Wednesday, May 26, 2010


An interesting piece on Bikehugger today;
"For all the “women-specific” bikes (which are nothing more than men’s bikes with shorter stems and short-reach levers) there just isn’t enough of an understanding of a women’s cycling needs in the biz. Take any new-to-cycling woman or even an advanced amateur and throw them into a bike shop that carries a few women-specific frames and generally they come out more confused than satisfied."
I'm not entirely sure that this is too different to "a new cyclist" walking into a bike shop, full stop, a conclusion the author seems to come to as well;
"I’d like to suggest the idea that shops dedicate a person to be a custom fit guru, regardless of the gender of the client. Think of it like the Genius Bar, but about fit."
It's a great idea, but would push costs, I imagine. My own bikes have been (and in some cases still are being) tweaked to find the "perfect" combination of parts for me. Getting the "feel" of a new bike is easier now, but that only came with a lot of experience and trial and error. The "Fit Genius" might cost you more up front, but it seems to me that a bunch of money would be saved in the long term.

67 Year old Man rides 1,600 miles to his high school reunion. (Story found at Urban Velo).
"It's a great way to see the country," said Goldman, 67. "You get to see the best and worst of America at 13 miles an hour."
Or, indeed, of any place. That's the beauty of the bicycle, quick enough to make good progress, slow enough for you to feel involved in what's around you. I can't think of anyone from my old school that I'd ride 1,600 miles to catch up with though.

A good round up of the story so far at Bicycling Magazine here.

Another astonishing, punishing stage yesterday for the riders with a frankly bonkers time trial - not only astonishing gradients (up to 24% in parts), but a final 5km on dirt roads. As I said on twitter, I think Zomegnan, the course director, must stroke a fluffy white cat and cackle as he plans the course.

Video Preview of the Stage - Not sure about the techno, but gives an idea of how tough the stage was.

In further Giro commentary, Cosmo over at cyclocosm examines the home court advantage afforded to Italian riders for the race - the accompanying picture is a great spot.

Bike Commuters has a review of this, a waterproof backpack (along the roll top closure model that will be familiar to most of you). I don't like backpacks on the bike, they're not as nice a solution as a saddlebag, or panniers (and will make you sweat in all but the chilliest conditions). The clincher for the Overboard pack is the price though, nearly half that of the very cheapest waterproof panniers. I'm not sure where these are available (if at all) outside the US, but as a budget option they seem like a good bet for short journeys.

I'm about to start a particularly busy week or so at work and home, so it's likely that this will be the last "Stuffe" for a little while - I'll be around less elsewhere too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010



I've managed to get around to sorting out some photographs (from 2007!) - if you're interested, there are four more "new" ones in my flickr stream.

Or at least, that's HIS excuse. This comic from The System also features one of the neatest ways of representing pant-lessness iconographically I've seen.

I knew about Plastic Peloton People, but somehow Barbie Barbie had entirely passed me by. It's
"a photo-comic inspired by cyclist Heinrich Haussler--nicknamed "Barbie"--featuring him, other members of the pro peloton, and Barbie doll herself. I created Barbie Barbie to help get through the last cycling off-season, and continue to produce episodes, although less frequently, now that the season is back in gear."
There's details of the first stage results of Ireland's FBD Ras over at Cycling Weekly, there are no second stage results because of a collision between riders and a jeep pulling onto the course which resulted in the stage being neutralised. The Ras' own site is here, including galleries from the current and previous editions, and a nice section "Stories of the Ras".

I'd also highly recommend Jack Thurston's Bikeshow programme about the Ras, which is here.

Reviewed by, the Psych commuter bag is a different take on the frame bag. It's interesting, but is any solution for commuting luggage more elegant that Brooks + Carradice? I'm also fairly certain that my knees would rub the Psych bag and that would drive me crazy. I'm very jealous of the organiser pockets inside though, one of the few things I'd add to my Lowsaddle longflap, given the chance.

JAMES HINDLE featured "Little Wolves" on its site recently - click through to James' site and you can read his other stories - "Unsettled" in particular is a fantastic series.

"The Dirty Kanza takes place in a few weeks down in Emporia, Kansas. It is a 200-mile gravel grinder through an area called the Flint Hills. We're sending the Dirty Lucky take it on.

Each of these guys has his own motivations, and his own fears, for this event. Today they introduce themselves, their goals for the DK 200."

Which is all very interesting - however, what made me green with envy was the look at the setups the "Dirty Six" are riding - lovely stuff, the article is here, and the droolmaking pics begin down the page.

Monday, May 24, 2010


From Urban Velo, these lovely bicycle prints, produced by the Poster Cabaret company to celebrate Bike Month (May, in the USA).

Gem at Bianchista has reviewed some of the new range from the big R.

Whatever you think of Rapha, they do little details extremely well - this should be how women's kit works, attention to stuff that matters rather than producing pink flowery versions of mens kit.

A good piece for new commuters on the Bike Commuters blog, boiling down pretty much to not worrying too much about bikes, kit &c - just ride!
So, what should a potential new commuter do to give this thing a try? Here it is in a nutshell: find a reliable bike (it doesn’t need to be anything special), take a look at some maps to find an enjoyable route and GO FOR IT.
There's links in the piece to articles about changes to make if you need to carry things, and considerations like rainwear &c too. They also tackle one of my personal bugbears, the notion of the "perfect" commuting bike as a heavy, changuarded internally geared tank.

