Rapha Continental: Assynt from RAPHA on Vimeo.

I personally abhor Rapha and everything they stand for. But - this is still a good clip.

Harold ‘Aitch’ Nelson BEM, in Rouleur magazine. Cycling coach. Legend.
The man says, “My lads not only make it in sport but in life, too.” (He more famously said, “just get out there and kick their a***s.”) Not a man you want to let down.

Harold ‘Aitch’ Nelson BEM, in Rouleur magazine. Cycling coach. Legend.

The man says, “My lads not only make it in sport but in life, too.” (He more famously said, “just get out there and kick their a***s.”) Not a man you want to let down.


Abu Dhabi International Triathlon 2012. A surprise 3rd place in the relay event. With Katie and Kevin Garvey.

Abu Dhabi International Triathlon 2012. A surprise 3rd place in the relay event. With Katie and Kevin Garvey.


HCT/Western Region DevelopmentCorporation Tour of Al Gharbia, January 2011

HCT/Western Region DevelopmentCorporation Tour of Al Gharbia, January 2011


Old bloke with dodgy camera going down big hill on a bike…

Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, it looks like I have been able to enter the 2011 Etape du Tour.  Finally, everything online, no fuss, no faxes, no frantic doctor’s appointments for medical certificates, and no last minute trips to FedEx.  To overcome the problems of over subscription, the organisers are putting on 2 Etapes du Tour this year, each with 10,000 riders.  Personally, I still think they should prioritise by body fat percentage, but hey, what do I know?  Anyway, if all goes well, I’ll be here on July 11 2011, along with 5999 riders, and 4000 fat tourists.
PS Oh dear, things went far from ‘well’. Spent the week of the event holed up in my sister in law’s flat in Edinburgh with flu. Man flu is real folks.

Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, it looks like I have been able to enter the 2011 Etape du Tour.  Finally, everything online, no fuss, no faxes, no frantic doctor’s appointments for medical certificates, and no last minute trips to FedEx.  To overcome the problems of over subscription, the organisers are putting on 2 Etapes du Tour this year, each with 10,000 riders.  Personally, I still think they should prioritise by body fat percentage, but hey, what do I know?  Anyway, if all goes well, I’ll be here on July 11 2011, along with 5999 riders, and 4000 fat tourists.

PS Oh dear, things went far from ‘well’. Spent the week of the event holed up in my sister in law’s flat in Edinburgh with flu. Man flu is real folks.


No Etape du Tour this year as my name didn’t make it through the lucky draw.  Plus of course if the organisers hadn’t sold most of the entries to fat newbies (and why do they all ride Scotts by the way?) who won’t make it to the finish, then they wouldn’t need to put the rest of us in a draw - but that’s another gripe.
This picture from the epic ‘Bataille de Joel’ on Mont Ventoux July 2009.

No Etape du Tour this year as my name didn’t make it through the lucky draw.  Plus of course if the organisers hadn’t sold most of the entries to fat newbies (and why do they all ride Scotts by the way?) who won’t make it to the finish, then they wouldn’t need to put the rest of us in a draw - but that’s another gripe.

This picture from the epic ‘Bataille de Joel’ on Mont Ventoux July 2009.


Abu Dhabi Triathlon March 2010, coming on to the final lap on Abu Dhabi Corniche having just punctured.  100 km in 2 h 35 mins, must learn to fix punctures 5 mins faster!  My last race for a bit as I made a solemn vow to try being a fat lazy bloke for a while.  Thanks to Padraig Hyland for the photo and support.

Abu Dhabi Triathlon March 2010, coming on to the final lap on Abu Dhabi Corniche having just punctured.  100 km in 2 h 35 mins, must learn to fix punctures 5 mins faster!  My last race for a bit as I made a solemn vow to try being a fat lazy bloke for a while.  Thanks to Padraig Hyland for the photo and support.


Etape du Tour 2009 - Some Thoughts

Well, it was a great day out for everyone who participated in this most prestigious of ‘sportive’ events - wasn’t it?

For some years now, the organisers, ASO, have sold a number (3000 this year I believe) of entries to tour operators in various countries.  Those tour operators offer a variety of packages, including one where you buy only the entry, and make your own travel and accommodation arrangements.  These are up to 10 times (yes ten times) more than you would pay if you entered through the Velo magazine application form.  Fair enough, it’s a money making venture.  Some years, including this year I believe, if your postal address was in a country served by one of those tour operators, you had to enter via a tour operator.  If you applied directly through the application form published in Velo magazine, your application was rejected.

The result?  On rolling up to the start line, you saw hundreds of cyclists who, with all due respect, would look less out of place in a darts match.  But, hey, they paid the money, so why shouldn’t they be on the start line to find out what it’s like to “ride a stage of the Tour de France”?

Well, I can think of three reasons why not.

First, you didn’t need any background in sports to realise that these guys (yes, they were guys) wouldn’t make it as far as the second climb, let alone the finish.  They’ll go home a few thousand pounds worse off, exhausted, and utterly disillusioned with cycling.

Second, it’s going to cheapen the image of the event.  Why would you want to pay for and train for for an event like this if anyone with the required cash, regardless of athletic ability, can enter it?

Thirdly - and this is a moral rather than financial argument - there are many fit, dedicated, experienced riders who happen to live in countries served by these tour companies who can’t, or won’t, pay tour company prices.  Their places are being hijacked by people who will pay, but haven’t a clue about what preparing for and riding an event like this involves.

Cycling is not “the new golf”.  It requires months of sacrifice and preparation.  It’s physically exhausting.  It demands a thorough understanding of how your body reacts to physical stress.  And we don’t wear argyll trousers.  The etape should recognise this and bring back some sort of entry criteria rather than just allow anyone who can pay tour company prices.