Tell us a bit about the origins of Mamnick, and the ethos behind the company.
I was frustrated at how difficult it was to find a shirt that I liked for an honest price; something that wasn’t mass-produced and didn’t shout its designer label at you. Finding a well-made shirt in a quality fabric that fits well isn’t easy. That’s where I started and since then I’ve designed and manufactured shirts, jackets and a few leather and steel accessoris.
I had lots of ideas, and had designed clothing and other products in the past without going into manufacturing. The challenge was getting my ideas to market. I like a challenge so I established Mamnick: The name comes from the road that goes up Mam Tor in Derbyshire, one of my favourite places to ride the bike.
You produced the KoP Bottle Openers using Sheffield steel, tell us something about that.
My Grandad worked in Sheffield’s famous steel industry and I wanted to dedicate some part of Mamnick to him. That’s how the ‘Made in Sheffield’ collection came about. The chip-fork/bottle-opener really helped put the brand on the map and I feel proud to be making things in Sheffield’s finest export.
The inspiration for the bottle opener came from the days when riders would raid cafes, do you think pro racing has lost its soul somewhat?
I don’t know. Like many sports nowadays, money talks and many of the riders seam to be media-managed with sponsorships on the line and reputations to uphold. Many of the interviews seems drab and rehearsed… you know like “the team rode great today”. That said I still love watching the classics and the big tours. I always will. But it would be good to have some charisma every once in a while. I like Wiggo’s dry humour.
You’re a keen road rider and have interviewed a lot of interesting riders for the Mamnick Journal, who’s your King of Pain?
I have several, probably one from every era of the sport. I’ve always loved Anquetil for his form on the bike and his suave appearance off it. I’m also a big fan of the 90s and 2000s with Frank VDB being one of my favourites from that era. It’s a shame that everyone is quick to jump on the bandwagon regarding riders of that period. I love the look of those times in the pro-ranks; the time just before helmets came in. It’s all gone downhill now aesthetically for me. That’s not to say the modern-riders aren’t cool; you just have to look harder.
What’s your favourite ride or route?
I live in Sheffield and the Peak District is on my doorstep. Ride northwest and you’ve got Strines, which is great, especially since the Tour has just passed through and many of the roads have been resurfaced. Head south towards Cromford and Matlock and there are some great little roads and villages with ace food and beers. We’re lucky up here, there’s so much to choose from whether you’re doing a couple of hours or an all-day adventure.
If I had to pick one (to answer your question), it would be an all day ride on the lanes taking in the Goyt Valley, a cafe stop at Longnor or Cromford and finishing with a couple of well earned pints near home.
Are you happy with the final product – the bottle opener – will you use it out on the bike?
Of course (although I would say that). I love the compact nature of the thing and how something so small and light functions so well, it’s practically indestructible. It was also nice to make something using the electro-blackening process, I’ve been thinking of doing something with it before but the bottle-opener worked so well and seems to fit in with the Rapha aesthetic perfectly.
“Of course a ride from Manchester to London within the twenty-four hours has no sort of rank as a physical feat. Any long distance cyclist who counts would jeer at an average pace of ten miles to the hour for nineteen net hours of riding. “You loitered on the road too long,” he would say, like the Rossettian princess’s maid, rebuking the laggard in love.”
Let’s remember though, C.E. Montague was pretty ‘nails’. When he rode from Manchester to London in 1924 he did the whole thing on gravel roads with only one gear. The more I’ve read about C. E. Montague though the more I can imagine that this was just a scenic jaunt for him compared to scaling the Alps in a knitted suit and ropes.
For the riders on their Manchester to London Challenge however it’s something far greater, the distance for some will be scaling new ground, new ways of preparing, eating, drinking and riding. The North and South training rides are a great way to share knowledge and learn skills. It’s also a chance to meet fellow riders, share stories, share fears…
I must add that I have no qualifications in training and nutrition, I do however have a history of endurance, sometimes for events, mostly for fun. I find pure pleasure in riding a long way. I thought I’d write this to share with you some of the things that I do, some may be right for you, others not. There’s no rulebook.