Yesterday's stage on the Zoncolan was a fantastic day's racing for fans, and Cyclingnews has rounded up some of the rider reaction in this piece here. Cadel Evans seemed to ride so far beyond the pain barrier that I began to wonder if he might just keel over - the World Champion's jersey seems to weigh heavy on him at times, although he's ridden a champion's race every time it's asked of him in this Giro. My favourite piece of commentary came from from the Velocast's John Galloway on twitter;
[J] I don't care if he looks like he's trying to strangle his bike, @CadelOfficial is a GREAT world champion.
I was also pleased to see Sastre put in an amazing ride to recover from being distanced at the bottom of the climb.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Review - Fi'zi:k Bar Gel / Microtex Handlebar Tape

Another recycled bit of my content from Cyclechat, I'm afraid.

Bought From Ribble Cycles
Price: £16.95

This tape/gel kit was bought to replace the tape supplied on my Giant SCR2.0 when I bought it. The tape originally on the Giant is a plastic foam type tape - cushy, and quite squashy, but not terribly nice under the hand (plasticky in feel).

Having been impressed with Fi'zi:k's products already (the Arione saddle being one of my favourite things ever) I decided to buy their bar tape to replace my OEM tape.

First Impressions:
The tape arrived quickly from Ribble, and this set consists of 4 pads of "technogel", which sit under the tape (2x curved pieces for the bar tops, 2x straight pieces for the drops), two rolls of microtex tape, a couple of short pieces to cover the brake lever clamps, two end plugs and two finishing tapes.

The microtex material looks and feels a bit like suede, and the rolls of tape have short sections at the beginning and end that are plain, thereafter the tape has rows of perforations. The tape is described as "thin" by Fi'zi:k, and bad memories of the electrical tape like bar tapes of the eighties led me to choose the gel + tape set. I have to say that on examining the tape, the thickness of it seems to me to be more akin to a cork type tape, with a thicker (if not exactly fat) section in the middle. Were I choosing again, I'd feel a bit more confident about going for the tape alone.

The end plugs are plain black with an embossed ":K" logo (the bar tape is black in this set) and the finishing tape is black with a repeated fi'zi:k logo in silver printed on it).

The technogel pads can be cut to size as required, and are, apparently, reusable (they can be washed in soap and water to restore the tackiness of the underside, and stuck to the bars again).

The technogel pads go on first - on my bike (a large frame, presumably meaning wide bars too) the straight technogel pads were large enough to cover from the lever clamp down to the end of the bars quite easily. On the tops, fitting of the gel was a bit more problematic, with the curve of the gel pieces not quite the right fit for the bars. fortunately the gel is quite malleable, and can be pulled into shape as required. The adhesive on the back of the technogel is tacky rather than sticky, so I used electrical tape to hold the pieces in place prior to wrapping.

The bar tape pieces for the brake lever clamps were generously sized, and had to be cut down slightly so as not to interfere with the pegs on the inside of the hoods that help keep the hoods in place (Tiagra shifters). These pieces needed to be taped as well, as the adhesive on them isn't quite strong enough to keep them in place while wrapping. With hindsight, I wonder if a better option here might be to cut a hole in these pieces to allow the peg to go through the tape, as the shorter tape pieces don't grip the lever bodies very well.

The main rolls of tape are generously sized, and I'd estimate that they could easily have wrapped my bars right up to the stem clamp, even over the gel. The tape stretches well, and seemed to hold up to repeated unwrapping and rewrapping excellently. (Having only wrapped one set of bars in the past, I inevitably went the wrong way on one side, didn't notice a gappy bit by the curve of the drops etc etc).

One of the tape rolls seemed to have a defect in the application of adhesive on it's reverse side, in that whilst peeling the backing off, the adhesive strip was removed as well. (for about 8-10 inches of the tape). This didn't affect the wrap (it was possible to continue) but was slightly disappointing. Again, the strength of the adhesive seemed nicely judged, strong enough to hold the tape in place during the wrap, but not so strong as to damage the tape if removed to rewrap.

The method used was the "self tightening" method from Park Tool's web site. To finish the tape, I used black electrical tape at the stem end, with the tape edge melted slightly using a heated screwdriver blade. (Be careful doing this!) Fi'zi:k's finishing tape went over the top of that, again with the edges melted slightly. Melting the edges seems to stop the tape edge from peeling back, which can happen after use.

On the Bike:
The feel of the tape itself is very nice - the suede like finish of the microtex feels secure and nicely grippy. The gels seem to absorb vibration without being squishy in feel, and overall, this is an improvement on the OEM tape on the bike. With hindsight, I think I'd not fit the bar top gels if I was to do this again, but then I don't ride on the tops/hoods much at all.

The gels and tape can be bought separately for around £12 and £9 respectively - the set I bought including both has black tape only, although more colour options are available if you buy the tape separately.

Ribble Cycles - Bar:Gel Handlebar Tape Kit
Park Tool Drop Bar Wrapping Guide
Bicycletutor Drop Bar Wrapping Guide

Friday, May 21, 2010


One panel from "One Day in July"
This piece will be in Rouleur 18, and is the work of Richard Mitchelson (find his blog here). It's a wonderful piece, and I love the way the panel reproduced here captures the colour and motion of the race. Richard continues to make Rouleur an essential purchase every time I decide I'm going to skip an issue, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the rest of "One Day in July".

