Everybody’s bought their licences and they’re raring to go at the start of the season. This article relates to anybody who wants to have a go at racing on the open roads…
First thing that I want you to take a look at is the first 30 seconds or so of the following clip from Dirty Dancing (yes, I am serious):
You may all think that I have totally lost the plot, but Patrick Swayze makes two important comments:
- “Spaghetti arms” – the need to keep your [body’s] frame locked and your head up;
- “Dance space” – Jennifer Grey (as the amateur dancer) keeps encroaching on his space, to which he states “I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine”.
Yes, I get that the late Lord Patrick of Swayze is going on about doing a rumba; or whatever dance he is teaching her – I have only ever danced a rumba to “Hungry Eyes” (I’m not joking, either), so I don’t want anyone to correct me on the dance please, but it’s an important lesson to anybody who is contemplating racing on the open road in a road race.
Keeping your arms relaxed but in control of your handlebars is very important, as is keeping your head up. Time and time again you see riders in a bunch who aren’t in control of their bike properly. Some think it’s cool to ride either none-handed or with their wrists balancing on their handlebars in the middle of a bunch. Sorry, my friends, this is not “cool”. I don’t care if you see Grand Tour riders doing it on Eurosport – that is not appropriate behaviour in a local bike race in the UK, when there is oncoming traffic on the opposite side of the road.
More often than not, riders think that it is somehow appropriate to move themselves into a gap that is actually non-existent. If you were driving a car along a dual carriageway and there was a vehicle in each lane, you wouldn’t drive up the middle of the cars, so why ride into a “gap” that doesn’t exist? And saying “inside” to the rider who is on the left hand side in the gutter isn’t the same as saying “barleys” – where you can do what you want because it doesn’t matter as you won’t get any bad luck because you’ve crossed your fingers. Errr. No. Sorry, that doesn’t work.
Actions have consequences
Okay, you might think that I am having a rant because somebody brought me off on Sunday and that I should just shut up because “crashing is part of racing”. Fair enough, I understand the risks, having raced (on and off) since 1993, but I am not convinced some people understand the consequences of racing on the open road. The closed circuits that British Cycling have built are great tools for learning skills and act as an entry into racing, but people seem to apply the same racing rules to the open road as they do to closed road circuits. There’s a major difference that seems to pass people by – oncoming traffic. This means that if you push your way into a gap that doesn’t exist, the rider who has to make way for you then has to move elsewhere, which often means that they have to ride on the wrong side of the road, or hit the cats eyes that mark the middle of the road, which can then lead to issues in itself.
It’s not just the women…
Historically, women’s racing on a domestic level has been littered with crashes (partly due to the large difference of abilities that you can find when catering for “women” as a whole), but the numbers of crashes in the local men’s races (in the North West at least) is increasing at an alarming rate. More often than not, crashes occur because people stop concentrating (if only for a nano-second), which leads to a touch of wheels, people braking and then a domino effect occurring behind the culprit. Or the person on the front decides that they don’t want to be on the front anymore and swings across the front of the bunch, without looking before making the manoeuvre (I saw that happen with my own eyes on Sunday), or just slams on for no apparent reason.
If you have ever watched the professionals racing on the TV, for the most part you will see riders giving each other space – they respect each other as riders and as fellow professionals – they will give each other space on descents, especially – and any crashes (except the bizarre like Jonny Hoogerland’s in the Tour de France) tend to happen either in the last few kilometres when teams are jostling for position in the lead up to a sprint finish, or due to street furniture (roundabouts, bollards, etc) when the roads become really narrow. The latter shouldn’t happen in a domestic race in the UK because of risk assessments being carried out.
Admittedly, there can be potholes and puddles and grids (we live in the UK after all), so let people know if there’s an issue that you can see, including oncoming traffic – communication is the key in these instances.
The Moral to the Story
If you only take a few things away from this article, I hope that they are:
- Give your fellow competitors room;
- Treat everybody with respect;
- Remember that every action (however minor it may seem to you) has a consequence;
- Never stop concentrating when riding in a bunch.
The above are my observations from racing with men and women. Crashing is an expensive option both economically (I consider myself lucky from the crash I had on Sunday, but practically every item of clothing that I had on was wrecked, including a brand new helmet and a pair of Oakleys, which if I wanted to replace it all would cost in the region of £750 – and that’s not including the cost of fixing my bike) and physically (I headbutted the floor at 22 mph and have injuries to most parts of my body, although they are mostly cuts and bruises – the guys who came off in the men’s race weren’t as lucky and have broken bones and written-off bikes) and therefore, in my humble opinion, should be avoided at all costs – which means looking out for each other. Incidentally, for the majority of us, we have to get up and go to work the following day (you know, so that you can pay for the bike riding) or go home to look after dependents (whether that’s kids or other halves!) – you can’t do either if you’re smashed to bits.
