Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Paris-Roubaix Challenge 2014 - update & VIP opportunity

Paris-Roubaix, ahem, press release....

Now riding the 141 km route...

18 pavé sectors including Carrefour de l'Arbe (2.1 km), Hornaing à Wandignies (3.7 km) and le Troueé d'Arenberg (2.4 km)... Total pavé 33 km!

It looks like there's only a single mid-point feed station! Two bottles it is then!

Nico is a star... I think! What a service provide... Astonishing!

Grotty weather forecast too.. Perfect for us Flahute!

You would not believe how excited I am... Think kid locked in Hamley's toy store on Christmas eve... Carrying 4 tubes, CO2, mini pump, several bars and gels and the Go4 emergency number!

Dreamt about large and angry cobbles last night... Loved every second and refused to wake up 

Nico has six much saught after places left for the Sunday VIP Paris-Roubaix Pro race experience. He states, "...Based on our planning we might see the race 6 times - the start zone, 4 stops during the course and the finish." I can vouch for the excellence of this service and have never heard a negative comment from any of their clients.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The 2014 season is afoot - classics, cobbles, charity and a childhood dream comes true.

Up first is a Paris-Roubaix weekend - a genuine childhood dream: Friday 11th - Sunday 13th April, 2014.

courtesy of the incredibly generous Nico and his excellent Go4Cycling team.

Friday 11th April: will see me drive from Germany in my trusty Skoda (what else!) and arrive around mid-morning in Lille, France. After a quick trip to the hotel to drop off my gear, prepare the bike and a cafe creme we will all head towards the Pave for a little training and familiarisation. I hope we get to ride the Arenberg trench as this sector will not be part of the Saturday challenge - what say you Nico? Go4Cycling may have a 'professional' surprise in store, but we all awaiting final details - the little teases :-)

A section of the more civilised pave - to be ridden at full power and on the crest, at least according my old chum Gary.
At some point in the afternoon or early evening we will all head to the registration booth in the legendary Roubaix velodrome to pick up our numbers, packs and transponders. This will be the first time I have laid eyes, never mind feet, on this almost mythical sporting shrine. It may get emotional! I'm sure a 'traditional' Flandrian dinner will then follow before retiring for the night 
Johann Museeuw, 2002.
Saturday 12th April: After what Nico describes as 'an early breakfast' we return to the Roubaix Velodrome for the start of our two-wheeled adventure. Our multinational team of riders - my room mate will be jetting over from Brazil - will then limber up and prepare to ride though legend... more strong coffee may well be quaffed!
A Velocast design - from the finest cycling Podcast out there.
Our 70 km route contains 9.3 km of pave in seven sectors, including the infamous Carrefour de l'Arbre - where I will make my final attacking move (sorry, just couldn't resist!) 

Full details of the routes, including GPX downloads, can be found HERE.

Perfect: a start and finish in the Roubaix Velodrome, here;s the MAP.
Now for the sublime finish... we enter the Roubaix velodrome, race around the hallowed track and cross the line, hands aloft, perhaps with left leg unclipped and finger pointing triumphantly at the old knee (far too many years of rugby in my case!) The evening will be spent in civilized company, re-telling tales of cobbled derring-do and unimaginable suffering! An occasional local ale may well be supped... who knows for sure!

Sunday 13th April: After another early breakfast, with no doubt lots of coffee, water, juice and bacon butty's, we all jump in the fine Go4cycling VIP van(s) (complete with large flat screen TV, race commentary and plenty of Belgian and French nibbles and tipples) and head for the start village in Compiègne, there to wander the service course, chat to - and advise - the riders, DS's, mechanics, and generally mingle and absorb the atmosphere of this truly brutal yet magnificant sporting spectacle.

The support van - look who's driving! I wonder what happened to Bart?
Once the riders have signed on and the race has departed, so will we sally forth. A mad dash to the vans and off we go for a day of crazy Belgium hopscotch - leaping ahead of the race in order to view it from several locations - including the absolutely mythical and race defining Arenburg trench.

I'm not, at this point certain, where we will view the finish of the race, however I have no doubt that Go4cycling will have something very special up their sleeves!

When the dust has settled and the victor crowned we will slowly make our way back to Lille where I will have to say my fond farewell to my good friend Nico, Bart, Patrick and all their clients - who will be staying another night.

Some of us have to work on Monday, so back to the very rewarding day job of Applied Science lecturing and Physics teaching. I wonder how long it will be before my fine and talented students beg me to 'stop with the Roubaix already!' Little do they know what powerpoint slides await :-)

Ah, what dreams may come true!

My bike set up, for those interested:
Serotta Ottrott SE with Shimano 7800 Dura Ace (54/39 and 11-25), with Ambrosio Varo wheels, Vittoria Open Pave clincher tyres, touring inner tubes with sealant (Doc Blue?. Single taped bars for me though. I'll add a metal bottle cage and rubber band to keep the bottle in place and carry my spare tubes, pump, etc, in my rear pockets - I don't want to lose the saddle bag!


The next big event of me is scheduled to take place on the following week on Easter Monday.

The Skoda Velodom 100: 124.6 km, with a 45 km gentle ride home. 

Click here for maps, profiles and route downloads.
This event is scheduled to run alongside the famous Ruun um Koeln - one of Germany's few remaining professional races - you want to see what effect all this doping/cheating nonsense has, just take a look at Germany, where it is in serious trouble!


There is nothing then planned until June when I have booked my chum Bernd and I entry into the finest and most wonderfully eccentric cycling weekends you could wish for...