Covered on Urban Velo, "Bicycle Portraits South Africa" is the project of photographer Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler. They've taken pictures of their fellow south African bike commuters with their rides, and hope to finance a book of the portraits via Kickstarter. As ever with this sort of work,a large part of the interest for me is in how the subjects choose to present themselves. You can see the photographs, and sign up to support the publication if you wish here.

How can you not Rofl at this?
"I conjured my inner Belgian. Perhaps Filip Meirhaeghe (on or off the juice) or Bart Bretjens? (No, Bart's Dutch.) Tornado Tom on the cobbles or maybe even late-era Eddy? Alas, my inner Belgian would appear to have been standing on the first climb at Houffalize, eating frites, drinking beer and abusing other riders..."
From a race report in parts beginning with part one here.

Cosmo at Cyclocosm continues to bring it with his commentary - he looks over the momentous stage 11 in this post.
"I’ve heard riders complain about conditions before, but never in the terms that came up yesterday. The train of haggard human wreckage that trickled across the finish line on Stage 11 was enough, at least for a few hours, to inspire faith in clean bike racing."
From the Velo Orange Blog;
"I think white Pasela these tires look really cool, especially if you ride in a Panama hat."
I'm still getting my head around all this.

There's a good round up at the Cozy Beehive blog of the story so far, and the Velocast have recorded a special edition of their podcast covering the revelations so far. I'd recommend both.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Cyclist, triathlete and all round good egg Karl on Sea is spoiling a 112 mile bike ride by doing a 2.4 mile swim before it, and a 26.2 mile run after it, by way of competing in an Ironman triathlon. He's doing this in aid of Macmillan cancer support, a great charity that works to improve the lives of people affected by cancer.

You can sponsor Karl at his "justgiving" page here, but if you like, you can also enter his competition to win four "money can't buy" prizes from his sponsors. You can find details of the competition and how to enter at Karl's blog here.


Cozy Beehive Blog has been musing on the question of the "Real" cyclist;
Among our available dose of cliches, one you'll hear many say is that real cyclists are the ones who race. Or that real cyclists are the one's who ride fast, break bones, lose skin and come back to bite the tough again. Or that real cyclists have so many well-defined muscle groups. And so on...
He invites your comments on what makes a "real" cyclist, and indeed, whether there's any such thing.

A lovely comic today dedicated to the "Ride of Silence" in memory of cyclists killed in traffic collisions. Also proof that there's no comic too classy that commenters won't ruin it with a pointless discussion on helmets. Or what type of bike you should ride for commuting.

The most interesting stage of a race that's already been pretty damned interesting unfolded yesterday. Cycling Weekly has an account of Stage 11 here. I can't remember a grand tour stage that has changed the complexion of the race in such a dramatic way. Essentially, the people we'd thought of as being beyond the reach of the two main GC contenders, are all back in the game again, with the GC turned on its head.

Whilst I'm disappointed for Evans, who's ridden a champion's season (particularly so in this race, with his victory on the gruesome, mud drenched Stage 7) for the fans the race has become all kinds of interesting once again, with Sastre and Wiggins among monkey favourites now back in serious contention. Also having an amazing first grand tour is Richie Porte, holder of the best young rider jersey, and now in the Maglia Rosa leader's jersey - superb stuff.

Incidentally, a commenter on Simon Lamb's "La Gazzetta Della Bici" has heard a rumour that the weather had interfered with radio at the giro, and that could be why the break got away. If this isn't proof that a radio ban is a good thing for exciting racing, I don't know what is.

Salsa's Enabler Fork, pic from Salsa Website.

So it's a front fork that runs rear wheels, yeah? Hmm.

This is another really interesting product from Salsa cycles, well worth a look. I can't decide if it's fantastic, or the most barmy thing I've ever seen, personally.

More lovely stuff from Lost Myths, "The Dance of the Hippacotora".

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SKETCHBOOK - A Magickle Sheep

So, the day before yesterday there was some discussion about sportwool, and its amazing ability to keep you comfortable in both warm and cool weather. I think it was photography's Guy Collier who mused on how it could do this.

And the answer that sprang into my head was "...because they use the wool from MAGICKLE SHEEPS." I was unable to get that out of my head, so sat down with the sketchbook for half an hour last night.

Self Criticism Dept:
The head is too blocky, overly large & not oval enough.
The rear legs are flat out weird.
The Paul Daniels Sheep would have presented more of a challenge.
I really should start scanning them instead of taking pictures of them with my N97.

STUFFE will be back tomorrow, all being well.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Where else but Portland? You get a discount if you arrive by bike, and can have the mattress delivered by bicycle too. That's a hell of a trailer. (From Utility Cycling).

Also from Utility Cycling is this primer on running errands by bike.


Lines and Colors has a piece on this artist. At first sight, the portraiture looks fairly conventional, until you see the underlying patterns and textures. I love his pen and ink illustration in particular.

There have been sneak peeks floating about of this range, but it was officially launched yesterday.

I've banged on about the benefits of sportwool previously - the jerseys are well priced, the material is sourced in the UK, and the jerseys are made here too. The red "ringer" club jersey is very smart in particular.

AIOTM! (aitom!)
It's back. Richard Herring's "As It Occurs to Me", a weekly comedy show/podcast returns for a second season this week. You can find the podcast here. (Bear in mind that it's usually *VERY* sweary & occasionally pushes the boundaries of taste - if you can handle that, its very funny though).

The show is based around what's happened to the cast over the previous week, and goes out unedited - last season was fantastic, with Richard's evident panic at writing a show's worth of new material every week becoming hilariously more evident as the season wore on. It's also probably the only outlet for Emma Kennedy's many stories about pooing in buckets (see season 1). If you're in London, you can see the show being recorded (as well as some extra material before the recording, if I remember right) at the Leicester Square Theatre, the link for tickets is here.

Mikael at Copenhagenize set the cat among the pigeons with some of his periodic po-facedness recently. Fun? Ride your bicycle because it is EFFICIENT. Karl on Sea responds in this piece.

Doesn't everyone need a little Pascal now and then? (From cyclocosm).

Nothing to do with me, but knobbly tyred types might enjoy this write up of the new trail at Cannock, from Redbikes.

Monday, May 17, 2010



Cannonball from California is a place. on Vimeo.

From the "Good" blog;
"The short film "Cannonball" artfully follows a group of skaters in search of newly empty pools behind foreclosed homes in and around the arid sprawl of Fresno other inland California suburbs that have been blighted by the housing collapse and ensuing recession. It has some NSFW language, but it's undeniably powerful—and a poignant meditation on greed, materialism, and an enduring kind of joy."
A lot of the images remind me of Glenn E. Friedman's work from the '70s and '80s - (collected in the book "F*** You Heroes").

Gem at Bianchista has pics of a new Rapha cap, the "Maharam". Whilst it does look very nice, I question the point of a cycling cap that's lined with silk and costs £115. I'm not against expensive gear per se, but bike clothes that are evidently not made to sweat and suffer in seem to stray a bit far from the original purpose for my taste.

The direction Rapha sometimes take can be summed up in two experiences for me. The first being a chap I met on a train once, who reckoned to have paid for a lot of his gear by buying limited Rapha clothing, and then selling it on a year or so later (usually at a profit, he claimed) and another chap who was (unironically) wearing a Rapha cycling cap at Alton Towers. (He'd not ridden there, and was evidently making a statement of some sort). With that said, my winter cap from the big R is superb, and very few other people do properly warm winter caps with a peak and ear covering.

The Maharam cap screams "COLLECTORS ITEM" a little too loudly for my ears. If you have more money than sense are convinced of the performance qualities of silk as a fabric, you can buy the cap here.

Bicycling looks at doping in amateur racing.
"And statistics, as usual, don't tell the whole story. According to former journeyman pro and admitted doper Joe Papp, who recently pleaded guilty to dealing human growth hormone and EPO acquired from China to an estimated 187 customers, older athletes comprise the bulk of amateur drug use. "Based on my experiences, in the U.S. the majority of athletes seeking doping products on the black market are amateurs, and believe it or not, they're masters athletes," says Papp."
An excellent review of the Bike Snob's book from Cycling Inquisition;
"Still, as the 49th most influential cycling blogger on the internet, I thought I would be neglecting my duties as a tastemaker if I didn't share my views regarding his book with you."
The article features some good stuff on the Giro D'Italia at the end too.

There's a great round up of pictures from yesterday's foggy stage of the Giro at Pezcycling.

Carlos Sastre rules himself out of contention for the overall (cyclingnews).


A Yuba Mundo, and nearly a half ton of bananas. From Utility Cycling.

Friday, May 14, 2010


My French isn't really up to making much of the lyrics, but I love this video and the tune. It's by Eddy la Gooyatsh, and the video even features a cameo by Richard Virenque. Eddy's album "Chaud", from which this track comes is available on eMusic.

This post from tredz make me chuckle. Lots of sites are full of earnest advice about how to prepare for your first big cycling event. At tredz, they do things a bit differently...

Citycycling #58 is out today- read it here. It also doesn't feature anything by me.

Issue 59 will be the last City Cycling. Anth explains why here.

Anth is one of the few people to read this blog, and has been kind enough to publish some of my writing in City Cycling, along with more talented and more reliable contributors.

City Cycling formed part of my education as a nascent bicycle commuter, filling the gaps experience had yet to fill, as well as giving me numerous laughs and pauses for thought. The magazine also was an early example of a publication catering to those not interested in yearly "Which £1000 bike" pieces - a bikeshow in pdf form, if you like. Anth can be rightly proud of what he's acheived in 5 years of publishing, I think.

Issue 4 launches on 27th May 2010, and features a piece by Anth on grasstrack bicycle speedway. If you've not read "The Ride"before and wonder what it's about, issue 2 is available as a free download from their site here.

The nice chaps at Shutt have doubled the discount available to clubroom members to 10% - all you have to do is sign up at the clubroom page on their site. If you're thinking that you'd look and feel great in sportwool (and you're probably right) head for the clubroom here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The BBCs unorthodox "We're axing it" promotional campaign for excellent digital station 6 Music has paid dividends, with latest figures reporting an increase of 300,000 or so listeners to the station. That's 300,000 extra people who might shout "Just Coming!" back to your "Stephen" folks. This comes on top of the station winning two Sony Gold awards this year.

More (less flippant) detail at As well as details of what you can do to stand up for the diversity of content and choice that the threatened stations represent.


The Oil-Drum has a piece on bikes being used to transport things, as opposed to just the rider;
"But also important for functioning cities is moving goods around, and most of the above options would seem to have severe limitations when one considers the variety of things that need to be moved. How does one carry a sheet of plywood across town? Surely not on a crowded subway. But a recent trip to China demonstrated for me that almost anything is possible."
Of course, it's not just China. This is a great video of moving the stone for an ornamental path by bike and trailer - old, but well worth a watch if you've not seen it.

