvent the Wheel?
Well a farmer from Israel has done just that. Gilad Wolf was looking for a way to make the ride and manoeuvrability better for his wheelchair and decided the part of the chair that had been overlooked and makes the use of wheelchairs so frustrating were the wheels.
The SoftWheel has a rim containing three shock absorbing cylinders. They suspend the wheel’s hub, evenly distributing the weight along the chair giving the user the ability to easily ascend and descend individual steps, also giving a smooth and fast ride over bumps and reducing injuries caused by wheelchair vibration.
When the concept became reality Gilad marketed the SoftWheel Acrobat for wheelchair users but this got him thinking about other applications and it naturally led to looking at the comfort and efficiency of the ride for cyclists. The SoftWheel Fluent was created. Both types of wheels will go on sale at the end of the year, they won’t be cheap (around $2,000) but they will make a huge difference to wheelchair users and to cyclists. It’s said to be compatible with all frames including electric bikes and it can be retrofitted.
It looks like cyclists won’t have the loss of energy that traditional mountain bike suspension gives and the impact will be dampened for a full 360 degrees. It should be ideal for country roads with the traditional UK potholes. Cyclist’s who require a gentler ride for medical reasons might also benefit; for example older riders with arthritis, muscle weakness or reoccurring vibration injuries. It certainly looks an interesting design, we will aim to review it once it’s released.
I stumbled across this video last week, it appears to be a recently new idea and I have to say it looks a really promising design. It did get me wondering why it hadn’t been done before. It can be a pain fiddling around with the chain, not every wheel change is a quick and grease free process. It would certainly suit the leisure cyclist with little or no bike maintenance skills.
I’m sure the the frame and wheel builders amongst you will have an opinion – I’d love to hear all your thoughts.