Archive for the Photos Category

May 26, 2010

The Shop Cozy

In 1972 my father opened a bike shop with his good friend Mike Brown in the center of Toronto named Bicyclesport. At the time, the bike shop was unique in a city of supermarket bikes as it catered to the serious cyclist. They built custom Mariposa frames in the frame shop, they repaired frames, there was a crew of top mechanics and the sales room was clean, crisp and colourful.

I grew up in the shop. From a newborn to a teenager I spent a significant portion of my life amongst the bikes.  The mechanics taught me how to fix my bike, I worked on my frames with my Dad as soon as I was old enough to hold a torch, and the new bikes, which lined the showroom walls were candy to my young eyes. The shop was a warm and welcoming environment in which to grow up. Being from the UK, my Dad always had the kettle on and the cookie tin full.

Almost four decades later, the shop is now closed and my Dad is retired. But, he still maintains a workshop, which has also become somewhat of a museum. He restores bikes from his significant collection and friends constantly drop by to have a cup of tea, chat about cycling, tinker with the bikes, or page through the old cycling volumes.

The teapot is still insulated by a cozy knitted by a mechanic’s mother. She gave it to the shop for the opening as her fifteen-year-old son Ted, who started out as ‘the shop boy’, had been given the job of making tea. Being from England she understood the importance of a good cup of tea and a good cozy to keep the pot warm. It is a simple woolen hat striped with the world championship bands. It has become a bit of symbol for the shop and has somehow weathered the years of use. Cycling brings unique people from all over the world together and many of those gathered in the shop around the teapot.

Attached are some photos of my father’s large collection of bikes, books and parts. The photos only capture a small part of the vast collection. The shop still feels like a home to me and, I think, to hundreds of people who share a common passion for the bike and have sat around the shop and talked over tea and a biscuit.

For more images of the bikes and shop see: www.bikespecialties.com, mariposabicycles.com and www.bicyclespecialties.blogspot.com

[nggallery id=17]

April 26, 2010

Beyond the Cover, Le Métier.

Select pages of Le Métier. The Seasons of a Professional Cyclist.

[nggallery id=16]

April 19, 2010

Le Métier. The seasons of a professional cyclist.

On a cold rainy winter day, while I was climbing a mountain in solitude, ideas were floating through my head as my heart rate increased with the effort. I thought about the ride. I was alone on a road in the pouring rain. It was a moment in the life of a cyclist that the public doesn’t see. There are thousands of such moments.

Camille McMillan, a photographer who is also a good friend, and I had just finished working on a project together. His photos are unique and we had worked well together.

At the top of the mountain I pulled over and sent him an SMS. “I think we should work on a book that will tell the story of a pro cyclist’s life. The book will follow him through the year. With your photos and my words I think we can tell a story that hasn’t been told and give people an understanding of what the life of a pro cyclist is all about.” Moments later he wrote back. “I’m in.”

Before he became a professional photographer and I a professional cyclist, we were childhood friends. Camille’s father, Rhett, rode in a local club in London with my father. They were best friends and with cycling as a common passion. Camille and I grew up immersed in bike magazines and books. And, as a result of all of that, we see the sport similarly. Due to that childhood friendship there was a level of trust, which allowed us to work more honestly and intimately.

Camille followed me as often as possible through the cycling season. He spent time in my home, in the hotel room, in the team bus, and followed the training rides. Many of his photos capture the moments in a cyclist’s life that are routine to us but are exceptionally abnormal to most people.

To attain the level of fitness necessary each rider in the professional peloton has committed his life to his bike. The roadside spectators, the media and the television audience, who watch us from a distance, cannot see the professional cyclist’s commitment, suffering and sacrifice. We have told this story in Le Métier. The seasons of a professional cyclist.

The book is on sale now: http://rouleur.cc/le-metier and will be released 29.04.2010. Below are some snaps Camille took late last week of the printing presses in action.

[nggallery id=15]

April 6, 2010

Training, The Photo Tour.

Here are some pictures from this weeks training leading up to Paris-Roubaix. I’ve also included a few pictures of Flecha’s Roubaix specific bike, notice the seatstays.

[nggallery id=14]

April 5, 2010

Flanders, Paris-Roubaix

Here’s a gallery from the past few days. You will find a few pictures from before Flanders, and then the task of prepping tires for Roubaix.

[nggallery id=13]

March 26, 2010

Back In Belgium

The Tour of Flanders course is extremely technical and for riders who don’t live near the course and know the roads well, a reconnaissance ride prior to the race is vital . The fight for position before the cobbled sections is as crucial as a rider’s skills on the cobbles, as the peloton splits on the small roads due to bottlenecks and crashes. Most teams ride the final 100 km of the course prior to the race to preview the stones and find the smoothest and quickest line. We rode the course the day after Dwaars door Vlaanderen–a midweek semi-Classic.

Most of the boys were tired from a hard and well fought race while Edvald Boasson Hagen and I had fresh legs from a few days of rest post Milan Sanremo. The weather was abnormally warm for Belgium which made the countryside all the more beautiful. This weekend will be big: E3 Prijs-Vlaanderen-Harelbeke and Gent Wevelgem. The team is prepared for a tough battle–rain is in the forecast and the temperatures will drop.

