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    A Dummies Guide To Speaking Fluent ‘Tour de France’

    A Dummies Guide To Speaking Fluent ‘Tour de France’

    Great News! The biggest sporting event in the world (based on facts – see below) starts on Saturday 1st July. In order to help you sound like a pro cycling pro, we've put together a handy guide to the race. We've created this explanation of all things Tour de France in the form of FAQs. Partly to ensure that you sound knowledgeable about the race when talking to others, but mainly for you to print off and give to your friends and loved ones to stop them asking you questions while you are trying to watch it on TV. For 5 hours a day. Every day. For the best part of a month. How good does that sound…

    What is this “France Cycling Tour” that everyone is talking about

    In a few short minutes, once you have memorised this article, you shall be fluent in 'Tour de France'. However first, as with all cycling etiquette, if you are going to be taken seriously, you have to use the correct terminology. Which is, of course, ‘Le Tour’ (that’s French for ‘The Tour’, FYI). ‘The Tour’, ‘Tour’, or ‘TdF’ (TdF is usually reserved for when writing in whatsapp groups, forums and chat rooms). No other derivations of its name should be used, and NEVER EVER refer to it as the Tour of France – it is a French race and that should be respected at all times – it adds a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.

    Tour de France preivie 2017

    OK – so what actually is it though?

    In a nut shell it’s a bike race. Around France. And it’s kind of a big deal. In fact, it is the most attended annual sporting event in the world, with an estimated 15 million people rocking up on the road side to (mostly) cheer the riders on over the 3 week event. Oh, almost forgot, there are another estimated 2 billion sports fans due to tune in on TV worldwide – that also makes it the single most watched televised sporting event on the planet too. Told you - facts!

    Whaa! That’s a pretty big deal. So why are the cyclists not paid like footballers?

    Well, actually, they are. With that amount of publicity for sponsors the riders are all taking home 7 figure salaries. Froomey, our boy, is one of the better paid, and thought to be on around £5m a year at Team Sky – not bad for 3 weeks work. The reason you didn’t know this before is because where footballers spend their money on fast cars and big lifestyles, cyclists tend to be a little more sedate as people, and tend to squirrel it all away. Unless, of course, you're Peter Sagan. Then you get a professionally produced remake of the final scene of Grease, with their wife and your mates. Just for a laugh. Oh, peter....

    Pretty cool – so what’s with France then?  How did it all begin?

    Picture the scene – it’s coming up to Christmas in 1903. You’re sitting around with your journalist friends, scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, and generally killing time updating your blog. Well this is exactly what the journalists from L’Auto newspaper were doing when young Geo Lefevre, a hotshot cycling journalist for the paper, and chief editor Henri Desgrange, came up with a gruelling stage race across all of France. The truth is, the L'Auto blog wasn't getting many hits, and they were languishing behind their rivals. This TdF masterstroke rocketed them to best selling bike mag of the day, as they had exclusive rights to the race, so you had to buy L'Auto for any updates. Funny to think Le Tour was invented to sell newspapers! 

    Origins of the Tour de France

    At 3:16pm on 1st July 1903 the first ever Tour de France rolled out of the French equivalent of The Dynamo, called Café Reveil-Matin, in the village of Montgeron. Between 60 and 80 entrants started the 6 stage race, but by stage 4 there were just 24 remaining, such was the physical toll of riding all day and all night (the early races were sadistic). The race was eventually won on 19th July by local Parisian chimney sweeper, Maurice Garin, clocking a Strava average speed of 25.68kph over the 6 stages. L'Auto's coverage of the race had broken the internet and Le Tour de France had been born. 

    Interestingly the race almost came to an abrupt end just one year later, when the riders began to cheat and lie by cutting corners and sabotaging each other’s steeds. However these stories of treachery and deceit only fuelled more sales of the newspaper and the Tour went from strength to strength – adding stages, starting during the day (crazy, right!) and increasing the prize money to attract more riders. In fact, the Tour has taken place every year since 1903, with only the minor inconveniences of two Wold Wars managing to stop it. And here we are now, blogging about the start of the 104th race! Hopefully you are now aware of the gravity of what will begin on 1 July in Düsseldorf, Germany.

    Hold on – I thought it was the Tour de France, not ‘Deutschland-Tour’.  What has Düsseldorf got to do with it?

    Whilst the origins of Le Tour lay firmly in France, in order to keep it down with the kids, the Tour has had its first stage or few in a different country in recent years. Remember Yorkshire hosting the first 2 stages in front of hundreds of thousands of crazy northerners back in 2014? The race's best ever Grand Depart? Sure! Le Tour then visited Cambridge and London for a little more sophisticated applause before heading over to France for the remaining 18 stages. Most years it starts in another country, and usually will cross a few borders en-route to the mother land. This year the first stage starts in Germany.

    Tour de France route Yorkshire

    Let’s get to the format then – How long do we have to shout at the television for?

    The modern race takes place over 21 stages (like 21 mini races). Each stage is between about 100km and 200km long, and usually lasts around about 3 to 4 hours (excluding time trials which are usually much shorter and are where each rider is set off individually instead of a mass start). Be careful though, there is also the pre and post-race analysis to watch, so I’d probably look to block out about 5 hours a day in total from 1 – 23rd July. Oh – there are also 2 rest days (when the riders don’t race). These rest days will sometimes need more of your time, as there is a lot of press conferences and general gossip to be spilt while the riders take a break from cycling... by going out cycling (no joke!). Make sure you get on Twitter on the rest days and tune into the brilliant rest day Tweets – it’s a great insight into the behind the scenes ‘life on the road’ of a professional cycling team.

    What's with all the different coloured kits? Who is riding with who?

