WELCOME BACK. We’ve got another great issue lined up for you with a fantastic photo essay on the Eddie Soens. Also on offer are two in-depth interviews with Ken Beck, Southport’s Mr Nice Guy, and AN Post’s Mark McNally, who apparently doesn’t like his nickname “scally”, as it upsets his mum. Isn’t he a love? If drinking coffee mid-ride is your thing, then look no further than our guide to the top 10 cycle cafes in the North West. Put it this way, our research has been extremely thorough. We also lifted the lid on the UK’s toughest and most secret sportive. To take part in this beast of a ride, you’ve either got to be strong as an ox or mad as a hatter. But it will probably help if you’re a little of both. Not resting on our laurels, we have also come up with a rough guide on how to survive your daily commute on the bike. That’s all on top of our usual offerings like Killer Hills and Club Rider.
Hand built wheels since 1972 Custom hand built wheels for every individual specification Multiple component choice with a wide range of colours Enquiries and orders email@example.com Follow us on Facebook petermatthews.com Twitter @pianniwheels
MAT T H E W S
Editor James Maloney firstname.lastname@example.org Picture Editor Dan Kenyon email@example.com Contributors Paul Francis Cooper firstname.lastname@example.org Chris Keller-Jackson email@example.com John Bilsborrow firstname.lastname@example.org Louise Mullagh email@example.com Design Uniform www.uniform.net Thanks go to: This issue thanks go to: Ken Beck, Bill Soens, Ed Clancy, Mark McNally, Heather Bamforth, Tim Wiggins, Carl Lawrenson, and everyone at Uniform, especially Nick, Marcus, Ali, Chris and Dave.
James Maloney Editor
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102 92 108 56 84 96 58 86 112 PAT ON THE BECK –
KILLER HILL –
Southport’s Ken Beck looks back on a life full of self-sacrifice
READY, EDDIE, GO –
RAT RACE SURVIVAL GUIDe –
Eddie Soens: We take a look behind the scenes at the famous opening classic of the season
ADDRESSING THE IMBALANCE –
How to get from A to B on the bike in one piece from our man on the road John Bilsborrow
TOP TEN CAFÈs –
British Cycling set out an ambitious plan to get more women cycling. But are they going about it the right way?
Patisserie Cyclisme’s Louise Mullagh names the best places for cyclists to head
DON’T CALL ME SCALLY
– Are you mad enough to take on the UK’s toughest and most secretive ultra sportive?
Can you take on this month’s Killer Hill and live to tell the tale?
– Crosby’s poshest cyclist, Mark McNally, chats about the highs and lows of life racing in Belgium
WIGGO’s WOrld –
How to spot the winning move in a road race from our man in yellow – Tim Wiggins
ARE CYCLISTS SOCIABLE?
– Sports photographer Chris-Keller Jackson examines the strange relationships between social media and cycling
WORLD BEATER BERYL BURTON
– Grab some popcorn for a feature length look at the original female pioneer with “Racing is Life - The Beryl Burton Story”
READY. EDDIE. GO
IF YOU ever want to see grown men nervous as hell then there are really only three places to go - a maternity ward, vasectomy clinic or the starting line at the Eddie Soens Memorial Handicap Race. Obviously, this is a cycling magazine, so there will be no nappies or surgical scissors here - just a nice, calming reportage of what has become regarded as the first big race of the year that all the top-level pros want to add to their palmarès.
crop. Maybe even blag a bidon or two. After all, plenty of big named teams like Rapha Condor JLT, Raleigh-GAC and Genesis Madison head to Aintree in March for the Soens. But where did it all begin? Well, named after one of Liverpool’s most famous cycling coaches, the Eddie Soens Memorial Handicap Race has heralded the start of the racing calendar for more than half a century.
You can literally cut the tension in the air with a pair of scissors - whoops, sorry - in the carpark before the start, as riders rub embrocation on their legs and begin that pre-season ritual of eyeing up who has the most toned and tanned legs as a result of spending two weeks training in Mallorca. For us mere mortals, translate that into ‘not stick thin’, it’s a good chance to get up close and personal to the cream of the British cycling
Melling Wheelers first breathed life into this popular early season classic back in 1962, when it was originally held on a circuit further down the road at Bickerstaffe. Eager to keep up with the times, the Wheelers ditched their 25-mile time trials in favour of hosting a road race and who better to name it after than their famous coach, Eddie. Doug Dailey MBE, race winner in 1963, 1964, www.spincyclemag.com
1970 and 1977, said: “For many years, the Melling Wheelers had promoted an early season 25-mile time-trial on the East Lancashire Road and it was traditionally run on the first Sunday in March.
“We had been doing this event for years, but it was decided that we would move with the times and stop promoting the medium gear 25 and actually run a road race. “A very prominent member of the club was the late, great Eddie Soens. The race was originally called the Eddie Soens Criterium, then it became the Eddie Soens Handicap and with the passing of the great man, it became the Eddie Soens Memorial.” Bruce O’Prey, from Liverpool Premier, had the honour of winning the inaugural race, which was organised by Eddie’s son, Bill, who admits that he may have underestimated the distance of the circuit somewhat. Bill said: “I organised the first one, which was 52 years ago. The main problem was that I didn’t measure the course correctly. “It was on the course in Bickerstaffe and I made an assumption, through years and years of riding a bike, that it was a five mile circuit, so we had 10 laps to make it a 50-mile race. “There was a guy called Bob Memory, who always rode a motorbike and he went round the course. He stopped after one lap and said to me ‘look at the speedo on this - do you realise it’s seven miles round, not five?’. “The race was in the afternoon, so we ended up riding a 70-mile race not a 50-mile race. I have to tell you that in March, when you’re using a 76-inch gear, which is very low, it was nearly dark when the race finished, as it went on an hour longer than it should have. 12
“After that, I thought that I best not do it any more and so I left it to Ken Matthews. From then on, Ken organised the race and it was a good event, but at least the first one was interesting, to say the least.” Over the years, the great and the good from across the country headed to the Soens to test their early season form, including Lest West (1968) and Brian Rourke (1974). Dailey added: “It was an important event on the calendar and a real ‘who’s who’ of road racing with some of the previous winners.
In the early years, it would only include local riders. That was due to the limited field size and the fact that none of us had cars, so you would have to ride out to the race and back.
the Lancashire, Manchester and North Wales areas. Then as the reputation of the race grew, it became very much a national event. We have had riders from the south of the country.
“As a result, it would only attract a local field. But with the number of cyclists riding in the Merseyside area during 60s and 70s, you didn’t need to go outside the division, you had a very competitive field just from local riders.
“I remember it well [my first win in the Soens in 1963]. It was cold, bright and I was very nervous. It was my very first senior road race. It wasn’t a handicap in those days - it was a mass start event.
“Then it became more of a regional event and we started to see riders come in from all over
“I put a bit of a dig in on the very last lap, on the very last climb up to Bickerstaffe Church, about 200 yards from the top. www.spincyclemag.com
I gave it everything and I got round the left-hand corner, by the church, on the run-in to the finish. I was first round the corner and I just put my head down and went like Billy-o all the way.” Fierce rivalries like those between Kirkby and Liverpool Mercury developed and fuelled the reputation of this hotly-contested 50-mile circuit race, with bragging rights intermittently shared out between the clubs over the course of the next three decades. 30
For the history buffs, Kirkby notched up the lion’s share of wins with 10 to the Merc’s five although it’s worth mentioning that the Mercury still boast the only female winner in the race’s 52 year history thanks to an impressive display of girl power from Julie Hill in 1991. Pete Matthews, who won the race in 1967 for the Merc, said: “The rivarly between the Mercury and Kirkby was like that between Liverpool and Everton. That’s the best way to describe it.
