Monday 27 September 2010

What does the Commonwealth Games fiasco say about us

Over the last few days the Commonwealth Games has been prominent in both the mainstream and cycling press, although not from a sporting perspective. Most attention has been on the state of the facilities and on "will they, won't they" stories about individual athletes.

Earlier in the week we saw photo's of dirty beds and bathrooms, video reports of flooded apartment blocks and much reporting on the collapsed bridge. Most of these stories were accompanied by speculation of mismanagement and corruption on the part of the local organisers/politicians/companies. Most of them were presented in a tone of shock and surprise. British media outlets seemed to be particularly put out that their valiant athletes and officials had all of a sudden been put in a position where their health and safety was being compromised.

In recent days it seems that the Commonwealth Games communities various spin machines have kicked into action. Tonights news was filled with images of athletes arriving in Delhi and footage of pristine apartments, cleaned and polished and ready to greet those flying in from around the world. Reports suggest that the officials and people of Delhi have rolled their sleeves up over the last few days and, in best Blitz spirit, have pulled together to fix the mess.

I have grown deeply uncomfortable by the tone and content of these reports on many levels.

Fistly the whole story only exists because of a basic assumption underlying the world of elite sport. The notion that top level athletes and officials from countries such as Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, accustomed as they are to top class, lottery funded programmes and facilities, would have to endure anything but state-of-the-art facilities seems almost unthinkable. Over the last twenty or thirty years, major sporting tournaments have become showcase events. Host countries compete for the pleasure of spending billions of euro/dollars/pounds/rupees on bigger shinier, higher tech stadia and venues. Athletes, officials and journalists expect to be pampered and cossetted in a world of lavish facilities where they can focus on their moment of glory in comfort and luxury.

Is it reasonable for elite, and in some cases highly paid, sports people to expect such high standards when outside the security fences some of the worst poverty in the world is not too far away? Do those who, by accident of birth, had the opportunity to learn and train in relative luxury have the right to expect "five star" as one England official said on tonights news (he did go on to say that what he found was three star but that would do!)

A labourer carries a child in front of the lawn bowls venue at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi yesterday. Photograph: Saurabh Das/AP
I think the contrast was best illustrated to me by this photo from the Irish Times yesterday. While the athletes and officials were sitting in England whining about health and safety, the "army of volunteers and workers" mobilised to fulfil their needs was in reality a population of poorly paid, unskilled locals, labouring in conditions unacceptable in the west and presumably paid a pittance (or nothing at all in some cases according to reports).

Alongside the health and safety stories comes the allegations of local corruption and mismanagement. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the blame game would aim for such low hanging fruit. It might well be true but is that really how a major, international event, the show piece of a huge multinational body, is planned? When a country is told, seven years before the event, that they are to be hosts does the Commonwealth Games Federation then hop on a plane home and leave them to it?  Hardly!

I'm doing a project management course at the moment and one of the basic tenets of managing any project, let alone something as huge as the Commonwealth Games, is that stakeholders need to be, and need to make sure they are, properly informed of progress throughout the project life cycle. It is incredible that the Commonwealth Games Federation can claim to have been so clueless as to the progress of the building efforts in Delhi. Did they not check from time to time? Did they not have milestones at which everything was reviewed? It is pathetic to now hear top officials bravely offering to roll up their sleeves to help. Where were they sleeping up to now?

Equally, it's not all that convincing to hear individual athletes quoting fears of dengue fever as the reason why they won't be going. Most, if not all, Sky Team riders due to ride the Games have, individually of course, pulled out with that as one of their excuses. Of course their announcements being within hours of each other, and just after the BBC showed photos of dirty bathrooms, was co-incidental.

Now, I'm no expert, but the risk of dengue fever in Delhi is not news. Dengue, and may other tropical diseases, are a fact of life in places like that. If Geraint and Peter and Ian and their mates were uncomfortable at the prospect of being exposed to it they should have flagged that long before now and given more deserving compatriots the chance to prepare and travel to represent their countries. I'm sure there's no shortage of riders in the Isle of Man and Wales, who would normally never get a chance to ride for GB, but would jump at the chance for international experience. It feels like cycling's equivalent of footballers getting mysteriously injured just before international friendlies to me.

To be fair, not all of the stars have been acting quite so diva-like. It was refreshing to read that Cav will definitely ride, barring injury in Melbourne next weekend.

