Friday, 29 June 2012

Open University

From the Open University Website:

The Science Behind the Bike is a series of films that investigate how science and technology have transformed the sport of cycling. We talk to Olympic gold-medallists Chris Boardman and Rebecca Romero, and Paralympian gold-medallist Sarah Storey, take a trip to a wind tunnel, consult with Team GB physiologists and hear from design experts and cycling legends such as Graeme Obree and Francesco Moser. In this series you will find out about the legendary Hour Record (the record for the longest distance cycled in one hour), learn about technology, discover the forces that have to be overcome to ride fast and understand how the body deals physiologically when riding at Olympic level. This material was produced to support the Open University module S172 Sport: the science behind the medals.

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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Just because...

There hasn't been a moto mention for sometime. Have a look here for more amazing Guzzis

Saturday, 23 June 2012

cyclesguff at paris roubaix

brevet card, no chip here
wallers mine the cause of the undulations in arenberg trench

portal into hell; arenberg trench
a wee reminder of roads long travelled
three spent boys with added stigmata


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Trench Warfare: Paris Roubaix Cyclotourisme 2012

I am not predisposed to exaggeration and loathe the fanciful embellishment of otherwise ordinary accomplishments. The word 'epic' is often misapplied and frequently by cyclists where anything involving over 100 miles and more than one form of weather becomes a supernatural feat of human endurance. Don't get me wrong, I've done it myself but I try to keep it in check.

All of that said, I don't think I could possibly overstate Paris - Roubaix.

'Respect the cobbles' said my esteemed colleague and veteran of the pave, and I think I should have paid just a little more heed. For every joule of power and bead of sweat expended the cobbles fought back. No sooner had I freed my fingers from the bars to enjoy the effortless rush of pristine tarmac than I was thrust back into the furnace; muscles spasming, teeth grinding and the volume of a throbbing pain from kilometre after kilometer over the roughest roads imaginable blocking out any rational thought. Inhumane. These roads are not meant for men on racing bicycles and skinny tyres.

But the mark they leave is much deeper than a few blisters (more than a few for Sam, who had his hands bandaged at the finish line) and in a very short space of time the brutality is reconciled with the legend forged over a century of mud and guts. If the Alps and Pyrenees are the amphitheatre of Le Grand Boucle then Paris Roubaix takes place in a back-street fight club. 

Physical abuse aside, the ride itself went off with only minor hitches, the most significant being a snapped spoke which fittingly occurred on the Arenberg Trench and involved a run back along to the feed zone for mechanical assistance before a second run of the Trench. Great to ride it twice but I'm pretty sure I paid for it later.

The organisers, the Velo Club de Roubaix Cyclotourisme, did a sterling job with a very 'home-baked' feel to it. Like a Westferry '10' but on a grand scale. It definitely lent something to the event that it had been organised not by a large promoter, but by a group of cyclists who have a vested interest and personal affiliation to the historic cobbled roads. The atmosphere amongst the broad range of participants was thoroughly sporting and good natured, as it should be at an event of this kind, with a general awareness of what is involved in group riding and 'sharing the load', something that cannot always be said of larger, more corporate events.

The climax of the route, at the velodrome in Roubaix, is as atmospheric as I had hoped it would be. One lap was never going to be enough but I had no intention of prolonging it, instead making a final high-speed dash along the thin black line toward the finish where I duly collapsed on the grass in a satisfied, mangled heap. To say that it was the hardest thing I have ever done on a bike would not do it justice. It was, but it was so much more than that besides. Agonising, beautiful, crushing, exhilarating. When my girlfriend asked what it was like, the best way I could describe it was 'like riding 130 miles whilst someone beats the shit out of you'.

Its not fun, but that's not the point.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


Glasgow to host UCI Track World Cup in 2012
The UCI have announced that Glasgow's Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome will host a round of the 2012/13 UCI Track World Cup series.

