Bhopals Special Olympics – Image © Reuters
When London won the Olympic bid, it was claimed that these would be the ‘greenest Olympics ever’. While there have been some important green strides, some of which undoubtedly can be used to inform future major sporting events, it’s been disappointing that so many of the initial green pledges have since been dropped.
Reports out suggest that the organisers claim that it will be the greenest games ever is being put to shame by the fact that the 2008 Beijing games might have had a lower carbon footprint that the London games will have. It is that estimated 3.4 million tons of carbon will be released into our atmosphere as a result of London 2012, whereas, according to this report, Beijing released some 1.1 million tons.
This is interesting as on its own report, London 2012 has claimed its figure will only be 1.9 million. To put these numbers into perspective, the UK’s average yearly carbon emissions is 0.5 million tons. Thought it’s worth pointing out that the lifespan of the Olympics carbon footprint is roughly 7 years.
“Boris Bikes, no sorry Ken Bikes…” Image © Mark Ramsay
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Health experts have also warned that athletes might suffer from the high amount of air pollution in the capital, which raises another worry of health and safety. As the London games is set to be the most visited Olympics, that is a risk that should be taken seriously.
A British cyclist recently won the Tour de France; the first Brit ever to have achieved one the biggest honours in cycling. This could have been the kickstart for the cycling revolution that the UK so desperately needs, but instead the government and the Olympic organisers seem to be doing everything they can to discourage cycling.
The UK still has one of the worst cycling infrastructures in Europe. It will be even worse during the Olympics as several cycle paths have been sacrificed to make way for Olympic VIP lanes; should a cyclist make a way into such a lane, they could face a fine of £160. Add to that the sad fact that several of the Barclays Bike hire docking stations (Boris Bikes) will be taken out of operation as some of them are placed close to the VIP lanes.
It seems that the Olympics core spirit which is to encourage everyone to do more sports is being sacrificed for corporate interests.
Then there is the issue of the Olympic sponsors. How insulting it must be for those people who suffered (and might still be suffering) due to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, to see BP announced as ‘sustainability’ sponsors.
Let us be honest here, if you chose to have sponsors like BP, who have wrecked the lives for so many people, at least be transparent about it.
There is absolutely nothing sustainable about BP. Even their solar arm has now been closed and they’re not making any strides forward in clean energy technologies. Additionally, the biofuel which they champion to market their sustainability can be highly unsustainable depending on where it comes from.
It would be very interesting to know on what basis they and the Olympic organisers can justify having them as a ‘sustainability sponsor’.
It is equally insensitive to have Dow Chemicals as main sponsors; 2001 Dow bought Union Carbide Corporation, responsible for the Bophal disaster which people still suffer from today and they rightly feel very angry about this. Neither company then or now accepts any responsibility for the disaster.
The conclusion that can be drawn is that there is no doubt who the baddies are; the Olympic Organisers and the Olympic Committee, not the athletes.
Though you could wish that the athletes would use their influence and profile to speak out about these issues and then go and compete for their respective countries.
There is no doubt that some green strides have been taken and these should be commended, but we are once again seeing that when the going gets tough (don’t forget large part of the Olympic village has been constructed during a recession), the first thing to be sacrificed is the environment. That is something we can’t afford in today’s climate.
Mark Cavendish – Boy Racer
This book charts the rise of the fastest sprinter in the world, from his earliest foray into bike racing (BMX) up to his record breaking 2009 Tour de France stage victories.
You get to see the cycling world through his eyes, and his frank and brutal portrayal matches his persona. His honest account pulls no punches, just like his explosive sprinting power. His feisty temperament shines through throughout his writing, giving an entertaining read and insight into the world of professional cycling.
In his younger days, his ‘cocky’ attitude is occasionally interrupted by feelings of self doubt and depression, which surface into binge eating (large packets of crisps and cream cakes being the most sought after) which cause more problems for his Coaches and making him receive jibes of being fat and of not being good enough to ever ride the Tour de France, which is his dream.