Ironically, given how the Commonwealth came about, this whole episode should open eyes about how the divided the world has become, not just in financial terms, but also in terms of expectations. As we dive deeper into recession is it time that we who have been spoiled with riches over the years should stand back and appreciate that what we take for granted is a privilege not enjoyed by many. The world is not all shiny and wi-fi enabled. Far from it.

Thursday 23 September 2010

Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle

"When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle."

Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Ricco/Rossi "family" hit the headlines again!

I don't know about you but I've been missing our favourite villain, Ricardo Ricco, recently. Apart from transfer gossip, his name's been missing from the headlines for too long. But fear not, because he's back in the news again. That didn't take too long!

Last week there was an easily missed story (here) quoting one of his new Vacansoleil team-mates saying that he was angry with our hero for not being a team player. Belgian rider Bjorn Leukemans accused Ricco of riding against him in the finale of the GP de Wallonie. According to Leukemans, Ricco rode with a chasing group to catch him on the final climb. Instead of winning the race Leukemans finished sixth behind Rabobank's Paul Martens, with Ricco coming in second. Was the ever-lovable Ricco getting revenge for Leukemans questioning before the race why the team had signed the Italian at all? He had told Sporza, "Riccò does not have a UCI point. I still wonder why the team would take a rider with no points."
Enrico Rossi
But things have taken an even more exciting turn today. According to reports from Italy, Ricco's extended "family" are back in the doping spotlight. His former partners brother, and Ricco's former Flaminia Ceramica teammate, Enrico Rossi has been arrested as part of a doping investigation. Police arrested six people, including Rossi, a nurse, a pharmacist and an amateur rider. However that appears to be the tip of the iceberg. Reports suggest they are targetting up to 35 people suspected of dealing in drugs and stealing from hospitals. Apart from the six arrested, the group includes other pro riders, trainers, doctors and gym members.

Where this gets really interesting is that the police operation is codenamed "Operation Cobra-Red". Think about that! Cobra is Ricco's nickname, while Rosso is the Italian for red. Ricco hasn't been named in the investigation so far but that codename has to be more than a co-incidence, doesn't it?

Having chivalrously left the mother of his child, Enrico's sister Vania Rossi, after she was accused of doping because he didn't want it to affect his career (really!!), Ricco would be facing a lifetime ban if he was to be convicted of any more doping offences. What would we do for stories then!

Read more herehere and here  

Sunday 19 September 2010

What is it with dogs and bikes? - Update 2

If you read about my little incident with one of our four-legged, supposed best friends (here) then you'll appreciate this artists impression of the incident.
With special thanks to Ciara, aged 8.

JJ McCormack - a personal tribute by Sean Fox

JJ (second left) and Sean (far right) regale their audience with tales of past glories
during a cafe stop in Majorca.
It was with deep sadness that I learned last week of the death of my very dear friend JJ McCormack.

I met JJ in the early 1950's when I joined the Eagle Cycle Racing Club of which he was a prominent member from the time he came to Dublin from his native Birr, Co. Offaly. We immediately became friends possibly because we both had Offaly connections, my mother also being a native of the county.

JJ's roots lay in track racing and he had been a multiple National Champion, racing on grass tracks the length and breadth of the country. Eagle CRC had been formed by track racing stalwarts, including Vinny Lyons and Dick Walsh. With JJ, they were a formidable trio of speed merchants, especially in the almost weekly "gallops" on the 2 mile, 3 mile and 5 mile road circuits in the Phoenix Park, as well as at sports meetings in College Park, Lansdowne Road and elsewhere.

I suppose you could say JJ was the Mark Cavendish of his period, at least in Ireland. Small in stature, slim and handsome, he had great finishing speed but also the endurance to ride every sort of road race, with many successes. He was able to read a finish, follow the right wheel and e in the right place at the critical moment. He was cute as well, evidenced by the true tale of him squeezing between Jim McQuaid and Shay Elliott in a bunch finish in the Phoenix Park, yelling "Let me through, I think I can win". Amazingly, they both moved over, he shot between them and actually won! A true story - I was behind them and saw and heard it.

JJ represented Ireland on a number of occassions, for example in the Manx International on the Isle of Man and at the World Amateur Road Race Championships in Zandvoort, Holland in 1959. On the day before that race the team, with manager Billy Stewart, cycled out to Zandvoort from their Amsterdam hotel to look at the course, part of which was along a seaside promenade. As they rode at slow speed along the prom, a young lady in a bikini appeared up some steps. Our quintet looked in wonderment at this apparition (remember this was 1959 and bikinis had not yet reached Ireland!). Wheels touched and JJ, with the rest of the Irish squad as well as their manager, lay in a heap on the ground. Unfortunately Billy Stewart ended up in a Dutch hospital requiring extensive surgery to his face, which resulted in myself, as a delegate, having to take over his role as team manager of a somewhat scarred quartet.

