The General Election Result In Scotland. 

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After waking up this morning and processing the events of the night I, and many people in Scotland, have mixed feelings about what happened during the first snap election I have voted in. There was relief that the Tories had lost their majority in the British parliament but that emotion was definitely balanced by what went on north of the border. The Tory Party increased their number of seats to 13 which made me feel sad and embarrassed for my country though I was hardly surprised.

Scotland has had its own particular problem with intolerance for years now but I have sensed an increase in right wing feeling recently either whether that’s through where I work, in my community or just when I’m out and about. Perhaps though, the area where the values and attitudes which personify the Tories is most evident are the roads of the country.

I have seen more and more hostility towards folk who are simply choosing to get from A to B by a means of transport different to their own. There is a greedy unwillingness from many to fairly share the roads. Some will not even cede a safe passing distance to bicycles. There is a disregard for the health and lives of other human beings as people use their vehicles as weapons to either intimidate or physically harm people more vulnerable than them, people they don’t even know. There is anger at having to slow down for a handful of seconds because people on two wheels are on THEIR roads. There is no care for the environment and health of the nation which increased number of cyclists will improve. There is a pig headed refusal to understand why cyclists do certain things on the roads to keep themselves safe. And what of the willful ignorance of the evidence based studies which show the benefits of better cycling infrastructure? Well the right wing agendas of much of the media can answer for that.

Hopefully the feeling of superiority which Scotland has recently had over England “who always give us a Tory government” can end and we can emulate their movement, small as it may be at the moment, back towards politics and attitudes which positively effect everyone.

Giro 100. What? No Team Time Trial? And The 1912 Team Race.

2017 will be the second year in a row that there will be no Team Time Trial at the Giro d’Italia. This comes after a decade of them being a regular feature in one of the first five stages of the race. As someone who enjoys a team time trial I’m hoping they make a return in future editions. You used to be able to count on one being in the Giro and Tireno-Adriatico which was good as the Tour de France and shorter French stage races hardly ever bother with them.

I enjoy them for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are incredibly photogenic. Lines of colourful riders on shining TT bikes is to me top class bike porn. Watching the lines break up as the riders start rotating can also be quite mesmerising to watch. However you can quickly snap out of this meditative state as any rider who crashes will often take down a number of his teammates with him.

This sense of it being a team event is another thing I like about the team time trials. A rider with ambitions for the GC will only get the same time as his teams fifth fasted rider so everyone has to pull together. When they do it presents an opportunity for one of the lesser riders to get a great reward. Usually gregarios grind themselves down in service of their leader and have little to show for it. If their team wins the time trial though they can get given the chance to become race leader. In recent years Svein Tuft, Salvatore Puccio, Ramunas Navardauskas and Marco Pinotti have benefited from being allowed to be the first across the line of the fasted team thus donning the Maglio Rosa the next day.

There was one edition of the race where the riders finishing time contributed to who won the race in every single stage.

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Ripwell Reports. What’s In The Jiffy Bag?

It has been almost three months since the Fancy Bears international hack team leaked the medical documents which showed Bradley Wiggins had received three highly questionable medical treatments during his days as a Grand Tour contender. It has been two months since the revelation of a potentially sinister package being transported across Europe by Team Sky employees. It seemed for a while that Wiggins and Sky’s worlds could come crashing down. The one man who could have helped the situation, David Brailsford, has remained fairly quiet, possibly wanting the whole thing to blow over. After a period of relative respite that tactic may have been working but things will start hotting up again as on Monday the 19th of December Brailsford will need to appear in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in Parliament.

With the story being quite a mess and so many unanswered questions I sent my undercover reporter, the well known historian and cyclist, Giles Ripwell on the case to summarise what has been going on and try to answer the what everyone wants to know.

Ripwell Reports. What’s In The Jiffy Bag?

