Saturday, 31 December 2011

'GOALS' FOR 2012

Three main cycling goals for 2012:
Updates in blue
1 Enter my first sportive [finished 123rd out of 154 after cramping due to hydration mistake - May Flyer 13/05/2012 54 miles, 3400 ft of climbing!]
2 Break 22 mins for 1 lap of Richmond Park (23.30 is my PB)
[UPDATE: 22:45 on 07/05/2012 in heavy rain. Close but no cigar]
[UPDATE: 21.30 on 18/05/12!! Mission accomplished!]
3 Try track cycling at Herne Hill Velodrome
[Two laps of Welwyn Track complete, 'guided' by Laura Trott!]
1 There are plenty of sportives around so no excuses.
2 Bearing in mind David Millar managed a lap in 13 minutes, you'd think 22 minutes would be easy. Unfortunately my 23 mins 30 secs record was a bit of a killer, so not sure how I'm going to achieve this one. Being 55 is no excuse apparently. My last attempt was 26 minutes but it was windy.
3 As for track cycling, here's two reasons why it'd be great to give it a try!

I've never ridden fixed gear and was quite looking forward it until a work colleague told me of the time he won a race at Herne Hill and threw his arms up as he crossed the winning line and stopped pedalling. He was wearing an old fashioned helmet which saved him from serious injury, but he hasn't raced since.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


Being a cameraman with ITN has its advantages.
Yesterday morning I was just about to head off to the Iranian embassy because Britain was about to expel all Iranian diplomats,when the call came through; "Have you got a suit with you? Are you smartly dressed? There's a job at the Palace". Had a hunch it might be Cav receiving his MBE, and indeed it was. Not only that but Bryan Ferry, another hero of mine (from my youth) had also also agreed to be interviewed.
So I with my fingers crossed that I might get it through on expenses I whizzed off to Moss Bros to buy 'the cheapest suit in the shop'. I'd always kept a suit in my locker for these occasions but last time I put it on it was greeted with hoots of derision by my colleagues for being "so 80s" (well I bought it about '89 so not surprising!).
Arriving (with ITN 'one for the future' journalist Will Mott) at the Palace with minutes to spare I got chatting to Sun photographer Paul Edwards. He's a very fine fellow I'd worked alongside many times over the years. He's also a bit of a cycling nut, and he promised to get a snap of me with Cavendish, should the opportunity arise.
We were led through to the central courtyard in the Palace where the award recipients are allowed to park and where they queue to have their photos taken. I've interviewed many 'celebs' in this courtyard over the years, from Leslie Phillips (who was hilarious) to the Bee Gees, from Victoria Pendleton, to Brian May.
But with Cav there was a heightened expectation, because he's truly something of a living legend to any cycling fan; possibly the fastest road cyclist of all time, Tour de France green jersey winner, newly crowned World Road Race Champion, and probably the most successful British road cyclist ever. 
I chatted to Will Mott about the forthcoming interview, giving him far too much information about Cav's career. 
Photo: Paul Edwards

Then we heard he was in a bad mood. A gang of press guys were muttering darkly about Mark blanking the P.A. journalist inside the Palace and being grumpy. 
So about thirty seconds later he's come wandering over to the press area led by (possibly) his agent. I just walked up to him, shook his hand and said that I work for ITV and that I'm a massive fan - and asked for an interview. Once I said I was a fan his whole demeanour changed, he smiled and said "yeah, of course, no problem". At this point his minder said "no, we've got to do Sky first" and led him away, but he said he'd be right back.
At this point (and it's now beginning to get surreal), Bryan Ferry's suddenly standing there and we had a little chat about his summer gig at Kew Gardens that I'd attended. 
During his interview he admitted to being a Cavendish fan and said he'd been a cyclist in his youth. 
The Ferry interview over we could see Sky still interviewing Cavendish, but that soon ended and he headed our way. He was intercepted by the snappers but pointed to us saying we're next, which was good news for us as our lunchtime news deadline was fast approaching. 
Will Mott for some reason didn't ask my suggested questions about gear inches, Milan-San Remo, or Specialized/Pinarello bike comparisons, but for some reason asked him what it was like meeting the Queen:

Hoping to update this to a longer version if one appears?

