There are many telltale signs of a cyclist. Shaved legs. Early bedtimes. Tight clothes. Rampant caffeine addictions. Razor sharp tan lines. Hats with inadequate brims. Empty bank accounts. But of all of the indicators, surely the general condition of our knees is one of the most reliable? For no matter how old you are, if you’ve been riding for any length of time chances are your knees resemble those of a nine-year old school boy; scabbed and/or scarred and/or bereft of skin on a pretty much constant basis. Looking down as I type these words, mine certainly do – and every one of those blemishes has a story.
The simple fact of two-wheeled life is whether you’re a seasoned pro, enthusiastic club rider, daily commuter or even just an occasional weekend warrior, chances are you’ve had a few stacks and will no doubt have more before your time on this earth is up. And when cyclists stack, more often than not, we tend to mangle our knees on the bitumen. If it’s wet we may escape with little more than dented pride and a bit of gentle road rash as we slide across the surface. However if it’s dry, or the road surface is somewhat coarse, well get the Dettol and scrubbing brush ready, mother. Friction is a right bastard.
Of course, even the nastiest of wounds tend to heal in time (just ask BMC’s Taylor Phinney). Ultimately the patchwork of bumps and scars on our knees are a bit like spices in our cooking. They provide character, intrigue and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to tell tall tales at the post-ride cafe stop. And as we all know in the case of middle aged cyclists these stories have a habit of growing taller and taller with every telling.
Bloody knees. Wouldn’t be without ’em.
Not sure what it’s like where you live. But here in NSW there’s been plenty of chat and, yes, aggravation in 2015 with regards to the wearing of registered club kit in bike races.
Over the past few years there’s been a noticeable rise in the number of ‘sponsored teams’, whereby club members race in a separate team kit as opposed to their club kit. We’re not talking about Conti, Pro-Conti or even NRS teams here, rather a tier or two further down the pecking order. According to Cycling NSW (CNSW) there were 46 of these sponsored teams as at 30 June 2015, spread across the State’s 60-odd clubs.
In my experience, until relatively recently few clubs in NSW really seemed to care what you wore to their races, as long as you had a gold CA licence you were sweet. One Sydney club aside, most were just happy you were there racing with them at all which seems fair enough in many ways. However not everyone was happy about this situation, and it’s certainly been festering for a while now.
After seeking feedback from a variety of interested parties on the matter, CNSW made several amendments to its by-laws from 1 July 2015 which were communicated to CNSW members in a memo from CNSW CEO Phil Ayres on 30 June. Without going into the minutiae, the changes generally allowed sponsored teams to keep wearing their own race kit – as long as it’s registered with CNSW and, as part of that process, also formally approved by the club/s of the riders involved.
Agree or disagree with the CNSW decision, you’d think the official edict would be the end of the matter? But no. It’s proving a decidedly slippery can of political worms that continues to ooze on a reasonably regular basis. As if domestic cycling doesn’t have enough things to worry about.
At a personal level, I can see both sides of the argument. I’ve been with my club for about six years now and came into cycling from a variety of other club-based sports – cricket, AFL, basketball – where we always proudly wore our club’s uniform, resplendent with sponsors’ logos on our backs, chests and derrieres when competing. It’s just the way it was. There were no ‘sub-clubs’ within the club proper.
Coming from this club-first background I do sometimes feel it’s a shame the identity of cycling clubs is often diluted when many of their riders are competing – if not lost altogether. I also wonder what the club’s main sponsors must think when, after investing 4 or even 5 figures to support that club each year, many of its best riders (sponsored teams are most common in the higher grades for obvious reasons) spend the season racing in non-club kit sporting the logos of completely unrelated businesses? Personally I love nothing more than racing in my club kit as much as possible. On the odd occasions when I don’t, it just doesn’t feel right. I almost feel guilty.
But…I also get the flipside. Sponsored teams undoubtedly bring new brands, businesses and levels of investment into our sport – things that anyone who knows about the delicate financial state of Aussie cycling right now, can appreciate are vital to the future. Sure, it’s great to be idealistic about our clubs. But cycling costs money. Without plenty of it we simply don’t have races, teams or clubs at all. If someone wants to kick in some cash to help back a group of committed riders – rather than an entire club – surely that’s a good thing? Who’s to say one of these sponsors won’t be the next Jayco? Every relationship has to start somewhere.
