Part of a series of films to come throughout the 2014 season, both riders and staff provide unique insights into every aspect of the team, showing just why it’s the little things that make Team Sky one of the world’s best.
See all the films and more → The Little Things]]>
In that sense, Herrera and the way in which his victory was portrayed by the Colombian press, changed my understanding of pain within the context of cycling. It was necessary, and it was to be admired. And it was not limited to merely struggling against another rider, or against a mountain. It was an instinctively painful affair. This was an understanding that didn’t change significantly in my mind until years later, when Marco Pantani died alone in a hotel room in Rimini in Italy.
Looking back, Herrera being cast as a pseudo-religious figure seems a bit bizarre, though entirely understandable given the way Catholicism continues to dominate Colombian life. I think it strange, however, when people try to do the same with Marco Pantani. So I write not to fetishize or oversimplify the battles he faced but simply because Pantani’s death (and Matt Rendell’s subsequent investigation of it in his excellent Pantani biography) served once again to change my understanding of pain in sport. If Herrera’s bloody face prompted a simple and visceral reaction in me as a kid, Pantani’s life and death showed me the complexities of the human condition, both inside and outside the confines of his sport.
Today, we know that Pantani’s mental illness was not only diagnosed but was largely obscured by the world of competitive cycling in which he became such a star. If anything, it was exacerbated by that very success. According to a psychiatric evaluation from December of 2001, it was determined that, among other things, Pantani presented the following traits: a need for admiration; a disregard for his own safety; a lack of remorse; severe perfectionism; frequent denial; and a lack of empathy which he expressed in his enjoyment of inflicting pain upon others1. He enjoyed making others feel pain, even if it came at his own peril.
While these characteristics seem an obvious recipe for heartache and disaster, they are also the mental traits required to achieve greatness in a sport as unforgiving as road racing. In Pantani’s case, both interpretations are valid. That is a realisation that has changed the way I see cycling, cyclists, and the whole concept of ‘pain’ within sport.
In the end, Pantani was neither a saint, nor a demon. He was something altogether more ordinary; he was simply human, a reality capable of bringing an unbelievable amount of pain.
1 The Death of Marco Pantani: A Biography, by Matt Rendell, Weidenfeld & Nicholson.]]>
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On the blog there’s advice on preparation and motivation as well as a page to help you find a group ride to join on the day itself, but here’s a guide to getting the best out of Strava, the social network and training tool for runners and cyclists.
Strava has been immensely popular for participants in our Festive 500 Challenge, but it’s not all about segments and smashing Queen of the Mountains times. Used right, it can be a fun way of helping you achieve your goals.
First and foremost, don’t forget to join the Women’s 100 Strava Challenge! All riders that complete the Challenge will receive a woven badge to commemorate their achievement.
Join the Women’s 100 on Strava »
Aside from that, here are the Strava and Rapha Women’s 100 Dos and Don’ts.
DO follow all your friends on Strava. You’ll find a ready-made pool of people to share your achievements with, ideas for new routes and motivation. And if a little friendly competition develops, all the better.
DO find famous riders to follow. Yes, they’ll put your achievements into perspective, but the pros are a great source of inspiration. Why not check out some of the riders from the recent Women’s Tour of Britain who log their rides on Strava.
DO name your rides to make it more interesting. Let people know what happened, what you saw and who you were with. Telling the story in the title makes the rides more memorable and will give your followers something to engage with.
DO connect your Instagram to Strava. It’s a great way of sharing with your followers the things you saw on your ride. Here’s some instructions on how to do it »
DO set up a privacy zone around your house. It’ll keep you and your bike safe. Again it’s easy to do – from the Privacy tab on the Strava Settings page.
DON’T get stuck on the same old training loops from your front door. Use the Strava routing feature to explore your local area and keep your motivation up. Another good idea is to make a route then take the train or drive out of your usual area. The ‘Heatmap’ toggle in the controls shows you which roads are popular with local cyclists, and with a pre-planned route you can be sure you won’t get lost.
DO join some Strava clubs. They’re forums for making friends, planning rides and sharing tips. The Rapha Cycle Clubs in London, San Francisco, New York, Sydney all are there – they’re a good place to start.