    There are 22 teams in the 2017 edition – each team are allowed 9 riders – so that’s 198 riders signing on. OK so far? Each team has a kit in their team colours and caked from head to toe in the team sponsors’ logos, branding and hoo-ha – so that’s 22 different coloured jerseys - Got it?  OK – now forget that! You’ll see some riders (national champions) wearing their national champions colours, instead of the normal team kits (look out for the blue, red and white hoops of the British National Jersey on Steve Cummings). Then there is the world champions rainbow Jersey – Peter Sagan will be wearing that. As well as that you’ll see the yellow, polka dot, green and white jerseys being worn by whoever is in the lead of that classification each day (see below). On top of this there is a red jersey awarded each day to the rider who is deemed by the race organisers to have been the most aggressive. This refers to riding aggressively – making breaks, taking points, pushing the pace etc. not the rider who gets closest to punching another rider. Clear as mud, right...

    What do these different coloured jerseys mean, then?

    General Classification (‘GC’) Yellow Jersey:

    The big winner – the yellow jersey (‘maillot jaune’). Chris Froome has 3 of them already and will be going for his 4th this year. It’s awarded to the rider with the lowest cumulative time over the 21 stages. The time each rider finishes each stage in is added up and the rider with the lowest total time is the winner at the end of the final stage. That's the why the person that crosses the line first, isn't necessarily the winner. For my money I’m backing the most unlucky rider in the peloton, Richie Porte, to beat Froomey to this year’s yellow jersey. Although knowing Richie like I do (which I don’t) he’ll probably sneeze into his Frosted Shreddies on the morning of the first stage and put himself in intensive care with a spoon in his brain.

    Can Chris Froome Win the Tour de France

    Mountain Classification (Polka Dot Jersey):

    These guys are hard as nails and you’ll see them testing each other’s strength of character by accelerating up the brutal mountain climbs to try and goad one another into racing too hard to the top of the climb. They are the skinny boys and, with about minus 2% body fat, and they fly up hills. At the top of each mountain there will be points on offer for the first handful of riders over the top (which are predetermined at the start of the race). The more severe the mountain the more points on offer (which is why the really big stages are the most exciting - as these tiny men bury themselves for our amusement). Whoever has the most mountain points at the end of each day gets to wear the Polka Dot Jersey (or ‘maillot à pois rouges’) the following day, and the rider with the most mountain points come the end of the race is the overall mountain classification winner. My bet for this will be my Polish mate Rafa Majka.

    Tour de France guide

    Sprint Classification (Green Jersey):

    This is similar to the mountain classification in terms of format, but instead of points at the top of mountains they are awarded at 'intermediate sprint points' which are predetermined and spread out over each stage on the flat parts. This is why a select bunch of riders will suddenly speed up and race each other in what seems to be the middle of the race. Extra sprint points are available for winning each stage – some riders (like Mark Cavendish) love to just win races, and so will leave the intermediate sprints alone, instead waiting right until the end of the race to go for it and try to come over the line first, gaining green jersey (or ‘maillot vert’) points that way. Other riders such as Peter Sagan will play the game of attrition – picking up odd points for coming second or 3rd in the stage, as well as winning a few intermediate sprint points along the way – Peter Sagan will be looking to win his 6th consecutive green jersey in the 2017 TdF.  Good luck to anyone that wants to challenge him.

    Peter Sagan Wheelie

    Young rider (White Jersey):

    The maillot blanc (remember what we said about speaking French) is awarded to the best young rider.  This follows exactly the same format as the Maillot Juane, but goes to the person with the quickest time of all the riders under the age of 26 – I have Britain’s own Simon Yates pencilled in for this one.  Winning the maillot blanc does not mean you can’t win the Maillot Juane too, but there have only ever been 3 riders that have won the yellow and white jersey in the same year. It’s actually more likely that a rider wins the Yellow and the Polka dot jerseys together – Like Froome did a few years ago – owing to the mountains being the part where the GC riders put time into their rivals. 

    Who are the guys laughing at the back whenever the going gets hard – do they get told off by the teacher?

    One of my favourite parts of Le Tour, or any Grand Tour for that matter: the group at the back on any mountain stage.  This is called the ‘gruppetto’, or the ‘autobus’, or often just ‘the laughing group’. In my opinion it should be given a lot more publicity than it gets, because it is the best bits of cycling in a tiny ball of lol. Obviously the sprinters can sprint much faster than Chris Froome and the other GC contenders. They can do this for very short periods at the end of a gruelling race, and generally they are able to do this by having bigger muscles than their ET lookalikey mates. The quandary is this – muscle weighs a lot, and people that weigh a lot find it hard to drag that weight up mountains. Therefore on the mountain stages the sprinters don’t have a hope of competing at the front, and don't even try to. Frolicking with their mates, they ride at the back of the pack, chatting on their phones and updating twitter.  

    However, each rider has to finish each stage within a certain time of the winner or they get kicked of Le Tour. Therefore in order to finish in the time limit they have to work together – and voilà! You get the gruppetto. Why is it called the laughing bus? Because in between wheelies and stopping to talk to the fans you’ll see them laughing and joking together as they coast around the route. The idea of a bunch of guys, who come tomorrow will be trying to destroy each other in a sprint, laughing and joking about how hard the mountains are is very 'cycling', and could almost happen on your average club ride (it certainly does on ours!) Unfortunately for us the camera bikes are usually about 10 miles up the road filming the actual race, so we rarely get to witness the antics of the laughing bus, but just knowing it’s there makes me happy.

    Tour de France explained

    What about the cars? Are they part of the race?

    Kind of. The team cars carry the mechanics, the spare bikes and wheels for super fast wheel changes when riders get punctures, and also the Director Sportif – he’s sort of the team manager and gives orders on the radio, and generally gets really over excited whenever something intense happens. Watch out for the old cycling clichés at the team car such as ‘The Sticky Bottle’ – where a rider will return to the team car to collect bidons of juice for each of the other team mates, but those damn bottle can be very sticky, and as the bidon is passed from the car to the rider you’ll often see both the guy in the car and the rider holding onto it for a number of seconds, seemingly the rider doesn’t have to pedal during this as he’s pushed along by the bottle – what a lucky co-incidence! 

