Journal

Local Riders Q&A ~ Ben Swift

Born in Rotherham in 1987, Ben Swift has had a amazing professional career and is currently the British National Road Race Champion, riding for UCI WorldTeam Team Ineos. 
He made his professional road debut in 2007 joining Barloworld as a trainee during which time he won the King of the Mountains title in the Tour of Britain.
After joining Katusha, he lead out teamate Filippo Pozzato in 2009 and described himself as "an allrounder who can do well in the Classics". He has proven himself with some amazing rides, most notably, finishing third (2014) and second (2016) at the prestigious Milan ~ San Remo mounment. 
Big thanks to Ben for taking the time to do the Mamnick quiz
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
I have a few that I am really proud of, some results and some just achievements.
Representing Team GB as a 19 year old in the Beijing Olympics Road Race was very special. Along with that it was a big deal to me to be selected for my first Tour de France and making it to Paris and being in the breakaway in front of my family.
Results wise, a few stand out - my stage victory with some very elite climbing talent in Pais Vasco was a big one. I have been close a number of times there. My World Title on the track was a dream to get that jersey. Then my podiums in Milan ~ San Remo! They were special, but I would like to get that final top step! 
Which is your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
There are so many to choose from, but I think one that never gets old is climbing up from Owler Bar heading to Fox House. I know its not a nice small quite back lane but the views that you get are amazing and it also brings back so many memory’s. I am fortunate to be able to use the roads now that I also did as a young and hopeful rider. Before I use to venture out further that was one of my loops in the hills, so it's nice to be able to go down memory lane.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
That’s a very difficult one, I am lucky to have ridden my bike in a lot of beautiful places. Each place has its own charm. But I think one that stands out is the coast road through Deia in Mallorca (not in the peak of summer, as it's too busy!) When I’m there in December, with some winter sun, quiet roads and a lovely blue sky dropping into the mountains and into the sea - it’s hard to beat!
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
I have had a lot of moments that I have relived over and over again in my head, mainly when I have come so close to winning a bike race and thinking what I could have done slightly different. But I think one that stands out and is very special is arriving in Paris in my first Tour de France. Feeling the rush and excitement and then hitting the famous cobbles, that’s a feeling and emotion that you only get once!
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
It is definitely a job for me, but I love the training and the just ‘riding my bike’ side of it as well. I think the older I am getting the more I am enjoying been on my bike and going for epic rides.
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
I think there is some truth in that, I know a lot of riders that could have been brilliant but lost their way a little and got distracted. What I think strengthens your legs is having a great woman by your side, that is with you and understands the ups and down of the sport. Cycling takes up a lot of time, so having the right woman in your life is critical.
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
I have been cycling my whole life I did my first race at the age of 3, although I didn’t take it serious with training programs and stuff until I was a junior. I used to spend all my time on the bike at home, I use to train by racing my friends around and spending a lot of time in the woods on the jumps. That is something that has changed a lot, I scare myself thinking of the jumps and tricks I use to do. I have definitely lost that skill set now that I ride my bike as a job.
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
Having been involved in my sport for nearly 30 years I have seen a lot of different riders. When I was growing up I read Cycling Weekly and I'd cut photos out to plaster my walls. But I was much more in ore of riders in our local area. I remember been excited if I saw Russ Downing, John Tanner and Chris Walker. It felt like they were the heroes of our area and I think it showed how strong Yorkshire was (and still is!).
But as I got more into watching racing I really use to love Eric Dekker, David Ecchibeier, and Robbie McEwen
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
It has to be the era that captured my attention the late 90’s early 00’s. It’s when the real lead-out game started and you still had people trying their hand on late attacks it was a very exciting time and even on the one-days and in the mountains, I remember watching some epic battles! 
Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter?
This is a good one, I think if you are going to do it you need to do it properly and go for the full set-up of a real winter bike. Unfortunately, that’s not something I am able to do at the moment with having to use trade kit. I use occasionally the clip on guards but it cracks me when it makes noises and scratches your bike, so I prefer to go without and just get wet.
One thing for sure is that when I retire, I will be getting a very nice full winter bike! 
Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?
It very much depends on what I am doing, early winter post break or recovery rides or easier general rides I do like a good coffee stop although they are different now from when I was a kid, they use to be all about beans on toast and a cup of tea. Now it's more of a coffee and maybe some cake. But when I have efforts or a solid paced endurance ride, I don’t stop.
Assos, Rapha or neither?
I have bought a bit of both in the past but I think I would choose Assos out of the two.
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
I think it has to be glasses these days. I am contracted to wear my kit and ride my bike, we also have to use Oakley’s but the glasses are something that we can change around with colour and styles so it gives us a little bit of individualism.
I do remember as a kid I use to wear a very cool Pantani Pirate bandana under my helmet I don’t think I could pull that off now though actually not sure I could back then!
Do you prefer to get your head down on main roads, keep a good tempo going on the ‘B’ roads or get onto the back-wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?
All depends on what I am doing and what part of the season it is. If I can and the ride allows, I love exploring and finding new roads and new climbs. Bit of the rough stuff at times is always good to keep it exciting. Sometimes I do have to crack on down the B roads but that’s my least favourite.
What do you think about Strava?
It's fun sometimes especially if you take a segment off a mate. I don’t upload much, just a little, but I think it’s a great tool to use if you are trying to look at a climb length and difficulty, every climb on there is pretty much full-gas, so you know that the time required for the KOM needs to be good.
What do you think about Sportive rides?
They are good, anything to get more people out and stuck into more riding.
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
It really annoys me when I see cyclists a bit all over the place the ones that give us a bad name. I have to spend a lot of time on the road so we defiantly get the brunt of the abuse.
Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?
Maybe club-rides? It use to be a big thing, maybe it still is and I just don’t see it anymore. But I remember it use to be important to join a club and do your club-run on a Sunday. Early morning in the group with a traditional café stop. Now you see a lot of smaller groups and individuals out. I might be very wrong though.
Cotton cap or helmet?
100% helmet for me
The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?
There is a balance somebody that can hold an even cadence of around 85-95 solid looking on the bike nice and fluid look great.
White, black or coloured socks?
Depends on the mood and the weather. Black in wet, nice white in the sun. Then sometimes when you don’t care, a multi-coloured pair. But out of all of them white socks and shoes is the best combo.
Frame pump or mini pump?
Mini-pump.
What do you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?
Good bit of lightweight banter. Cycling is too hard to go into deep subjects.
Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?
Well having done a few tandem grass track racing a fair few years ago I would have to stick with the winning combo of myself as captain and Adam Blythe as stoker. We won a few races and even managed some bunny hops.
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Monsal Hill Climb, 2019

It's hill climb season and one of the main attractions on the calendar is the Monsal Hill Climb at Monsal Head, Derbyshire.

First run in 1930, this has been a fixture in the diary of those who enjoy the pain-cave for an amazing 89 years! 

Malcolm Elliott holds the current record that has stood since 1981 ~ 1:14.2

Will it ever be broken? Not this year! 

All photos by Thom Barnett

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Around the World with Rutland CC

There is sometimes something new to be found in something old. I have always enjoyed the camaraderie and tales that come with riding with a cycling club - we all love a good story and if it involves the bike then even better! 

Whilst out riding with the famous Sheffield club Rutland CC I've heard numerous stories during cafe-stops including fights in fancy dress, drunken shenanigans and the odd 'epic' ride.

One story that kept popping up was the round the world trip of four Rutland members back in 1980, so I got in touch with one of these men, Malcolm Pearce to see if he could shed anymore light on it for me. 