Comfort is of course paramount on long rides, so points of contact with the bike especially so; favourite gloves, socks and shorts are essential. Jerseys with good pockets will make everything as simple as possible, and knowing what’s in which pocket really helps. Strange things happen when you get tired, it’s easier when things are familiar. Chamois cream, plenty of it and one that you’re used to, it’s a long time to sit in the saddle.
Keeping flexible and not feeling like you’re a creaky monster will help your comfort levels too. Getting off the bike and not ending up bike shaped is the challenge, when you stop, stretch. Mills Physiotherapy has prepared an animated stretching program for those who are unsure of what to be stretching and how. It can be found here.
Bikes are personal, we all have our favourite things, I always build my bikes so that they can be easily repaired at the roadside if need be. I will confess that I’m a geeky bike cleaner, especially before a big ride. It gives you a chance to check everything for wear as well giving it a lovely, pride-inducing sparkle. Really big rides get new bar tape, then I drive myself nuts when I get it dirty whilst doing them. I always have a set of spares including – multi-tool with spoke key and chain breaker, two tubes and patches, tyre levers and a pump.
With only a few weeks left before the big ride I’m hoping you all have at least a couple of centuries (100 miles) under your belts, hopefully some longer rides too. By doing these you get to know yourself and your pace, try not to get dragged along by faster riders, it’s a long way and it’s your ride as much as theirs.
I’ll always study a route as much as I can before doing it, obviously the Manchester to London Challenge is fully signed so it’s not navigation that will be the issue. However, the mental game of ticking off the places in your mind can be very helpful. It’s as much a mental challenge as a physical one, keeping pedalling, keeping alert. I indulge my love of funny place names, it makes me smile as I ride along. I rode through a place called Clowne once, it wasn’t funny.
Now this really is a point where everyone is different, some can do a day of gels and others prefer real food. Experimenting here is key; personally I do a mix of real food and energy food. Too much sugar too soon and you’ll blow up and it’s hard to recover from that. Same for caffeine gels, save those for later on, sometimes I don’t use them, just carry them about like spare batteries for my legs, it’s the psychological tricks that can pick you up the most. Pies and sausage rolls are great, I could make something up about them being a delicate balance of carbs, protein and fat but hey, pies are nice and this isn’t the ride to be on a diet! Sometimes I’ll eat an apple in a long event, purely for the fresh feeling. Often at later stages in a long ride it becomes harder to eat, this is when I’ll swap onto chewy sweets, they’re easy to get down, pack quite a punch too. Later in a ride cans of Coke are incredible. I could probably murder a nice cup of tea, too!
Most of all, enjoy yourselves, enjoy your bike and when it all feels horrid, remember that really, we’re all lucky to be able to do events like this, the kids at Ambitious about Autism’s Schools probably never will, but we can help them to have the best chance in life by supporting them.
Manchester to London is a charity ride supporting Ambitious About Autism. To find out more about then event and the charity’s work, visit »]]>
“Gli uomini debbono pazientare per uscir di questo mondo, proprio come per entrarvi.”
– Re Lear, di William Shakespeare
Il ciclocross professionistico è uno sport intenso, l’azione accade così vicino che gli spettatori possono letteralmente sentire l’odore della fatica, ascoltare il cuore in tumulto e assaporare l’adrenalina dei corridori. In un certo senso è una lotta per la vita che si svolge in un microcosmo, un flusso e riflusso di drammaticità, una trama che si addensa man mano che gli atleti-attori sfilano a tutta velocità, carichi delle loro speranze e delle loro paure.
Eppure, nonostante tutta la teatralità del giorno della gara, alcune delle più importanti arene di questo sport ciclistico, che mette alla prova gli atleti come nessun altro, sono poco più che campetti da calcio di quartiere, parchi pubblici o piste da atletica in rovina. I quali però, per un giorno o due all’anno di strabordante energia, vengono trasformati da cima a fondo e risuonano dell’eco delle folle urlanti e dell’affanno dei corridori, del clangore e del ronzio dei macchinari, del poderoso scrosciare delle pompe d’acqua e del tintinnio delle bottiglie di birra vuote.
