Get in the mood for Le Tour

The Tour de France starts in Brittany on 5th July. I’m a lucky bugger, I’ll be there.

I’m getting warmed up for the event by re-watching this video:

I billed this as ‘Best Tour de France footage ever?’ and it’s had 117,000+ views on YouTube. But it’s only the short and shonky version. The higher-res, nine-minute version can be found on’s home on iTunes.

The video is made up of ‘rushes’ from the IMAX movie with the production name of Brainpower but which morphed into Wired to Win when it was released to IMAX cinemas in 2006.

The IMAX movie, as you’d expect, is larger than life and truly stunning. But it was distributed much later than first billed. Following the initial shooting in 2003 there had to be an extensive reshooting of scenes to accommodate the removal of Tyler Hamilton from the movie.

At the time Hamilton was embroiled in a drugs hearing, which he sadly later lost. Had he embarked on the same course of action as Floyd Landis – request for an open hearing, wiki-style posting of all hearing evidence on his website so experts could crawl all over it – the outcome may have been different. Well, perhaps not the outcome because Continue reading “Get in the mood for Le Tour”

Will you be 100,000th viewer of this TdF vid?

Last year I put out the video above. It’s had 99,419 views on YouTube. It will soon be my first vid to break through 100,000 views.

Billed as the ‘Best Tour de France footage ever filmed?’ it’s a collection of rushes from the IMAX movie with the production name of ‘Brainpower’ but which morphed into ‘Wired to Win’ when it was released to IMAX cinemas.

The YouTube footage is just a couple of minutes of fuzzy stuff, there’s nine minutes of higher quality material on the podcast site, on iTunes here.

The rushes footage isn’t from a trailer, it contains movie editing timecodes.

It also contains rider footage that never made the movie. Guess who was cut?

Chain Gang vids now on YouTube

In 1994 I was the (young, fresh-faced) presenter of ‘Chain Gang’, a six part magazine programme on cycling by Tyne Tees.

I’ve been given permission to re-broadcast some of the best bits from this series. They are billed as ‘From the archive’ and the series is brought to you in association with Muc-Off.

The higher res versions went on iTunes last week. Here are the YouTube versions. Click on ‘play in higher quality’ for the best playback performance.

I won’t embed all the videos here as it would take up an awful lot of space. But here’s one of them: a bicycle tour in Malawi.

The other videos are:

Jason McRoy and the Reebok Eliminator, Mammoth Mountain 1993

Behind the scenes on ‘Chain Gang’

Bike v car commuter challenge
(Trivia: the car park at the start of this extract is the famous one featured in Michael Caine’s classic 1960’s gangster flick, ‘Get Carter’).

Wax or shave?

Mass v custom build, Raleigh v Dave Yates

If you like these sort of things, here’s a YouTube player with all the vids in place:

‘Chain Gang’ video highlights now on iTunes


In 1994 I was the presenter on CHAIN GANG, a Tyne Tees TV magazine series on cycling. Six half-hour episodes were aired. Tyne Tees has given me permission to publish some of the material.

Six items have been selected and now reside on the video podcast on iTunes. Subscribe – for free – and the six episodes will automagically download to your PC or Mac.

The snippets – billed as ‘From the Archive’ – are brought to you in association with Muc-Off.

So, what’s available?

1 Mass v custom build, Raleigh v Dave Yates
This starts with some 1950s footage of the Raleigh factory, and includes a wonderfully cheesy ‘Head Designer’. The 1994 footage is also drenched in nostalgia. The factory – seen here humming with activity – was knocked down and made into student flats. Look out for the way Raleigh employees placed bike decals compared to the way a custom builder did it.

2 Wax or shave?
Bear in mind that I still look like this. I’ve not aged a bit. My leg hairs have grown back since, mind. This episode sees me going out with a road gang for the very first time. (And ripping their legs off…cameras never lie).

3 Bike versus sportscar
Car v bike through city centre traffic has been done umpteen times for TV cameras but this video is a little bit different, pitting as it does, an Aston Martin sportscar against an Aston Martin mountain bike (now a museum piece).

4 Malawi bicycle tour
Hi-8 footage from a hastily arranged bike tour of this beautiful African country. Along for the ride was Bob Strawson, owner of ‘trick bits’ maker Middleburn Engineering.

5 Behind the scenes
How the series was filmed. Helmet and bike cams are now ten-a-penny. In 1994 they were specialist items and required rucksacks…

6 Jason McRoy
Brilliant footage of the first British MTB superstar (RIP). He’s seen sliding around the NE of England as well as ripping down the Kamikaze course on Mammoth Mountain.

The videos will be placed on YouTube in daily installments next week, but are available as a package on iTunes right now.
Subscribe to the podcast to start the episodes downloading, iTunes isn’t listing the individual episodes yet.

Cycle promotion 1950s style

Toon 1: “Fine state to be in. Fares are rising. Queues get longer. Tempers get shorter. Travel more crowded. Wastes far too much time.

