Holmfirth Dunford Road early 1900s

Crowds gather to watch early trials of Lycra on Dunford Road.

Cycloblog is back!

After a short hiatus – as in taking a break, not the hernia – Cycloblog is back. Back in a very different world, in which GBBO has moved to Channel 4 and politics has changed beyond belief with 52% of the British public beginning to wish they could turn the clock back.

This time I will be charting the ups and downs of my training programme as I ready myself for a 200 mile, two-wheeled trip across Burgundy; the home of some of the finest white wines in the world and, undoubtedly, the finest manifestations of Chardonnay. Burgundy allegedly produces good red wine too, a rumour that I contest, based on a dislike of the thin and perfumed stuff foisted upon me by its devotees.

Undertaken for the pure pleasure of cycling and the company of my domestique, Martin Peel and of our factotum, Black Ken of Dacre, I have limited my training to the next 10 days. Ample, I feel, to set me up for the 50 miles or so I have planned for the trip.

Last night involved a light run, the principle challenge of which was Dunford Road, which, as anyone will tell you, is a slog. However, the sheer tedium of cycling, as always accompanied by the rubbing of my badly-fitted helmet and discomfort resulting from the godforsaken interaction of saddle, lycra and anus, is made bearable by a treasure trove of sights along the way.

No sooner have I gazed upon the gooey family portraits in the window of Helen Bray’s award-winning photo studio than the wonders of the Cal Look VW campers at Autony’s Garage flash by. Soon after that, the fabulously undulating pitch of the Underbank RLFC ground can be seen on the left, closely followed by the dairy of the world’s favourite yogurt and cream purveyors, Longley Farm. Finally, at Hade Edge, the premises of celebrity butcher Brindon Addy loom large, nestling on the banks of the moody, dark and peaty waters of the reservoir. It’s a lot to take in, even at 5 miles an hour.

So follow me as I prepare for a six-day degustation, undertake vital research into viniculture, and ultimately report from the front line of Bacchanalia.

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Hope Against Cancer Fundraising

We’ve only gone and blooming done it!

We had an idea that we could take 60 cyclists, support riders and a support team across the Alps through France, Switzerland and Italy to raise £100,000 for Hope Against Cancer.

You believed in that idea and worked with us to raise funds, and through that make a huge difference to peoples’ lives.

We all worked hard through 2015, with the cyclist’s training and the support team organising and when it mattered, worked hard as a team in September 2015.

We did it and in doing so raised – £103,152, which is a fantastic achievement by everyone.

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The Sopranos

Come Dine With Me

TV is the new cinema, which makes staying in, the new going out. A trend that has led to supermarket popcorn sales growing exponentially. And it’s all down to the success of the long form TV series pioneered by The Sopranos, which was considerably better than the Godfather trilogy. Oh yes it was!

But while TV drama hits new heights, the rest of it is going South, rapidly. Don’t even ask why the BBC wastes our money on emulating every successful hit show that pops up on ITV. That’s what leads to aberrations like The Voice.

But its not the ill-conceived “me too” myopia that bothers me, even though it leads every channel to make its own version of successful formats from Ice Road Bakers to the Deadliest Batch. No, it’s the manipulation and deceit that is routinely visited upon us by the broadcasters, supported by their co-conspirators, the critics. Who, collude in making woefully thin constructs, sound like sure fire winners.

Take Monday night. Whilst Hugh Farnley Whitwam was earnestly encouraging the supermarkets to put a stop to food waste (a true scandal) some complete nobody was trying to shaft Aldi, on Channel 4, by portraying them as the Ryanair of retail. Billed as a major expose, it soon became clear that the mega successful discounter had a loyal customer following, who totally understand that you pays your money and takes your choice. Then you go to the betting shop and blow the savings. Aware that “customer understands proposition” doesn’t make good telly, the programme resorted to the old trick of finding some disgruntled ex employees and spreading rumours that they exploit their staff. Meanwhile some old fart with a PhD in Aldi Studies rambled on about employment law – just because Aldi insist, quite rightly, that staff arrive 15 minutes ahead of shift, in order to be ready to start at the allotted time.

It’s all very poor indeed. And it gets worse. Some TV shows start out plausibly, but then the producers lose faith in the format. That’s why the masterpiece that is Come Dine With Me was ruined, when each evening had to have “entertainment” and every group had to contain someone who is allergic to life itself. Maybe it’s a Huddersfield thing but I don’t expect my friends to have entertainment at their houses – plying me with drink is more than enough.

So, to the big A – the Apprentice. Once upon a time you could almost believe that the challenges were set to test the overall acumen, judgement, people skills and sales ability of the contestants. But now Lord Grumpy presides over challenges designed specifically to cause conflict and humiliate the contestants. Why else would they be shown digging manure in high heels and business suits? Why oh why would they be asked to conceive, plot, write, illustrate and then pitch, a children’s story? Roald Dahl would struggle with that one.

