a journal - cycling, sociology, social media

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Secrets of the balancing bike trick - revealed.

You may have seen pictures in cycling magazines of bikes mysteriously standing up on their own and if you are an Instagram user you will definitely have seen seen lots of pictures of balancing bikes. I don't know how professional photographers do it for their pictures in the glossy bike mags but I've developed my own method that works pretty well all be it with a bit of risk ... to the bike, not to me.
Here is one of my Instagram: tony_rees123 shots of my trusty Giant 29er seemingly balanced on its own, strategically positioned in front of a puddle with a cloudy sky in the background to get the maximum reflection effect - but how is it done ?
Sometimes people just balance their bikes by putting something under a pedal, a water bottle (tricky) or their helmet (not ideal) or on whatever is to hand when they are taking the picture, something like a half inflated football, although you're probably not going to come across one of those very often. Of course none these are strictly speaking balance bike shots because we can see how its done.
But in the very unlikely event that you do come across an abandoned football you can get a much better picture if you know the balancing bike trick.
There are a couple of key elements to a good balancing bike picture and number one is a good location, bridges are good, as are subways and nice empty roads work well, but anywhere will do as long as you have the second most important thing - a windless day ! don't try this in anything other than the stillest conditions, it will end in tears, trust me I know.
When I said at the start of this post that this trick is not without risk I was speaking from my own recent painful experience. Above is picture of my brand new Cannondale Topstone gravel bike pictured (balancing) at one of my favourite Instagram locations, a graffiti covered subway which is only a few minutes ride from where I live. I took this picture on my very first ride on the new bike and I was so keen to take some pictures of it that I decided to go for a balance bike shot ... in less than optimal conditions, you can probably guess what happened - yes a split second after taking this shot my shiny new and expensive gravel bike that I had ridden all of three miles fell over, worst of all it fell towards me but I wasn't quick enough to catch it and it hit the concrete hard and snapped the rear derailleur hanger clean off, I kid you not ! 
Multiple expletives followed and then a call to Mrs Rees to come and pick me up, but first I had a fifteen minute walk across fields to the nearest road carrying my brand new (broken) gravel bike, muttering away to myself the whole way, not how I expected my first ride on the new machine to end. Fortunately the only other damage was a bit of a scuff on the bar tape and I had a new hanger fitted within a couple of days and the Topstone was sorted. 
 I will be doing a full review on the Cannondale (a gravel bike with suspension) on the blog as soon as I have done a few more rides on it and taken a few more pictures obviously. Although after my upsetting maiden ride episode I decided not to take any chances and ordered another replacement hanger for it and one for each of my other bikes too ... just in case.
OK so I have kept you waiting long enough, hands up if you want to know how to do your own balancing bike pictures.

You will probably not be too surprised if I tell you that bikes won't stand up on their own, well not for more than a second anyway, something to do with gravity apparently, so you will need some way of supporting the bike in a vertical position. I use a custom made device designed and manufactured to the most exacting specification specifically for the job - a bit of metal tube with the end bent over.
In this picture I have supported the bike where the chain stay joins the seat tube but I also have a shorter tube that does the job, cut to length to fit underneath the rear bottle cage. The shorter support is useful as it fits inside my pack pack which is handy, with the long tube getting it to the my chosen location is a bit trickier, I generally tape it to the top tube wrapped it in some pipe insulation, can't be too careful, there is enough potential for damage taking the pics without scratching the bike on the way to take them.
Once you have taken your picture, hopefully without the bike hitting the deck all you have to do is remove the support from the picture and as with most things in life these days you can get an app for that. The one I use is called RETOUCH which is free to download for the Iphone and is fairly simple, you just use the 'quick brush' feature to get rid of your support. What the app actually does is move parts of the image around to cover up what you want to disappear, so there is a bit of a knack to and it does take a little bit of practice. When you take your picture if you position your support so that it will be against a plain background (as above) you can make it disappear in a way that is almost impossible to detect.