So, what to do? Well, for starters I reckon it’s a lot like the advice I give to motorists who complain about the road rules pertaining to cyclists. If you’re not happy about the current rules/by-laws, you’re free to have that view – but rather than sling shit and cause trouble, lobby people with some influence to maybe get the rules changed. But until that happens, suck it up and let the rules guide the way. That’s why we have them. It’s called democracy.
Beyond this I did notice Page 9 of the current CNSW by-laws stipulates all sponsored team kits must display the logo/name of their associated club on the left breast of the jersey:
6.7 Registration of Club and Team Colours
B. iii. The uniform must carry the Club’s name or abbreviation on the left breast.
Now, granted I haven’t had a close look at all 46 kits in NSW, but I’m 99.9% sure this is something not all team kits currently do. Which is a shame, really. By all means have your own design if you must. But at least show a hint of the club that, ultimately, allows you to even exist at all.
That’s what I think, anyway. What do you reckon?
Had a good laugh over coffee this morning with a few of the guys from Australia’s largest masters-only cycling club, Waratah Masters CC. Given many of their members, well, aren’t exactly spring chickens – with the various ailments and health issues such ‘life experience’ invariably brings – one chap, Dennis, suggested perhaps the club needed a new motto. Specifically this one:
“Waratah Masters CC. If you’re breathing, you’re winning.”
Oh, how we laughed.
Ourimbah to Wiseman’s Ferry (return) plus bonus dog attack, epic thunderstorm and millions of flies. Distance: 115km* Climbing: 1200m.
* Full distance is 146km, but as you’ll see I didn’t make it all the way back.
An early start in a drizzly Sydney gives way to a fine but humid morning by the time we arrive on the Central Coast. We roll out of the Ourimbah driver reviver rest stop just off the F3 and head straight for Dog Trap Road, and within the first 3km strike a 12% ramp which is quite a shock to the system let me tell you. In fact this bumpy and potholed little road points up for pretty much the entire first 10km. Make sure you warm up beforehand. We didn’t.
Things eventually settle down, allowing our heart rates to do the same, and the next phase of the ride becomes more about undulations than climbs. I begin to enjoy cycling again. Then remarkably, especially considering how ultra organised our ride leader normally is, we get lost somewhere around Mango Mountain. It turns out we’ve uploaded the wrong map and are currently at least 25km from where we think we are. But hey, who cares? It’s Friday morning and we’re riding our bikes, not working. Life is good, lost or otherwise.
We vote for a quick roadside route change and are soon heading towards the historic town of Wiseman’s Ferry, north west of Sydney. All up the outward leg is 73km to the cable ferry, including a cracking 7km descent down to Mangrove Creek Road and Bedlam Creek followed by 40km of largely flat but terribly surfaced roads.
The mid-morning humidity is suffocating so we decide to make an early lunch stop at Wiseman’s Ferry. The local cafe won’t give us tap water, so we’re forced to buy a 10 litre container of H2O. Between the four of us we very nearly use it all anyway.
Thirty minutes after arriving we’re returning back across the Hawkesbury on the cable ferry and looking to the sky it’s hard not to notice the pretty epic storm front rolling in from the west. It seems to be moving quite slowly – perhaps we can outrun it? Yeah right.
But before we get to the storm, we need to mention the dog.
The four of us are rolling through the countryside, merrily dodging potholes with barely a car or house to be seen. We’re discussing the likelihood of getting drenched or not when a huge dog which we later agree was a bullmastiff comes barrelling out from the scrub, showing his fangs and growling at us like Cujo’s long lost twin. Like a tracer bullet the cranky beast makes a beeline for my front wheel, cannoning into me like a line backer sacking a quarterback. Oh fark. I only just crashed three days ago racing out at Penrith (not my fault) and here we go again.
Before I know it I’m nursing headache, lying in a roadside ditch wondering what the hell just happened. Old mate Cujo disappears as fast as he appeared. He’ll be sore like me tomorrow, we were moving pretty quick. My mates thank me for scaring the rabid dog away and give my bike a quick once-over. Remarkably it seems okay. I sit dazed in the ditch for a few more minutes. My helmet is cracked. My right knee is looking pretty gnarly. And then the storm arrives.
Regathering my composure I decide to keep rolling for a while to see how my body holds up. Amidst ever-increasing cracks of lightning and driving rain I console myself it’s now a lot cooler and at least the rain is cleaning out the mangled gash on my knee.
We end up riding about 15km before, on the advice of a mate who’s a sports physio (apparently I’ve had a direct impact to my patella), I stop at the bottom of the climb back up from Mangrove Creek Road and wait – accompanied by 10 million flies – for the others to return with the van. The flies make it seem an eternity as each takes turns at trying to get at my oozing knee. At least the rain stops.
Plenty of cars pass and quite a few stop to check I’m okay. One couple running a nearby yoga retreat even leaves me with a stash of oranges and some fresh water. I wish them a life of good karma, kind yoga people.
Time passes slowly. With all these bloody flies the wait for the van is almost worse than the crash. I manage to combine a warm down stretch routine with fly swatting for a few minutes. It even sort of works.
Uh oh. I look up just as another decidedly grim-looking storm front pokes its foreboding head over the adjacent hills. I really hope the van gets here soon or I’m getting soaked for the second time today. Then again, it should keep the flies at bay.
More people stop to make sure I’m okay. “You alright mate?” Forget the banjo jokes. I say country folks rock. They actually give a shit about others, unlike in the city. The irony is we’re only about an hour from Sydney, but it might as well be 1,000km.
The clouds continue to get darker. And closer. Distant thunder isn’t quite as distant. Where are you guys? The wind picks up and the flies disappear. Yessss. But now I’m getting cold. I look at my phone (on which I’m typing this story for something to do) and it says I’ve been on the roadside for 90 mins. I’m bored. There’s no phone reception out here either, so I can’t even call my mum for some much-needed sympathy.
I try lying down for a bit. But passing motorists think I’m dead. I sit back up. A few drops of rain. Here we go then. Bath time. But Mother Nature is only teasing. It stops and within seconds the flies are back.
I don’t do waiting particularly well, with or without flies. At the sound of every approaching car I now get my hopes up. Then they’re crushed as yet another mud-covered Landcruiser or fruit truck emerges from around the corner. Maybe the guys are lost again? Perhaps they took the correct turn this time? That would be ironic. My knee is starting to throb. And I’m hungry. Need some protein. Maybe I could eat a few flies??
For something else to do I decide to adjust my cleats. My knee was a little sore earlier in the day (i.e. before I crashed on it) so why not try some running repairs? That kills all of five minutes. Two hours have now passed since I last saw my riding pals. They can’t be too far away now. I hope they haven’t had another crash on the wet descent down Dog Trap Road. Then I see the van. Yep, that’s it alright. You beauty. Now get me out of here…
The following article first appeared in the September/October issue of Bicycling Australia magazine and is reproduced with their kind permission. It can also be found here: http://www.bicyclingaustralia.com.au/people/after-life-jens-voigt-phil-anderson-and-robbie-mcewen
I had this idea about retired cyclists. That they probably spend hours moping about the house, gazing forlornly at bulging trophy cabinets and photo albums, pining for glories and adulation long since past. Perhaps some are like that, particularly those who left the sport at the hands of others or a career-ending injury. But by the time the majority step off the bike it seems they’re more than happy to put racing – and, yes, the suffering that accompanies it – far behind them.
In the case of Jens Voigt, currently experiencing his first season as an ex-professional cyclist, it quickly becomes apparent that contrary to his outward persona in social media, the charismatic German couldn’t wait to put the life of a pro rider behind him fast enough. In fact, on a whistle-stop visit to Australia last December, Voigt left little doubt cycling is something he would gladly consign to the history books, at least for the time being. Less than three months since hanging up his Trek Madone, I asked if he still rode just for fun and fitness?
