Interview with Cycle Africa’s Loretta White

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Loretta White along with three others completed an unsupported journey by bike from London, England to Cape Town, South Africa in 2012 to raise awareness of the reality of  children who are surviving on the streets of Africa.

1.Did your sponsors provide all the kit?

We were lucky enough to be provided with some of our kit free of charge from our sponsors.  Vaude were particularly generous and donated us panniers and tents.  The rest of our kit we were able to gain corporate sponsorship to pay for, though we had to haggle hard to get good discounts and keep the cost as cheap as possible.

2.What proved to be the best piece of gear you brought?

My favourite piece of equipment was our tent, Vaude ferret 3, as no matter where we were we could zip ourselves into it at night and have our own little home!

3.How did you decide on your chosen route?

Our route through Africa was decided through a mixture of countries we wanted to visit, spending time near the coast, and where our charity partners had projects we could visit.  We decided to take the long way through Europe as an extended training ride leading up to the Middle East and Africa where we could test our equipment and get used to the road without being too far from home.

4.What training did you do beforehand?

All of us were pretty fit already but I wasn’t a cyclist.  Before the trip as a group we managed four weekend training rides though these all took us longer than we imagined and inevitably involved a big pub lunch which wasn’t great for an afternoon of riding!

5.How much money did you raise in the end?

In total the whole expedition raised £50,000 which all went to street child charities.  These were Street Action, Retrak, Street Child Africa, Railway Children, and Action for Children in Conflict.

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6.How long did the expedition take to plan?

Craig had the idea to cycle from London to Cape Town around 7 years before we started the trip though thought this was just a pipe dream.  We properly started planning for the trip about two years before we started though most of this planning was getting sponsorship and setting up the charity Cycle Africa.

7.How was it returning to work after taking a year out of it to do this?

For me this has been the hardest thing of the whole expedition as you realise that there is an incredible world out there and that you can do incredible things with your life so that when you come home it is hard to fit back into the 9-5 box.  I’m still working on this but don’t think I’ll ever be totally happy just having a normal life again and I’m sure there will be another adventure on the cards!

10.What made you commit to a journey of that scale – 10,000miles?

To be honest I didn’t really think of the miles I just thought of what an amazing achievement it would be to cycle to South Africa and of all those incredible countries we could visit on the way.  I also thought about how the bicycle is such a classless way of travelling letting you get closer to local people without looking like a ‘rich tourist’ and travel through villages that you wouldn’t originally have visited.

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11.Any plans for future expeditions?

No definite plans yet but watch this space…

12. What were you using to navigate your route, document the journey and upload content online?

We went old school and just used paper maps to plan the route and the advice of local people.  We carried an iPad between us which we used to manage our website, upload photos and write blogs etc.  Everything could be done off line and then uploaded when we got wifi access in the bigger cities.

13. What was the daily routine on the road?

We would wake up early with the sun around 6-7am.  Get ready, pack up, have breakfast and be on the road by 8am.  Cycle around 30kms and then stop for a snack, then another 30kms and stop for lunch, then another 20-30kms and find somewhere to pitch our tent, have dinner and chill out.

14.Any stand out moments that made all the pain worthwhile?

Lots but the most stand out moments for me weren’t the huge sights like seeing the pyramids it was the intimate local experiences like camping in the garden of the village chief or sleeping under the stars in the desert in Sudan.  Reaching Cape Town was also an incredible high!

15.Did you ever feel like throwing in the towel and going home?

Absolutely!!!  I felt like this properly about three times in total.  Once at the beginning when I lay in my tent shattered from the cycling thinking I can’t even get through France let alone to Africa.  Once when I had just said goodbye to my parents in Kenya and I had dysentery so was feeling pretty miserable.  And the final one surprisingly in South Africa as we had made the final country though still had a long way to cycle and I was just feeling really tired.

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16.How has life changed since? Has your perspective on how you see the world altered?

Due to lots of family stuff life has had its ups and downs since coming home though it has taught me to make the most of every single minute and to keep an open mind as people and places might just surprise you.

17. How long did it take you to recover after?

Physically it probably took a few months though mentally I still am recovering in that I am still longing the outdoors an the open road.

18.You were the only girl amongst four boys – did you ever feel like you were slowing them down or were you just as strong as them on and off the bike? (I ask this because it’s what I’m afraid of as a female wanting to do these things.)

At the beginning I gained fitness really quickly so didn’t feel like I was slowling people down, though from about Kenya I had a few  episodes of  illness and after that I felt that I’d reached the peak of my cycling fitness while the guys were still gaining strength.  At this point the pressure of pushing myself constantly and feeling slow just wasn’t very enjoyable and so we split up into two groups.  I stayed with Craig and we were able to relax again and take it at our pace.

19. What did you look for when choosing spots to wild camp?

At the beginning we looked for idyllic spots next to the Danube river where we could have a fire and wash though in Africa we just looked for places the were pretty close to the road but that we couldn’t be seen easily and could be well hidden.  We often asked if we could camp in the compounds of local people’s houses and were only turned down once.

20. Do you know how much the trip ended up costing?

We paid for all our own spending money during the trip and costs on the trip so all in all it probably cost about £7,000 for the year away.  I am sure you could do this cheaper but we had a few nice treats along the way and a holiday with my parents in Kenya.

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21.Did you book all visas before you left?

We only had two visas before we left – Egypt and Jordan.  The rest we got pretty easily either at the border or in the capital city of the country before.  Sudan is supposed to be a tricky one to get but we had a letter from a university sponsor endorsing what we we doing and this seemed to work.

22.Is the stereotypical Africa we see in the media true?

It depends on what your stereotype is I suppose!  The Africa we experienced though was one of incredible beauty and kindness.

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Interview with Pro Mountainbiker Sonya Looney:

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Credit: Sonya Looney

1. What is the difference between a pro women mountain biker and a pro man mountain biker?

There isn’t a huge difference!  The men are usually quite a bit faster, but there are a few pro women who tend to beat up on some of the pro men (not me!)  There are less pro women than pro men.

2.What is it that appeals to you about the sport?

I love that you can get on a trail and ride way out into the middle of nowhere in a relatively short period of time.  You can get places cars can’t go, and places it would take days to hike to!  The adventure and being in the trees is my favourite thing about mountain biking.  Also, with trail riding, it forces you to be present and focus on the moment because you are trying to navigate a trail.  It’s harder to space out and it’s mentally relaxing.  Everything else seems to fall to the wayside and I can just be on the trail.  I love racing because it gives me opportunities to ride different places, meet new people, and of course – challenge myself!

3.What has been the highlight of your career so far?

I’ve been so lucky to have a lot of great moments in my career.  The coolest thing I’ve done is the Yak Attack Stage Race in Nepal – a 10 day race across the Himalaya that I was the first woman to ever finish!  Racing Marathon World Championships in my USA kit, winning a couple of 24 Nats titles, and winning the Breck Epic twice have been really huge for me too.  I’m excited about future growth and adventure in my career. I’ve really been pushing myself the last couple years to think outside the box and try races that are considered to be the “hardest” in the world, and in exotic places!

4.How many bikes you have and what are they?

Oh wow, lots!!  I have 2 road bikes, a CX bike, 2 Canyon mountain bikes, a Misfit SS(it’s new!), a beater bike for a commuter, and a Canyon 6inch trail bike.  Next, I want to get a fat bike!  The Surly Moonlander looks sweeeeet!

5.Which is your favourite one?

Right now?  My 29er Canyon HT…I am dying to get a 4” 29er full suspension.  I should have one this year!

Credit: Sonya Looney

6.What do you find is the best brand for gear?

It depends on what you want to use it for!  I am really excited about my Primal sponsorship this year because they not only make great clothing that fits me (think women specific), but they are involved with a lot of events I go to and really give back to the community.  I love my Hestra winter riding gloves!  I’m also a fan of Maloja (I don’t own any yet, but I always admire it) and Capo for clothing.

7.Where is your primary spot to train?

In the summer, I head up to Summit County as much as I can and ride CO Trail sections around Breck.  I live in Boulder, CO and most of my go-to rides are dirt road climbs are 1-2 hours in length, or trails up the mountain!

8. What are next big competitions coming up on the calendar for you?

This is going to be a big year!  I’m so excited at the opportunity!  I just won the first mountain bike race across Haiti called the MTB Ayiti Ascent Stage Race.  I’m heading back to race the Yak Attack in Nepal for my second time in a couple weeks!  After that, I’m looking at a few one day events like Whiskey 50, Breck 100, Pisgah 111K, and Leadville… which will revolve around the Transylvania Epic, 3 day Breck Epic, and one of the  most exciting – Mongolia Bike Challenge at the end of my season.  It’s going to be a huge year for me, it’s hard to believe it’s all going to happen!

9.Whats your diet consist of to keep on top form for the season?

