Nike’s Lance ads rocked

Nike once producing great bike ads like the three below, starring Lance Armstrong and a whole bunch of CGI effects. News on the CGI effects are below the third-party vids.

The vids have now had 1+ million views. The top vid has had 176,600 views. This is to be expected when it’s some great footage from the Tour de France (the much better, more hi-res, longer version is available here on iTunes).

Lance the cyclo-crosser:

‘Magnet’ ad:

‘What if…’:

In the ‘Magnet’ ad, Lance is shown besting dolphins, buffaloes, freight trains, Hell’s Angels, geese, bats and bike couriers. But he wasn’t at any of the jaw-dropping locations. It’s not him on the cliff-top at Bodega Bay, California. He didn’t race the cyclists in downtown San Francisco. All his shots were done in a film studio in Austin, Texas. He was filmed against a green-screen and then composited into the ad using the same software that found Nemo. A body double was used to represent Lance in almost all of the outdoor shots.

The 90-second ad was directed by award-winning music video and commercial director Jake Scott for Wieden+Kennedy, Nike’s Portland-based ad agency.

The clever visual effects – digital animation known as CGI – were created by A52 of West Hollywood, California. Even the opening scene’s crashing waves were enhanced by A52’s CGI team. For tech-buffs, they used 3Dequalizer by Science-D-Visions to track the live-action footage, then created the CG water in the finished scene using Side Effects Software’s Houdini. The dolphins – like the other animals in the ad – were created using Houdini and Deep Paint 3D, rendered with Pixar’s Renderman (think ToyStory) and composited in Silicon Grail Chalice.

But who provided the haunting vocals? It was Kathy Fisher of Fisher The Band. Trivia: the other member of Fisher the band is Fisher’s husband, Ron Wasserman. He was responsible for the music in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

Josh pays homage to Team GB’s track stars

Nine year old Josh Reid loves cycling (where’d he get that idea from?) like other kids love football.

His primary school hosts an Easter egg competition each years. Kids compete to build the most eggs-travagent (sorry) creations. Every second comp entry is a football field or a popular TV theme of the day. Josh is a non-conformist (where’d he get that idea from?) and wanted to build a velodrome, having seen the Team GB stars win 11 medals at the recent Track World Championships.

Here’s his creation:

Floyd posts vid to YouTube

‘Floydfairnessfund1’ created a YouTube account on 30th March. Michael Henson, the PR man for Landis, is featured in the vid – along with lots of riding shots of our hero, of course – and as Henson is the executive director of the Floyd Fairness Fund he must be ‘Floydfairnessfund1’. But why the ‘1’? There’s no YouTube user called ‘Floydfairnessfund’?

The video is professionally produced, although it goes black before the end. Anyway, who cares, it’s another example of the Landis camp using the internet to advance their message. Go, Floyd, go!

There’s more info on and, of course, on Trust But Verify.

Celebs who cycle

No, Nicole Kidman probably can’t ride a bike quite like BMX Bandits from 1983 makes out, but plenty of other celebs do cycle.

Forget stretch-limos, a growing list of film stars, rock legends and leaders-of-the-free-world take to two-wheels for speedy, paparazzi-free transport and, of course, to keep their figures in trim.

Film star Michelle Pfeiffer relaxes by taking her bike apart and putting it together again.

When not dabbling in Jewish mysticism or adopting children in Malawi, Madonna rides her bike with her son Rocco.

Comic and film star Robin Williams owns 30+ road bikes. He rides with his mate Lance Armstrong, the seven times Tour de France winner.

Grilling-specialist Jeremy Paxman is a neo-cyclist:

“It is easily the quickest way around central London, faster than bus, Tube or taxi. You can predict precisely how long every journey will take, regardless of traffic jams, Tube strikes or leaves on the line. It provides excellent exercise. It does not pollute the atmosphere. It does not clog up the streets.”

When singer Jarvis Cocker of Pulp wants to get anywhere in London, he throws his long-legs over his trusty mountain bike.

Oscar winning bad boy actor Russell Crowe talks about his love of retail therapy – and cycling – in the December 2007 edition of Men’s Journal.

Courtney Cox bought her friend Jennifer Aniston a $12,000 Chanel bicycle after Aniston expressed an interest in hitting Los Angeles’ bike lanes.

Singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel can ride a Moulton and sing at the same time.

He may not be wearing his blue suede cycling shoes in this pic but Elvis is on an early cruiser bike, complete with basket.