It has been over a year since I last rubbed shoulders with the fellow going by the name of Mr Bradley Wiggins-Sir. I was riding for his side TEAM wiggins in the Tour de of Britain and remember having jolly good chats with him during the stages. Since then I hadn’t heard much from him. Apparently the British weather had finally got to much for him in his old age and he would only cycle on the indoors roads doing Olympic Pursuits. I thought he had forgotten his old pal Giles until he called me in July. He was very emotional and explained to me through sobs that the dastardly Mr Chris Froomes had won another yellow jersey. A couple of months later I heard from him again but this time he was in much better spirits. Jingos! He had won another Olympic gold medal and told me it was now Wiggo-Sir 5 FroomesDog 0. Since then, as you might have heard, he has been involved in a touch of controversy and I was sent on the case to find out was has been happening. I tried contacting him to see if he could give me any information but I was told that he’s only talking to his new best friend, some fellow going by the name of Mr Andrew Marr. So with Mr Wiggins-Sir gone quiet I had to figure out what has been happening myself.

The whole situation started in September when some Russian computer buffs started a fancy new website where you can go and look at medical files of athletes that have been in the Olympics. It caused quite a stir to begin with until everyone realised that most of the athletes medical information was stuff we already knew or contained information on drugs and medical practices which everyone has agreed for a while should be more tightly monitored. Unfortunately for Mr Bradley Wiggins-Sir his information was among that of a small group of people who’s information raised some alarm bells. Three of Wiggins-Sir’s courses of drugs looked highly suspicious and one of those was just before the Tour de France which he won against Mr Chris Froomes. I have complete faith in my good friend though and firmly believe that those drugs were taken for genuine medical reasons and not to enhance his performance. There would be no need for him to dishonestly take any drugs to win the race as I’ve been told of an unsavoury character calling himself Mr Sean Yaytes who would have brought harm to anyone trying to beat Mr Wiggins-Sir, including his team mate the scoundrel Mr Froomes.

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Digger and the Twitter Doperati.

Following any sport closely can be an emotional business for its fans. There can be highs but at times feelings of disappointment and anger will rise out of nowhere as you watch your football team lose a penalty shootout or you see an umpire makes a bad call against your favourite table tennis player. For fans of professional cycling things are slightly different. We get the same emotions but they often come a good time after the action has finished. There’s the disappointment that our favourite riders and their feats we’ve enjoyed have been aided by banned (and legal) substances and anger at the UCI, cycling’s governing body, for their inability to introduce the reforms that could help ensure fairer and safer competition. Although we encounter these feelings time and again we continue to follow the sport because it’s so entertaining. Because of this murky and frustrating history and the regular promises that things will change for the better three groups of cycling fan have emerged.

The largest of these combines are the ‘Optimistic Pessimists’. They still love the sport but watch things with a heavy dose of scepticism. They have been fooled in the past by cheating and don’t want it to happen again. Instead of celebrating an incredible performance the reaction is now “Mmm, not sure about that”. The UCI are still infuriating but in terms of racing things do seem to be changing ever so slightly. A few riders are now willing to speak out against doping instead of being part of the omerta which protects dopers and their feelings are that much of what they see during races seems to be credible. They watch racing in a different way now. As well getting immersed in the tactics and team dynamics, at the back of their minds they are analysing things to work out if what’s happening is believable and clean. It is obvious that doping still goes on at some level but they’re thankful that the eyebrow doesn’t get raised as often as before.

The eyebrows of are the two other sets of fans don’t move at all and they are very much at opposing sides of the “Who is doping and how much of it is going on” debate.

The first lot, the ‘Deniers’, are either gentle souls, who perhaps only follow a few races a year and are just not interested in whether doping happens, or diehards who will always defend their favourite rider or team against allegations of cheating no matter what actual evidence of malpractice is shown to them.

The last bunch of cycling fans are the Deniers sworn adversaries, though they actually make themselves enemies of anyone who doesn’t agree with them. This restless gang of ‘Truthers’ believe that everyone is on the juice and are very vocal about it. Instead of saying “Mmm’ not sure about that” their mantra is “Yep that’s dirty”. They spend plenty of time proselytising and will end up frustrated then angry if you’re not brought round to their way of thinking. Their arguments to back up their beliefs range from sarcastic coughs to elaborately formed concepts which contain ‘secret inside information’. Some say they resemble conspiracy theorists and I’ve even heard people call them a cult. If you use Twitter and follow cycling you will have seen them pop up on your feed from time to time. They are the Doperati and their illustrious leader is @Digger_forum.

Who is Digger?

