måndagen den 1:e oktober 2012

Time to Blog

This blog has been extremely inactive for quite some time! I guess sometimes you just have to accumulate thoughts before you get them out of your system. As the season comes to an end I have some things on my mind.
Let's call it "The downfall of the doping generation and what the rest of us are doing now".

So let's start of by admitting that I am born in the early 70's and I turned to sports that require a lot of training and endurance. In my case it was x-country skiing in winter and running and mountainbiking in the summer. Later road cycling caught my attention.
Miguel Indurain made me start watching bits of "le tour" and Lance made me watch more cycling than is healthy. Armstrong was the perfect star in a sport that needed someone bigger than life and his contribution to the sport is of course massive either way you think about it. He showed up in July with his team and his entourage consisting of cute kids, Sheryl Crow and a bunch of Hollywood friends. And he delivered over and over again (until it got rather boring).

OK let's pause. Anyone who didn't find it just a little bit suspicious that he just crushed all opponents every summer please raise your hand. Especially if you take into account that almost everyone on the top five lists from these years have later admitted to or got caught cheating.

About six months ago I read "Racing through the dark" by David Millar, a great bit of reading by the way. I think I have a very "Swedish" view on doping and dopers where everything is very black or white. Reading David's story was an eye opener for me. Maybe I was naive before but when someone finally admits to anything here (and without hanging other named people out but yourself) anp puts the finger on the fact that the generation that was active late 90's early 2000 was so systematic in their "preparation". Add to this that the sport didn't do anything to get rid of the problem and voilá - a very dirty sport. Just imagine being a hotel cleaner in a French hotel after the tour has stopped. Just how many empty plastic bags with some blood stains still there have they seen?


Anyway right now it feels like almost all of them have been either caught (sometimes banned for a small time) or have openly admitted to being doped. One person however just won't admit to anything but sees a shrinking number of people still believing in him. Yes Mellow Johnny it's you and I wanted to believe so badly that you where above all that crap.

So is there still hope for proffessional cycling? Maybe I'm all naive again but I actually believe so. I believe this sport is so much cleaner right now. This doesn't mean that some old dirt floats up every now and then or a young guy tries to take the easy way out but in general I think it's cleaner. The way the races are raced and won today are more how should I put it "human". Just the fact that a nice wholesome (please don't make me regret having said this) guy like Fredrik Kessiakoff almost won the Polka dot jersey this year points to this.

My theory is that for every rider born in the 70's that quits the peloton there is more hope for a clean sport!

So back to what I called this piece. What are the rest of us doing now. Well I'll tell what is happening in Sweden - people between 30-45 are signing up for recreational races like maniacs. Today was the first day to sign up for Vätternrundan (300 km around Sweden's second largest lake) and it was fully booked within a couple of hours. Cycling, skiing and running is so trendy right now people actually listen to my stories from back when I was so geeky I was always out training these (formerly known as) unsexy sports.

I've always focused this blog on yellow bikes but right now the coolest bike I know is this one. It's red and it belong to one very special little guy...

onsdagen den 21:e mars 2012

London calling

Went on a business trip to London last week. It's been quite a while since I was there - at least in the city and able to go for a stroll in the heart of the city. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people riding their bikes to and from work. What struck me was the amount of racing bikes and the speed at which they were going. is everyone training for the Olympics this summer? Always on the hunt for yellow bikes I managed to get a snapshot of this one near Picadilly Circus:

lördagen den 3:e mars 2012

Yellow Pinterest

It took me a little while to understand what was so good about Pinterest but now I really like it.
So instead of posting pictures of yellow bikes here on the blog I will use Pinterest for it and try to write some blog posts here instead (I have one about doping coming up).
You can follow That Yellow Bike on Pinterest here:
http://pinterest.com/

onsdagen den 11:e januari 2012

TDS vs TDF

As so many other Swedes I watched the last race of the Tour de ski with the big climb (unlike many others sitting on my Schwinn burning some calories). It was of course fantastic to see Marcus Hellner going full gas all the way to the top claiming runner up position after the great Dario Cologna. Having competed myself as a youngster cross country skiing has always kept a special place in my heart. Back then it was always a race against the clock except for relays when it was man to man competition. I grew up with heroes like Tomas Wassberg and Gunde Svan (yes the TV-show host).