    Similar theme is the ‘Magic Spanner’ – where a mechanic will lean out the window of a car whilst driving alongside a rider. They’ll hold onto the back of the rider’s seat and play with a spanner for a few minutes while the rider coasts along getting pushed by the mechanic leaning out the car – after a few minutes the mechanic will invariably come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the saddle and it needs absolutely no adjustment from its original position that was meticulously calculated in the workshop – who’d have thought it!

    Sometimes they don’t look like they’re putting effort in.  Why?

    Well they never just ride for fun as it’s a professional race, but cycling etiquette is very complex, and as we found out the red faced way at Giro d’Italia with eventual winner Tom Dumoulin, there are certain times you shouldn’t attack – when the leader of the race pulls over for a number 1 or a number 2 is one such time. Also you should see the riders sit up and wait if the yellow jersey rider gets a puncture or needs to change his bike or visit the medical vehicle. As we saw in the Giro this etiquette is often blurred and sometimes people just don’t give a sh*t about it. It usually makes for good rest day tweets though.

    Are the riders all still on Drugs?

    No is the easy answer to that, although we will never know, and actually at least a few of them still are.  Alberto Contador’s Trek-Segafredo Team will have to reshuffle this year, after his team mate Andre Cardoso got busted this week, having eaten a dodgy steak and failed a drugs test for EPO.  So it’s still knocking around. 

    Lance Armstrong Drugs

    Why does the yellow jersey holder get a teddy bear at the end of each stage?

    This is one of the Tour’s many traditions.  But why a cuddly toy?  As if standing on the podium in lycra looking malnourished isn’t emasculating enough, they give you a children’s stuffed toy to take home with you. This tradition actually dates to those crazy old days - The 1980s! In 1987 the main sponsor was French bank Crédit Lyonnais, who produced stuffed toy lions as a marketing ploy, and although the lion stopped being their mascot, it continues to be used as the symbol of the Tour.  Apparently 45 of these lions are brought to each TdF.  One for the yellow jersey holder at the end of each day and the rest as spare in case there is some sort of heist!  Chris Froome was actually asked what he did with them all a few years back, and rather endearingly he keeps them and brings them all home for members of his son’s play school! Do it for the kids this year Froome. They are all expecting lion teddies.

    So where’s the cuddly toy going to be won this year?

    This year is looking very interesting, with far less mountain top finishes than previous editions. This will make for a closer race, and it’s hard to pick one stage where you can see the GC contenders putting minutes into their rivals. The leaderboard will start to take shape right from the word go though, as the very first stage in Germany is a time trial. The final stage is also a time trial and therefore could be the all-important deciding stage, similar to the Giro earlier in the year. The last stage, stage 21, is always a ceremonial jaunt into Paris, and as long as the leader stays upright while quaffing his champagne and choking on cigar smoke it’s usually a given that he’ll remain in the leader’s jersey. 

    Stage 5 (5th July) finishes with a Cat 1 climb up to La planche des belles filles. This could be an early measuring contest between the GC contenders so expect some time gaps to appear there. Stage 9 (Sunday 9th July) looks like a really juicy one - with 3 really steep and long climbs that us mortals can only dream of being able to get over in one piece. And look out for a crazy fast decent to the finish line which should have you scoffing your sofa snacks double speed on the edge of your seat. Stage 18 (Thursday 20th July) is another tasty one to tuck yourself up on the sofa with your favourite flavour ice cream – finishing on the Col d’Izoard, which is a brutal climb (apparently).

    Betting on tour de france

    What else do I need to know?

    TV Coverage - Watch ITV’s coverage not Eurosport’s – Gary Imlach is one of the most articulate people I’ve ever watched on TV, and together with the knowledge of Chris Boardman and David Miller they always add flavour and context to the race. This year ITV are showing the whole of the Tour live, as well as a highlights show at 7pm. So you can watch both just to ensure you didn’t miss anything in the live show.

    Watching it with mates – Head down to one of Dirty Wknd’s clubhouses to watch it – In the East you can head to Hex in Shoreditch, or West you can head to The Dynamo in Putney – both know the drill; Pizza, beer and cycling. And there will likely be many other cycling fans there whom you can dazzle with you're fluent Tour de France!

    Play Fantast Tdf - This one is for the more 'invested TdF fan, but it's great fun and teaches you loads about th e race. Pick a team of pros and then cheer them on as they earn you points for doing great things. You can join the Dirty Wknd mini league - the person with the most points at the end of the Tour wins prizes - Full Details Click Here

    We really hope you enjoy this year's Tour - as you know, watching the pro's makes you a better cyclist. So this is the excuse to use when pitching your boss for 3 weeks off/calling in sick for 3 weeks to actually watch the race. All of our rides during the tour will finish somewhere that will be showing the race (either Hex or Dynamo) so come along and ride with us, discuss the intricacies of why the French haven't had a winner in years, and then enjoy delicious pizza and beer whilst watching supermen fly up mountains. It's going to be great!

    Dirty Wknd cycling club London

    Play Fantasy Tour De France For Bragging Rights And Prizes!

    Play Fantasy Tour De France For Bragging Rights And Prizes!

    The absolute height of cycling geekery, fantasy cycling is taking off in a big way (at the last 'fantasy cycling appreciation society' meeting we had 15 attendees - a new record!) Websites like Velogames are making it very easy for stat obsessed cycling fans to play at being 'Directeur Sportif' for the length of the tour. And we love it!

    We've been entering Velogames for the last few years, battling out with a select few other cycling nerds (you know who you are) for bragging rights and the satisfying proof that we would actually make a phenomenal DS given half a chance. However, for this year's Tour we want to get as many people involved as possible. If you're a pro cycling fan, you'll understand the rules and can simply sign up below. If you're new to cycling, or couldn't give a toffee about the pros, we'd still recommend playing along. You will learn more about how a race works, how the peloton operates and why cyclists do some of the weird things that they do! In all seriousness, watching pro cycling will make you a better cyclist, as you get to see the best riders display what riding a bike is actually supposed to look like!

