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!
I have noticed recently that there have been many articles flying around about women’s bikes, but so far nobody has given a review of a women’s specific design bike for racing.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you can’t race on one – for the past two years I have been riding a female specific Boardman, which I bought from Halfords for £1,000, but I have always complained about the sub-standard groupset, despite the bike being very light. I also don’t like racing on clinchers, so I upgraded the wheels that came with the bike and changed the saddle to one I am used to using.
Note the wheels – one of the key upgrades to the Boardman
So what are your options?
If you read the vast majority of articles on women’s bikes, you would think that there are loads to choose from. That may be the case, but the majority of brochures for women’s bikes talk about comfort on long rides, and the women’s geometry is supposed to be more relaxed to compensate for this. But if you’re looking for a bike to race on, this might not be what you’re looking for, so do yourself a favour and look at both the men’s and women’s options but bear in mind the main differences between men’s and women’s bikes, namely:
- Women’s bikes tend to have worse groupsets than their “male” alternative (although some manufacturers are starting to buck this trend);
- Men’s bikes tend to have wider handlebars, making control difficult for women who tend to be more petite in width;
- The top end men’s bikes are very light and very stiff – most women don’t benefit from a stiff frame as much as men due to the difference in power output.
It is possible to change components on the bike before you buy, you just have to be prepared to negotiate with the shop before you buy. Some changes are easy to make, for example by asking for narrower handlebars or women’s specific ones, which tend to have a shallower drop. Furthermore, many bikes have compact chainsets, with 50/34 chainrings, but you may prefer to change it for a double, with 53/39 chainrings, depending on who you are going to race with and what events you intend to ride.
My Top Tips
Remember my top tips and get what bike you want:
- Research the bike you want before setting foot in the shop – if you have a top price in mind, try not to go above it;
- Ask fellow cyclists for their opinion, but remember that its your money and ultimately your decision;
- Remember that just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t ride a men’s bike;
- If you’re going for the full bike, ask to take it for a test ride;
- Remember that you can change components at a later date, although some are easier (and cheaper) to change than others;
- Take advantage of a bike fit;
- Don’t pick the bike because of the colour – get one that fits both you and the purpose you want it for (this also means that you have to be honest with yourself in order to get the right bike);
- Be prepared to negotiate with the shop to change the components;
- Buy what you want not what the shop assistant says you should buy.
Putting my own advice into practice
This year, I decided to buy a new bike. I didn’t want to spend more than £3,000 (which still seems a lot considering). The women’s specific bike that I was going to buy seemed to have weird sizing and I knew before I made the final decision that I wouldn’t want to keep the wheels (the majority of wheels that come with full bikes are not as good as the wheels that you would want to race on), or the compact chainset or the saddle.
My Giant TCR in its first race – note the same wheels as in the picture above
I have ridden Giant bikes for quite a while – men’s and women’s – and I like the compact frame (Giant call it “Compact Road Design”). I had a look at the men’s bikes, as well as the women’s, and for £3,499 RRP I could buy a full bike (the men’s TCR Advanced and the women’s Avail Advanced), both with Ultegra Di2, but the women’s version came under the heading “Endurance” not “Performance”. Indeed, it is described as a bike for “sportives, centuries, fast group rides and epic solo days” – no mention of a race. This did put me off, as I was looking to upgrade my race bike.
I decided to go with the men’s frameset option instead – the tag line for this bike is “if road bike racing is in your DNA, this is your machine” – well, it mentioned racing so that was a good start! I was keen to buy a 10 speed double groupset (rather than a compact) before everything changes to 11 speed, and I was lucky enough to buy it for a really good price online. I shopped around and got some slightly narrower handlebars too. My local bike shop did a phenomenal job in building it up for me, even managing to get hold of matching bottle cages!
As for the Boardman, well that has been transformed into my new low profile time trial bike – there will be an article on that in the coming weeks. Until then, enjoy your riding!
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)
from a first-timer’s viewpoint
There’s a cliché about velodromes that, if you’re like me and have never been to one before, you’ll have heard a time or two on telly – it’s that the camera cannot show just how steep those banks are. You hear these things and you nod to yourself, and you file them away in the back of your mind – and if like me, you finally get to go somewhere like Manchester’s magnificent National Velodrome, well… If my experience is anything to go by, your jaw will drop open and you are going to spend fifteen minutes running around laughing inside your skull and going “that’s incredible!” No, the camera really does not do it justice. It’s like staring up a 75 degree slope from the middle. And from the outside, it’s like looking down a sheer cliff face – you’ll be impressed, trust me on this one.