What transpired during this trip, along with Malcolms photos are now published below. Enjoy! 

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What inspired you to go on a cycling tour around the world? 
We were all out on a Sunday Rutland winter club run - usual rough stuff ride then finish up in a Derbyshire pub. Sat around a table we got talking about usual stuff then the conversation turned around to doing something different.
I can’t remember who brought it up but an idea was put up to ride overland to Australia on the bikes. We all had drunk a few pints so this sounded bloody great at the time! This idea came up again later on another winter club run sat around talking the usual banter but it got a bit more serious - enough to take it further. We then started taking names of guys who would be keen to do this, initially had heaps of names but as the weeks went by the list got smaller until we whittled it down to five definates. These were myself, Ian Minty Murray, Brian and Les Pickering and Martin Coucho Teanby.
From here on it was all go and we got really serious trying to get some sponsorship to help fund the ride. Karrimore Panniers donated a set of panniers each and a Sheffield camera shop loaned us a camera to take photos of the trip. We also were told that if we reached Singapore, Lion Tyres were keen to help. Eric Smith then decided to set off and ride as far as Athens with us for a holiday. 
What is your most memorable moment from the trip? 
I think my most memorable part of the trip was my time in South America, most notably at high altitude - 3,800 metres in the Andes of Peru and Equador. This was the hardest times in my life. At this stage we were down to two - myself and Martin Coucho Teanby. Ian Murray decided to pull the pin in Athens and returned home with Eric Smith. Ian later confessed that this was the worst decision he had ever made. Sadly, he died a few years ago in a  road accident at Ladybower - R.I.P. my old mate!!
Brian and Les Pickering decided to stay in Sydney as their girlfriends came out from Sheffield to join them. Me and Martin thought bugger it - we got half way around the globe so why not go the whole hog. The Andes were so hard on the bikes and the bodies but I personally found this the biggest challenge of my life. We suffered altitude sickness, bike breakages, Martin became really ill and the road conditions really paid their toll but I personally loved and embraced the challenges. Martin then became seriously ill and I had to put him on a bus to capital of Equador as he couldn’t go any further. I carried on alone and found this part alone a serious challenge.
       
You had your bikes full loaded, what did you take with you? I've heard stories of Minty taking "load of "dancing" clothes?!" Is there any truth to this tale? If so, can you shed anymore light on it?
What you need to know Thom is that none of us had done any bike touring ever before apart from the odd weekend rides in winter with a saddle bag.  The first time I test rode my bike fully loaded was on the morning that I left my home in Wisewood and rode to the Town Hall where we had a civic send off with the Lord and Lady Mayor.  I didn’t finish loading my panniers till about 2.00am!!
I set off riding and could not stop the bike from wobbling.  The back end of my bike was so heavy that I could barely lift it.  We had spare tyres each, spokes, chains, clusters, tools, a camera tripod, tents etc. etc. I even carried a spare wheel rim!!  My bike was wobbling on the front end so bad that I could hardly control it.  Going through Holland and Germany we were each breaking rear wheel spokes every few hours, this came to a head in a youth hostel one evening in Germany. We came to a decision that we had to get rid of some weight so we threw all of our gear onto a table and started biffing stuff out.  We shed heaps of stuff in the hostel that night and set off next morning much lighter and less spokes broken.
Yes the story of Minty is correct – he had boot polish, after shaves but no gloves, hat or good warm clothing.  We all had a decent pair of “dancing shoes” and going out clothes!!  We got snowed in one night at the top of a mountain pass in Germany and had to stay in a hotel that night.  Next morning the snow ploughs had cleared the pass although it was bloody freezing.  We set off down the pass and almost got to the bottom when we realized Minty wasn’t with us – I rode back up and found him huddled beside the road behind some rocks blowing onto his hands, he was freezing and had no gloves!!  Later in Yugoslavia we had to ride through a blizzard and finally arrived in a village where we checked into a hotel – we literally had to prize Minty’s fingers off his handle bars, he was frozen and in a pretty bad way.  We carried him into the hotel and got him into a hot bath, it was first initial signs of hypothermia.  He never really got over that and when we bought tickets fro the rest of the trip in Athens he bought a return ticket back to London with Eric Smith.
Poor old Minty –R.I.P. He regretted that decision so badly! 
     
Did you have a bike built especially for the trip? 
We managed to get a deal from Dawes and got a good price on a Super Galaxy touring bike each although Martin Teanby, Coucho used his old Bob Jackson bike.  We all got a set of panniers donated from Karrimor.  These consisted of two rear, two front and one handlebar bag.  We kept breaking the steel clips so had to get new ones sent out to us but these bags saw us right around the world, although they were pretty stuffed when we finished back in UK!
My Dawes broke three times.  The rear stay came away from the back of the down tube so this was repaired in Sydney.  Then my left chain stay snapped clean in half in Equador – I did a temporary repair with two flat spanners and two Jubillee pipe clips to get me to the next town where a motor mechanic did a weld job for me.  Then the right chain stay snapped clean in two in North America so I welded this myself at a garage. On my first ride back in Sheffield my handlebars snapped in two so I pushed a tree branch down each half and wrapped some wire around it to get me home. 
When we arrived in Singapore we met up with the director of Lion Tyres Company who put us up for 4 days in his home. He took us to a local bike shop and the owner gave all four of us a Shimano Groupset and tubular wheels as Les Pickering said we would do a “record attempt” to ride across the Nulabor in Australia.  We had the bike gear freighted to Perth and Lion Tyres made some special heavy duty tubular tyres for us – 10 each for the Nulabor ride. 
Anyway when we got to Perth, Les decided to stay there and work leaving myself, Brian Pickering and Coucho to ride across the Nulabor.  We didn’t do the record attempt but fitted the Shimano gear.  The tyres were a disaster, the glued tyres kept rolling and we had heaps of punctures.  We just made it to Adelaide with no spares left!!
      
I heard, whilst travelling through India, you ended up on the film set of Ghandi? Can you tell us anything more about that? 
We stayed in New Delhi Christmas 1980 – we camped on a tourist campsite.  We all went into the Thailand Embassy to sort out visas for our next part of the trip and got talking to an American guy outside the embassy who told us about the film crew looking for western faces for the epic film Life and Times of Mahatma Ghandi.  He told us that the film crew were really keen to find any western faces who wanted to be extras on the Richard Attenborough film and gave us an address to go to.  We took up this offer and went to the Ashoka Hotel to see about the film.  We were all taken on straight away and measured up for costumes. We were all British newspaper reporters for the Ghandi assassination scene at Birla House, Brian and Les also got work as extras as soldiers in the South African scene also filmed in New Delhi. 
We had to meet at the crack of dawn each day at the hotel where we were then bused to Birla House.  Fresh food was flown in everyday in a container from England as they could not afford to have any illnesses which would severely impact the continuity of the filming.  We ate like lords for 4 days, full cooked breakfast, morning tea, full cooked lunch followed by afternoon tea. We had been living off eggs, bananas and stewed veg everyday untill then so this was absolute luxury!! All we had to do was stand on the grass at Birla House and chat to each other whilst Ghandi, Ben Kingsley, came out of the house to be shot by the assassin. 
First day filming and there was a large catering tent full of extras, westerners and Indians.  As soon as the food arrived there was a stampede by the Indians – we actually saw one guy push Dickie Attenborough out the way to push past to get his food.  The next day, the tent was segregated with westerners one side and Indians at the other with a 4 foot high cloth partition but the film crew got sick of being staired at so next day the partition went the full size – floor to ceiling. 
My birthday was during filming and we managed to get hold of some “bootleg” whisky from the local Punjab Tyre company.  This stuff was like drinking battery acid and very cheap.  The day after my birthday having consumed the whole bottle we were all pretty well hung over and were laying down on the grass.  Dickie Attenborough came up to us and said “come along darlings – filmings starting” – never forget this, so funny. The film crew told us of a small Chinese restaurant where they went each night and advised to go there and try the special tea.  We did this and asked for a pot of “special tea” only to find that this was beer served in a tea pot so we drunk quite a bit of tea that week!! 
We were also invited to the film crew’s Christmas party.  This was a real lavish affair – no expense spared, food for Africa along with booze.  There we met Ben Kingsley and his wife, James Fox and of course Sir Richard Attenborough.   A great night was had by all but the funniest thing was the disco lights on the dance floor – this was a row of Indians holding a small box each with coloured glass fronts on hinges, the glass flaps were opened and closed to reveal a candle inside!! 
We had the chance to go further south in India to the funeral scene but this was way off track for us so we declined. We earned $37 dollars cash in the hand each day for the 4 days filming and this paid for our ride right across the Grand Trunk Highway from New Delhi to Calcutta.
      
