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TACKLING THE COBRA

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What’s more Spanish than British cycling superstar, Bradley Wiggins? Paella? Tapas? Possibly? But for many keen cyclists who come to the beautiful island of Mallorca to turn their pedals, catching a glimpse of Brad (Sir Brad – sorry), complete with facial hair, is a bigger draw than the Spanish weather, the majestic Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, or Palma’s imposing cathedral.

The island, to coin a phrase which is hackneying even as you read it, has become a magnet (I dislike using ‘Mecca’), for the cycling fraternity. That includes professional outfits like Wiggins’s (erstwhile), Team Sky, who use Mallorca’s unclogged roads for off-season training, and amateurs, who like a bit of sunshine with their self-induced suffering.
That’s how I found myself on the island in June 2014, heading for the Ponent Mar Hotel in Palmanova – just a few kilometres along the coast from Palma itself. The hotel is the base for Stephen Roche Cycling Holidays and Training Camps.

You may have heard of Mr Ro…

USING THE BIKE FOR A DIFFERENT KIND OF 'SPINNING'

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Ten minutes after the medic removed the wide-gauge needle from my arm, I was stamping on the pedals, surging away from the clinic through rush hour traffic – head held high. The fresh, bloody, track mark on the inside of my elbow was concealed by a strip of medical tape and a plaster. But I was making no attempt to hide the fact that my inner arm had recently received a jab.
This is not a stark, Armstrong-esque, confession. I’m no amateur blood doper. I’m certainly not a pro cyclist!
In truth, I’d just spent an hour and a half at the NHS Donor Centre, at St George’s Hospital, in Tooting, south London, while a very large needle, drew out and returned, small quantities of blood.

No hiding on the floor of a team coach for me. In plain sight, I’d been hooked up to an apheresis machine which separated platelets from the rest of my blood – aptly enough, by spinning it - before pumping what remained back into my body. This process is repeated, over an hour or more (typically 90 minutes in my …

DEIL TAK' THE HINDMOST - Commuting through London’s Richmond Park after midnight

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Nothing beats cycling round south west London’s Richmond Park. I commute through it twice a day at all hours. We take our nephew and niece there for two-wheeled adventures. And we spin round its perimeter with hundreds of other Lycra wannabes whenever we can spare the time.

Anyone with two wheels in west London knows about the park. It's a splash of cool green in the middle of suburban concrete.

STRIKE A LIGHT

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“If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes.” This unlikely quote from the sublime eighties sci-fi cult film Blade Runner pops into my head every time I don my new bike helmet before pedalling off into the heart of London. For some reason my futuristic Torch headgear reminds me of the reimagined version of LA which is the setting for Ridley Scott’s superb film. I can easily see myself as one of the extras populating this city whose dominant characteristic is the abundance of neon lights; on buildings, on vehicles and on people’s clothing.
The Torch bike helmet has been a revelation. Several people have commented on it as I’ve pedalled from west London into the city centre on my way to and from work. A taxi driver even pulled up alongside me at some traffic lights – atfive in the morning no less – wound down his window and said he really liked my ‘lid’. I’d been expecting an anti-cyclist tirade.
So what’s all the …