I don’t change my diet all that much throughout the year.  My diet consists mostly of fresh foods.  I normally eat granola+berries or oatmeal for breakfast, almond butter sandwiches for lunch, and various veggie/fish/whole grain dishes for dinner that I’ll cook. Throw in some dark chocolate, beer, and Michael David wine for treats and there you have it!

10.Who is your main competition?

Myself!  I try not to focus on my results on who is there.  I try to focus on performing to my best ability and usually the cards fall into place.

Credit: Sonya Looney

11.You have a job as well?! How do you balance both? Is it because there’s no money in women’s mountainbiking?

It is extremely difficult to get paid to ride your bike as a female mountain biker.  I work for Ergon full time doing sales and marketing which involves some weeks sitting at the computer, and some weeks travelling to various spots in the USA to do dealer visits.  Additionally, I work as a freelance journalist with about 5 different magazines I contribute to.  I stay very busy!  It’s all about time management.  I sit down at the beginning of the week and schedule everything including my training to make sure it all happens.

12.Your favourite distance to race is the 75-100mile range. Why is this?

I like covering more ground because you get to see more!  Also, it doesn’t cost you the race if you make a mistake or have a mechanical.  I also simply love just riding my bike, so the longer I get to ride, the better!  I love the challenge.  I always feel like it’s over too fast if I do a shorter event and want more.

13.How does it feel to represent your country in your sport?

It’s a great honour to wear the USA jersey!  It’s something I never imagined doing, and something I will never forget.

14.How do men in the sport treat you?

They are actually really great –fun and encouraging for the most part. I love kicking their ass too. ;)   They also keep me humble.  I ride with a lot of pro guys and am constantly getting dropped.  Sometimes it really messes with my confidence, but on race day it’s always, “Oh, I’m not as slow as I thought I was!”  That’s a good thing!

15. How did you go from it been a hobby to you turning pro?

I just sort of raced into it.  I find that if you work hard and have a vision, things work out.

16.What do we need to do to grow the sport?

Our sport is actually growing rapidly.  The racing scene maybe not as much. I think lower entry fees and fun, challenging courses with a festival atmosphere are key!

Credit: Sonya Looney

Follow Sonya’s Adventures:

Website: www.sonyalooney.com

Twitter: @looneysonya

Britain gets great haul of cycling medals

Success at the UCI Track World Championships as young riders shine

Published in the Edinburgh Journal newspaper 6 March.

Credit: British Cycling
Credit: British Cycling

Great Britain are brimming with confidence in their form for the start of this seasons Track Cycling events, convincingly topping the medals table in Belarus.

Performance director Dave Brailsford can accept more plaudits for this result as he continues churning out the champions. The man behind the scenes has been transforming Great Britain from an island defined by football and the Premiership into a cycling powerhouse. First Team Sky, then the Olympic cycling performances, followed by Tiernan-Locke and his Tour of Britain win. Last week, Brailsford revealed a shiny new crew of track cyclists that took home nine medals and five world titles from the UCI Track World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

The event in Minsk was the first on the long road to the Olympics in Rio in 2016 while there were encouraging starts for Team GB’s main rivals Australia and Germany who also performed. Leading the procession for the UK was 21-year-old Becky James, a newly crowned double world champion (keirin and individual sprint) and owner of two bronze medals from the 500m time-trial and team sprint.

The young British squad of men and women racked up the results over the five-day track competition. Victoria Williamson won bronze with teammate Becky James in the team sprint, Elinor Barker, Dani King and Laura Trott took gold in the team pursuit and Trott also secured a silver in the omnium. In the men’s competition, Jason Kenny won gold in keirin, Simon Yates triumphed in the points race world championship while Burke, Clancy, Harrison and Tennant together won silver in the team pursuit.

The competition revealed just how strong Great Britain is looking and is being touted as a harbinger for Rio 2016. The stunning female performances that saw each of the five British women at the world championships bring back a medal will encourage a leap in the right direction in the struggle to increase support and sponsorship among female competitors. It seems Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton will not be missed as much as was first thought as the next generation of young track riders step up to take their place. Neighbours Ireland won a gold and silver at the event, making rider Martin Irvine the first Irishman to win a World Track Championship gold in 117 years.

Next year’s World Championship will be held in Colombia, where the world can see if Great Britain can retain their titles as the countdown continues towards the next Olympics.

Armstrong’s confession disappoints

With his brand in tatters, Lance Armstrong’s chance to redeem himself missed the mark.

Published in the Edinburgh Journal 20 Jan 2013.

