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)
Bradley Wiggins – Tour Great – © Crayonfire 2012
Stage 12 – Type Print – © Crayonfire 2012
Mark Cavendish – Tour Great – © Crayonfire 2012
In my quest to bring you interesting cycling art I stumbled across the work of Neil Stevens; a Graphic artist and Illustrtor based in St. Albans, London. He goes by the name of “Crayonfire” in the design world. One of his favourite subjects is the world of cycling. Neil has created typographic illustrations for this years tour along with a number of Tour hero portraits. I don’t think he creates images on a daily basis in the way Bruce Doscher does with his daily tour posters (if you’re a regular to the Cycling Shorts website you will be familiar with Bruce’s designs). I think Neil’s are created as a collection before the tour begins, they are still very cool.
To take a look at his full range of work visit: http://crayonfire.co.uk
Broken Bike parts – Roundabout in Brakel, Belgium – Image copyright Cristi Ruhlman
Episode 1: Adventures of a Would-Be Cyclist…..or How I Ended Up Getting a New Bike
How does a calm “fun ride” on a hot humid day turn into a meeting of steel and skin on the road?
Well, I found out yesterday when I rode in our local Fourth of July bike ride. It started off beautifully. My husband rode the first bit with me, until my 25-mile course went one way and his long course the other. We both did what we could to ride together–me trying my best to keep up, him attempting to go slowly enough for me to follow. It was fun–hilly and HOT!!!! But I did it, and was proud of myself for just getting up so early and riding.
All went well as I rode the final miles by myself, until within 500m of finish, suddenly I got crashed by a woman who decided that mid-corner was a good place to just STOP! I didn’t even have time to think WTF. As I was flying in the air, I did have that thought I’ve heard so many riders talk about on TV, the slow motion moment when you think to yourself, “Oh, @#$% This is definitely gonna hurt!”
Now you have to know that I ride a Specialized 29er. The thing is steel framed, a monster, and the wheels must weight 5 pounds each. But now it’s trashed–wheel bent, derailleurs gone. Though maybe it’s a good thing the bike is a tank–it took the worst of it. Fortunately, I came away with just a rainbow of arm bruises and an impressively bloodied knee.
But truly, I should have known better! This was not the Tour de France, no teams here–it’s each rider for themselves out there! Not that anyone was timing the darn thing! So I learned: Keep your eyes open, you never know who is going to do what, when.
Now, I know the woman-whose bike was unharmed-was sorry, she even offered to pay for my bike, which was very kind of her. She asked me later what she should have done differently to have not cause it. I had to stop……and pause the requisite 5 seconds, so I wouldn’t say the first thing that came into my head. I mean seriously, my first thought was, “Hello! Maybe next time it would be good to not stop dead in the intersection!” No, I said something nice (something not completely truthful either), but something polite.
Now rather than dissuade me from riding, it’s pumped my enthusiasm for cycling and riding my bike. Not the crash or the road-rash, of course, nor the fact that it was hard and it was hot, but the excitement of seeing riders ahead of me, of trying to catch up and to pass them. Not to beat them, but to just see if I could just get there. And with my old bike in a few pieces at the bike shop where I left it, I have a new bike in my future. I might just be able to do that catching up and passing a little bit easier now and most definitely in better cycling style.
So now with some more work and a few Kilos lost (both from me and a new lighter bike), I’m going to my set sights to ride the next “local” event. Maybe next time, I’ll even try the 44-mile ride . But my first lesson is learned: “Just like the Tour de France, it’s a jungle out there……even on the charity ride circuit!”
I stumbled across the wonderful work of Artist/Illustrator and self confessed geek Johnny Joannou aka “On A Sixpence” recently and I thought I’d share with you all. I caught up with Johnny to find out about his work and inspiration.
So tell me about yourself?
I’d describe myself as a self taught geek artist, “On a Six Pence” is my first attempt to consolidate my all geeky interests. I’ve always loved sport, numbers and good design.
Why Periodic table artworks?
I collected wall charts as a youngster, I’ve always found them aesthetically pleasing. I decided to see if I could produce art versions of them.
What’s the design process?
I plan and sketch them out on paper before moving to the computer to lay them out. Next I learnt how to print with the help of a local group. My main goal was to produce a lovely piece of art that I would be willing to hang in my own home. Each image is a high quality giclée print, on a luxurious heavy weight Hahnemühle fine art paper.
‘le tour des Merveilles’ © On A Six Pence
What is your favourite piece?