“Being in the same city, the rivalry bore fruit because the racing became much better as both clubs pulled each other out. I used to go out to parties and clubs with the guys in the winter, but when you were out on the bike it was daggers drawn. Consequently, the racing became all the better for it.
“I won the Soens in 1967, but was second in 1965 to Kenny Hill from our club. When I crossed the line, I thought ‘great, we’ve got a 1-2’. These days, teams have got lead out trains. We never had them in our days. We just had Kenny Hill, Rollo, Ernie Potter and all these other guys including me fighting each other for the win.
“If one of Kirkby’s lot went up the road, then the Merc would chase it and vice-versa. Merseyside became one of the best divisions because of that rivalry.
“Then you had the Kirkby and everyone else fighting us as well, so there were no easy rides to the finish. It was everyone for themselves in the fight for the finish line. No quarter given.” www.spincyclemag.com
“When I won in 1967, I knew that I had good form and the race went off round Bickerstaffe. It was up to 26-28mph continuous all round the way in no time. With a couple of laps to go, a lad called Graham Owen, who was on the short-list for the Olympic time trial, got away and I went after him. “I ended up towing the bunch along with me, but still had the form to win the race. I must have got my nose in front and I think Kenny was second, but the sprint was the sprint. I was over the moon and beating the Kirkby in their own race was another feather in our cap.” Other interesting facts include that of professional rider Steve Cummings, who in 1999 became the first-ever junior rider to get a jump on the pack and win the race a lap in hand over the elites while riding for Birkenhead North End. 52
Cummings held onto the record until the feat was repeated by Josh Edmonson in 2010 while representing Motorpoint Marshalls Pasta. Josh, like Steve, has risen through the ranks since that day on Aintree Racecourse and this season will ride as a neopro for Team Sky. Southport CC’s Ken Beck, one of the many volunteers involved with running the Soens, said: “It’s obviously a big, long-standing event and marks the start of the road season. It’s always good to come and see how the young ‘uns from your club are going on, as well as the ones who have progressed through the years. For me, though, Ken Matthews made this race into something extra special.” Weather plays an important factor in deciding just how tough the Soens can be every March. After all, it is held on a course very much open to the elements and strong winds, but only once has
the race ever been cancelled when snow forced organisers to halt proceedings and abandon the event altogether in 2006. British Cycling’s Carl Lawrenson, who helps organise the Soens, said: “This race means everything to me. It was the first bike race that I ever worked on as an official. Then there is the legacy of the race itself over the 52 years, all the great history and long list of winners. It’s the first major event that starts the season off in this part of the country and you can’t get much better than that.” Aside from the unpredictable British weather, this wonderful race offers spectators and all those involved with the event the chance to catch a glimpse of potential stars-in-the-making. Big-named British teams ship their top riders from across the country to try and clinch that first big
win of the year. That’s just how big the Eddie Soens Memorial Handicap Race has become. Rapha-Condor JLT’s Ed Clancy, who won this year’s edition of the Soens, said: “It was a great feeling to win the Soens this year. It is a race that suits me, and the team worked really hard for me on the day, so I was really pleased to repay their hard work. It is the first race really of the UK road season and after a lot of time on the track, coming back to the road here, I really wanted to do well. I’m really happy to have it on my palmarès.”
Words James Maloney Photography Dan Kenyon, Paul Cooper & James Maloney
NORTHERN ROAD WEAR
BRITISH Cycling are finally taking steps to try and eradicate sexism from the sport with an ambitious plan that aims to get a million more women taking up cycling by the end of the decade in the hopes of dispelling the myth that its just for “men in Lycra”. Cycling’s national governing body have been widely praised for boosting the popularity of the sport at grassroots level while also delivering spectacular elite success at both Beijing and the London Games, but will their new goals actually have any impact? “We are not saying that we are going to be perfect, far less that we are perfect now,” said the British Cycling president, Brian Cookson.
“The direction of travel is important. Our ultimate aim is to inspire one million more women to get on bikes and we are determined to make this happen.”
ADDRESSING THE IMBALANCE 56
Who better to tackle this inequality than the mighty British Cycling? But is holding recreational rides or “get into cycling” trial sessions at facilities really the way to go? Women’s cycling is already ahead of the game here in the North West thanks to the Cycling Development North West Women’s Road Race League for 2013. The league aim to encourage more women to actually race by hosting shorter road races for beginners or people who want to develop their tactics, skills or competitiveness without getting shot out of the back of the bunch within 10 minutes. Biketreks Academy women’s race team manager Heather Bamforth, who is the league co-ordinator for the CDNW, said: “Nobody can deny the popularity of British Cycling’s Breeze programme, which has seen over 17,000 women take part in their free rides since 2012. However, my question would probably be ‘what are all of these women going to be doing?’
Part of British Cycling’s strategy seems to be based on persuading more women to participate in mass rides on traffic-free routes and also encouraging women to try racing by entering ‘entry-level racing opportunities ... at key facilities’, which I would imagine is code for closed circuits, such as Tameside, Litherland and Preston Arena in the North West. All very admirable, but I can’t help feel that there is a hint of sexism in this strategy. For example, if you click on ‘Get into Racing’ on the British Cycling website (aimed at blokes), the first thing it tells you to do is join a club. After all, the club structure has formed the backbone of British road racing for decades. However, if you click on the ‘Women’ section of their website, it tells you that road racing can be daunting and that you should try a women specific training session first. But I’m sure that if you asked any of the women who took part in their first-ever race at Pimbo, they would say that it was a great experience, where every single person who took part enjoyed it. Now, I am by no means a feminist, but it seems to me that there is a heavy undertone of a strategy devised for women by blokes. There still seems to be the concept that you can just pat all of these women on the head and say ‘well done, dear, weren’t you brave for having a go? Which is why I applaud British Cycling for confirming that they will be recruiting three women to sit on the national board as soon as possible. The sport is developing and it needs new blood to help it grow to the best of its ability.
Words James Maloney Photography Dan Kenyon
MEET THE TOUGHEST SPORTIVE EVER Words Professor Badass Photography Courtesy of www.ianbrookesphotography.co.uk
HAVE you ever queued miserably with hundreds or even thousands of other riders on a chilly morning to register or set off from the start point on a large, commercially-run sportive? You’ve probably also tonked your way round the first 90 miles of a 100-mile sportive and found yourself immolated in an incandescent rage at having to weave like a total loon through clumps of roly-poly randommers rolling slowly six abreast around the 30-mile version? If the last two have applied to you, then you’ve probably also waited an eternity for that goodie bag and had to consign almost all of its contents to your recycling bin upon getting home? 60
Yeah okay, you got a water bottle but you can’t see inside it because some company’s got their damn logo plastered all round it, and that t-shirt will just go in the bottom drawer along with all the others you’ve picked over the years or are too embarrassed to wear. Anyway, what’s a 100 miles these days? Even your gran has done the C2C in a day on her shopper... and you’ve ticked off all the harder sportives on the calendar multiple times. Done that, done that, done that...yeah, yeah, done that one too. What’s left to do for the dyed in the wool, completelycertifiable cycle-nutter? Ever heard of an ultra-sportive? Eh? What’s that?