But in a strange sort of way this is exactly what he needs to motivate himself forward, he loves proving his critics wrong and takes great delight in doing so, even shunning proven training techniques that have been honed over many years, he works in his own way.
His boisterous nature is set free during his time with the British Academy, especially when, like the other young lads there, he is living away from his parents for the first time. The Coaches and Staff have their hands full containing the parties, late nights and practical jokes and try to get them to take their training seriously enough to not mess around and throw their chances of success away.
He is a self confessed ‘scallywag’ and appears to always be looking for an opportunity for mischief. His talent is recognised early on but the characteristics that make him so good on the bike also cause troubles off the bike, as the years have passed he has matured and calmed down slightly, although he still wears his heart on his sleeve and says what he thinks, and makes no excuses for not being otherwise.
You either love him or hate him, and of course his temperament earns him a few enemies along the way, including Staff, Coaches and other teammates who have aspirations of beating his achievements. The long running friction and rivalry between him and Andre Greipel is described from his viewpoint, but with maturity we are led to believe that it is now confined to racing rivalry only.
The story of these formative years are weaved in between race accounts from the 2008 and 2009 Tours de France, we get a feel of what it must be like to be Mark Cavendish, from the buckling pressure to perform after your teammates have worked so hard for you all day, the thrill and danger of sprinting for the finish line, and to the nightmarish stages in the mountains where it takes all your energy and skill to just stay at the back of the field hoping not be eliminated.
The reader also gains an unglamorous insight into the organisation and ‘behind the scenes’ of daily life during the Tour, and Marks reaction and thoughts to some of the doping scandals that unfortunately seem to appear each year.
Just be aware that his language can be just as strong as his passion for the sport, expletives are used many times on some pages, but this reflects the moments of immense pressure he is under.
I found it to be an enjoyable read and more descriptive than many other books, you get the sense that Mark is talking to you personally, as if this is just a transcript of a relaxed chat, he is trying to get you to understand both his character and his professional life as a cyclist.
Title: Boy Racer
Author: Mark Cavendish
Published by Ebury Press
Available in Hardback, Paperback & eBook
Price: RRP £18.99 (Hardback), RRP £7.99 (Paperback), RRP £7.99 (eBook)
A short film on BMX Olympian – Shanaze Reade by Corinne Walder.
Her life in her own words and her journey to both Beijing and London Olympics.
Future Perfect – West One Music
Filmed on: Canon 7D & GoPro
Final Cut Pro
On Your Bike! The Complete Guide to Cycling
by Matt Seaton.
For somebody who has ridden a bike for quite some time, I was interested to see what would be included in something dubbed “the complete guide to cycling”. And, I must say that I was quite surprised at the book’s ability to make me see the bike from a different angle.
When you take up cycling, whatever age you are, you don’t think about the bike itself – it is merely the tool by which you can get out on to the road/track/rough terrain (whatever floats your boat) and get “on your bike.” And to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to find a book that was so easy to read, so interesting to read, especially on a subject that can seem quite mundane.
However, Matt Seaton appears to have successfully completed a somewhat impossible task – it has made me think differently about how I look at my bike. No longer do I see it as an inanimate object that helps me keep fit. No, I am now able to see the bike for what it really is – a concept built out of the Industrial Revolution, a tool that has helped normal folk (as in those who weren’t aristocrats) develop a sense of freedom and something which has transformed personal mobility into social mobility. Yes, very deep. But I bet you never even stopped to think that the bicycle was such an important tool. In fact, as Matt Seaton rightly asserts, “cycling [has] become synonymous with progress.”
So, maybe the idea of a history lesson doesn’t set your world on fire. Well, don’t worry, Matt Seaton merely uses the evolution of the bicycle as a tool to set the scene, to make you realise that the bike in itself has its own place in history. Did you know, for example, that Peugeot, Singer and Triumph all started life as bike manufacturers? Me neither.
Matt goes on to cover the rise and fall of the bike’s popularity, including the BMX’s development in the 1970s, to the mountain bike phenomenon of the 1990s to the carbon fibre road bikes that we have today.