Can I ask you about "The Ramp" in Hull?
After the civic send off from the Town Hall with the Lord and Lady mayor, we kissed our family and said our goodbyes to friends who had come down to see us off and that was it – we were away.
We were late getting away then we had numerous stops shortly after with mechanicals etc.  We had a ferry crossing pre-booked from Hull to Rotterdam which was late afternoon as I recall. When we got to the small village of Rawlcliffe we decided to stop and have lunch at the pub.  After numerous pints we got back on our way and realized that we were very late and risked missing the ferry so we had to “line it out” to Hull. 
Someone from Sheffield had rung the ferry company and told them to expect a group of cyclists who were on their way but were running late. As we approached the Hull Docks we spotted the ferry with the staff waiting and as we rode onto the ramp it immediately started lifting as we were actually wheeling our bikes down it.  We caught the ferry by the skin of our teeth – all because of the pub and the beers!!
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why? 
I’ve actually got a few results that stand out in my mind.  First one is the year that I won the Stannington Grand Prix – I think 1976?   This was a really proud moment for me as it was my local race so had huge support from family and friends so the win was pretty special especially as me and Jeff Evans (R.I.P.) lapped the field. 
I also won the Sankey Grand Prix which had a pretty good first cat field with some good riders – I attacked in the last couple of miles and managed to stay away for the win.  Prizes were presented by Beryl Burton. 
Another memorable win was the Team Win – Rutland CC at the 1978 Newcastle Journal 2 –day. Myself, Malc Elliot and Phil Axe.  Malc got 2nd and I got 4th in the prologue TT.  On the first big road stage from Newcastle to Berwick on Tweed I attacked with 25 miles to go and was later joined by a group of riders including Malc Elliot and Joe Waugh.  In the gallop, Malc got the win from Joe Waugh and I got third.  We were so elated by this result that we celebrated in the pub that night and finished up having to climb the drainpipe to the upstairs window of the hostel we were billeted in.  Next morning we were feeling pretty seedy but set off on the last 90 mile road stage back to Newcastle.  We had a neutralized section over the tweed then straight into a big long climb with a prime at the top.  Surprisingly enough I kept up at the front and on arrival at the prime realized that there were only seven of us including Malc Elliot and of course Joe Waugh.  We stayed away the whole stage, Joe Waugh won, Malc was second and I was third.  This gave us the team win for the Rutland so pretty proud. 
Whilst in Australia we all bought road and track bikes and got back into racing.  We were living in Sydney for the 50th anniversary of the Harbour Bridge and decided to ride into the city for the celebrations but it was a drizzly day so we decided to go into the Rocks Pub instead.  Twelve schooners later we emerged from the pub and set off home, I did my “party trick” of standing on my cross bar whilst riding down George Street but hit a pothole and went over breaking my collarbone.  I got a taxi to the hospital with my bike in the boot. Brian, Les and Martin later arrived at the hospital to see how I was and asked where my bike was – I said that I’d left it in the reception only to find it had been stolen.  I was pretty gutted as I had no insurance and couldn’t work for a month.  I loaned an exercise bike and sat on this for a couple of hours every day to keep my legs going.  As soon as the month was up the doctor said I could ride my bike again so I went out every day and crammed a huge amount of miles in which flattened me right off for a short while. 
Our next big race was the Sydney Metropolitan Road Champs at the Amaroo Motor Racing circuit.  I got in a four man break and gradually the other three riders dropped off leaving me alone to hang out and just about lap the field as I rode over the finish line to take the win.  At the prize presentation third place was awarded to the guy who got forth, second place was awarded to the guy that got third, and first place was awarded to the guy that finished second  - I got nothing and when I questioned the organisers they said I couldn’t take the win as it was a championship and I was English.  You can imagine how gutted I was!! Next day I never even got a mention in the Sydney Herald Sports page – it’s as though I hadn’t even ridden, that’s Aussies for you!!!
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
The obvious changes for me now is my age.  I raced competitively on a regular basis up till about 5 years ago.  I raced every Saturday without fail plus track racing every Wednesday and Sunday evening. As both my boys Olly and Tom also raced we did this as a family affair.  Both boys represented NZ, Olly spent a season racing and riding at the New Zealand Under 23 training camp based in Limoux South France then went on to ride the Chinghai Lake Tour of China. When I rode as a 1st Cat back in UK in late 70’s – early 80’s I raced everything I could, Saturday – Sunday – Nottingham Track League Wednesdays and North Mids H’cap League Thursdays. I’ve always had a passion for racing even when we got to Australia on our world tour.
Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence? 
Yes definitely!!  Riders today take things far too serious – I’m not talking about the top echelon of pro riders here but more of the run of the mill club riders who think they are pros!!  I’ve always been a firm believer of enjoying yourself and having a bloody good laugh on the way but never been distracted to race hard when it counts.  I also think a lot of riders today are a bit soft compared to the past days.  It would appear that club runs are struggling now – more focus on big miles in winter rather going out for the enjoyment.  We used to have some epic rides, especially early season training rides and end of season “de-training” rides to Scarborough, Llangollen, Stafford etc. These were an excuse to cram some big miles in and have a great night when we got there!! I can recall riding over the Cat & Fiddle in a blizzard and getting to Llangollen absolutely stuffed but having an awesome night out.  We also used to have weekend away racing in Builth Wells, camping, pubs, hard racing and loads of laughs.  I don’t think these happen anymore which is very sad.  Another big thing was our end of season holidays in Spain and Greece on the good old 80-30 holidays.  I could write a book about those times but that’s another thing.  Finally our great times congregating in Tony Butterworth Cycles at the back of the shop.  Such funny times taking the mickey out of each other and playing pranks on each other.  These were certainly Character Building Times!!
 
