Archive for July, 2008


Jul 16, 2008

Don’t you just hate YouTube?


YouTube is so all-powerful, it’s crazy. Because it has such a bonkers big global audience it can serve ‘related videos’ to millions of viewers, and the other online video sites don’t stand a bloody chance.

I’m not really complaining, I love the fact my YouTube vids have had 794,900 total views, but I put a lot of effort into promoting my Bicycle Anatomy video on Vimeo.com yet it’s now been overtaken by the same video placed on YouTube at a later date and given zero link love.


Bicycle Anatomy for Beginners from Quickrelease.tv on Vimeo.

That’s the Vimeo version. It’s hi-res, it can be downloaded in different formats, it players better in the full-screen format. It has been embedded by a whole host of big sites, such as Commutebybike.com, BikeBiz.com, Bikeforall.net, Bicycleretailer.com and Roadbikerider.com.

But despite all this, the ruddy YouTube version has had 8061 views and rising. The hyper-linked Vimeo version has had 7314 total views.



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Jul 15, 2008

Save the Shaftesbury One!


According to the business section of The Times, Premier Foods, the Mr Kipling cakes to Campbell’s soup maker, said it expected its “struggling” Hovis bread business to start winning back market share in the second half of the year.

“Premier, which has seen Hovis lose ground to Warburtons and Kingsmill, wants to hark back to the success of the classic ‘Bike Ride’ advert of 1973, in which a small boy pushed a bike laden with bread up a cobbled street.”

This ad is regularly voted the best UK ad ever. Wallow in its nostalgia:



“The ad was directed by Sir Ridley Scott, who went on to fame and fortune in Hollywood with blockbusters including Alien and Blade Runner, and there are rumours in the advertising industry that he has been approached by Premier about becoming involved in September’s relaunch,” said The Times.

Could the bicycling boy make a comeback? It would be a shot in the arm for transport bikes. Sales of butcher’s bikes would rise along with sales of loaves.

The ‘boy’ is now a 49-year old fireman. Carl Barlow was 13 when he appeared in the advert.

Hovis has form when it comes to cycling. Last year it ponied up £1.5m to sponsor the London Freewheel ride. In the 1990s the bread brand supported the National Byway with £500,000.

But the support goes back even further. In 1900, Hovis produced a cycling map series at a scale of 5 miles to 1 inch. The maps were published by G Philip and Son, for the Hovis Bread Flour Co, Macclesfield, Cheshire, and the co-sponsor was the Cycling Components Mfring Co, Birmingham. This series continued for 25+ years.

In 1973, Hovis returned to its roots with the delivery boy - set against Dvorak’s ‘New World’ symphony, rearranged for brass - freewheeling down a cobbled northern hill.

In fact, the ad was shot on Gold Hill of Shaftesbury, Dorset.

Barlow said: “It was pure fate that I got the part as the Hovis boy. I was down to the last three, and it turned out that one of the two boys couldn’t ride a bike, and the other wouldn’t cut his hair into the pudding bowl style - it was the Seventies after all. As the only boy who could ride a bike and would cut his hair, I got the part.”



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Jul 15, 2008

Team Columbia’s launch now on YouTube


I posted this video to the Quickrelease.tv podcast t’other day, here it is away from the glorious e-ghetto that is iTunes:



I love the bit where Cav asks for a chair. Pro cyclists are notorious for wanting to sit or lie down to “save their legs”. They really don’t like walking very far, ditto for running. They’re also fussy about door-knobs and shaking hands: some carry disinfectant sprays to ward off germs. A bug can poleaxe a pro.



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Jul 14, 2008

A new podcast, mailing list and book


1BikeToWorkBookFullCover

Sign up for the free newsletter for the Bike to Work Book, and click through to listen to the podcast, too. Or peruse a PDF for the book from here (the PDF is viewable online, no need to download it).

The Bike to Work Book is to be co-published in November by myself here at Quickrelease.tv Towers and Tim Grahl’s CommuteByBike.com of the US. We met through membership of the Spokesmen bike industry roundtable podcast.

