My chances, finally, of living out the edgy Clash lifestyle I’ve secretly craved, are doomed. This realisation flared up in my head, in synch with the lights in front of me, as they changed in turn from red, to amber, to green and I duly started churning my cranks. The problem is I’m never going to jump red lights. I will wait diligently for the correct colour to appear before humbly pedalling across. So you can gather from this that I am neither an iconoclast, nor an anarchist, nor an ‘RLJ-er’ (red light jumper). Obeying traffic signals, I fear, is not very punk rock.
I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the group responsible for White Riot, Guns of Brixton, Death or Glory, I Fought the Law, Bank Robber and Spanish Bombs, was not concerned with toeing the line and obeying all of society’s rules. That’s a major part of why the Clash are, in my estimation, the best band there’s ever been (I offer as exhibit A, their almost perfect album, London Calling). However, they were also strong ad…


The ride from Port de Pollenca to Cap de Formentor - to the lighthouse indeed - is great training for  Ventoux. While it’s neither as long nor as daunting, it resembles the 'Giant’s' upper reaches because much of the Formentor road clings to the side of the hill, following the mountain’s contours, rather than zig-zagging in d’Huez-style hairpins. In this sense much of the route is a ‘mini-me’ version of the bald mountain’s most famous sections.

I tackled the lighthouse in mid-afternoon heat. As I reached the viewing area after the first climb, a call from Jackie came from the villa. Was I OK? It was hurling it down where she was. I looked back - the Pollenca villa being only a couple of kilometres distant - and could see an angry purple and black cloud hovering over the town. I could even hear claps of thunder. But where I was perched at the top of Col de la Creueta, the immediate sky was powder blue and would stay that way for the duration of my ride.

The sun also mimicked e…


The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold - Adventures along the Iron Curtain by Tim Moore

Few writers make me laugh out loud, with abandon and in public. Tim Moore is one of them. Buried deep in his Tour de France-alike 'French Revolutions' whilst en route to my own joust with Le Grande Boucle in the shape of the 2006 Etape du Tour, I was rudely dug in the ribs by my long-suffering wife and told to shut the book. My giggling apparently was not appreciated by our fellow cyclists who sat in our coach from Geneva Airport brooding over the travails to come on the Izoard and Alpe d'Huez. Moore was my antidote to the anxiety facing all of us before that mammoth ride but I was forced to stop reading it in such company because I couldn't keep my mirth to myself. For my fellow travellers it was too late anyway - most had already developed the hundred-yard-stare.
In this, his third bike book, Tim Moore once again is pedalling headlong towards what he calls, the coal-face of off…


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…


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 …