“Jesus f**k no, I don’t ride on my own!” exclaims the 43-year old with an endearing candour that masks the gravity of what he’s actually saying. “I only touch the bike when I’m forced to now. The other day I wondered ‘is my bike still in the garage?’ I wouldn’t know and I couldn’t care. I really need some time away from it.”
Far from the interview I was expecting, Voigt explains his current inner estrangement from the machine that carried him to fame over 18 professional seasons (and started, coincidentally, with the Giant-AIS team managed by Heiko Salzwedel in 1997) has been triggered largely by the way the early stages of his retirement have been handled.
“I agreed to a million things knowing 2014 would be my last season,” reflects Voigt, seemingly drowning in the sea of his own popularity. “I remember thinking ‘I’m going to be retired, I’ll have so much time.’ But the other day I was writing it all down and, f**k, every second day there’s something new. I’m in Australia now. Then I have to be in Spain for a training camp next week, then London for a meeting, then Hamburg for a TV show I agreed to three months ago, then I have a day at home, then it’s the Berlin Athlete of the Year awards, the next day I fly to Belgium for another gala dinner and get home on Friday night and, hopefully, spend the weekend with the kids. They’re already starting to complain!”
“You know, through my whole riding career I never had a manager,” Voigt continues. “But I’ve actually just signed with some people now to help me. One of the reasons I retired was because I want to have less stress. Right now I have much more!”
The other source of Voigt’s ambivalence towards riding right now is perhaps more to be expected. After nearly two decades he’s simply had enough.
“(In that last off-season) I really lost the motivation to go out training. ‘F**k, five hours of intervals or solo mountain biking in December?’ In my body I could go until I’m 45 or more. But my head was going ‘no, no.’ I also realised as I got older of course the chance to find a contract was getting smaller and smaller. The last thing I wanted after a good career was people saying ‘Jens we like you, but sorry.’ I wanted to be the master of my own destiny.”
It’s safe to say one thing Voigt’s destiny will never include is a comeback. “I’m no fan of comebacks,” he declares. “They normally end in some sort of disaster. I’ve squeezed everything out, mentally and physically, so hell no, I’m not having a comeback. F**k that. I don’t want to suffer anymore. I don’t even want to ride in the rain anymore!”
The man from Grevesmühlenn, north-east of Hamburg, who once won Eastern Europe’s most prestigious and politicised cycling event, the Peace Race (1994), didn’t always feel this way of course. “Every athlete, including myself, is good at pushing the thought of retirement far away when they’re young. Retirement is a little bit like you die; everything you live and work for is suddenly gone. But eventually you have to face it because one day it’s going to come.”
“When you first sign professionally you think if you have a little apartment you can retire happily. But when you get married and have a child you think ‘I’m going to need a bigger apartment now’. Or in my case you end up with six kids and need a huge house!”
Voigt may be laughing. But he’s not joking, confessing as his family and commitments grew over the seasons so did his anxiety levels.
“F**k yeah, it scared me,” he says. “I’m German. I’m conservative. To think the income you’ve had for the last 18 years will be gone. On one side, things might become better – you might earn more money for less hard suffering. But you’re going into the unknown and that’s frightening, most people don’t like surprises and I’m no different. It’s certainly not as if I can live off my (cycling) money for the next twenty years. I want a job, I need a job. You need a reason to get out of bed every morning.”
When he’s not traversing the globe, doing media interviews or attending to family duties – “my wife gave me a to-do list that will take five years to work down!” – Voigt enjoys more tranquil pastimes such as reading, movies and, wait for it, visiting zoos.
“Actually, I am off to the zoo after this interview,” he says with a smile. “I love zoos. I try to go to most zoos in the cities I visit. I’ve to been to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth zoos in Australia.”
Zoos or otherwise, you get the feeling time out of the saddle will eventually soften Voigt’s current, somewhat tortured, view of retirement; just as it has for hundreds of riders before him, including arguably the most influential figure in the history of Australian professional road cycling.
For the best part of two decades beginning in the mid-1970s, Phil Anderson blazed trails across Europe for generations of Australians to come. The Victorian won gold medals, Spring Classics and Grand Tour stages; and became the first non-European to wear the maillot jaune at the 1981 Tour de France, a feat he repeated in 1982. What is often overlooked, however, is Anderson also pioneered what it’s like to live as an ex-European pro cyclist in Australia.