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It’s all a game, the further you venture, the  deeper you fall,  the harder it is to pull a U-turn and tell the real truth. Armstrong was particularly gifted at this game. He shouted the loudest, he sued the most, threatened and mocked the doubters, ruined lives, dished out bribes and one by one he brought them down. The game has reached a precipice, but either route pursued this game is far from over. With a partial confession on Thursday nights interview with Oprah, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong kept up the façade and played on. From hero to villain, his reign has come to an end in spectacular fashion.

For all its build up the two-part interview did disappoint. Instead of a heartfelt apology, the audience got what appeared to be a carefully choreographed delivery. He did confess to doping but no names were named, no mention of LeMond, Bruyneel, Kimmage etc. A hesitant apology to David Walsh and Emma O’Reilly. A ‘no comment’ on Betsy Andreu. Some more denials; he swears he was clean for his comeback and a rejection of the claim that he paid UCI to make positive tests go away.

There was a certain lack of conviction to his words. He’s lost everything; sponsors, titles, medals, millions of dollars, and his right to compete in sanctioned races. Now backed into a corner, he relents just a little bit with a limited admission of guilt and an ‘I’m sorry’ delivered via Oprah, who is no longer a journalist but a talk show host, who knows nothing of cycling, and who he knows will turn this into an emotional programme with a moral instead of getting down to the nitty gritty and forcing him to face the hard questions that we, the cycling fans want to know the answers to. You follow a sport your whole life and in one of the biggest moments in it, you’re forced to get up at 2am in the morning on two consecutive nights to watch two episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Armstrong, in yet another marketing stunt tried to appeal to our emotions, forgetting that although he is charismatic and we have always admired him, he has never been a particularly likeable character and this time no amount of PR is going to convince us otherwise.

This is an athlete that even the girly girls – whose only interest in sport lies in commenting on how fit  footballers are – have heard of . In hindsight it all seems laughable now, the toughest most brutal race in the world and he won it seven times. An apparently impossible task riding only on bread and water. But people love an inspirational story and this was the cream of the crop. He knew how to play the audience time and time again, and we followed along mutely, tongues lolling from our mouths, drooling over the fairytale. Now, the Armstrong brand is dissipating in his hands. The cancer survivor, that went on to dominate the world of cycling. When all along, behind closed hotel doors, stood Ferrari, painted as a creepy medieval doctor, performing blood transfusions and dishing out white lunch bags full of goodies. “That is a guy who felt invincible, he was told he was invincible. He truly believed he was invincible,” says Armstrong of himself during the interview.

Armstrong was arrogance personified – the Nike commercial jeering the ones who claimed he was on drugs, the tweet of him laying on his couch surrounded by his seven yellow jerseys. “Fame magnifies whoever you are”  says Oprah during the interview, and Armstrong was not a nice guy, he was a bully. A guy who loved control, and is not used to defeat. You could see it in his eyes and as he fiddled with his hands, he was at a loss without his precious control. If he cooperated with USADA back in May he might only have received a six-month suspension according to ESPN reporter  T.J. Quinn.  But to him it never felt like cheating, just a ‘level playing field.’ He says only now is he beginning to see outside his bubble; “I am beginning to understand that. I see the anger in people. They have every right to feel betrayed.”

He was the man who epitomised the American Dream and now faces the nightmare. He yearns to compete again and thinks he deserves to be allowed. He faces the death penalty, a lifetime ban on competing. Armstrong needs to learn it is not all about winning and he needs to step away from all sport for a while to allow it to heal. If he can’t do that for cycling than I fear he is not really sorry and his words are once again, empty.

Wiggins’ crash brings cycle safety to forefront

Published in the Edinburgh Journal 21/11/12

Three high profile cycling accidents in the past week have led to calls for road safety to be taken seriously. Last week, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins was the first, knocked off his bike in Lancashire by a van. The Olympic gold medallist walked away with a bruised lung, fractured rib and a dislocated finger. The next morning, former pro cyclist and British Cycling head coach Shane Sutton was in a bike crash, diagnosed with bleeding on the brain and a fractured cheek.Then on Sunday Mark Cavendish collided with a van whilst training in Tuscany. He tweeted: “Went & hit the back of a car that slammed on today in training. Wasn’t ideal. Apart from a bruised arm, I’m relatively ok. If anyone cares.”

The reaction from the press has been overwhelming. Stories have been springing up everywhere about cyclists’ safety and the need for reform, but as usual it takes a famous person to get hurt before the government, the media and the people stand up and take action.