Most of my cycling friends would agree with me that my knowledge of mechanics is somewhat sketchy, to say the least, despite my years of cycling. However, this book is quite good in that it explains about the different types of bike and the basic measurements. There is also a nice double page spread on what the different components of a bike are. If you are pretty handy with mechanics, you will probably find this part basic, however if you are new to the sport, then the book acts as a useful aide-memoire. It covers all types of bikes, from road, to track, to cyclo-cross, to BMX and mountain bikes, and it also provides information as to what to look for in a good bike lock and bike light. It even covers tools, clothing and helmets!
Included in the “Your bike – and how to love it” section is also a useful sub-section about how to clean your bike. This may seem quite a useless thing to include however, I do know people who have purchased bikes worth over £3,000 and then not known how to keep it clean. Remember that this book is aimed at all cyclists – both those new to the sport and seasoned riders.
I must admit that I don’t currently commute by bike, however after reading the chapter entitled “Cycling and the city”, it did make me think twice about doing so. It reminds you that cycling is a great antidote to stress, that the threat to your health from pollution is far outweighed by the other health benefits of cycling and that you can also benefit from the Government’s “Bike to Work” scheme. But perhaps most important of all is the chapter entitled “How to stay safe on your bike.” This is a valuable read for anybody who shares the road with other road users, which is most cyclists. You tend to take things for granted, but this helps you to become ‘actively visible.’ Surely that in itself is worth a read?
The penultimate chapter deals with “Cycle sport”, including the pro peloton, how teams work and a piece on the issue of doping. There is also some useful information on other types of riding, including track racing, cyclo-cross and sportives.
If you are looking for a well-written, informative, interesting book on cycling as a whole, then this could be the book for you. It is full of colour pictures, is easy to pick up where you left off (one of those books where you can pick which bits you want to read) and is definitely worth reading if you have just taken up cycling for the first time after having been inspired by Brad Wiggins and Team Sky in this year’s Tour de France. However, it is a bit out-dated, having been written back in 2006, but having said that, the basics and the history of the bike will always remain the same.
If you are looking for a book that will make you a faster rider, this isn’t the book for you, but if you want a book that does what it says on the tin, then you should definitely add it to your Christmas list.
Title: On Your Bike! The Complete Guide to Cycling
Author: Matt Seaton
Published by Black Dog Publishing
Available from 7th June 2012 in Hardback & eBook
RRP Price: £16.95
Some of the Cycling Shorts. boys and girls have got their hands on the pre release howies Men’s Brenin Cycling Jacket to put it through it’s paces.
If you’re not familiar with howies they’re an independent active clothing company based in the beautiful Cardigan Bay in Wales, UK. The company has a passion for cycling and the outdoors. They produce high quality and environmentally friendly thoughtfully designed products. howies have recently taken to sponsoring track cycling, now they are turning their attention to the road. This is the first time howies have ventured into road cycling specific clothing. Having such a good reputation we would be expecting nothing less than great… is it a tall order?!
Brenin Windstopper Jacket
The lightweight shell pack-away jacket is made from 100 percent recycled polyester. It features stretch and wicking fabric in the arms and side panels for unrestricted movement when cycling. It is being sold predominantly as a Men’s jacket but we’ve found it really works for the girls too with it’s stretch fit.
Design details include a zipped chest pocket with earphone cable slot on the inside and an internal clip to attach your keys. Reflective bars on the cuffs and hips, a reflective logo on the chest pocket, adjustable hem and soft fleece lined collar. The jacket rolls up and zips into it’s chest pocket for storage with the key clip becoming a clip to secure the jacket pouch to you while riding.
The windstopper qualities of this jacket are excellent and we love the breathable panels on the arms they allow you to stay warm without overheating. The wicking properties of the fabrics are very good. It doesn’t feel like a crisp packet as these jackets often can, the fabric actually feels very soft. Although the jacket isn’t described as being water or showerproof we were pleasantly surprised that when we got caught out in the rain the core of our bodies were totally dry and the only damp areas where our outer arms but they dried out quickly while cycling. The jacket is very easy to care for and well constructed. You can just leave mud to dry on and let it crumble off, rinse it under the tap or just pop it in the washing machine at 30 degrees. It can’t be tumble dried but it dries very quickly on it’s own and if required you can give it a warm iron….