    Sign up to Velogames on this link and follow the steps to enter your team below. We're giving away a Dirty Wknd cap to the winner, and a pair of socks to 2nd and 3rd.

    Tour De France Preview

    Velogames Fantasy Cycling

    You've arrived at the Tour as the hot new Directeur Sportif; you're being talked about, an unknown quantity and you're going to set the race on fire with your special brand of motivational speeches and man management. First thing you need to do is pick your team. This is the fun part - a kind of shopping spree, but for the fastest human beings on the planet! If the riders you pick do well - win a stage, win sprint or KOM points, or do something really 'ballsy like a solo breakaway - you get points. The winning team is the one with the most points at the end of the Tour. Full points breakdown here, but be warned - this why lies hyper-geekery!

    Picking Your Team

    There are a couple of rules around picking your team. You have 100 credits to spend, and each rider has a price, so you have to spend wisely. The better the rider (or the more likely to do well before the race starts) the higher the price. So Chris Froome is 26 credits, because he's the bookies favourite. Other riders are then less expensive as their chances of winning descend, right down to the domestiques who are just pleased to be there. 4 credits for these guys - but don't count them out. One of them could easily, by sheer good luck (or because the rest of the peloton all ride off the same cliff), find themselves at the front of a breakaway and 'accidentally' win a stage. Remember stage 1 of the Giro? Yes, well no one had Postleberger in their team!

    Who will win Tour De France?

    The other thing to think about is picking a 'balanced team'. For one you can't afford to only pick the big hitters, but also a grand tour team is made up of different types of rider. See below for an explanation of who those riders are and what they do:

    • 'General Classification' (GC) riders: These are the Froome's and the Porte's of the race; the ones you hope are going to win. This is the long game - you get points for everyday someone is in the yellow jersey, and lots of points if your guy does end up winning. You need 2 GC contenders, so pick wisely.
    • Climbers: These guys are going to win the mountain stages (you hope). Think Nairo Quintana and all his tiny mates. You get points for KOM points and even more points if one of your guys is in the Polka Dot Jersey. You get to pick 2 climbers
    • Sprinter: These are the big(ger) guys who actually have some muscles. You hope they are going to win the bunch sprints for the line on the flat stages. These guys are likely to win a decent number of stages, so sprinter choice is important. Or just pick Sagan, mostly because of the below video!
    • Domestiques: Workhorses that do all the hard graft to deliver their GC contender or sprinter to the line. Cheap, throwaway riders? Or the difference between winning and losing? You decide, but pick wisely
    • Wildcard: That glimmer of hope, who can produce a moment of magic and light up a stage. These riders often don't conform to team rules - they're the rock stars of the peloton who do what the flip they want (sorry for swearing mum). You want a wildcard who can win stages - so a sprinter or a breakaway specialist. But whatever you do, make sure he's a badass!

    Join the Dirty Wknd Mini League

    Once you're created your team, picked a hil-a-rious name and decided on which retro jersey you want your team to wear (Peugot every time), you need to enter a league. There are loads, and you can enter the 'official' leagues if you want, but we'd love you to join our little league. We're giving away a Dirty Wknd cap to the overall winner, and a pair of socks to the podium finishers (2nd and 3rd). So along with bragging rights, you get some actual stash for your incredible and revolutionary management style.

    After you've created the team you will need to click 'enter a league'. It will ask you for a league code (below) and once you've confirmed your entry you are in the league. You won't be able to see other people's teams until the 1st stage, but have no fear; you've picked the winning team, so why does it matter?! Please send the code onto friends and ask them to join. We'd love to have your Dad all his mates play too (unless they beat us, in which case we'll bust them for doping).

    Velogames fantasy tour de france

    Once you've joined the league, you can sit back and smile as you perfectly balanced team rides to victory - your GC contender winning overall by an hour and five minutes, your sprinter winning all of the flat stages and intermediate points, and your climbers ascending all summits first, glancing around nonchalantly to see if anyone was able to keep up (of course they weren't). As an added bonus - your wildcard wins a couple of stages in a heroic solo breakaway, riding all 220km alone, the chasing peloton unable to reel him in. Yes please Steve Cummings!

    OR.....Your GC contender abandons on stage 3 after a deranged fan runs into him on the first uphill and knocks his sunglasses off. Your sprinter gets popped for the use of ketamine on the first rest day and, unbeknownst to you, one of your climbers has actually slept with your other climber's wife, and now they won't work together. It could go either way - that's the beauty and exhilaration of (fantasy) pro cycling!

    You have until Saturday 1st at 3pm to enter your team. Bonne chance in your quest to dominate the fantasy cycling world. If you're unsure how to pick your team or enter a league please email us, tweet us or comment below the post.

    Dirty Wknd cycling club London

    Ride London Training Series Part Two- Rides 7 -12

    Ride London Training Series Part Two- Rides 7 -12

    When we created the Ride London training series to help people train for the Surrey 100 ride we had no idea that the popularity, enthusiasm and awesomeness would be this high! From the first ride, a short spin out to Esher for coffee at Giro to Sunday's Newland's Corner 60 miles, we've seen nothing but determination, huge smiles and a sense of achievement from everyone. At the half way stage, with rides seven to twelve still to come, we can't wait for more of the same!

    Ride London Route 2017

    We've had some memorable highlights so far, and some absolutely stand out performances, but we'll leave the full ride report (and gushy shout outs) until after Ride London has been smashed by each and every one of you! For now, please see details of rides seven to twelve below:

    If you're not yet a member then you can sign up to the club below to get all of the next rides for free, plus awesome discounts from our amazing partners - Click Here For Details!

    Ride #7 - Weds 5th July: Wimbledon Hill Reps 7pm- 8:30pm

    The 'Wimblebergs' are a fantastic training playground, including Wimbledon Hill, number 4 on the Ride London elevation profile. This ridge of hills provide a consistent gradient and length to replicate Wimbledon Hill, so an evening riding up and down all of them is great Ride London training. We'll do 2-3 reps of Wimbledon Hill to finish before 're-fuelling' at The Dynamo!