So that's it, I have let you in on all of my balancing bike picture taking secrets, well ... almost all.
Probably best not to attempt this one until you've had a bit of practice as you could easily end up breaking a lot more than just a derailleur hanger. Thanks for reading.


Sunday, 24 May 2020

Lock down life: Cycling in search of the 'Teesside Banksy'

Anyone who has visited my Instagram @tony_rees123 (eyes right) will know that I regularly take photographs of bikes leaning against various structures, some of these images also feature graffiti, just as a way to add another element to the pictures in a desperate attempt to make them look a bit more interesting. 
   Looks like Snoopy has decided that Woodstock's been locked down for long enough.

When the pandemic arrived and lock down followed one of the the first thing I did was get my Zwift set up sorted, happily our weather has been great and I haven't needed to use it yet. Although I have managed to ride outside everyday I found that, not too surprisingly, my motivation had taken a bit of a dip. The race season had vanished at a stroke so nothing to train for, no group rides with the boys and not even able to do the mainstay of my training, those leisurely rides to the cafe. 

I still wanted to ride every day though not just to try to maintain the decent level of fitness I had built up over the winter but also as an escape from the tedium of lock down but, there were a couple of problems. I wanted to comply with the guidance and stay fairly close to home and I have also been a bit time constrained due to lock down related responsibilities, meaning a maximum ride time of around two hours which is a little bit restricting and had the potential to get fairly boring fairly quickly.

Well before Covid-19 was even a thing I would sometimes pick training routes with good locations to do my BAAW (bike against a wall) Instagram thing, so I decided to do more of that and to use these difficult times as an opportunity to be a bit more creative with my Instagram content. Unfortunately so far my creativity has only extended as far as me leaning my bike against someone else's creativity, that someone being Teesside street artist Karl Striker
I already knew of the work of Karl Striker as this piece of his stencil art is only five minutes from where I live and the theme very appropriately is escape, just like Snoopy and Woodstock above. Originally there was an angry dog painted on the wall, just about where the front wheel of my bike is and the boy in blue was escaping from it. The dog was painted over long ago but I think the fence which is there to stop people trespassing on the railway has probably helped protect the boy.

I refer to Karl Striker's work as art but is it ? really ?  when does graffiti (vandalism) become art ? a very basic distinction is that graffiti created with permission becomes art. I am pretty sure that all of the pieces on today's blog have been done without permission but they are still, in my opinion art, you may not agree. Both graffiti and urban art are forms of expression that come in many styles, from very simple name tagging to more more sophisticated work which may also have a social or political message. Aside from the issue of permission appreciation of any art form is obviously subjective, beauty as someone in ancient Greece famously said 'is in the eye of the beholder'.
Another one from my neighbourhood just a couple of miles away from home. This one is on a busy access for both cars and pedestrians and has survived for several years, an indication to me that people like the work and respect it for what it is, urban art. A lot of Striker's stencil pieces are now more than five years old, some have been painted over either with graffiti or by the authorities and some have disappeared because the locations have been demolished or refurbished, although many of them have remained untouched for years. I have also heard rumours that there are still some out there that have yet to be discovered ... I've no idea where to start looking but I'm on it for sure !  
Surveillance is the theme in this one (could this post be any more topical ?) I must have had my motivated head on this particular day as I am on a race bike, clearly not motivated enough to resist those Instagram urges tho. In this one by cleverly choosing a location underneath a surveillance camera Striker conveys the message that we live in a surveillance society and are all being watched but that we too are also the watchers.
Classic behind the scenes BAAW shot of one of my favourite Karl Stiker pieces 'Grey Pigeon Down'. The thing that intrigues me about this one is that it's hidden in plain sight. The stencil is painted in an open area that has loads of traffic passing through it, I must have driven by it, within a few meters, literally dozens of times over several years without ever noticing it.
Called 'A toy with a chequered pattern' this one took some finding even though it's located in the centre of town, not sure what the message is here but I really like it. Karl Striker is an artist who over the years has managed to rigorously maintain his anonymity. Street artworks like these are basically illegal, which explains his desire for anonymity but concealing his identity also allows him to blend in to his surroundings while creating his work, many of which were apparently created in daylight.
Returning to the theme of escape, I had to escape from Teesside to find this one. This full size image of a cinema usherette carrying a tray of spray cans appeared overnight on a shop door way in Darlington back in 2014. The stencil appeared on what was at that time a picture framing business, whether this was intentional I don't know but it did lead to a collaboration with the shop owner for Striker who started selling framed prints of his work.
Unfortunately I really can't relate to this last one, I don't know why, I think it's probably this self-promotion thing that I don't get. Anyway, if you want to see more of my BAAW pictures be sure to visit @tony_rees123 on Instagram.