Put simply, an ultra-sportive is an organized ride that is far, far longer than ordinary sportives. As a minimum qualification, it has to be over 150 miles in length and have at least 15,000 feet of ascent.
Step forward the Bowland Badass. Billed as this country’s first ever ultra-sportive, the Bowland Badass is a torturous, 167-mile, cloverleaf-shaped route that begins and ends in the small town of Garstang, Lancashire.
Do the maths. That is a huge, hilly humdinger of a ride. There surely can’t be anyone who is mad enough to want to do that, can there?
It dips and dives up and down an almost seemingly endless succession of climbs, all within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (including Pendle Forest). With 18,500 feet of climbing, this fiendish route crisscrosses some of the most scenic countryside that Lancashire has to offer in a relentless series of punishing climbs, the rare flat sections few and far between. Here are some statistics for you to digest: total distance: 166.58 miles; total ascent:
Well yes, there are plenty of damn, crazy fools out there who just love that sort of thing. You heard it right. You’re not alone. It’s a field of dreams caper. Build it and they will come. We’ve got the demand. Where’s the supply?
18,534.8 feet; total descent: -18,538.1 feet; total ascent distance: 70.53 miles; total descent distance: 72.52 miles; total level distance: 23.43 miles; 42.4% of ascent, 43.6% of descent, 14% of level. Can you imagine what it is like to cycle uphill for 70 miles? The organizers of the event have listed 30 categorized climbs in order of appearance - though they only represent 50% of the total climbing on the route: Catshaw Fell, Blea Tarn Hill, Littledale 1, Littledale 2, Jubilee Hill, Trough of Bowland, Long Knots, Hall Hill, Marl Hill, Beacon Hill, Knotts Hill, Bowland Knotts, Cross of Greet, Merrybent Hill, Waddington Fell, Pendle Hill, Barley Hill, Sabden Fold Hill, Nick of Pendle, Whalley Nab, Little Town Hill, Birdy Brow, Longridge Fell, Chipping 1, Chipping 2, Beacon Fell, Brock Bottom, Delph Lane, Harrisend Fell, Long Lane. Now read this carefully - it costs just £10 to enter. That’s right, £10. The Badass is a simple, grassroots event, run on a shoestring by cycle-nutters for cycle-nutters. With the help of a local sponsor and a dozen or so volunteers, they’ve kept costs low, and this is the beauty of the event. It’s not done for profit. They don’t give a flying fandango about the money. The Badass is run out of a small, industrial estate on the edge of town. There are no showers, only a single toilet, no special parking facilities, no massages, no dancing girls, no blary-scary PA system, no sag wagon, no police cover, no medical assistance, no VIP area, no massive queues, no stupid timing mats, no fake closed roads and no useless goodie bags. The feed stops comprise of a couple of vans parked at strategic points along the route. Virtually all the entry money is spent on getting food for the riders, with a small amount for insurance. Other costs are absorbed by the sponsor.
The Badass is organized by a small, knowing group of lunatics, who send their punters out with a smile on what for most of them turns out to be the ride of a lifetime. For the inaugural running of the Badass back in July 2012, the organisers spent 12 hours driving round the route in the planking rain the day before putting up signs. Of the 70 entrants, 44 were brave enough to turn up on the day and 35 had the legs to finish.
On the actual day of the event, there just happened to be wall-to-wall sunshine. The fastest time was just less than 11 hours. Getting home in less than 12 hours is considered a seriously quick time. Most riders took longer, with the last rider home arriving back in the dark with a ride time of 15 hours and 43 minutes. The Bowland Badass is a route for all riders. It’s a tough training ride and a chance for hardcore racers
and endurance specialists to pit themselves against the clock and other riders. It’s a hard day out in beautiful, car-free countryside for those habituated to churning out big miles on long rides. But it is perhaps the ‘ordinary riders’ like the final finisher of 2012, who exemplify most precisely the spirit of the Badass. It’s a fantastic challenge for those who dare to
dream that they can push themselves further and harder than they have ever been before and somehow find they have the strength and courage to do it. So, have you got the legs for the Bowland Badass? There’s only one way to find out. The next Badass is set for July 6, 2013, and entries are limited to just 150 riders. Find out more at www.bowlandbadass.com
PAT ON THE BECK Words James Maloney Photography Dan Kenyon
CYCLING is a funny old game. Riders needlessly sacrificing themselves so that a single indiviual can take all the glory, bask in the limelight and reap all the rewards. Some are happy just to be so-called ‘domestiques’, who work for the greater good. Quietly remaining in the shadows. Too shy or modest to step forward in search of their 15 minutes of fame. Content with slogging away so that others can succeed. One such person that typifies this is Ken Beck, from Southport Cycling Club. He has been involved with the scene for longer than most can remember, but admits that he has never won a race. His only claim to fame was being present in San Sebastián when Tom Simpson won the Worlds in 1965 and then again in Copenhagen when Mark Cavendish claimed the famous rainbow jersey in 2011. Ken is one of cycling’s Mr Nice Guys. He’s like everyone’s favourite grandad or uncle. Always offering advice and encouragement to those who need it at just the right moment. There’s that knack for timing again. You can usually find him working tirelessly behind the scenes at most of the junior and senior races held across Merseyside. If Ken isn’t handing out the race numbers, he is either marshalling or undertaking some other thankless task just to ensure the wheels of each race run true and smooth. We begin our interview with Ken in the conservatory of his Crossens home near Southport. The rain is tapping heavily against the plastic roofing. Ken is wearing a rather fetching jumper emblazoned with the crest of Southport Cycling Club. This typifies Ken. He loves both his club and sport dearly. To me, he represents everything that is great about grassroots cycling - volunteers who give up 72
all of their free time to help out in all weathers, expect no thanks in return and derive immense enjoyment from watching talented young riders progress through the ranks. JM: So, Ken. How did you first get started with cycling? KB: I first started with cycling in March 1957. I worked in a shop-fitting company in Southport called Kiddie. There was a guy who worked in the machine shop called Gordon Edwards, who was in the Southport at the time. He encouraged me to get out on the road with him and I have been at it ever since. JM: What was the initial attraction for you? KB: Getting out and about, like you do. Sadly, Gordon has gone now, but he got me going and into it. I was 17 at the time and reasonably strong, if you like. Not like some of these kids who are 11 and 12 now, but haven’t developed their muscles properly. The only way to get about in the late 50’s was on your bike. There were no cars then, you see. Once I’d got established with the club, which was during the Bill Bradley era, Bill would go out at about 9 o’clock in the morning and say ‘right lads, it’s Windermere today’. Other times, he would say to head to Llagollen, Ingleton or Malham. One of the worse ones that we ever did was head over the top of the Cat & Fiddle. It’s a fair old drag from Southport. Another one that I can remember quite vividly is going through Ruthin and up the Nant Y Garth with a dinner stop in Llangollen, then back through Wrexham and Chester. Bradley would just say that we were going and off we all went like lambs to the slaughter.
our bikes and off we went. It took me until the Wednesday to get over it. JM: Did you enjoy it, though? KB: Yeah. It’s a great game cycling. If you read the books by these guys like Vin Denson, they all did the same thing. Weekends to youth hostels with a saddle bag on, bashing away. We did exactly the same thing. The books you read, you could delete Vin Denson or whatever name and put Bill Bradley in. There was no transport, so it was just get on your bike and go. JM: So how do you think it’s changed from back then to nowadays? KB: Well, it’s faster, isn’t it? Everybody is going shorter distances and going faster. That’s the bottom line.