“I was very much on my own throughout my career, and since,” reflects Anderson, 56, from his home in regional Victoria. “I never expected any assistance or handouts.”
“I always figured I’d come back to Australia once I’d finished racing,” he continues, revealing until his late teens his goals actually centred around a career in graphic design. “I regularly thought about life after cycling and while I kept getting good results I was able to negotiate better contracts and became one of the better paid riders of the time. I was reasonably careful with my spending and investments with a goal of retiring with enough to live on without the need to pursue a new career. I felt I was in a very fortunate position and never took that for granted.”
“For many of my colleagues there wasn’t too much future in the sport or otherwise after racing. The lucky ones would get a job on a team. Very few had tertiary qualifications and this remains the case (today). Despite the recent popularity of cycle-sport, unless you achieve the success of Cadel Evans – and even he could have challenges locally – I believe cyclists shouldn’t expect too much in Australia. The talk circuit and endorsement space is crowded and one’s currency is very short lived. Interestingly I suspect most riders deal reasonably well with this as, like racing, you’re only ever as good as your last win.”
In the same breath Anderson offers a cautionary observation. “There’s an increasing difficulty for young riders who are successful but not successful enough. They’ve been part of development squads and elite management programs from the junior ranks, protected and not able to make decisions for themselves. They have an expectation of success and can have real difficulty when they’re replaced by newer talent.”
Whilst many former Australian pros remain in Europe to capitalise on the greater opportunities available within the sport, Anderson believes it was the lack of opportunities back in Australia that allowed him to retire gracefully. “I really enjoyed that transition period,” he says looking back. “I still maintained a healthy exercise regime, taking up running pretty well straight away. The remainder of my time was occupied with creating what I had been dreaming about for years: I slowly built a country property in rural Victoria. I also wanted to work for myself and have been running my own business since retiring.”
“I never felt the need to try and replace the attributes of fame after retirement,” Anderson continues. “I think because I loved the sport more than my success as an athlete I found the changes easy. My life now is about sharing the passion for riding and racing. I get huge pleasure from delivering my guests to key aspects of tours and rides. I’m part of their personal journey and get to see their satisfaction when they ride to the top of mountains that most had never dreamt of reaching.”
“I still ride a couple of times a week, mostly with my partner down to the coffee shop. I do keep fit though, running with a couple of border collies and every now and then I’ll have a hard ride. Can’t have guests waiting for me!”
Around the same time Anderson was stepping off his bike in the mid-1990s a talented former BMX champion from Brisbane was just getting started; and he’d also go on to wear the coveted maillot jaune. Having achieved virtually everything a sprinter can through the ensuing decade and half, Robbie McEwen retired after the 2012 Tour of California and couldn’t be much happier with the way things have unfolded since.
“I probably could have gone on for another couple of years,” a relaxed McEwen explains from his home at Nobby’s Beach on the Gold Coast. “But I was ready to start that next phase of my life. I was 40, and I had to be honest with myself. Once you get to 38 you’re not getting better or faster, you’re trying to slow the slide. I was also very fortunate; with Gerry Ryan and Shane Bannan I was able to map out how I’d go into retirement and also knew what I’d be doing immediately after, staying with Orica-GreenEDGE in different role.”
Also smoothing the transition for McEwen was knowing exactly where home would be once he finally stopped racing. “I always wanted to live near the beach; I worked that out when I was about 7 years old. I went from the south side of Brisbane to the Gold Coast, via Belgium!”
McEwen, a keen surfer, points out one advantage of retirement is he can now pursue any activities he chooses. “(In my career) one or two contracts specifically said I couldn’t take part in adventure sports, stuff that people bust themselves up doing. Surfing? I did get asked the question once. I just said ‘nah, if you fall off you just fall in the water’. Then they said, ‘well what about sharks?’”
