Cameron Mason – The Racer

The Simpsons, Series 2, Episode 13 – Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment.
Homer and friends sit down to watch a live cable t.v broadcast of Watson v Tatum 2: The bout to knock the other guy out.
Breathy, English-accented voice over – “The challenger learned how to fight in the notorious projects of Capital City, and honed his skills whilst serving time for aggravated assault and manslaughter in Springfield prison”.
Barney Gumble – “Aaaallright! A local boy”

There’s always been a correlation when following professional sport between an athlete’s perceived geographical proximity to one’s self and the level of will to see them succeed. Not a fandom necessarily, or something rooted in parochiality, but an interest in who they are, the results they produce, and what it was that took someone from the same milieu as you to the ranks of professional sport.
We in the BCR are not immune to this ourselves, particularly when the sport in question is cycling; so when we’d heard of someone from our corner of the world, who has trained on the same roads as us and appears on the same Strava segment leaderboards, making a successful foray into professional cycling, we had to find out what his story was.

Cameron Mason is a 19-year-old cyclocross racer from Central Scotland.
After a few years of racing all over the country and making regular cross-channel trips to race in Belgium, he is spending his first full season living and racing on the continent as part of the Trinity Racing team.
Multiple top 10 and 20 finishes, including in World Cup and European Championship races, and a podium finish in the UK Championships means 2019/20 has already been fruitful.
Cameron is also voracious in documenting his cycling life, both racing and otherwise, through various forms of social media.
Without further ado, let us introduce Cameron Mason…

Let’s start right at the beginning. How did you get into cycling?

My cousin Calum was big into cycling when he was a youth and junior, so the cycling side of things came from there. I always rode my bike when I was little, I really enjoyed it and my parents encouraged it. When I was about 8 years old I started some racing in the Under 12s at Scottish XC MTB races. After I started racing properly I spiralled into wanting to race all types of events. I did road, XC, CX, track and running when I was younger. When I was about 12 West Lothian Clarion youth club came about which helped massively with my development.

Your first club was West Lothian Clarion. What did you learn from riding and racing with the club, and was this where you first discovered you had a talent for cycling?

I loved riding in the club, I learned loads while in WLC. It allowed me to push myself as it opened new opportunities, like riding the club 10 mile TT, training session and club races. It was a perfect environment to learn surrounded by my friends and passionate coaches and helpers. I don’t think there was ever a ‘discovery’ of talent. In my head, I knew I was enjoying it and I was always on my bike and mucking around. That seemed to be a good recipe for making a good bike rider.

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Cyclocross is the discipline you specialise in.
What attracted you specifically to CX; what are the attributes, skills and talents you have that mean you excel at cross, and have you ever toyed with the idea of transitioning to road?

Cyclocross is a funny one. It’s hard to describe the discipline to someone who doesn’t know about it. It requires a range of skills as the courses can be so different week to week. Some races we ride are very fast with average speeds close to 30km/hr and some are the opposite with very slow speeds and sometimes 50% running. You need to be adaptable and have the ability to handle different situations quickly and decisively. For example if it starts to rain 10 minutes before the race you need to change you tire set up them re-adjust your race approach to ride better in the mud. In cyclocross things are always changing, track conditions, how muddy your bike is, the riders who are around you and also the way you have to ride sections.

The last few years I have been asked about the road a lot. As I have progressed in CX and with the success of guys like MVDP and Wout van Aert who combine both disciplines, people are curious to see how I would do on the road. Right now I am very happy to focus on my CX progression. At the moment I have lots of opportunities to push my CX forward, but if those were to come about in the road I would be happy to pursue them.

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How much of your practice time is spent on the skills required to be a good Cyclocross rider – dismounting, clipping in and out, shouldering the bike, picking a line through an obstacle etc. – and how much is spent on just developing the power and endurance in the legs and the cardiovascular system to push you through a race?

In a normal week, 80% of our riding time is on the road, we don’t actually do much specific CX training midseason. That is mainly because we are racing two times a week, the race time keeps our skills sharp and the road sessions are the best way to get a quality training ride.

I want to be the best I can be in the world of cyclocross…

In October 2019 you were announced as having signed for Cycling super-agent, Andrew McQuaid’s Trinity Racing.
How did that come about and what attracted you to join the team?

Tom basically DMed me on Instagram in August 2019 and asked if I would like to ride for the team. I said ‘FOR SURE!’ and that was that. It was a very logical fit though. I want to be the best I can be in the world of cyclocross and being in Trinity meant I would get to ride the best gear, the best races and be teammates with one of the best riders, Tom Pidcock.

You now share a team with Men’s Junior and U23 Cyclocross World Champion, and Junior and U23 Paris-Roubaix winner, Tom Pidcock, and participant in numerous Giro Rosa, Women’s Tour, and World, Euro and British Championship Road Races, Abby-Mae Parkinson.
What have you learned from spending time with these guys and seeing how they go about racing their bikes?