    Ride #7 Details

    Ride #8 - Sat 8th July: 70 - 75 hilly miles in Surrey 8am - 4pm
    This ride will be the biggest test you'll have faced in this series so far, as we up the distance and add in a lot of elevation. Just a couple of hundred metres shy of the elevation of the full route, this ride will nicely replicate the amount of climbing you'll do on the day. Also taking in the triple of Leith, Box and Wimbledon Hill, this will be a tough but rewarding day in the saddle. 

    Ride #8 Details

    Box Hill Cycling Routes

    Ride #9 - Weds 12th July: Box Hill Reps 7pm - 9:30pm
    Using the same route as the Solstice ride, we'll head out to Box Hill for 2-3 reps of the famous hill (number 3 on the Ride London route). Practising Box Hill will make your ascent on the day much easier as you'll know what to expect. After a few reps, we'll roll down the hill to the pub and train back to Clapham/Waterloo (ride back option available).

    Ride #9 Details

    Ride #10 - Sat 15th July: 100 miles in Surrey 8am - 6pm
    If Ride London is the main event - ride number 10 is the queen stage! Just under 100 miles in Surrey; all of the hills (plus a few extra ones thrown in for good measure) and much of the actual route itself (missing out the really big roads), this is the perfect prep for the big day. Arguably a harder day out than the actual Ride London route, this will stand you in great stead for completing the ride on the 30th! 

    Ride #10 Details

    Ride #11 - Weds 19th: Wimbledon Hill Reps 7pm - 8:30pm
    Returning to Wimbledon for more reps of The Wimblebergs for our last concentrated hill training - this session will be a good chance to see how much you've improved from previous weeks, giving you confidence going into your 'tapering' period. As always finishing up with pizza and beer at The Dynamo. 

    Ride #11 Details

    How to train for Ride London Surrey 100

    Ride #12: Sun 23rd July - Tapering/little ring spin 10am - 12:30pm
    Tapering is important kids! The last ride of the series is little ring laps - a grouped social ride around Richmond Park to spin the legs out, followed by brunch at The Dynamo. If you want to do fast/hard laps then that's possible too, but we'd recommend tapering. 

    Ride #12 Details

    As ever if you can't make any of the rides above then please don't fret. You can download the routes from the links above and ride them in your own time. Our biggest tip is that you ride the hills before the event. Having prior knowledge of what's coming will give you a mental edge, and can be the difference between and wonderful and terrible afternoon! 

    If you haven't ridden any of the previous training rides we would ask you to get in touch with us before signing up for the 75 mile and 100 mile rides. These aren't suitable for beginners who haven't already been training with us in this series. If you're unsure either way then please Email Us.

    Last minute Ride London entry

    All that is left to say is thank you to everyone that has come along and ridden with us on this series, and particularly all the awesome ride leaders. You've all been wonderful, with amazing can do attitudes and massive smiles on your faces! We can't wait to ride with you on the res to the series, and hopefully welcome lots more new faces to the group.

    Much love,

    David & Emma

    London cycling club Dirty Wknd

    Why do Cyclists Shave Their Legs and Should I Shave Mine?

    Why do Cyclists Shave Their Legs and Should I Shave Mine?

    There are many things about the sport and pastime of cycling that baffle and beguile the average non-ride (or 'normal' as they might be known). The desire to travel 100 miles sitting on a small piece of plastic draws wide eyed stares and the penchant/obsession for very tight fitting lycra understandably horrifies many. Tell a non-cyclist that you spent more than the cost of their car on 'one of your bikes' and see how they react! But possibly the most beguiling question for non cyclists (and let's be honest, quite a lot of cyclists) is 'why do cyclists shave their legs?'

    Well...being the intrepid investigative journalist that I am, I've decided to get to the bottom of this murky and much misunderstood topic... by shaving my own legs!   

    Shaving my legs has never really occurred to me in the past. Not only have I never felt the need (explored in more detail below), but as a (former) rugby playing cyclist, it would've been tough to walk on the pitch with shiny, silky smooth pins (it didn't help that they are milk white and skinny AF either!) Add to that the fact that I'm too lazy to shave my face, let alone my legs, and you can understand why there are a distinct lack of male razors at DW towers.  

    Known reasons to shave one's legs:

    As the practise of male cyclist's shaving their legs has been going on for some time now (Coppi was one of the first, apparently*), it's reasonable to believe that the original reasons are well intentioned and based in fact. However, as with many things in cycling, time and a healthy dose of BS have corrupted those original reasons into whatever nonsense fits the speaker at the time. I'm particularly thinking about a conversation I once overheard on the benefits of shaving vs waxing between a group from a certain London cycling club in Richmond Park.

    Why do pro cyclists shave their legs

    With the above in mind, by 2017 the reasons for shaving are too many and to ridiculous to list fully here (please comment below with the best you've heard). There are however are a couple that seem to have been accepted as gospel:

    Aero Advantages:
    If you believe DW resident cycling geek Oli Crosby, shaving saves you 8 seconds an hour. This is great news if you're contesting a time trial or track race, where split seconds are the difference between winning and 4th. If however, your cycling activities consist of a 3 hour ride each Sunday, 45 minutes of which are spent in a cafe, those 24 seconds aren't really doing you a lot of good, are they? To return to Coppi quickly - he may have been the first to shave in pursuit of marginal gains, but he also smoked cigars before races, so you have to wonder how much he actually gained from his smooth legs....

    Post Ride Massage:
    Pro cyclists claim that a 'hairy post ride rub down' (as attractive a mental image as that is) is much more painful than a bald one (equally disturbing image). This may be true, however never having had a post ride rub down, hairy or bald (sorry), I can't really say. Ask a shaved weekend warrior the reasons for his perfect pins and massage will be a likely reason. Ask him about how many massages he's had this year, and you might get an embarrassed mumble in reply about being to busy. Again, for pros and racers, this reason stacks up - however if this is you reason for shaving, you might actually want to get a massage every once in awhile!