Like many elite athletes, it was a serious injury that first brought life after cycling into sharp focus for McEwen. “I was confronted with possible immediate retirement in 2009 when I broke my leg at the Tour of Belgium. I’d had a pretty long career up to then so it wasn’t like I was going to be destitute. It was more about ‘I’m not ready to retire’. That made me realise the way you feel about retirement probably depends on the path you’ve taken to get there.”
“Towards the end of your career people are also constantly asking ‘when are you going to retire?’ Everyone wants to get the scoop. But really who is anyone to tell you when to stop? Take a guy like Chris Horner. Sure he’s 43, but if he’s still enjoying the riding and training and someone wants to have him on their team, why shouldn’t he keep going?”
Keeping going, right to the finish, is something McEwen did better – and faster – than virtually any other rider for 16 professional seasons. But the Queenslander is quick to point out even in the earlier stages of his career he was conscious of retirement. In fact as we talk it becomes clear he’s been as shrewd with his money as he ever was with his racing. “I spent my first contract on an apartment. Then I bought another property and another. With three-and-a-half years to go I also bought a café on the Gold Coast – my wife manages that today, she really enjoys it.”
Of course not every rider has the luxury of bowing out of the sport as a three-time green jersey winner. But McEwen suggests the majority of retiring pros, even those with more humble palmarès, do so in solid financial shape.
“Riders who go through their entire career as domestiqués still earn pretty good money so, really, they’re not going to have nothing to show for it,” he explains. “Those guys would have paid off their house well and truly – that’s the life of a professional athlete, you pack a lifetime of work into 10 or 12 years.”
“That said, I’m in a really fortunate position the way cycling has boomed in Australia. There’s quite a bit of corporate work for riders of my vintage. Going for a ride with a pro or an ex-pro has become the new pro-am golf day. I get to meet interesting people and go to interesting places. It’s a lot of fun.”
Since retiring McEwen has also continued to race. He won several high-profile domestic criteriums in 2012 and 2013, and still mixes it with the Gold Coast locals when he can.
“In the past six weeks I’ve actually done three club races,” he says. “My son likes to get out and race, so I’ll often take the bike too. It’s good to ride around with the guys. Sometimes it’s nice just to suffer a bit.”
These days McEwen averages a decidedly mortal 200km-250km a week. Yet while the training volume may be down he still brings pannier-loads of race smarts to the start line. “For a 45-minute race I can still give it some!” he laughs. “I also have about a million kilometres on the clock so there’s a fair bit of muscle memory there. I can still ride along with most people – until it goes uphill anyway!”
Club crits are one thing. But does he ever miss the WorldTour? “Look, nothing can replace the feeling of blasting out of the pack and winning a Tour stage,” McEwen admits, having done precisely that on twelve occasions, more than any other Australian. “But when you remember just how hard it is to do and what you had to sacrifice to achieve it, you tend to miss it a whole lot less. It’s like having eaten a beautiful gourmet seven-course meal. It was fantastic, but I’m not hungry any more.”
One thing the busy father of three is hungry for is more time with his growing family. “I love seeing my kids doing sport and really enjoying it,” he says, admitting he’s still away from home more than he’d like. “The look on my son’s face when he’s on the start line, that anxious anticipation, I remember that when I was a kid. Or I see my eldest daughter beating the boys in beach flags at nippers on a Sunday morning, that puts a big smile on my face.”
As for the future? “I’m exploring a bit of everything at the moment, including doing commentary [McEwen was widely applauded for his expert commentary at both the Santos Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race during the Australian summer]. I guess we’ll see after that. But I certainly want to stay involved in cycling. It gave me everything.”
Never heard of Bodhi? Don’t worry, neither had I until this striking and beautifully-made riding kit arrived at my doorstep. However now I’ve had the chance to take a closer look – and wear it on a few rides, of course – I think it’s safe to suggest we might be hearing a lot more from this new label of Belgian custom cycling clothing.
Bodhi may be less than a year old. But several of its key players bring considerable experience from their time with some of cycling’s best-known garment brands. Company founder Duncan Dilissen, for example, was a senior executive with Belgian brand Decca, official kit supplier to Katusha for many seasons. Significantly, Bodhi also partnered with eminent Italian designer Alessandro Scudeller (who’s worked with Trek, Craft, Movistar and Orica-GreenEdge, amongst others) to perfect the chamois for their bib shorts. Yeah, these guys know their stuff.