Toon 2: “Not if you have a…bicycle…”

Nissan Qashqai Challenge redux

The SUV-sponsored bike trials series kicks off again on Friday. It starts in Milan, moves to Madrid and ends in London. Last year it started in my home town, Newcastle.

It’s a shame it’s moved. Last year’s event was one of my top five YouTube vids, attracting 45,000 views (the most viewed vid has had 92,000 views).

Here is the two-day version of the vid, which is better than the one-day version but has attracted 10,000 less viewers.

Riders present at last year’s Nissan Qashqai Challenge include Andreu Lacondguy, Paul Basagoitia, Ben Boyko, Greg Watts and Lance McDermott. They join 35 other jump-meisters at this year’s event.

Bicycle Anatomy 101

Bicycle Anatomy for Beginners from on Vimeo.

I’ve produced the above video for bike virgins. Click on full screen or go to the Vimeo site for the video in a wider format. The video zooms into bike parts and names them. It’ll hopefully get newbies up to speed on ‘bike talk’.

It might be aimed at people who don’t know their dropout from their seatpost but even enthusiasts will get a kick out of the music. It was created from twanging and fiddling with some of my bikes.

I recorded the sounds (my favourite is the disc rotor pinging) and then music maestro Greg Johnston turned my disparate recordings into ‘bespoke’ music. The track is now on Libsyn (or subscribe to my podcast on iTunes): it’s an MP3 called Bong. Psst. Twang. Whirr. Psst.

If you like the music and you have an iPhone, download this free ringtone and manually place in iTunes to sync, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes for the download and sync to be automatic.

Don’t like hi-res Vimeo? Here’s the video on YouTube, Metacafe, DailyMotion, Stupid Videos, Sclipo and Viddler

The video is also available in an Apple TV version on iTunes or as a direct download from Libsyn. Want it on your iPod? It’s here on iTunes and Libsyn.

Check out the credits at the end for the list of folks who helped me nail the technical aspects of the vid. It was especially helpful to get the American ‘translations’ for bike part names.

I’d really appreciate your feedback on the video and, of course, would love you to pass it on to any newbies who you think would benefit from a crash course in bicycle anatomy.

Sicko caught not having sex with his bike

Unlike a certain Scottish cyclist, a man in Ohio has been busted for having sex with a picnic table.

In the US news report above, a wonderfully rotund police chief explains exactly where and how Arthur Price got it on with his garden furniture.

The incidents occurred between January and March 2008.

Price admitted that he had sex with the picnic table when police questioned him. He now faces four counts of public indecency.

Last year, a Scottish cyclist was put on the sex offenders register for lubing his bike in a way not recommended in any traditional handbooks, a ‘life imitates art’ moment earlier echoed in this video:

Bicycle belt drives: more popular in America?

That’s one conclusion to take from the new video view stats from YouTube. Yesterday, with Google’s help, the world’s biggest Flash conversion outfit released YouTube Insight. This allows account holders to track detailed viewing statistics about the videos they upload.

Other video sites such as Vimeo can give me day by day breakdowns but not geographical ones.

I’ve looked into the metrics for my YouTube videos. Some that feature very English content, don’t get viewed that often in America. Perhaps SMIDSY (sorry, mate I didn’t see you) isn’t such a well-known phrase to US cyclists and that’s the reason the video of the same name has had almost of its YouTube views in the UK, and almost none in the US?

(I loaded the same video to Vimeo also, but added a better soundtrack…it’s had more Vimeo views than YouTube ones, but I can’t tell from where).

SMIDSY from on Vimeo.

Using YouTube Insight, I can see that Americans are really interested in watching a video about bicycle belt drives, but there are a lot less views from the UK.

According to Tracy Chan, a YouTube product manager, uploaders can see how often their videos are viewed in different geographic regions, as well as how popular they are relative to all videos in that market over a given period of time.

You can also delve deeper into the lifecycle of your videos, like how long it takes for a video to become popular, and what happens to video views as popularity peaks.

It’s great to find out where your video is getting the most views from, but there could be a downside for YouTube.

According to Scott James of Unruly Media, publisher of the Viral Video Chart, the value of a YouTube hit may now be seen to be considerably lower than many may have assumed.

He said: “We reckon a lot of marketers with YouTube hits on their hands are in for a rude shock. A million views in the US, India or China ain’t worth a lot when you’re marketing a product into UK or European markets.”

Of course, most posters to YouTube aren’t interested in the quality they’re just after the width. But for professional users, YouTube Insight could cause a shakeout among what James calls low integrity seeding outfits.

He said: “Until now, they could drive cheap views from literally anywhere and no one would be any the wiser. Now, they’re going to have to figure out how to get a European viral in front of a European audience.”

Low integrity seeding outfits? What, even video viewing is now outsourced to Mumbai?