"A lot of people say it's really hard to go shopping on your bike. I agree - NEVER shop for anything bigger than a sidewalk."
Cycling Inquisition has been musing on commuting, prompted by spotting a Southern Comfort t-shirt, empty Budweiser bottle, and Aerosmith cassette at the side of the road. Either someone was cleaning out their car (onto the roadside, ccertainly common practice in Cheshire, judging by the amount of crap on the verges) or they have THE WORST parties where he rides.

From Information is Beautiful, this New York Times infographic breaks down Facebook's 170+ privacy options.

There's a useful step-by-step guide to getting some control over all this stuff on ZDnet, here.

I have to admit to being on the point of ditching Facebook - I use it less and less, and the issues around what they do with my photos and data are worrying, to say the least. The walkthrough above at least gives me a way to lock some of it down, and still stay in touch with the folk I know who use the site.

Mr. Pozzato's desire to appear in ever more disturbing advertisements (exhibit one - the Sidi ad) continues with the pictured "Lego Head" ad for Lazer helmets. Another thing I'll never be able to unsee.

Compare this Mellow Johnny's jersey with the classic Molteni Arcore jersey. Homage, or Lésé majesté?

Jesus god-dancing christ, can the saga of Valverde get any more ridiculous?
"We have a decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport confirming that it is his blood, that it contained EPO, and confirms that Valverde is a cheater. And, despite all this, he is still racing," said Olivier Niggli, WADA's legal director, to AFP. However, even if the anti-doping agencies win the CAS decision and Spain is forced to ban Valverde, he could be back to racing as early as 2011 if the sanction mirrors the two-year sentence which began in Italy in May, 2009."
Barry Mason from Southwark cyclists features in this video (on Bikehugger) detailing common mistakes in bike locking.

See also; Sheldon Brown's Lock Strategy and MIT's Bike Theft Prevention advice.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A somewhat redundant bit here, as if you know about The Velocast, you already know about their new team kit. But on the offchance that you don't, John and Scott have teamed up with Shutt Velo Rapide and Rocket Fuel Style to offer a sportwool jersey and hand made cycling cap respectively.

Quite a lot of shows and forums do kit, and it tends to be nice, but usually fairly run of the mill synthetic jerseys. I'm quite excited to see Velocast going for something as nice as the Shutt jerseys - sportwool is a really practical fabric for cycling. Merino (its main constituent) doesn't stink the way synthetics do, and manages your temperature much better. (Sometimes riding in synthetic jerseys you'll be forever donning & removing gilets &c to try & stay comfortable - that just doesn't seem necessary with merino). It's pricey (although Shutt's prices tend not to be that much more than a decent quality polyester team jersey) but nothing else is quite like it. If you've never owned a merino / sportwool jersey, this offer is a good opportunity to pick one up & give it a whirl. If you have owned one, you'll know already of course.

The other thing you should be excited about is the people they're using - I've spoken about Shutt before, they're good at what they do, and take a pride in it (they also source and manufacture here in Britain). Rocket Fuel have a similar attitude to their work, and have done really nice bespoke caps for cycling teams, as well as offering a range "pret a porter".

There's a page showing the proposed designs, and information on how to express your interest here.

(Oh, and if you don't know about the Velocast, and have the slightest interest in cycling, you can find the podcast, which will make you happier than a cyclist with a garage full of bicycles, here).

Another Monkey favourite returns this week, Resonance FM's "The Bike Show", presented by Jack Thurston. OwenP (whose blog you should be following, it's better than this one) reviewed The Bike Show as part of his round up of cycling podcasts. For me, the joy of the Bike Show is its coverage of different topics within cycling, from bike jumbles, to camping out to follow the Tour of Flanders, to pressing issues like LGV safety in the capital. Jack's a great presenter and interviewer, and his show is well worth listening to.

Cosmo has an interesting take on the action so far, in this piece "Maybe all Grand Tours Should Start in the Netherlands";
"in real-world wind tunnels, cycling’s as much about Spider Sense as anything else. Finding your way onto the right wheel; anticipating nervous moments and getting a good position before the battle starts; knowing which splits will take care of themselves and which you should bury yourself closing—these are the elements that get Grand Tour champions through the first week."
Time will tell, I guess, but my personal take is that the Giro's organisers have made these first stages a little too chaotic. Whilst I'm no fan of the sort of "freeway" racing we sometimes see, there has to be some kind of middle ground that leaves the riders less susceptible to caprice than stage 2 and 3 seemed to.

Cyclingnews has this round up of the favourites' performances, from the Gazzetta Dello Sport. I can't help thinking that they're fundamentally underestimating Sastre. One of his qualities is the way he creeps up the GC seemingly without anyone noticing - added to which, he seems a thoroughly nice bloke. Whilst that latter quality isn't something that matters too much in racing, it's a quality that's endeared him to this monkey - I hope to see him do well once the race hits the mountains.

I was also gutted for Christian VandeVelde, who's out of this year's Giro following a crash (fortunately not as nasty as last year's). There's more detail over at Team Garmin-Transitions' site. I can't help thinking that I should stop picking VdV for my fantasy Giro team, as I seem to be jinxing him.