So to this week’s challenge, in which Team Colossus and Team Perineum are asked to make a porn movie. The cars will no doubt be outside, at short notice, at some ungodly hour. Lord Amstrad will appear between Karen and Clod to announce the challenge and explain why the candidates are all handcuffed to the walls. The teams will have to decide what type of movie they think they can pitch. MMF, Girl on Girl, S&M. And the end of the challenge at least one the candidates, will be tired. Or as the Lord of the Fires put it “Right Vana we need to see a lot more of you. You will be cheerleader, sorry team leader. You claim you can hold your own against a man – now’s your chance. Team Colossus – time to rise to the occasion and see what you are made of. In the team that fluffs it, at least one of you will get fired.”

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Isotonic Drink

So-called Isotonic State

Rumour has it that in certain parts of the country, cyclists now outnumber non-cyclists.
Where once cyclists drew stares and were the object of abuse, now they abide side by side, in harmony with non-Lycra worshipping groups. Tolerance of cyclists is now the norm. Where once hostility to their customs and costumes was socially acceptable, a new era of understanding is upon us.

It is sad therefore to note that factionalism is taking dangerous root amongst cyclists. Followers of Strava insist that there is no such thing as Garmin. Meanwhile, the peaceful hill dwelling communities of mountain bikers find that their traditional way of life is being threatened by an aggressive crusade, in the name of road bikers. In Holmfirth, a vicious civil war is raging as mountain bikers are forced to flee strongholds, such as Longley’s Café, as seemingly unstoppable hordes of undernourished road cyclists pillage every historical source of carbohydrates in their path.

Enforced conversions from mountain biking to road biking are often carried out in public, victims being summarily stripped of baggy shorts and body armour in front of their wives and children. Meanwhile, gels and isotonic drinks are openly on sale on the streets with road bikers as young as 12 developing dependancies on these vile substances.

A new and fundamentalist group is now emerging to take advantage of the breakdown of the old order.
So called Isotonic State who believe that women have no place in the cycle shop and carry out summary humiliations of mountain bikers by cycling past them really fast, are preparing a jihad against believers in hybrid bikes, which they claim are blasphemy.

The self-appointed leader of Holmfirth Halhal Wheelers, Waddy El Arkwright, said that the number of hybrids now fleeing West Yorkshire was reaching a crisis point. Meanwhile, council leaders in South Yorkshire are keeping the borders open to allow hybrid owners and limited numbers of mountain bikers a route to safety.

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Day 4 - Milan - Get me out of this flippin' Lycra!

The Evidence!

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St Gotthard

The Feel Good Factor

One of the features of the four days of cycling was the incredible changes of scenery and surroundings.

German speaking, sausage eating, alpine Swiss mountain folk one minute, chic and trendy Italian lakes the next. Freezing cold high altitude passes one minute, balmy lakeside temperatures, only hours later. These transitions all made within one cycling day, only made the whole thing more surreal. Or so I am told. Personally, I spent four days looking at the rear wheel of whoever I was following, praying for them to slow down.

My main memory though, is of looking up at what can only be called the summit of the Grimsel Pass and seeing a distant glint of light somewhere in the stratosphere, where the sun was dancing on car windows. Already three hours into climbing that endless pass, the recognition of what I still had to do, was a bit of a moment.

To put Day 2 into perspective, regular readers of Cycloblog may recall that I set a target of 20 ascents of Holme Moss, in the remaining couple of weeks of training. That seemed like a big ask at the time. Last Monday, after cycling 90 miles the previous day, including the Col du Pillon, I cycled up the Grimsel Pass which equates to roughly 20 times Holme Moss in one day, and then I cycled up the St Gotthard which is like 6 times Holme Moss. All in all, 26 times Holme Moss – plus approximately another fifty miles in between.

I will be posting a few pictures when I can get my hands on them, but Cycloblog will soon return to doing what it does best – which is offending people. But before that, one last heartfelt thank you to all my sponsors (I have made my target), and to the organisers of such a unique event, all in a good cause. The feel good factor really does not get much better than this.

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Pie and Pint

A Day of Rest

And on the sixth day, Tim said let there be rest. Let there be no more Lycra, or wailing, or gnashing of teeth.

And so it came to pass that Neil’s on Wheels spake unto The Three Acres and sat down unto a biblical feast and did anoint himself with Copper Dragon and much pie.

But before he did, Neil did praise the planning and support vehicles, the support riders and the Hughes Almighty himself. Saying unto them “a truly marvellous piece of planning and logistical support”.

Lo though I have cycled almost unto the heavens themselvesm, you have delivered me from danger and the temptation to ever do it again.

Next week, Cycloblog will return to normal. But for now, thanks one last time to Debbie, Andy and Simon in particular for their patience. No mean feat to get that many people through!

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Best Wishes

Update on Reg

Happy to say the word is he is back on his feet and due home by the weekend.

A terrible, terrible accident. Scary to see, but a lucky escape.

Reg, if you see this – all the best for a speedy recovery from Cycloblog.

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Monza

Monza

The trusty Cannondale Synapse on the circuit – the actual iconic race track!

Cannondale Synapse

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Elated

Elation

Dean, Martin and Paul at the finish line in Milan

Finishing in Milan 3 Finishing in Milan 2 Finish Line in Milan

 

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