Right after the interview he signed my copy of Pro Cycling magazine to Tommy & Lucas (my 5 & 9 year olds) and he asked me about my training methods. OK he actually asked me if I cycled, and I blathered on about how having five bikes can cause disharmony at home and that it was all his fault. He actually did a brilliant impression of someone who was interested, so full marks to him for that.
At this point Bryan Ferry's introduced himself to Cav and the two chatted away for a few minutes while Will and I tried not to listen.
Paul from the Sun then admitted he'd forgotten to do a snap of us together but suggested that I asked Mark if he'd mind posing for one. To be honest, you don't want to hassle your heroes too much, but took the plunge and he was absolutely fine about it. I think we're bessie mates now and I imagine he'll be retweeting my tweets and everything.
Later that day he tweeted: "@markcavendish: Lovely morning at Buckingham Palace to receive my MBE from Queen Elizabeth II. Met a lot of lovely people." Reading between the lines it's obvious he's refering to me and NOT Bryan Ferry or all the army Afghanistan veterans he met.

Bryan Ferry doesn't look like this any more:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


This is the bike as I bought it. It had been poorly resprayed in the nineties.
Post respray. A lovely glittery red
I bought this bike with the thought that I might do it up, either for riding or for selling on eBay, any profits to be poured in the bottomless well marked 'bike spending'. But I ended up stripping the bike down, cleaning and polishing the parts, and selling everything on eBay individually. The frame was given a respray and new decals, returning it to something of its former glory, before going on sale.
I'm still selling one or two parts from the bike, but when I have I'll publish all the details of how to make an extremely small amount of money on eBay for a whole heap of work. My total costs were £619.25 and so far I've brought in £599.72, not including eBay and Paypal charges. I still have the wheels, bars, stem & shifters to sell. The frame was sold for £340.00 minus £34.00 eBay's cut and Paypal fees. I'm wondering if people who trade on eBay are aware quite how steep these charges are!

Update: When everything was sold (on eBay and on one of the cycling forums) I just about broke even when all the eBay fees were paid. A lot of work for zero reward, except that someone now has a rather beautiful restored Colnago frame.
The lesson learned is that you should only really do this sort of restoration if you want it for yourself. Restore the frame, rebuild the bike, and then ride it.
By and large most people on eBay are looking for bargains and will only part with the big money for New Old Stock or vintage bikes in excellent all original condition.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


My first road bike, the Condor Acciaio, has been sold. I genuinely had a bit of a lump in the throat. It was/is a fine bike which saw my first (doomed) attempt to get round Richmond Park. It saw me get up Ditchling Beacon on the London-Brighton run. Still, it was just a bike, right?

Saturday, 22 October 2011


I can explain Mrs D, honestly I can...

Click to enlarge

For more photos click here

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Turning the commute into a Charlie Chaplin themed pub crawl?

Cycling home (on the Surly custom bike) from work recently I decided to try a different route. I'd become tired of the slog from Waterloo up to Clapham Common via Kennington Road & Clapham Road. For a start there are tons of traffic lights to slow you down, and the volume of cars and buses makes breathing fairly hazardous. I'd also ended up racing, the competitive streak taking hold.The faster you go the more likely you are to crash on a commute (within reason).
So anyway, at Lambeth North tube, instead of turning left up Kennington Road I took a little right fork up Hercules Road (where Charlie Chaplin went to school).

The Pineapple

53 Hercules Road

Here you find the Pineapple, a "traditional boozer" that apparently serves the best Guiness in London according to a fan page on Facebook
From there it's a succession of back streets alongside the  railway arches with hardly a car to be seen.
The Jolly Gardeners
Crossing over Lambeth Road, heading down Sail Street and Newport Street following the railway arches, you hit Black Prince Road. Here you find The Jolly Gardeners, which is apparently London's first German gastro pub (Schnitzel, and roast potatoes and a drink for about £5?!) My friend Boris goes there and says it excellent, a great place to watch football. But perhaps not England matches.