My introduction to Digger came in 2011. It was the time of the federal investigation into Lance Armstrong which proved to be the prologue for the big mans fall from grace. Floyd Landis was the main witness in the case but was at that time still coming to terms with his own downfall as well being in the process of being investigated for computer hacking. There was also the question of the nearly $1 million raised for the ‘Floyd Fairness Fund’, money that I believed was donated by people being sold a lie. I decided to hit twitter to see what my 20 or so followers made of my opinion by suggesting that Landis perhaps wasn’t the most reliable of witnesses. Not long after I got a reply from someone who, if I remember right, was calling himself Big Tex Is Going To Jail or @Digger_forum for short. I was quite excited because he wasn’t one of my followers. “Wow” I thought, someone must really value my opinion. They’ve taken time to ‘engage’ with me. Dreams of commenting on pro cycling for a living flashed through my mind. Then I actually read the tweet:

“Charming” I thought. I tried to clarify my point but after becoming aware that my new acquaintance was arguing against a point which was different to the one I was trying to make I decided to finish things as it was becoming a waste of time.

As I became more familiar with twitter and started using it to follow professional cycling I set up a new cycling specific account (@JamesRannoch), mainly so my friends wouldn’t get annoyed by me adding pictures of men in Lycra to their timelines. I saw Digger get mentioned now and again and I occasionally dropped in on his profile and followed some of his ‘conversations’. He seemed to have some pretty extreme theories but to me it looked like were built out of suspicions which he was taking as fact. I didn’t disagree with everything he said, he raised and highlighted some important issues, but I held back from engaging with him when I did. It was obvious that there was no point in arguing with him because his mind wouldn’t be swayed by anyone else’s opinion. But the older I got, the grumpier I became and the less I was able to suffer him gladly. His infuriating debating style should have been scarring me away but it was drawing me into his world of accusations and innuendo. I started to become a little obsessed with disproving some of his more ridiculous theories. I felt that it was morally wrong throwing out proclamations about peoples integrity with flimsy evidence and cowardly to do so from behind an anonymous twitter handle. This would be fine if he was just prattling away in the corner of a pub somewhere because we could just nod or tut at the right moments but he was stating, as fact, things which could effect innocent people on public forums. There is also a fair amount of anger and venom whipped up among his followers and that anger and venom has been joined by spit and whatever else and is now getting directed at the condemned riders from the roadsides of the world. I’d had enough and ended up doing something I am not very proud of. I became a twitter troll. I was going to satirise this so called Digger and my shield of anonymity would be @Borer_forum.

First I tried to find out who this faceless keyboard warrior was, to see exactly what I was up against. There are many theories about his identity and background but after extensive research I could only find one reliable description of him and a photo which surfaced online a few years back.

Next I would employ my arguing skills to take apart all his theories. Unfortunately it didn’t take long for him to block me. There would be no late night debates about hidden motors as we smoked cigars. I wouldn’t receive scented jiffy bags containing long agonising letters about the differences between intramuscular and intravenous. I tried wooing him back with poetry…

….but alas, to no avail.

So I was reduced to taking incessant screen-grabs, much like the great man himself, of his more ridiculous tweets and posting them to the Borer account. Very quickly I found that following him so closely wasn’t good for my blood pressure and general happiness so I decided I would write a blog about Digger, put Borer into retirement and enjoy my life again. This has taken a lot longer than I’d hoped for thanks to the Fancy Bears but here’s what I found:

(Some of the screen grabs are straight off his time line so read from the bottom to the top.)

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Bearsway Decision 

Last night East Dunbartonshire council voted against the extension of the bearsway cycle lane which would provide a traffic free route from Bearsden to Glasgow. 

Active travel is key to Scotlands future health and wellbeing but has suffered another defeat after a similar cop out in Edinburgh where the Roseburn to Leith Cycle Route has been shelved. 

Stubbornness to accept fact based research and the selfish belief that infrastructure should only be provided for cars means another great opportunity has been missed. But while stubborn voices should be heard as everyone should be allowed an opinion, it is local councils that are the ones who weigh up these views with the facts when decisions need to be made. 

East Dunbartonshire Council voted 12-11 against the bearsway. 8 SNP, 2 Lib Dems and 2 independents were those 12. In Edinburgh only 2 Green Party councillors voted in favour for the proposed route their and now in Ayr SNP councillors are in favour of ripping up a recently built cycle lane.

On the 4th of May 2017 there will be local council elections across Scotland. 

Ripwell Reports. Roseburn to Leith Walk Cycle Route.