First of all, they are VERY quick bike riders (obviously) so that has been fun trying to keep up with them! We have a really good team dynamic and bring our own unique qualities to the table which is really cool. I have learned so much from them already, Tom’s wealth of race experience in all disciplines have taught me lots about this sport. I ask him lots of questions which might annoy him sometimes I think, but he is always happy to help and to see me learn. Abby does not live in Belgium full time with Tom and me but when she is over I really enjoy training with her. She has very cool stories of the road side of the sport that I don’t know a huge amount about.

You predominantly race on the continent these days, with Cyclocross being particularly big in Belgium and the Netherlands.
How do you cope with all the travelling, the time away from home, and the pressures of racing?

I will be away from Scotland for about 5 months in total this season which is the longest I have been abroad at a time. To be honest I haven’t really noticed it or missed home that much. That must mean I have been enjoying myself so that’s good. The training and racing is quite intense so there isn’t time to really miss home and I am doing exactly what I want to do and I love it! I live with Tom in Belgium, he is good company. The Trinity Team is also like a wee family so I kind of feel like I belong here.

I really like the feeling of involving people in my racing and it is amazing when things are awesome because you can share your success with thousands of people.

What have been the other high points in your racing career so far?
Any particular events or results that stand out?

Up until now, I would say my career highlights have all been things like racing my first world cup, racing my first world champs, and racing with MVDP. As I start to do more of these big races and my results climb up I am raising my bar to bigger things. My top 10 at the Tabor World Cup felt very big but this season has really been a whirlwind of new best results and high points, it’s all been awesome!

There are many obvious facets to being a professional sportsperson and a very important one nowadays for fan and sponsorship engagement is social media.  You do this really well with your IG/FB stories, YouTube, Vlogs etc. Is media/social production another passion of yours and how has this evolved as your career has grown?

Yes, I do think social media is more important nowadays as an athlete but it is definitely not essential. I really enjoy sharing what I am up to and showing people as much as I can about the sport but it isn’t really for everyone. If you don’t enjoy sharing and you force it then it will come across and unauthentic which is the opposite of how it should be. I really like the feeling of involving people in my racing and it is amazing when things are awesome because you can share your success with thousands of people. But it can be hard when things don’t go great and you feel like you have to share that with people. That is when it is important to set yourself boundaries and remember that you come first, not social media. Sharing the low points as well as the high points is good as it is important for people to know its not all amazing, but sometimes it’s ok to not share when you are not feeling great.

Having dabbled ourselves with videos, there is a huge amount of time in editing and general production.   How do you pull all this together in addition to the obvious time sacrifices for training and racing?

As a bike rider you spend your time either eating, sleeping, riding or recovering. There isn’t much time for anything else but I have found something productive and enjoyable I can do with my downtime, edit YouTube videos! Other riders have XBOX, Netflix and reading, I have Adobe Premiere Pro (my editing software) I have busier training and racing periods where editing is put to the side so I am less productive there. I also find races where I didn’t perform as well as I’d liked to harder to edit as it’s basically 6-8 hours looking at footage from the race and race day. And if that’s of a bad day it’s not the most inspiring thing in the world. But when I have a REALLY good race it is so fun to edit because I can relive how good I felt on the bike that day, pros and cons!

What benefits has your vegan diet brought you?

Going plant-based has been quite a gradual thing for me over the last 5ish years so I can’t really say any definite benefits that I have felt. I get to eat a lot! Firstly because plant foods are generally less calorie-dense and secondly because no matter how much I eat I never seem to gain weight, I guess that’s a good thing! I have my own reasons for choosing the diet I do and that as long as I know that then I am happy, I don’t want to press my views onto anyone.

I can imagine that in this world of hidden ingredients, you must have to take extra measures to ensure you uphold your vegan diet.  How do you manage this dietary lifestyle with the obvious fuelling required when on the road racing and training?

I think that life is too short to get hung up on the little things so I try to think about the big picture in some instances. For example, if someone is kind enough to bake me something then I am not going to turn it down just because it may have a little dairy in it. Diet is very personal and you can choose exactly what you want to eat for your own reason so don’t feel like you have to uphold to anything. I feel good eating plant-based and I get everything I need so I am happy :). On the road, things can get harder as it’s difficult to find good veggie and vegan options in some places. Planning ahead is the best way of dealing with this though so I make more of my travel meals and snacks myself so I don’t have to worry about finding options for me.

What’s the goal and vision for the future, both in the short and long-term on and off the bike?  Concentrating on improving in Cyclocross, or is there anything else in the works?

Short-term, continue to love racing/riding my bike. Long-term, continue to love racing/riding my bike. That is really what I am in it, I really love it and that’s what motivates me to train and race every week. Being more specific though, in the short term (3-5 years-ish) I would like a medal and a major championship, that would be big. Long term I am not really sure, I am not very good at planning ahead for things like that. For now, I’ll just focus on the now.

Who is your favourite cyclist?