For me the distinction between art and graffiti is quite clear, much of the stuff I see and lean
 my bike against for Instagram are tags or names and their creation has as much to do with ego as it has with self expression, people just spraying things up to leave their 'mark'. Street art is something different, something that has meaning, is more thoughtful and creative and in the work of Karl Striker also has an element of social commentary, but that's just the way I see it.
Thanks for reading (and appreciating the art) 



Sunday, 10 May 2020

Rolling back the years ... with electric assistance.

My most popular blog post ever is one from 2017 and it's called 7 Winter Days: What an elite rider did and why he did it. The post details the training undertaken by my son Jack in a typical winter week in December. I did part of that week's training with him, I say part because even back then holding his wheel had become a bit of an issue. As I have got older training at the level of someone who races at the highest level has, not too surprisingly become increasingly challenging. Our approach now is for me to only train with Jack when the prescribed efforts are deemed suitable (by Jack) and even then I usually end up doing a somewhat diluted version of the plan, although it still hurts ... a lot. Getting old is definitely not for the faint hearted that's for sure. However, on a more positive note I can still do the cafe rides and a solution to the training problem (or at least a partial one) is thankfully now available. 
On one of the last rides that Jack and I did together before lock down I was riding a Ribble SL E and what a difference it made. It was like going back in time while at the same time seeing in to the future - and the future looks very encouraging. 
Before the bike riding could commence we had to have coffee, obviously and we met Joe and Jackson from Ribble at our usual cafe the Mockingbird Deli in Yarm. The plan was to shoot some video (that you can see here: youtube) of the new bike in action side by side with the Jack's  Ribble SL Team Edition Jack had proposed a tough route that would take us up on to the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. This is a loop that we have ridden together many times but not really one that I would consider training on with Jack these days, it's way too hard.
We rolled out from the Bird fully caffeinated and with some some strategic shoot locations on the way to the hills agreed. As we headed towards the moors I couldn't help thinking about the last time I had ridden this route with with some of the Ribble Weldite lads. On that day I was unceremoniously off-loaded half way up the first climb and the next time I saw the boys it was back at the 'Bird' ... they were just leaving ! (you can read the full story HERE Power2)
Press the button for three levels of power assistance.

My first impression of the SL E was that it didn't look or feel like an 'E' bike and apart from the discreet button on the top tube (above) there was nothing to suggest that it was anything other than a high end lightweight race bike. I have ridden an 'E' bike once before and I enjoyed it, it was a mountain bike with a pedal assist system where the motor delivers the extra power straight to the cranks, effectively doing the pedalling for you. The SL E adopts a very different approach and consequently provides a completely different riding experience. The extra watts on the SL E are delivered through a power hub at the back wheel, precisely where you want them. For those with an interest in the techy details it's a Mahle ebikemotion X35 250W hub ... apparently.
It's so easy to forget the the SL E is actually an electric bike as the power delivery is really smooth and for want of a better word, sophisticated which makes the riding experience feel really authentic. The power produced at the pedals and transferred to the back wheel by the chain is supplemented by the power hub at the press of a button, so you get the extra watts exactly where you need them, when you need them.
After taking the shots on the flat roads, the plan was to then do the drone content before getting some action stuff from the back of the van. 
The top of the Clay Bank climb and Jackson is getting down to the serious business of Jack's profile shot. How did the effort up the the climb go ? well, one of us pressed a button and made a devastating acceleration just as we got  near the top, causing the other one to loose the wheel and be left for dead. I'm not going to name the looser as that wouldn't be fair so to find out you are going to have to watch the video ... it was Jack.
One of the most advanced and lightest E road bikes available the stealth look of SL E is helped by having a fully integrated battery (I haven't got a clue where it is) and further emphasised by the all new Anthracite colour scheme incorporating some subtle silver accents, this really is a nice looking bike, I want one. 
Final task of the day was to record the voice over in the warmth of the van. You will hear my dulcet tones if you view the video, described, very accurately by someone who's judgement on these matters I trust implicitly as, sounding like a 'Boro Morgan Freeman' ...  I'll settle for that !

