Friday, 27 July 2012

it's the Tour...

the Tour cast it's magic spell again this year. With extra added spice that British riders made the podium and collected a wheen of stage wins. Let's not narrow our focus too much since there are just so many great bike riders out there. The Tour is too large to take in all of it at one sitting. Indeed even though we gorged ourselves on all things bike at the final iTT and final depart from Rambouilllet it still meant that we only just scratched the surface. The riders whizzed past at speed on the time trial but we were secure in the knowledge that there was another coming along soon. Drama too when we saw Richie Porte catch his 2 and 4 minute men at the same time and Tejay Vangarderen over take Cadel Evans. We were relying on our own watches to judge who was going fastest and it did prove pretty reliable. It was odd then to have to text home to find out for certain who had won. The depart was a much more relaxed affair with time to appreciate bikes, equipment and the effort riders had made to get to Paris. We could see the helicopter hovering over the peleton as we made our way round the peripherique yet it still took a long time to find out that Cavendish had taken his fourth win on the Champs Elysee. It felt like a long time to just keep hoping but sometimes...

UCI to rule on aero profile

david millar

andre griepel
vincenzo nibali

thomas voekler and higgs bosen
no tour complete without a smile from jens

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

just pecqueuse

For all the modernising and professionalisation of the Pro Peleton road cycling remains a relatively accessible sport. I have been on holiday in north of Spain where people took bus trips to Barcelona just to see the hallowed turf of the Nou Camp. That is as close as it gets. Similarly golf fans rarely if ever get a chance to play on the championship courses and even then at some expense. A similar story can be told of cricket too I've heard.

Though the start and bus areas may be invite only at the Tour we stand at the roadside and our heroes duly ride by. And the course is open to us every other day of the year. In the final stage this year there was a wee bit of spice with two cat 4 climbs of Cote de Saint Remy les Chevreuse and Cote de Chateaufort. Nothing to get distressed about for the pros but maybe enough effort required to suspend frivolities and apply both hands to the bars. Staying close to Village Depart of Rambouillet it seemed only right to take in a few kilometres of the etape just to see what they looked like.

simplement parce que

A few others had the same idea and a number of nods of recognition were exchanged. This Tour has had only two riders wear the yellow jersey and both are time trial specialists. Bradley Wiggins has acknowledged Miguel Indurain as his Tour hero and he too was able to make large gains in time trials and defend them in the mountains. It is customary now to suggest that Big Mig could not climb but this misses the point since he so clearly could climb but had no need to attack to gain any more time. It is also fitting that at the top of Cote de Chateaufort is a monument to Jaques Anquetil another man who could make great gains in the time trial and defend in the mountains. Having seen what was there it seemed a fitting point to turn and try the climbs from the other side for no other reason than I could.
stele Jacques Anquetil

we know he's special, but.....

please click and read as Bradley Wiggins becomes...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

guff at the tour

guff were represented at the Tour again this year. The delights were many to say the least with a post to follow in some sort of attempt to do the experience justice.
In the meantime here's a photographic composition from the depart at Rambouillet on Sunday 22 July

still life with hats

Sky take over the BBC

The cyclesguff prediction (let's face it, we were not alone) came true last year. It surely is time for another....

and since we are on a roll, how about Phil Liggett for Director General?

Stay dreaming

Sunday, 22 July 2012

world wide wiggo

The inimitable words of ITV4's Gary Imlach summed it up 'Not sure I'm qualified to pronounce an exact degree of Britishness, but there is no doubting that Bradley Wiggins is a champion.'

Friday, 20 July 2012

citizenship of cycling

The success of Team Sky as they roll across France and the potential for Team GB to start a foundry over the next few weeks will hopefully result in an increased number of riders out enjoying their bikes. The retail environment may go into a crazy spin as people race to snap up late Le Tour bargains and any Olympic promotions. We can only hope that the increase in cyclists on the road will make the Great British motorist become more considerate of the Great British Cyclist.

Most of us, whether on or off road will no doubt take the responsibilities of being on a bike seriously. Traffic laws, respect of the countryside and bikes being kept in working and good nick aside, many of the guffer peleton are parents of young kids. It still amazes me the lack of consideration and room that 'fellow' road users offer when you are out with the young bunch. With a push to have more kids out enjoying physical activity what hope do we have that the riders of tomorrow will gain the confidence to venture out onto the open road?

Thankfully Cycling Scotland have been very active, in their own words 'Cycling Scotland is the national cycle promotion organisation for Scotland.  We’re working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option. We want to make Scotland a nation of cyclists.'

tut tut, where's the apostrophe?
Unfortunately, the cynical bones in my body have to be warmed up from the chill that the youngsters enjoying the UK 'majority sport' of football suffer from those that still allow their dogs to crap on the playing fields...

Stay upright

Thursday, 19 July 2012

exchange and art

The past few minutes have been spent reading the exchanges of the team sky cycling wags' twitter feeds. This isn't a usual pastime, honest. However, I'll certainly keep an eye of David Millar's feed. Cyclesguff are fans of Millar and Strava, so chapeau to Chris P.

Stay upright

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

le Chou-Chou

It was a little over a year ago that a cyclesguff post went out with a final comment 'I just hope that Voeckler can hold on to the jersey for the French to enjoy the glory on Bastille Day.'  
The Maillot Jaune sits firmly on Wiggin's shoulders, but after today's stage le Chou-Chou thoroughly deserves the Polka Dot jersey that he is just about to adorn.

This guffer is just back from a holiday in the Vendée Region of France. The spectacular Bastille Day fireworks put on by the splendid little town of La Tranche-sur-Mer would be fitting for the heroics of today's stage. After all, Voeckler now lives in the Vendée and I would have loved to be sitting in a local seaside bar watching the stage unfold in the manner that it did today.