Images provided by Malcolm Pearce 
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Local Riders Q&A - Hugh Carthy

Born in 1994 in Preston, Hugh Carthy is a British racing cyclist with a bright future. In 2014 he won the Tour of Korea stage racing in the colours of Condor-JLT before joining the Spanish Team Caja Rural-Seguros RGA until 2017. He now rides for UCI WorldTeam EF Education First and has been on the start line for the 2016 Vuelta  and the 2017 Giro. 
This year saw Hugh race an amazing Giro d'Italia finishing 11th overall (+16' 36") and hung-out with the favourites in the mountains, including an epic wet assent of The Mortirolo; thus proving he can mix it up with the best and perform on the biggest stage races in the world. 
Many thanks to Hugh for completing the Mamnick quiz
As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
Any good result after a set back or low point really. Back in the summer of 2015 I was racing Volta Portugal for Caja Rural and was at a low ebb and felt totally out of my depth and like I was in the wrong line of work. It was stinking hot and the peloton was so fast and intimidating. I started the race with a stomach bug and I’d had a few injuries mid way through the season and I just wasn’t returning to the level I knew I was capable of being at. I persevered and finished the race. I raced in The United States a week later and had my stand out result of the season, I was on a massive high and it gave me massive confidence and belief that success is always around the corner as long as you persevere and keep doing things right. That experience keeps me going even now when things don’t seem to be going well.
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
I don’t go back “home” to Preston all that much these days but when I do I always head to the Trough of Bowland, in particular the stretch between Whitewell and Scorton. I always think it’s at its best midweek, in the rain on a really grim day. No Sunday’s drivers, barely any other cyclists. Just me, the sheep and farmers. Last Christmas I was back home for 8 days I think I rode through “The Trough” 6 times.
In Lancashire, there’s a local legend called Randy Allsop. He rode in the Olympics in ‘72 in the team time trial. He always did the same training ride every day, even in recent years. People asked him why he did the same ride every day. He always responded, why would I do my second or third favourite ride when I can do my favourite everyday. I liked that.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
When I lived in Pamplona I used to like heading into the “Baztan Valley” it was always cloudy and damp even in the middle of summer but enjoyable to ride there nonetheless.
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling?
It’s not a particular moment but a period of my cycling life. When I was young going out on the winter club run on a Sunday. I’d look forward to it all week at school while my mates were looking forward to going to watch Preston North End or play Sunday league. I’d come home late Sunday afternoon in the dark shattered having spent the day with friends, have a hot bath and my tea then try and get all my homework done before I fell asleep.
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
A lot of the time I don’t go out riding for enjoyment and it can feel like I’m in a rut, always following the numbers and planning routes around what efforts I have to do. I definitely fall out of love with cycling towards the end of the season, but when the season’s done and I ride for fun without a schedule I realise I still feel the same way about the bike as I did when I first started riding years ago. Once I finish racing I like to think I’ll still ride as much as I can.
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
It depends on the woman involved. Some will be a distraction while others will bring the best out of you.
All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?
Probably because it’s significantly less effort than doing hard training and following a diet. I always enjoyed tinkering with my bikes and “tuning” them. I guess it’s a bit of a hobby for some people too.
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
Primarily I ride to train and prepare for races. Enjoyment, to a degree, is secondary. I still enjoy going out and returning home knackered like before but if training doesn’t go as planned you can come back feeling a bit deflated. Some days it’s good to refresh things and go out with your mates, without numbers or a time schedule and just ride like I used to years ago.
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
Before I was a pro I used to love watching the big stars. For me in the mid 2000s Vinokourov was my favourite rider to watch. Since being a pro I respect more the riders that aren’t in the limelight. Imanol Erviti springs to mind. He’s a gentle giant and one of the most respected riders in the bunch. He’s a great racer in his own right and he’s played a big part in many of Movistar’s biggest victories over recent years.
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
For me my favourite era was early mid 2000’s when I first started watching pro racing. More brightly coloured jerseys and shorts than now and more “traditional” bikes. It was around the time just before helmets became mandatory so you could identify the riders faces more easily and see the pain and suffering on the climbs.
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?
Currently it’s my thick winter training jackets. Now, most of our kit is made to measure and for a tall lanky person like myself that makes a big difference. I give away a lot of my kit after the season but I never give away the thermal training jackets. I hated it when the sleeves were too short in the winter and exposed my wrists to the cold. It’s a nice luxury to have that I appreciate every time I wear one.
What do you think about Strava?
I don’t upload rides personally but I use the app when looking at race routes to find information about climbs etc.
If it gets people out in the fresh air on bikes then it’s not a bad thing but purely going out to beat a certain time or coming home pissed off because you couldn’t beat that time doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve read about blokes falling out about Strava segments which seems a bit sad.
What do you think about Sportive rides?
I like the idea of bringing different people together that wouldn’t normally have met but I don’t agree with the extortionate prices some events charge. Some people taking part need to respect the area they’re riding in a bit more. I remember crossing paths with a sportive locally to me a few years ago and seeing blokes riding five abreast and littering gel wrappers and all sorts at the road side, I didn’t like that and it doesn’t do any good to the reputation of the local cyclists.
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
When I catch and pass a rider I don’t know while out training. I give a polite wave and greeting as I’m passing but get nothing in return only to turn my head around a few minutes later to find them sat in my wheel.
Also when cyclists ride through red lights and generally show no respect to other road users.
Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?
No one seems to drink pots of tea at the cafe anymore! All I see cyclists drinking in the cafes now are flat whites and Americanos. For me, tea is the traditional drink of the British club cyclist and I always try and honour that when I’m home.
Cotton cap or helmet?
A few years ago cotton cap, against my parents wishes, but now nearly always a helmet.
The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?
About 90rpm on the flat, 80rpm on the climbs.
What do you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?
Depends who I’m riding with. With James Knox, for example, we can get our teeth stuck into something trivial and argue for hours on end about it.
When were/are you most happy?
When I’m with like-minded friends, doing something we enjoy, having a laugh without any stress or time restraints.
When did you laugh the hardest?
Recently in the Giro on some of the flat transitional stages we had a good bit of banter between the young British riders. It was mainly me defending myself against their abuse, but we had a good time.
Are you the type of person who likes to have a plan? Or do you prefer to wing it?
Definitely like having a plan.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Not much, I’ve tried to learn from mistakes I’ve made along the way which have helped me get to where I am today.
All photos provided by Hugh Carthy 
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Local Riders Q&A - Gary Speight

Gary Speight was a road racing cyclist from Doncaster, South Yorkshire. He started riding at the age of 13 years old after his Dad bought him a bike from a local auction for £15 - A 25" Puch frame, which enabled Gary to ride to his (then) girlfriends house, instead of catching the bus!

Soon after he joined the Rotherham Wheelers in 1982 and began to take bike riding more seriously after riding from Doncaster to Castleton at the age of 15. He described this as "a great feeling". He then joined the Chesterfield Couriers the next year. 

In 1985 he went with a local friend Steve Goff (Rutland.CC) to Belgium for a week and rode a race in Heist Op Den Berg.

He placed in the top 10 regularly as a junior and came 2nd in the regional devision champs to Glyn Shirley. 

'Speighty' represented Great Britain as a junior at the Tour of Austria in 1985, chosen after placing at the Peter Buckley events in the Peak District. 

He rode for the GB team in the Peace Race (Berlin ~ Warsaw ~ Prague) twice, the second time in 1995 with with John Tanner, Chris Lillywhite, Matt Stephens, Wayne Randall and Mark Walsham. 

 

As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?

My win in the Triptique Ardannais in Belgium (1990) and a kermesse race i won in Ooedelem, West Flanders. It was in the home town of a family who looked after me while I was racing over there. I gave the winning bouquet of flowers to Aline Versluys and Johan Teerlinke for all the hard work they did for me while I was trying to chase my dream. Also the Boone family from Gent and a pro rider Werner Wieme who also helped as I stayed with him a lot! 

Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on and what is it that you like about them?

Cape Town, South Africa from Bellville to Capetown. About 10km roughly. It is called Voortreker Road. It isn’t the nicest view around but down that road you see all sorts of life, from wealthy people to poor people living rough and the famous crazy taxi drivers. A very interesting place! 

What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling

Watching Stephen Roche win the triple. His 1987 win at Villach, Austria has got to be one of the best world championships to watch.

Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?

I’d say women make mens legs stronger!

All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is

Because they are trying to stay lean! I was one of them. Watching what i ate, cutting back on things.

What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?

My pride and joy bike that my Mum and Dad bought me from Tony Butterworths in Sheffield. It was a blue Gureciotti with Campagnolo Super Record components on for £450, back in 1983 or 84 i think. 

Until my best friend Martin Maltby (Mojo) ran a red light after the Chesterfield Grand-Prix and bent the forks right back. He’s still my friend by the way!  

Cotton cap or helmet?

I never liked wearing a helmet. I preferred to get my hair blonde from the heat of the sun, or these days just my shaved head! 

 

White, black or coloured socks?

I always liked white socks, until i raced on the cobbles in Europe then I switched to  black or coloured. 

Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? 

Wayne ‘The Train’ Randall.

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Local Riders Q&A - Chris Sidwells

Chris Sidwells is an author and editor who’s writing has featured in many magazines and websites including Cycle Sport, Cycling Weekly, The Guardian, The BBC and The Sunday Times. He has written best-selling books about cycling and contributed to many others. 

Chris’s latest offering is his own publishing brand - Cycling Legends (www.cyclinglegends.co.uk) a website with free-to-read exclusive content. In November 2018 Cycling Legends published 01 Tom Simpson the first book of a series of beautiful illustrated publications which were are proud to stock at Mamnick HQ Sheffield. 

   

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Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?

I love the network of lanes north and east of Doncaster, there's a tranquility there, places like Owston Ferry and Sykehouse seem unchanged for decades. I think it's a bit like cycling in the 1950s and 60s must have been. I love the hills too, especially the country just west of Sheffield around The Strines, although since I came back to this area to live about five years ago I haven't had enough time to get over there much. Hopefully I'll put that right soon.

I do more off-road riding now. I had a book out last year called Wild Cycling, and the publishers have just commissioned another called Really Wild Cycling, so I've got to get myself fit quick for that- there's a lot to explore and write about. 

 

The same question for roads anywhere in the world?

Flanders, the Flemish Ardennes. Provence, Tuscany, the Massif Central and the Pyrenees are my favourite cycling destinations abroad. 

What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling

There have been a lot. Doing a long and very deep interview with Eddy Merckx stands out. But meeting all those guys and talking to them, and writing about them, has been pretty special. 

Do you have any cycling pet hates?

Rules! It's a bike, ride it. Wear what you like, but try to have a bit of style- be smart. It can be your unique style, but a well thought out style.  

Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?

I think cycling is poorer because of losing traditional clubs, good clubs- there were some bad ones. There's a lot to be learned from older members, and friends you make on the bike tend to be friends forever. There are still some around, and some are thriving. I'm not sure they all attract younger cyclists like they used to though.

When were/are you most happy?

Difficult to answer that. I tend to keep on an even keel. I'm an optimistic person, mostly happy most of the time. Riding my bike makes me happy, so does writing. I love telling stories. Even more so telling them in words and photos, which my Cycling Legends series of books is doing.

See ~ www.cyclinglegends.co.uk

I'm glad you mentioned your Cycling Legends books, where did that come from and what made you start that project? 

I've written 19 other books and lost count of the number of magazine and newspaper articles I've done, but there is always somebody else inputting ideas or target markets when you do something for other publishers. I want to produce something that is just my vision, books that tell stories without any extra agenda or through somebody else's filter. I also want to tell stories where the words and photos work together, and do it in real depth, telling stories that are less known or haven't been told at all. That's what the Cycling Legends book series is, it's passion for cycling on pages of paper.   

The first issue (Tom Simpson) is fantastic, have you always had a interest in Tom's life? 

Tom was my uncle. I was 7 when he died but he was a massive presence in my life, maybe even more so after he died and I grew up realising what he'd done. He and my mum, his sister, were very close. With their brother Harry they were the three youngest Simpson kids who moved with my grandparents from County Durham to Harworth when my grandad couldn't get work in the coal mines up there. A lot of north-easterners moved to work in the newer pits in North Notts and South Yorkshire. 

So they grew up together and Harry, my mum and Tom all joined the Harworth and District cycling club, where my mum met my dad, also called Harry, and Tom started racing. Later on, because we lived in Harworth, Tom was always at ours when he was in the UK. I can remember him from those visits. One that stands out was after he won the BBC Sports Personality in 1965, although I was very young then. My mum was watching TV on her own, Dad was at work, and when Tom won I was the only person she could tell, so she ran up stairs and woke me up at about 9 or 10 o'clock. Next day, or it might have been the day after, Tom turned up at our house with fish and chips for everybody.

One time, and I don't remember this one because it was before 1965, Tom turned up at our house wearing a chauffeur's uniform and he stuck me and my mum in the back seat of a big white Mercedes and drove us up to the north-east to see the rest of the Simpson clan who lived up there. He was always doing stuff like that. 

  

What kind of character was Tom? Can you tell you us anything about him that people might not know?

Tom is well known for his cycling talent, his charisma, wearing Saville Row suits and hand-made Italian shoes and owning fast cars like the Aston Martin he bought himself at 21, when he started earning good money. But the real reason so many people who knew him remember him with love and affection, and they all say this, is that when you spoke to Tom he made you feel like you were the only person in the room, the most important person in the world to him at that moment. He always remembered names, always remembered what people did and where he'd met them. It was second nature to him. That side of Tom isn't well known at all.  

   

Tom mentions Fox House (near Hathersage) in his book 'Cycling Is My Life'. I've always wondered, did Tom do much riding in the Peak District?

Tom rode in the Peaks a lot, both on club runs and rides he did with mates like George Shaw.

He also won a lot of road races in the Peak District, there were circuits all over the Peak in those days.

And he won the BLRC national hill climb championships on Mam Nick in 1957, of course.

Tom winning on Mam Nick, 1957

Big thanks to Chris for his time and for providing all these images above. 

See more at ~ www.cyclinglegends.co.uk

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Local Rides Q&A - Colin Sturgess