Sunday, 3 May 2020

theraceforthecafe: Friends like these.

I'm going to introduce you to two friends of mine in today's post, Richard Jones and Lauren Watson, a proper authentic cycling couple. One of the perks of blogging is that you can feature your cycling mates and I have done a few times in the past, but there has to be a reason (or two) and in the case of Rich and Lauren it's because they both made important contributions when first I started the blog
I am often asked where the name of the blog came from, slight exaggeration it's only actually happened twice but I'm sure people sometimes wonder ...  anyway, the name came from the title of my PhD thesis, keep reading though, I'm not going to start rambling on about it (not much anyway). So the next obvious question has to be where did the name of my thesis come from ? Let me explain.
I am pretty sure Richard who incidentally is the man behind the hugely successful Tyrekey doesn't realise it but he is responsible for the blog name. My PhD research focused on a group of local racing cyclists called the Teesside Train Gang and at the time Richard, was one of the members of the group who would often organise the training rides. Rich is also one of the 148 racing cyclists, who I interviewed for my PhD. The title of my thesis (and the blog) came directly from a comment made by Richard on a Facebook status in 2015, which read.

"9.45 Blue Bell tomorrow, bank holiday bash! All welcome for a 3-4hr brisk ride including some hills and concluding with the inevitable race for the cafe"
A light bulb moment for me and my thesis had a title. As part of my research I made 'field notes' and took loads of pictures of the group because photographs capture details that even the most comprehensive notes would miss. The process of taking the pictures became such a habit that it eventually led me into the Instagram addiction from which I still suffer (you can monitor the current state my addiction on the top right of the page). Above - One of my research pictures of  some of the Teesside Train Gang boys meeting at the Blue Bell winter 2014, back when group rides were still a regular thing. (Rich, 4th from the right in shorts with his back to the camera).
The front cover of my thesis, 350 pages and 98,000 words of sociological waffle ... with pictures.

My PhD was mostly concerned with the impact of technology on this group of racing cyclists, Strava and social media primarily. Sadly group rides don't seem to happen on as regular a basis as they once did (in Teesside anyway) and that in part is due to the fact that it was around this time that another technological development started to have an influence as power meters became increasingly popular. Members of the TTG soon realised that riding in a group spending a lot of time sitting in the wheels had a big effect on their normalised power numbers and wasn't necessarily the best way to train. It was this development along with the loss of a few key members that eventually led to the decline of group riding in the area.
Anyway I digress - below is Rich in February this year racing at the Tour of Saudi Arabia for Ribble Weldite fulfilling a dream and doing it in some style.
Stage 5 of the Saudi Tour and Rich made it in to break of four who were unlucky not to stay away getting caught with just 5K to go. While resting between stages at the tour Rich did an interview for Cycling Weekly - Ribble Weldite in Saudi in which he described how his career has developed.