JM: So what was it like riding with Bill back in those days? KB: Well, he was in no rush. We just rode as a group but he wanted to do 120 to 130-miles, so we did. I think the Llangollen trip through Ruthin was about 150-miles from Southport. Nobody talked about it. He was the boss and knew what he was doing, so we just all got on 74
JM: Do you think that kids these days are a bit more mollycoddled than maybe back in your day? In the sense that they wouldn’t want to do 120-miles? KB: Well, yes. In that they wouldn’t want to do that distance. If you said to them that we were going to do 120-miles, they wouldn’t want to go. Most guys that go out now, it’s 80-miles straight round because the races now aren’t much more than that distance. You don’t need to. The other thing is that it has changed from what was the traditional Sunday run. There is more going on our Saturday runs than the Sunday. They’re only going round West Lancashire, but it’s faster. It has always been steady. You can tell that from the speed of the races. Just generally, if you look at 76
any race, it’s going faster than it ever used to. The average speed is going up all the time. I mean, the time trial records tell you that. All the records for 10s, 25s and 50s are changing all the time, but I suppose there is a bit more traffic to help them along the road now. JM: What have been your proudest moments or happiest memories over the years with Southport? KB: Just helping out. I realised quite early on that I wasn’t a star, so I just used to enjoy myself and we had a great group of lads when we were all 17, so we would go on camping holidays in the Lakes, riding up there and back. Norman Mosscrop, who used to run the bike shop, would
take all the camping stuff up and we used to ride to the Lakes in Ingleton and all sorts of places for the weekend. They were really happy days. I just like to be involved with cycling. Whether it’s standing on a drafty corner for a club 10, it doesn’t matter to me - it’s part of the scene. Like, I was at the Eddie Soens the other week, I bet that I didn’t watch more than two laps or see them go past a few times. The rest of the time, you’ve bumped into someone you’ve not seen for 18 months or 18 years. JM: What can you tell me about Southport’s approach to youth development compared to some other clubs? You’ve got a bit of a reputation
for bringing some quite good young ‘uns through? KB: We’ve got a club room there, which we built four years ago. That’s a legacy as much as the youngsters. It’s ongoing, you’ve got to build on it. If we don’t have young riders coming through, then we won’t have a club. It’s as simple as that. Every club is the same. There are clubs that I have heard of that don’t want them. They just send them away or to another club. But if you do that, then the club will die. You need a certain amount of young blood coming through otherwise the club will die. If you’re getting older and you can’t ride as so far, then you might as well be helping pointing someone younger in the right direction. www.spincyclemag.com
JM: So what do you think Southport do differently? KB: We just encourage them. I mean, people walk through the door at the club and you have to talk to them. If no-one talks to them, then they think that this is rubbish. I just say to them ‘ok, there are bikes here to borrow that are hung up, you can come with us at 9.30am on a Sunday to see how you go’. Then you’ve got to take stock of it all when they do come to see how good they are and talk to them. If they’re not very fit, then you’ve got to curtail the ride and take them home. I always say to their parents that if the young lad or girl are in a mess, can they come to Rufford for the cafe stop and pick them up. About a fortnight ago, this kid fell off his bike and wrecked the rear mech. It snapped off, so we rang his dad and pushed him to the cafe. That’s always a back-up, which is a good idea. Sometimes they’re in a right bloody mess, though. JM: What do you think the future of cycling is at a grassroots level? KB: It’s changed a lot to what it used to be. It’s not like what it was. Like I was saying before, you don’t go 120-miles anymore. The young ‘uns don’t do that. It’s more focused on a bit of a ride round West Lancashire or maybe a little bit further into the Trough of Bowland, but certainly none of the younger generation would dream of going to Settle, Ingleton or Windermere. Like I said, we went to the top of the Cat & Fiddle, but that was a bloody long way. We used to go the Manchester Wheelers’ place for lunch on the way to Congleton and then up the back of the Cat & Fiddle. The time that I went, you could go down what’s now a walk that’s called the Goyt Valley and it comes out halfway between Macclesfield and Whaley Bridge. Well, I’d never even bloody heard of Whaley Bridge and I thought ‘where the hell are we?’
JM: My dad always tells me that I am not a proper cyclist until I have climbed the Horseshoe Pass? KB: Well, it’s not too bad from Liverpool. Try adding another bloody 40-odd miles on coming from Southport. I didn’t live up this way back then, but it takes me half an hour to get to Woodvale. They were happy days and we had some good times. The thing about the gang that I grew up with is that most of them are still cycling. We have a bit of a Christmas reunion ever year and they’re still the same gang. We’ve lost one or two along the way, unfortunately. JM: What do you hope that your legacy will be? KB: Well, the club room is really my legacy. That’s there for good, as long as we can afford to run it. I am not looking for any glory for that. You just do you bit and get on with it. You just point these kids in the right direction and if they want to come with you, they’ll come with you. If they don’t, then they don’t. I have helped a lot of people down the line, one way or another, over the years. Whenever I used to go to races, I always used to offer lifts to as many as I could fit in my car. I don’t seek the glory, you know. I just enjoy being involved in the cycling. For more information about Southport Cycling Club, then visit their website www.southportcc.co.uk or follow them via Twitter: @_SouthportCC
No.1 Eureka Cafe
No.6 Gusta Gusto
Two Mills, Parkgate Road, Woodbank, Chester, CH1 6EZ Reviewer’s rating: 4/5 www.eurekacyclistscafe.co.uk | Tel: 0151 339 5629 Opening times: Not open Mon, Tues or Thurs
Roots Lane, off Blackleach Lane, Catforth, Preston, PR4 0JB Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 gustagusto.co.uk | Tel: 0177 269 1866 Opening times: Mon-Fri 10.30am-4pm
One of the few Cafes where you can gaze on Chris Boardman’s yellow jersey or a Giro Pink jersey. It’s not just a Cafe, but a whole cycling experience. Amazing what you pick up by just being there. Don’t take a picnic, you don’t want to get banned from the Eureka.
Very tasty and good value. Cake was moist and coffee was very good quality.
No.2 The Greedy Pig
89 Bold Street, L1 4HF Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 www.boldstreetcoffee.co.uk | Tel: 0151 707 0760 Opening times: Mon-Fri 7.30am-6pm; Sat 8am-6pm; Sun 9.30am-5pm:
2 The Gables, Chester Rd, Kelsall, Chester CW6 0RZ Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 www.facebook.com/thegreedypig | Tel: 0182 975 9399 Opening times: Mon-Fri 8am-2.30pm; Sat 9am-1pm The Cake was fantastic, so good that I couldn’t eat it quick enough. Service was fast, especially as eight of us descended at the same time, as well as a couple of locals.
No.3 The Lakeland Pedlar Bell Close, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5JD Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 www.lakelandpedlar.co.uk | Tel: 0176 877 4492 Opening times: Summertime daily 9am-5pm; Wintertime Weekdays 9am-4.30pm; Weekends 9am-5pm Good tasty food, friendly staff. Waiting for table, getting the orders through and served, as well as the time required to eat the massive portions made this the longest cafe stop we could envisage.
