Archive for August, 2010

Better late than never?

Following my recent crash it crossed my mind that I should, maybe, buy a crash hat. A couple of days ago I watched the YouTube video of Jens Voight’s stack up in the 2009 TDF when he smacked his head and face into the tarmac. This convinced me that I should splash out and it was my good fortune that yesterday Lidl were selling helmets.

Nine quid the poorer I am now the proud  owner of the helmet shown and would you believe it has a LED light fixed to the back. Well not exactly fixed, I suspect that the first time I ride over a bump the light will fall off but at that price I’m not complaining. Of course I will need to have another crash to discover if buying Lidl’s finest was a false economy but I can live (hopefully) with that.

pretty smart eh?

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Christophe’s broken forks

A reconstruction in 1951 of the drama of 1913

Everybody with more than a passing interest in bike racing will know the story of Eugene Christophe’s broken forks on the descent of the Tourmalet in the 1913 Tour. He carried his broken bike eight kilometres to the village of Sainte Marie de Campan where he was directed to a blacksmith’s shop and with the assistance of a seven year old boy carried out a repair and was back on the road having lost four hours. He arrived in Luchon in last place with all hope gone of winning the Tour.

The old warrior was back for the start in 1919 and after three stages he was race leader and for the start of stage 11 he was awarded a yellow jersey following complaints from journalists that they could not pick out the race leader. As there were, at this stage, only eleven men surviving it would hardly seem to be the trickiest task.

By the penultimate stage of 468km from Metz to Dunkerque the future toe-clip maker had a lead of 28 minutes and victory looked certain. But can you imagine the state of the roads in northern France just eight months after the end of the Great War? They were too rough for Christophe’s forks and just outside Valenciennes they broke. This time he was in luck, sort of, as there was a workshop just one km up the road. He replaced the broken blades and was back in the saddle in just over an hour. Again he was last on the stage and again he had lost his yellow jersey and the Tour.

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Ross Wheelers

I was taking a bus ride in Bournemouth when I noticed that the guy sitting next to me had the book In search of Robert Millar in his bag. We got talking and he said that as a young man he lived in Northolt and was a member of the Ross Wheelers.

I said that as a young cyclist in the late fifties I had read, in Cycling & Mopeds, of a good tester John Finch who was a member of the Ross Wheelers. My new acquaintance said he was his older brother! Remarkably despite being able to recall something I read over fifty years ago I can’t remember my fellow passenger’s christian name but it may have been David!

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See you at the finish Lance

As Armstrong seems to be wearing a rainbow jersey this must be 1994. i don’t think humiliated is too strong a word to describe the Texan.

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Brighton Big Dog mountain bike race.

Solo race winner

lucky old pro

As this event was just down the road at Stanmer Park I took a look. It was a six hour event contested by solo riders and also teams of two and three. There were numerous other categories meaning the prize presentation took forever. This wasn’t too much of a hardship as the podium girl was a bit of a looker. The only name I recognised was Yanto Barker who rode in the solo event but he wasn’t in the prizes.

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Rehydration and salty sweat

During a visit to my endospecialist (don’t ask) I picked up a copy of Triathlon magazine that contained an article about the science of hydration by Andy Blow. Andy is described as one of Britain’s finest tri coaches who includes Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso among his clients. Blow writes that loss of sodium is unpredictable and is determined by genetics. He adds that losses in sweat in a normal population can vary eight fold from 230mg/l to 1700mg/l The problem can be further increased if the athlete is a heavy sweater.

Now this didn’t seem likely to me. I believe that the body is a smart organism that has most of the bases covered. Think of two cavemen building an extension to their cave in Southern Africa. One is a heavy sweater with a very high sodium concentration. He could be losing 1700mg of sodium an hour. His buddy is a light sweater with a low sodium concentration so he is losing 115mg of sodium an hour. If you believe Blow this unhappy situation is down to chance. Now in Blow’s world the first caveman just takes in more salt, maybe he necks two Gatorades every hour! In reality these two guys will have similar salt consumption and in all likelyhood will not be able to vary it.

As one of the many oldsters with borderline hypertension I have a passing interest in sodium chloride and I recalled that I had read something about this very topic. As long ago as 1949 Dr Jerome Conn of the University of Michigan medical school carried out research on men carrying out work in an hot environment. He found that the sodium content of sweat varied from 40mg/l to  400mg/l. He found similar differences in the sodium content of urine.

So far so good, Blow and Conn are in agreement. But Conn discovered why there is such a massive variation in sodium content of sweat, In short the more sodium in your diet the more sodium in your sweat. This is the bodies more or less successful attempt to keep the sodium level constant. And isn’t that just what you would expect? Why would the body sweat out sodium leaving the body with a deficiency that could result in cramps and much worse.

My recommendation is to add half a cup of orange juice for the potassium content to a bottle of water. if you expect to sweat very heavily by all means add a quarter teaspoon of table salt just in case. This is based on the presumption that as a cyclist you care about your health and you are already on a low salt diet.

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Museeuw’s leg is suddenly hot news

who says they never come back? Johan wins Paris-Roubaix in 2000

So how spooky is that? Yesterday I crashed and injured my leg and in reporting this crucial moment in cycling history I mentioned that my thoughts had been about the Lion of Flander’s terrible injury in 1998. Today I learn that Rapha have made a film about the very incident. No, not my crash on the club ride, Johan’s tragedy in Arenberg.

Johan Museeuw will soon be a star of the silver screen. In a short film called “A Throw of the Dice” British director Nick Livesey  tells the story surrounding the fall of the world champion in Paris-Roubaix 1998.

Livesey was commissioned by Rapha Racing Ltd the manufacturer of pricy cycling clothing with strong retro touch.  The great man himself explains “The story behind my rosary that I had in his pocket that day, the fall itself, the fracture of my patella in four places, the complications afterwards with threatening gangrene. Everything is covered. “One week last year in utter secrecy we filmed in the Forest of Wallers/Arenberg. It must have cost a lot of money.”  Worth every penny I am sure.

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