Under the radar and not over the top…

It’s not often I open an article with the headline coming from a lyric created by 1990’s hardcore techno act Scooter, but these are different times.

Cycling is back however with racing over the weekend in Italy with Strade Bianche and today in Lombardy.

Being a fan of Belgian riders, especially those with a cyclo cross slant, you could be forgiven for not getting too far past the performance of Wout Van Aert at the weekend.

He proved once and for all that there is more to converts from the mud and dirt than Mathieu Van der Poel and Zednek Stybar.

His dominant performance in dispatching a group of known grand tour and classics stars was a win for all ages. It was all the better for us having had such a wait to see it.

But down the results list and in the breakaway today is the name of a rider who is going under the radar but is impressing.

The next cab of the rank was likely to be Tim Merlier who was starting his transition to the road and was present in the opening weekend of Flemish classics back in February. But for me Quinten Hermans could be the better bet.

He was up there without being super impressive on the rough stuff in the winter, but has settled in with Wanty/Circus since the restart. He is clearly able to get in a move and hang in until the latter stages of big races.

I will be keeping an eye on him as I think a breakthrough win could be coming soon.

23/7/2020 – Beers of Belgium CC update

There is always lots going on behind the scenes here at Beers of Belgium CC and I am looking forward to getting the jersey on and getting out there promoting this page of the Fendrien website.

This will hopefully coincide with the return of bike racing and we will be able to recreate that moment when a beer is sipped in front of the TV after a strenuous training ride where you have pretended to be Greg Van Avermaet.

So keep an eye out for the kit delivery and our team jersey out there on the roads.

Garmin connect is down..!

We are now entering the 8th hour of Garmin Connect being down and my lunch time recovery ride remains stranded somewhere between handlebar unit, Connect and Strava.

All of this makes me hark back to the days when I used a stopwatch and calculated the distance I’d ridden from an OS map before filling in a log.

I am sure Rapha will still sell them.

Probably covered in Egyptian goose feather and retailing at £79.53.

Anyway I found them recently when my parents moved home and I was in their attic. There was me thinking I was faster in 1991 because I had a wiry moustache and Laurent Fignon pony tail, turns out it was the fact I was riding double the mileage per week…

Anyway, I am sure Garmin will be back soon and the art form of recording miles and checking log books over years and years will be consigned back to the attic as things happen over wifi and bluetooth.

It’s been nice to reminisce for a day though.

Back at the club 10

I think like most of the planet emerging from lockdown, there was an element of nervousness in me as I threw a Fendrien jacket over my club skinsuit and fixed the lights to my time trial bike before heading off to the start of the race last Wednesday.

I didn’t know how I would feel or what my performance was like. Things that help you understand performance, such as power meters had been sold last summer to keep things ticking over at home so this was a real step into the dark for me.

The first drama was some light drizzle as I crossed the A16 and got on the country lanes, that was followed by the East Coast Mainline stopping me for two trains at the crossing. This was stuff that in previous years would have phased me, it would have affected my concentration and added to the nerves of bike racing.

This year though, it just feels so nice to be out there that I took it all in my stride as part of the experience. It’s like lock down has actually given us more time to do things and think about what’s going on.

I collected my number, socially distanced of course, and fixed it to my new number belt. Yes I know I look like a triathlete, but skin suits aren’t cheap so any avoidance of pin damage is fine by me!

I stashed my jacket and bottle in the undergrowth near the car park and started to get my act together as other riders were arriving.

My start time was nice and early so I was able to do my 10 miles (25:15) and get back to the finish before layering up and riding home.

This reminded me of when my kids were first born and I did little in the way of training. With that in mind I rode the St Ives (Cambs) CC 10s mid week as where I lived meant I could easily ride out to the event and back for extra miles, usually it was a 50km evening. Those tired rides home with my lights twinkling and the fens looking splendid were some of the best I can remember.

The same applied here and as I waited for another 2 trains at the crossing going home I reflected on a successful evening for the club and enjoyed those last 8km home without sprinting for village signs or eyeballing the heart rate numbers on my computer.

And if a weekly stress relieving ride home each Wednesday is as good as my truncated cycling season gets this year, that will do just fine.

I would like to go a bit faster in the race though!

2015 Tour memories

Unable to sleep I spent the early hours of day light re-watching stage 20 of the 2015 Tour de France on Eurosport.

Not only were Sean Kelly and Carlton Kirby in brilliant form, the race was exciting and the sun was beating down on the peloton as they headed towards the foot of Alp D’Huez.

But this was a Tour with an undertone. There was a feeling of real hatred towards Chris Froome in the yellow jersey. At times as well it spilled over from feelings into actions which is wholly unacceptable, regardless of what nationality you are and what teams or riders you are aligned with.

This was a Tour, and in the Covid age of masks preventing saliva transfer this seems ridiculous, that Froome found himself spat on regularly as he rode towards Paris.

In fact within the last 4km of the Alp on this stage you saw a clearly drunk man in a free gift polka do jersey lurch into the road to empty his sinuses on the passing yellow jersey.

Despite being in a real battle with Nairo Quintana to keep the race lead, Froome still had time to look back over his left shoulder and clock a look at the perpetrator.

Cycling is the most wonderful, beautiful and positive experience. But as with everything there are those who can’t behave and who let themselves down. This will be important to remember going forward as any indiscretions like that in this autumns condensed calendar will see bad publicity and possibly racing cancelled.

We don’t want that.

Rapha launches new eyewear

I am up and down when it comes to Rapha I have to say.

I have a 2013 Team Sky jersey my kids bought me for Fathers Day which I love but aside from that their products have left me a bit meh.

However this could be able to change with the launch of their new eyewear range (and regular Fendrien readers will know I like a pair of cycling specs).

All of the current trend bases are covered.

We have a large full framed set (a la 100% speedcraft or Oakley Jawbreakers).

We have a no framed version (Covering the Oakley Ev Zero).

An off bike pair (think Oakley Frogskins or 100% speedcoupe)

And a ‘Sutro’esque pair with a drilled lens and top frame.

They are all utterly stunning and if Rapha want to send me some to review I will happily break the rule about me paying for all products I review !

See the range by clicking here.

The company was supplying AquaBlue when they went bust mid season and haven’t been seen on pro faces since, so it will be interesting to see if they pay to have this range in a teams kit for next season.

Let’s wait and see.