Archive for October, 2012

Super Tough

October 25, 2012

I understand that some of you find the very notion of cyclo-cross totally repugnant. Honestly, I get that. Cycling is all about the open road, fresh air, looking good, speed. ‘Cross is none of these, except for the open air bit, and only then on days when it is warm enough to actually take in a lungful of the stuff.

Cyclo-cross is, on the whole, pretty rank. It hurts. You get covered in cack. It is cold. On regular occasions, a mechanical will mean you don’t even finish the race. More time will be spent cleaning bikes and kit than riding. As unglamorous branches of the sport go, ‘cross is way out on it’s own.

And yet… And yet…

It is so hard to put a finger on it. Dismounting at an obstacle and remounting efficiently; cornering on mud so deep the tyres have disappeared in the gloop – tread choice? Who cares? They’re all shit! – coping admirably with a section where others have failed.

And the broad, broad smiles at the finish line; the post-race stories of mishaps and triumphs – that is what makes cyclo-cross so addictive. Some will hate it; others can’t wait for October to come around.

If you have read the issue 34 feature on John Rawnsley and the Three Peaks, it is worth watching this tremendous film of the 1962 national championships, featuring Mr Rawnsley himself, preceded by the great Beryl Burton in the inaugural women’s race.

It is, in turns, hilarious, gripping, depressing and jaw-dropping. For those of you unconvinced by the appeal of ‘cross, it will serve to strengthen your resolve. For fans of the sport, it is essential viewing. Think you’ve got it rough these days? Think on…

The Rapha Super Cross Series takes place this weekend (27-28 October) in Leicestershire and London. Rouleur will be there with magazines, books and mugs. Come and say hello.


October 18, 2012


Words: Graeme Fife Portraits: Peter Drinkell

Madiot arrives, smiles, affable greeting. We shake hands, he nods consent to the clicking accompaniment of the camera shutter, we sit and there ensues a curious verbal ping pong which I find increasingly unsettling. My hand, holding the recording machine, begins to tremble. I hang on.

GF            Do you feel yourself constantly on the counter attack against big teams with enormous budgets?

MM         I’m not bothered. It’s not my problem. I do what I do with my team.

GF            And what of your team?

MM           It’s okay.

GF            Okay?

MM           It goes better when we win a stage.

GF           What about the resurgence of French cyclists in the past few years?

MM           Oh, not my concern. I concentrate on my team.

GF            What of the difference in tactics between your day and today?

MM           A bike race is a bike race. It’s the legs that are important. [He taps his thigh to emphasise the point. I feel a growing unease… I haven’t got any grip on this.]

GF            And the head…

MM           Avec. With. [Silence] If possible.

GF            What about earpieces?

MM           I’m against them.

GF            Why?

MM           Because I think it’s a bad thing. It blocks races.

GF            Some directeurs are absolutely for them.

MM      That’s because they want to block the races. [He laughs, a spontaneous, delighted, jovial outburst as if to say: ‘Oh, come on… isn’t it obvious?’]

GF             But riders do attack.

MM          Yes, only what counts is winning. [The implication, surely, being that a lot of riders attack to grab some television airtime, without any thought of driving the break to the finish. False bravado. Flash in the pan. Why don’t I pursue this? Because he has flattened the question with an extremely weighty full stop and a quizzical look, as if to say: ‘Not interested in that one. Next?’]


GF            What did you feel about Armstrong’s domination?

MM         Rien. Non. Rien. Nossing. It’s not my problem, never was my problem.

GF             But it changed the Tour, didn’t it?

MM          [A long drawn out pause as if he’s trying to locate a name he’s temporarily forgotten, then, with a low, swallowed guttural sound] No.

GF            But those seven years of stranglehold?

MM           No. It’s gone.

An extract from issue 34.

Issue 34: podcast

October 11, 2012

Managing Editor Ian Cleverly and columnist Johnny Green join Jack Thurston to discuss the new issue of Rouleur magazine. In a rather chaotic recording session in the dressing room of performance poet John Cooper Clarke, the discussion free-ranges across the Three Peaks cyclocross challenge, the Tour of Britain, Henri Cartier Bresson and Johnny’s musings on revisionist histories and the unfolding revelations about Lance Armstrong.

Rouleur is the highly acclaimed bi-monthly cycling magazine. It brings together leading cycling writers and photographers to convey the essence and imagery of road racing. Rouleur features photography and serious writing celebrating the passion and beauty of the sport and has built a dedicated and valuable following from both discerning cycling fans and the most influential bike riders in the world. The magazine appeals to those who, like us, are passionate about the sport, but don’t want to read bike tests and race reports. Instead, the magazine focuses on exquisite photography and writing that really gets under the skin of the great riders and theatres of road racing.

Issue 34

The Rouleur podcast is brought to you by Mosquito Bikes, London’s custom made bicycle specialists. New in to Mosquito bikes is the full range of Cielo bicycles. Established by headset maestro Chris King they recently began producing frames again after a twenty eight year haitus. Their cyclocross bikes have been purpose built with the same Chris King ‘go anywhere’ attitude making their Cross Racer the perfect bike for attacking the muddy fields of the 2013 cyclocross season. See the bikes in the flesh at 123 Essex Road, London N1 2SN or on the screen at

Peak Conditions

October 10, 2012

Words: Ian Cleverly

I was chatting to Nick Craig this morning, telling him how, due to the cold, wet and windy weather at the recent Three Peaks, I’d had an awful day and a miserable ride. 

Not to rub it in or anything, he says, but he actually removed his vest on the start line for fear of overheating during the race. Shots of the leading riders indeed showed them sporting short sleeves, shorts and waterproofs tucked in their jersey pockets. Some of us backmarkers, meanwhile, were so bitterly cold and sopping wet that even reaching for a handful of jelly babies became an impossibility.

It was the kind of cycling experience that ends in the words ‘Never again!’

Yet within a day I am mulling over with fellow Three Peak-ist and first timer, Paul, where we went wrong; how to improve; to keep dry; where the shortcuts are. Things can only get better, right?

Photographer Geoff Waugh swapped his Nikon for some GoPro’s to make this taster of what a savage day in the saddle it was. It’s rather good. Whether watching the film makes you want to ride the Peaks is rather down to your own personal enjoyment level of gruelling races and howling winds. Each to their own, I say.

The Dalesman, a profile of the Three Peaks and its organiser of all 50 editions, John Rawnsley, appears in issue 34