Sport

Popular perception says the devil makes work for idle hands. As it turns out he also makes work for other parts of the body and this he calls exercise.

Because of the supposed endorphins, it’s really easy to get addicted to exercise and you become so fit that you push yourself to ever-greater extremes, one of which is death. Undoubtedly, the benefit of regular exercise is that you develop a superbly toned body, one that everyone would be highly jealous of, were it not for the fact that you stink of chlorine, continually break off to carbo-load with high-energy liquids and have to stretch for fifteen minutes before starting anything. And, in any event, don’t forget that exercise was actually created for those who can’t handle hard liquor and class A drugs!

I’ve done more than my fair share of exercise: I’m still trying to master the game of squash; have run more adventure races, marathons & ultras than I care to recall; discovered I was more rust than iron in triathlon; continually proved that I have no natural talent on two wheels, have swam often in cold water, very cold water; and don’t ever want to do anything like this ever again.

is it safe, Bilbo, is it secure?

Nah, not the one ring, but his push-bike, is it safe, is it secure? If he lives in Greater London I doubt it! Bicycles are the ultimate in self-transportable swag for today’s tea-leaves. A prized valuable asset and swift getaway vehicle all rolled into one. A couple of months ago whilst enjoying the traditional coffee stop in Windsor we were warned by the cafe owner to ensure our bikes were locked as thieves now apparently roam the highways and byways dressed in garish lycra with spd cleated shoes, ready to jump on an unlocked bike, clip-in and pedal away. Ingenious and devilishly cunning but the audacity staggers me. Recent 2009 Transport for London figures suggest more than 20,000 bikes, worth […]

it’s all in a name

I’m that old I can remember the days of proper nick-names. Ones that really meant something about the character concerned and about the way they approached their business. Ones that existed before we became lazy, before we stopped paying attention to what our sporting heroes actually had that was remarkable and merely added a phonetic ‘y’ to everything and everything, a la Giggsy, Fergie and Stevie. Cycling’s nicknames have always been up there with the best of them and it’s in continental Europe where you can tell by the nicknames the fans gave the riders that there is a deep understanding and respect. No one was christened ‘the Eagle of Toledo’ or the ‘Angel of the Mountains’ (Frederico Bahamontes and […]

make mine a large one

Many of you will know I love unearthing obscure, irrelevant and blatantly obvious medical research and here’s one, featured in The Independent, which highlights that the frequent consumption of energy drinks may increase the risk of alcohol dependency. Scientists at the University of Maryland believe the link between the two is because of the way heavily caffeinated energy drinks mask the effects of a nice warm pint in your lovely local hostelry. Research highlighted these drinks of choice, especially popular among cyclists, runners, squash players and triathletes, oh, and young people standing on street corners and of course revising students, are often combined with alcohol, primarily spirits. That’d account for Jonathan’s crazy lines through most corners. And for years I’ve […]

on yer bike

During the past five years, tens of thousands of us have taken advantage of the ‘cycle to work’ scheme designed to encourage green and healthy commuting by offering generous tax breaks to allow employees in buying a half-decent bicycle. In essence, the scheme allows individuals to buy a bike before income tax and national insurance is deducted, and once the employer’s VAT savings are factored in, it all adds up to a great little scheme which results in a new bicycle costing about half of its RRP. Simples. It works, it makes sense and everyone’s happy. Dream on. In a case of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ the HMRC decided to throw a spanner in the wheel (sic) […]

ooo la la

If the gentle accordion tinkling out Kraftwerk’s Tour de France is your mobile ringtone then you, like me, are going to be all excited as next year’s premier worldwide event looks like being a belter! Notwithstanding the retirement and absence of its largest star and an outstanding clenbuterol doping case against the current holder of le maillot jaune, the 2011 Tour de France route really has something special for every participant, either on a cycle or in the armchair. A completely new route, new rules and a slew of super-human challenges have ensured this tour’s going to be hard, really hard. By backing the tougher Alpine climbs into the final week it’s also clear we’re in for another nail-biting finale. […]

stretching the truth

I’m not a stretcher, never have been. I always seem to cut the start time too fine to stretch beforehand and I’m way too keen to get to the bar afterwards for that all-important hydration to worry about it after the event. You’d therefore think I’d be an injury waiting to happen but, as recent studies have shown, you’d be wrong. Stretching has come under quite severe pressure in recent months with all sorts of research proving that performance is inhibited if you stretch beforehand. Whilst it’s easy to imagine a muscle having less elastic power in a stretched, supple state, research by the University of Tampa, found that when athletes stretched before a strenuous workout, they burned, on average, […]

make mine a transfusion, a large one

Having finally gotten into road cycling I am no stranger to the stories around doping. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the Tour de France (not to mention Italy’s and Spain’s equivalent Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta a Espana respectively) are some of the most gruelling sporting escapades taking place in the world today and professional cyclists are undeniably a breed apart. But they’ve always been dopers, and most of them will remain so. Why? Because, as it’s oft been quoted, you can’t expect mere mortals to cycle 300kms a day (at a phenomenal pace) for almost three weeks, over some of the largest mountains Europe can throw at them, on bread and water alone. Once upon […]

the boy’s got balls

You have to give it to Wayne. As many of Manchester’s elderly hostesses can confirm there’s no doubting the boy’s got a pair on him. There he is, playing like a numbskull, his personal live splashed all over our morning red-tops, a corporate ‘brand’ in the gutter, intent on bringing down the house of cards that a modern day football club represents, and yet he has the audacity to put in a wage demand that would double his already more than inflated salary. The boy’s a good ‘un. Priceless. He reckons Manchester United should pay him £200,000 a week. If they don’t then he’ll vote with his feet and ply his dubious trade elsewhere. And this time, rumour has it, […]

go down with dignity

How to take a beating, that is the question. Playing far worse than your opponent will normally get the job done without too much ado but what to do and how to react when such an event happens is a quandary facing us all at some point in time. Even Jhangir had it to face at the hands of Ross Norman following his unbeaten five-year record. In defeat you will face one of three emotions: 1. Calm Acceptance. The best man won, and no surprise, it wasn’t you. 2. Slight disappointment. You though you had a chance, and if another 26 flukey nicks had followed the first then your opponent would have been worried. Perhaps. 3. Rage. How did that […]

all the gear…

…and no idea. I read an interesting article the other day where a wife was berating her husband for wanting to upgrade his current £800 bicycle to a more expensive £2000 one. His perspective was that the old one just wasn’t fast enough; hers that the money would be far better spent on a new kitchen. Now, I’m on thin ice here in that my first road bike was a third-hand Pinarrello that I paid £300 for, and loved monogamously for a year, before spanking over £2000 on an equally lovely but far lighter, better spec’d and more sparkly titanium framed second-hand Sabbath Mondays Child. The Sabbath is fantastic bit of kit, I am undoubtedly faster on it and able […]