September bike blog: Olympic glory takes cycling fever into the autumn

August 29, 2012 No Comments »

Picture by Simon Nurse.

Simon Nurse cycle commutes daily, races cyclo-cross for Cardiff JIF, and edits the Odoni-sponsored cycle blog cyclestuff.wordpress.com.

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 we gaze back through the record books (and the weather charts), the summer of 2012 will be remembered for three things; The Olympics, British domination of competitive cycling and thoroughly lousy weather.

Given that we need little reminding about the latter of these, we can park it for a bit – at least until the next shower – and bask in some reflected glory.

Before the start of the Tour, we all hoped that Wiggins, Froombe, Cavendish and co could pull it off, but who would have predicted the dominance of Team Sky?

The traits that brought so much glory only a couple of weeks later at the Olympics were on show throughout the Tour, with hard team work, hard effort and hard science being the order of the day.

Each member of Team Sky played their part almost to perfection, showing very few chinks in their armour. If Cavendish had been fortunate enough to grasp a couple more stage wins, the TDF (from a British and Sky perspective) would have been absolutely perfect. It made for a captivating and jingoistic three weeks.

Hot on the heels of this success, Team GB utterly dominated the track cycling, with their road brethren bringing home medals in the men’s time trial (Wiggins’ gold and Froombe’s bronze) and a silver for Lizzie Armistead in the ladies’ road race. As this is a regional blog I think we can show some regional bias and congratulate local lad Geraint Thomas on his second gold medal as part of the world record beating team pursuit. Stunning stuff.

The Olympics capped off a stunning period for UK cycling. I think it’s safe to say that cycling has had such a massive shot in the arm, resulting in even more Brits out on two wheels. The UK is now the second biggest market in Europe for bikes as evidenced by much greater numbers of commuters on bikes. I’m convinced that I’ve not seen so many people cycling around Cardiff in the past, despite conditions being less than favourable.

Similarly, if you want to enter a cycling event you’d better do so early; many are selling out months in advance. This all bodes well for the continued growth not only of the sport, but also for cycling as a cheap, healthy and viable transport option.

I appreciate that the summer has been a veritable overdose of sports action, but if you’ve the appetite for more, cycling still has great action up its sleeve. The Vuelta (The tour of Spain) is now fully underway (at the time of writing, Chris Froombe is in second place), with coverage available online. Closer to home, Paralympic cycling will be starting on Thursday August 30. Expect another UK gold spree as our fantastic Paralympic team chase down those gongs.

On the local scene, here are a few things to note (Non-competitive events marked N/C):

  • Cardiff JIF lungclosers criterium – Fast racing on the closed circuit of Llandow. Wednesday August 29. Youth stage races at 5pm, Cats 2/3/4 Vets Only at 7pm and seniors at 7.45pm, 2/3/4 at 7.45pm. (Please note a ‘Cat 4’ rider is a novice rider who has yet to accumulate ‘points’ by placing in the top 10. This is where to start racing). Entries taken on the day.
  • The Devils MTB challenge (N/C). 50km and 80km route choices over the beautiful countryside that surrounds Llanwrtyd Wells. Details on the website.
  • The Brecon Beast (N/C). Very popular MTB enduro (long distance non-competitive mountain bike event) starting at Penlan fields in Brecon. Sunday September 9th 2012, 9.00am start.
  • Pedal Power annual sponsored ride, Taff trail, 52 mile supported ride from Brecon to Cardiff (N/C). Refreshment options with their own café (Spokes) on the Western side of the river Taff.
  • The Cyclo-cross season starts at Llantarnam High School on Sunday September 16. The ‘cross’ season lasts until Christmas with fixtures throughout South and West Wales. Fast and furious, cross provides a safe(ish!) environment with races lasting around 50 minutes. Particularly good for kids. More details can be found on the Welsh Cyclo-cross league website.

With a bit of luck, we’ll be basking in an Indian summer very shortly (nothing like hopeless optimism), so however and wherever you manage to get out on two wheels, I hope you have a thoroughly enjoyable September.

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