    What is road rash?

    Faster, Cleaner Healing of Road Rash:
    Whether pro or not, crashes aren't a laughing matter (no matter how hard I try), and we wouldn't wish a spill on anyone. Obviously the more you ride and your proximity to other fast moving riders (i.e. racing) the more likely you are to crash. However accidents do happen, and road rash isn't nice at all (I hope you never find out). Hair growing into cuts can infect the wound, be really painful and frankly disgusting to look at. I'll give you this one, smoothed skinned ones, a genuine reason for shaving your legs.

    If I've scientifically and categorically proved above that shaving your legs has no benefit to the amateur cyclist except in crash scenarios (and I think we can all agree that I have), why then do so many people still do it? In my opinion, and many other people's for that matter, it's simply the age old playground desire to 'belong'. A very human desire, and one that is incredibly powerful. Remember being at school, and wanting the same shoes as your friends? (It was Kickers in my day - anyone else?) or being on the football team and ensuring you had the 'right' boots?

    That never goes away, and turning up to a cycling cafe/club ride and being the only one who's 'au natural' can be enough to send many to the razor. You might hear that shaving your legs makes you a 'proper cyclist' (whatever that means) - as if riding a bike doesn't make you one. However wanting to fit in as as much of a reason as any of the above, and why many cyclists won't just admit that as their primary reason is another blog post for another day! 

    Should I shave my legs as a cyclist?

    As much as I joke (and I am mostly joking), one of the things we try to instil in everyone who comes cycling with Dirty Wknd is to do what feels comfortable for you. If you want to cycle in trainers, do it. Would rather wear baggies (mountain bike shorts) than lycra, don't worry about it. It doesn't make you any less of a 'cyclist', no matter what anyone else says. Likewise, if you want to shave your legs, then do that too. Just be open and honest about it. Do it because you want to, not because you're planning to get a massage sometime in 2018 and don't want it to hurt!

    The shave:

    As previously mentioned - zero razors in Dirty Wknd HQ. Whilst the thought of using my housemates very comfortable looking Gillette Venus razor did briefly cross my mind, I ventured out and bought some razors and shaving foam. The first razor purchase since 2011, FYI, and my lack of knowledge became very apparent as I remembered quickly what cheap razors do to human skin! After a quick google of 'how to shave your legs' brought up a very useful GCN video (what would we do without them?) I was ready to go. How hard can it be?

    Is it a good idea to shave your legs

    Very, is the answer to that seemingly innocuous questions. If I take anything away from this experience, other than stubbly legs, it will be a new found respect for the female beauty regime. When I had finished, after about an hour, I felt like calling all my ex girlfriends and apologising for all the times I got angry about how long they took to get ready. It certainly was eye opening. Chapeau ladies (and if anyone can tell me how the hell your reach the back of the knee I'd be very grateful!)

    If reading this has bizarrely made you want to shave your legs, and I would recommend it if only to see what your wife/girlfriend has to go through regularly, then see some of my dos and don'ts below: 

    Do:

    • Use clippers to trim the hair first - it just clogs up the razors otherwise
    • Get decent shaving foam - for that silky smooth feel ;)
    • Use the bath/shower - the mess is horrendous
    • Tell people - don't try and hide it

    Don't:

    • Use your housemate/girlfriend/wife's razor - it's just weird
    • Buy cheap razors - the cuts are many and painful
    • Put aftershave on your legs - little bit fetishist
    • Go out without suncream on - they're paler than you think under that forest!

    Post Shave Reaction:

    After what seemed like an eternity, I finally finish. Emotions are mixed to say the least. I immediately thinking about what my Dad is going to say when I tell him (and tell him I shall), whilst at the same time thinking about which pair of shorts I'm going to wear to the pub to show off my shiny pins! If you're wondering, I went with a nice blue pair (very now), and my Dad was thrilled!

    Another immediate reaction is the realisation of just how white my legs are. If you see me on a ride in the next few weeks, please wear sunglasses! I have always been pale - but this is next level. Frozen chicken is the closest image I can ask you to conjure (I will stop asking you to conjure horrible images soon, I promise). 

    Does shaving your legs make you faster cycling

    Tune In Next Week For the Results:

    As you can tell, my view on shaving your legs is fairly negative (most of what I say is in jest I promise), however I am putting my prejudices aside to try it out. I am willing to be proven wrong and, if after a few weeks riding 'shorn', I suddenly feel like a 'proper cyclist', I will eat my terribly funny words, and relish it too (whilst shaving my legs, probably). If you ride with me in the coming weeks or see me out and about, please feel free to poke fun, ask questions or have a stroke. On second thoughts, maybe not the last one.

    I will report back on this very unscientific experiment in a follow up blog post in a few weeks time- will I get faster? Will I get a massage (probably not)? Or, will I finally start to feel like a 'proper cyclist'?? Tune in next week to find out....

    Cyclist shaving legs

    Five Things I Learnt From My First Road Race

    Five Things I Learnt From My First Road Race

    Just to be clear from the outset, this was the Tour of Cambridgeshire, not the Tour de France.  It was a 'Gran Fondo', which is basically a Sportive.  However, there were a few subtle differences with the ToC.  1) closed roads; 2) each rider given a finishing position; 3) the opportunity to qualify for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. These 3 factors made this more than a sportive, and made it equally exciting, terrifying, and knackering for me! (As well as eye opening)

    1) Lots of men shave their legs.  

    There are many hypotheses on what [cycling] advantages one attains from shaving ones legs. The most quantifiable being that it saves you about 8 seconds an hour in normal conditions with normal* leg hair, and every other variable being assumed constant. More qualitative measures suggest shaving your legs means there is less chance of wound infection and it is easier to heal when/if you take leave from your chariot in favour of eating tarmac (see point 5 below). Lastly shaving your legs is supposed to make pre/post ride massage both easier and less painful...because all the guys at the ride definitely have a group of soigneurs waiting for them at the end for a rub down...I had my fiancé, Ella, and my dog, Dexter – neither were going to give me a massage.