No.4 Cafe d’Lune Corricks Lane, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA2 0AN Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 www.alexbarnes1653.webspace.virginmedia.com/cafe/index Tel: 0152 475 2048 Opening times: Mon-Fri 10am-4.30pm; Sat-Sun 10am-5pm On a sunny day, there isn’t a seat to be had outside as cyclists flock there for the lovely homemade cakes and good coffee - all at a reasonable price.
No.5 The Lavender Barn School Lane, Dunham Massey, Cheshire, WA14 4TR Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 Tel: 0753 512 7517 Opening times: 10am-4.30pm Tues-Sun & Bank Holiday Mon Victoria Sponge is sublime, light and fluffy with a ring of cream surrounding a jammy layer. Cakes are made daily with a wide selection, quality is fantastic and portions generous. Tea is served in a pot - as it should be. 84
No.7 Bold Street Coffee
Bikes hung on the wall like works of art makes this a great little city centre spot. The fact that they make great coffee and the owner Sam is a keen cyclist makes for a great combo for weekend and workday visits.
No.8 Polocini Coffee shop Central Drive, Romiley, Stockport. Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 http://polocini.com/coffee-shop/ | Tel: 0161 494 7368 Opening times: Mon 9am-1.30pm; Tues-Sat 9am-3.30pm; Sun 9am-3pm Fantastic cycling themed coffee shop with great food and enthusiastic, friendly staff (owners and waitress).
No.9 Rattle Gill Cafe 2 Bridge St, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA11 9DU Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 www.rattlegillcafe.co.uk | Tel: 0153 943 4403 Opening times: Thurs-Sun 10am-4.30pm ‘ish’ Cakes looked scrummy and everything was fresh and homemade. Whole place was vegetarian, but you wouldn’t notice the lack of meat
No.10 Manor Farm Newton Lane, Gatesheath, near Tattenhall, CH3 9AY Reviewer’s rating: 5/5 www.themanorfarmshop.co.uk | Tel: 0182 977 1438 Opening times: Open seven days per week 9am-7pm After 30+ club runs last year, including cafe stops and poached egg and beans on toast, this one took the prize for quality and quantity. Cooked to perfection, with quality ingredients.
DONâ€™T CALL ME SCALLY Words & Photography James Maloney
MARK McNally doesn’t like his nickname ‘scally’, apparently. We don’t blame him. He far more suits ‘scrappy’ after a season that had more ups and downs than the Bergs he races on every year over in Belgium. Hailing from the slightly more posher area of Crosby in Merseyside, the 24-year-old not only battled his way through grim weather conditions last season, but also against a seemingly neverending stream of illness while racing for Irish outfit An Post.
JM: How did you first get into cycling? MMc: I was watching Jason Queally during the Olympics in 2000 and thought to myself ‘I’d like to do that’. My dad and his mates were into cycling, so I got a bike off one of them and went from there really after I’d joined the Century.
wisdom tooth, so I had to get that out. Then I was going well, but my appendix burst, so I was in hospital for the best part of a week-and-a-half then. I didn’t get fit until June for the Tour of Belgium. It wasn’t the best season, but it hasn’t been the worst either.
JM: How did last season go for you? MMc: Up until May, I had a problem with a
JM: Any notable results? MMc: I won the prop Ninove in July, so that was
good. There were some big riders there and I was in a crash, but got up and won, so that was the highlight of the year for me. JM: Where did the nickname ‘Scally’ come from? After all, you live in Crosby? MMc: You want to ask my mum about that one. I try to tell everyone that I am from the nice part of Liverpool, but no-one seems to listen. I think
Yup, ‘scrappy’ is definitely a more fitting title for this lovable young man who always has plenty of time to offer advice to his younger counterparts and ageing club members trying to suck his wheel on the way home in gale-force winds [you’ll understand in a bit - trust me]. McNally decided that he fancied trying his hand at this cycling lark after watching Jason Queally during the Olympics. After joining Liverpool Century, his talent was rewarded with a place on the Le Coq Sportif-Dolan-SIS team before joining Liverpool Mercury and then securing a place on British Cycling’s Olympic Academy Programme, where he won gold in the junior pursuit team at the European Championships. In 2009, he suffered a heart-breaking setback when he was told that he no longer had a place in the under-23s academy. Luckily, he was soon snapped up by Halfords-Bikehut, where he was taken under the wing of the then National Road Race champ Rob ‘Killer’ Hayles. Again, he suffered another setback when the Halfords-Bikehut team were eventually wound up, but Lady Luck was smiling on the Crosby lad when none other than Sean Kelly came knocking on his door with a place in his new An Post Cycling Team, where he still remains to this day.
world. Belgian racing is different. It’s harsher than racing in most countries. Racing in Flanders, you need to know the roads because one minute you’re doing 65kmh down a two lane main road, then you turn right down a farmers track to cobblestones and the road kicks upwards in front. If you’re at the back, then you’re still waiting to get round the corner while the front of the peloton is cresting the ‘Berg’. To make sure you’re in the right place, you need to learn to deal with what we call the ‘shift fight’, which is exactly what it says on the tin - a fight just to stay at the front. JM: How many races do you do each year for AN-Post? MMc: We do a lot of good races in postmaster year. I did maybe 40 days of racing, which is less than usual due to illness and injury. Back in 2011, I did roughly 60 races. [Cycling Commentator] Ant McCrossan made that one up, so I have him to thank for that. It’s just a name and I have been called worse in life. JM: How did you make the jump from club level to turning pro? MMc: When I started out, my dad used to take me out to the Mills and I’d do the speed runs with the Century every Saturday towards Darlington. Then, when I was a junior, I rode for Le Coq Sportif-Dolan-SIS, which was run by Mike Taylor. Mike was getting quite old, so he stepped back a bit and Terry, who was one of the sponsors, brought me to the Merc [Liverpool Mercury] and looked after me. I owe a lot to Terry. He has been with the An Post team for the last few years and I am very grateful as I do owe him a hell of a lot. JM: Can you tell us a little about your pre season prep? You were back in Liverpool at Christmas, then off on a training camp before jumping straight into racing in Belgium? 90
MMc: Pre-season preparation started a little bit earlier this season because a knee injury had ended it prematurely last year. I started out in October in Liverpool at my parents in Crosby, easing myself back into it for a week or so. Then the hard work started before heading to Girona for a week in November with Johnny [McEvoy] and Bibs [Ian Bibby]. After that, it was back home for a few more weeks of training around Lancashire. Next up was the first AN-Post camp, which was back in December, but that gave me a chance to get to grips with the new team and new equipment. Once that was out of the way, I headed back home for Christmas before jetting off for another 10 day stint in Calpe, where I polished off the form before heading out to Belgium for the first race of the year at GP La Marseillaise. JM: Belgian racing? Hard, is it? MMc: Belgian racing is hard, but I don’t think that I’ve ever done an easy race anywhere in the
JM: What’s your remit in Belgium? One day races versus larger stage races? MMc: For me, the Belgian races are special. They’re like no other race. If you can win a semi-classic or a classic in Belgium, then you’re not just fast or strong - you’re a great bi-rider. They’re not really two things. You can draw a comparison from a big tour and a semi-classic, but, to be honest, the only big stage races I’ve done are Tour of Belgium and Tour of Britain, so they’re not exactly a Grand Tour.