Chris Akrigg. Look him up! He is a UK trials rider and I would say he is the most skilled bike rider in the world. His videos are insane and he seems like a very cool guy. Life goals is to be as smooth and as skilled as him!

One drink, one film, one song?

Apple juice, Hot Fuzz, Dog Days Are Over

A massive thanks to Cameron for taking the time to share his cycling life with us during a hectic festive race period. Since interviewing, Cameron has recently finished 2nd in the Nationals U23 and 3rd in The nationals Elite.  Check out the video on his channel. Absolutely amazing performance and continuing his impressive ascension to the top of the podium. Chapeau.

Be sure to check out and follow him via social media using the links below.  His video content is both brilliant and inspiring.

Camerons next racing on Sunday, at World Cup Nommay, the following week at Hoogerhiede World Cup then the World Champs the week after that.  We wish him ‘aw ra best’ fae The BCR.   Follow his progress at cyclocross24

Cameron’s YouTube Channel
Cameron’s Instagram
Cameron’s Twitter

Trinity Racing YouTube Channel
Trinity Racing Instagram
Trinity Racing Twitter

Happy Rolling in 2020

Darren & Craig

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Michael Valenti – The Veloist

If you are not already acquainted with his work, then let me introduce Michael Valenti.  Hailing from Lindenburg Illinois, via Boston and Chicago. He’s an artist who loves to cycle.  A cyclist who lives for art. He is the Veloist; a cunning portmanteau of Velo & Artist.  If he’s not chasing the Peloton around the globe on his trusty ‘Steel is Real’ Waterford bike creating amazing art as it happens,  then he’ll be in the studio or out on the home roads of Illinois & Wisconsin with his beloved Veloist.CC.  We have been huge fans of his art and also avid followers of his Social media posts, including his hilarious ‘Bonjour from the tour ‘despatches for some time now.  We had to reach out, discover more about the art of cycling and, the cycling in his art. We were hopeful of a short interview,  yet we received so much more and via the mediums of facetime Michael welcomed us in with open bandwidth into his life and creative world.  Without further ado, please charge your bidons with your weapon of choice and enjoy our chat with the amazing artist that is Michael Valenti

Continue reading “Michael Valenti – The Veloist”

Derek Mclay – The Wheelsmith

So I was on the lookout for a set of carbon wheels and going through the motions.  You know the drill, checking out the best wheel reviews in the price bracket desired then transposing that info into a multitude of search engines.  Wiggle, Facebook, eBay, Gumtree you name it.  All in the vain hope you’ll find that shining pebble in the discounted price stream.  I was even narrowed down to two of the leading brands Zipp V Mavic.   Yet every time I hovered my finger over a  ‘Bid Now’,  ‘Buy It Now’ or a ‘Complete Your Order’ button.  I would stall, something wasn’t squaring up.

Then through friendly discourse, I received not one but numerous glowing recommendations to look no more. Why buy generic big brand mass produced, when you can have bespoke, customised wheels made by ‘The Wheelsmith’.  So I did. I visited his workshop in Larbert.  I was fascinated by this menagerie of wheels and the spinning world into which I stepped.  My eyes bounced and floated around like the sound waves of the eclectic tunes wafting out of the sound system. Tracing and darting all over the stunning variations of rims, hubs, spokes and nipples available for customisation.

After blethering, questioning and perusal I decided upon a pair of carbon 40mm rims running Dtswiss 240s.  But not only that I was now fascinated and had to learn a little more about this art and the master craftsmen behind it.  This is a brilliant example of what happens when passion, knowledge and skill collide.    A barometer of this is a client list that spans the spectrum from Russian Oligarchs, Record Breakers, Race champions to Braes City (weekend) Rouleurs.

I asked if he would do a Q&A with us.  Reluctant at first (due to previous bad experience) he gladly warmed to the idea.

Without further ado, Let me introduce you to Derek McLay- The Wheelsmith.  Grab a glass and enjoy. Continue reading “Derek Mclay – The Wheelsmith”

Paris-Roubaix! What Would Tom Boonen do?

This time last year I was “bricking it!”  The previous November, in a fit of madness I had signed up for the Paris Roubaix, Hell of the North Sportive.  I had convinced myself id have plenty of time to train and get fit for it and then Christmas had hit with all the usual cheese, port and chocolate.

By March, due to a combination of snow, hail, more port and more cheese I hadn’t managed anything over a few 60km rides and some commuting to and from work and was genuinely considering not going.  Two week’s before we were due to leave things got worse, I injured my lower back lifting a table into our new house and could barley walk, never mind cycle, so it really was touch and go wither I would be heading off for Hell.   I was due to be taking part with my good friends, and friends of The BCR Graeme and Iona.  A message from Iona asking me what Tom Boonen would do and the fact that The Hell of the North is the most iconic race on the entire calendar (not an opinion, a FACT) was enough to make me toughen up, stop whining and get on with it.