Over the last few months I have been following the final stages of Edinburgh City Councils planning process to build a new cycle route from the west of the city, near Murrayfield stadium, through the centre of the capital to the east in Leith.

The bold scheme which includes plenty of segregated cycle lanes will provide a safe and direct route for those wanting to commute to the city by bike (as well as making improvements to pedestrian safety) and the desired outcome is more people on bikes, less in cars which leads to less pollution and a clearer, healthier, happier Edinburgh.

However, being bold and ambitious the planned route has inevitably been met with scepticism and objection. The reasons people give when they say they are against the route are the same ones which are echoed across the country every time new or improved cycling infrastructure is put on the agenda and they are born out of prejudices and misinformation either personal or fed by the media. Perhaps the biggest thing holding back progress though is the human follies of fear of change and comfort in the status quo.

I sent my investigator, the well known historian and cyclist Giles Ripwell, to report on the project. He found out about the various campaigns who are for and against the scheme and revealed the concerns people have which make them wary of something which may be of a benefit to them in the future. He also reports from a highly charged public meeting which showed the type of miss-information and stubbornness which campaigners for safer cycling constantly have to battle against.

Myself and Giles are not involved in any of the campaigns and our thoughts are purely personal. The comments made in the meeting are not satire.

Ripwell Reports. Roseburn to Leith Walk Cycle Route.

The Roseburn to Leith Walk cycle route has been a project which The City Of Edinburgh Council has been putting together since the initial feasibility study in early 2014. They are keen to fulfill their promise to “make Edinburgh’s transport system one of the most environmentally friendly, healthiest and most accessible in Northern Europe by 2030” and the route they have been planing would help them achieve that. Original public consultation was promising with 72% of respondents strongly supporting and only 15% strongly against it. There were some residents and businesses along the route who rightly had concerns about some aspects of the plan, it was going to impact their day to day lives after all, and most contentions centred around the Roseburn Terrace and West Coates parts of the plan. A local residents group going by the name of Roseburn Cycle Route was set up and started spending plenty of time gathering facts about this and other schemes to provide evidence based answers to peoples worries. They broadly support the councils plan and believe it will be a benefit to the area.

Everything seemed to be going along smashingly but as the saying goes “Turning roads into cycle paths turns people into psychopaths”. Along came a fellow calling himself campaigning force Mr Peter Greggsons and his organisation Suits Not Kids. He was very much against the proposed infrastructure. Rather than encouraging safe, pollution free transport which would benefit future generations he would rather be a thorn in the councils side so no money gets wasted on bureaucracy. Being “a cyclist himself” though he formulated an alternative route for the council to consider and called it the “Roseburn Vision” or the “NCN1”. The vision must have been something special because a petition in favour of it gained 3500 signatures before it was even released. It may be possible that the signatures were from folk who read alarmist posters titled ‘Save Our Shops’ which ignored evidence which Roseburn Cycle Route had already gathered and suggested businesses could lose customers and close down because of the route. One real fear that businesses had was the loss of loading bays. This was addressed by the council and their plans were revised. Roseburn Cycle Route were happy with these challenges to the council, and the changes, as it gave businesses a better deal than the original plan while keeping the scheme on track. Suits Not Kids weren’t finished however and pressed ahead with the vision. Loading bays weren’t their only gripe with segregated cycling.

Another group which had concerns about aspects of the project are Living Streets Edinburgh. They are a local group of a national charity which campaigns for everyday walking. In principle they support new cycling infrastructure as long as it doesn’t take space away from existing pedestrianised areas. They also want pedestrian safety to be a consideration in any new cycle schemes and had highlighted a few areas in the councils plans where cyclists and walkers could come into conflict. They seem to have been working with the council in a calm and constructive way to try and provide a better deal for those they serve. A few of their concerns have been addressed but they are still very unhappy with the part of the route which will cut through a heavily used pavement on Princes Street.

After further consultation the council drew up an alternative plan which would go before the transport committee as well as the original. The decision on whether Option A (the original) or Option B would get the go ahead would be made by the committee on the 30th of August. A further decision to delay the decision or reject both proposals could also be made but with plenty of research and fact gathering already done this was unlikely. However,

The Meeting

A public meeting was set up by those opposing the cycle route and was held on August 2nd. Some of Edinburgh’s councillors who are on the transport committee, and therefore responsible on deciding the outcome of the matter, were present. So the anti-routers were anxious to put their views across and were probably ready to listen to the other sides arguments too as they must have wanted what was best for Roseburn. With the final decision less than two months away this would be their final opportunity to have their say so they would have had plenty of information to share with their guests to try and bring them round to their way of thinking.

Here is a not so brief summary of a long and heated meeting (my notes are in brackets):

Phil Noble the senior cycling officer on the council kicked things off. He explained that the project was part of the councils plan to make Edinburgh a people friendly city. He said surveys showed that large numbers of people in the city wanted to cycle but they wanted safer and more direct routes so the plan was there to make that happen. He added that cycling routes converged at Roseburn hence the importance that it is designed properly to ensure it is a safe through route. He went on to say workshops were held with locals, cycle groups and businesses to help the design and there was a need for an alternative to the NCN1 as it was less direct and came into contact with trams. He finished by saying he had spoken to every business in the last two months and after listening to concerns changes were made to the plans so now loading bays were to be on both sides of the road at Roseburn Terrace.

Questions were then taken from the floor. There were some worries raised about businesses having to change delivery times and whether the design of a junction was right. When someone asked why a segregated lane was causing so much hostility when it would reduce risk things started getting animated then the anti-routers fired their first shot. “It’s not safe to load from the other side of the road” one of them cried. But, there’s loading on both sides he was told.

Next up was Peter Greggsons from Suits Not Kids. The leader of the anti-routers was bound to have some good points to make. He admited to being  a cyclist and doesn’t think the proposal is right. He confessed that if he cycles 2 miles he gets sweaty so it’s unlikely that other people would cycle further. He then claimed that tram tracks weren’t as dangerous as made out before suggesting that better paint on cycle lanes was the way forward. He then explained that there’s 28 shops on Roseburn Terrace and loading would be cut by half, (or in real life, 22%).He said shoppers won’t be able to (illegally) use loading bays if lorries are there, (presumably the cycle lanes kerb also means they won’t be able to drive onto the pavement to park too). Mr Greggsons added that the NCN1 just needs better sign posting and suggested that more should be done to encourage the use of buses. Some might have thought he had completely missed the point of the council trying to improve conditions for cycling but he had one more trick up his sleeve to get them on side, the petitions. He pointed out that the petition in favour of the scheme had people living in areas away from the proposed route and therefore they shouldn’t carry as much weight. (For clarity from henseforth I will refer to these people as commuters). He then proudly mentioned the survey which showed 90% support for the vision.

Peter Greggsons then took some questions. Firstly he was asked: “Do you think it’s alright to fill in petitions with false addresses?” He said “yes” and “because it was for an anti-gun petition”. Next someone told him the point of scheme was to increase cycling and reduce car use which the vision wouldn’t do. Ah but “commuting cyclists would have different view from council and may not use their scheme.” (Presumably the commuters who agreed with the scheme in the original petition). He claimed the council didn’t use an economic case but improved health benefits as justification for the scheme. (Improved health is a benefit to economics) A respiratory physician, siding with Greggsons, said option A would be a disaster as it will increase congestion and pollution which is a cause of respiratory disease. (Apart from the fact that when recent roadworks which reduced some of the stretch down to two lanes showed there was no increase in congestion he may have a point).

A Gentleman from Donaldson’s Amenity Association was next to speak.

He said he was also a cyclist and sees the proposal as dangerous so current commuters won’t use the scheme. In his opinion filling in pot holes and better signage would be a better solution. In fairness to him he said he wants safer cycle routes. But still opposes the scheme. The fellow then mentioned Holland where good cycling infrastructure is common and explained it works there because it doesn’t get as dark so cyclists don’t need to worry about lights from oncoming traffic. He finished by saying the project would aggravate drivers because they will have space taken away from them and aggravating drivers doesn’t help cyclists and pedestrians. While he was talking someone in the audience asked hiw many people are killed along the stretch. “Typically one a year” was the answer. Someone was heard saying “All this for one cyclist  a year?”

Next up was a trader from Roseburn Terrace, a chap called George Rendall. He would be the final member of the opposition to speak.