JJ persuaded the Eagle and Emerald clubs to co-organise a two day stage race from Dublin to Birr and back to Dublin. He made extensive use of family and friends in Birr, his home town, to arrange overnight accomodation for riders and entourage and organised the finish and marshalling. I have a vivid recollection of JJ riding at the head of the peloton, directing them as they negotiated the streets of Mountmellick, en route to Birr.

In the early 1960's I lost contact with JJ when marriage and family sent me in different directions. Then, around 1983, my son, Ronan, decided he wanted to take up under-age cycle racing. I took him along to a race and met up again with JJ, who readily agreed to take Ronan under his wing. Before long I found myself being sucked (or perhaps suckered is the better description) by JJ into the Eagle CRC and up to the gills in cycling affairs.

By this stage JJ had created the hugely successful Junior Tour of Ireland - and I found myself in the thick of it. He was a great operator - he had the ability to get to the important person or persons when he required to get something done. He would work his charm, usually successfully, often getting what seemed the impossible. He persuaded the Gardai to provide motorcycle escorts as the Junior Tour went around the country and to operate a rolling closed road system. He even got both sides of O'Connell Street in Dublin closed for the race. He had contacts at the highest levels, often cultivated over the years.

For many years a big percentage of races in the Dublin region were JJ McCormack promotions, with a team of stalwarts he'd built around him. He could, however, at times be difficult to work with, with some very fixed ideas. He had, for example, a limited appreciation of why a company would put money into cycling by way of sponsorship. I think he thought sponsors simply shared his great love of the sport. This caused me some difficulties when I persuaded one organisation to sponsor the points jersey in the Junior Tour. A critical proviso was that this jersey was to be printed in the product colours, blue with the logo in white. I spelled this out but, when the jerseys were delivered on the day before the race started, they were in the traditional Tour De France green. The sponsor went ballistic as their grand marketing plan, photoshoots and so on were scuppered. He didn't return the next year but it all went over JJ's head.

When I recommenced riding my bike, JJ and I teamed up for Sunday runs around North County Dublin. These were very pleasurable ad relaxed outings. JJ was a great companion and was always in great humour. We even took part in the Dublin/Belfast/Dublin Maracycle.

On one occasion, to esacpe the imclement spring weather, we decided to leave our spouses behind and take off with our bikes for a week to Majorca. We stayed in the resort of Magaluf, near Palma. In glorious sunshine we headed off after breakfast, in a different direction each day, to explore the highways and byways of this cycling island. One of our spins took us up the series of hairpin bends on the road to Soller. At the top of the "col" we stopped at a roadside cafe. As we sat under the shade of a tree sipping our cold drinks, two cyclists pulled over having ridden up from Soller. One looked at JJ and said: " Last time I saw you,you were getting out of a bath to let me in".

About 40 years earlier, during the short-lived An Tostal Festival in Ireland, a 4-day cycle race attracted a top class field, including Irish, English and Scottish national teams and other top club teams from the two islands. Stage three wasfrom Cork to Waterford. Near Mitchelstown ad the Galtee Mountains the weather rapidly deteriorated, with rain turning to sleet and then freezing cold snow. Riders retired in droves, more than 100 of them stopping due to the conditions. Eventually around twelve only reached Waterford, coming in over a considerable period of time. They were directed to the Tower Hotel where a bath of hot water had been readied. Each finisher was submerged in the warm water to thaw out. As the English cyclist remembered, JJ was emerging from the bath as he stripped to take his place. Bizarre!

One evening a JJ promotion was due to start at the Grasshopper Pub in Clonee. A promised Garda escort failed to show but JJ quickly got another motorcyclist to volunteer as a mobile marshall. A few miles into the race a Garda on his Honda pulled along beside us and was "verbally assaulted" for being late. The Garda, who knew JJ and was involved with the Garda Cycling Club, protested that he was, in fact, on his way to Trim with an urgent dispatch for the local Superintendent from the Garda Commissioner. He insisted he couldn't work on the bike race. JJ however pulled out his trump card, saying "There'll be two pints for you in th Grasshopper if you come with the race". Let's just say the delivery to the Superintendent was delayed by about an hour!