Bodhi isn’t cheap riding kit. But nor is it ridiculously expensive. In fact, I’d suggest one of the greatest appeals of Bodhi is going to be that it looks and feels more expensive than actually it is. Developed in close consultation with several current World Tour riders (Bodhi wouldn’t tell me their names, as their teams mightn’t appreciate their riders helping out a rival clothing brand) the entire range of garments has been designed in Belgium, then hand-made in Poland from premium Italian fabrics.
But enough background. What’s this kit actually like to wear? In a word: awesome.
The review kit came from Bodhi’s top-of-the-range ‘Black Eye’ collection and is impressive. With a pro-style contoured body-hugging fit, the short-sleeve jersey is exceptionally comfortable with gripper arm-bands and longer sleeves in line with recent trends. Three rear pockets, plus a smaller fourth pocket with zip closure and headphone/race radio hole ensure plenty of functional storage space.
Close-up inspection reveals the fabrics and construction are quite technical. The result is excellent moisture management and ventilation ensuring it’s an ideal jersey for the warmer months. For the not-so-warm months, like right now in Australia, the long sleeve fleece-lined jersey quickly usurped the rest of my wardrobe to become my early morning jersey of choice, until I had to send it back. The fit is snug, but not restrictive, and noticeably it breathes very, very well – important as your inner thermostat starts to rise with your effort.
As for the bib shorts, they’re once again super comfortable and I have to say that in the plain black model worn for this review they really do look the business. The leg length is fashionably long and feature grippers that really do… grip.
The all-important chamois boasts similar technology to that used by several WorldTour teams – most notably 120kg density foam and Wave Body Contour design to remove unnecessary bulk from the sides. The transitions between the foam densities in different sections of the chamois are also quite subtle, especially in the crotch area, further maximising rider comfort and minimising fatigue.
The bib straps feature a super-light super-flexible mesh construction I’ve never encountered before – something Bodhi says ensures rider comfort for a wider range of body shapes. At first I found the uber slim straps a little fiddly to flatten into place. But once you get the hang of it they’re refreshingly unobtrusive with just the right amount of flex and support. You barely notice you’re wearing them.
Custom kit is one of the fastest-growing markets in cycling apparel and, shrewdly, it’s been set up as a Bodhi specialty from day one. In fact this very blog – after shopping around with several of the better-known manufacturers – has recently placed its long-awaited first kit order through Bodhi.
Time will tell how just far the Bodhi brand can make inroads into the Australian market. It’s certainly a competitive place to make a buck. But as someone who’s ridden in a lot of different kit over the years, good and bad, expensive and cheap, this Bodhi gear has plenty to like about it. Well worth a look for your next team, club, bunch kit.
Oh, and just before we finish up … like many of my riding mates, you may have noticed the decidedly non-Belgian Bodhi logo, more reminiscent of a Maori tiki, and be wondering what it’s all about? Well it’s actually a Japanese-inspired lucky charm known as a daruma doll, styled after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. The eyes of daruma are often blank when sold. Tradition says you colour one eye of the doll and set a goal. In your process of achieving that goal luck will be on your side. So now you know.
Bodhi Australia Online Store: http://bodhicycling.net
There are some things only cyclists can appreciate in this world. Whether you realise it or not, if you ride regularly you almost certainly have this very select knowledge yourself. Confused? Check out the list below and see if you agree.
10 things only cyclists can truly appreciate (Part 1):
1) Those first uncomfortable moments when you strap on your heart rate monitor in the middle of winter. Brrrrr.
2) The joy of packing away your winter kit.
3) The excruciating discomfort of a saddle sore and the even more excruciating embarrassment should your workmates find out about it.
4) The cumulative effect of 21 sleep deprived days each July.
5) The fear of a close pass by a car, bus or truck. Not fun.
6) The reluctance to shake hands with anyone wearing only one sock.
7) The anxiety-laden anticipation of being dive-bombed by ‘that’ feral magpie each Spring while moving at 30km/h+.
8) The final 10m of a long, testing climb. Yeah baby.
