Thursday, June 21, 2012


EACH Year i arrive back from the Tour de Suisse determined to lift my level of fitness . In past years having closed the winter quarters i would head to Seez , close to Bourg St Maurice in France and stay at the Auburge de Juenesse . Food there is excellent and plentiful so after a large breakfast i would take off for a day with as much as 300km before returning to load up with 2nds and 3rds . Rarely would i find that there wwas not enough to satisfy the hunger created by unremitting climbs in the area !

Could go on for pages about what is available but suffice to say that Seez at 650m and the Col d'Iseran at 2700m attacked a couple of times inb a day will improve your condition or break your spirit . Of course you could have it all go pear shape as it did one year . Several punctures in a short distance above Val d'isere really sent my internal thoughts spiralling out of control . Carrying 4 spare tubes and checking the interior of the tyre did not solve the problem that day .

Suffering from lack of funds due to once again being " cheated by Winter Employers " i am staying close to where i live in the Inntal . Certainly i will get the money due me , but once again , i have fallen victim of the " Zillertal Mafia "! That is what the locals call these people who prey on the tourist . Each of these businesses provide services to the Tourist industry , charging premium prices and then TRY to cheat their eemployees out of their " Dues "!  Fortunately there is an Organisation called the " Arbeiter Kammer " which handles cases such as this and will eventually recover the monies due . With out going into detail , it would appear i will get my monies sometime after this year's  " Le Tour " ! What do i do meanwhile , starve ?

Arriving back from the Tour de Suisse on Saturday i was up early Sunday to do what i promised myself last season . With riding around this area i have come to know where the steepest climbs are and so without too much effort i am able to get on to this 20% climb each morning . When i told my local bike shop owner , last season , that i had done this climb 6 times one afternoon , i am sure he thought i had had a touch of the sun . I went on to say that Next Season i would be doing 10 climbs each morning as a way to strengthen the muscles for the season . Whilst on the Giro d'Italia i didn't find any climbs that caused me concern , but i was also wondering how much better i could have done , had i followed my earlier plan .

This climb west of Reith in Alpbachtal is okay when the road is dry and there is light traffic . This morning due to heavy thunderstorms overnight  the road was covered with soil and gravel washed onto the road . After starting out at 6.30 i was into the fifth climb when i found that there was constant traffic in each direction . With the road little wider than a truck and having to pick a line through where the gravel had been cleared by the passing vehicles the situation became untenable and an early return for breakfast was the decision .

Sunday had been  a little easier , in that the road was clear but around 10.30 , so many cars were going up the climb to a chuch parade that i stopped at 12 ascents . Monday i repeated this with a little earlier start . Tuesday after 7 climbs , i saw a local race cyclist descending towards me , so decided to chase and finished up heading off to Stumm before making a visit to Innsbruck and Schwaz  on the way home . Wednesday with another 6.30 start i was able to get in 14 ascents before i wearied of the repetitions .

With the heavy rainfall overnight the roads have dried but there is a heavy cloudcover so will be off shortly for some flat running on the " Il Giro " using the 16 spoke Shimano wheels . These wheels do not like climbing strong climbs , but then they have done 100k in the 10 years i have used them . For the repetitions i have been using the Green bike that i took to the " Le Tour " last year with the 32 spoke wheels , but even then i am on 39 to 25 most of the climb . No doubt i will find little difficulty on the French Cols with this preparation .

Now all i need in the next week apart from training , is an infusion of funds to be able to get to Liege and survive 26 days on the road with my 15th riding of the route of the Tour de France !

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Sponsors appoint an " Ad Agency " to handle most , if not all aspects , of their efforts to garner " Visibility " at a variety of Sporting Events ! That " Sponsoring " costs a lot of money is not in dispute , but one wonders WHY when having spent millions they ALLOW drivers that have no respect for those whom they are supposed to win over to their " Employers' Services and products "?

Driving for a Sponsor usually requires the driver to have " Accreditation " ! This " Dog collar " does not absolve the wearer from the responsibility to behave like they are required to do by the Driving regulations of the countries in which they are working ! Bad driving with or without " Accreditation " has consequences , it can not only involve other vehicles but also innocent bystanders/spectators ! Nobody comes to stand beside the road to applaud the Race Participants with the expectation of a visit to a Medical Facility ! But there are the occasional " Accidents " and even more so those caused by " Sponsor Vehicles Drivers !

Last year i called on " Not so Fat anymore , Mc Quaid of the UCI " , to introduce a " Drivers Code " and " Mandatory Testing of ALL that seek accreditation  , at UCI Road Cycle Events " . This appears too difficult for the UCI to think about , yet alone implement ! All expecting to drive at the ProTours seem to ONLY have to say they have a " drivers Permit " to gain the " Accreditation " . Does anyone really care if their " Drivers permit " is currently VALID ?

Too many incidents over 15 seasons of riding these Cycle Tour Routes come to mind , some have caused me cuts and bruises , some involved me in a shouting match with the Driver and then their employer . Suffice to say that each time i confront one of these  " Could not care less drivers " they and their passenger plead ignorance regarding their behaviour , AND THEN , tell me , that if i had not been on my bike there , then i would not have found myself in that situation !