Actor Matthew ‘Weeds’ Modine loves cycling so much he created a campaign: Bicycle For A Day. In Hello magazine he said:

“Honestly, bicycling isn’t just fun and healthy and non-polluting, it’s sexy. It gives you a nice rear end.”

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is said to look good in Lance Armstrong’s shorts. At least the socks are white.

Fashion designers Jeff Banks and Sir Paul Smith are avid roadies. Smith’s company has sponsored cycle teams, and Banks Jnr owes his love of cycling to Banks Snr:

“My dad was a racer before the war. He bought me an Italian racing bike when I was 11, and I suppose I’ve never looked back. There’s not a major col in the Alps or Pyrenees that I haven’t climbed. I suppose I do it for the sense of achievement you get when you complete rides like that. It’s amazing.”

Giles Deacon, the British Fashion Designer of the Year for 2007, has expensive tastes (favourite hotels: Hôtel Costes in Paris, the Principe di Savoia in Milan and the Chateau Marmont in LA) but he’s still a down-to-earth Cumbrian lad who knows bikes are best: “I adore London and, if I have time off, I’ll just explore the city – visiting exhibitions. I like cycling everywhere. I have done so since I moved here 20 years ago.”

Movie star Daniel Day-Lewis has a house in Ireland, close to Sir Paul Smith. The two cycle together. In a February 2008 interview with Esquire magazine Day-Lewis said: “I cycle everywhere…I’d still like to make a film about cycling. I still feel there’s something to be done there.”

Sir Alan Sugar – the entrepreneur who made his money from Amstrad but is now most famous for his ‘role’ in BBC’s The Apprentice – is a Lycra-loving roadie. A relatively recent convert (although he used to buy and sell bikes before he started his computer business) he has lost 3st since he took up cycling again. He says gyms are “brain-rottingly boring.” He rides a Pinarello ‘Prince of Spain’.

“I like riding alone. It is a good time to chew over problems, discuss them with myself and sort them out. I have my BlackBerry whirring away in my pocket and usually I stop after a while and answer emails.”

TV football pundit Simon O’Brien, who used to be Damon in Brookside, still cycles on shoots and is a former co-owner of a green-tinged bike shop in Liverpool.

Cerebral ex-footballer Graeme Le Saux has recently taken to two wheels. He’s even competed in cyclo-cross races.

Hotelier Sir Rocco Forte is a late starter: he only took up cycling five years ago when his love of endurance sport led him to triathlons. He likes all sports but now cycling is “the thing I love best…I am addicted.” He has ridden two Etapes du Tour, the amateur stages of the Tour de France.

Failed US president candidate John Kerry is a mad keen road cyclist, owning a custom-painted $3000 Serotta Ottrott which he pedals when he gets a spare moment. Former US president George ‘Dubya’ Bush took up mountain biking in February 2004. He said:

“Nothing compares to getting your heart rate up to 170-something, riding hard for an hour-twenty, getting off and not hurting, as opposed to 24 minutes of running, at the end of which I hurt. When you ride a bike and you get your heart rate up and you’re out, after 30 or 40 minutes your mind tends to expand; it tends to relax.”

The current prez is stick-thin enough to be a cyclist, was famously pictured on a family bike ride in Chicago (wearing jeans) and may even be bike-friendly:

“As president, Barack Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks.”

Former shadow secretary of state for the Regions, Bernard Jenkin drives to his London home on Sunday evening and then doesn’t touch his car for a week: “I cycle everywhere, every day – to Westminster, to meetings in the West End and the City, to the Albert Hall, to the Royal Opera House. Cycling offers a huge financial advantage and it keeps me fit.”

Guitar legend Eric Clapton owns a stable of fancy Italian road bikes and rides often.

Writer Beatrix Campbell is a confirmed cyclist:

“In the context of the great debates about identity politics – are you gay or straight, nationalist or republican, British or English and so on – I would ask, “Do you ride a bike?”. I love everything about the machine – the sensation of the tyres on the road, the mobility – and I love the fact that you have this intimate relationship with the elements, and the landscape.”

Talking Heads frontman David Byrne gets around New York City on his mountain bike. He said:

“I’ve known for twenty years that biking is the best way to get around this city. Back then, people just looked at you like you were crazy. At least now the cars slow down sometimes when they see you…The landlord and the city building code people let me install a shower in my office because I ride a bike to work. I can gallery hop or hit the clubs at night or in the afternoon cheaply and efficiently. It beats cabbing, and the subway is sporadic at night.”