[nggallery id=12]

March 23, 2010

A Recent Photo Tour

[nggallery id=11]

February 28, 2010

Het Volk

[nggallery id=9]

February 26, 2010

The Games

As the winter Olympics unfold in Canada, I have been thinking about my past experiences at the Summer Games.

The experiences have made my life richer and others’ Olympic performances have inspired me as an athlete. But as I watch the Canadians race for medals in Vancouver, I realize how far the Olympics are from the vision and values of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic movement. De Coubertin said, “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” The Games aren’t what I had imagined as a child as I now realize they are now to focused on generating money.

Olympians are now a part of a massive industry, which masquerades as something greater, but is virtually no different than professional hockey, basketball or cycling. The main difference is that the athletes aren’t paid for their performances by organizations that make billions from them. Our images are tightly controlled during our participation so we can’t promote personal sponsors for fear they might compete with those endorsing the Games.

Yet, it is still an honor to race with my flag on my back as the essence of sport—to inspire– is still at the heart of any competition. The Olympics provides the largest stage, which gives the honor more weight.

Paralleling the results based values of the current Olympic culture, Canada has been supporting their athletes with a program named, “Own the Podium.” The name of the program is contrary to the Olympic ideals (and on some level very un-Canadian and too self-assured) as ‘owning the podium’ is something completely out of the athletes’ control as it is dependent on thousands of variables which are unknowns until race day.

Result focused programs can be detrimental as they stress athletes who fear failure by making predictions which are out of their control (an athlete can’t control the performances of competitors and therefore has no idea whether or not he/she will win a medal). Being our best is something we can control.  If that is our sole focus, the fear of failure is eliminated. Pressure to control the uncontrollable variables also increases the odds that an athlete will cheat.

With millions of dollars to build a winning team, and all of the hype to go with it, the 1996 US Olympic cycling team choked when it counted. They arrived in Atlanta believing they had won. Yet, the meager Canadian team won more medals with a minute budget. (We traveled to the race from our training camp in Arkansas in the back of the Saturn team truck as we lacked vehicles—Steve Bauer, the team captain sat up front with our mechanic Fernando Tapia.) Clara Hughes told me after she won her bronze medal in the time trial that she opted not to wear a radio or be relayed the time checks of her rivals, as she just wanted to go out and simply do her best ride. Her ride was an admirable, inspiring and unforgettable moment.

My Olympic experiences have all been memorable and unique. While digging through my computer I found some photos from those Games. Here are a few of the memories along with some images:

The 1996 Games in Atlanta was my first experience. I was a naïve 20 year old who matured quickly during my first season of elite professional racing. Thankfully, Steve Bauer my teammate coached me through the summer, and the race, relaxing my nerves as I rode for the first time with the stars I had only read about in the glossy cycling magazines. It was Steve’s last race and my first international event. The road race around Buckhead, in central Atlanta, was the first time I had ridden with an 11-tooth cog (thanks to Fernando who loaned me a fancy pair of Team Saturn’s Mavic Cosmic race wheels). I remember looking down at my sprockets each time my chain spun it, thinking, “Holy shit, we must be going fast. I’m in the 11!”

Steve told me when to move up in the bunch and when to follow the attacks. His tactical instincts were acute and after following a few attacks I found myself bridging up to the winning breakaway with the protagonists. Tucked tightly in the draft we made contact with the leaders as they reached the foot of the climb. No longer able to sustain the effort, I was promptly dropped. I looked back—Steve was coming across alone. Sadly, I was completely blown and couldn’t help him. For a few minutes there were two lone Canadians stuck in between the break and the peloton. Steve didn’t make it to the break and we were both absorbed by the peloton. I followed a few more attacks (being away with Abraham Olano for a few kilometers was another great moment for me) and finished in the peloton.

After the awe of being at the Olympics wore off I was slightly disappointed and disheartened.  It was far more commercial than I had imagined and inhospitable. To me, there was no sense of community in the chaotic yet tightly monitored village.

However, watching my teammate, Clara Hughes, win two medals was a thrill and inspiration. We had grown up together, had spent months together at training camps and had become close friends. Ending an unparalleled career on a bike and skates, she has just skated in her final Olympics in Vancouver on the oval and won a bronze medal in the 5000 m.

The 2004 Olympics in Athens was wonderful as I was able to share it with my wife, Dede, who is part Greek. We had spent the first years of our marriage training together so it was an extraordinary experience to share with her. In a peak of emotion, she accomplished a dream by winning a medal in the time trial and retired soon afterwards. In the road race, I had fantastic legs until 2 km from the finish. Using everything I had left, I attacked the peloton and was away alone with 5 km to go (ahead of me Bettini and Paulinho were racing for first and second) chasing bronze medal.  Axel Merckx bridged across to me and we cooperated until my legs gave out with cramps on the final ascent to the flame rouge. I was caught under the 1 km to go banner by a charging Ullrich who stormed to the finish to set up his teammate Zabel for the sprint. Ugh.

The 2008 Games in Beijing were a cultural experience as the contrasts in wealth were shocking and unsettling. Despite the awkwardness of participating in an event surrounded by ethical question marks, I enjoyed the time with my teammates and felt good throughout the race. Thankfully, this time, my legs seized up after the finish line and I was able to finish in the top ten, five seconds from the front group. A highlight was riding around the city with Jason McCartney on rented city bikes the following day, as documented here in the NYT.

[nggallery id=7]

February 19, 2010

More shots from training camp

[nggallery id=6]