I'm sure many more people have stories to tell involving JJ.

In his later years he worked for former International cyclist Karl McCarthy and his Biocel business, based in Cork. As well as being his boss, the now deceased Karl was a great friend to JJ, sharing his love of the sport. Karl loved to travel to World Championships and Olympic Games and usually brought JJ with him, covering all their expenses.

In 1987 JJ decided to organise a coach himself, to take supporters overland to Villach, Austria to see the Worlds. He packed out the coach. This was,of course, the year Stephen Roche won the Professional Road Race, to the great delight of all who travelled from Dublin.

It was a staggering blow to me personally when I heard JJ had become afflicted with that terrible scourge, Alzheimers. Some time before he was diagnosed and shortly after JJ was in a road traffic collision with a truck, Ronan and I visited him at his home. It was clear to us that evening that he wasn't his usual self. He seemed unable to remember things said minutes earlier and we found ourselves repeating stories and bits of conversation. But that is not the JJ I will remember. Instead I will remember him as this loveable rogue, so full of life, this funny person, this generous man always ready to help out.

I would like to offer my deepest condolences to Rita and all of the McCormack children, spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the death of JJ, a loving father who always had great pride in his children and their achievements. He was a great friend to myself, Vera and our children, who all remember him with the deepest fondness.

Friday 17 September 2010

Race Around Ireland 2010 - We have a winner!

Congratulations to Bernd Paul of Germany, individual winner of this years Race Around Ireland. Bernd completed the 2,100 km course, riding through sometimes atrocious conditions, in a time of 113.12 hours, including sleeping time. Amazing!

Bernd Paul ready for the off in Navan last Sunday.

Congrats also to Ireland's Wheels of Destiny (Murt Rice and John Mahon) winners of the two-person teams race in a time of 102:01 hours. That's a non-stop average speed of over 20kph.

Wheels of Destiny

Thursday 16 September 2010

Musette Books - Cycling books in one place

You may have noticed the not very subtle "Visit our Bookshop" banner at the top of The Muse-ette. I think it needs some explanation.

The Muse-ette has teamed up with Eclector to set up Muse-ette Books, an online bookshop specially customised for Muse-ette readers. Muse-ette Books has gathered a huge range of cycling books in one place for you to easily browse and, hopefully, buy.

I've spent quite a bit of time going back through the many great cycling books I've read over the years and also researching titles I haven't got around to. So far I've tracked down over 120 cycling titles, ranging from Tour De France books to biographies of the greats to travel books to cycling themed fiction. I'll continue to track down more books to add to the list as I go on.

As well as a cycling section, I've also added an "Irish Interest" section and a section dedicated to "Exploration" where you might find something you can get your teeth into.

Finally there's an "Everything Else" section where you can search the full Eclector library for that must read title.

I hope you can find what you're looking for on Muse-ette Books. If not let me know and I'll see if I can track it down for you.

To visit Musette-Books, simply click on the "Visit our Bookshop" banner above or click on this link:

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Race Around Ireland 2010 - Start Pics and Race Update

The Race Around Ireland is now nearly two days old and what a couple of days it's been for the riders. Gale force winds and driving rain have made it even more gruelling than usual. I find myself looking out the window at the trees swaying and can't help feeling for the competitors as they grind down the west coast into that wind.

The severity of the conditions were summed up by one of Thomas Ratschob's support crew, who posted on their blog, after he'd crested the Gap of Mamore, that "Thomas has just experienced my absolute nightmare: rain, wind, 25% slope on ca.4km and this on the bike." At that point Thomas was leading by some distance. However, he was suffering quite a bit in the conditions and decided to rest near Sligo for longer than he'd planned.

On the bright side, updates on the race Facebook page suggest that the stretch from Clifden to Galway has a strong tailwind, giving some relief to the riders. Plus they even saw some sub today!

Amazingly, given the awful conditions, only one rider has abondoned so far. That was Navan's Ricky Geoghegan who was forced to pull out yesterday morning with knee problems.

At time of writing the state of play is:

1st Bernd Paul (GER), 2nd Eoin Ryan (IRL), 3rd Sean O'hIarnain (IRL), 4th Thomas Ratschob (SWI) all of whom are somewhere between Oranmore and Kilkee, 5th Tim Veremans (BEL), 6th Donncha Cuttriss (IRL), 7th Valerio Zamboni (MON), who are all between Clifden and Oranmore, 8th Leslie Holton (USA), between Castlebar and Clifden, 9th Ian Campbell (NI) and 10th Wyatt Van Wendels (UK), both between Sligo and Castlebar.