9) Glass, anywhere…it’s like we have x-ray vision with that stuff.
10) The remarkable effect of wheelsucking, you really have to experience it yourself to truly believe it.
Have a suggestion to add to the list? Post it below or email it through.
Oh, yes. They’ll be there alright. They’re always there. At least half a dozen in every grade. Without fail as soon as the prize pool swells beyond the usual $50 gift voucher they’ll emerge from the woodwork of their secret training schedules and exotic vitamin regimes, showing their faces at the start line – often in covert kit combinations to throw rivals off any scent of victory – in attempt to cut everyone else’s competitive lunch before disappearing just as fast as they appeared with the much-coveted booty. They’re not sandbaggers or burglars, mind you, just two-wheeled prize pigs. Good luck to them, I say.
For a while I resented these chaps, especially in my earlier days of racing. But no more. Sure, they may not have ‘paid their racing dues’ by slogging it out through the weekly grind of winter club racing like the rest of us carbon jockeys. But cycling is a sport of sweat and hard work, not entitlement, and one thing these riders most certainly do is spice things up by rendering the usual form lines obsolete, whereby the same faces show up week after week, and deliver generally the same results.
Rather than the usual Sunday morning processions, when one of these riders rolls off the front the bunch must remain vigilant. Geez he looks like a pretty good cyclist, perhaps he’s strong enough to stay away? Better mark the move. Then again, is he just setting us up for his mate to counter attack, dressed sneakily like a hubbard at the back of the field? We simply don’t know, because we either don’t know them or don’t know what kind of form they’re in. All options are on the table. That makes racing unpredictable. It makes it interesting. It makes it worth getting up for on a Sunday morning. Who’s in?
I don’t know Thomas Kerr at all. He may be a wonderful guy, or a complete knuckle head. I wouldn’t have the foggiest either way. What I do know is earlier today, in a decision with ramifications far greater than his individual case, he was sentenced in the Downing Centre District Court to spend at least 18 months in jail after pleading guilty to the well-publicised collision on Sydney’s Southern Cross Drive last March that left a bunch of cyclists in a very bad way in hospital. I don’t wish ill towards any individual, Kerr or otherwise. I’m sure the 28-year old is hurting right now, as are his family and friends. Pleading guilty to four counts of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and three of causing bodily harm by misconduct, Kerr expressed considerable remorse in court yesterday and I don’t doubt his sincerity for a moment. His legal team offered no defence for the incident, saying the only possible explanation was a momentary lapse in concentration by their client. Again, there’s no reason to suggest this is anything but the truth. But there are some suggesting his sentence is over-the-top, heavy handed, somehow bowing to the cries for blood from the Sydney cycling lobby. To them I say, sorry, but are you out your minds? No reasonable Sydney cyclist is ‘celebrating’ the judge’s decision today, or the fact a young Sydney man will be spending the next 18 months of his life in prison. Clearly it would have been far better if none of this was even necessary in the first place. But for whatever reason – the driver himself could not explain how the incident happened – a person made a very serious mistake behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. It impacted terribly on a group of innocent people who had every right to be doing what they were doing, where they were doing it, on that Sunday morning in 2014. Crown prosecutor Sean Hughes sought a jail term, saying: “There is a particular need to send a message to the motoring community to be aware of cyclists on the road and the need to give them proper space.” Judge Brian Knox agreed, and thankfully so. To have handed down anything but a serious sentence would surely have sent an extremely worrying message to that small but not insignificant group of Sydney drivers already regarded as some of least cyclist-friendly in the country. In effect, it would have suggested cyclist’s lives aren’t really so important and that endangering them through dangerous driving (be it intentional or merely careless) is not that big a deal, and somehow acceptable to the wider community. It is not. And it appears a line may have been drawn in the sand today by Judge Knox. The time for wrist slaps may finally be over. Just as we must take responsibility for our actions in every other facet of our lives, each time we get behind the wheel of a car we must be safe, vigilant and aware of those around us at all times, be they cyclists, pedestrians or other motorists. Or we must be prepared to be held accountable for the consequences, quite possibly in a jail cell.
For background to the incident itself, have a read of this.