Monkeying around on bikes

Tea brand PG Tips no longer uses real chimps in its UK TV advertising, preferring an actor and a glove puppet. Back in the 1970s, use of chimps was fairgame (see ‘disclaimer’ below) and one of the most famous ads was this one of the monkey Tour de France.

It features a cycling chimp crashing behind a car and then saying to a tea-pouring mademoiselle, ‘Can you ride tandem?’

Thanks to the non-pc wonders of Japanese TV and YouTube, there’s a whole load of apes-on-bikes videos. Most feature orangutans showboating with training wheels. Pah! Are there no videos of primates going ape on drop-bar road bikes?

Sure there are. Check out the bikes in this clip, the monkey bikes even have racks. These monkeys could commute to work. My next project? The Bike to Circus Book.

There are some more speedy simians in this video. It’s a race between a bloke on a unicycle and some flat-bar monkeys.

Use of primates in TV advertising or for the amusement of a TV programme’s audience is wrong. Primate experts say it’s cruel to the animals concerned. Experts also say such imagery harms the cause of primates in the wild.

What is it with trees and bicycles?

This is a Hallow’een stunt pulled by somebody who hates French people or pirates (get the stripey top) or a bicycle-hater (the Real Dan Lyons says the figure is Steve Jobs, you know, the Apple guy *not* rushed to hospital yesterday) but it kind of reminds me of the tree-that-ate-a-bicycle.

It’s not every day you get spammed by Claudio Chiappucci

Just received this email:

“We are pleased to introduce you the internet site where you will find informations about the 2008 World Cycling Championship in Varese (Italy), held from September 22 to 28, 2008, and about Varese and its surrounding area, lakes, hotels, restaurants and cycling – informations provided to you by the internet site of Claudio Chiappucci, former Cycling Champion.”

Thank you for reading, and enjoy visiting

NOTICE: According to law 675/96, we would like to inform you that we have taken your e-mail address from public lists.

Now waiting for spam from Jan Ullrich.

Do you have a pert bum? Are you smugger than a breastfeeding mum?

As you’d expect, cycling is having a love-hate relationship with the mainstream media at the moment. Pin-ups Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton have catapulted cycling to front of public consciousness and for some newspapers cycling is the ‘in’ new thing.

In yesterday’s Sunday Mirror, cycling was said to have “found a place in the nation’s heart after the Beijing Olympics.”

Since Team GB’s gold-winning lady cyclists Nicole Cooke and Rebecca Romero returned home from Beijing, biking has a hot new profile.

So before you wave a final goodbye to summer, it’s time to dust off your old bicycle and hit the road.

“If you want to drop a dress size, then cycling is one of the best ways you can do it,” says celebrity fitness trainer Paul Botten. “Biking provides a great overall workout, burning calories and reducing body fat. Plus, it can’t be beaten when it comes to getting great thighs and a perfectly pert bottom.”

Over at the Sunday Independent, novelist Howard Jacobsen – a saggy-bottomed fellow if his hatred of healthy exercise is anything to go by – said cycling was one of those Olympic sports which had no use in the real world, yet then went on to complain about the legions of London cyclists who plague him.

Cycling is worse than futile, it is malevolent. Not a day goes by, unless I cower in my house and lock all the doors, when I am not put in danger by cyclists – whether it’s cyclists riding the pavement, jumping the lights, weaving between pedestrians and traffic, overtaking on the inside, chaining their bikes where they are bound to cause obstruction, abusing and on occasions threatening me for pointing out any of these infractions to them, or just adding to our stock of vexations by their carbon-free complacency.

For holier-than-thou smugness, only a mother breastfeeding in a public space beats a cyclist. Both have been licensed by our society to believe they are forces for beneficence – true children of nature in a naughty mechanistic world – whereas the one only makes the planet more dangerous and the other only contributes to its overpopulation.

Anti-dope orgs to test for fresh air use?

Remember the fuss made over the arrival in Beijing of the US cycling team? They wore face masks in the airport arrivals hall, causing an unholy stink. The athletes have since apologised to their Chinese hosts but a press release reveals that USA Cycling is fixated on air.

“IQAir announced today that they were chosen by USA Cycling to provide all team members with ultra-high efficiency air cleaners. IQAir has been named USA Cycling’s official air purifier supplier to support their competition efforts in Beijing, China.”