So two days before we were due on the start line I jumped in the van for the drive through to Graeme and Iona’s new flat in Glasgow.  When we all met we were all excited but also nervous, you hear so much about how brutal the cobbles are and how many crashes, injury’s occur during this race you’ve got to think it’s a bit mental wanting to take part, but if your into cycling and your in the know, Paris Roubaix and Flanders trump everything else, every time, they really are the pinnacle of the cycling year so the excitement was more prevalent than the nerves.  Also, what would Tom Boonen do?


From here it was a 4 hour drive down to Leeds, my back was getting worse, but what would Tom Boonen do?  A short stopover in a hotel including carrying bikes up 7 flights of stairs, my back was getting worse but what would Tom Boonen do?  Up at 5am and onto the bus.  Then stops every hour or so right down the entire country making something like 10 hours on the bus before reaching the ferry, my back was getting worse, you get the idea.   By the time we reached the ferry my pain killer stocks were getting worryingly low but, what would Tom Boonen do?  Stock up on the ferry, that’s what!

For me it was simply slightly wider tyres, 28c Gatorskins to avoid punctures if possible, double bar tape and my secret weapon, extra padded weight lifting gloves!

The ferry journey was 2 hours and then we had another 4 on the bus in France making a total of 16 hours bus journey.  Although an epic journey in pain, it was made a bit quicker by all the other cyclists heading for hell.  We met guys from Leeds, Manchester, London and various other places, all feeling the same mixture of nerves and excitement before heading over the precipice. All asking themselves, what would Tom Boonen do?  As you can probably imagine, much of the chat was around bikes and specifically wither there had been any adaptations to people’s bikes for this particular event.  Over the years the pro’s have had sponge seats, suspension forks, wider tyres and various other attempts at making the cobbles more barrable so part of the fun of taking part is working out how your going to approach the pain.  For me it was simply slightly wider tyres, 28c Gatorskins to avoid punctures if possible, double bar tape and my secret weapon, extra padded weight lifting gloves!  Other people had gone for specific bikes, wider still tyres, less pressure in tyres etc but everyone on the bus was completely amazed by Graeme’s decision to use his single speed bike.  Bonkers seemed to be the consensus which was a judgement I believe Graeme ending up making himself!

 Bang, my bikes rattling, my jaws ratting, I’m banging about bouncing up and down and clattering on full speed

To the event.  Thankfully it was a crisp but sunny morning as we again got onto the coach, this time it was only a couple of hours to the start line and as with travelling to other rides, this journey was over in a flash.  I was doped up and although my back was still sore, I could feel it through a fog of painkiller and the adrenalin was starting to kick in.  Our coach dropped us off about half a mile from the start and as we cycled towards the line, gradually the streets got busier and busier with cyclists.  There is always something exciting about cycling abroad, all the big races you watch on TV are in Europe, generally Italy, France or Spain and I always think there is something special about cycling with thousands of other cyclists speaking one of these languages.  Also means I don’t need to speak to anyone when im knackered.

confidence and speed help you roll over them a lot easier than you do if your tense and struggling

So we rolled off gently for the first few miles but it wasn’t long before Graeme, who is an light spring hare on the bike sped off into the distance, Iona and I rolled along a bit further before we gradually drifted apart in the crowds and then it was onto the first cobbled section.  Now as you approach, you are genuinely worried, the story’s about broken bones and the legend of these cobbled streets are in your mind and you cant help but think this is going to be hellishly grim but thinking, what would Tom Boonen do? I sped up on the slightly downhill approach and rattled into it as fast as I could.  Bang, my bikes rattling, my jaws ratting, I’m banging about bouncing up and down and clattering on full speed.  It’s a busy section and although im in a bit of shock I seem to be passing people and faring a lot better than everyone around me so I push on and after a few minutes its over and you release onto what feels like silky smooth tarmac.   It was a short section and only 2 star, 5 star being the worse but my confidence has been given a boost and I’m now enjoying myself and looking forward to the next section.

I was enjoying it, I was high, I was hyper but the constant banging, bouncing and brutal jarring gradually wears you down and it does get hard

Over the next hour or so, through however many sections I start to get into the swing of it, I think the fact I do a lot of mountain biking helps and I’m used to picking lines over roots, rocks and whatever else.  Lots of the professional looking roadies were clearly really struggling with the constant jolting and having to pick lines, avoid gaps in-between cobbles and keeping their line in the crowds.  I also think that its true what they say about the cobbles, confidence and speed help you roll over them a lot easier than you do if your tense and struggling.  Most of all through I think that weight helps.  Unlike Graeme the Hare, I’m more like a Hippo on a bike and the combination of my weight and, still being fresh, a bit of power really helped me fly though the morning, so much so that not long before the first feed station I looked into the distance and actually saw Graeme bouncing around over the next section, we caught up over a drink at the station and then normal service resumed with him disappearing into the distance again, however me actually catching him at all was a sign he was struggling over the cobbles on his single speed and it does show that the route is more for the bigger, powerful rider as appose to the fly weight climber.  Its also pan flat!