Colin Sturgess,  is a former English road and track cyclist who enjoyed a 14 year career between 1986 and 2000. He won gold and bronze in the individual pursuit on the track at the world championships in 1989 and 1991. He won the British National Race Road Champs in 1990 on the road.
Born in Ossett, Wakefield, Colin turned professional after the 1988 Olympic Games and rode for Greg LeMond at the iconic ADR team. 
Colin has also worked as a wine maker and wine educator near Sydney, Australia, winning national awards for this work.
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As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?
I guess most will remember me for winning the 1989 World pursuit championships, which is kind of hard to top, but I’m equally proud of winning the British National Road Championships in 1990. There’s a handful of other races including my first pro win at De Haan, and breaking a world pursuit record over 5000m at the world champs in 1991, but two that really tested me were winning the New South Wales Points Race championships in 1998 and again in 2000. Anyone that raced the Australian track carnivals and championships will know how bloody hard it is to win a State title over there… Every second rider is a World or Commonwealth champ!
Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?
I live back in Leicester nowadays (after 20-odd years in Australia) and I love my lanes and loops heading south out of the city towards Cosby, Willoughby, Gilmorton, Kimcote and beyond… or a snappy loop out towards Wolvey and the lanes in Warwickshire. I missed the lanes so much when I lived in Aus. You can just switch off, get into a nice steady tempo, and know that you’ll see maybe one or two cars every now and then. You’re more likely to get abuse from a pissed-off badger than a motorist.
The same question for roads anywhere in the world?
Again I used to love getting lost in the lanes and paths over in East Flanders. I’d do my intervals and motor-pacing on roads which were in the Polders and are pretty boring, but then my endurance stuff I’d head out and just ride for hours with a Michelin map folded in the middle pocket and go lane hunting. There are some doozies near where I used to live: St. Niklaas/Temse area. In Australia we’d stick to the same roads most days; out towards the National Park south of Sydney and on to Woollongong; laps around Centennial Park; and up over the Harbour Bridge, up the coast to Whale Beach/Avalon… Too much traffic for my liking though.
What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling
There’s been a few to be fair! Apart from winning races, and being involved in winning teams, a couple of my most memorable and emotional moments have come behind the wheel of the team-car DSing. In 2017 Dan Fleeman won Rutland-Melton for the small Metaltek-Kuota team, which was meticulously planned and executed, and this year with Connor Swift winning the National Road Race champs I was a blubbering mess in the car. We’d spoken about the importance of having the jersey, and wearing it for a year, but also having the honour to wear the bands on your sleeves for a lifetime. He’s one of the youngest riders to have won that jersey too at 22… beaten only by me at 21! Haha, sorry Swifty!
Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?
Yeah, I’d say it has. I think mostly in a positive light, but there were years where I turned away from the sport and had nothing to do with the bike. When I moved from Sydney to the Hunter Valley vineyards and started work in the wine industry no-one knew of my sporting prowess for ages (I never used to mention it, why would I?)and it was only a couple of years later when we were sat around having a few beers in the old Tallawanta pub watching highlights of the Tour de France, my name was mentioned for some reason by Ligget and Sherwin, and my winemaking mates looked at me and the penny dropped. As you know, most Australians are sports mad, so I never had to buy a beer again in the Tallawanta. But riding has helped me greatly with my struggles with depression and bi-polar. Apart from the physical health benefits, and the release of dopamine etc, a good mince about in the lanes allows for thought, allows for contemplation, and gives pause. Only issue is I do tend to press on a bit, which pisses my mates and training partners off sometimes.
Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs'?
Nah! It’s a myth! One of my best ever results in a tough Belgian race was achieved after spending the morning “in flagrante delicto” with my girlfriend, then getting a panicked call from my DS to tell me I was racing a couple hours later. So I rode to the race, got in the break, got caught, attacked solo with 2km to go and only got caught with 300m to go by the Buckler sprinters. Although, admittedly the next time I tried this devious tactic it backfired and I got spat in the first 40km!
We are in the midst of a well publicised boom, has it affected you? Do you see any negatives to the increase in popularity?
The only negatives I see are a backlash against cyclists by uninformed and arrogant motorists, and the demise of the cycling club and ‘club-life’. Those steady winter club-rides and getting a bollocking for mucking around taught me a few lessons in life, let alone bike riding. Simple things learnt early doors stay with you for life. One of our Madison Genesis lads, Johnny McEvoy is a prime example. If you ride next to him, or behind him, he ALWAYS gestures when he’s getting out of the saddle. Here’s a guy that started with a good club up in Liverpool, has ridden at ProConti level, and he still remembers the courtesy. I’d love to be more involved with teaching young club riders the etiquette, it’s dying out. But in general, the more bums on saddles, the better. It’s supposed to be an inclusive sport, not exclusive.
All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?
The weight thing has always interested me. Having turned pro on bikes that would be scoffed at by most people now, and being fortunate enough to have raced on some of the latest and lightest gear going, I’d say in hindsight I didn’t give it enough credence. As long as it wasn’t like dragging an anchor around, and it was functional, I was happy. I only ever had one 753 frame, and all my team bikes were either standard Colombus TSX or Tange tubing, nothing flash. But GOD, I love a light bike now! Sorry steel purists, but having had to drag nearly 10kg of pig-iron up the Muur and Kemmelberg has diminished my fondness for them… then again, I should probably just skip a couple of beers and lose weight myself. But bugger that idea!
Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?
I do, and I have to. I’m now 50 and I have to accept that I need more recovery, and I’m prone to having lower back problems. For instance in 2017/18 most weekends I spend 12-15hours behind the steering-wheel of the team car, and on a Monday I could hardly turn a pedal in anger… but by Tuesday I’m keen to give it a nudge again. My racing career was based on a diet of motorpacing, z2 mincing, and lots of racing. Not much in between tbh. I wish I could motorpace these days... love it. Nothing like 200km behind the moto!
Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?
Odd thing is that I was young enough to have pictures on my wall of guys I ended up racing with in my first year pro: guys like Greg Lemond, Eddy Plankaert, Frank Hoste, Sean Yates, Allan Pieper. But one guy that stands out is Sean Kelly. A hero to many, and especially to me, so to share a manager with him and have interaction in races with Sean (despite being in opposing teams) was pretty special. Sean Yates was another rider I looked up to massively. Then when we raced together and buggered about in kermesses I loved it! Doing a two-up TT down the windward side of the bunch at 60kph… Never to be forgotten.
What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?
Oooph! Difficult that one… I look back at my short time on the continent and sometimes think was a golden era, and in many ways it was. But then again, despite the very obvious, I enjoyed the late 90s and 2000s. VDB and Bartoli... taking chunks out of each other up La Redoute in LBL... oh yes! I was never a huge fan of Merckx, and after meeting him a few times I’m still underwhelmed. A GOD on a bike; not so off it. 
Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter? 
Nada. Hate the bloody things. I’d rather get completely and utterly ‘shit-up’ with spray and crud than have muddies on. I turned up at my first professional team training ride in early January in Belgium with guards on and was laughed at, and rightly so. Mince about at Z1 with guards, no drama, but train properly without the buggers. And for those that whinge about staying clean, it’s bike riding! It’s an inherently grubby bloody sport. Grow a pair… Preferably not mudguards. Then again, I’m always happy to fight for the wheel that has muddies on.
Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?
I am renowned for not stopping… although I’m trying hard to adapt! Nah, my premise is get the ride done, then stop. Especially in winter. Why on earth would you want to ride for a couple of hours getting cold and wet and muddy because some old ex-pro hasn’t put mudguards on (Hah!) then sit in a café that usually serves weak coffee, to go out again and freeze your ‘cojones’ off? It’s abhorrent! In Leicester we have a decent group that goes out when we are all back home, and the two stalwart anti-café-stop riders are myself and Lucy Garner. I figure I’m in good company.
Assos, Rapha or neither?
Eeek! Ok, honestly? Griffo used to help out with some Assos back in the day, so I have used that brand, but I’ve never had the money to use Rapha, apart from a pair of overshoes. But to be perfectly honest I’m more than happy with GSG or Madison kit. It may not have that Rapha/Assos status, but frankly I don’t care. It’s comfy, it’s functional, and it’s warm in winter/cool in summer. So I guess neither… although I hear this Mamnick kit is quite spiffy!
What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)? 
I love my power-meter (Shimano DA) and Garmin head-unit. I’m old-skool enough to know that there’s a balance of science and art, numbers and feel, but I love looking down whilst half-wheeling Rob Orr and knowing I have watts to give. Besides this, I really loved my Campag Ghibli disc wheels from the pursuiting days… Double disc (front/rear) and a lo-pro Harry Quinn… Lush. I never had the money as an amateur rider to get into kit… I rode what I could afford or what the National squad gave, which, mid 1980s wasn’t great.
Do you prefer to get your head down on main roads, keep a good tempo going on the ‘B’ roads or get onto the back-wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?
Avoid main roads at all costs! I hate the bloody things. One of my regular rides has about 500m on the A5 near Lutterworth and I genuinely hate it. Reason I have to use it is that it’s the only real way onto the Wolvey circuit at Magna Park, and all my 20min efforts are done from there. As I’ve mentioned before, I love nothing more than a good mince in the lanes and smaller roads but some guys I’ve ridden with hate it, as in their opinion, “you can’t do specific efforts”… Yeah, maybe, but you’ve gotta be able to put out that power on all sorts of terrain, so get it done.
What do you think about Strava?
Strava. I was initially not fussed; now, I’m quite happily a staunch supporter. I use Training Peaks, but Strava is my ‘go to’. To be perfectly honest, I have NFI about live segments etc, so any KOMs I have are usually through local knowledge or mishap!
What do you think about Sportive rides?
As long as organisers don’t take the piss and charge a million quid then I have no issue. I’ve ridden a few, and quite enjoyed them. But I get all het up when people start to race them! Ffs, if you want to race – race a race! Don’t get all agro when a dad and daughter may be pottering along at 13mph and you’re trying to get passed at 33mph. And keep a sense of proportion and levity…
Do you have any cycling pet hates?
Cycling pet hates…? *pulls up a chair*
I do. Flagrant disregard for rules of the road for one. I know cyclists/bike riders are copping a hell of a lot of flack at present, so why make it worse and antagonise other road users… it’s up to us that know better to do better. So don’t jump that traffic light, don’t just pull out and expect drivers to pre-empt you, and yep, even though we’re allowed to ride two abreast, don’t always take it as a given… single up for 30seconds, let the cars passed. Poor etiquette in the bunch is another, but that will take far too long for this Q&A!
Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?
Yeah, for sure… as I mentioned previously, the club scene has all but died and all that traditional knowledge is drying up. I’m not stuck in the 90s/00s at all, but we need to learn from those that have come before. There’s youngsters out there that have no knowledge of cycling’s greatest heroes (and villains) and that’s a real shame. People like Chris Sidwells has the right idea with the legacy of Tom Simpson, but we are fast forgetting those that came before the current crop of world beaters. So, do yourselves a favour, get into some cycling history, learn a bit about our rich and varied past. It’ll get you off Twitter for a bit at least... 
Cotton cap or helmet?
Sorry my paternalistic friends, but I’m firmly cloth cap and happy to embrace liberty and thus consequence. Of course I do wear a helmet, but I also hold the option of not wearing one as a crucial aspect of choice.
The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right? 
Cadence is something dear to my heart! I used to spin like crazy... but I do enjoy a good stomp too. There’s nothing prettier than VDB or Bartoli hitting out at 100rpm.
White, black or coloured socks?
White, although I’m a covert convert to the use of black socks these days… I started rocking the coloured sock back in 89, and loved every second of the frisson. Always rolled down in those days, now I love a bit of height, but NOT half way up yer leg ffs! Those ultra high things are anathema.
Frame pump or mini pump?
I’ve still got a couple of the original Zefal FPX frame kicking around and they are mint! But on modern carbon frames it takes a fair bit of juggling to get one to fit, so I normal roll with a mini-pump or even a CO2 cartridge. (Cycling pet-hate number 156: if you are going to put a mini-pump in your back pocket, please put it in the middle one. It screws badly with my OCD seeing one in the right/left pocket).
What do you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?
Everything! I love a good natter and I love turning people onto new experiences and learning. Joe Parkin and I used to have some good old philosophical chats, and other times just talk utter trash. Back in the day most of the chat on the team training rides revolved around bikes, cars, women, money. I used to love riding with Pieper because he could chat literature, art, Buddhism. Rob Orr is the guy I ride with most and we go highbrow and lowbrow. But I hate skinny climbers chatting away halfway up a berg... Geezuz!
Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker? 
Tandem riding died for me back in 1986/7! I rode one around the old Calshot velodrome for a TV ad. Hated every second. If COERCED I’d ride stoker... with either VDB or Bartoli.
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Local Riders Q&A - John Herety