My favourite piece, ‘le tour des Merveilles’, is a visual tribute to the Tour, using the iconic periodic table as the framework. My father is very keen cyclist (it’s his bike in the main photo), so cycling knowledge has always been around me, but it was the idea of a cycling twitterer who had seen my previous works covering football teams. The prints show every winner of the Tour de France, with distance covered and average speed. I used colours based on a beautiful Parisian poster from Meteore the bicycle manufacture.
I now make it possible for people to buy personalised prints by including an addition cell to include information about the client or recipient.
So what’s next?
Response from the cycling community has been wonderful, I’ve been amazed at what a friendly, positive and always supportive lot the cycling community are . At the moment I am finishing the Giro D’Italia print. I’ve also been asked to produce a Giro Donne print. I will be updating the Tour de France print when the current tour finishes. I’m hoping to produce a periodic table for every major sport! I’m always open to new ideas so if the Cycling Shorts readers have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!
I’d like to thank Johnny for his time and I suggest you check out the full range of his work at the “on A Six Pence” website: www.onasixpence.bigcartel.com
Johnny has also very kindly given Cycling Shorts. readers to win a signed Tour de France ‘le tour des Merveilles’ signed print when it’s been updated after this tour. So head over to the competition now and you could be lucky enough to win one of these beauties.
Good Company by Frank Patterson
What makes 2000 plus cyclists of all levels venture out on to the roads and head out on the ambitious ride between London Fields in Hackney and Dunwich on the Suffolk coast? I’m sure a lot of cyclists asked themselves that same question at one point between Saturday night and Sunday morning which was when the ride took place.
I think to ask that question we need to evaluate the question, why do we cycle? What aspect of it makes us happy? I think one thing we can all agree on is that our agenda for cycling is totally different?
It was my second Dunwich Dynamo, did the first one last year and my experience of that was truly a roller-coaster… This year I decided to do it again, but this time around raising money for the charity Trees for Cities
TOGETHER WE’RE STRONGER
As a London cyclist where we’re used to constantly being pushed around, where the majority of motorists complain about cyclists and believe they don’t belong in the city, it was for sure a different picture on Saturday evening as we left the city, a large field of cyclists who adhered to traffic rules and stopped at red lights and kept to the left wherever possible just as it should be. When you are as large as we were motorists know that they can’t bully you, some had even engaged and showed an interest in what we were doing.
JUST LIKE THE TOUR DE FRANCE
As we were rolling out of the city waiting to get past congestion and traffic lights so we could spread and really start pedalling, I couldn’t help making comparisons with the Tour de France which I’m a great fan of and really is the base and were the beginning of my passion for cycling started. I used to get up in the morning with my brother, sit glued to the TV screen and watch the beginning of the gruelling mountain stages, as the riders were rolling up the first mountain they were laughing and chatting – they all knew what a hard day of torture it would be. That was how it was like on Saturday as we were rolling out of London we were joking and catching up but deep inside we knew at one point we would be close to being broken both mentally and physically. When darkness had fallen and you really were in the middle of nowhere and there’s only one way… and that’s forward. When you start fearing, when will I hit the wall and what happens when I do? One unnerving sign is when your cycling partner stops talking to you and all you get back in reply when asking if they are OK is ”Yes”.
Going back to my point about the Tour de France, you really feel like a professional athlete when the local people stand on the streets or peer from their balconies and windows cheering and spurring you on. That gives you the extra 10% that could be crucial at that point even though the comment I heard ”Come on you guys you’re nearly there” can be slightly misleading and optimistic when there is still 40km to go. This year along the route several candles had been put in place along the route, I would like to believe that they had been put there just for us but what a tremendous amount of work that most have been.
THE CONNECTION WITH NATURE
As a kid I remember the majority of things we did as a family were on bikes, and that was only back in the eighties. I recognise that today’s modernised society is beneficial in many ways but I am seriously worried that we’re losing our connections with nature. I still believe as I always have that our beautiful now very fragile planet is best experienced on 2 wheels rather than 4 wheels, of course I know that there are certain trips that it’s necessary to make in a car.