AN-Post, but your illness last year must have been quite frustrating for you. What are you aims for this year? MMc: My manager Kurt Bogaerts has put a lot of faith and belief in me over the last four years and, for that, I’m grateful to him. I like to think that my results also show how reliable and comfortable I am within the team, so it’s good. Last year, I had problems with my wisdom teeth, then my appendix burst mid-April. It was nearly June by the time that I had any decent form. Then in the Tour of Britain, I crashed and hurt my knee, so it was a season to forget. My goal, like the last few years, is to make a step up to a pro-tour level team. Over the last few years, I’ve been close but what I’ve learnt is that I need to be a bit more selfish, take my own chances. So in a nutshell, I want to win more. JM: Nice to see you out occasionally. Tell me, Mark, how does it feel to have an old club rider sucking your wheel through Maghull and slowing you up with mindless prattle? MMc: The thing about cycling is that it’s quite a social sport at times - even when wheel sucking is involved. That’s one of the reasons why I love the sport. JM: Lastly, can I have a signed card please? MMc: When we get this year’s postcards, then I’ll sort some out for you.
JM: Speaking of which, I remember you managed to get in that great breakaway through the Cheddar Gorge on the 2011 TOB, when Sean Kelly was in the team car. How did it feel to race in the UK that day? MMc: It’s always a treat for me to race in the UK because I am away so much. I enjoy coming home and showing what I’m capable of on a good day. JM: You seem to be a pretty solid member of www.spincyclemag.com
RAT RACE SURVIVAL GUIDE
How to get from A-B on the bike MORE E-Z(LY)
Words John Bilsborrow Photography James Maloney
SUMMER of 2012 has done wonders for cycling in the UK. Bradley Wiggins became the first-ever Brit to claim the Tour de France, then followed it up with another Olympic Gold medal to add to his cabinet, while the rest of the British Olympic cyclists continued solidifying their place in history.
it builds up to the point where it can inhibit your cycling. At the end of your working week, give your bike a good all over, top-to-bottom wash - emphasising on your sprockets, derailleurs (especially jockey wheels) and your chain. Up your cleaning game when winter hits as sand, salt and grit can ruin your gears, brakes, etc. Don’t forget to re-lube when done. Ooh err missus.
Since the summer, there appears to be a lot more cyclists on the roads, which is huge for British Cycling. Many people have jumped on to the bandwagon by commuting to work.
ROAD RAGE: There are a lot of drivers out there that don’t like us (us as a cyclist, that is). I’d maybe even go as far as to say some may hate us. Therefore, we must not give them more reason to dislike cyclists. You get the odd driver shouting ‘get off the road, you don’t pay road tax’ amongst other ridiculous stuff. The best advice given in situations like these is to ignore and keep on biking. However, it is sometimes a guilty pleasure of mine to embrace the driver’s attitude and re-educate them that they neither pay road tax but they do pay excise duty, which refers to the emissions their vehicle releases. It doesn’t take Einstein to know bicycles have zero emissions. Anyway, like I said earlier, best just to ignore. I could go on all day about road safety, as it is paramount that we go about our journey in the safest manner. The rules 59 to 81 in the Highway Code cover the do’s and don’ts, and we cannot reiterate enough that you obey these rules.
With a decent amount of cycle lanes (albeit not enough) and plenty of businesses running cycle to work schemes, now is the time to hop on your bike and ride to work. Not only that, but cycling is fun and what better way to start your day. With that in mind. we have devised our top tips to help you on your way: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BIKE: First and foremost you need to have a bike before you can ride anywhere and now with lots of cycle to work schemes, the bike shop is your oyster, Rodney. The Cycle to Work scheme is a UK Government scheme to promote healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution. It allows employers to loan cycles and accessories to employee’s tax free up to the value of £1,000. For that price, you can get a pretty decent bike. Whether you’re off on a Sunday afternoon ride or the weekly commute, you want to be riding in comfort. Everyone is different, which means the ergonomics for individuals bikes will be different too. Call in to your local bike shop and they should be more than happy to make sure you’re getting the right frame, saddle and bike, etc. WASH TO GO: Once you have your shiny trusty stead, make sure you keep it that way. The amount of grit and grime you pick up on the roads is unreal. The more you leave it, the more 94
STYLE GURU: Jumping on your bike in fingerless gloves in the middle of November might feel fine for the first mile or so, but there’s not a chance when you reach work that you’ll be able to grip a pen. Also, riding five miles in a fleecy jumper can get a little smelly - let’s not forget, you’ve got a day of work ahead of you. It’s always a good idea to check the forecast and let your wardrobe take note. You can go to the extremes of spending lots of money on arm warmers or wicking material, etc, but the choice is yours. Not forgetting the most important item of clothing though, a helmet. You can be wearing the most expensive shorts and jersey known to man, but they wouldn’t do much if you cracked your noggin.
SWEATY BACK SYNDROME: If you carry your gear in a rucksack, chances of you having a sweaty back are high - especially if it’s the height of summer. It doesn’t have to be this way though. Messenger bags are not only practical, but they are easy to carry when off the bike. Plus in some people’s eyes they are classed as cycle chic. On the other hand (or bike), you can ride with panniers. Panniers have a greater volume capacity enabling the rider to carry more. Also, during the winter months, the added weight over the rear wheel (assuming you’re using rear panniers and not front panniers) gives more traction on the icy/snowy road. CARRY ON CYCLING: First and foremost carry a repair kit and spare inner tube. Let’s not forget that you’re on your way to work and if you get the dreaded puncture, you’ll want to have it sorted and be back on the bike as soon as possible. Most bosses would not be best pleased if you were late. Secondly, a new inner tube is useless if you haven’t brought your pump, so throw that in your bag or attach it to your bike. And finally, how would you get home if your bike wasn’t where you left it after work? Carry a lock too and you shouldn’t have this problem.
BRIGHT LIGHTS: Always have your bike lights attached to your commuting bike, even if it’s not dark when you set off for work and won’t be dark when you plan to leave work. You may be asked to work late, have a puncture or another mechanical on the way home. There are numerous reasons why you might not get home on time. If you have a good set of bike lights attached to your bike, then you have no worry. Remember the old ‘Be Seen, Be Safe’? Well it’s more than a cliché, it’s a fact. IT’S NOT A RACE: In an ideal world, everyone’s place of work has a shower that you can use when you get off your bike. Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world. Don’t go at it 100 per cent, as you want to not only get to work in one piece, but you also don’t want to get there dripping with sweat - save that for your training rides. Ride your commute at an easy pace and just enjoy your morning and evening leg stretcher. STORAGE KING: If you’re lucky enough to have a place in work that you can store some stuff, it may be worthwhile to stock up. You could leave a week’s food, clothing, toiletries and so on at the office. Just saves a little bit of weight and space for your journey. www.spincyclemag.com
ARE CYCLISTS SOCIABLE? Words Chris Keller-Jackson Photography William Lee
CYCLING is a peculiar thing, you get to know people in ways you never thought you would, as they rub embrocation cream on their legs and apply chamois cream to their nether regions. Not as glamorous as you’d expect, especially as the winter draws in and all that accumulated Lycra, Spandex and Merino wool gets a proper rinsing, on the always wet and salt ridden roads of the North West, and the inevitable spin-cycle in your beloveds washing machine. Enough mood reducing already, it’s not actually winter yet.