Whilst there's been a degree of outrage about a certain Mr. Vinokourov getting into the Maglia Rosa, he has, at least, served the full ban he was given, and no one's made any exceptions to get him a pro-tour ride ahead of time. I'm not sure it's reasonable of us as fans to expect the returning rider to be repentant and penitent as a condition of allowing them to race.

Which isn't to say that I wouldn't rather have seen someone else in pink, but the way people have been talking, you'd think Vino had an EPO drip attached to his bike, or something.

Sort of on the topic of the Giro, I'm finding it very difficult to become enthused abotut he Tour of California, in this first year that it runs at the same time as the Giro. Maybe it's different for folk in the 'States, but it looks a bit second string compared to a race with as long a history as the Corsa Rosa - hopefully I can get into the swing of things once racing starts.

Pavé blog has a nice round up of stuff that they didn't have chance to post in the spring.

Not sure I agree with him about the new "trend" in cycling photography - personally, I'd call that underexposed, although it's of a piece with the "hipstamatic" iPhone app in that it fetishises the limitations of poor lenses and expired film stock. The irony of the B&W shot is that black and white film is so forgiving of hamfistedness that you'd have to try hard to underexpose as far as the example pic seems to. Ilford's HP5+, a monkey favourite, has to be seriously mishandled, or poorly scanned to lose so much shadow detail - knowing that makes the new style seem terribly affected, somehow.

Bike Commuter blog has a worrying piece about some local legislation being proposed, HB971 into which a provision has been inserted;
"Unbeknownst to Florida Bicycle Association, a mandatory bike lane use provision was included in the Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles bill. The bill also allows local governments to permit mopeds, golf-carts and other motorized vehicles on sidewalks and trails."
the thought of being forced by law to use some of the poorly thought out, even more poorly maintained and downright dangerous strips of green paint that pass for cycle infrastructure in the UK fills me with dread - unless that in Florida bucks this trend, this is a worrying development. The article provides a link for concerned Florida cyclists to contact their governor on the issue.

Monday, May 10, 2010


From the Bike Commuters Blog comes this nice video of Gazelle bicycles being made in 1925. I want one of their truing jigs, they look great...

Artist Cameron Stewart has been publishing "Sin Titulo", since June 2007. There are now 97 episodes of this complex plotted webcomic on line now. The art is a lovely duotone style, do have a look.

Who else could it be but

Maybe, but not for the reason you think;
"In truth the real reason I was late was that I couldn’t decide which bike to ride. But another small part was that I saw a friend out on the street and stopped to say hello. A real hello, replete with handshakes and well wishes. Which is something you really can’t do in an automobile."
It's from a nice editorial on Urban Velo. I really think this is one of the unstated benefits of travelling by bike, the fact that you're connected with your surroundings far more than you can be in a car.

A new feature on the Bike Trailer Blog, this monthly article is a round up of bike trailer news from the preceding month. Well worth a read if you're interested in going beyond the capabilities of a standard bike with a rack, or just share my opinion that cargo bikes and trailers are cool.

Flowing Data brings this visualisation of Facebook privacy settings. The graphic charts how much of your personal data is available (and to whom) if you use the default privacy settings.

Friday, May 7, 2010


home of "The System", Roscott Inc. brings this bit of typographic fun (and an ampersand eye test chart into the bargain). Those of you doing this year's "Mo'vember" may want to combine your love of facial hair and love of typography...


Pavé blog brings you an new feature, the advice column "Ask Ritte".
"If you can’t win the race, at least win the party. I heard that once from a guy in a San Diego bar, but I think he was talking about NASCAR."
You can mail your questions to - remember to put "Ask Ritte" in the subject line.

Some new product listed on their website, including an interesting looking dynamo light from Shimano. In this light, a secondary bulb flashes as the dynamo turns, with the main light switching on as ambient light falls below a certain level. Looks like a good solution for commuting. Also in the post is a nice looking front rack, and a cleverly designed rear brake hanger.

Close now - Podium Café has a team round up here.

And you can try your own hand at being a director sportif at these fantasy pro-cycing games;

Cosmo comments on the recent bio-passport bans on Cyclocosm.
"From the horrific press release, which seems to have been optimized to avoid search engine results, to the lack of specific data on what makes these riders’ information abnormal, the UCI has created a massive information vacuum..."
I'm in full agreement with him in that the values placing these riders' passports outside the tolerances of the system need to be discussed in detail, otherwise we'll just have endless claim and counter claim.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Podium Café has a good interview with Cervelo Test Team's Emma Pooley
"Though they have the support of Cervélo’s resources, the women are not entirely insulated from the difficulties that women’s cycling faces. Three races Emma Pooley won last year have disappeared from the calendar."
Urban Velo reviews "The Lost Cyclist -The Untold Story of Frank Lenz's Ill-fated Around-the-world Journey".
"Part travelogue, part murder investigation, “The Lost Cyclist” is a clear-eyed look at bicycle travel in the days before paved roads and automobiles. Herlihy mines myriad press accounts, not only to track the trips but also to explain the sometimes testy relationships among cycling clubs, the media, government officials and the riders’ own family."
The article also includes an interview with the author, and can be read here.

With the UCI's Biological passport in the news, it's probably a good time to round up some useful information on the passport system.

First, the UCI's own page "Information on the Bio Passport".

Scientific American "Can Biological Passports Root Out Doping in Sports?"