Let’s keep the #partyontheroad safe, so that everybody can enjoy the party after the race and remember – nobody puts Baby in a corner…
Until next time…
The Tickhill Grand Prix on 24th August has joined up with new Electrical giant YESSS ELECTRICAL who will be their title sponsor for at least the next 3 years.
The Tickhill Grand Prix is a closed road cycle race through the streets of Tickhill, near Doncaster, (DN11 9PT) and is hot on the heels of the Tour de France. Boasting 8 races, free admission, close to the action spectating, this is a great day for all the family.
YESSS Electrical have stepped in to support the event and see this as a major national promotion as the Race will be attracting professional Riders and Teams from all over the country as well as supporting grassroots Youth Racing.
Shaun Myers, Head of Design & Marketing at YESSS said, “the Tickhill Grand Prix is an amazing event. We were impressed by the effort and dedication that the organising team at Tickhill Velo Club put into their first event in 2013 and realized the huge potential of this great day”
“The Tickhill Grand Prix has a similar story to ours, success and growth that has come purely from the efforts and service put in by excellent staff and we had no hesitation in supporting them.”
Shaun Myers – Yesss Electrical – Head of Design & Marketing
Andy Birdsall – Tickhill Velo Club – Chairman
Andy Singleton – Yesss Group Europe – General Manager
“Rapid” Rich Stoodley – Tickhill Grand Prix – Organiser
Richard Stoodley from Tickhill Grand Prix said “It is amazing to have attracted such a dynamic, high profile company such as YESSS Electrical. It may look like a little village but the Tickhill Grand Prix is set to be one of the biggest town centre ‘crit’ style races in the UK, and it is the support of YESSS that has allowed us to fulfill our ambitions.”
He continued, “We are thrilled to be associated with YESSS and look forward to putting on a great event”
The Tickhill Grand Prix hosts 8 races from 13.00 till 19.45 and these include Professional Elite – both Men & Women – Penny Farthing Race and a host of Amateur & Youth Races.
With Big screens, free admission, free programme, after event presentation and plenty to do and see, the Tickhill Grand Prix is a must for your diary.
Richard went on to say “British Cycling, Doncaster Council and South Yorkshire Police have been very supportive in helping us stage this important event and we are working closely with them to put on a safe event for both Riders and spectators.”
But its not just about Racing and promotion, the Tickhill Grand Prix has also agreed a 3 year official partnership with Yorkshire Air Ambulance and will see collections and a sponsorship profit share donated to this much needed Charity.
Mary Perry from Yorkshire Air Ambulance commented “We were delighted when the Tickhill Grand Prix approached us to become a partner. Cycling is a huge, fast growing sport and with all eyes being on the Tour de France this year, fantastic events like Tickhill Grand Prix will gain Yorkshire Air Ambulance much needed exposure and funds”.
Although YESSS are the title sponsor, sponsorship and fundraising opportunities are still available and the organisers can be contacted on [email protected] or visit www.tickhillgp.com
The YESSS Tickhill Grand Prix is set to be the success story of 2014, mainly because of the efforts and vision from YESSS Electrical.
Organisers of the Dare 2b Yorkshire Festival of Cycling have released a promotional video in anticipation of the fast approaching Tour de France Grand Depart.
Filmed in the grounds of Harewood House, which will host the race itself as well of thousands of fans visiting for a weekend of cycling festivities, the video features spectacular scenery and a host of cycling personalities. Lizzie Armitstead and 2006 Tour champion Oscar Pereiro star, ITV Cycling presenter Ned Boulting features as never seen before and many more cycling faces make cameos throughout – some much easier to spot than others.
Commenting on the making of the video, Ned Boulting said: “I’ve covered many Tours de France for TV but the Tour de France in Yorkshire really is going to be something special. For me, there was no better way to get in the mood than to dress up as a Butler at the grand Harewood House; serving champagne is a skill I didn’t know I had until now.”
For more information about the Dare 2b Yorkshire Festival of Cycling, camping, viewing the race or the many events taking place at Harewood House over the Grand Depart weekend, visit: http://www.festivalofcycling.org/
Where Brass Bands Meet Bicycles:
Call for Cyclists to Be Part of Yorkshire Festival 2014
The first ever arts festival to accompany a Grand Depart of the Tour de France, the Yorkshire Festival 2014 will bring music, dance, theatre, film and art activities to the region and cyclists are being invited to bring their bikes and cycling skills to be part of it.
There are a huge number of events in the Festival (see attached for full details) and organisers are inviting cyclists, whether they are mountain bikers, road racers or those new to cycling, to get involved. Opportunities include:
Ghost Peloton – Phoenix Dance Theatre & NVA in partnership with Sustrans, present a world first: 50 experienced cyclists are needed to don specially designed, programmed light suits for two live performances in Leeds. They will create beautifully choreographed patterns, riding in formation with the prospect of also becoming a longer term ‘team’ after the initial performance
Delivering a yellow conductor’s baton to brass bands who will be waiting for your arrival to start their ‘Tour de Brass’ concert (some locations are more hilly than others!)