Across Black Prince Road into Vauxhall Walk you see the Queen's Head, just 50 yards from the railway line. 
The Queen's Head
It was apparently outside this pub that Charlie Chaplin got the inspiration for his 'tramp' character. His mother was committed to an asylum when he was five and his alcoholic father was involved in the pub trade, so Chaplin spent much of his time hanging around ouside establishments such as the Queen's Head, observing the local characters.

The Black Dog
Further along Vauxhall Walk opposite Victoria Spring Gardens park you find The Black Dog, a recently renovated free house serving 'seasonal food'. It looked very tempting as I whizzed past that day. I might well be stopping here next time I'm not in a hurry to get home.

Just a coupleof hundreds of yards up the road is the Tea House Theatre serving Tea & Cake, making it an ideal spot to stop after a decent cycle ride. As far as I can tell it isn't actually a theatre, but used to be the Queen Anne pub, reputedly London's first strip bar. 
So it used to look like this....


 I think this is a great and atmospheric part of London, and one which I didn't know at all until taking the detour, with lots of great buildings; former workhouses, railway arch workshops, old tenements and some fine terraces, not to mention the many hostelries.
There's even some very well tended allotments on Tyers Street, just fifty yards from The Black Dog, surely the most central allotments in London?  

From there it's a more prosaic journey back to Clapham, although travelling along the backstreets between Wandsworth Road and South Lambeth Road you come across 'little Portugal' around Wilcox Road, yet more pubs (anyone would think Londoners enjoy a drink!), and a gorgeous circular terrace, Landsdowne Gardens. 
Through fashionable Clapham Old Town with its many bars, restaurants and pubs, and it's home via the cycle route over the Clapham Common.
I'm now dying for my next chance to cycle home. Roll on Thursday night!

Here's the route (or at least the part from Blackfriars Bridge).
The reverse ride, from home to work is almost identical although the urge to stop at pubs along the way will be less strong (I start work at lunchtimes sometimes) as you avoid Vauxhall Walk but cycle past the Tyers Street allotments instead.  Here's home to work.

Monday, 3 October 2011


To be honest, I haven't always worn a helmet. For short rides I sometimes don't bother. 
But today I went for a long ride and stopped off at the London Cycle Workshop on my way home. 
Were I just visiting the workshop I might have gone without one, but it's just as well I had one on today because joining Battersea Rise from the cycle path I attempted to accelerate away, which unfortunately caused the chain to come off.  
As I was out of the saddle I had a heavy fall, landing hard on my head, shoulder & hip. To be honest I was pretty lucky not to damage the bike. 
Rather than putting the unfortunate machine down, a team of bicycle mechanics are working through the night to acertain the cause of the mechanical malfunction. Hopefully, by dawn the problem will be rectified and we can all get on with our lives.
So it just remains for me to say: PLEASE WEAR A HELMET!!

Sunday, 18 September 2011


A break from the bike buying talk. I took my two boys to see the final stage of the Tour of Britain today. Lucas (8) later decided it was one of the best days of his life. [Update: He later claimed it was more because I let them have a MacDonalds than the racing!] Tommy (5) is a big Cav fan and while Lucas was happy to have got Mark's autograph after the race Tommy was less happy as he got squashed in the crush outside the HTC trailer and never caught a glimpse of his hero. Cavendish actually said 'Please stop pushing - I'm not an animal you know'. He also told a kid off for having bad manners. Fair point! 
[Latest: Congrats to Cav for being the first British World Chamion since Tommy Simpson! Amazing team effort as well by Team GB]

We found a great spot 75 yards from the winning line and as there were ten laps the boys got plenty of chances to see the cyclist whizzing past. It was amazing seeing the  HTC lead-out train in action for the last time in the UK, albeit in depleted form. One of the greatest sights in cycling I'd say. And one of the great teams of any sport.

Crucial Mark Renshaw lead out as ever
Thor Hushovd displays the 2010 World Champions Jersey for the final time
Kristian House battling at the front with Ronan McLaughlin. 
They worked well together for nine laps!

Lars Boom in the winner's gold jersey, staying out of trouble.

Mark C, very relaxed & upright when cruising, but very low when sprinting!