If the banking looks steep from the bottom, it look like a sheer cliff from the top, like riding a wall of death – Image ©Paul Harris
One thing that you DON’T really hear is how much the camera slows things down, too. When I got there in the afternoon for Revolution 39, there were riders casually spinning around before the National Madison Championships, in groups and individually, fresh-faced youngsters and crusty old seasoned pros alike. Their pace was pretty impressive, even just as they warmed up, but my attention was seriously grabbed a few minutes later – without me really noticing, the composition of the riders changed subtly. The traffic slowly thinned out, and instead of groups going round at the bottom, chatting and practicing the odd changeover, all of a sudden it turned into stocky fellers, circulating slowly and silently on their own, high up on the banking. I happened to be sat facing the track when their purpose became clear – with no warning, a dark blue streak arrowed across my line of vision almost too fast for my poor unprepared brain to track. There was no sound in advance, and you could almost feel the whump of the air being forced apart by the speeding rider – the sprint guys, out for a final tune up before the heats that afternoon. I don’t want to exaggerate – they weren’t faster than a speeding train, or so fast they were blurred, but if you’ve never had a sprinter unexpectedly go past you at speed close up before, trust me on this too: it will make you sit up sharply and utter an involuntary expletive.
A couple of other things surprised me early on – the first was how small the arena as a whole is. With a capacity of around 3500, the National Velodrome can only seat about 6% as many people as the City Of Manchester Stadium over the road. The second was that it wasn’t sold out for the National Madison Championships. It wasn’t empty by any stretch of the imagination, but I would estimate it was only between half and two thirds full, which is an absolute crying shame not only because the racing itself was superb from start to finish, but also because tickets were just six quid – for £6, those with the foresight to be present got to see the likes of Fostermann, Hindes, D’Almera and Pervis in action during the early sprint rounds, they also got both Boys and Girls rounds of the DHL Future Stars Madison, and the race for the first National jersey of the year. Six quid – they should have been queueing ten deep at the doors!
Pervis’s sprint win was warmly welcomed – it was to the credit of the knowledgeable crowd that away team wins were so readily applauded as home victories. – ©Paul Harris
The Madison itself was an incredible race, going right to the wire after a smidge under an hour’s racing, and there was a wait of an hour or two between that and Revolution itself – and when that started, you couldn’t have got a seat for love nor money. The quality of the competition was absolutely top draw – even when there was a “favourite” for an event, it was by no means certain that they would win, and frequently they did not. Spurred on by the world-class racing, the crowd were vocal and enthusiastic all night long which really added to the atmosphere, and one aspect of that that I was really pleased about was that it wasn’t just people cheering for the home riders –when one of the less-fancied riders, or a rider racing for France or the Rest Of The World won, even if it was a British rider they beat, even one of the stars, the crowd stood and cheered the performance. Pete Kennaugh’s astonishing ride in the Points race drew plenty of praise, of course, and was a hugely popular win – but the crowd cheered just as loudly when Robert Bengsch and Marcel Kalz smashed the kilo Madison TT field apart like a well-aimed bowling ball scattering the pins to all corners. I really liked that lack of jingoism.
Was there a downside? Not that I can think of – only that tickets are hard to come by, but the series can’t be faulted for being a successful draw. The only thing that I did come away thinking was, I wish I could have a go – but then, having said that, a handful of brave and hardy souls took to the boards for a taster session between the afternoon and evening events when the velodrome (thankfully for them!) was free of spectators. And watching them gamely spin round, another thought occurred – the gap in talent and ability between the national pro and the keen amateur man in the street is a gulf so vast as to be virtually insurmountable. They make it look easy, the pros, they really do – that’s another thing the camera doesn’t show you. Would I go again? I can’t wait for the next one…
Revolution is a brilliant evening, it’s truly action packed you don’t get a moment to blink. The Manchester Velodrome is an amazing venue and now contains a BMX Park. The seating is comfortable, the Velodrome staff are the friendliest you’ll come across at a sports venue, even the guys stood out in the freezing cold directing you into your parking space have a smile and a joke for you. The car park is well organised but if you are attending an event you do need to check the Manchester City Football fixtures beforehand as the velodrome traffic can get caught up in the Football queues as the stadiums are opposite each other. The Velodrome is very well signposted from all sides of Manchester.
Food at the Revolution is ok, there are a couple of nice kiosks that sell good coffee and pancakes, but most of the food is burgers and hotdogs, the queue’s tend to be huge, if you’re travelling a long way I would suggest eating before or taking something with you, there is a large supermarket next to the venue if you get stuck. Ticket prices are excellent, sporting events tend to overcharge but the Revolution and most other cycling events held at the National Track Cycling Centre are peanuts in comparison, it only cost £6 to attend the National Madison Championships in the afternoon! Revolution will set you back between £10 and £20 for a single standard ticket but discounts are available for family tickets, carers and pensioners, season tickets are the best buy, you get a British Cycling early bird ticket buying option if you’re a member. If you want to get up close and personal with the riders and teams then the VIP tickets or Track Centre Lounge tickets are for you.
There are some great stands from bookstalls to cycling brands and some things for you to have a go at including Watt Bikes and Rollapaluza, it would be good to see some more though.
We give the Revolution Series our Star Buy rating!
The next and final round of the 2012 series will be held at The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow on Saturday 2nd February 2013
For more information on the series visit: www.cyclingrevolution.com
Standard tickets are sold out for Revolution Series Round 4 but Track Centre Lounge and VIP tickets are still available – buy Track Centre Lounge tickets here.
Watch Revolution Series Round 4 highlights on Thursday 7th February at 8pm on ITV4 and catch up in ITV Player