He was adamant that shops will close if the plans go ahead. He said that he had asked every commuting cyclist if they would use it and no one had said yes. Furthermore, in his opinion, pedestrians will be terrified to use the pavement. (Though I assume they’ll be able to get down the pavement without cars parked on it). He explained that 50% of customers come by car but cyclists wouldn’t use his service because they can’t collect shopping by bike. “It’s illegal to carry large objects by bike” he added. A point was raised from the floor that other bike lanes show trade goes up. “Roseburn is different” was his reponse.

Next up was Roseburn Cycle Route who would be putting the case for the project to the concerned public.

As soon as he started people began walking out. “We need to act on air pollution.” The reply from the floor was “I don’t want to hear this waffle” as more people got ready to leave. Roseburn Cycle Route were putting across the reasons for a safe cycle route into the city. Here are some of them: A healthier mode of transport was needed as increasing obesity costs NHS £600m pa. There is a need to tackle congestion as there’s not space for everyone to drive into the city. 43% of hoseholds don’t have cars but cars have on average only 1.2 people in them. (More walk out). Population is growing in Edinburgh and they can’t keep using cars. They stated that 50% of people live within a 15 min cycle to work but what’s stopping them? The answer is dangerous tram tracks, unsafe and busy roads meaning no safe route into city. So, they pointed out, the plan is for people who don’t currently cycle but want to because,after all, why should you be brave to take a mode of transport? To answer questions on design it was pointed out that the plan uses best practice from elsewhere. And as for the cost? Forcasts show that the route will deliver £13m in benefits. Throughout Roseburn Cycle Routes slot people had been trickling out.

There were then more questions and points raised from the floor.

There was a complaint about cyclists speeding in Roseburn park, at 30mph. (It’s not know whether the complaint came from one of the many drivers that nonchalantly speed through Roseburn Terrace).There was then a complaint about pavement cycling. (It’s not know whether the complaint came from one of the many drivers that illegally park on the pavement on Roseburn Terrace). Another concerned resident pointed out that London and Europe have different climates and people won’t cycle in Edinburgh. He certainly has a point as Amsterdam, with a similar annual temperature, has slightly more rainfall over a typical year. Another point was made that pollution was not going to fall. (An opinion, not fact).

It was now down to the final speaker, David Spaven from Living Streets Edinburgh

More people were leaving. He Welcomed the scheme as it would improve walking safety as well as that for cyclists. He had concerns about floating bus stop and speeding cyclists. His view was that they need to turn Roseburn into people friendly not vehicle friendly place. Option B was his preference as both pavements are widened in that plan. He said he was impressed with the councils willingness to listen to his concerns. He was not keen on the vision, which has segments which both cyclists have to use together. He believes shared use is no good and does nothing for pedestrians and infact makes things worse for them. Greggsons defended the vision by saying he hasn’t seen conflict on one of the shared use paths in Edinburgh.

And with that the meeting drew to a close.

I would like to thank Mr Ripwell for his report.

The decision on which option (A or B), if any, will get the go ahead is being made by the Transport Committee of the City of Edinburgh Council on Tuesday the 30th of August. I hope they honour their promise to “make Edinburgh’s transport system one of the most environmentally friendly, healthiest and most accessible in Northern Europe by 2030” and ignore the baseless reasons behind opposition to the scheme.

I have to thank @PidginPosting for providing me with most of the information I used in this post and I would encourage you to visit Roseburn Cycle Routes website as well as CyclingFallacies.com.

Tour de Past, Stage 1. 2006, Thor Hushovd gets a paper cut.

 

Today the Tour de France starts with what can only be described as a sprint stage. The route from Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach is similar to many first days of the race. But as well as sprint stages kicking off the Tour in recent years there have also been time trials and short hilly finishes meaning the first yellow jersey of each edition of the race has been worn by different types of riders ranging from Marcel Kittel to Alejandro Valverde.

Remember the good old days though? A time when the Tour used to follow a set formula for the first few days. Start with a prologue then a couple or three days for the sprinters. “I like what I know and I know what I like” was the order of the day. Except some people of the “variety is the spice of life” persuasion didn’t like it and found the format too boring and predictable meaning we’ll probably have a stage 1 finish atop the Galibier before long.

I loved these stages. The usually technical prologue could often catch out some big names and the sprints were hotly contested between many riders. They were different to the sprints of today. Lead out trains were smaller, the front of the peleton wasn’t an arrow head, I have memories of a mad gallop to the line, riders strung right across the road, wide boulevards. Ah the memories.

In 2006 Thor Hushovd had won the prologue, as expected, so was in yellow as the peleton raced into Strasbourg on stage 1 proper. Being one of the top sprinters of the time he was expected to be in contention for the stage alongside the likes of Erik Zabel, Daniele Bennati and Robbie McEwan, who Paul Sherwen kept reminding us had the nickname ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’. The end of this sprint seems fairly routine. You can see Hushovd next to the barriers and he hardly gets going, probably too boxed in and he rolls over the line in 9th as Jimmy Casper wins. The French are delighted with the victory and everyone breaths a sigh of relief as the sprint ends without a crash.

Bizarrely though the camera is soon on the big Norwegian and he is lying on the road with his yellow jersey covered in blood. After he is led away in the ambulance it becomes clear from video replays that as he was racing towards the line he brushes against one of those stupid cardboard hand things giving him a massive cut. Embarrassingly for the organisers these green hands were handed out by one of there sponsors PMU. To add insult to injury, as well as losing a lot of blood, Hushovd lot the yellow jersey as George Hincapie gained some bonus seconds in some of the intermediate sprints.Thankfully in the end the injury wasn’t too serious and Hushovd was able to continue in the race.

One of the other bizzare things of the day is Bernard Eisel finishing in 8th place riding for……FDJ.

Ripwell Reports. The Menace on the Roads. And Pavements.

 

 

Welcome to the first instalment of ‘Ripwell Reports’ where the well known news personality, Giles Ripwell, carries out investigation into a subject which is bothering an increasing number of people in a piece called “The Menace on the Roads. And Pavements”.

Ripwell Reports. The Menace on the Roads. And Pavements.

There are many subjects these days which the general public have an interest in but know absolutely nothing about. Luckily, the media pick up on pick up on these interests, investigate the topic, provide a fair and balanced report of the topic and them decree whether it is a problem or not. In turn, citizens pick up the information provided and use it to have healthy and friendly debates about the subject on social media. At the moment though there is a certain topic vexing the nation which seems to be sending everyone into a ruddy rage. The media is telling us that the nation should be at breaking point because of it. You will have heard of the problem. It has only been on every form of media. Radio phone ins, newspapers and internet websites are choked full of angry but well balanced debate and stories concerning certain red light jumping, uninsured pavement hogs. So what is the story with these braggarts? What makes them tick? What is been done to stem their growing numbers? But most importantly will we ever be able to share the road safely with these characters in their four wheeled steel boxes.

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Frank Ross “All cyclists are….” Bingo.

Anyone for a game of ‘Frank Ross “All Cyclists Are….” Bingo’?

The confrontational businessman, Frank Ross, who is the leader of the SNP in the Edinburgh City Council doesn’t like ‘cyclists’. He does like witnessing and cataloging unacceptable behaviour by some people on bikes and seems to enjoy blaming all people who ride bikes for those individuals actions.

These narrow minded views are usually reserved for the comments sections of Facebook but Frank is a policy maker.

They are also very dangerous views as they legitimise and fuel the aggression and violence dished out to innocent law abiding people on bikes by people in cars.

Last week it seemed he had changed his ways as he used the word “some”. Was he starting to see ‘cyclists’ as individuals?  Nope. Only ‘drivers’ are afforded that luxury.

Anyway, now for some fun and a game of ‘Frank Ross “All Cyclists Are. ….” Bingo’. See how many times Frank can demonise everyone who rides a bike.

Still not called “Bingo”? Might as well throw this old bahoo in then:

 

FRANK ROSS BINGO UPDATE!

Frank seemed to have been quiet for a while. I thought his prejudices had mellowed, until this the other day. Is Frank again suggesting cyclists should be licensed in a scheme similar to many schemes around the world? Schemes which have failed and wasted tax payers money?

Why not just give a description of the person, the same as you would when witnessing any other instance of anti-social behaviour? 

A Sunday In Glasgow

With Flanders out of the way I find this is the perfect time of year to revisit ‘A Sunday In Hell’. Jorgen Leth’s masterpiece is perfect for getting you into the mood for Paris-Roubaix. I’ve long been a fan of the film so when I entered a cycling short film competition a few years back I decided to pay tribute to it, replacing ‘The North’ with Glasgow.

I hope you enjoy it and below is a link to the full original ‘A Sunday In Hell’.