DO test yourself on segments you ride regularly. As you build up a bank of rides and try to beat your times on roads you ride all the time, you’ll get a good idea of how you’re progressing.
DO switch your default display to women only if you prefer – edit your display preferences.
DON’T feel like every ride is a race. It’s good to test yourself, but you’ll only burn out if you go full gas on every ride.
Remember at all times: this is meant to be fun! Good luck and ride strong.]]>
The recent racing and festivities in Yorkshire were delivered to fans with an undeniably French flavour – the magnificently renamed Côte de Blubberhouses, miles of yellow bunting and adoption of the phrase ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ are testament to this. But long before the great race descended on Yorkshire, one of the county’s cyclists brought his distinct style to bear on continental racing. Brian Robinson was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in 1930. We recognise him now from team publicity photographs and race reporting, wearing broad-collared shirts and catwalk-worthy sunglasses while racing up Europeans cols, his hair elegantly slicked. He cut his teeth as a teenager on Yorkshire’s climbs, riding out in the war years with group from the NCU-affiliated Huddersfield Road Club. It’s on these rides – 150 mile escapades fueled by cups of tea and heavily rationed snacks – that Robinson developed his reputation as a rider who could climb, sprint and time trial, depending on what the occasion demanded. In photographs from his days in Yorkshire, Robinson, astride a Johnny Berry frame, had plump cheeks that belied the strength of legs that could ride 70 miles to a race, win, and ride home again. By the time he raced against Fausto Coppi, those plump cheeks were gone, hollowed out by one of the most successful and demanding careers of any post-war British cyclist.
The Izoard is one of the great climbs of the Alps, regularly featured in the world’s biggest race and spoke of with reverence by amateurs and professional alike. Newcomers often remark on its two faces – the north side is lush and green, the south side an arid, rocky monotone. On the slopes of the Izoard is a memorial to Louison Bobet and Fausto Coppi. It’s said that Bobet idolised Coppi, and written accounts make much of his matinee idol looks and winning disposition – something he shared with his idol. Incidentally, they fought on opposite sides of the second world war, – Bobet is rumoured to have ferried messages for the French Resistance, while Coppi was unwillingly conscripted into the Italian ranks, spending a couple of years as a prisoner of war after fighting in the African campaign. The memorial is made up of two plaques featuring the riders’ likenesses in profile – for some reason, they face away from each other. It’s not far away from the spot where Bobet, riding in a breakaway with his team-mate Adolphe Deledda on their way to securing the yellow jersey, the Frenchman spotted Coppi cheering from the roadside, and took a moment to thank him for his support.
On 15th July, 1969, Eddy Merckx rode 130km solo in the Pyrenees, winning the day’s stage by almost eight minutes. He’d go on to win the race, and become the last rider to be first over the Tourmalet and to be crowned victor in Pairs in the same year – perhaps this should be a note to riders with aspirations in the general classification. The story goes that Merckx attacked to spite a team-mate who had agreed to sign for a rival team. Instead of allowing the team-mate to take the KOM points, Merckx attacked. The Cannibal, it seems, valued loyalty and publicly punished disloyalty. His adventure over the Pyrenees enamoured journalists and fans, who were delighted to see the young Belgian attack despite comfortably holding the leader’s jersey. That day, Merckx added eight minutes to his advantage n the general classification. This year, the cyclo-sportif riders will be tackling the same ground on which Merckx launched this blistering attack, but the rocky outcrops are unlikely to be the backdrop to any further examples of Merckxissimo.]]>
With two young daughters and my husband often working out of town, fitting into a group training schedule was near impossible. So, I was a little nervous turning up as a relative newcomer to the sport, a country girl on city roads. But I loved it. I loved that we all had a coffee before our ride and that all these women were going out to ride 100km together, while women all over the world were simultaneously doing the same. I soon realised that riding with others was much more fun and much easier than doing it alone.
My passion for cycling began when my second baby was around 10 months old and I finally started to claw back some ‘me time’. I had always been a keen runner but my post-baby body didn’t like running everyday and I needed to change it up. I also happen to live in arguably the best cycling location in Australia – in Bright, Victoria – and given there’s so much quality riding to be had here, it’s hard not to fall in love with the sport. For me, the freedom and exhilaration on the bike was a double-bonus; I got fitter and stronger, as well asgetting some much needed relief from looking after two very small children.