As darkness slowly changed to dawn you cannot even begin to describe the sensations that you experience, but you just don’t have the energy to fully appreciate and absorb the moment. From when you hear the first chirps of the beautiful bird songs, to cycling past elderflower bushes from which there is still flowers to pick, and the blackberry bushes which I’m impatiently waiting to fruit, it all took me back to my childhood to when I used to go out picking with my parents. I can’t help but think that today’s generations of children are seriously missing out if their parents are not doing that with them. I also thought about the charity I’m supporting Trees for Cities, how happy it made me to see the lush greenery and the biodiversity it must be supporting and while my reasons were purely because of environmental concerns I realised it also brings a great deal of happiness, there’s no reason cities should be any different. When we live in a big city like London we can often forget how important tress are to us. In fact they’re vital to our livelihoods they give us Oxygen, they suck out pollution and they also help us deal with floods and heat.
It was the 20th Dunwich Dynamo, a big thanks should go out to the organisers Southwark Cyclists I find it astonishing that they can keep this completely cost-free. Thanks to all the pit stops along the way, to all the brilliant people out supporting the riders. And let us not forget to keep protecting our beautiful countryside so we can continue to cycle in these breathtaking surroundings. At the beginning of the blog I asked why someone would do the Dunwich Dynamo, I hope I have given you an answer, it’s why I did it!
I hope I have encouraged you to donate to my cause, if wish to do so you can here and it would be massively appreciated: www.justgiving.com/DynamicDunwichDynamoDuoTrees
While the wind and rain are lashing the UK we are preparing to switch our collective attention away from our sinking Noah’s Ark to mainland Europe for the greatest cycling race in the world…. with the pavé of the Champs Elyse looming in the distance. Some riders will just hope to make it round the last few bone shaking kilometres in one piece while a hardy few who suffered at the back through the mountains will be licking their lips with relish at attempting to take the glorious final stage at an astonishing pace (one particular Manxman springs to mind).
…But lets not get ahead of ourselves, before the cobbles comes an array of stages from the pan flat to the ridiculously steep and impossible mountains that us mere mortals get breathless just gawping at before we attempt to slowly plod up. Most wouldn’t even consider clipping their feet to a bike frame for a pain filled single effort to the cloud covered peaks.
I’m getting prepared to immerse myself in the epic vistas that will appear before my eyes. I’ve treated myself to the new limited edition howies KOM T-Shirt and placed an order for the rest of the set so I can celebrate each stage profile in style. I’m resigned to the fact that I’m never going to win my own yellow, spotty or green jersey… it’s ok really, I’m over it. ;D
So I feel it would be wrong to buy a replica jersey to wear, I’m not keen on being one of those people that buys their favourite teams statically charged ill fitting replica shirt, at least my T-shirt won’t look odd when I’m out and about, it can be worn any time of the year… And as you may have noticed the shopaholic in me is justifying the purchase, my partner would normally respond to such a justification… “I’m sure it was a bargain too!”. I’m comfortable just celebrating the greatness of the tour with my new t-shirt (which was a bargain!), turbo trainer and friends. I like to get some miles in while I’m glued to the action (when time allows), I don’t like the idea of just slobbing while watching TV, I never have, it seems so wrong particularly during a bike race. I get restless legs. I have to ride, and since I’m still not sure if I’ll make it over for some of this years stages I thought I’d get organised, fingers crossed I will be there, I have my bag ready! For some of the weekend stages we’ll gather the gang together for a Tour celebration of food and festivities.
Us Brits are feeling nervously excited as this year could be Wiggo’s, there are so many variables in the Tour de France and I wouldn’t want to jinx it for him but we are quietly confident that he can step on to the podium and hopefully take the top step. We have great pride in Cav’s Rainbow Jersey too which he’ll be sporting in this years Tour, it’s been 46 years since a British rider has done this so it’s turning out to be a fabulous few years for GB riders. It’s been a long time in the making though with a huge amount of blood sweat and tears from the guys. They seem to have adapted well from the huge success of their track days and some of that training and discipline seems to have been brought into their road training.
Obviously we all have our favourite riders and teams from around the world but in the true cycling spirit I get behind all the riders. Friends of mine who don’t watch or take part in cycling really don’t understand this but it’s the way the cycling community is. So good luck all!
Back to my tour preparations… what are your plans this tour?
Le Tour will be available to view on terrestrial TV in the UK on ITV4 daily with Ned Boulting, Chris Boardman, Phil Liggett & Paul Sherwen: www.itv.com/Sport/tourdefrance/
Keep an eye out on iTunes for the ITV4 Tour de France Podcast presented by Matt Rendell, Ned Boulting & Chris Boardman and guests.
For more information on Le Tour visit the official website: www.letour.com/
BBC Radio 5Live for audio coverage: www.bbc.co.uk/5live
I will add more online viewing options and other TV stations from around the world when I stumble across them.