Posts Tagged ‘Cycling’

Troublesome Child

January 31, 2013

Ever get that feeling, having entered an event weeks in advance, that it was all a horrible mistake? That the upcoming pain will far outweigh the endorphin high?

I go through the same ridiculous process every time, even though, deep down, I’m aware that the chances of enjoying every single moment of the ride – or certainly the feeling after it’s all over – are high.

Fretting is the default position, even when there is entry on the line. There are chimps on both shoulders, arguing the toss over the merits and demerits of racing, while I sit helpless between, like being on the night bus to Peckham when it kicks off. The spat soon gets ugly, but there is no point in intervening. What will be, will be.

It’s the same deal with the magazine. We send off the finished article to the printers, then the doubts set in: what if it isn’t as good as the last issue? How do we know we have got it right having pored over the content for weeks and become blind to its charms?

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The reason struck us is the strange chain of emotions running through the office as we went to press. The editor and myself had concluded issue 36 was not one of our best efforts, and had resigned ourselves to improving next time round. Let it go and move on.

Then the publisher, Bruce, and the ad man, Andy, called us to say it was one of our finest. And the early response from those who had got the issue was the same: it’s a beauty. We are happy to stand corrected.

What the editorial and design team strive for is originality, quality and balance – and it was the balance part we were unsure we had got right. Too much historical and Rouleur becomes a museum piece; all contemporary and we have left our core values behind.It’s not until we get the magazine in our hands, having watched it take shape on a computer screen over the shoulder of our designer, Rob, that we can truly say whether it has worked or not. Thankfully, we all agreed: it has worked, and then some.

And what is contained within the covers of this troublesome child, you ask? Ned Boulting opens with a fabulously written piece on the Revolution track series, with suitably wonderful images by Taz Darling. Guy Andrews, a man with a penchant for a steel frame himself, follows the development of the new Madison Genesis team, who will (whisper it) ride steel frames this season. Retro or forward thinking?

Herbie Sykes, a man who loves a good barney, sits down with Paul Kimmage, not averse to a heated debate himself – ask Lance… It is a fascinating feature on where the sport is now and where it’s heading. Our man Jordan Gibbons goes to Germany to discover one of the finest carbon wheel producers in the world making very expensive hoops from Heath Robinson machinery. And even Lance has to pay to get a set. Superb.

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We have two writers new to Rouleur this issue: Olivier Nilsson-Julien talks to Dutch author Herman Chevrolet about his fascinating book on dirty deals and double-crossing in the peloton; and David Sharp spends time with time trial wunderkind Tony Martin, talking over a year of extreme highs and lows, with the always-excellent Timm Kölln recording the scars.

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David Curry accompanies Rouleur regular photographer Olaf Unverzart to the Czech Republic to discuss cyclo-cross with Zdeněk Štybar as the former World Champion converts to a career on the road with Omega-Pharma –Quick Step.

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Plus columnists Paul Fournel – with Jo Burt’s illustration as usual –  Matt Seaton and William Fotheringham, winners all.

Enough of the hard sell. We’re happy enough, but we’re not the readership. Let us know what you make of it.

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Sucker

February 10, 2011

I feel bad. Sat here. Not poorly – guilty. I really should pull my weight but at this time of the year that’s no mean feat. I’m not out of shape so much as not in shape, but I’m most certainly, yet again, tucked in. Sucking. Drafting. Feathering brakes. Concentrating. Wanting to be fitter.

I’m spending more time than seems decent sitting in, sucking wheels. I guess I’m out with stronger riders and it’s a win-win situation if they’re ok on the front. They get a workout and I get one too – clinging on to an alien pace. I’m hoping, as the season progresses, I’ll get to a level where I can do my turns at the front, but I worry that they’ll have only got stronger too and the gap will remain – between their ability and mine, their wheel and mine. I might well suck all year. Where will that get me? Well, I guess, sat here, concentrating on the wheel in front with a part of my head wandering off to ponder the situation; my ride partner’s choice of footwear, tyre choice and gear selection; his hub, his shoes, his calves, his arse; the little rear LED, switched off and pointing heaven knows where. The seat pack, with a spare tube and his emergency (full-fat-coke-and-a-mars-bar) fiver.

And me, my front tyre, the pressure within and the pressure to stay close – a safe distance but an efficient distance. To take us both down with a touch of rubber would be, at best, embarrassing, and unthinkable beyond that. I try not to think about it. I concentrate on staying put and staying safe. Spinning smoothly and staying calm. I await the suffering. It will come. The whole point of riding at this time of year, like this, is to get fit. Get some miles in the legs and this will involve suffering. And as a wheelsucker, I see the point as clearly as I will see the stars.

The end of a long ride will bring the drags I know and loathe. I worry too that I might break. Fear and loathing across the marshes. It’s an affectionate loathing. I like the work they involve but it comes with tunnel vision and sparkles before my eyes. I watch the wheel in front and it becomes everything. It’s a blur within a blur and everything else is peripheral. It’s not that zone of performance people talk about, I think that might always allude me but it is a zone of sorts. A cliff edge of concentration and lactic and souplesse. A slippery slope of crank-chopping chaos and ebbing resolve. I hide from head winds and mind fucks. Pain and pride fighting to an end that can’t come soon enough, but I so don’t want to come early. I bury myself to avoid a shameful death.

Starry-eyed. All these thoughts, filling my head as I’m sat on the wheel. Drafting. Working. Shirking. Working. I try not to think what he’s thinking up front. I daren’t. Best I just keep going. I am the sucker.

Jonathan Bacon