"I realised quite a long time ago that I'm probably never going to be in the World Tour tearing up the Tour de France but my career has been a gradual progression" 

"I came to racing quite late compared to a lot of guys, but it's just kind of every year you find yourself stepping up and it's only when you look back at where you were 10 years ago that doing races like this feels insane. Sort of without realising you've ended up at a point where you're in the mix with guys you watch on TV"

Rich certainly 'stepped up' in Saudi and although it was the Asia Tour rather than the World Tour he was still 'tearing it up' with some of the best riders in the world. In the pic above is Rich a lot closer to home winning the Velo 29 Redcar Beach Race in December last year. Clearly with good form he dominated the field on the sand that day, probably shouldn't have been too much of a surprise that he went so well in the desert.  
In the summer of 2016 and as I was finally getting to the end of the PhD process I started the blog to share some of my findings with the people who had helped with my research. I wanted to write in a lighter style than the dull academic writing required for a sociology PhD. I had a name for the blog thanks to Rich but I needed an identity for it. I contacted a Teesside University colleague to see if any of his graphic design students needed a project and he did - enter Lauren. 
We had a couple of chats over coffee in the Uni library before I realised Lauren and Rich were a couple, cycling really is a small world. Lauren did a lot of work on the project and came up with some great design ideas including one for kit (above) which I had made up. I still use Lauren's logo both on the blog and and on the current version of the kit, generously supplied for me this season by Yorkshire based Raceskin.
Racing in January at the Velo29 Croft Winter series wearing this year's Raceskin raceforthecafe kit which still carries Laurens logo. The weather was 'challenging' at every round of the series but I'm so glad I started my season early, little did we know then that it was going to be all over in March !
Same corner at Croft circuit Lauren also wearing new kit for the 2020 season after being signed up by Team Both pictures captured by great supporter of north east cycling and friend of the blog Darran Moore
If Richard's career has been a slow progression Lauren's has been the complete opposite, in fact it's been nothing short of meteoric. Remember earlier when I said I first met Lauren at Teesside University ? at our first meeting I remember her telling me that she knew nothing at all about cycling, that she didn't ride and had no desire to and that she was totally unfit. Well things have changed a bit since then that's for sure ! 
In just over three years Lauren has gone from unfit, disinterested non-cyclist to clocking up big training miles in the harsh environment of the North Yorkshire Moors, attending training camps in Majorca and Calpe and winning races riding for one of the best teams in the country, truly remarkable progress and hugely impressive.
Above Lauren getting her debut Boompods season under way in the best way possible by taking the top step and winners cheque at round two of the Croft Winter Series.  
Due to our current circumstances I may have to settle for wearing my new Raceskin skin-suit for my daily bout of exercise as it looks like the race season could be over for all of us, but I'm absolutely certain that Rich and Lauren will be back and raring to go in 2021. 

Thanks for reading. 

Note: If you are interested in training with power but not sure if it's for you I have previously posted on my experience of using a power meter here: No soft tapping, here A Peek at Training Peaks and here Racing with power and for anybody who has difficulty sleeping at the moment you can read some bits of my PhD research here: - Strava - here Kudos explained  and here Who has the (social) power ? .


Sunday, 26 January 2020

DIY custom ... it's a W.R.A.P.

I am going to be racing on a disc road bike this year which is a first for me, a Giant Propel Advanced Disc to be precise, not my first Propel though and definitely not my first GIANT. I have had quite a few over the years including three TCR's and a Defy and I currently have a Giant Revolt gravel bike and a Giant XTC 29er MTB. As much as I really like GIANT bikes for this year I wanted to pimp my ride up a bit to promote the blog without too much hassle and without spending too much doing it.

