By Adam Taylor-Campbell • 14th June 2012 • Posted in Misc
WORDS: Fraser Young
When I was little, every cheap toy of mine had the words Made in Taiwan stamped on the bottom. As I grew older and began to work on my bike, I learned to avoid any tool that had the word Taiwan stamped on it as it was guaranteed to break the part that it was ostensibly helping to fix.
Skip forward a dozen years.
I land on a small, densely populated island in the middle of the night. Upon entering the airport I see signs with what look more like pictures than anything that might communicate meaning. I understand not a word of Chinese and not one person seems to understand English. I am lost in confusion. Over time I begin to recognize some characters and learn a few basic sentences. I buy a bike to escape the buzz of scooters, honking horns, the smog filled air, ugly factories and general chaos of the cities. Every weekend I ride a little further. The further I go, the more amazing the island becomes. Cities slowly disappear behind me and lush forests appear on impossibly steep hillsides. The air is cool but not silent. The soft calls of birds and frogs fill the air or sometimes the deafening roar of thousands of cicadas. Wild jungle scenery lures me into riding to see what lies beyond the next bend and over the next hill.
A colleague of mine often refers to opinions as being like sphincters – everyone has one. Get road riding fans on to the subject of Lance Armstrong and the same is true (about the opinions, obviously, not so much the sphincters). It’s a debate that ranges from the most serious accusations of cheating to blind reverence.
Here is a rider who fought cancer and then won not one, two, three or four Tours de France, but seven. Fausto Coppi only managed it twice. Here is a rider who represents the consummate professional. Always meticulously well prepared, a professional who took his work hours very seriously indeed. No mechanicals, no missed feed zones (well, maybe one or two), very aware, riding state-of-the-art frames and knowing more about his rivals than they knew about themselves. The modern, automaton bike racer. But these days no one ever seems to talk about that.
Having been fortunate enough to follow this year’s Amgen Tour of California, it’s easy to see why this cycling Mecca has earned the nickname ‘The Golden State’. Seemingly endless sun, sparkling blue waters and of course, perfectly tanned bodies abound. Over the course of the week, we headed south and watched as the San Francisco fog melted away to reveal a shimmering landscape full of photographic, musical and riding possibilities.
"Thirst is stronger than the rules."
- Stars & Watercarriers
Water, the elixir of life and also something very important to a cyclist. If you don't have a trusty domestique at your disposal, you need to make sure you have enough of the wet stuff to keep going. But the legendary café raids, where the gregari of yore would exploit any watering hole, are now a thing of the past thanks to larger budgets and, of course, stricter rules.
By Herbie Sykes • 25th April 2012 • Posted in Misc
Here’s everything you need to know about the Giro d’Italia, in three easy minutes.
In truth it’s a tribute to Sergio Zavoli, a truly great journalist and broadcaster from the 1960s. Aided and abetted by the likes of Gimondi and Motta, he was instrumental in the rinascimento of the sport here in the mid-Sixties.
By Chris DiStefano • 17th April 2012 • Posted in Misc
Bicycle industry folks have Eddy Merckx stories in the way that revelers at the beach have shadows. In the United States there is a select generation of New Jersey citizens who (every single one it seems) had similar meetings with Bruce Springsteen. My Springsteen connection is once removed as my wife, who hails from The Garden State, was almost certainly “there” that one night when The Boss put some quarters in the jukebox and bought a round for the bar. My Merckx story, however, is a matter of fact and one of my fondest memories of business travel. It does not involve a jukebox.
By Ian Cleverly • 22nd March 2012 • Posted in Misc
Being the youngest of four children, hand-me-downs were a fact of life – not that any of my siblings ever got a new bike either. Uncle Ted would scour the local tip for abandoned frames and wheels, take them back to his workshop and somehow fashion usable machines from piles of junk. His creations were invariably painted in the same disgusting shade of green paint liberated from his workplace, sported Sturmey Archer three-speed hubs and weighed more than dad’s Mini, but they did the job.