August bike blog: Paper rounds, Olympic horizon and the month ahead

July 28, 2012 1 Comment »

Cardiff cycling blogger Simon Nurse cycle commutes daily, races cyclo-cross for Cardiff JIF, and edits the Odoni cycle blog at

He is also yourCardiff’s guest blogger on all things bike in Cardiff, writing a monthly round-up of cycling news, events, and the best rides in the city. You can contact Simon on Twitter @cyclestuffblog.

When I was a kid I had several paper rounds, the meanest of which was an epic, starting at Cottrell Road and extending all around the Roath and Cathays. I carried three heavy bags, slung like quivers across my shoulders, with one sat centrally on my back.

It was a Sunday round, so the papers were thick with supplements; The Times Sunday magazine, thick sporting addendums, flyers for furniture you’re unlikely to buy from English villages that you’d never heard of. On my Raleigh Sprint, it was bloody hard work.

All those memories came flooding back to me as I cycled through Blackweir and the air was thick with the scent of freshly wet foliage and dampened tarmac. This was back in 1984, when ‘Come on Eileen’ and ‘A town called Malice’ were in the pop charts and ‘Bladerunner’ graced the silver screen.

Cycling does this to you; it’s funny how sights and smells can invoke long forgotten memories. It’s even funnier (and maybe sadder) that those memories belong to an autumnal 1984.

I remain utterly convinced that the sun took a month off during July, taking advantage of cheap holiday deals and avoiding the school holidays. If it had any sense, it headed for France and followed the most engaging grand tour (from a Brit perspective at least) for many, many years.

If – like lots of diehard cycling fans – you’ve been gripped by the tour and would rather it not end, then fear not, there’s another just around the corner – the Vuelta e Espana (Tour of Spain). It’ll be fascinating to see how this one plays out, with the torment of the TDF only a few weeks prior and the Olympics even closer to its start, there will be some very tired athletes on the road.

The Vuelta e Espana starts on Navarre on August 18 and concludes on Sunday September 9 in Madrid.

Coming back to matters more local and the weather in particular, the BBC weather forecasters went out on a limb and suggested via twitter that summer has arrived (this was July 19 and I’ve kept the evidence). If it happens to be true (rubbing your lucky rabbit’s foot, holding a four leaf clover etc), then there’s plenty of reasons to get out on the bike in August.

Let’s deal with the biggie first – the Olympics. Whether you’ve been fortunate enough to get tickets or not, it’ll provide a fine spectacle (via that lovely big screen outside St David’s Hall) and perhaps the inspiration needed to get the family out on the bike. Road cycling starts on July 28, with all the action on the track starting on August 2. Keep your eyes peeled for our very own Geraint Thomas in the men’s pursuit.

If you do head out with the family, you can do a lot worse than head along the Taff trail toward Bute Park. The improvements around the Arboretum continue apace, with new tea rooms at the West Lodge to complement the existing summer house. An ideal stopping off point on the way to (or back from) the Bay.

Keeping things in the centre of the city, Pedal Power have just announced details of their sponsored ride. Whilst it’s not until September 15, if you’re interested in this 52 mile supported ride from Brecon to Cardiff, details are now available on their website. Based in Pontcanna, Pedal Power do excellent work in respect of making cycling accessible for everyone. They can also add to your refreshment options with their own café (Spokes café) on the Western side of the river Taff.

For fans of mountain bike enduros, the legendary John Lloyd is putting on the Ritchey Trail Masters 3-day event (with a one day option) at the home of all things nutty – Llanwrtyd Wells. This event is recommended for experienced mountain bikers and if you like the sound of it – John’s events are fantastic – then the details can be found here.

If road competition is on your agenda, the calendar is looking a little lean during August as the season starts winding down. However, it is the right time to start thinking about its muddy cousin, cyclo-cross.

The season kicks off at 12.15pm on September 16 with the Welsh League Round 1 meet at Llantarnam High School near Cwmbran. Organised by my own club – Cardiff JIF – there will be 50 mins of fast, muddy racing around a closed loop. Children’s races feature earlier in the day and are short, sharp and perfect for honing their bike handling skills.

Cyclo-cross is the perfect introduction to a young racing career. Mountain bikes are fine but cyclo-cross bikes with appropriate tyres (32-35mm knobblies) fare better. Races cost around £13 with concessions for British Cycling members and inclusion in the overall league rankings.

Admittedly September may be a little way in the distance, but if you’re interested in giving cyclo-cross a go, this advance tip off gives plenty of opportunity to get a few muddy laps under your belt in advance.

However you choose to enjoy the bike in August, I hope you manage to get a lot more opportunities for sun kissed riding than we did in July. Have a great month.

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One Comment

  1. Simon Nurse July 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    …and for 1984, please read 1982. That's rushing to write a post before going on hols! (Blade runner fans will spot that typo in a jiffy).

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