A custom paint job is obviously the optimum way to customise and I had a look around at a few custom painters and soon realised that it can be quite expensive depending on the design and the best painters tend to have long waiting lists (several months for some) plus the bike needs to be stripped down to the frame and re-built which if you are mechanically challenged like me is a further cost. Another option is wrapping which is a little less expensive, with no restrictions on design but again to do a proper job the wrap would have to be done on the frame only. So, as I only really wanted to put the blog name on the down tube I decided to have a go myself, I mean, how difficult can it be ?
I actually really like the existing Giant branding on the Propel frame so it's a bit of a shame to cover it up but at least by doing a wrap if I don't like it or want to revert to the original I can easily peel it off.
STEP 1 - I took some accurate measurements of the frame and the existing colour scheme and transferred the size and shape to some trusty brown paper.
STEP 2 - I then decided on a suitable font from the website. The one I chose is called 'He's dead Jim' - ?  bit of a weird name, Star Trek inspired I guess, but it was the font that best matched the existing Giant lettering some of which was still going to be visible.
STEP 3 - After deciding on the font I roughly marked the template to make sure the spacing of 'He's dead Jim' worked OK for theraceforthecafe just to make sure I didn't have a 'beam me up Scotty' moment (see what I did there ?) Please note the Allen key in the above picture just to prove that I managed to remove the bottle cage myself !
STEP 4 - Next I checked and double checked and trimmed the template for size and fit. I tried to mimic the existing paint job on the frame so that the wrapping would blend in as much as possible and not look too much like it was just stuck on ... which it's going to be obviously !
STEP 5 - A quick google of vehicle graphics/signage companies and I found several locally so just went with the nearest to me, a company called Colour Screen This turned out to be a good move as a couple of the guys who work there are cyclists and were keen to help, order placed Wednesday collected Friday, happy days.
STEP 6 - This is the slightly tricky bit. There is not much margin for error in terms of positioning the wrap even when applying it to mostly flat and straight areas. It's worth having a hair dryer handy for this stage just to warm the wrap slightly on any curved areas or corners. The wrap went on remarkably easily with just a couple of tiny blemishes but no air bubbles, so no issues really.
FINAL STEP - Position bike strategically in the kitchen to take pics for Instagram. 
NOTE: Obviously I was home alone at this point, wouldn't have tried to get these shots if            
Mrs theraceforthecafe had been in, that would have been madness !

A quick thank you to Andy at GIANT SHEFFIELD who supplied the bike. Not my local bike shop by any means but as I specifically wanted this colour and as it's a 2019 model there were very few left in the UK so I was happy to make the 200 mile round trip to Sheffield to pick it up.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet Andy and his team and the customer service really was first class. I was introduced to everyone, made to feel very welcome and treated as though I was in there buying stuff every week rather than just paying them a one off visit, I wish Sheffield was a bit closer to be honest, I'm pretty sure I would be in there every week.
One of the reasons why I wanted this specific colour was that I will be racing in matching kit this season designed and supplied by the nice folks over at RACESKIN in Huddersfield. Colin and his crew have sorted me out with enough top quality kit to last the whole season which I am extremely grateful for. If you are after custom kit for your team or club check RACESKIN out. My 2020 kit is exactly what I had in mind, I am delighted with the fit and quality and it matches the new race whip perfectly.
                                                                     Pimped -Total cost £30.00 !
Finally, another thank you, this time to everyone for reading. This week the blog hit the significant milestone of 500,000 page views which I am 'over the moon' about. 
I distinctly remember a few months after starting the blog being delighted when it hit 25K page views, so to be now at at the dizzy heights of over half a million is absolutely incredible - thanks for your support, I really appreciate it. 


Sunday, 15 December 2019

Introducing a man and his van with links to a past life.

In the last few weeks have been putting plans in place to make some improvements to the blog in 2020, some techy type changes including transferring over to the Wordpress platform, no idea how to do that but hopefully I can work it out. I am also partnering up with a some relevant cycling brands to help me take things to the next level, more on this later. To make the most of these changes I also wanted to collaborate with a professional photographer, Iphone pics have served me quite well so far but if I want the blog to look 'posher' improving the image quality isn't going to hurt. Just as I started to think about this what do you know I get an Instagram message from a professional photographer called Jamie Tyerman (@jtyerman21 on Instagram) someone I have know for probably 15 years, and who has just established his own photography business JTyremanPhoto