Taking place from 16 to 18 November 2012, the Track World Cup is a qualifying event for the 2013 World Championships. 

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Monday, 11 June 2012

hot shower

Fellow guffers, Pete and Peter are on their way back from the Paris Roubaix Cyclotourisme. Judging by the weird spaces in the text, Peter's hands are shaking.....I wonder why?

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Saturday, 9 June 2012

Stay upright or Timber!

Cyclesguff isn't making out that we are in anyway different to the sheer number of blogs and websites covering the best things since slice bread in the world of the velo. Dura Ace 9700 anyone? After all, we have made a few statements and pops over the past months covering bikes and kit. The other factor is the split camp of Shimano and Campag riders in the cyclesguff bunch. Shimano has the edge when it comes to the number riding their components, but that doesn't stop the cyclesguff campagnista explaining the virtues of the quick release emblasoned gruppo. The issue of ultrtatorque has also come into the bunch conversation on a number of occasions. One, or let's say eleven items that haven't made the local cyclesguff airwaves is 11speed.  Campag's EPS has also been noticeable in its absence. Is the cyclesguff bunch becoming ambivalent about the razor blade effect of the gears on a rear cassette - quite possibly.

we know that they also make razors

The marketing hyperbole that provides an introduction to the latest and greatest is one well oiled machine. It can be long before marketeers develop percentage by offering another order of magnitude. I've always been a fan of the 7900 Dura Ace brakes.  One reviewers account of the new Dura Ace calipers provides an insight to the '30% more stopping power'. They then ask the question 'why would you need disk brakes on a roadbike? Well, let's see how long your rims last with that amount of stopping power. You will also be forking out for new wheels as the 11speed cassette doesn't fit on the current range of Shimano wheels.

Shimano's OCD has played a trump card with offering a new chainset BCD. The new chainset can run compact, standard, time trial, triathlon (what about track?) chainrings. Cancel your holiday if you want to purchase the full set of rings. Since we are on the subject of chainsets, Shimano have to be applauded for continuing to develop their hollowtech forging technology. They've dabbled with carbon cranks in the past, the sublime FC-7800C being one of the most sensual and elegant offerings in recent years. For those of us that can't justify shelling out for the top road group, we will see the hollowtech trickle done through the ranks. As for Di2, let's leave that for another day.

 In stark contrast to the above and cycling related websites and blogs, this guffer will offer a brief review of a product that embraces new technology and applies it to an ancient task. Many years ago, I was walking the aisles of a local DIY store, one that has the inclusively sound policy of employing elderly people. Picture the scene of a smartly dressed man (just back from a bells and whistle official opening of a hi-tech industrial facility) taking the opportunity to nip in and buy a few items. I wasn't long back from the Raid Pyrenean, so was sporting a good tan and a visual appearance that was bordering on menacing; cropped hair do and facial characteristics that could be best described as gaunt. The elderly checkout operator gulped as I placed a hatchet, compost accelerator and duct tape on the belt. With a trembling lip and whispering voice, she said 'that's an interesting range of items' I quietly, but assertively said 'I have an interesting job' paid by cash and left. 

A wee spot of harmless mischief is never a bad thing. The hatchet was a Fiskars X7 - what a piece of kit! The beautiful balance of a well thought through handle is matched by the business end that just asks for abuse. It's been the to go to tool for splitting and chopping small pieces of timber for a number of years. Recent tree surgery work has required the services of something substantially more. Thankfully, axe manufacturers don't offer more blades, they tend to offer longer handles. The extra leverage of the recently order Fiskars X25 is a whole new ball game. I've never experienced an axe that splits timber so efficiently. The composite handle absorbs and damps the impact of striking the timber so well that I sometimes have to take a double look.  I would say that the edge is even an improvement on the X7, what the percentage increase is, I don't really care.

This axe is the splitting equivalent of my single speed. A simple (that's the difficult part to design and engineer), no nonsense go to piece of kit that is a joy to use.

Stay upright