John Herety is a former British racing cyclists who is currently the manager of the JLT-Condor cycling team. Born in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, John joined Cheshire Road Club as a teenager and had some success as a junior. 

He became British Professional Road Race Champion in 1982 after a spell of riding for French amateur team, Athletic Club Boulogne-Billancourt (ACBB) in Paris with fellow british rider Sean Yates before turning Pro in 1982 for the French Coop Mercier team riding alongside Joop Zoetemelk. 

Other notable results from an impressive palmares include 1st Manx Trophy (1980), Stage 9 of the Peace Race in East Germany (1980), 16th at Gent-Wevelgem (1982) and 1st at Stage 10 of the Milk Race, Ipswich (1987). 

 

As a racing cyclist, which results are you most proud of and why?

Winning a stage of the 1980 Peace Race at the height of the Eastern Bloc domination of most sports. It was Olympic year and the win virtually guaranteed my place at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. 

Which are your favourite stretches of road to ride on locally and what is it that you like about them?

I don’t ride these days but there used to be a couple, they were both climbs, ironic really as I was no climber. Swiss Hill in Alderney Edge, a short 500 meter cobbled climb which we used to use to get rid of a few riders if the Saturday and Sunday rides we did had too many riders on them. We only waited for boys that came out during the week for us. It comes out near the top of the Wizard Climb in Alderley Edge. The Wizard climb was allegedly where the great British Track Sprinter Reg Harris used to practice his strength work,using it for repeated efforts.

The other one I know you know well. It's the Strines Road from the Langsett side, 3 x 25% climbs in quick succession,  I remember one winter going over them with it snowing on 72inch fixed wheel, coming out onto the open moorland section at the end, with the snow coming down at right angles and just thinking we were so hard, completely stupid looking back, but there you go, that's what we did in those days.

The same question for roads anywhere in the world?

I spent 3 years living in France in a place called Joue-Les Tour, there’s a road we used to ride along from Joué lès Tours the D88 if you want look it up, it's right on the Loire river, its a completely flat road but with the river on your right there are small unclassified roads to your left that climb up some short climbs to a top road and you could do these really hard sessions using the 2 roads as a form of interval training literally zig zagging along the banks of the Loire river never actually being more than 45 mins away from where we lived.

What is your most memorable moment on the bike or involved with cycling

Difficult to choose just one, here’s a couple I got choked up on, that sort of choked up on that people ask if your crying and you deny it, because you’ve not really realised you were and you get all defensive.

First one was when Chris Newton won the Worlds Points Race title in Ballerup Denmark in 2002. I was in charge of logistics for the GB team but had worked with Chris on his road program during the build up. I stood on a chair in the track centre watching and he completely and utterly smashed the field to pieces. 

I distinctly remember having tears in my eyes and was trying desperately to hide it.

The other one is Kristian House winning the National Road Race Championships in Abergavenny in 2009, the team car obviously has race radio where a running commentary is given by radio tour, however it has an annoying habit, especially in the UK of stopping just as the sprint of a race is starting, words along the lines of such and such a person launches the sprint…………then deadly silence. 