We already have a couple of exciting projects in mind for next year utilising Jamie's fully equipped mobile photo studio. The picture van (above) is probably the only one in the north of England and provides the unique option of being able to combine location and studio shooting on the same day. Jamie is a very talented photographer and below just as a very brief introduction to his work  are three of his favourite images described in his own words. 
"I really like this one is because of the connection with Alistair Brownlee it's just before the start of the Ironman 70.3 world Champs in Nice. It captures how relaxed and confident he is feeling before the start of the race (he finished second) with Alistair appearing to connect with me by looking straight down the lens"
"An old one but still one of my favourites, this is just outside Harrogate when the Tour de France came to Yorkshire in 2014. I like it because for me it sums up cycling in a way, like minded people waiting on a normally quiet country lane for 'Le Tour' the biggest bike race in the world to come flying past"
"One of my favourite triathlon shots which is also happens to be of one of my favourite athletes, British pro Lucy Charles-Barclay. When I was looking to catch this image I spotted a row of trees on the course and I hoped that if I timed it right it would give the effect of a spotlight on Lucy - which worked quite well"

Apart from the quality of his photos working with Jamie feels like a really good fit and at this point I am going to digress or possibly regress ? with a few relevant links that explain why. When I say links I don't mean the annoying (but necessary) ones that are often scattered through this blog, I am talking about the sort of links that pull a post together as a story, a lot of the enjoyment I get from writing comes from the story telling element of it, stories that are usually built around pictures and it's an added bonus to be able to tell stories featuring people that I know. 

Here is a link from way back in the distant past when I was one of those triathlete types, back then Ironman was everything to me and despite now knowing (with the benefit of hindsight) that I made some serious mistakes in my approach to training, I thoroughly enjoyed the twenty eight seasons that I spent in the sport.
Above Lake Worthesee, Klagenfurt the day before Ironman Austria 2006 me centre (pre-beard obviously) along and two good friends and three random Austrian tourists. On my right my long time training partner and one of my best mates Darren Moody and to my left another really good friend, multi Ironman finisher and now ultra distance racer Graham Tyreman, yep Jamie,s Dad who I trained and raced with a lot back in the day - now you must admit that's a good link.

Another link in-coming as Jamie is also a long course triathlete and here he is pictured with some Chef bloke just after completing his first Ironman 70.3 in Staffordshire in June 2015.
If you have visited this blog before or checked out my Instagram you will definitely see the link here, bit of a clue ? (Ribble-Weldite Procycling) Jamie is definitely not messing about next season when he takes on the Ironman 70.3 distance again in August, this time at Vichy in the French Alps, here he is earlier this month picking up his new Ribble Ultra tri race whip from Ribble HQ, his bike leg should be quick in Vichy that's for sure.
The links are getting a bit tenuous now but while searching through my archive for triathlon pictures I came across this one of my last triathlon race bike and a cutting edge set up it was too (for 2009). Notice that names on frames were already a thing then but that we were still taking pics of our bikes with cameras. Bike computers have moved on a bit too, no GPS or Strava then, although we did have a bit of wire wrapped around our brake cable to get a signal from the magnet attached to a spoke yes cutting edge alright. 

I mentioned earlier that I made some mistakes in my approach to Ironman racing, I'm talking over training here or if not over training then almost certainly under-recovering, due to rigidly sticking to a 'more is always better' approach. Although to be fair I did eventually learn that there are far better ways to train, and it only took me thirty years ! Another thing that I did wrong was to not ride my TT bike often enough, I spent way too little time actually riding in the position that I was going to race in, such a basic error which I won't be repeating when I make my Ironman come back ... only kidding, I can barely swim a length now and would struggle to run for a bus, just relieved I can still pedal a bit. 
Although a triathlon comeback may not be on the cards for me here is another nice link - next year I will be supported by leading UK custom triathlon and cycling clothing brand Raceskin who have generously created some custom kit for me for my 2020 race season. 
The design has been agreed, samples tried on for size and the order has been placed, motivated for next season ? oh just a bit !
How else to finish the blog this week other than with links to a couple of previous Ironman posts. The first explains the origins of the event Ironman - how it began  and the second one which is based on some academic research I did when I was still competing explains why people are attracted to the event  Ironman - why do they do it ? 
Next time I will be announcing the rest of my 2020 partners and revealing my new race bike, fully customised using brown paper and sticky back plastic - I kid you not. 

Thanks for reading.
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