So, this year, I’ve signed up to do the Women’s 100 again. This time round, however, there’s one small hitch, what you might call a bump in the road – by 20th July, the day of the ride, I’ll be 21 weeks pregnant. How much of an obstacle this proves remains to be seen. Even though I knew I was pregnant when I signed up, I wanted to do it for myself. Partly because last year was such an achievement, but also because I wanted to get some of my friends involved. Perhaps the challenge of riding a 100km pregnant also appealed to me. I like to believe that having babies doesn’t mean women have to give up everything, despite that’s how it feels sometimes.
I trained a lot this past summer, fulfilling more of my riding goals. I finally rode up Mt Hotham a couple of months ago, feeling my fittest ever. Last weekend, I rode 60km with some of the girls I’ll ride with on the Women’s 100 and it was hard. By the end, I was completely spent. My legs are rapidly losing their power and my belly continues to grow and squish into my Winter Tights. I am hoping with all my heart that two years of training will help keep my legs turning over for 100km, and that my tights will still fit in a month’s time.
If nothing else, the Women’s 100 has kept me on the bike when my warm bed was beckoning and my morning sickness was overwhelming. I will keep riding until I can’t ride any longer, and I can only hope that will be after 20th July.
He wasted no time mastering the three bedrocks of the local vernacular: “You bet”; “That’s different.”; and “Whatever.” With Aaron’s verbal arsenal fully stocked, the next day we drove to the race start in Spring Valley, a two-hour transfer south and east of Minneapolis. Upon arrival, a quick stop at the Old Tyme Saloon got us acquainted with the locals, before we secured our hotel and race registration packets. At the campground Rapha showed some short films from their collection, while HED Wheels helped put on a grass-track race.
Luckily for us, the 9am start meant we were only slightly rushed the following morning, discussing arm warmers and embrocation before Aaron set off in search of gas-station coffee. We rolled into the start, on downtown Main St., where race director Christopher Skogen led the 1400-plus riders in a Gravel Race tradition, serenading his son Jack with a chorus of happy birthday. Before long, we were charging out of town with a police escort for a day of idyllic, if arduous riding, that would take us through river valleys and farm fields, not to mention over 8,000ft of vertical gain. After about 30 miles, Aaron was up front with the leaders, myself holding back in the second chase group, while Greg was somewhere else. Unknown to us, and in one of the most talked about moments of the day, three wild horses broke through their fence near mile 10 and raced alongside a pack of startled riders.
With Aaron up the road, Greg and I regrouped around the 50-mile mark, shared a snack, and surged on. A quick stop in Forestville for an ice-cold can of Hamm’s beer and we were soon climbing out of yet another valley, en route to the unofficial checkpoint in the small burgh of Cherry Grove, at mile 78. It was here that The Banjo Bros, sons of Minnesota and renowned bicycle bag manufacturers, had set up an oasis offering frosty beverages, and an Elvis impersonator who may well have been part of a witness protection program. It was good to leave Cherry Grove sooner rather than later, for it’s easy to be seduced by the fact you’re only 20 miles from the finish.
The reality is that you still have to contend with a river crossing, more rolling climbs and the vaunted Oriole Road climb at mile 97. It can be an unrelenting nemesis, with 15-20% grades, line choice crucial due to this year’s fresh layer of class-5 gravel, not to mention countless people walking and pushing their bikes. Greg and I made it to the top without dismounting and, with one final effort, were soon rolling into the finishing chute, where Skogen, a class act, was waiting to shake the hand of every rider. Nearby, we found Aaron. Firmly ensconced on a patch of grass and clutching an empty beer bottle.]]>
Bib shorts should be black. Other colours can be tolerated on a case-by-case basis, but there’s little argument that the archetypal bib shorts are, and will always be, black. This is worth restating in light of the trend of World Champions opting for white bib shorts, something once unconscionable, made possible by the leaps and bounds in sublimation technology in the late-80s. As with any technological advance, the sudden availability of fabric vivid whites and lurid colours left many with nostalgia for the days of subtler tones and restrained styling.
