2019 is off to a cracking start! I’ve been vindicated!

So, I’d thought about doing a ‘year in review’ post, or a ‘welcome to 2019’ one, but the New Year more-or-less snuck up on me and here we are five whole days into 2019 and this is my first post since the start of December.  No matter; my early New Year gift was a delightful news story that has given me a great feeling of “see! I told you so!”.  Now I’m the first to acknowledge that smug self-satisfaction is the loneliest kind of satisfaction, particularly when it comes off the back of someone else’s work.  But this time (a) I don’t care, and so (b) I’m going to tell you all about it anyway. Continue reading

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“They pedal crap”: Can we get a more balanced approach to cycling in the media?

Happy cyclists

I Googled “happy cyclists + Zealand + images” and this came up. Unrelated to this post, but when you read the original article here you can see why it’s apt.

It’s hard not to get riled up by the way New Zealand media sometimes reports on cycling, road use, and interactions between cyclists and drivers. In an online news environment click-throughs are king, and a provocative headline will get the through-traffic needed to help pay the bills and keep a newsroom up and running.  But when you’re talking click bait, it can be a fine line between provocative and offensive. It’s an easy line to step over you’re not particularly concerned about the difference between opinion and news. How can we change this, and get a more balanced approach to coverage of cycling in the media? Continue reading

The Ghent 6-day is wonderful. Put it on your bucket list.

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Six-day track racing is a beautiful thing.  It’s one of the great traditions of cycling.  After my experience at the Ghent 6-day this year, I’d be first in line to say it should be part of the great intangible cultural heritage of humanity.  There might not be all that many people in the line with me, but they’d be easy to find: for six days in November each year they’d all be in Ghent, keeping tradition alive, and having a great time doing it. Continue reading

Tour de France 2019: long, with lots of hills.

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Some famous cyclists surrounded by a lot of other people

One of the great traditions of the Tour de France is the ceremony where they present the route for the following year. It’s a little bit prom, a little bit academy awards, and a whole lot of excitement as cycling fans the world over wait to see what treats (or horrors) await the riders for the Tour the following year. The only difference this year was that I managed to sneak in, score a seat up in the nose bleeds, and watch one of the wonderful spectacles of the modern cycling calendar unfold. Continue reading

Track cycling is awesome

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In the alternative reality where I’m 20 years younger, fearless, and fantastic at everything I would definitely be racing track. But clearly I’m not any of those things, and so my experience of top-level track cycling is has been limited to watching it on the telly.   I’d never seen top-level track racing in real life, but after spending an evening behind the scenes with the NZ track team at the Paris round of the UCI Track World Cup over the weekend, I can say it really is brilliant. It’s like all most of the best bits of cycling wrapped into one package of tradition, athleticism, and cutting edge technology. What’s not to like? Continue reading

Interesting things I’ve discovered biking around Paris #1: The Suresnes Open-Air School

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As you know, I seem to spend more time talking about biking around in Paris than I actually spend biking around in Paris. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it means that my approach to cycling here is a bit like how I imagine a goldfish might do it; going around and in around in very similar circles, always in the same place but always discovering something new.  It has a lot to recommend it.

In the hope that my short-term-memory-ism isn’t tragically recurrent, I figured I should share a bit of some of the interesting things that I come across. Partly so that I can verify that my sense of déjà vu isn’t completely misplaced. But also because some of this stuff is actually interesting and, because I’m biking to it, can be off the normal tourist track. So here’s the first instalment. Continue reading

French paradox(es) #3: La liberté a besoin de règles! (or, Freedom needs rules!)

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The longer we live here, the less I understand about Paris. It’s not helped by the fact that my French is vestigial at best, and eroding by the day.  Despite what we might all wish to be true, you don’t actually pick up language by osmosis.  Or by cheese, despite my best efforts. Living and working in an Anglophone bubble means that my time and ability to speak French is basically zero, and so my French now is worse than when we got here (if you don’t believe me listen to this).  Day to day I have pretty much no idea of what’s going on around me. Continue reading

Traditions matter: The last French Derny race

 

Derny winner

Tradition is a beautiful thing. It can be an excuse for getting stuck in the mud, for pigeon-holing us into thinking the ‘old ways’ are somehow better and more worthy.  But it can, from time to time, open a window on a way of doing things that’s just a bit unexpected. Tradition can give you a link to the past, and a yardstick to measure the present. It can bind people together, and give a sense of comfort and belonging.  It can also be impractical, weird, and inexplicable. So it is with the post-Tour Criteriums. Continue reading

Sometimes cycling favours the suburban

There are some things about cycling that get a bit suburban.  You might think I mean  that pejoratively, and I’d forgive you a bit for that what with whole MAMIL/pain-cave culture that people of a particular demographic are into. I mean, I barely can find time to ride on the actual road, let alone pretend to ride on a pretend one in my garage. For starters, I’d need an actual garage to do that in. Continue reading

Austria is awesome for cycling. You should all go there right now.

Austria lake and mountainOne of the great things about living in a big European city is getting out of it (the city, that is – although I’m sure that if you’re into “getting out of it” in the other sense, big European cities are great for that too. I have no idea.) This year, as part of the greatness of getting out of the city that we live in, we all headed to Austria for a week or so, and it was great! Continue reading

Vive le Tour! (or, the day I met Eddy Merckx)

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Winners are grinners. Le Tour gets a thumbs up from Geraint Thomas, beer in hand. Champion.

Yep, we survived the Tour for another year. From the armchair, it was easy. Gotta say, watching the Tour in France (in French) gives it an immediacy that’s pretty hard to beat. The stages unfold as the Tour rolls around France, and the timing usually works pretty well so that you can catch the last kilometres of each stage just before you knock off work for the day – a great excuse for a bit of “team building” over a beer or two as France slows down for the summer. Continue reading

The Tour de France: where it all began

At the startline

The birthplace of the Tour

The Tour is well underway again (woo hoo!), and once again four kiwis are doing us proud.  A couple of weeks before the Tour rolled out I ticked something off my bucket list and rode from the start to the end of the very first Tour.  It was epic*. I wrote it up for the NZ Herald, and they published a cut-down version on their website.  You can read my ‘directors cut’ version here.

*I cheated a little bit. Continue reading