Ogni anno questi luoghi, come le sabbie spazzate dal vento di Koksijde nelle Fiandre o le piste polverose di Gloucester nel Massachusetts, per 48 ore occupano totalmente i pensieri dei corridori e dei fan. Quando il circo del ciclocross toglie le tende e se ne va, le comunità locali ritornano invariabilmente alla routine quotidiana. Senza eccezione, queste location sono luoghi duri, variamente caratterizzati da industrie in agonia o da condizioni climatiche estreme. Anche le persone che ci abitano sono piuttosto coriacee, e di sicuro tanto appassionate quanto i fan che si accalcano lungo il velodromo di Roubaix o scalano le montagne della Prefettura di Nobeyama, in Giappone.
Il fotografo Ben Ingham ha visitato per conto di Rapha questi scenari, i Theatres of Cross, per immortalarne le rispettive personalità. In questi luoghi, per un weekend all’anno, in autunno o in inverno, i corridori di ciclocross devono affrontare una sfida di un’ora; per coloro che ci abitano, invece, la gara non finisce mai.]]>
There is no secret at Team Sky, they simply do all the little things better than anyone else — focusing on the details that matter.
This season we bring you films, photos and words from the people that make up the Team — from the chefs to the mechanics to the riders — discussing all the little things that make Team Sky one of the world’s best.
The Little Things]]>
“The USA Pro Challenge will be the ideal place for them to show themselves against riders from the biggest teams in the world.”
– John Herety, Rapha-Condor-JLT team manager
Rapha-Condor-JLT will be travelling to America to take part in the USA Pro Challenge, which takes place from the 18th to the 24th of August.
The seven-stage race, which is based in Colorado, is one of only two 2.HC-ranked races in the United States, and is regarded as one of the most important races in the U.S. This year’s event will see 16 world-class professional teams participate. Rapha-Condor-JLT will line up against the likes of World Tour giants BMC racing, Garmin-Sharp and Tinkoff-Saxo.
For Rapha-Condor-JLT’s predominantly young team the race promises to be a hugely important proving ground against some of the best riders in the world and the eight-rider team will include: Tour of Korea winner, 19 year-old Hugh Carthy; 2009 British National Road Race Champion Kristian House; Rydale GP winner Richard Handley; 2012 National U23 Road Race Champion Mike Cuming; Tour du Loire et Cher winner Graham Briggs; as well as Elliott Porter, Daniel Whitehouse and Tom Moses, a representative of Team England at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Rapha North America will be there to support the boys in black in the Rockies, and to help celebrate Rapha’s final year as co-owners. If you’re in the Rockies, join us for a series of rides and the opportunity to meet the team, including a pre-race team training ride around Aspen.
The first ride with the team will be on Saturday 16th August, leaving from the Wildwood Hotel in Snowmass Village. Espresso at 9am, rollout at 10am. Route details are here »
For the remaining stages, Tillie – Rapha’s roving Mobile Cycle Club, will be at the following locations:
For exact times, locations and ride details, follow the Mobile Cycle Club on Twitter / Instagram.
You can also follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. #RCJintheUSA]]>
Sean Yates’ tall, slightly gaunt figure sauntered into the pub, a box of his autobiographies under his arm. Definitely not a swagger though: his modesty is overwhelming. A well-worn Astana jacket, an old pair of jeans and a scuffed pair of Team Sky trainers could be a sign of someone who likes wearing his history. He has accepted my request to come and talk to riders participating in the Tour de Force. We had been riding on his roads in the Ashdown Forest, roads that forged a wild teenager with a passion for riding hard into one of the toughest and most selfless riders in the pro peloton. Although no longer a DS on the pro circuit, he is still busy coaching, helping out with the NFTO project, the Catford CC and mentoring his elder sons who both race. So it was pretty good of him to come along, I thought.
I first met Sean in April 2007. I had planned to climb 300 cols in 26 days to celebrate my 50th (and raise quite a bit for charity) and as the challenge approached panic and doubt was creeping in. Things led me to a five-hour ride with Sean on these same roads. At the end of the ride I was fired up and although he questioned my mental health, he gave me the green light on the physical plane. That summer, as I climbed my long list of hills, Sean would reply to my progress reports snappily whilst he was busy, as DS for Discovery, taking Alberto Contador to his first Tour victory. It never occurred to me to take any personal credit from this fact: I was just so grateful for his generosity. Not many people do that sort of thing.
He tries to dispel the legend of being a hardman.
“Everyone has to suffer in sport. Cyclists have to suffer more than others, for sure. I just get on with it, trying to manage the pain as best as possible.”