Stay upright

Saturday, 14 July 2012

millar takes four

It seems to be a good year so far for British riders in the Tour de France. It is with no small matter of pride that I enjoyed the site of David Millar take his fourth ever stage win yesterday and the fourth by a British rider in this Tour. Riding Through the Dark, his autobiography, has been required guff reading recently. Yes he is a complicated character but that's the way we kind of like it in Scotland. Graeme Obree and Robert Millar to name but two. David Millar's book alludes to the duty of care that was sadly absent from his first teams. Happy to impress the need for wins but a bit more distant when it came to taking responsibility for a process that may push their charges in an unsavoury direction.

Arguably Millar straddles both the old and the new realms of cycling. He was one of the last British riders in old style to take himself to France and find a team to ride with. His experiences troubling as they have been led him, on his return from doping ban, to be one of the core members of Garmin. The team is not some loose association but has a specific location in Gerona. It expects riders to congregate there and work together. It has an active anti doping policy and it is reasonable to suggest has set the template for Team Sky. We therefore owe a lot to David Millar's honesty since he was prepared to acknowledge his mistakes and to learn positive lessons from them. That his win came on the anniversary of Tom Simpson's death makes his position all the more poignant. It won't come as a surprise to mention that as he crossed the line I was on my feet hands in the air and cheering.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Sharpen your pencil - HB

A colleague at work has just sent this:

Scientists in Switzerland today announced they have evidence of the existence of the "Hagen Boasson" - the elusive "God" cyclist, so called because of the frequency that commentators are heard to utter "God, what's he doing now?

From their secret bunker in Aigle, UCI researchers have described the "Hagen Boasson" as the fundamental cycling component, one that is capable of forming any of the more complex rider types - or "flavours" as they are known - such as sprinter, rouleur, puncheur ,grimpeur, GC rider or one-day specialist. However, the H-B frequently may not form any of these due to not being arsed.

The discovery has been delayed in recent days due to the detection of a more powerful anti element which specifically targets the "Hagen Boasson", The "Sagan Hagen Boasson" has greater mass - which can be converted to ridiculous amounts of energy and thus into velocity. The Sagan Hagen Boasson has been nicknamed the "Christ" particle as in Christ - do you see what he did today? A peculiarity of the SHB is that, having knocked the HB out of the chamber, it performs a number of strange, slightly geometric movements, apparently for the hell of it.

Stay upright and enjoy the holidays

Monday, 2 July 2012


This guffer's experience of taking kids anywhere is a lottery. Will they behave, groan at being bored, fall asleep upon arrival, be a joy for one and all..the list could go on for a long, long time. A recent break provided an ideal opportunity for a 'Daddy Day', a rare treat for me and my eldest to escape the tantrums of the two year old and for my wife to escape from all of us. A trip to the flicks, lunch (why are they called happy meals?), a spot of shopping for toys and then a trip to a museum. It was a pretty packed day that ended during the last opening hours of the Riverside Museum: Scotland's Museum of Transport and Travel on the banks of the Clyde.

For those of us that remember the old Transport Museum at Kelvinbridge, the Riverside may come across initially as disappointment. For example, the wow factor of the Clyde room and the journey through that inspiring experience has been lost. 

The old Clyde Room - a place to lose hours and gain an even greater respect for the Clyde workforce
The unrestricted access to all manners of exhibits and the smell of machinery has also been sanitised. There was a wholesome and honest feel about the old venue. OK, it looked a bit shabby, but you could get up an personal with the exhibits. A classic case of substance over style and a memorable relationship between exhibit, artifact and visitor.

One of my passions is capturing those unexpected and lovingly considered manufactured details. I sometimes have an image of an apprentice - the design/engineering workshop 'lad' being given a task that they set upon with the all the love and conviction of a new parent. Details like the handlebar mounts on an Ariel Square four or the grab handle on an Argyll (above) come to mind and are thankfully still viewable, and if you are on the look out for a moment with out a security guard being present - stroke able! This is where my main criticism of the new Riverside Museum is aimed, so many wonderful exhibits are placed in areas where they cannot be viewed up close and personal. The dynamic of some objects and placements is undoubtedly clever, but beyond that, there is very little engagement.

There is an area that provides an abstract impression of a locomotive assembly hall, with a large gantry hoist (walkway) over head and the enormous South African Locomotive dwarfing everything else and ruling court as it prepares to thunder out through the fantastic glazed gable overlooking the Glen Lee ship and River Clyde. An experience such as this, the unquestionable sense of scale and power would not have been possible in the old venue.  The SA Loco only recently returned to Glasgow. Old exhibits, of the larger scale from Kelvinbridge still have the chance to shine. The Highlands Railways 103 Caledonian sleeper close to the entrance is an object of dignified and historic beauty.

For those of us that are going to view Flying Scots, Graeme Obree's old faithful, an early and delicious windcheetah by Mike Burrows will not be disappointed. The wall displays of motos and cars don't look easy to 'rotate', so those closer to eye level will be far easier to appreciate. The bikes on the velodrome(ish) light display are so far away, that any sense of appreciation and engagement with the collection is better served through buying a  postcard. Finally, those that are responsible for looking after vehicles with pneumatic tyres, could you please ensure that they are inflated. This may seem like a strange request, but a Ducati 916 (or any bike for that matter) with less that 4 psi in its boots just looks wrong, very wrong.

If a museum could be praised on how kids interact, the Riverside Museum is a major hit. My daughter loved it and judging by the expressions, activity and sheer enthusiasm of other young visitors, she was not alone. The only thing that was missing from the enchanting old street was jam pieces, hopscotch and skint knees. The summer hols are about to start, so it looks like a return visit is on the cards.

Stay inflated