“We’ve worked with USA Cycling to create the ultimate performance environment for their athletes,” says IQAir President, Frank Hammes. “These systems represent the most advanced air cleaning technology in the world. They operate at as much as 100 times the efficiency of the products people commonly see sold in department stores as air purifiers.”

Each member of USA cycling has been issued an IQAir HealthPro Plus. The HealthPro Plus is a portable room air purifier used by hospitals around the world to absorb particles as small as the SARS virus, MRSA, and tuberculosis. IQAir also designed special facility sized air cleaning systems for the popular USA Cycling Lounge in Beijing, the cycling team’s logistics center where athletes relax and recuperate between races.

Pat McDonough, Team Leader for USA Cycling, says that the team is already benefiting from their work with IQAir.

“Airborne particles and gases can cause lung inflammation and allergic reactions. This is what causes allergies and asthma in every day life, but it also inhibits absorption of oxygen,” says McDonough.
“These races are often decided by thousandths of a second. By giving our athletes the healthiest indoor air possible, IQAir is helping them to do their very best. It’s all about creating the ultimate performance environment.”

Oops. How long before WADA cottons on and creates a test to discover those athletes breathing in ‘performance enhancing air’?

Shaggy-haired (alleged) bike thief and drugs overlord led colourful Canadian life

More details are emerging about the Toronto bike shop owner alleged to be at the centre of a bicycle stealing and drug dealing empire.

Igor Kenk is a Slovenian ex-police officer. He’s married to concert pianist Jeanie Chung. A search of his garages and homes revealed almost 3,000 bikes, as well as quantities of marijuana, crack cocaine and cocaine powder.

Kenk’s store – The Bike Clinic – is now closed and boarded up. The Canadian Press reports that a local resident believed Kenk was “bizarre” because the resident “once took his bike to Kenk’s shop to fix a flat tire. Kenk reportedly pumped so much air into the tire that it burst, then charged him $10 for a replacement.”

Bizarre? Good business practice, I’d say.

Natalie Ethier, who works at Clafouti bakery, a few stores east of the shop, said:

“He was just very unapproachable and almost condescending to people who would ask questions.”

Come on, that’s just normal for a bike shop.

Dopey docs say maltodextrin is next

Caffeine is known to be a performance enhancing drug and, in bonkers quantities, was previously on WADA’s list of prohibited substances. Currently it’s on WADA’s ‘watch list’ but, clearly, preventing pro cyclists from taking on a double espresso or three at the Tour de France’s village depart is a big no-no.

Caffeine is not just found in coffee, it’s also now a staple in energy gels.

So, the report headlined ‘Caffeine use common in athletes’ is hardly ground-breaking stuff. The report is based on a study by researchers from Liverpool John Moores University, published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

“A third of track and field athletes and 60% of cyclists reported taking caffeine before competing.”

The BBC quotes Mark Stuart , a pharmacist for the Sydney Olympics, who said:

“There still seems to be some scope for athletes to exploit commonly available dietary supplements, such as caffeine, with minimal consequence.”

So, next time you pass a Starbucks at the start of a ride, keep on passing, the dope docs have got their eye on you.

And stop using energy powders in your water bottles. Maltodextrin is a performance enhancing substance and, to sports purists, really ought to be considered ethically unclean, and banned.

The caught-short shorts that satisfy during “comfort breaks”


Finally, a company has had the sense to incorporate a zipper into a pair of cycling shorts. It’s what the world has been waiting for

Selle SMP is famous for producing a hook-nose saddle called the Strike but if you thought that was odd, check out the company’s SMP4TheBike shorts.


“You can finally satisfy your physiological needs without having to undress. The central channel of the Selle SMP bib shorts features a zipper system in the lower part of the bibs allowing you to relieve yourself without removing your shorts. The hidden zipper does not rub or constrict your private parts. You don’t even realize it’s there until the moment of need… Great for long distant riding.”


Available for women, too. But dunno why she’s smiling, take a look at her handlebars.


Of course, as these shorts are designed in Italy, land of romance, perhaps they could be put to another, more amorous, use?

Italian breaks (own) underwater cycling record

According to Barcroft Media, a picture and news agency, 62-year old Vittorio Innocente broke his own world record yesterday.

At a depth of 65 metres he rode his customised bike along the ocean bed in Portofino’s maritime marine reserve for nine minutes and managed a non-EPO powered distance of 110 metres. The record has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records. Picture here.

Sadly, during the record breaking feat, two UCI commissaires drowned while attempting to measure Mr. Innocente’s top-tube.