On NYVelocity - Michael Ashenden interview #1...and "The Bio Passport: 5 Questions for Michael Ashenden".

I love the "Lost Myths" website featured on yesterday.

Its creators describe it as
"A playful medly of cryptomythological fiction, pantheons, bestiaries, comics, art, games, readings, performances and more by Claude Lalumiere and Rupert Bottenburg."
Whilst the best title award undoubtedly goes to "Fun and Games with the Hippatocora", the alternately whimsical and sinister "What To Do with the Dead" is superb too.

Flowing Data takes an interesting look at the trend for large infographics.

Big information graphics have been around for a long time. They've come in the form of maps, visualization, art, signs, etc. That was all on paper though. In the past couple of years, humongous, gigantic, and often really long infographics have found their way onto the computer screen, through blogs and news sites. Some are great. Some really suck. The volume is booming for both.

Let's take a look at when this all got started, where the trend is headed, and how much we should really read into these things.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


The Paper Boneshaker - Original image from the makers' site.

Just how much does Japanese deisgner Shinichi Iwami love bicycles? Enough to have 1/24 scale kits laser-cut out of 0.5mm black paper with enough precision and detail that they require a scalpel, tweezers, glue, instructions, and nerves of steel to assemble.
More information here, at Bikehacks.

Just when I'm feeling pleased with myself for having done a couple of rides edging close to 60 miles, Redbikes puts me in my place by riding a colossal 192 miles. And this despite exploding saddle bags and having to make running repairs to his bike. Chapeau!

BrokenTV, king of the bar chart, and producer of the epic "Top 100 TV shows of the '00s", turns his attention to board games. (Younger readers: Board Games are sort of like paper and card based Wii games. It's what we did for fun in the olden days, after telly had ended for the night, or if there was nothing on on the three(!) available channels).

This time, it's the turn of the TV Times board game. You can read the first in this series (covering the game based on Carla Lane's "Bread") here.

Cycling Inquisition has been to London;
Instead, British cyclists look like Mr Bean, they favor day-glow attire and often ride a Brompton folding bikes.
The full article is here.

Podium Café has a decent timeline of events in the recent unpleasantness surrounding Liquigas and Franco Pelizotti.

Liquigas have responded;
"Right now the evidence presented does not appear able to show with certainty, at a scientific level, illicit behavior by the athlete," Liquigas said in a statement on Tuesday.
Hopefully the evidence is going to be open to scrutiny, so the UCI scientists, and those in the employ of Liquigas can make their case. I'd be interested to see quite what values Liquigas are disputing.

There's a fantastic interview with Michael Ashenden on the site most of us know as the home of Toto NYVelocity, on the UCI's Biological passport system and how it works here.
"However I believe the point you are making is that if they had been doping, they should have been sanctioned via the Passport in the first place. The issue here is sensitivity - the Passport is the most sensitive tool we have available to detect doping once the banned substance has left the system. But it is not 100% sensitive - it won't catch every single rider who had doped. A large part of this is due to the margins of tolerance we must allow to ensure that riders are not wrongly accused of doping."
(My emphasis).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010




Whilst STUFFE is largely about interesting things I find elsewhere, those of you who were following Mrs Monkey and I across France and Belgium last year may be interested to know that I got chance to write up Day Three of our Tiny Tour yesterday, having finally had time to sort through the pictures and tour diary.
Day Three is here, Day Two here, and Day One here. Day three was our longest day in the saddle (42 miles from Brugge to Ieper) and one of my favourites. Just don't ask why I'm pulling that face.

I've also been tidying up some older posts a little (sorting out malformed tags, for the most part). Depending on how both of you read my blog, that might make posts pop up as "new" in your feedreader - apologies if that does happen.

Lines and Colors blog features the work of Belgian painter, illustrator, caricaturist and photographer Ben Heine. His Pencil vs Camera project is a series of photographs taken with Heine's sketches of the location (often with a surreal twist) held in place in the appropriate part of the frame. It's a wonderful, fun project, consisting of 13 images so far.


Bike Commuters reminds US readers that May is national bike month.

There's a list of events on the site, and you're invited to add your own via the comments on this page.

Disc brakes are becoming more common on road bikes and commuters. Over at BikeHacks, they've obtained their first disc brake equipped bike, a Globe Vienna. This post runs through their experience of adjusting them, using, typically enough for Bike Hacks, a steak knife.

Urban Velo are a regular source of bits and pieces for STUFFE - their own magazine is available now (issue 19). You can order a print copy, or read it online for free here.
Contents include: Denver’s Courier Veterans, Aiming for an Urban Cycling Mecca in Asheville, NC, Finders Keepers, I Love Riding in the City, Gallery: 2010 NAHBS, Residue, The End of Favoring Motorized Transportation, Red Hook Crit, The Lost Cyclist, Freewheel Removal, Get a Grip and Bicycle Helmet Evolution.
Cosmo over at Cyclocosm has created an infographic charting 100 years of Giro Winners.
The graphic is word cloud of Giro winners in the shape of Italy, running more or less chronologically from Sicily to the Austrian border. Text sizes correspond to the number of victories, and dates are provided as well. Colors are from the Italian flag, and pink from the maglia rosa worn by the race’s GC Leader.The graphic is word cloud of Giro winners in the shape of Italy, running more or less chronologically from Sicily to the Austrian border. Text sizes correspond to the number of victories, and dates are provided as well. Colors are from the Italian flag, and pink from the maglia rosa worn by the race’s GC Leader.
The graphic is available as a poster or a T-shirt from Cyclocosm.