As fun as it is to indulge in nostalgia on occasion it’s not generally a solid base for argumentation, so our case against white bib shorts rests on the hopefully more solid foundations of practicality and style. The Française des Jeux team learned the perils of the white bib shorts the hard way, switching in the past couple of seasons to shorts and jerseys in a rich blue. The team should stand as a warning to us all – they invariably finished the Spring Classics looking like your least favourite tea towel, smeared and stained with the muck of the land they had just raced across. Even on the most pristine days, any stray drop of energy drink or gel would stain their kit, somewhat diminishing their sheen of professional preparation. Just imagine how much work for the team’s soigneur was saved by their move to blue.
More recent offenders have included World Champions Philippe Gilbert and Rui Costa. By all accounts, both of these riders are well regarded by their contemporaries, directeurs and fans, and both have won races with no small measure of panache – yet both have sported white bib shorts as part of their championship ensemble. Undoubtedly, their choice was informed by a herd of designers, managers, manufacturers and sponsors, but they would have done well to follow Mark Cavendish’s example and worn black bibs with their rainbow jerseys.
For non-professionals, the choice is a far simpler one. Advances in garment technology have been a blessing for sports apparel companies, allowing the creation of clothes a world removed from the clingy polyester and heavy cottons of school sports fields. The level of performance we expect from a garment has risen greatly – its tailoring should be elegant, the fabric comfortable, high tech, and robust, its detailing intelligent.
These are qualities of the Rapha Classic Bib Shorts, which feature a matt-finish, high-stretch Lycra and an award winning chamois. Available in both men’s and women’s version, the Classic Bib Shorts have been worn over thousands of kilometres of the Rapha Continental, accompanied by just over 30,000 tins of chamois and shaving cream. Rapha’s cadre of Classic products have earned their distinction through a timeless mix of quality, style, and performance – and they’re all covered by the Rapha Classics Guarantee, allowing them to be tested for 30 days and returned for a full refund if they don’t meet your expectations.]]>
Can you give me the briefest history of House Industries? Where did it come from? How long has it been around?
Andy Cruz and I started Brand Design Co. in 1993 and formed House Industries shortly thereafter when we decided that we needed an “in house” client to indulge our design fantasies. We made a few goofy fonts that struck a nerve among design and advertising folks. We took they little bit of money we made from those original fonts, invested it in more aesthetic equity and things sort of snowballed from there.
We were talking about another project that we’re working on together when we came up with the idea to do the 8 different caps for the individual Tour of California stages. Which, in terms of design workload could be a little daunting, so, I’m just curious on how you break out the workload?
The project came in at a great time because we are approaching release time and we were about to finalize the font data for creating specimens, web-ready fonts and marketing materials. We ended up not liking some of the numbers in context, so we redrew them for the caps, then those redraws found their way into the final release version. It fit in well with how we like to design type. Not being terribly organized or concerned about deadlines also helps.
Can you break down the individual TOC stages for me? We had a sort of fun game — Prolly and I — where we would guess at where the design inspiration had come from. It really started with the Folsom-orange day. But, I’m curious as to where some of the others came from?
We were looking at the original inspiration first as a starting point, so when we combined bicycling with classic European iconic brands and typefaces the possibilities were endless. Then we worked back through the ATOC route to find conceptual markers. Folsom was easy with the prison orange, Mt. Diablo; red and a mountainous pattern, Pismo beach; waves. The rest was numerology, playing to the strength of the number forms and sorting out the color palette. Ultimately we wanted people to want and wear them because they looked good, not because they meant something.
You have a new Typeface — Velo — that you used on these caps. Typefaces are kind of your thing, what actually goes into making a new font? Can you take us through that process a little?
When you say “process” you make it sound like we actually have a plan. Vélo started over a decade ago (there’s a sketch in our ten-year retrospective book from 2004) as a collaboration with type designer Christian Schwartz. The original concept was both serif and san serif families that loosely reference classic European typography and logotypes. We retrieved it from the back burner last year when someone in the studio said, hey, that’s still cool and I kind of need that now. The original working name was House Air because we had this silly notion that the first type specimen would be a style guide for a real or imagined airline. In all of our faffing around, someone release a typeface named “Air” so we had to come up with a new name. Vélo was available, short, snappy, opened up a cornucopia of inspirational possibilities, and, selfishly, let me bring one of my passions and hobbies to work.