[flagallery gid=14 name=Brenin Jacket]
Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)
What the boys say…
Good length at the back to cover your rear and protect it from mud when on the bike. It looks good off the bike too, it’s not too obvious that you’re wearing a road cycling jacket. We love the chest pocket for you phone, MP3 or other device it has a slot on the inside to feed your headphones through from the pocket up to your ears, protecting the cable as much as possible from the elements. You can also clip your keys into the pocket. Initially we had mixed feelings on only having one pocket but the general consensus was one was fine; you have other layers that contain more than enough packets and the position of the zipped pocket is perfect. The soft fleece lining on the collar is welcome on a cold damp day and it isn’t the sort of fleece that will stick to your stubble and make you look like you’ve been intimate with a wookie. The soft shell construction means it’s ideal for days when you don’t want to carry other bulkier layers around with you. It fits neatly into your jersey back pocket like a cycling cape or gilet would.
What the girls say…
Us girls don’t get very excited when presented by men’s/unisex clothing… we have visions of looking like we’re wearing our dad’s cast offs but we were more than happy when the Brenin Jacket landed on the doorstep. We all have our own styles and we come in assorted shapes and sizes so it was going to be a challenge for the Brenin to please everyone. The biggest test was going to be the fit. First impressions out of the bag were good. Well made and nice design touches.
Sizing… well obviously the sizing is in howies men’s S,M,L and XL, this seems to translate as small being a women’s generous 10-12 and medium a 14-16 (and so on). The sizing is flexible thanks to the stretch fabric panels and it will of course depend on how many layers you intend to wear under the jacket as to which size you require.
It fits your curves thanks to it’s uniques side stretch panels that hug your body. If you’re short in the body most female (never mind unisex or mens) shell jackets are a problem as the waist often sits on your hips which means it’s too narrow to zip up comfortably and the hip part of the jacket is somewhere further down and in Anna’s case generally somewhere near her knees. With the Brenin the extra stretch accommodates curves so you don’t end up looking like you’re sporting a high tech bin liner. If the Brenin is too long you can use the adjustable hem to lift it up. Sleeve length is obviously a problem for shorter ladies on unisex clothing as they can be hanging off the ends of your hands but the elasticated cuffs and slim cut sleeve of the Brenin mean you don’t have a balloon of fabric on each arm. The cut really is great for most heights and shapes. We would like to see an XS in the range at some point… Oh and can we have more colours please?!
To sum up… In the very apt words of that influential cyclist Shakira (well I’m sure she must at least own a bike), if your breasts are “small and humble” or even like some (I’m paraphrasing here) “mountainous region” this jacket will work for you… and dare I push it too far… I feel I can’t help myself… our “hips don’t lie”… ok that was too much…. but I know you were all thinking it! Thankfully that has drained my vast knowledge of Columbian songstresses lyrics… The Brenin gets top marks from the girls!… Buy one for the other half, I’m sure he won’t notice if you borrow it!
It’s the first time we can really say… one style fits all!
Jacket weight: 200g
Size when packed away: 14x12x7cms
Available in UK Men’s Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Available from: howies stores and howies online now!
excellent adaptable fit for both men and women
Packs away neatly inside it’s own zipped pocket
reflective hi-vis areas
easy grip zip pull
internal earphone cable slot
environmentally friendly (made from recycled materials)
extremely well constructed
No colour options (yet)
Doesn’t come in female specific sizes (a problem for ladies under a UK size 10).
Same problem at the other end of the scale for the more substantial gentleman.
Pricer than some other brands but you have to take into account the eco, ethical and quality standards for the product that other brands don’t necessarily meet.
The Brenin is a favourite of ours it’s earned itself one of our “Star Buy” ratings!
