It’s February. It’s deep winter and it’s dark. Even bike shows with shiny new gizmos and everything disc-brakey, or electrically controlled aren’t enough to light up the long nights. Sometimes the best thing we can do as cyclists is ride through it, rest well, and be with the people we care about the most. It’s hibernating time – allowing us to bank the mileage-muscle, ready for the season ahead.
Experience and New Blood
For this generation of cyclists it’s probably the most anticipated season to date. As much of the media chooses to focus on the dopage revelations of Armstrong, Rasmussen, Schleck and other peloton greats, many of us would simply like to move on. So the Santos Tour Down Under (TDU) is something to look forward to. Especially when you hear stories of people like Stuart O’Grady: who supposedly invited fellow pros to his home town for a spot of fishing; which subsequently convinced many of them to return and ride the tour. Making it all the more compelling. Back on the road, wins by TJ Slagter, with new team Blanco, and Andre Greipel not only gave spectators a lot to cheer about, but unapologetically revealed to the world, just how good a combination of experience and new blood can do for the sport.
All Aboard – The Tour of Qatar
This weekend sees the kick-off for the Tour of Qatar. From what I understand it’s not the most exciting Tour, but what it lacks in terms of visual reward, it sure makes up for in training. Much like the TDU it offers a chance to train for real, in summer-like conditions ready for Europe. In addition, Spring Classics riders benefit from the challenge of cross-winds and long stretches of largely unkept roads to keep on top of their game. It’s only 8 weeks away to the Roubaix!
New Energy – The Tour of Oman
Next up will be the Tour of Oman. If you’re like me, and part of the spectacle of cycling is taking in the view, well then Oman won’t let you down. A stark opposite to Qatar, Oman is gaining respect and popularity both amongst riders and fans. Not least of which is helped by a leading promoter of the event, the one and only, Eddy Merckx. As far as the terrain goes, it looks every bit as breath taking as you’d want; rich in history, culture and of course, undulating roads right next to the ocean. Their 2013 promo vid has a lot to live up to:
the need to do it.
The London Baroudeurs headed due south this weekend. Nothing new there, but what is a startling reminder, is the need to do it. The winter may be a dark time, but it certainly doesn’t have to be lonely. Riding in a group, no matter whether in the lead, or under the Red Lantern, it consistently gives you feedback far more immediate than any Garmin can tell you. Ok, we had to revisit our ‘dropping’ policy when Glen was forced to navigate two trying climbs…unnecessarily. All the same, to see Captain come back from a serious injury gives us much encouragement. Nor should the talents of Crazy Legs, DC and Poncherello be overlooked. I had been riding solidly throughout the winter and I’ve come away realising I’m a long way from being ‘fit’. May they give us all hope.