The conservative world of skiing, and here I think of Scandinavians mostly, has been reluctant about the changes with sprints, mass-starts and "Tours". I wasn't to keen myself when TDS was introduced but now I almost see it as the highlight of the season because of the many elements in it. You have to be a very allround skier to win it and if you are a good "Grimpeur" (as the French would call it) you can do a lot the last day.
FIS are trying to create something that ressembels a stage race in cycling and there's no doubt they want to borrow some cred from the massively popular TDF.
Comparing these two events is therefore interesting but doing so one has to remember that there are some huge differencies between the sports. Yes they share the fact that the athletes in the two sports are some of the toughest and most well trained you can find in the world of sports, but cycling is a team sport and cx skiing is not.

In here lies a fundamental difference in terms of mentality of the athletes. In cycling a team consists of people who's only job is to help the star to win. These guys know their place and take great pride in their task. A traditional skier is an individual with his or her agenda and that is to get a good placement for themselves first and foremost. The thing is I (and many others it seems) believe you could use a lot more tactics in competitions like TDS. Some (Northug and Cologna) are smart when it comes to tactics on an individual level whereas a guy like Hellner, who is an extremely strong skier, can learn a lot. Sweden have a lot of strong skiers and could potentially use this with team tactics. But this will of course mean that they will have to put some of the ego aside and try to support more in mass-start races.
The best example of individual thinking before team thinking I can come up with at the moment is from last years TDS where Charlotte Kalla and Anna Haag came to the finish side by side in a good lead. Charlotte was second overall and had the best chances of winning yet Anna outsprinted her and took the stage and bonus seconds.

It was understandable on an individual level and the were both shining with happiness afterwards but it was at the same time the perfect example of how little team tactics exist in this sport. But. as everything changes and who knows, next year we might see more team thinking in the future. It would be fun to watch and it would definitely piss off some of the most conservative spectators!

torsdagen den 22:e december 2011

Merry christmas and happy new bike year

Two days before christmas, a thin layer of snow-like substance on the ground here in Stockholm. I already long for warmer and more cycling friendly times. My wish for next year is to ride many more miles than this year and watch a lot of good cycling - everything from the spring classics via the Giro to TDf and of course the Olympics in London. It's really great to see how popular cycling is becoming in Sweden and with Eurosport one can enjoy everything from the living room with great commentators.
I think the person who painted this road in Castillion-la-bataille says it all for 2012:

söndagen den 4:e december 2011

(That) Orange bike

You all know what happens if you mix red and yellow - you get orange. Ever since I was a kid I've always had a soft spot for this colour on a bike - like so many other Swedish kids growing up with Crescent. Browsing a magazine I came across an ad for this bike.

It is a Raleigh Furley. A robust steel framed single speed with disc brakes. This could be a perfect commuter and bike for training rides in winter time. Just need to check how to buy one from Sweden.

onsdagen den 30:e november 2011

Great cycling moment

As November comes to an end and Christmas is knocking on the door there isn't much cycling going on in my life (except for some sporadic sweating on the "Schwinn spinner"). So why not make a nice cup of coffee and relive some of the fantastic moments of the summer. This fantastic clip is from the finish on Galibier on this summers' TDF (étape 18) or as they say in the clip "une sacre étape". I saw it on french television and there is just so much good here. Andy Schlecks' breakout, Contador who hits the wall, Rolland, Evans and last but not least Thomas Voeckler who struggles like a mad man to stay in yellow. If you know French just listen to the commentators... epic. Voeckler manages to defend his jersey and his yellow bike. Sit back and enjoy and please let it be summer again soon. Chapeau Thomas!


söndagen den 6:e november 2011

Great Yellow charity

I have to mention what Team Rynkeby are doing. Every summer they get up on their yellow Principia bikes and ride from Denmark to Paris to raise money for Barncancerfonden (fund for children with cancer).
Now there is also a Swedish initiative so in the future they might raise even more than the 4,72 DKK they managed to collect in 2010.



lördagen den 8:e oktober 2011

Michael Barry and yellow bike

I was browsing through Team Sky rider and author Michael Barrys' site and came across this photo of - and I'm guessing now since I didn't find information on the picture - Michael as a kid and probably Michael Sr (his father) who was also a bike racer according to Wikipedia.
Anyway I think Michael is a cool guy and here are some really nice yellow bikes: