Tag Archives: cycling

Cycling Fashion Fails – Part 1

Looking good on the bike comes naturally to some and not so to others. As cyclists, we are already misunderstood creatures – the general population don’t get why we wear Lycra and our partners probably don’t get why we wear bib-knicks (or like mine, likens you to a little Mexican wrestler). Let’s not make the issue worse by looking like complete clowns. Instead, follow a few simple rules around what you should and should not wear while riding your bike.

Team Kitteamkit

In contrast to some other sports, like football or basketball, team kit is for team riders only. If your name is Simon Gerrans, you can wear an Orica GreenEdge kit. If your name is Richie Porte, you can wear a Sky kit. If you ride for a team, go for it,  otherwise steer clear. This rule also extends to National jerseys – you can only wear the stripes if you earn them.  Sorry to break it to you every Englishman that rides a bike, but you are not actually Bradley Wiggins.

Matching Kit
matchy

At a very minimum, your jersey should be matching your shorts – keeping in mind that most things match plain black. Worst case scenario is mixing team kits (breaking two rules at once) – I have actually witnessed someone mix an light blue Astana jersey with green Cannondale shorts. I was too busy throwing myself under the nearest car to take a photo.

Sockssocks

I have previously written a very in-depth guide to socks, which you can read by clicking here. In summary, a tall sock is ideal and a mid-height sock is a pass mark.  Ankle socks, knee high socks, compression socks and fluffy woollen socks are all frowned upon. Not wearing socks, a common practice by triathletes (strange human beings) is inexcusable.

Jerseys
sleaveless

One for the banned list.  Your jerseys must ALWAYS have sleeves. They can be short or long (winter only), but your upper arm is always to remain covered. Riding in hot temperatures is not an excuse either – there are plenty of lightweight options available.  I don’t see this very commonly on men, but I do see a lot of female upper arms. Trying to use your tan lines to give the impression of sleeves (as pictured) is only going to end in tears.

Leg Warmers
warmers

I could almost write as much about leg warmers as I did about socks, so I will attempt to summarise. Firstly, knee warmers are preferable to leg warmers, which should only be worn in extreme climates (i.e. riding in a blizzard up the French Alps, or in Canberra in winter). As with all kit, make sure the leg warmers match your shorts (black and black is the safest bet). Unless you are a team rider and are contracted to do so, do not EVER wear bright red, yellow or blue leg warmers. Always ensure the warmer sits under the short and that there is no gap between the two (the skin must never show – keep that gap closed).

Overshoes
overshoes

This is really quite simple – don’t wear plastic bags as overshoes.  I have heard of some cultures (the English in particular) placing plastic or tin foil on the inside of shoes, which is acceptable if evidence is never sighted. When looking to prevent wind or rain from infiltrating your shoes, your best bet is to buy some proper overshoes that are going to match your kit. Oversocks are cool too – just keep them clean!

Crit Racing – First Thoughts

After a long mountain bike season last year and the completion of my first 24 hour Solo race, I must admit, I was looking forward to something different over the summer holiday period. Spoonfuls of Nutella are great, but eating the whole jar at once leaves you feeling rather sick and like not wanting to eat Nutella for a while (as I found out when I was 10).

For me, something different took the form of rolling out my road bike and jumping on some local bunch rides with Northern Sydney Cycling Club. After a few rides it was suggested that I sign up for some of the upcoming Criterium races hosted by the club. Crit races are short races (usually between 30mins and 1 hour) which involve laps of a predetermined course. Short and fast, the first over the line wins.

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Always keen to try new things, I rolled up to the famous Beaumont Road for the Robert Hodgson Memorial Race. With four grades of men’s races, a sizeable field for the women’s race and a large crowd, it was a great atmosphere for race number one!

The women’s race was handicapped – which meant a smaller bunch (the rabbits) had a 4 minute head start on the stronger, faster and larger bunch (the hounds).  Starting as a rabbit, the main objective was to try and hold off the hounds for the length of the race (30 minutes plus 2 laps).

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It was a fantastic race to both watch and participate in. Myself and my fellow rabbits worked hard for each other, only allowing the bigger, faster and stronger group (who didn’t work as well together) to make up around 45 seconds. That said, it wasn’t to be a fairytale ending for me personally – I started sprinting for the finish with about 500 meters to go, (which was ridiculously early), which resulted in me being overtaken by the eventual winners with about 30 meters to go. I believe that’s what they call “Tactical Fail”.

Either way, I had a lot of fun. Reflecting on it, not only did I start my sprint too early, but I probably did a bit too much work on the front of the pace line (burning my energy while saving the energy of my competitors). It was a great experience however and it just goes to show how much race strategy and tactics are involved.

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I have competed in another Crit since – I signed up to race at Beaumont Road again in the Men’s C Grade category (that’s actually a lie – I signed up for D-Grade but was talked in to racing in C-Grade). The starting bunch consisted of a whole lot of men, a handful of juniors and two women.

This time I had a bit more of a game plan – I was going to ensure the load up front was shared between people other than just me (check), I was going to ensure I was in the front third at the two big turns (check) and given I don’t really rate myself as a sprinter, I was going to try and get in a breakaway to avoid a sprint finish (large red cross).

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Each breakaway, solo or otherwise, was reeled in within minutes on the flat circuit.  It did come down to a sprint finish, where I crossed the line in 5th.

Again, great fun and a great experience. Crit racing really hurts at times (see previous comments about your heart exploding out of your chest), but it helps in building speed and power for me to use in my normal riding. You also learn a lot about racing tactics and outsmarting your opposition (something I am yet to do however!) 

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Racing at Beaumont Road is a great place to start. It’s flat, so if I do attack and fail (check), it’s not that hard to get back on to the bunch and continue. It is a short circuit, so if you do need to pull out, you are not a million miles from home. Most importantly, the Northern Sydney Cycling Club is very keen to see more people (especially women) try racing, so you start in a very supportive environment.

To find out more about NSCC Crit Racing, check out the website. Note you do need a Cycling Australia license to take part (but it is free to turn up and watch). Check them out if you are keen to start some bunch riding as well.

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Thanks to Josh from Riding Focus for the awesome photography.