Thursday 30 December 2010

tough day at the office

I had a blinder of a race last weekend - everything came together. Fitness, technique, mindset and equipment all conspired to give me my best performance this season. And very happy I was too.

Cross is not always so kind though . Sometimes you just can't get a break - whether it be the weather, the course, equipment or some kind of of enduring voodoo curse. Helen Wyman has followed up some great results with a crashtastic period that has cost her in races somewhat, though she fights on, as ever. Nys must be wondering what deity or spirit he has offended recently, as for a month he has been suffering training crashes, errant pedals and chains and communication errors with his pit crew. When will he get a break? Who knows, but he must be considering some sort of sacrificial offering to appease whomever he has offended.

By way of illustration, here are some folks having a bad day at the office in Wednesday's Azencross from Loenhout. First up, a great Women's race in tough conditions...

And here is Sven - last lap, neck and neck with Niels Albert. Pre-arranged bike change onto one with harder tires for the sprint, but his pit crew is not where previously discussed, being nearer to the pit entrance than he expects. Cue one over eager mechanic of 15 years service, who simply pulls his dirty bike off him. Whilst he is attached to it by the left pedal..... Go figure the rest....

Here's to better luck for both of them in future races.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

getting evangelical about going green

Actually, all I want for Christmas is Green, not Glue.

(At this point a disclaimer is necessary: those of a non-geek disposition should look away now)

It may be coincidence, it may be a sign, a portent - this weekend past in the Kalmthout World Cup, a couple of top riders were seen sporting unusual tub wear. A departure from the norm, from the legions of Rhinos and Typhoons, identically lined up on the start line.

They were the iconic cross clincher from the early 90s - first incarnation with tan sidewalls then black and finally all green. Some dustier shades, some brighter and more fluorescent - all with the same killer tread. It was the tread that did it - ridden by Nick Craig to a National Cross Champs title at Abergevenny when no other tread could manage the slick off cambers, ridden by League stalwarts everywhere when the mud got thick and finally seized upon by imaginative Euros for conversion by Dugast for those courses where Typhoons couldn't cope. Subsequently, as FMB have entered the specialist tub market, Francois has seen brisk business converting Greens too. At least from me anyway..

It was those early Dugast conversions that gave birth to the Rhino - Richard from Dugast saw the market for a specialist mud tread fitted from scratch rather than through a labour intensive cutting and fettling process. And yet for many the Rhino simply hasn't managed to replace the green Michelin Mud as the ultimate mud tread.


Rhinos aren't as good. Fact. I've back to back to tested Rhinos and Greens on both Dugast and FMB carcasses, and on differing courses and conditions. Friends who are experienced riders have compared them too. The verdict is the same - the Greens outperform the Rhinos everywhere and on everything. Rhinos shine in slick, slightly sloppy mud on manicured grass surfaces - standard Euro course fare then. So do Greens, often with better lateral grip in sweeping turns. However as it gets thicker and rougher, the Rhinos continue to perform well but have a tendency to ball up a little and keep the mud a little longer on the tread, reducing grip and spreading more on the bike rather than the ground. The Greens keep on gripping, even better perhaps, but do a better job of shedding the mud quicker off the tread. This was clearly illustrated at a training session with recent Green convert Dave Haygarth (welcome Brother Dave) - his bike shod with Greens was appreciably less covered in surface material than my bike with its Rhinos. OK, we were on different bikes, but mine has arguably better clearances and would not be expected to clog any worse. Scientific? No. Based on years of riding cross and cross tubs? Yes.

So who were the zealous upholders of the faith this weekend? None other than Brother Nys, aided and assisted by former World Champ, Hanka Kupfernagel. Conditions at Kalmthout looked snowy but the course appeared largely mud based, with some frozen slush thrown in. Nys changed onto his Greens after a near wipeout on a tricky left hander that brought down a gaggle of riders the following lap. He changed again, presumably for cleaning purposes but went back onto Greens, upon which he finished the race. It should be pointed out though, that despite the miracle claims made in this post about the qualities of Greens, they may not improve your sprinting ability against a younger, feistier man.........

Cogniscenti have been collecting Green clinchers for a while now and I have a nice selection of old treads in varying states of wear. And here in lies the rub - discontinued for well over 10 years now, the worldwide stock of Green Mud clinchers is diminishing rapidly now, almost to the point of extinction. Rare relics like these reside in select cellars in the cross community, biding their time before the ultimate sacrifice - being cut up to be reborn in new and wondrous form as a Dugast or FMB tubular.


Addendum: No, Michelin Mud 2s do not cut it in anyway, any shape or any form. Period.

Monday 20 December 2010

all i want for christmas

All I want for Christmas is Glue.

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want some for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is...

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I don't want to hang my clinchers
There upon a rim
Santa Claus won't make me happy
With a tire on Christmas Day
I just want a sewup for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is Glue

All I want for Christmas is Glue... baby (repeat and fade)

With apologies to Mariah Carey. Not.

Friday 3 December 2010

petitesreines koksijde video

Koksijde - 3ème Manche de CDM cyclo cross 2010/2011 from Web Petitesreines on Vimeo.

More great film behind and in amongst the scenes of the Women's World Cup circuit. The finish line shots beautifully capture those feelings of pain and relief that only those who have given their all in a race will know.