Let’s talk for a moment about inspiration, I know that you’re a cyclist, but I’m assuming not everyone in your group is (maybe they are) how do you keep the cycling stoke alive with them, or temper your love for sport with everything else?
Honestly, what made the Richard Sachs project work so well is that the folks here doing the creative heavy lifting have zero interest in cycling. They did not have the figurative baggage to slow them down, so they looked at every design element with a really cold eye. The same notion has been effective so far with the Vélo project.
What else gets you inspired design wise? Can you tell us a few of your personal favorite designers? Maybe someone big and historic, but also someone contemporary that we might not know about just yet? Someone that you have had fun working with?
Historically we’ve always been enamored with the makers and journeymen who worked in anonymity but had the skills that so many designers view as irrelevant today. Lettering artists, sign painters, traditional typesetters and brush and ink illustrators come to mind. Then there are the people who we regard as visionaries who were really good at marshaling those skills into some amazing timeless design. Take a click through our list of collaborations and it’s fairly obvious. Even if you don’t know Charles and Ray Eames, your ass does because their airport seating design is still the most durable in both a physically and stylistically.
From a contemporary standpoint our inspiration often comes from the people who are actually doing the work. Like the woman at Heath Ceramics who can wipe the wet glaze away from the raised sections of clay on the Heath ceramic clocks before firing or the lithographic pressman who knows that sweet spot in the ink fountain that’ll achieve thickly uniform coverage without offsetting on the next sheet. Or a certain bicycle maker whose four decades of muscle memory tells him exactly when to stop filing.
We have seen a good number of collaborations coming out of House over the years. Everything from denim manufactures to ceramics and even a few bicycle related ones. What do you look for in these relationships? How do they come about?
Most of those relationships evolve organically through mutual respect and trust. It sounds simple, but once you can truly say that you have those two things, you’re 90% there.
Also, you have told me a bit about the New Balance shoe that popped up again on Instagram (the one off shoe), but its such a cool story — how did that come about?
When we had the House33 store in London, we manufactured some high-end Italian luggage fabric in with a 33 pattern. Our partner in London was friends with the Crooked Tongue guys and they grabbed a bolt of the fabric when they were going up to tour the New Balance factory. One of the operators in the plant dug it, so they snuck a few pieces into the production line. Then the suits in the front office saw it and that was the end of that.
Or the New Yorker? That’s amazing! What kind of tweaks did you provide for their classic looking Irvin lettering?
We were hotrodding a version of our Neutraface family for them and they asked us to take a typographic look at Irvin. Irvin was originally a one-off wood commissioned by the original New Yorker editor and was digitized several years ago. Wyatt Mitchell, the New Yorker’s art director, had the unenviable task of redesigning the classic magazine to work in modern digital workflows without pissing off too many of their long-time subscribers. Irvin was really the centerpiece of the redesign, so we had to make it work more typographically while retaining the original flavor. We did several different size masters and some really cool automatic ligature lockups.
Speaking of team-ups, you have been working with Richard Sachs for a bit now. How did the two of you become partners and how long has that being going on?
Richard and House Industries obviously live in two different worlds, but as we got to know each other we found that our enthusiasm and cynicism were almost perfectly aligned. Then the mutual level of trust reached a point where the rest was easy.
This might be a good place to introduce the other thing that we are working on together. Last year your Richard Sachs relationship took another step forward as you helped him to redesign not only his kits, but his bicycles and overall “brand.” But, this year is going to be even bigger than last. Without giving too much away, what do we have to look forward to in August when House Industries and Richard Sachs take over the Rapha Cycle Club NYC?
We had so much fun and attracted so much attention with last year’s program that we wanted to try to take things one step further. Let’s just say that certain famous framebuilders and painters are working really hard right now to make this work.
Stage 5 was a hugely dramatic day of racing, suffused with tension, glory and heartbreak – the qualities that make road racing great. Few will miss Chris’s absence from the race as keenly as Rusty, Team Sky super-supporter and subject of our latest The Little Things film. Rusty is one of Sky’s most dedicated supporters, following the team around the world and flying the colours of the world’s finest professional squad.
Today the race moves south to Reims, the first of several stages that pull the peloton towards the Vosges Mountains. Their situation has changed but the team has plenty of work to do, and we’ll be cheering them on from the roadside along with Rusty.]]>