Perhaps this is the key to his ability to push himself so hard: he doesn’t analyse it because that is just the way he likes to ride. That, and a pure and very deep love of just being out on his bike (as a DS he would still get out regularly for a pre-breakfast ride when on tour). Someone who has such an astonishing record of TT performances, many of them in the aftermath of his pro years, has to have some special powers when it comes to long efforts. Even major health problems over the last decade haven’t stopped him. On that ride with him in 2007 he talked about a spell he had working as a gardener again, before he accepted his role with Discovery: he had a particularly long hedge to trim for a client, and thought it would be good training for the 24-hour Tandem TT he had his eye, if he did it non-stop. He set up lights, generator, radio, and swung an electric hedge-trimmer around. For 24 hours…
His ability to ride endlessly on the front earned him the occasional solo victory but most of his riding was done for others to take the glory. Even now, he seems more excited talking about his sons racing than about his own career. Ask him about an anecdote in his book, and he always pauses first. “I guess I should read it one day.” Long may our sport be graced with personalities like Sean, we’re lucky to have him around.
What was your biggest inspiration to race a bike?
As a kid, we had no TV at home so coverage of any sport was pretty basic. The Tour and all the continental races seemed another world away. ‘Cycling’ magazine was where I found my heroes and inspiration: national TT champs like Alf Engers and Eddie Adkins were the ones I wanted to be as tough as.
Who were the riders you enjoyed riding with most in your career?
Alan Peiper and Dag Otto: we trained together a lot and became great friends, which meant that we were able to work especially well for each other in races; when one of us was not having the best of days, we would try and look after each other.
Is there one day that stands out as your toughest on a bike?
Stage 13 of the 1992 Tour was one to remember for Claudio Chiappucci, but for me it was hell. Five big climbs including the 45km Iseran climb: for non-climbers like me it was all about making the cut-off time. I had been in the early break only to try and get some time in before I started slipping back into the survival zone. It was a long day.
Another one that stands out for me was on the ’89 Tour stage: Briancon – Alpe d’Huez. I woke up feeling that the lasagne from the night before was not the best thing I had ever eaten. Hitting the Galibier from the gun proved the point. Pure Suffering. From St Jean de Maurienne up to St Sorlin, at the foot of the final part of the Croix de Fer, I was on my own for 37kms, fighting to get back to the grupetto which was going to ‘carry’ me up the Alpe to make the cut-off. Puking and pedalling is no fun. 5km from the Croix summit I suddenly came to, as if I had actually vomited the bug out of me. I could see the grupetto up on the hairpins and in 5km I’d almost caught them. By the time we finished the descent I was safely tucked in and I was able to ‘survive’ the Alpe and make the cut-off. The next day, another day in the mountains, I was flying. But the dodgy lasagne had got to two of my team-mates; they never made the cut-off and were eliminated.
Does it take more courage to suffer alone?
It is all about pain management, which is an individual thing. So I never noticed a difference between being on a solo break or being part of a grupetto, struggling to make the cut-off time. I was used to riding for a long time on the threshold. That was the way I always trained; getting as many miles in as possible, pushing to see how much more I could get out of my body. That’s always been how I like to ride.
Where does the ability to suffer come from?
All sports demand effort from the body. When effort turns to pain is when you have to learn how to manage this. You discover how far you can push yourself and how much more you can ask from your body. Cycling requires a constant input of effort and for a longer time than most other sports. You soon learn that how you are going to deal with this sustained effort, and how long you will let the effort become pain, will determine how good you become as a cyclist. It is a process of self-discovery. No one can teach you this. The ability comes from within.
Who are the big sufferers in today’s peloton?
One rider who comes to mind is Geraint Thomas. I have watched him suffer and just never give up. His courage is equal to his pure talent. But no one becomes a pro rider unless they can deal with the highest levels of suffering. Having said that, we are humans too. I too as a young pro stopped and hid at a feed zone until the race had gone by when it was just too cold and miserable out there; sciving back to the relative comforts of a one-star hotel.
From your time as a DS, can you give an example of when the ability to suffer and the sheer talent of a rider combined perfectly?