The Retro Ronde 2014: 14th and 15th June, 2014.

Saturday 14th June:
After loading Sophia and Bernd's chosen trusty steel steed into his trusty VW van - which WILL NOT break down again - we take a leisurely drive to Oudenaarde to sign in, collect our numbers and join the mornings 'social group ride', which will see us pootling up and down a few Helligen, including the Paterberg and Koppenburg. On return to the town and a bite to eat we'll drive to our now traditional B&B, the B&B Latemberg in Sint-Maria-Latem. Wim and Marina run a superb and very reasonably priced 3 roomed place only 10 km along the river from Oudenaarde. I highly recommend it to all cyclists and travellers. I love it... well it does have a sauna, beautiful garden and absolutely fantastic communal room. Just take a look at this...

Communal living room with TV, PC, honor code bar, and terrace.
We must be back in Oudenaarde for the 4pm start of my first ever. ahem, 'competitive race, the multispeed Retro Criterium - a 10 lap crit in and around the cobbled the town square and church. Should I make a good showing and qualify there will be a 'final' at 6:30 pm!
The programme of events is HERE
A fun evening will undoubtedly then develop!

Sunday 15th June:
The big day... The 8th edition of the magical Retro Ronde!

In true Flandrian fashion the Retro Ronde 100 embraces the cobbles! We'll head up the Tiegemberg which is followed almost immediately by the Oude Kwaremont and then the little know but quite possibly the steepest Le Rampe - the disaster! Several more later and we'll crawl up the Taaienberg too.

Here's are two fine audio-visual tasters from 2013...

Ah, heady days indeed!


My final event - so far - involves a very generous invitation to Les Alpes in late August for my first taste of serious mountain climbing and descending. 'Danke' my fine old chums Tim and Chris. Rouleurs and scholars both!

More to come as and when events are booked.

If you are attending any of these events please do get and touch or even pat me on shoulder and say 'Hi!'

Bon Courage all, tomorrow, we ride!


The Tour of Sufferlandria 2014

Here it is, my 2014 season in the saddle begins in Sufferlandria (and my study!)

The 2014 Tour of Sufferlandria: an indoor cycling cycling 9 day 'tour' organised by The Sufferfest and Trainer Roads teams. My challenge was to wake the legs,  remove as much of the yuletide excess as possible and generate much needed money for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson's. If a little fitness returned then even better - it did!

 After four days of riding the real world rudely intervened and I had to re-start, this disqualified me from the prize pool - and the much coveted Oakley's! Kein Problem - there's always next year!

Stage 1 (25th Jan): Rubber Glove
Stage 2 (26th): ISLAGIATT
Stage 3 (27th): Revolver
Stage 4 (28th): Hell Hath No Fury
Stage 5 (29th): Extra Shot + The Wretched
Stage 6 (30th): AVDP
Stage 7 (31st): Angels + The Hunted
Stage 8 (1st): Blender
Stage 9: (2nd): Violator

My equipment: the sublime Kinetic Rock & Roll Turbo Trainer, 'Sophia', my faithful Faggin SL classic steel steed with Garmin speed/cadence sensor, a Garmin ANT+ stick, Laptop, and all the Sufferfest videos. I also used my Garmin Edge 800 to record heart rate, cadence, speed, time, etc, and then uploaded to Strava - where there are very active Sufferfest, Tour of Sufferlandria Survivors, and Trainer Road Groups.

An example of the feedback TrainerRoad provides. The profile is preprogrammed and synchronises perfectly with the Sufferfest video. An incredibly powerful training tool and, for me, wonderfully motivating.
The above combination is by far the best indoor cycling experience I have personally experienced. There is nothing out there to challenge the cost, quality, usefulness and sheer fun that the Sufferfest and TrainerRoad combo' offer.

Thanks for popping in.


Saturday, 8 March 2014

A 1981 Gilco-SL Faggin is re-born... well almost!

The 1981 Gilco SL Faggin is now about 90% complete.

Now, I'm just awaiting the arrival of this stunning quill-stem from Italy.

The bar tape is proving polarising - I'd be delighted to hear your take on it...

"In life's orchestra, the bike is the double bass. Hard to forget it" 
Paul Fournel, Need for the bike

Happy pedaling,


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

F. Koethke Champion 1974: A Classic Lightweight photo gallery

F. Koethke Champion 1974

Campagnolo Nuovo Record (full), Weinmann 610 Vainqueur 999 brakes (I think?), Reynolds 351 frame and forks, 3TTT bar and stem, Campagnolo seatpost (?), Campagnolo Record hubs, hubs unlabelled, Cinelli saddle.

In the pre-washed state... she had lived in a stable for a decade or two and was covered in horse hair when I picked her up!

Rather nice lugs.

Do I go for new decals?

The BIG question - who or what does 'G D' stand for?

54-46: strong guys these 70's racers!

After a gentle wash with soapy water, a rinse with the hose and a wipe with a WD-40 soaked cloth she begins to sparkle...

I really need a new head tube badge/decal!

A beautiful bike that could have been custom built for me such is the fit. Even the saddle was at the correct height... spooky!

Next job... new tubular tyres (these are in no condition to ride safely - any suggestions would be very gratefully accepted), a bar bottle holder and, possibly, a replacement set of cables (although these seem in pretty condition.)

What I really need is a lot more information the Cologne (Koeln) bicycle salesman and sometime frame builder Fritz Koethke. I understand that he himself retired in 1960? So who built this frame? Was it the mysterious G. D.?