These accidents are happening too often and too many people are getting killed. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ figures show that 19,215 cyclists were either killed or injured on the road in 2011. Perhaps surprisingly, the figures also show that over 80 per cent of cycle accidents happen in daylight. 75 per cent happen at or near a road junction. This makes some of the advice given to cyclists regarding light-reflecting clothing not irrelevent, but due with caution. The government’s scheme for children and parents called ‘Bikebility’ is a step in the right direction, promoting cycle safety and discussing biking issues.

Figures from Transport Scotland disclose that there was a 13 per cent jump in the number of cyclists suffering serious injuries in 2011 when compared with 2010.

Now, after these two high profile crashes, change is beginning to bloom. British Cycling has called on the government “to put cycling at the heart of transport policy to ensure cycle safety.”

They say cycle safety needs to be “built into the design of all new roads, junctions and transport projects, rather than being an afterthought.”

The crux of the problem is the legal system’s lenient approach on sentencing for motorists at fault in accidents with cyclists. People’s mindset needs to change.

Awareness is a word too often thrown around but here it must be pushed upon the world.

Cycling’s Wheels Are Falling Off

The sport is falling into disarray as the doping scandal rolls on.

by Orla O’Muiri

Published in the Edinburgh Journal on 07/11/12

The only option is to hop on your bike and keep on riding, your 20km or 200km route, it doesn’t matter, keep going until it all melts away. Pace yourself, though, as there is a long road ahead in the rebuilding of this broken sport as the bad news just keeps rolling in.

After 17 years, Rabobank announces it will end its sponsorship of a professional cycling team. The province of Drenthe withdraws its financial support from the 2015 Vuelta a España. The powerhouse of this year’s peloton, Team Sky, is sputtering to a halt. Sporting Director De Jongh and Coach Julich are forced to resign after the pair admitted to doping during their individual professional careers, while Sports Director Yates retires ‘for health reasons.’

The future is looking dim; Armstrong will never confess and the sport seemingly isn’t getting any cleaner with top riders like Alberto Contador caught out in 2010 and Frank Schleck in this year’s Tour de France. Levi Leipheimer is fired from Omega Pharma-Quick-Step for doping. Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie, all of Garmin-Sharp are banned for their involvement in the US Postal doping programme. Even at amateur level the scandal whirls; eight American amateur riders were sanctioned for doping this year. No winners will be attributed to the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005.

Rabobank’s Bert Bruggink says it all; “We are no longer convinced that the international professional world of cycling can make this a clean and fair sport.” The UCI President Pat McQuaid needs to step aside if a revamp is going to have any success. Former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond published an open letter on Facebook urging both McQuaid and Hein Verburggen to resign. In it, he says; “I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling’s history – resign Pat if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport. Pat McQuaid, you know dam well what has been going on in cycling, and if you want to deny it, then even more reasons why those who love cycling need to demand that you resign.”

Five papers – The TimesL’EquipeLa Gazzetta dello SportHet Nieuwsblad and Le Soir have united and published a manifesto calling for reform. Cycling journalist Paul Kimmage has set out in pursuit of Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid by lodging a criminal complaint against them. Change will come eventually but for the moment just get on your bike, put your head down and keep pedalling.

Poster boy’s fall from grace

Published in the Journal newspaper – 25/10/12

Another legend stumbles, and he falls as he raced- hard and fast. Lance Armstrong is no longer the unstoppable hero of a sport; he is human and he is a cheat.

Former US Postal Service cyclist Lance Armstrong received a lifetime ban on 24 August this year after an investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found him guilty of doping. His offences include using the performance enhancing drug EPO, corticosteroids, growth hormones, undergoing blood transfusions as well as helping his teammates do the same.

The seven times Tour de France winner chose not to fight the charges pressed against him. He will be disqualified from all competitive results after 1 August 1998 and forfeit any medals, titles, winnings, finishes, points and prizes. The US Anti-Doping Agency’s report describes it as “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.”

Armstrong’s story is legendary, a mere mortal who survived cancer and went on to win the greatest race in the sport; the Tour de France a total of seven times. A man who built an empire out of his tale and branded it Livestrong, not to find a cure for cancer but to raise awareness of it. Armstrong is a master of marketing.

However this fairytale had a sell-by date. One by one his former US Postal teammates stepped forward and outed him for what he was- with it they sacrificed their own reputations and admitted their own guilt. Among them stood self-confessed dopers Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis.