La Planche de Belles Filles 2012 . I had worked out a plan based on our riders’ ability to give absolutely everything they had, going so hard that no-one else in the peloton would hopefully be able to follow. We had ridden that final climb on reconnaissance and for the race I worked out a very precise plan for each riders’ part in our collective team victory. Over the radio I called each one, in turn, to take over at the front pace-setting at a specific pre-planned moment, leaving Chris and Brad for the finish. Cadel, another rider who knows how to hurt himself, was the only one who looked to be a threat to the plan. It was an amazing day.
How has the world of the peloton most changed since you were a rider?
There is far more financial pressure in the sport now, so teams have to make decisions on races to please the sponsors, sometimes to the detriment of riders. There is more pressure on riders to perform, even though we too had to fight for our next contract. The financial and media pressure has also helped to clean up the sport.
Since 2013 Team Sky has partnered with the small but innovative British cycle-clothing company Rapha to meet the clothing demands of its world-class athletes. Peter Walker visits Rapha to find out about the challenges of designing ultra-high-performance apparel for one of the most exacting sporting teams on the planet.
See the original article on the Guardian »]]>
Over the last few weeks, during the many times I’d written this article in my head, it always started with the opening line: ‘I started the ride – but failed.’ As the 2014 edition of the Women’s 100 drew closer, my belly was much bigger than I remember the last time I was 22 weeks pregnant, added to which gastroenteritis hit our family two weeks before the day of the ride. There was also the fact it had rained, snowed and rained some more this past month here in the High Country, in the Australian state of Victoria. Amazing for skiers, less so for cyclists, so needless to say my final training for riding 100km while five months pregnant was a little hindered.
But, and it gives me great satisfaction to say so, the story turned out very differently to how I’d imagined. The sun came out (eventually) women came out to ride, too – and I made it, the whole 100km. With my bump nice and comfy inside my husband’s Winter Tights and many an extra layer, on Sunday 20th July, a friend and I headed out at 7.30am and in -3C degrees, to start our 100km. My four-year-old wondered why I was going for a ride at all when everything outside was white, and with great pride I told her that, thanks to Rapha, women all over the world were doing just the same that very day. There is something about that, it just gives you a buzz. Enough, it seems, to get out on your bike, even during in the most severe frost to hit my home town of Bright in many years.
The Women’s 100 reinforces the joy of riding when you all share the love. At 9am we met up with a larger group, all about to start their own 100km, and from then on there were 12 of us riding in what had now become a balmy -2C. We rode first through valleys and, to be honest, it was pretty painful to begin with, both my toes and fingers numb. At the end of the second valley, however, we were met with a campfire by our ride organisers, along with warm drinks and a brownie – a little bit of gold. Having now reached 63.25km, I was actually starting to think I might finish the 100km.
By 90km we were homeward bound, the layers had come off, toes and fingers had thawed and we rode towards snow-capped mountains with the sun beaming down. It couldn’t have been better and I was exhausted but proud. Four hours and 29 minutes – a very happy day’s riding and I’ve already signed up for next year.]]>
What was the beginning of your relationship with cycling?
My dad was a cyclist in the GDR. He was junior champion in the team time-trial. So I’ve always had a connection with cycling. And I remember sitting on a couch watching Miguel Indurain win the Tour de France on TV. Then there was the Jan Ullrich era and it suddenly felt like everyone in Germany was following cycling. As a kid I tried football and basketball but I didn’t have the technique for those sports so I turned to cycling at 13.
Did you start competing at this age?
No, I just cycled for fun because I was already sick of competing at football. People would be shouting at 10-year-old boys from the side of the pitch! So I didn’t start racing competitively until I was 18.
Did you ever have serious ambitions to become a professional road racer?
In cycling there are so many guys who think they can be a pro. Probably because I started so late I never really had the ambition to do that. It was just fun for me. In the last three years I competed in some lower tier UCI stage races but by then it was already far too late!
Nevertheless it must have been a buzz to ride in these races?
Yes, it’s like a drug. You always think you can do better and you’re always looking to see what race is coming up next. You don’t want to stop. But even the people I know who turned pro went back to being amateurs because there were no pro teams in Germany due to the fall-out from the Ullrich doping scandal. These guys also suffered because they’d been focused on cycling since they were 12-years-old so they didn’t pick up other career skills. The sport is so time consuming. I always followed a career path from a young age.