Housewives’ dreamboat Desmond Lynam wrote about cycle escapism in his diary column in The Daily Telegraph: “I decide on the spur of the moment to fly home…I see my loved ones and ride my bicycle in the fresh Sussex air and feel a hundred miles from Euro 2004.”

CTC president and Channel 4 news anchor Jon Snow knows the fastest way to get around London’s congested streets is by bicycle. Top tip: to cool down after cycling from the ITN news centre to interview, say, the PM at 10 Downing Street, Snow has an ice-cube applied to the back of his neck by the make-up crew. He rides everywhere:

“My whole day is built around meetings that can be achieved around bike rides. My contract actually offers me a free car from my home to my office and back, but I suppose I am addicted to cycling.”

Woe betide any drivers who mess with comedian Alexei Sayle: he’s big and bike-proud. He cycle-commutes in London and, like Jon Snow, is just one of the cycling celeb customers of Condor Cycles in London. Others include Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale in Eastenders), Strictly Come Dancing winner and Chicago star Jill Halfpenny, Mick Jagger, (he has a Condor road bike and a custom hybrid), and Chris Tarrant and his wife. In 2005 they bought a tandem (but it clearly didn’t save their marriage…) – no news on what the mistresses ride…

Every Liverpuddlian’s favourite MP-cum-editor-cum-Mayor-hopeful Boris Johnson cycles to and from Parliament and his office at the Spectator magazine.

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood co-created Punk and “If you are lucky you may see her cycling past, next time you are in south London, with her wire-haired fox terrier, Alexandria, in the basket. Westwood has never taken the easy route in her life, and has achieved greatness through great effort. She said ‘I always try to go a different way home. It’s a kind of curiosity, not to want to do the same thing — Why do we have to do it this way? I’m going to try it that way’.

US band Grateful Dead rent studio space from bike supplier Marin of California. The band’s guitarist Bob Weir is a mountain biker, and often rides with mountain bike co-founding father, Gary Fisher. Weir said: “Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls.”

The Prime Minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt is a cyclist and a fan of cycle-sport. He said: “In politics, one can learn some things from cycling, such as how to have character and courage. Sometimes in politics there isn’t enough of those things.”

Lee Iacocca, former boss at Ford and then General Motors, invented the Ford Mustang, the SUV and the Minvan. But his gas-guzzling days are now over: he’s now pinning his hopes on electric bikes and claims to ride his company’s products. He said: “After fifty years in the automobile business, I’m bringing you the future of transportation “and it’s electric!”

Before their acrimonious separation, Sir Paul McCartney could often be seen cycling along the seafront with Heather Mills near their house in Hove, East Sussex. Shortly after his divorce was granted by the High Court, the former Beatle was back on his bicycle with a new companion. He’s been seen cycling in Jumby Bay, near Antigua, with Nancy Shevell, the 47-year-old American socialite.

The reclusive members of German electronic-pop pioneers Kraftwerk don’t just write songs about road-bike races – their 1980s Tour de France album is an influential classic – they ride. Hard.

US rocker Jon Bon Jovi is a mountain biker. He even sponsors an MTB team.

Think motor-mouth Jeremy Clarkson hates bikes? Think again. He and his wife ride Raleigh Pioneers to keep fit.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s bike might not be electric, but his cigarette is.

Know of any more cycling celebs? Let us know, and this list will expand. Spotters: Chris Hill, Dave Goodwin, and Warren T Email:

Got GPS? Replay your rides

Uploading your GPS data to a website isn’t new, Garmin-owned Motion Based does it very well, especially for users in the US.

And here’s a new GPS-tracker from the Nethlerlands which links photos, Google Earth images, TeleAtlas mapping and a ‘play ride’ button that plots your ride and, er, plays it back to you. Sort of.

Trip Tracker is in beta testing right now and doesn’t have many UK bike trips but this ride by Mark Dunscombe features photos and it’s fun to press the 100x speed function to make the head icon spin round the Ywrch Trail.

Site creater Reinier Fleuren wants more GPS users to upload data. He says the website will remain free to users. The stats thrown up by the site aren’t as detailed as those on Motion Based, but they’re free.

Motion Based has placed a bunch of YouTube vids of its data in action. Here’s a vid of the XC MTB course at the forthcoming Sea Otter Classic in California:

Motion Based has mapped all of the Sea Otter routes and the website has gone gloriously interactive, placing YouTubed helmet cam footage next to the maps and stats. Cool, really, really cool.