500 drug tests were all clean, as his advocates roar. But this, his primary argument, falls short as the tests were apparently impossibly easy to evade or pass. There was no test for EPO until 2000, blood transfusions continue to remain undetectable and teams frequently knew in advance when testers would be coming. The solution to that was saline drips which would cover up any evidence of the crime.

Armstrong is not to be pitied for falling prey at the hands of other dopers, and caving under pressure. He has been described by USADA as the “ringleader of biggest doping conspiracy in sporting history.” Every day the story thickens, another element added to the ever-growing jigsaw. Recently, the UCI admitted accepting a donation of more than $100,000 from Armstrong in 2002. They deny that it was connected to any cover-up of a positive doping test.

The question is; will the sport of cycling ever be credible again after this poster boy’s fall from grace? Perhaps cycling journalist Paul Kimmage was on to something all along when he referred to Mr. Armstrong as the “cancer” of cycling.

Book Review: The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton & Daniel Coyle

All the press releases, the articles, the tweets, the news bulletins and the radio presenters mumblings. Everyone shouting the news at you, pushing it into your face. Stacks upon stacks of information to process. I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t get it. Who was the bad guy; Armstrong, the UCI, USADA, all pro cyclists, the spectators, who? Can someone just tell me? Tell me who to believe and who to reject?

But that was then, and since then I have read; ‘The Secret Race’. It took me two days. I barely put it down. Now I get it. I get the tweets, the subtle jokes, I get to laugh and nod along. I understand the articles, I know who the professionals are, know who to believe and who to question. Now that this book has provided me with the unedited background. Now that It has provided me with the knowledge of which I was quietly ignorant. And what It has taught me above all, is that I was not there, I will never truly understand and therefore, I cannot judge.

The big secret  is out and I hope it will not be embroidered and stamped as scandal because this is a sad story, a lament about the reality of the world of pro cycling. The one the roaring crowds don’t get to see, the tale that perhaps we always knew but never asked, because if being honest, we never wanted to find out the truth.

Self confessed doper and former procyclist Tyler Hamilton and writer Daniel Coyle join forces to spill the beans on the reality of what a cyclist must face if he wants to get to the top. The Secret Race of needles, EPO, blood bags, and red eggs.  The competition off the bike, the need to be the best at all costs, the bullying, the training and all the lies.

It’s the classic tale; a story of the bad guys versus the good guys, and the ever pressing question of who will prevail?

A hard story to tell but one that needs to be told.

I suggest reading it.

Tiernan-Locke a Tour de Force

Published in the Journal newspaper – Edinburgh & Glasgow edition 26/09/12

First the crowds screamed for Cavendish, then Wiggins, then Armitstead, Hoy and Pendleton. Now Jonathan Tiernan-Locke is the name rolling off supporter’s lips, in what has been a historic summer for the sport, one in which showcased a river of British cycling talent.

The Devonian climber is the first British rider to win the Tour in 19 years. Eighteen seconds behind Tiernan-Locke was Garmin’s Nathan Haas (Australia) who finished second overall. Following them in third position was Italy’s Damiano Caruso.

The 2012 Tour of Britain took off from Ipswich on 9 September consisting of 102 riders making up 17 teams. The British teams out to play were Team Sky and Team UK Youth while the Irish team An Post turned out for their fourth year to compete in the race.

At the onset things were not going the way of team Sky with a crash from reigning world champion Mark Cavendish in the opening stage. This was followed by TdF winner Bradley Wiggin’s abandonment of the Tour after stage 5 due to a stomach bug. However their looming presence was still felt with a consistently Sky dominated peloton.

The real highlight of the race across the Isles was the performance of the Endura racing rider Tiernan- Locke.  It was stage 5 when he came into his element and dominated on Gun Hill. The 27 year old then really began to push towards the top of the General Classification scale. He moved into the overall lead in stage 6 by pulling off a successful attack on Caerphilly Mountain to edge out Leigh Howard.

In his last race for Team Sky, Mark Cavendish won the final stage (8) from Reigate to Guildford which marks his 15th victory of 2012. Winning the final stage means he relinquishes his hold on the world champion’s rainbow jersey in style. United Healthcare’s Boy Van Poppel took the overall points jersey. Peter Williams claimed the sprint title and Kristian House took the Skoda King of the Mountain’s title.

Another race in the season ticked off, now let the UCI Road World Championships commence.  A nine man strong British team featuring both Tiernan-Locke and Cavendish take on the big boys in Holland this week. Already Emma Pooley and Sharon Laws have won bronze with their team AA Drink-Leontien.nl in the team time trial at the Championships.