After that initial 3rd of the route things got a bit more like normal and the excitement begins to wear off.  The sections of cobbles blend into one and the wearing down process kicks in.  For the first few sections I was enjoying it, I was high, I was hyper but the constant banging, bouncing and brutal jarring gradually wears you down and it does get hard.  I cant really differentiate between any of the sections from here on in apart from Le Trouee d’Arenberg, The Trench.  Images of the first world war, fighting in the trenches, barbed wire and mustard gas come to mind and watching the pro race every year, fighting to get in position under the famous bridge and then the carnage as they hit the Trench isn’t dissimilar.  Ok, that’s ridiculous but its sometimes pretty bad!   I personally made it through unscathed but it was definitely the worst section in the whole route.  The trench is through the middle of the d’Arenberg forrest and the surface of the cobbles is therefore wet and almost mouldy, its slippery as ice and this combined with the camber and the gaps, bumps and holes in the cobbles makes for absolute carnage.  I witnessed 3 crashes around me as I went through this section, two separate guys sliding off to the right and through the tape landing on the dirt track and 1 guy coming down right in the middle of the cobbles, at the peak of the camber taking out 3 of his mates in the process.  Having cycled through here I’m looking forward to watching the Pro’s through this section even more than previously!
To be honest, from then on in it was hard, due to lack of fitness I’m really struggling by this point and its just a case of plodding on and finishing.  The cobble sections now that I’m exhausted are much harder as I don’t have the energy or power to rattle through them and I seem to feel every bump and jolt.  The things that help in this event as appose to others through are the crowds along the route.  The pro race is the day after and the route is already filled with camper vans and fans out to watch and they cheer and encourage everyone as if it’s the actual race, it makes it a fantastic atmosphere and a special event.  My one regret regarding this is that I actually passed Didi the Devil cheering me one with his Trident and I never stopped to get a picture with him.


One more incident that happened not long after this was someone trying to cut me up around a corner, I just held my line and he crashed into me and hit the deck.  I just kept on cycling, hope he was ok.

I dug and finished the route and I’m so glad I did, the end in the stadium is amazing, again, like on the route there are fans in a day early cheering you on and all the other participants who have finished hang about to cheer people over the line.  You come into the stadium, just like you have seen on Eurosport and do a lap to the cheers of the spectators.  Some riders are waving, riding round no handed (not me after a previous incident in another event) and some go for a sprint finish but it’s a real festival atmosphere in which to finish.  The weather was great and it felt like a real achievement to have completed the route of one of my favourite races.  I really would recommend this event to anyone.


Just for information, if you ever do the event yourself, it doesn’t finish there.  The next day at the pro race, if you have completed the sportive and have your medal they have a special section in the centre of the velodrome for you with beer on tap and a perfect view of the end of the race.  Seeing the world champion ride into the stadium and hearing the roar of the crowd for him and the only rider able to hang onto him till the end just topped off a fantastic trip and I also picked up my souvenir cobble, just like Tom Boonens.


The miracle of all this was that from crossing the start line until the next day my back was cured, like Jesus curing a leper, Tom Boonen had cured my back!   A 17-hour bus journey put paid to this however and it was almost a month incorporating massive amounts of drugs and two trips to casualty before I could even sit on my bike again!   Worth every bit of pain, anyone up for Flanders next year?

 

Happy Rolling

Graham

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Want to get into the spirit of Paris Roubaix.  Come along and join us at the Canalside Pub And Grill and see the race hit the velodrome. What would Tom Boonen do?

 

 

Paris ROubaix

Latha Duncan – The Attorney

10 minute read

 Ten blocks of ice are attempting to make perfect circles in a jerky dissociation from my limbs as my motor functions rapidly slow with the wind chill.  A wind chill so fierce it will strip any remaining layers of dermis exposed.  Head down I advance, meter by meter, shielding myself from the whiplash and turbulence of passing vehicles.  Like an Olympic swimmer, I’m rhythmically twisting my head in search of pockets of life-supporting clean air to sook in.  Through the road spray, every breath is dual purpose- Filtration and oxygenation.  Car headlights are creating a dazzling, yet blinding ‘Aurora Crash-e-alas’  of flashes in my field of vision.  This is no longer about the journey.  This is purely about the destination.  A destination I eventually reach in a cold-suffering hypnotic daze.  A daze that I’m broken from by a single life-affirming question. That question ” What Ice Cream Cone would you like?” asked the Igloo Ice Cream Van Driver ‘two cones, One scoop each, both with Nutella drizzle please my man” I mutter without my lips or face moving.  I have twenty minutes before I undertake another Zwift training session and I have just made the perilous 50m expeditious winter journey from my front door to the parked ‘Igloo Ice cream Van’ down the street.  Yes, regardless of the weather this Ice cream van does the rounds in rain, hail, snow and on the odd occasion, in the sunshine. I might be racing the volcano circuit soon but the ice cream is for the kids..honest!  I trudge back to excited children, handing over their windswept and diluted ice cream, before disrobing the winter garb and heading to the man cave.