Another peculiar thing, social media (and the subject of this piece) is much like washing your dirty laundry, but in public. “I HATE that inconsiderate Ford driver”, “Here’s a picture of my Spaniel’s poorly paw”, “Look where I am – I’m in actual IKEA”, “Strava says I’m KOM of my driveway”, “Support my Justgiving site here . . . . .” are all things you’ll see on social media like Facebook, and Twitter. But is Social Media actually social? In my house, we converse via speaking to each other, but only in between bleeps and pings from
Twitter, texts from friends and e-mails of ‘vital’ importance to national security. When I say converse, I actually mean grunt and stifle a laugh, we only talk when we have to. In our house we have ‘anti-social media’, it certainly gets in the way of ‘life’ - maybe you suffer from it to? This magazine is probably the first one to be published that is wholly within PTC (Post Twitter Communications), and this step change in communication has led to several interesting phenomena. I’m going to look primarily at
Twitter over Facebook (or any other type of social media) because of the step change it has brought, which I’ll outline below. Immediacy: News in the Twitter world is immediate, you receive a new bike component, you tweet to the world. All your followers see your wonderful news, comment on it and retweet. Race reports and fuzzy low-res images are up straight after a race is finished, new stock arriving at a supplier is greeted with Papal reverence. Never has the world been so close, or so ‘warts and all’. Contact: You can ‘hook up’ with friends, celebrities, colleagues, strangers, bike industry types – whoever you want to. Some might even follow you back. There is an unwritten rule that you should have more followers than people who you follow. Quick, go check now. Being connected to celebrities almost feels like they are your ‘friend’, however there is far more banality and mundane chatter out there than you’d likely stomach. Be careful who you follow. Actual work-related stuff: I know, why spoil a good social site with actual things that might be really interesting. Some individuals actually use social media as a business tool. Go figure. This is where this article selects the big ring, as we crest the highest peak and hurtle downhill into a long and tortuous descent into the valleys, and a sprint finish. You will come second to Cav. The revelation that some people do use Twitter and Facebook, etc, to conduct their business is almost lost within the mire of utter drivel that pervades social networks. Social networks are amazing tools to find what you need - be it a new bike part, a ride partner, or to know how waterlogged the Cycle Speedway track is at Astley.
Ask the right question to the right people (or just randomly ask) and you’ll get enough responses from your followers to make an e-informed opinion, and enough ‘Googling’ to power the street lights of Kirkby.
I only used social media to promote the event, and through the ‘power of Twitter’, ended up with current and former track cycling stars at the Gatley launch, as well as invited guests and those that had asked to attend.
Case studies always help to prove a valuable point and, as a photographer, last year, I held two exhibitions - one in Gatley at the excellent Coffee Fix (@coffee_fix - a great ride destination via Warburton Bridge) and the other in Central London off Carnaby Street.
After the success of that exhibition, I was invited by the National Cycling Centre at Manchester to put together a proposal for a photographic exhibition way back in December. Pulling together 67 images is a big undertaking. Not only in time, but also resources and expense, so I wanted to get it right. www.spincyclemag.com
SPIN CYCLE MAGAZINE PRESENTS
CROWS_ LANE KILLER HILLS Distance: 0.9 Miles Avg Grade: 5% Lowest elevation: 297ft Highest elevation: 531ft Popularity: Ridden 836 times by 208 people KOM: Martyn G (00:03:34 - March 20, 2013) QOM: Annette R (00:06:11 - Sep 4, 2012)
OK, ok. Yes, this feature is called ‘Killer Hill’ and, yes, we know that Crows Lane near Dalton in West Lancashire cannot really be considered a ‘killer’, but stick with us on this and we’ll explain.
across a hay cart or some yokel in a smock leaning over a gate with straw in his mouth comparing you unfavourably to ‘that foreign bloke Albert Contad-ooor.’
Barely a mile long with an average of five per cent and a just a tiny stretch of 12 per cent on the second-to-last corner, Crows Lane is more of a ‘kitten’ than a killer, but we decided to include it because...well...we love it. Most people who climb do too. So there.
Whether it’s misty, cold, sunny or fine, as soon as you turn off Stoney Brow at Roby Mill into the start of the climb on Farley Lane, ‘Crows’ calms you down. It’s like that, you see.
It’s winding. It’s scenic. It’s kind of old fashioned. You half expect on some summer’s day to come 104
On your right, there’s a row of houses and a playground on your left as you begin to climb through the trees at an easy pace with a picturesque view either side.
The first bend, by the posh houses, is always rutted and gravelled by the stream that runs across it for two thirds of the year. Then, as you take this first left hander, this is the point where the incline eases off and you prepare to meet your first speeding Range Rover. However, this is Crows, after all, so you’re more likely to meet a cautious elderly couple in a Rover than a Chelsea tractor. After that, the road narrows a tad and a righthander takes you up to a cute little hamlet with just a few sturdy stone cottages and an old white sign saying ‘Ye Olde Dalton.’
What a whimp, eh. On my own in this area, I’ll often do a circuit that includes turning left at the top of Crows, sailing down into Up Holland and then taking a left and a left again, which will lead you down to Roby Mill and the base of Crows again in about 10 minutes. It’s perfect for quick repetitions with a freewheel rest in the middle. And because it’s so quiet, it’s a friendly little climb. When last on it with a friend, we passed two young triathlon buckos stopped at the side of the road, who were all saddle bottle cages and tribars. They soon came past us with a crackle of cheap Chinese carbon bottom brackets and were at the junction when we made the top waiting to nod to us in an ever-so-faintly smug way. “Well,” I said to my mate. “You reach a stage in cycling when you look at younger riders and have to accept that you’ll never be as quick up the hills as them again – but you have the joy of knowing they’ll one day be as slow as you.” That’s climbing for you. It isn’t just the ratio of power-to-weight, it’s also the ratio of power-totime. David Bowie sang “Time takes a cigarette..” and, if time was a cyclist, he’d give up the fags and buy a compact. Actually, it just says ‘Dalton’, but you get the mood. It’s a quiet stone-walled oasis in the centre of Lancashire. The hill is really all big ring stuff so far and, if you’re fit, it should really be big ringing it all the way. Then, as you admire the sloping field to your right, you can see what altitude you have left to tackle. Around the next right-hander, a steadily increasing gradient kicks in as the banks rise up around you into the last left-hander at 12 per cent. 106
The last drag to the junction with the bustling Beacon Lane has a beautiful stretch of Lancashire stretching out into the blue on your left – all skylarks, rifling of leaves in the trees in summer, Rivington in the misty distance and the burnt tones of bracken in the winter. See, we told you that it was lovely. At the top, be cautious – especially turning right to reach the crest of Ashurst. On Sundays, some of the locals like to take this crest with all four wheels
off the ground on their way to the paper shop in Up Holland.
Words & Photography Dan Kenyon
Crows is a favourite part of many a club run, as it sits in the centre of what I call the Parbold Ring, which offers you both sides of Ashurst, Cobbs up to the church, Crows, Appley Bridge, Stony Lane, Parbold Hill itself and the dreaded mini Mow Cop that is Bank Top. We would have done the latter this issue instead, but the editor bottled it and opted for Crows, as it was his turn to model. www.spincyclemag.com
THERE’S no more intimidating place than being right slap bang in the middle of a category 3/4 peloton. Take it from me, I know. This time last year, that’s where I found myself - all new to the world of road racing and surrounded by bikes worth double and triple the value of my own. Even sat on the start line before the race, my nerves played havoc with my mind. I had no idea how the winning move would come about. It was all quite different from mountain bike racing, where I started my racing career. When you’re in that situation, a constant feeling of tension hangs in the air. Who are the ones to watch? Who are the new kids on the block? Who do I need to give a stare-out to? You can imagine these thoughts flicking through the minds of the other riders as they line up next to you. Things don’t seem to improve much when you roll out either. Riders jostle for position, shouts of ‘hold your line’ echo around the crowded peloton. I sat at the front, watching and waiting, hoping to steer clear of any danger. Within a few minutes, a few breaks try to get clear. But you’re new to racing, so do you follow them? Will they last?