    Why do cyclists shave their legs

    The elephant in the bathroom is that shaving makes your leg muscles, and your tan lines, more defined (case in point above ;) These two factors, alone (and the fact that they feel silky smooth to touch), are the reasons shaving makes you faster, and that's a fact. The only debate is where to stop? Should you also shave your arms? Almost definitely.

    So having 100% proved above that it definitely makes you materially faster to shave your legs, arms, head and chest, I sat in the start gate staring at all the shaved legs around me feeling a little sorry for myself. Ella has stated categorically and unequivocally that she would not be marrying me next May if I shaved my legs.  As I wondered whether 11 months would be enough time to grow the stubble out, the gates opened and we began to funnel to the start.

    2) It's fast.  It's full on.

    So the gate opened and the race started. It began to feel like any other sportive, except for the lack of leg hair around.  We guided ourselves through the road furniture at the start, waved to loved ones like we were going to war (who probably thought to themselves "what on earth does he think he's going to do? He's about to ride around the countryside on a bike, not pick up the Brits from Dunkirk) and settled into our cadence. Whilst I don't want to keep comparing this bike ride to Dunkirk, I soon realised that actually not coming back from this might genuinely be a possibility. Within the first 5km the pace was measurably fast, clocking and staying around 40-45kph. I frequently looked down at my numbers (because I'm basically Chris Froome) and saw my heart rate in excess of 180 (just like Froomey's at this stage in the race) - not a happy place for my heart with 4 hours to go. Groups went off down the road, and groups fell back; after about 30kms we finally began to settle down. 

    Train for a sportive

    3) Echelons aren't just a choreographed performance by the pros 

    Sunday happened to be very windy, and just as we settled down into our rhythm I got my next taste of what it must be like to be a pro rider. We swung through a suburban Peterborough village and out across the flat Cambridgeshire countryside. It was in this environment where I realised the gravity of an echelon. We funnelled into a reasonably tight road and round a sharp bend, and as we accelerated out I lost the wheel in front. Whoosh -the wind hit me like a fly swat as I was left isolated. I'd been towards the front of my group so I thought I better catch back onto the 2 strong riders ahead. I put my foot down, and a rather worryingly long 2 or 3 minutes later, I was right back on, with my heart rate back up to 180. Thank god for that I thought, let's not lose that wheel again. I looked behind me to see that I wasn't the only one to have lost a wheel, and not everyone had made it back on, our group reducing from a huge peloton to a group of maybe 30.  

    As we wound through the course, and the wind went from headwind to a side wind, I moved out slightly to the side to stay in the draft of the rider in front (mainly just copying the bloke in front who looked like he had done it before (shaved legs)). As I tried to settle back into my groove I afforded myself a look down the road, and a new found thrill filled my muscles - heading over the rolling countryside I saw 5 or 6 echelons of between 5-20 riders up ahead - it literally could have been the heart of Flanders in a Belgium classic. It looked awesome, and as I looked behind and saw 10 or so riders flanked off my right shoulder, and everyone else that couldn't fit on the end falling away like shrapnel, I felt really pro! If it hadn’t been for how tightly I was gripping the handlebars and for how close I was to the rider in front and behind I’d have whipped out the phone and would have probably got at least 500 Insta likes for that photo. 

    How to get into Cycle Racing

    I had made the split, and for the first time in the race I could hear Ned Boulting and David Millar commentating in my ear, discussing what a pivotal moment that was. There was to be more excitedly raised commentary to come, as we swung round corners there was an almost race deciding split in the group. I was about 3rd wheel in the second group of the split, and could see the two riders in front of me were flagging. In a split second a girl passed me on the outside and I checked behind, did one of those cool cycling gestures that I'd seen earlier from someone with shaved legs, and moved across onto her wheel. Together we worked for about 5 minutes, working very hard indeed to get back across onto the back of the group that had broken away, and with a final push I was very relieved to catch back on - HR was knocking around 185 and I was not feeling pretty. I checked over my shoulder and together with my new friend we had dragged about 5 others with us - thanks for getting involved you lazy free loaders!

    At this point Boulting and Millar are getting pretty excited - something about the gutsy performance of debutant Crosby. The blood pounding in my ears was drowning them out. There were several splits, and it was 50km of pure pain and utter concentration to try and stay with the strong riders. I could see echelons in front getting closer together and further apart, and Boulting and Millar were praising every move. I was on fire closing down gaps and getting into groups. That was until I found myself 3rd wheel at the front behind two guys who, to be honest, had been pulling our group along for about 30km by now. One of the particularly smoothed leg chaps turned to me and said "are you going to come through". At this point I had a clash of Boulting and Millar, at the same time as rerunning countless stories of bullying in the peloton from various cycling books - "alright Lance, keep your hair on" I thought, but just as my dog does when being called inside from the back garden, I came through - slowly, head down. Feeling a little hard done by, began to take my turn at the front.

    I spent about 2 mins at the front. Utter pain. Exactly how much time is enough time to have proved yourself with the big boys?? I needn't have wondered for long, as soon as my pace dropped sufficiently the two strong men came back through to take up the reigns, along with 5 or 6 others, and another couple, then no one else. I looked back - there was no one else! My whole group had come through. I dug deep to catch onto the back of the last rider but it was in vain, and they were gone. Shut up Miller, I know that was a mistake. The next group weren't far behind and they swallowed me up and I caught on, caught breath, and went into the pantry for some food....

    4) Eating is tough again.

    I have become very used to eating and drinking on the bike, but I remember all to well the nervous feeling of trying to open a flapjack with both hands while staying steady. That feeling returned as I tried to open my cliff bar while flying along in a tight peloton, enclosed on all sides. Every time I sat up the wheel in front went away just a little bit, and someone else filled the 3/4 bike gap with a whole bike - not a confident feeling when you have one or two hands off the handlebars! So my first struggle was keeping up with the group while fumbling around in my pantry. The next struggle I didn't think I'd experience again, being a fully formed adult and everything, was swallowing. My lungs were doing all they could to help my faltering heart out, and as I shovelled small amounts of bar into my mouth and chewed and chewed all I got was dry mush that when swallowed didn't know whether to go into my lungs or stomach. More than once it ended up all over the rider in front's back tire. Sorry about that.