Share your experiences of life on two wheels with Bike Story – your tales will form the basis of a new play touring Yorkshire during the Yorkshire Festival 2014
Send your photos, old and new, to be part of a new exhibition, Bicyclism, at Leeds City Museum
Tour de Force Bicycle Orchestra would like donations of old bikes and parts to give them a new lease of life as a frame harp, handlebar trumpet, thumb piano or singing wheel!
Grab a friend and cycle to one of 60 film screenings of cycling and Yorkshire life films, with Tour de Cinema. 11 of these will be massive outdoor screenings in unusual locations – we’d love to see the outdoor cinema sites filled with bikes!
Hop on your bike to courier songs written as part of the Wish You Were Here project to different locations across North Yorkshire
Join a Rollapaluza competition, part of Leeds’ White Cloth Gallery’s range of Rouleur supported exhibitions and events. Jump on a stationary bicycle to compete in short times races, to an extraordinary atmosphere, music and MC.
Henrietta Duckworth, Executive Producer of Yorkshire Festival 2014, said “The Festival is a brilliant celebration of culture and cycling happening indoors and outdoors in all parts of the county. The activities will appeal to riders of all ages and abilities so if you’re already a cyclist, take part and get involved; if you’re inspired by the Grand Départ coming to Yorkshire but don’t already ride, come along to experience everything cycling and the Festival has to offer”.
Download the PDF file detailing Yorkshire Festivals Call to Cyclists by clicking here.
Visit www.yorkshirefestival.co.uk to find out all about Yorkshire Festival 2014.
Have you ever wanted to have a mooch around the much-vaunted Team Sky bus? I know I did, and thanks to Jaguar, along with some lucky competition winners, we got that very chance whilst the Death Star sat awaiting its star charges during the final stage of the Tour of Britain.
For a race like the Tour of Britain, Team Sky send the team bus and a big service truck – the service truck has a kitchen and laundry at the front, and bike storage and a workshop at the back. The workshop is empty because the team are out on stage, safely shepherding Sir Brad’s run to the gold jersey.
Visiting the team bus while the riders were away was the cycling equivalent to stepping aboard the deserted Marie Celeste where the coffee pot on the stove was still hot. Bernie Eisel’s spare helmet waits patiently for the call to arms.
The bus was designed and built solely to transport nine riders from the hotel to the start line in as comfortable a fashion as possible. The first vehicle to be built so uncompromisingly, other teams have since followed suit.
Team Sky advise that their riders become attached to particular seats – this seat, the second row on the right hand side, is the one that Chris Froome favoured during his Tour de France triumph.
The seat behind the Froome chair is the one that David Lopez occupied during the Tour of Britain, and his newspaper, recovery bar and phones await his return. Team Sky were fantastically open-handed about allowing us access.
Wiggo’s seat, predictably enough, is in the front row, right behind the driver – some goon who really doesn’t like having his picture taken poses with the jersey that Sir Bradley picked up at the end of the Guildford stage the day before. The helmet weighs nothing.
Sir Bradley’s shades and his Guildford trophy. The seats are exquisitely comfortable.
The rules according to Team Sky.
At the back of the bus, past the showers, is a little meeting room where the world’s supply of energy bars, gels and powders are stored. We were invited to go and have a look around, but I felt too guilty intruding on someone’s workspace to go any further.
How much do you want to try a bottle of this?
Even from the outside, I’ve always been appreciative of what Team Sky have done for the sport in the UK, purely in terms of results and the associated boosting of the profile of racing. But it was a privilege to have a chance to have a look on the inside – even in the closing stages of a fairly important stage race in which they had a vested interest, they took the time to offer the chance to have a mosey around to four randoms that they didn’t know from Adam. And not just a faceless guided whizz around – we had a guide, of course, but Rob could not have been more open and friendly. It was remarkable – all their riders’ personal kit was there, any questions could be asked, photos were encouraged and nothing was off limits. British Cycling Head Coach Shane Sutton was on and off the bus doing his thing whilst we were there, and he was perfectly happy to answer questions as he worked.
It was a fantastic treat, for any cycling fan, and a real privilege to have had the chance – massive “thank you thank you thank you!” thanks to Fran Millar of Team Sky and Claire Boakes of Jaguar for allowing Cycling Shorts this window into such a fascinating world. #ToB2013 #ridelikeapro @TeamSky @JaguarUK @Sportbrake
The Tour de France has experienced more than its fair share of sabotage, stupidity, and strangeness in its hundred editions.
Any event that uses an entire country as the backdrop for a sporting contest is likely to suffer moments beyond the control of its organisers.
Spectacular crashes, animals in the road, random acts of sabotage, and occasional assaults have all be part of the rich tapestry of Tour life.
In our latest infographic from our partners at RoadCyclingUK, we explore the anarchic side of life at La Grande Boucle.