I would like to be outside riding my bike but yet another bad weather protocol has forced it indoors.  We are blessed with many things in Scotland but Winter riding is not one of them.  It generally veers from one extreme: Wrapped up like Scott of the Antarctic, to taps aff 1 stripped down to your bib shorts and heart rate monitor for another totally tropical turbo session.

I clip in and start my warm up. With the fan blasting my face and my better looking virtual avatar on a pootle around Central Park,  my mind inevitably wanders.  I look to the cocoon of four walls and dream about winter riding in the glorious sunshine.  As the clock counts down but my speed and heart rate picks up, I scroll my Strava feed to fire a few obligatory Kudos into the community.  Keep the motivational spirit strong before I start.   A logged ride piques my interest. The profile carries a  St Andrews flag.  The sun-kissed pictures capturing shore line’s and panoramas that are most definitely not Ayr beach but a portal into a beautiful parallel universe 5,126 miles away from here.  I need to know what this cycling winter wonderland is like.  Curiosity and the seed of an idea for a guest feature Q&A on the BCR takes hold. I decide to reach out to the Strava Athlete.  He may be on the other side of the world but nothing ventured nothing gained eh.  I receive some very’ good vibrations’ in return(couldn’t help myself with the beach boys nod and wink) and this is where our story takes flight across the Atlantic pond

Enter stage left Mr Latha Duncan.
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Latha hails from Beverly Hills where he lives with his Girlfriend and is of Scottish descent (gone yirself). He Studied Law and Political Science. When he is not cycling he is an Acquisitions Lawyer for Lionsgate, one of Hollywood’s major entertainment players.
He is a true force of nature in the Strava community with over 10K followers.  A benchmark many a world pro rider has yet to amass.   Latha is going to give us a little snapshot into his cycling life in and around The City of Angels.  Along the way, we dive into wine, music, his own cycling website and a surprise ride with Geraint Thomas current Tour De France Champion.

Grab a glass of the good stuff and get prepared for a healthy dose of Vitamin D with our Q&A With Latha Duncan. Continue reading “Latha Duncan – The Attorney”

Richard Moore – The Writer

It’s difficult to say when I first started listening to The Cycling Podcast.
I believe it was sometime around the 2014 Tour De France, which kicked off on the crowd-laden roads of Yorkshire, saw Chris Froome abandon on the cobbles of Northern France, and Vincenzo Nibali seal an easy win (he would be in yellow on all but two race days, and the gap to second place would be over 7 minutes) with victories on La Planche des Belles Filles, Chamrousse, and Hautacam.

If memory serves, it was part of a drive to immerse myself in the milieu of the race – to be surrounded by the noise, the stories, the chatter, and the behind-the-scenes info of the race itself – which caused me to look beyond what television could provide in its very action-centric coverage.
Podcasting, as a medium, although having been on the go for a number of years, was still somewhat niche, and far from the Joe Rogan-shaped, true-crime-drama filled behemoth it has now become.
The iTunes store was not exactly packed with options, so after a search for “cycling”, I just picked the first one that caught my eye.
It was a good thing I did because I’ve been hooked ever since.

Continue reading “Richard Moore – The Writer”

Aviemore 100 – The Morning After The Day Before

Sunday- The day after the day before

As I rouse, the legs are achy, the sunburned skin is as crisp as an overcooked Christmas Turkey and the liver…well, the liver should be pickled in a jar on a mad scientist’s laboratory shelf.

It’s the morning after the day before.  Where Derek, Mark, Sherpy and myself took part in the Aviemore 100. A day of mixed emotions and success. Continue reading “Aviemore 100 – The Morning After The Day Before”

Brian Smith. TV pundit and British Road Race Champion

Brian Smith – The Coach

He’s a former Olympic Athlete. He rode a Grand Tour(94 Giro). He’s been crowned British Road Race champion not once, but twice!  He has won races from as far afield as Tucson, Denmark, all the way to(wait for it) Girvan. As Director Sportive and General Manager, he nurtured a fledgeling World Pro tour team from contenders to multiple Grand Tour Stage wins.  You’ll see and hear him on Eurosport as ‘The Coach’. His commentary and analysis dissecting the strategies and moves often before they occur, thrusting us the viewers, straight into the pulsing heart and thrum of the peloton.

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The Coach

Ladies and Gentleman, Brian Smith. Grab a big bottle, pour a wee dram (or weapon of choice) and enjoy Brian’s life in cycling. Continue reading “Brian Smith – The Coach”

Time Trial

A long, pensive look from big, bloodshot eyes…
A deep, massaging stroke of a long, stubbly chin…
A tired, resigned loll of the head…
“Aahh, probably started in fucking 1994″…
A sardonic, chastening laugh, followed by a correction…
“…1992!”
A figure’s illuminated head and neck stands out starkly against a solid, black backdrop. A scene which looks interrogatory in nature, but has the tone of the therapists couch.
The figure is David Millar, professional cyclist since 1997. The topic of conversation is his entry in to the sport and his love for its biggest event.