Words & Photography Tim Wiggins
During my first race, I went after every one because other riders shouted at me to do so. Each and every break got pulled back and the race ended in a bunch sprint. ‘Amateur,’ I thought to myself afterwards. Get in a few breaks of your own and you begin to realise why they fail. Everyone wants to win, nobody will work with you - or at least not at 100 per cent - and as result, the chasing pack will soon steam-roller you. Once they have left you out there to dry for a while, obviously. What’s the key then? What’s the solution to getting away? How can you prove yourself?
Watch and learn. It’s not going to happen on the first race, maybe not the second or third either. But over time, you will learn which of the moves are going to work and the ones that won’t. Not only that, but you’ll also learn which riders are the strong ones, who are the riders that work with you and those that are just looking for a free-ride to finish line glory. Learn the courses as well. Shorter, flatter courses, where the peloton can keep you in sight, are less likely to work for a breakaway. The only real chance is to find a strong rider to go with you and hope that your team time-trialling ability is enough to hold off the pack. Much hillier courses make it harder for pursuing riders to judge the break’s time gap and make it more conducive to making that key move. Find the place to launch your attack and pray that the chasing group miscalculates their need to follow suit.
One of the best things to do is watch the more experienced riders. As I moved up into E/1/2 racing, this became even more effective. These guys have been doing this for a while and they know all the tricks. Watch who they watch, follow who they follow and, maybe, if they’ve played it right, you’ll get round them in the final sprint to take glory. You soon learn that it is not necessarily the strongest riders in the pack that win races - it’s the smartest. Tactics are a huge part of road racing and they are not something you can really learn in a book. They need to be learnt out on the road or track. Pay attention; treat every race as a learning environment and soon you’ll be able to ‘read’ a race like a book, as well as noticing the critical point at which to write your own victorious conclusion. For my full guide on hints and tips, as well as further advice for new and experienced racers, take a look at my blog: timwiggins.blogspot.com www.spincyclemag.com
WORLD BEATER BEryL BURTON RACING IS LIFE - The Beryl Burton Story follows the journey of one of the best female cyclists ever to take to two wheels. For those that have heard the name but know very little about Beryl Burton, she was a nononsense Yorkshire tomboy that won the RTTC Best All Rounder 25 years-in-a-row from 1959 until 1983. Beryl was also seven-times world champion in the 3,000 metre pursuit and on the road - all while being a mother and holding down jobs on fruit farms in West Yorkshire. Quite simply, she was extraordinary. In 1967, Burton set a new 12-hour time trial record of 277.25 miles - a distance that surpassed the men’s record of the time by 0.73 miles and remained unsurpassed by a man for more than two years. While setting the record, she caught and passed Mike McNamara, who was on his way to setting the men’s record at 276.52 miles and winning that year’s men’s British Best All-Rounder. Apparently, Beryl handed him a Liquorice Allsort as she passed him - not as an insult, but because she would always share the food she had. McNamara gratefully ate it. Based entirely on extensive Super 8 footage, the film starts with film shot from a moving car of Beryl streaking along at speed. Straight away you can see why she won everything in sight for almost 30 years. The fluid power of her pedal 112
action and her utterly flat-backed position on the bike reveal her as a natural. Racing is Life is partly an hour-and-a-half of nostalgia for the British amateur racing scene of the 1950s to 1980s. This is a world of duffle coats and thermos flasks, cherry cheeks and briar pipes, leafy lanes and plain trackie tops. With commentary from Charlie, Beryl’s husband and her daughter Denise, as well as additional narration from Phil Liggert and the exotically named Roger St Pierre in his Jason King white roll-neck, ‘Racing is Life’ is a proper British news reel affair with jaunty music and plenty of cheery pluck. It’s also a window on the rather more patient motorists of a bygone era. Driving a Mark 1 Cortina, bereft of power steering and ABS brakes, and being undertaken on a roundabout by a fiercelooking Beryl Burton in time trial mode must have been unnerving. Cycling back then was a world without sponsorship and often without transport. Beryl would regularly ride 30-50 miles to a race, pin a number on her back, win and then ride back home again. This isn’t just a nostalgia trip though. ‘Racing is Life’ was a favourite saying of Beryl’s and she meant it. She didn’t read books or own a TV. This Yorkshire lass didn’t even have a phone in her house and little imagination outside cycling. The sport really was her only obsession, but a singular obsession is never healthy. www.spincyclemag.com
Roger St Pierre, commenting on her downfall, said:
‘Weakness and failure - she couldn’t ever entertain that. As you get older, you can’t keep winning bike races. Her whole life was based around winning bike races. When she ceased winning races, her whole life fell apart. She had no identity except winning bikes races. She couldn’t come to terms with this.’
...every club has ’em by Wheelsucker
Ignoring pleas from friends and family to slow down, Beryl continued to train and race as she always had - even through illness. On May 8th, when out delivering invites to her 59th birthday, Beryl suffered a fatal heart attack and was found alongside her bike at the side of the road.
With the first stage of the 2014 TDF finishing in Beryl’s last home town of Harrogate, this film couldn’t have been released at a better time. It’s a fine tribute to probably the best cyclist the UK has ever seen - man or woman. After all, true talent isn’t based on gender.
THE SPORTIVE KING I did the lot last year: Wild Wales; Frantic Fens; Scary Scotland; The Dragon Ride; The Cat; The Weasel; The Wild Weasel in The Fens (with an Owl); The Peaks Punisher; The Struggle; The Weeper; The Fred Whitton; The Bill Bradley; The Frank Spencer; The Etape Du Dales; The Etape Du Norfolk; The Etape Du Etape; and The Etape Du Air Ambulance.
Photo courtesy of Action Images / Jason Cairnduff
Beryl was 30 years ahead of her time. Her 100-mile record lasted 28 years until beaten in the 1990s by women using aerodynamic bikes. Her 12-hour record still stands today. She was World 3,000m pursuit champion five times, World road race champion twice and National RR Champion 12 times. There wasn’t a women’s world championship time trial event during Beryl’s career and the women’s road race wasn’t part of the Olympics until 1984. If Beryl was a new rider today, you get the feeling that Marianne Vos wouldn’t have stood a chance on the Mall during last year’s Olympics.
Bumped into Wiggo on his sportive. He wasn’t too happy about that... He may have won Le Tour but the silly bugger needs learn to look where he’s going doesn’t he..? Might race myself this year. How hard can it be in the pack...? Aiming to lose a few kgs so I can get a pair of those new Zippidee DooDarr full carbon wheels. You need them now – alloy’s are for amateurs. I’m tired of these Mickey Mouse events. Might do a half Iron Man. I’ll have to do breast stroke for the swim though...
Next month, we catch up with everyone’s favourite Olympic sweethearts Laura Trott and Jason Kenny. Thanks for dropping by and see you again in June.
Published on Nov 11, 2013
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