I stopped my cycling career in the autumn of 2013 because I thought it was time to put all my focus into work so now I just cycle for fun. I’m afraid of getting slower on the bike! I still do training rides at the weekend but it’s different because I don’t have a goal anymore.
What is your impression of Berlin as a cycling city and how has it evolved over the years?
It’s hard to say because I’m so used to cycling here. Sometimes when I go to Paris or London I think, “Oh my god, if I lived here I could never be a cyclist!” Where do you cycle? I supposed if I lived in these cities I would just get used to the different conditions.
There was a lot of negative press for London in 2013 due to several bad accidents resulting in the death of cyclists. The city perhaps doesn’t have the same infrastructure as Berlin to be able to cope with the upsurge in bike traffic.
In Berlin the streets are big and wide so there’s always lots of space. But I’m not necessarily a fan of cycle lanes. I get the impression that car drivers don’t really pay attention to them. I always feel that if I ride fast enough to keep up with the cars then it’s not a problem. So I avoid the bike lanes and ride on the road. You have pedestrians and tourists in the bike lanes so in my opinion it’s less dangerous on the road.
How important to you is the style and aesthetics of cycling?
I like it a lot. Years ago cycling wasn’t hip. When I first started racing 10 years ago you were an outsider if you tried to be stylish. In the real racing scene they still don’t really care about looking cool. So it was quite good when it got hip because a lot more people developed a style, more clothes became available and it became more acceptable to be stylish.
Do you spend a lot of your hard-earned money on cycling gear?
When I was in a bigger team they equipped me with all the stuff but that was a bit of a pain because I had to wear stuff that I didn’t really want to wear – it wasn’t very cool! But then I got used to it and I became proud to ride in a team. Now that period is over I’m starting to spend a lot of money on my own stuff.
When did cycling street fashion hit Berlin?
When the first Velo show came here in 2008. All these guys showed up with cool clothing from America and introduced us to new brands. Before then that stuff wasn’t widely available here. It’s nice now that you can see cycling from a creative or stylish perspective. It used to be pretty hard before to get Rapha stuff or a copy of Rouleur magazine.
What is the bike scene like in Berlin? Are you part of one?
There’s a racing scene that kind of separates into the different areas and clubs in the city. Every Saturday and Sunday a bunch of cyclists meet up in the Grunewald forest and you can decide which group you want to ride with. Then there’s the old East Berlin scene who meet around the Velodrom and head off into the countryside north-east of the city. I also know a lot of guys from the fixie scene who started to race.
What are the best and worst thing about riding a bike in Berlin?
The worst thing is the lack of mountains. It’s very flat.
The best thing? I love riding downhill into those underpasses where you can go full speed and then emerge up and out the other side, like the one near the Alexa shopping centre. It’s fun trying to keep up with the cars and sometimes even pass them. You feel like a little kid!]]>
“I have blown myself away by doing this. I can barely stand up now, but I’m ecstatic”
– Lisa Winther, who didn’t own a bike until two months before the challenge.
With more than 11,000 #womens100 posts on Instagram and Twitter, we’ve heard an enormous number of stories from all corners of the world. For some riders it’s a typical Sunday out on the road, for some it’s a fresh challenge and introduction to endurance riding. No matter what your story is, we hope you’ve found new fellow riders to help keep you out on the road this summer and to brave the colder months with — the Festive 500 is not too far off, and there are the Rapha Super Cross races to keep you on the bike until then. Our Rapha Cycle Clubs will be hosting regular rides throughout the coming seasons to help motivate and encourage you to love the winter.
Aside from the review in our infographic, we’d like to call out some stories from around the world. There’s the group of women in Dubai who rode their 100km at night on a race track in order to avoid the desert’s 40°C heat, the group of women from Guernsey who decided to form their own club off the back of their Women’s 100 ride, the ride across New Zealand’s Waikato region in near-freezing conditions that included a couple of fence-hoppings, and a ride in the UK that included an impromptu cyclocross skills clinic from Claire Beaumont when the route took an unexpected turn across Epsom race course. Hats off to those who completed the challenge during Ramadan, adding a further level of difficulty to their challenge.
We’ve received an overwhelming number of stories from participants and hope to be sharing some of these in the next few weeks.]]>