90 yards to go: Having slowed at the final bend by the Houses of Parliament because of the rain Cav left himself plenty to do and is back in 4th or 5th place on the very left of the picture. He still had enough in the legs to get to the front where he overhauled Robert Forster
50 yards to go: Cav moves past Geraint Thomas while Mark Renshaw takes 
on Robert Forster at the front. Incredibly, Cav powered past the German and teamate Renshaw on the line.

Lars Boom looks happy enough with his win

Cavendish seemed a bit down in the mouth 20 minutes after his victory when he emerged from the HTC trailer to sign autographs. 'End of an era' blues maybe?  Maybe sad to have pipped his friend Mark Renshaw who wanted the win to make his case after his non-inclusion in the Australian team for the World Championships? But what a great way to bow out.
And as for the future? Well we now now he went on to becoame Britain's first World Champion since Tommy Simson. And a friend of a friend works at Sky and says he signed some time ago. But who knows, maybe he'll end up at Robobank.
Gotta be odds on for BBC's Sports Personality Of The Years for sure though.
Camera used: Nikkon D80

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


More info here:

UPDATE: PLEASE NOTE: Have decided to sell Condor Acciaio instead,
Due to 'domestic' pressure the newly restored Rossin will be available for sale at 
£1350.00. Combines the benefits of a modern Campagnolo Veloce 10 speed
groupset with the beauty of a fully restored classic Italian steel frame. 
New Campagnolo wheels, Deda bars, Brooks or Turbo saddle (your choice) & Nitto stem.
(Pedals not included).
For full details click here. Contact

Sunday, 4 September 2011


Lucas met Geraint Thomas at Sky Ride 2011. His helmet is duly signed.
I'm wondering if the Rossin bike could be allowed on the grounds that it'll only be a few years before he can ride it? Read about the Rossin project here

Friday, 5 August 2011


I was going to take a bike on our holiday to France but it seemed too much of a faff. 
So instead, for 10€, I hired this MBK road bike with indexed down-tube shifters from a hire shop in Ribérac. It was the first time I'd used these sort of gears, and I found them pretty good to use.
We were lucky enough to be staying in the Chateau Des Etoiles run by the Visconti family.
Of course I bought some oxygen for the ride.

In a small town nearby the local toy shop owner was a cycling fan and has quite a collection of vintage Tour de France collectables.

Jaques Antequil on the left maybe?

Monday, 25 July 2011


Help, new excuses needed! So far I haven't come up with a good one.
My wife seemed remarkably relaxed when I told her I'd bought a vintage but tatty frame on eBay with the idea of doing it up in order to sell it. 
It was only when I showed it to her a couple of weeks later that she threw a wobbly. She had thought I'd bought a picture frame not a bike frame.

The frame as seen on eBay

The head tube after respray 
& new decal

The frame half way through decal application
Who couldn't be moved by this Campagnolo decal?

So now I'm back up to four bikes (well three and a half until the Rossin is re-built). I might have to sell one of them. But which one?
You can read more about the Rossin project here. Unless you're Mrs ElPrez in which case, it'll be up for sale soon dear, honest.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Removal Of Decals

I removed the decals last night using the hairdryer technique.
This morning I realised I'd missed the ones on the forks. I removed the left hand side decals using the same technique. Interestingly I then removed the decals on the other fork without using the hairdryer, and they came off much more easily.
Overall I think prefer the clear look without the decals.

Friday, 1 July 2011


Yes we're going steady the
Surly and I. Already we've been to the pub, the very pleasant Roundhouse on Battersea Rise.

We stopped off for a takeaway on the way home. Just as well we'd taken our recently rediscovered paniers I had put away in the bedroom wardrobe.
I think I can feel some touring coming on.
12.60 Kgs by the way, much heavier than my roadbikes, but fine for the commute and shopping etc. Quite a lot lighter without the racks though. Have also added a Carradice saddle bag (for when not using the racks) which looks good under the Brooks.


The one small niggle with the build was the front mudguard which didn't fit perfectly. The guys at LCW sorted out a new bracket and fixed it in ten minutes.
I've added a bottle cage and a pump.
Now I just need to remove some of the decals. Hairdrier treatment I believe.

The bike weighs in at 12.60 Kgs by the way.
It's a very different ride from my road bikes but I love it. Makes a nice change sitting up and looking around. A dignified sort of a ride.