Continue reading “Time Trial”

Finlay Pretsell – The Filmmaker

He’s a Producer.  He’s a Director. He’s a BAFTA award-winning Filmmaker.  He rode Mountain Bike for Scotland. He stood on the podium in National Cyclocross.  His award-winning short films span a myriad of diverse and fascinating subjects; Track Cyclist’s, Bench Press Champions, Prison hairdressers and Ballet slipper makers to name a few.   Ladies and Gentleman, without further ado, the incredibly talented – Finlay Pretsell.
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Grab your Popcorn, Nachos with plastic cheese, Plant pot Cola cup or alternatively, treat yourself to something a little stronger and enjoy our chat with Finlay.
We discuss his passion for cycling, movies and filmmaking process. Including his latest critically acclaimed feature cinema release  ‘Time Trial’. Featuring former Tour De France stage winner, Maillot Jaune holder and Scottish Cycling Legend David Millar

Continue reading “Finlay Pretsell – The Filmmaker”

The Ultimate Cyclist – Graeme Cook

He has logged over 32,000 miles on Strava.  He rode Paris-Roubaix Sportive on a single speed.  He has ridden over  27-century rides in a calendar year including the toughest Sportives this fair land has to offer.  He has more badges in his Strava Trophy case than a 75-Year lifelong Scout has on his sleeve (not too mention a Santa list of bagged KOM’s). This rouleur is a true cycling advocate and rarely does a day pass without him either riding his bike, advocating or promoting cycling.   So without further ado, It gives us great pleasure to introduce to you our friend Graeme Cook- The Ultimate Cyclist Continue reading “The Ultimate Cyclist – Graeme Cook”

Iona Shepherd – The Cyclist’s Cyclist

As you know the premise of our website is to celebrate the local heroes, the salt’s of the earth’s, the creatives and the batshit crazy types that migrate to this amazing cycling life.  Today we are talking to a cyclista that could have a foot in every one of those camps…if she had four feet that is?!  However, rest assured, two feet she has.  Two feet that she uses with great affect, not only to propel herself across and around Glasgow on her beloved Flanders Fixie,  but also to stand up as an active agent and influencer in affecting and championing positive change for cyclists near and far. Continue reading “Iona Shepherd – The Cyclist’s Cyclist”

How to Ride Ventoux

How to Ride Mount Ventoux

Now normally my Strava feed reads something like;
  •  Morning Ride,
  • Lunch Ride,
  • Fahrt am Abend ( Pardon you Daniel Friebe),
  • Groundhog day
  • or maybe even Skating La Feclaz top ( That Thibaut Pinot gets aboot)
So last summer when the following rides started appearing on my feed, logged by three ‘real’ friends, albeit from different cycling circles, my interest was well and truly piqued.
No to mention it induced a huge spike in ride jealousy.
  • Mad Dogs and Englishmen
  • The Giant of Provence
  • Mount Ventoux
Although there is only one degree of friendship separation, all three riders(that became four) are unbeknown to each other, yet they are now inextricably linked by a huge common invisible bond.  They all rode the cycling Everest that is Mount Ventoux.  All within a few weeks of each other last summer
 This lit a fire of curiosity and wonder in my mind.  Question that I had to ask the next time our wheels rolled, glasses chinked or in this case, INBOX’s pinged.
We’ve all seen it on the telly, but what is it really like? is it really that tough?  What tips could they give if we were  to do it?
So via the mediums of email, Facebook and Whats App I posed all the riders the same questions, to illicit and tease out their response of information that will hopefully help the you’s and me’s ride this bald beauty one day.
 They have delivered in spades with wildly differing approaches, yet all   capturing the ride, the environment and the moment.
Introductions first.  The 3 riders that became 4  are as follows:

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Firstly before we go any further lets discover more about this mystical mountain with a plethora of nicknames that create a sense of imperious menace: ‘Beast of Provence, The Bald Mountain or the Giant of Provence’

What is Mount Ventoux

For the un-initiated Mount Ventoux sit’s proudly in the south of France.  Instantly recognisable to all cycling fans for it’s lunar-esque and barren landscape. The last 16K average 9% gradient.  A fearsome climb, even for the Pro’s.
It’s steeped in cycling history. Notoriously as the resting place for the iconic British Legend Tom Simpson who collapsed, asked to get put back on his bike by fans then died half a mile from the summit whilst racing the 1967 TDF.  His death believed to be caused by a combination of factors. Heat exhaustion, Stomach upset, alcohol and amphetamines.
More recently Ventoux hit the headlines in 2016 as the theatre for Chris Froome’s motorcycle induced crash which prompted his comedic, sans bike run through the crowds, as he awaited the arrival of his spare bike.
The Bald Mountain can be tackled from three routes:
1) South from Bédoin, the ‘classic’ route and the one the Tour De france use (21.5km long with an ascent of 1610 metres.  Last 16k 9% gradient.)
2)  Northwest from Malaucène, the quieter route, but equally as challenging( 21km with an ascent of 1570 metres).
3) East from Sault, The longest climbing but least punishing due it’s 4.4 % average gradient(26km with an ascent of 1220 metres).
Then again climbing it once just isn’t punishing enough for some folks.  If you are radio rental you can always climb all three routes in one day and join equal mentalists in the Club des Cinglés de Ventoux (literally the Maniacs of Ventoux Club!).  Easy peasy japaneasy.  Only 72 km of climbing with 4300 meters ascent!! (gulp)

