Sunday, December 5, 2021
HomeOtherEditorialThe VV View: Walker Brothers Wheels, Books, Zwift - and Beards

The VV View: Walker Brothers Wheels, Books, Zwift – and Beards

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Walker Brothers WheelsLet’s start with the price of wheels; £3,300 for a pair of Lightweights – as Woody Allen might say; ‘what ! are you crazee ?’ Men are winning kermises every day in Belgium on thousand euro bikes; if you’re a Grand Tour rider looking for every advantage on some horrible mountain stage – yes.

If you’re riding Ingliston criteriums – NO!

If you are in the market for swish hoops, check out Walker Brothers, just down the road from us in Newcastle and making the discs those KGF boys are flying on in the World Cups at much less moolah than you’ll pay for German or American wheelsets.

Walker Brothers WheelsZwift gets it next: VeloVeritas sage and mentor, Vik reckons that there’ll be no Tour de France as we know it, soon.

He reckons that ASO have plans afoot so that everyone and their dog will be able to ride Le Grande Boucle from the comfort of their living room.

That’s perhaps taking it a bit far, Vik but there’s little doubt that the essential pleasure of simply enjoying the bike gets diluted each day as computerised devices play more and more of a part.

It’s hard to feel the sun on your skin or catch the smell of newly mown grass in your garage.

Walker Brothers Wheels
Great shot of Dan Craven and his famous beard.

More of that topical stuff – beards.

The Comic (Cycling Weekly) had a big ad. inside the cover the other week with a dude climbing a hill sporting a bigger beard than Abe Lincoln.

Hipster/schmipster – NO, please!

Let’s move on to ‘fake news,’ the same mag trumpets the success of the GB team in the European Track Champs – three golds and a silver.

Nice result but all the medals came from the girls with Scotland’s own Katie Archibald taking gold in the pursuit and omnium and silver in the team pursuit – the other gold coming in the ladies Madison.

The men were nowhere, across the board – but I guess it’s normal, Euros and Worlds are just ‘preparation’ for The Olympics, aren’t they?

The Olympics,’ as one journalist said; ‘the couple of weeks every four years when the British public pretend they’re interested in cycling.’

Walker Brothers Wheels
Sandy Gordon.

Stepping back in time; we recently interviewed Sandy Gordon – a man who could win seven Scottish titles in one season, from the Kilometre Time Trial Championship to the Road Race Best All Rounder.

One of my goals in life is not to become a nostalgic old fool but it’s hard not to think back to his era and the names that were around – the late, John ‘Clanky’ Clark, Andy McGhee, Scott Savage, Dennis Mitchell, the late John Curran, Sandy Gilchrist and a whole lot more beside.

We didn’t realise it at the time but it was a great era for Scottish road racing – with all those riders reared on clubby runs and drum ups.

It wasn’t scientific but it produced good bike riders.

We were down at the Scottish Hill Climb champs on Stow t’other week, well organised and we witnessed some fine rides, particularly by David Griffiths who defended his title.

But there was zero atmosphere.

‘Back in the day’ big clubby runs would pedal out to watch the Champs, encourage their riders, have a few laughs and a beer then pedal home.

It’s not like that anymore – sadly.

But strangely, the CTT Champs goes from strength to strength; over-subscribed and huge crowds of spectators.

Walker Brothers WheelsOn the subject of actually enjoying the bike, not just pounding your heid against the garage wall, I read a quirky wee book recently, ‘Need for the Bike’ by Paul Fournel, it rather reminds you what riding a bike is all about – I’d recommend it.

Winter has arrived so we best cast our eye over what’s going on, race-wise in the mud and on the boards.

That laddie Tom Pidcock is some talent, just turned U23 and he’s taken silver in the Euro U23 cyclo-cross championships but he has another four or five stabs at it before he turns 23 – a wonderful talent.

Sticking with Cyclo-Cross; has van der Poel been too good too early? – as Van Aert wins in Gavere to end the Dutchman’s clean sweep of the big races and reminds us why he wears the rainbow bands.

The next few weeks will tell – but it’s still a long way to the Worlds…

The track – and sadly we recently lost one of the all-time greats, Lothar Thoms of East Germany, Kilometre King back in the late 70’s and early 80’s; four times world and once Olympic champion – rest in peace, sir.

And it’s been a roller coaster time for Six Day King, Danny Clark – he won the Australian Veterans Road Race Champs then just days later was a victim of one of Australia’s mad Gold Coast drivers ending up in hospital with three broken ribs and a fractured eye socket.

Walker Brothers Wheels
Danny Clark.

But he still misses those Six Days…

“Hi mate, well, still a lot of pain – three ribs and eye socket but been there many times before – how is life treating you? Just looked at Gent on streaming – miss it so much.”

Get well soon, Danny.

Better luck for his compatriot, Michael Glaetzer who became the first man in history to dip below 60 seconds for the kilometre time trial at sea level with 59.97 in qualifying then going on to win the final with a 60 second ride at the recent Manchester World Cup.

Scotland’s Callum Skinner was second in qualifying with an ‘0’ then on the final podium for bronze with a ‘one.’

Nice to see him back in action.

And another Scot who’s come in from left field, Jonny Wale was well there in the kilo too, a ‘one’ to qualify fifth then a ‘two’ for seventh in the final.

Two rides which promise much for The Gold Coast, next year.

And Wale along with eight times British champion this year, Dan Bigham, Charlie Tanfield and Jake Tipper rode very well in the team pursuit at the same meeting to place fourth.

Their first World Cup adventure in Poland went a little off the rails but their approach and race tactics, commitment and speed have to be admired.

And we can’t let Manchester pass without mentioning Katie Archibald and Neah Evans, both performing successfully at the highest level.

Walker Brothers Wheels
John Archibald has achieved Commonwealth Games selection times on the track. Photo©Martin Williamson

Sticking with the velodrome and going back to Cycling Weekly; interesting that The Comic, on the back of the London Six Day result has Cav & Kennaugh down as Olympic Madison champions in Japan, already – that’s confidence for you.

Walker Brothers Wheels
Lanterne Rouge.

Final words on the track: congratulations to John Archibald on his 4:21 ride in Glasgow – another ticket to the Gold Coast please, Scottish Cycling.

And just to show we don’t just throw these pieces together … our final mention is of another cycling book; ‘Lanterne Rouge’ by Max Leonard.

Certainly it has tales of the old, old days of Le Tour but what I liked were the interviews with more recent ‘tail end Charlies’ like Jimmy Casper, Wim Vansevanant – who’s ‘recordman’ with three last places in the race – Jacky Durand and the Flores brothers – both of whom have been lanterne rouge.

And whilst the author doesn’t actually get an interview with him, there’s a revealing but sad chapter about the late Philippe Gaumont, let’s hope he’s found peace now.

LATE NEWS: Brad is innocent!

What a relief!

And he’s going to sue – wouldn’t hold your breath on that one though.

Did you see these TUE’s for Brad and Chris?

The poor dears.

As more than one person who knows about these things has said to me; “if you need to take those substances then the last thing you should be doing is racing a bike!”

Still, Gent this weekend, mustn’t grumble…

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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