Of the two-man teams, Wheels of Destiny are leading. They are currently between Oranmore and Kilkee, as are The Underdogs.

(Follow their progress on the race website,, or on Facebook,

I want to wish the four-person and eight-person teams, who start tonight, the best of luck for their races.

Finally, after much battery trouble, here are some pics from the start in Navan on Sunday night. Apologies for the poor quality. It was dark!
Last years winner, Joe Barr, interviewed before the start by PJ Nolan.
Current leader, Bernt Paul (Germany)
Valerio Zamboni (Monaco)
Tim Veremans (Belgium)
Tim Veremans (BEL) rolls off the ramp.
Radio DJ, Wyatt Van Wendels (UK)
Sean O hIarnain (Ireland)
Eoin Ryan (Ireland)
Ricky Geoghegan (Ireland)
Thomas Ratschob (Switzerland) about to start.
Cancer survivor, Ian Campbell (N. Ireland)
Wheels of Destiny (Ireland). They are John Mahon and Murt Rice.
The Underdogs (Ireland). They are Niall Doggett and John Tormey.

Monday 13 September 2010

Race Around Ireland 2010

I made it out tonight to see the start of this years Race Around Ireland. Following on the success of last years event, the second longest race in the world is back on our roads.

11 hard individuals, and two 2-man teams, set off into a wet, cold, night from Navan, Co Meath. Ahead of them lies 1,350 miles (2,160 km) of tough, tough riding on very little sleep. Some are out to win the race but most simply want to make the finish before the cut-off time of 132 hours has elapsed. In other words for the first rider off at 8pm tonight, USA's Leslie Holton, the cut off time will be 8am on Saturday. Last year only 4 of the 11 solo riders managed to finish on time.

And don't think this is simply about riding your bike on smooth, main roads while roughly circumnavigating the island. Not on your life! The organisers have gone out of their way to ensure this is a gruelling event. Climbs like the Gap of Mamore, Gap of Dunloe, Patricks Hill, Mahon Falls, Slieve Maan and Drumgoff (among many others) have all been included. To put that in perspective one competitor mentioned tonight that the Race Across America only has roughly 25% more climbing, but in approximately twice the distance.

And a lot of those climbs, and the resulting descents, will be ridden at night. Tired riders, rough roads, darkness and, probably, bad weather will all combine to make this one serious challenge.

This years field includes double Womens Ironman World Champion, the aforementioned Holton, top Swiss Ultra-Marathon rider, Thomas Ratschob, Monaco's Velerio Zamboni and Ireland's Seán Ó hIarnáin.

For me, perhaps the most inspirational starter is Ian Campbell, from Newcastle, Co. Down. Two years ago Ian was diagnosed with prostate cancer and is only recently finished a course of radiotherapy. He's determined to fight back and wants to try to inspire others to do the same.

Good luck to all the riders now battling the rain and also to all those starting as part of the four and eight person teams on Tuesday night.

To follow the race progress or find out more go the race website at

Saturday 11 September 2010

JJ McCormack RIP

JJ McCormack
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of JJ McCormack, who passed away on Thursday night, after a long illness.

Joe, or JJ as he was better known, was one of Ireland's top riders during a career that spanned a quarter of a century. Having started cycling, in his native Birr, in the late 1930's, JJ won his first national title in 1948. He followed that win with a further 28 All-Ireland Championships and represented his country 23 times. It would be fair to say there are very few cycling trophies from that era in Ireland that don't carry his engraved name at least once.

Coast to Coast Race Eagle C.R.C. Team
L/R J.J.McCormack, Tony Allen(sunglasses), Christy Lynch, Jim Kennedy, Sonny Cullen, Gerry Kinsella

After his retirement from racing in 1963, JJ then became one of the most dedicated and visionary officials in Irish cycling. He organised, or worked on, events at all levels, from Schoolboy leagues to the Pro-Am Tour of Ireland in 1982. He also served for many years on the committee of the Irish Cycling Federation and was a major player in uniting the sport on the island via the Irish Cycling Tripartite Committee. I've no doubt that his wily wit and charm smoothed many a tense discussion and opened many doors to progress.
The Irish Amateur RR Team at the World Championships in Zandvoort, Holland, 1959
From left: JJ McCormack (Eagle CRC), Sammy Kerr (Ballymena RC), Sean Fox (Eagle CRC - Manager),
Ian Moore (Zeus RC), Jim Maguire (Windsor CC)

However, by his own admission, pride of place in his many achievements in the sport was the Junior Tour Of Ireland. In 1978, JJ felt that young Irish cyclists would benefit enormously from having the opportunity to ride a proper stage race, over courses and distances within their ability, and against riders of a similar age. From that the then unique Junior Tour of Ireland was born.