How We Conquered Ventoux

Continue reading “How to Ride Ventoux”

Rolling With 14

On the road

A rather disappointing effort in the Aviemore 100 (more on that at a later date…) has had me concentrating on pedalling technique over my last couple of rides, which has led to some rather surprisingly good results.

It seems that during lapses in concentration, whether due to fatigue or simple absent-mindedness, there seems to be a reversion to some kind of default pedal stroke which is probably a lot like how I used to ride a bike as a kid: a stomping action, where power is only exerted through less than 50% of each turn of a crank. It doesn’t take a performance guru to deduce that this isn’t going to help me get anywhere fast.

To try and rectify this I’ve been working on keeping my backside firmly down in the saddle, with solid ankles, and feet pedalling in circles.
Pedalling in circles is probably a bit of a cliche, but it’s probably the best way to describe an effective pedal stroke, where a combination of push and pull exerts a force on the pedals, in a particular direction, throughout the full revolution of the pedal stroke.

This pedal stroke has been particularly easy to achieve when the road goes uphill, with the gradient itself helping the process. The technique needs a little more practice on those flatter, TT-like roads.
The Strava PR’s (as much as the variables inherent in Strava segment times can fully justify a tangible sign of improvement…) have been coming along regularly, so it’s something to keep working on.

Speaking of Strava segments, I was recently ruminating on how much more enjoyable a long Strava segment is.
Short sprints or climbs obviously have their place, but there’s nothing like a good 10-15 mile segment to make you think of pace, endurance, when to make a big effort, when to save energy, etc.

Some local favourites are below.

https://www.strava.com/segments/4838965

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https://www.strava.com/segments/7578333Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 19.58.41

Listening to

I was in two minds whether to raise the topic of football on these pages, but here goes…

Football these days leaves me kind of cold, especially in the higher echelons of the game where money pervades every aspect.
Following certain teams these days is akin to following one of the big 8 supermarkets in their race for market share (the Germans will probably win at that also): a game in which, as Method Man so eloquently put it, C.R.E.A.M.
How refreshing then to be reminded that all is not entirely lost by immersing yourself in the mad, mad world of lower league Scottish football.

The Pele Podcast, from the guys at Tell Him He’s Pele, is a series of interviews with the “stars” of Scotland’s Championship, League 1 and League 2.
Packed full of tales of daft-boyness, hard drinking, dressing room fights, dodgy agents, classic games, highs, lows, promotion, relegation, and everything else that makes up life inside the 30 clubs which form the bedrock of Scottish professional football.
Even if you don’t follow a Berwick, Brechin, Stranraer or Peterhead, there’s enough real insight in to people here, nevermind football or footballers, to keep anyone interested.

Check out the interviews with Steven Canning, Colin McMenamin, Paddy Boyle, and my particular favourite, The Beast, John Gemmell.

Reading

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Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son by Gordon Burn

Just finished re-reading this for the umpteenth time; it’s that good.
A detailed history of Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”, but done without any sensationalised slant, concentrating completely on the people involved in the case.

This really is an absolute masterpiece.

Drinking

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Coffee, coffee and more coffee.

Coffee and cycling go together like Rod Hull and Emu, Glen Michael and Paladin, and Cosmo and Dibs.
Since a Christmas time splurge on a Krups EA8150 , to provide me with my pre-ride caffeine fix, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with what my taste buds enjoy the most.
This process has been helped immensely by a coffee subscription service with The Coffee Factory.

By using their “roaster’s choice” option, at the frequency of my choosing a little bag drops through my postbox, complete with two 125g bags of coffee beans.
There’s everything from Ethiopian to Sumatran to Mexican coffee, each marking high on quality scoring.
A handy little card comes with each bag, describing the farm it was grown on and the tasting notes for the coffee itself.

Well worth investigating if you’re into your coffee and find the supermarket choice a bit bland.

Keep Rolling.

Craig

BCR Cafe shoot-40 2

Do BCRs dream of electric bikes?

The Braes City Rouleurs collective knowledge around e-bikes extends to naughty Cyclocross riders, and spurious theories regarding Tour De France maillot jaune wearer, time trial/classics winner, and all-round BCR favourite, Fabian Cancellara. So when the guys at Edinburgh Bike Co-Op offered the opportunity of test-riding their electric bike range, the BCR boys absolutely jumped at the chance.
Could committed roadies be seduced by a bike with a button and a battery?
Continue reading “Do BCRs dream of electric bikes?”