People often ask me why i wear NO Accreditation . Fact is i don`t need to do so , just about every person involved with Cycle Racing , Rowing and Skiing knows who i am and MOST have forgotten WHY i am there ! Daily at these events i see people nudging their companions and pointing me out , no doubt relaying the fact that they have seen me elsewhere . Rarily people will come and thank me for " Advocating Sponsorship of Para Athletes "! Some will introduce me to a variety of personalities of all persuasions . Meeting Senior Politicians and Service Personnel seems to be a daily event , but on the other hand , i get reports from people , telling me they have been warned to stay clear of me since their colleague has reported their version of some incident .

Whenever i find myself the " victim " of aggressive driving , i do my best to find and chastise the perpetrator , since , if they do it to me , then they di it elsewhere ! Drivers in their " tonne " of metal , think they are safe until i tap on their window and " ask for an explanation " of their errant behaviour ! some will rewind their window but a very few will apologise and say that they will remember the points i make ín future behaviour in the proximity of Cyclists !

The latest case , Tuesday on the road to Olten during the Tour de Suisse , passed into a 50kph zone , through an assortment of corners and then followed the road up the hill . Turned on the " Hazard lights when i saw a speeding " Sponsor Vehicle " fast approaching . The vehicle passed me on a left curving corner , without vision of oncoming traffic , regardless of those lining the narrow road !Having returned to the RHS of the road , braked hard to arrive beside a knot of " spectators " to pass out samples of their " Gruyere/Emmantel Cheese " ! Blocking the road caused me to have to wait until the " Van/people mover " moved on . He then turned up onto the pavement a few metres along the rpad to do some work in the vehicle . When i walked back , the three people were opening boxes of " Sponsors` samples ".

When i tapped on the driver's window , to ask for an explanation , it was " PISS OFF BACK TO OZ , we don`t need you here "!  I then went around to the pavement side , to speak to the passengers  , to ask if they felt safe with this type of driving , or wished to lose their " Drivers' Permit for condonning the driver's behaviour ? Yes , in some countries you the passenger , are also responsible for the Driver's behaviour ! The driver then threatened to get out of the vehicle and assault me , alone , no problem , but three up , shaking their " fists " , i decided , " enough was enough " ! Of course i will see these mongrels again and i did at the Arrivee last night but then i was on the bike , helmeted in the rain . This post will also go to their " Sponsor's CEO , who will be thrilled with the publicity they generated with his " Logoed Vehicle "!

Just about ALL French roads leading over a " Pass/ Col " now have at the bottom of the climb , a sign with " Je Depasse 1 1/2m " installed ! Hopefully more of these signs will be installed further up the climb since a drivers ' attention span , declines after a few corners . France seems to lead the world in their efforts to educate vehicle drivers but the Cyclist should NEVER EVER ride with " earphones or a Mobile clapped to their ear ! Personally as a Cyclist , i hate to see those " showoffs , riding no hands , on the mobibe , not wearing a helmet ( frequently used to protect the handlebars ) , riding three and four abreast ! As a driver , i come up behind Cyclists and put on my " Hazard lights " until i am past ! Rarely will i use my klaxon until past , even if i know the riders . Approaching Cyclists in ANY Situation , i am able to judge where they will be when i am within 50m of them , so have the choice to go wide with signals OR slow down with " Hazard lights " until safe to pass .

Those that find this too hard to do , need to reeducate themsellves , time is running out for those that regard Cyclists as road furniture or in extreme cases , as " ROADKILL "!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Not JUST on the DAY !

“ Being the best that you can be “ , is something to which everyone should aspire  !

Too often in recent years , we have seen in the Bike Road Racing scene , some expected results and then the winner fades away . Each year there are the Men’s World Road Racing Championships in a different country each year . Great store is set by participating countries in getting their man to the line . Not always are the favourites the winner but Mark Cavendish was the overwhelming favourite last time out .

As World Champion people expect that they will continue into the next season winning other events BUT this seems to be an unrealistic expectation in recent years . Many feel that winning the World Road Race Title jinxes them for the rest of the season . Perhaps other racers pay more attention to any moves they try to make in their events and thwart their efforts for the victory ?

Mark Cavendish on the other hand has worked hard through the off season and with a victory in the Tour Down Under set the season rolling in his favour . Multiple Victories in the Giro d’Italia sees him honour the World Championship in a way that has not been achieved in the past decade .

Next Month we have the Tour de France and shortly after the Olympics and Mark intends to pursue success in both . Certainly , after missing Medals at Beijing , he will be totally focussed on remedying that missing part of his palmares .

With the demise of Team HTC his “ Train “ is now part of several other teams but his talent is such that he has continued to podium whether led home by the train or making his own way to the line . As versatile as he is , I am sure that once the Olympics are over he will be setting the next set of targets !

On a personal note , he has also become a father this year , and his wife and child were travelling with him during the giro .

GOOD LUCK MARK ! You have done a superb job of showing off the World Champ Shirt !