The same thing happened in Abergavenny, I was praying for just a medal, which for a team like ours at the time would of been massive. 

Anticipating the radio race silence I put the windows down so I could hear Hugh Porter on the the finish line PA system he was commentating to a very large crowd along the finish straight, sure enough on the radio they announced the launch of the sprint, but then radio silence, but with the windows down we picked up the PA and when we heard he won it we couldn’t believe it. I immediately got on the phone to our sponsors of the time and was telling answer phone machines they had the new National Champion, half way through the message I realised I was actually blubbing away as I was telling them, hopefully those messages got deleted.

Has racing affected your relationship with the bike? If so, how?

Only in so much I don’t ride these days, which is a shame. The couple of times I have tried to ride again I just never persevered for long enough to get past that level of fitness to actually enjoy the ride. It was just too much like hard work, which coupled with knowing how easy it used to be and still getting all the camaraderie the bike can give from running a team I gave up pretty easy.

Do you agree with Mickey Goldmill's advice to Rocky that 'women weaken legs’?

Ha Ha ! The short answer is yes, I do a pretty good impression of him saying it as well.

The longer answer is to do with human psychology that I won’t go into here, but for sake of being likened to Mickey  a short answer would be they can, but not in the blunt way Mickey said it.

All cyclists, whether they race or not, seem to obsess over the weight of their bikes. Why do you think this is?

That and trying other peoples brakes I find they get someones bike and pick it up as though they have an in built Salter Weighing Scale, then as they put it down they pull the break levers testing how smooth the brakes are. Bonkers.

With some people obviously the new methods of training with power meters means the weight element is one of the factors used to calculate training loads, efforts, etc.

Lot easier to shave 500grams of the bike than say no to that dessert. 

Do you approach riding, or ride your bike, differently now to when you first got into cycling?

Like I said above I don’t really ride now, but I don’t think I would if I ever got back into into it. I’d like to think I would approach it the same. Not a lot was wrong with what we were doing to be honest we just didn’t know why it worked. The sports science side of things now has just given us a load of names for what we were doing back then.

Who has been your favourite pro riders over the years and why?

Sid Barras when I was younger, no internet in those days so you waited in for your weekly copy of Cycling to arrive and he was always winning, it was that time of my life that I just read as gospel everything cycling printed, you were starved of information, so when you got it, you soaked it up like some kind of weekly fix. These days we are almost numb to the amount of coverage we get, there is so much of it it now.

I kinda liked Merckx but Freddy Maertens was my big hero, closely followed by Roger de Vlaminck, De Vlaminck because of how it looked on a bike and his superb bike handling skills, Freddy because of his underdog kinda status to Eddy plus my strongest asset was like Freddy’s, his sprint. I was fortunate to race with both of them and luckily it disproved the theory of never meeting your heros, both were absolute class personified. Freddy actually introduced himself to me, I was first year neo pro and here was this legend welcoming me to the peloton.

De Vlaminck was in a Paris Nice, where I remember getting dropped on a climb with him, the weather was terrible, cold rain at the bottom of the climb , sleet further up, followed by heavy snow towards the top, we were using the tracks the cars had made in the snow. Anyway we were dropped from the bunch and there was a further breakaway 2 mins up the road in front of the bunch. De Vlaminck took of on the descent like a man possessed. He caught and passed the bunch on the snow covered descent and was in the break by the bottom of the climb unbelievable skills.

What was you favourite era of professional bike racing?

1975-1980

Mudguards, mudguards and mudflaps or racing bike with clip on guards through winter?

Back in the day very strict, November through to December winter bike mudguards optional mudflap.  January 1st it was acceptable for race bike and no mudguards.

Do you enjoy a cafe stop or do you prefer to ride straight round?

November to December 2 coffee stops a ride, normally Knutsford Bus station where they made these things called milky coffees, think there called Lattes these days ! First 2 weeks of January 1 coffee stop, 2nd week of January no coffee stop, time to get serious

Assos, Rapha or neither?

I actually had the first pair of skin shorts in the UK, they were brought in by Descente who still are  a Swiss Ski wear company, I got the piss taken out of me to start with, as the only things made out of lycra at the time was ladies underwear.

Anyway a guy at Descente left and started Assos, my first year as a pro we had some french made clothing which was crap, so our team leader Joop Zoetemelk who had ridden the year before for TI Raleigh had a load of Assos kit made for us. My connection with Rapha and the team we had means whilst I like Assos, my heart will always be with Rapha.

What is your favorite piece of cycling kit (either something you currently own or have in the past)?

Adidas Merckx cycling shoes, as classic as the adidas gazelle trainer.

I also still have a fully functioning track pump from about 1978 its had a few valve rubber changes and I couldn’t vouch for the accuracy of the pressure gauge, but I’m impressed its lasted as long it has.

Do you prefer to get your head down on main roads, keep a good tempo going on the ‘B’ roads or get onto the back-wacks? What about the rough stuff on your road bike?

No main roads ever, B roads for sure, we used to tack around the B roads like a yachtsman would to avoid headwinds. Rough stuff both winter and summer. not sure what all this gravel bike hype is, we were doing that in 1978 ,before the mountain bike craze hit we were riding the tacks of Delamere Forest, especially in the winter if it had snowed, it was safer to ride steady to there and then blast round the forest for 2 hours. Same bikes, we used wider tyres in the winter anyway, we also used a trail called Whitegate Way which was disused railway line that had been turned into a bridle way, that was used similar to Swiss Hill, If we had too many riders on the Saturday and Sunday rides we used to hit that trail flat out to thin the group out a bit.

What do you think about Strava?

Not a big fan, but you have to move with the times and if it encourages more people to stay in the sport then I don’t suppose it can be all bad. However you wouldn’t catch me on it if i ever came back.

What do you think about Sportive rides?

Similar to above really, they have encouraged more people to ride bikes and helped them have goals and targets, but they are not races and it winds me up when people write about them as though they are.

Do you have any cycling pet hates?

See Below.

Are there any cycling traditions that you think have been, or are being, lost as a result of changing attitudes and behaviour? And are we better off or worse off as a consequence?

Proper Club runs where people were taught the basic skills of riding on the wheel, we are with out doubt worse of as a result of that and the emergence of the heart rate monitors and power meters. Too many  young riders are obsessed with power when they haven’t even mastered the skills of riding on the wheel.

Cotton cap or helmet?

Cotton Cap 100%

The benefits of spinning a low gear compared to mashing a high gear is often discussed. Putting aside the serious, physiological and mechanical aspects, what cadence you think looks right?

90 Revs a minute

White, black or coloured socks?

WHITE WHITE WHITE. I can forgive Armstrong for everything apart from him legitimising the black sock. Its my biggest pet hate, I will never change my view on this. They should be banned.

Frame pump or mini pump?

Frame pump, even better if you can find one with the original screw in campag chrome plated quick release connector, no problem with wayward dogs with one of those.

What did you like to talk about when you are on a ride with friends/team/club mates? Do you prefer to keep the subjects lightweight or get your teeth into something contentious or controversial?

For the most part it was lightweight but it got contentious sometimes, but never enough that anyone was banned from the ride.

Who would be/is your perfect tandem partner? Would you ride captain or stoker?

I rode a tandem a couple of times, both times as a stoker and I didn’t like it, so if i had the choice I’d go captain. If we were racing it would be Sean Yates as stoker if it was touring I would pick a comedian, maybe John Bishop I reckon he’d be a good choice or if he was still alive maybe Groucho Marx.

 

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