Generations of Irish, and foreign, riders cut their teeth in the Junior Tour, many of whom went on to much greater things in the sport. The list of winners contains many well known names, including Martin Earley (winner of the first edition in 1978, Tour De France stage winner), JJ's own son Paul (1980, Rás winner and pro), Stephen Spratt (1983, Rás winner), Richard Groenendaal (1988, World Cyclo-Cross Champion), Mark Scanlon (1998, World Junior RR Champion) and current pro riders Nicolas Roche (2002), Kai Reus (2003) and Ian Stannard (2004).

It's a lasting tribute to JJ that the Junior Tour Of Ireland is still regarded as one of Europe's (if not the worlds) premier junior races and that it still continues to produce winners whose names grace the cycling pages for many years after their win.

Still riding in Eagle colours in Majorca, late 1980's

Of course, as well as being a great member of the Irish cycling family, JJ, with his wife Rita, had a great cycling family of his own. Of his four sons and one daughter, three of them went on to be successful riders in their own right. Alan, Paul and John all enjoyed success racing in, and for, Ireland. Alan and Paul then both went on to become big players on the US pro scene. Their living room in Donaghmede, Dublin was a cycling trophy room, containing countless cups, trophies, medals and sashes.

My own memories of JJ come from my time riding for the same club he won so many races with, Eagle CRC. As an old friend of my Dad's, JJ never had anything but words of encouragement for me, from my earliest schoolboy races, through Junior and on to Senior racing. His enthusiasm, his generosity and his humour could lift a kid from even the worst drubbing (of which there were many in my short career!). We had many laughs driving the length of the country in his Ford Cortina Estate, all through a fog of cigar smoke.

He valued everyone's contribution to his beloved sport equally, from the most esteemed pro to the humblest schoolboy, from the blazered officials to the long-suffering mums, wives and family members lining the roadside. At the same time he had no shame in recruiting anyone available for even the lowliest job, to ensure a smooth race. With a quiet word, a wink, a hand on your elbow or a playful thump on the chest, he'd have you standing on a corner with a flag for the afternoon before you'd even have a chance to get a word in!

JJ McCormack was nothing short of a giant of Irish cycling. His passing marks a very sad day for all who knew him and for the sport.

My sincerest condolences go out to his family and friends at this sad time.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Recycling Cycles

Ever wondered what happens to old bikes and bike bits? Apparently, in these eco-conscious times, there are lots of people out there thinking up creative ways of making use of old bike bits.

Here're a few of my favourites. (Click on the photo to go to the original site).


Bike Chain and Spoke Bracelet

Cable and Bike Chain Bracelet

Cuff "Links"

Household Stuff:

Bike Chain Lamps

Bike Tube Shelving System

Bike Tube Rug

Lounge Chair

Wheel Mirror

Side Table

Wheel Pot Rack

Wheel Clock

Bits and Bobs:

Cassette Clock

Chainring Pendulum Clock

Candle Holder

Tea Light Holder

Tyre Belt

But my favourites are these two projects where someone was really thinking big:

Bike Windmill - using old clean transport to make new clean power.

Bike Christmas Tree. This was done in London to promote cycling.

Thursday 2 September 2010

The Flying Cyclist's Trans-Australia Record attempt is over

I hope my writing about it didn't jinx Chris Marris's record attempt but, unfortunately, his website is saying that the attempt has been stopped for safety reasons. He was almost half way across the continent at the time, and on schedule for a new record.

Despite forecasts to the contrary, Chris had to endure very heavy rain for a large part of the four days he was on the road and it looked like he'd be facing even more if he continued. Apart from the physical discomfort of riding in constant, heavy rain this also raised major concerns for his safety. The wesbite states:

"The problem with the rain, which yesterday was heavy and unrelenting, comes from the side effects of poor visibility, particularly at night while on the road, and the associated wall of water that can almost knock you off your bike when a road train goes flying past."

I would like to congratulate Chris for what he did manage to achieve, not least raising a considerable sum for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and wish him luck for the future.

You can read Chris's statement on his website at