Eric over at the virtual musette has updated his Top 50 riders of the modern era with points scored this season up to and including the Tour of Romandie. Commentary on the results is to follow (the post linked above is numbers only), but if you're interested to see how the landscape has changed during classics season, head over.
(See also - how the riders are scored part 1 and part 2).

This piece at Bicycling argues that riders can be "too nice".
But all that stuff worked. It weeded out those of us who didn’t belong there, and we didn’t ride there until we belonged.

I’ve always contended that, as reprehensible as roadie elitism is, it is also valuable. A pack of racers needs to be elitist because, when you’re going 37 mph bar-to-bar you want to be there only with the elite. You want to know that the racers in front of you and on either side of you understand what’s going to happen and how to react and what is fair and expected and, even, unfair but expected.

I don't really have a view - I don't ride in groups, and if I'm honest, people sitting in on me makes me nervous (I don't know them, they don't know me). It sounds like I might have the right idea too - I ride my bike for fun these days, and tbh, dealing with this sort of stuff seems a distance away from what I want to do with my spare time.

Take a moment and think of the transportation route system that the United States has developed primarily around automobiles. Now imagine a similar route system for bikes.

Salsa has signed on as a sponsor of the new U.S.B.R.S. fundraising campaign: Build it. Bike it. Be a Part of It. We encourage you to consider donating if you are able.
US readers can learn more, and help the campaign for the USBRS at this page.
(I know it's another US specific thing, but I love the promo graphic, and it's also further proof of Salsa's COOLNESS).

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Tiny Tour: From Crewe to France and Belgium, Day Three

Into the Headwind
Mrs. Monkey succumbs to Hills and Headwinds

Day three was planned to be our longest day on the road, travelling from Brugge to Ieper.

After a very pleasant breakfast with our hosts and the other couples staying at the B&B (including a couple from Florida, who were charming) we headed out of Brugge. This was one of the few times the LF system let us down, as one of the points seemed to be missing. We were able to ask for directions, and a combination of that, and picking up another knoppunkt signpost (not for our route, but did tell us which (wrong) way we were heading) which allowed us to find our way back.

This was quite a challenging day of riding - as we were travelling south and west at this point, we began to have the prevailing wind against us. This part of the LF route had large sections of off road trail, so I was able to ride two abreast with Mrs. Monkey & push her where she was flagging, although occasionally the only answer was to dismount and push.

Cobbles, Baby
Mrs. Monkey and the Pavé

We also got our first real taste of Belgian cobbles on this day.

Cobbles, Baby

This is another reason for examining the "Recommended Alternative Route" carefully on the fietskart, I think, a lesson we'd sadly not learned after our experience of Cabourweg on day one. This stretch was by far the longest bit of pavé we encountered on the trip, on a road appropriately called "Steenstraat" (Stone Street) - I think this is around Diskmuide. It's hard to describe adequately just how jarring these are - even on 32c tyres, it feels as though your fillings are about to part company with you. This was also the point that I began to hope in earnest that I'd done a good enough job on my homebuilt wheels...


The scenery was beautiful though. The fietsroute, once you're properly out of Brugge, winds through a series of wooded areas and parks.

Kastell Aertrycke
The Entrance to Aertrycke Castle

I think the most spectacular of these was the one around Aertrycke Castle.

Kastell Aertrycke
Aertrycke Castle Grounds

This route is also part of a signed "Kastell Route" (there seemed to be lots of these themed tours, in addition to the LF route signs).

Me, in the grounds of Aertrycke Castle, the weather is nice enough for me to need my cycling cap

If all the castles are as nice as Aertrycke, the Kastell route is definitely one to note for future tours. We also had a picture taken of both of us, for a change, by some nice Flemish ladies who were kind enough to offer on seeing me trying to set up the camera on a stone plinth.

Wijnendale Café Stop

Of course, all that riding into the wind, and negotiation of cobbles is drying work, so you can imagine how glad we were to see this sign in Wijnendale. I also recommend the café by the canal at Knoppunkt 8, although I can't for the life of me remember its name.

Our destination was the Hotel Sultan at Ieper.

Ieper Grote Markt
View from the Hotel Window

Recently refurbished, the hotel is basic, but has a fantastic position right on Ieper's Grote Markt, as you can see from the picture above. Bike storage is adequate (bikes go in a corridor at the back of the hotel, with a railing they can be locked to), and the proprietors were helpful and friendly when we arrived, opening a large side door to allow us in more easily.

The Menin Gate

Despite having been to Belgium before, we'd never visited Ieper, and Mrs Monkey wanted to see the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate. Having showered and changed, we ate another hearty meal to replace (more) cycling energy, and headed for the gate.

Last Post
At the Menin Gate, before the ceremony

The scale of the gate is astonishing, and begins to illustrates the scale of loss suffered during the first world war.

This model outside the memorial shows the original concept for the gate

Despite the crowds at the last post ceremony, it seemed to me to be an appopriately sombre affair, although there is more opportunity for reflection afterwards, I think.


By the time we left the gate, night had all but fallen, and we decided to grab a coffee before returning to the hotel.


We headed into the "Regina Republica" bar by the fountains on the Grote Markt, and were very pleased to see coffee served with cake, and even a miniature Twix.

Miles Covered: 42, at an average speed of 9.21mph