    5) The juxtaposition of carbon and bodies hitting the road

    It's interesting how things become harder when you're tired. Your brain loses focus, and you can switch off a bit to tasks your brain doesn't deem of paramount importance...this brings me onto my next learning topic - the hideous juxtaposition of a crystal clear twang of carbon on carbon and carbon on road, rattling its beat alongside the muffled scratchy thud of bone/skin/flesh/human on tarmac. Very closely followed by lots of shouting - both general expletives and actual cycling etiquette warnings of "slowing"; lots of squeaking breaks, and skidding tires. Thankfully I'd either finished in the pantry or given up on food so had two hands on the bars during any "squeaky bum" moments. On two occasions I can't believe I didn't end up on the floor, testing the difference between cliff bar and tarmac (not much, I'll wager). Once riding over a fallen victim's front wheel (sorry) and once locking both my wheels to try and avoid a perfect 10 cartwheel. Safe to say, people crashed. A lot.

    Those weren't the only crashes we saw, with tarmac sunbathers and ambulances littering the road all the way along the ride - it's no wonder really, when you put all these amateurs in a race like environment and tell them they could qualify for something. A sobering part of the ride for certain. Not something that would stop me coming back, but something that certainly took the shine off an otherwise amazing day out.  

    I finished in a bittersweet way. With 1km to go I ‘lit it up’ - Wattage bazooka time, I thought. In retrospect I can now see Boulting and Millar slapping their foreheads - thankfully I didn't have the embarrassment of a power metre reading. With 750m to go I sat up, as I'd put everything into that sprint and I was spent, eventually rolling over the line at the back of a broken group; a broken but happy man. The below sprint isn't actually me, FYI, but in my head, that's what I looked like!

    Such a great day out. 3h37m was my official time, placing me 232nd out of 509 that achieved a placing in my age bracket (19-34), and averaging 35.2kph.  Not bad for my talent, but a good 12 mins and 98 riders outside the top 134 that qualified for the World Championships in Albi, France in August. Work to do before I get on that Team Sky bus. And lets be honest... If I'd shaved my legs... who knows!

     

    Entries for next year's ToC are now open, so if my experience above hasn't put you off (I really did love it) then sign up on this link - Click Here

     

    Dirty Wknd Ride Leader Profile - Patrick Douetil

    Dirty Wknd Ride Leader Profile - Patrick Douetil

    In the second of our 'Ride Leader Profiles' (the last one was only, what, 8 months ago?!), it is our immense pleasure to introduce Patrick, our photo taking, fast group leading mountain goat. 

    Patrick goes up hills faster than most people we know, but his enthusiasm, love of cycling and desire to help others eclipses even his speed! We first met Patrick when he cycled up behind our group on Good Friday a year ago and said "Alright? Mind if I join in?" He had bright pink bar tape and matching pink over shoes (scroll down...) and we'd be lying if we said we didn't have misgivings (only joking Patrick).

    Cycling in Scotland

    His atomic-level energy was clear to see, and we're so glad he did come and say hello - he's been leading rides for us ever since, often putting the fast group through their paces (sure some of them don't love him as much as we do ;) 

    Patrick will be leading some of our 'Ride London Training Series' (details here), so below is a bit more info about him:

    Vital Stats:

    Name:
    Patrick Douetil
    Height:
    6ft
    Weight:
    9st 8lb
    Max Power Output:
    1.21 gigawatts
    Max Speed:
    88mph
    Current Job:
    Cycling photographer
    Dream Job: Cycling Photographer :)

    Current Bike(s):
    Custom Build Genesis with Shimano 105c
    Specialized Tricross Comp with Shimano 105t
    'Bernard' Custom Build Single Speed with Miche
    Whyte Shoreditch with 1x Deore (Current Project)

    Dream bike: N+1

    Beginner Cycling in London

    Rides:

    Favourite Ever Ride: It's hard to choose just one or two rides but I'll say my first solo tour cycling through Scotland from south to north and through the Hebrides.

    Favourite Dirty Wknd Ride: Oh definitely the night we rode to the Queen of the Mountains launch at Giro Cafe in a monsoon! Wading though knee high water with no shoes on was a real highlight (above).

    Favourite London Climb: Dark Hill in Richmond Park. A short but technical climb that's great for training. My current goal is climbing it in under 60 seconds.

    Favourite Ever Climb?: Forgive me for being cliche, but Sa Calobra (coll dels Reis) in Mallorca (below).

    Cycling Mallorca Sa Calobra

    Cycling Idols:

    Favourite Pro Rider: Peter Sagan, four words 'Paris Roubaix Bunny Hop'  

    Favourite All Time Rider: Tommy Godwin (Google him) he's an absolute machine! 

    Cycling World Record Tommy Goodwin

    Why Do You Ride:

    How and When did you get into cycling?: 

    What started as cycling from a loathing of waiting in the cold for slow and expensive London buses quickly became a hobby and then a passion. 

    What's your favourite thing about cycling?:

    This question's got me beat. I couldn't choose one thing about cycling. I love planning out adventures and riding new roads, I love the competition on the climbs and on the sprints and I love the culture that comes with being in a CC like Dirty Wknd, having a good old natter and stopping for coffee or a cheeky pint at the end of the ride.

    What's the best piece of advice you've given to new cyclists?: 

    The key to becoming a great cyclist is mental strength...

    ...Not pink bar tape ;)

    London Cycling Club


    If you want to learn more about Patrick and to meet the man himself, then sign up to our Ride London series and ask him everything you can think of about cycling (he really does know a lot!) Ride Series Details

    If you are in need of a cycling photographer (or any other kind of photographer) then check out Patrick's work (it's all over our website) on his Instagram - Click Here

    Lose weight through cycling