Nancy & Anna Review the Ana Nichoola Snow Cat Jacket
Between us we use the full range of Ana Nichoola clothing and have been fans since the arrival of “Bo Peep” Gloves. We are both always at the front of the queue to purchase our next item. Ana Nichoola has now ventured into clothing with the Snow Cat Jacket and what a triumph it is. Below are our thoughts on it and links to our reviews of other products in the range we have purchased.
Cycling is a sport that’s dominated by men and all the equipment is made for them but with the new Ana Nichoola collection that will change! No more boring design, no more jackets and warmers that never fit… You can actually look girlie and stylish while riding your bike.
The brand is created by female bike rider Anna Glowinski, who better than a woman to understand the needs of women in the sport. Ana Nichoola has an innovating line of accessories with very cool designs; each piece has little details that make a simple item look extraordinary.
Apart from the good looks, the quality of the products is exceptionally high. Both of us agree we haven’t seen anything for female cyclists this good!
We agree our most favorite item is the “Snow Cat Jacket”, no other jacket on the market gets close to this one, it’s a warm jacket perfect for your cold winter rides, a great windstopper and like the arm warmers it fits amazingly well, tailored for a women’s body. The fabrics are of the best quality with a mix of reflective fabrics, sweat wicking, stretchy, soft and warm.
The collar is a double layer with a lovely soft polar fleece lining at the neck, the outer collar is a stand up mandarin style collar with a press stud fastening in a pale duck egg blue colour. The top sculpted part of the jacket and sleeves is made from a gorgeous white waffle textured fabric with tiny flecks of shiny thread woven into it (you can see the flecks in the blue collar too), it looks like snow glistening in the moonlight. The top lining is a lovely soft fleece. There’s a pair of embroidered circles on the shoulder in pastel pink and blue providing just enough embellishment to bring an elegant feel to the garment, this is repeated further down on the left hip. The top half is all about keeping your chest warm. The lines of the jacket are very sympathetic to the female form and rather than having a horizontal band or line between the two fabrics (as you find on most male or unisex cycling jerseys) it has a swooping blue stitched edge between the white of the top and the grey of the bottom. The bottom half of the jacket is a thinner fabric enabling more movement, it has a grey and dark charcoal horizontal stripe pattern. On the front at the left hip there’s the Ana Nichoola logo and just above it there’s an secure zipped pocket. On the back of the jacket there are two large pockets like all good cycling jerseys should have, but these pockets are again sympathetically styled to echo female curves. The pockets are stretchy and also have press-stud closures, there is a smaller pocket nestled inside the right pocket; ideal for a snack bar or a mini pump. Centre back of the jacket upper is a golden embroidered circle between your shoulder blades. The cuffs are finished with a matt silver reflective fabric. Running down the sides of the body and under the arms on the sleeves is a black lycra wicking fabric for a better contouring fit and to make your ride a comfortable one. Overall it provides an extremely flattering silhouette. You can tell a lot of thought and effort has gone in to designing this jacket.
[flagallery gid=12 name=Gallery]
Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)
This jacket has provided more protection from the wind and wintery weather than any other cycling jacket of it’s kind we’ve owned and it looks great off the bike too. We’ve both had loads of compliments and questions while out and about… plenty of jacket envy. It’s easy to clean. The price is premium but lets be clear this jacket is premium quality and there are many jackets in this price bracket that aren’t near this quality. The stitching and finishing is excellent along with the fabric quality. The sizing is quite accurate, we would say that buying your true size will give you a good fitting jacket, the size range is a UK6 to UK14, bustier ladies may be disappointed that larger sizes aren’t available, but maybe that will change when the brand grows. We’ve seen a sneak peek of the Spring/Summer collection and the clothing range is increasing, you won’t be disappointed no matter what type of bike you ride you’ll want to get your hands on something from the collection!
Ana Nichoola also has gloves, neck warmers and ear warmers in the range so you should take a look at the Ana Nichoola website and read our reviews of the rest of the product range.
Come on girls, what are you waiting for… Style Your Ride!
Nancy & Anna.
Available from www.ananichoola.co.uk