1BikeToWorkCover

The Bike to Work Book is a print title but it will also leverage the internet to reach a larger audience than possible through traditional book publishing. The print version will be available on Amazon.com and other booksellers from mid-November but the book will also be available as a paid-for rich-media e-book and there will be a free, cut-down version of the book available as a PDF, sent via iTunes. The e-formats will be available earlier than the printed book.

The health and economic benefits of cycling are flagged on the book’s back cover.

Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett said: “This book could save you $3500 a year. And you’ll be lighter and stronger into the bargain.”

Transport psychologist Dr Ian Walker of the University of Bath said: “Cycling is an important life expectancy predictor. Because it becomes part of your daily routine, cycling to work helps you live longer. This book could be the most important you ever read.”

The 200-page, full-colour book will be available in the world’s biggest book shop.

“The book available on Amazon is kinda fixed, but the electronic formats will be made country-specific so readers downloading the US version will get a book produced just for the US,” said Tim Grahl.

This flexibility allows for country-specific spellings and riding advice, too.

The print book is set in stone and will be mostly US in tone and spelling,. But the downloadable formats will be regionalised. Where Americans say ‘gas’, Brits say ‘petrol’. And the UK version will say ‘colour’, not ‘color’. The localisation of the e-book and PDFs also allows us to modify comments about riding on the left or the right of the road.

Check out the new podcast. The first show was recorded on Thursday and featured me and Tim talking with two of Europe’s top bike bloggers. Mikael Colville-Anderson produces the Copenhagen Cycle Chic blog (”bicycle advocacy in high heels”); Marc van Woudenberg produces Amsterdamize.com.

Colville-Anderson and Woudenberg are to write a chapter in the Bike to Work Book: ‘The Future is Already Here’, a description of what US and UK cities can look forward to when they embrace bicycling.

PS

For those who like plain vanilla MP3 files instead of .m4a’s here’s a link you’ll prefer.



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Jul 14, 2008

First info on the Bike to Work Book



Bike to Work Book First Info - Get more Creative Writing



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Jul 11, 2008

Medicos say war on sports drugs isn’t working


This week’s British Medical Journal includes 18 pages of research and analysis on the health risks and benefits of exercise. It also carries a polemic from Swiss and Australian researchers who claim the war against doping in sports is flawed.

‘Globalisation of anti-doping: the reverse side of the medal’ is by Bengt Kayser, professor and director of the institute of movement sciences and sports medicine at the University of Geneva, and Aaron CT Smith, professor and director of sport and leisure management at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.

The subhead says:

“Current anti-doping policy is sufficiently problematic to call for debate and change.”

The article - peer reviewed by many academics - says:

The reasons advanced for anti-doping policy are flawed and do not warrant strong punishment and costly repression of doping practices;

The effects of prohibition as a means for regulating doping behaviour remain unclear, so the emphasis should be on developing an evidence base regarding any detrimental effects of performance enhancement technologies in order to dissuade potential users rather than coerce them, and to ensure that anti-doping policy does not induce more harm in society than it prevents;

Testing for doping in bodily specimens will never uncover all use of forbidden substances or methods, as false negatives and false positives are inherent to testing but are unacceptable in sport because athletes can never be considered truly clean; false accusations should be avoided;
[my emphasis - Floyd Landis might smile, wryly, at that section]

Rules and sampling procedures associated with testing protocols impinge on athletes’ privacy to an unreasonable degree and violate basic notions of personal freedom and self regulation;

The “war on doping” and the “war on drugs” tend to converge, as exemplified by the presence of recreational and performance impairing drugs like marihuana on the list of prohibited drugs; [my emphasis - Tom Boonen might smile, wryly, at that section]

Outside the sporting field, enhancement technologies like cosmetic surgery and eye surgery and use of substances like caffeine, fluoxetine, modafinil, sildenafil, methylphenidate, and anti-ageing drugs are an increasingly accepted social behaviour; this places zero tolerance for enhancement in sport at odds with broader social values.

The main photograph on the piece is of Belgian cyclist Kevin van Impe who was famously compelled by an anti-doping doc to produce a urine sample while preparing his son’s funeral at a crematorium.



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Jul 11, 2008

Radio silence?


I don’t update for a couple of days and I get a flurry of emails asking me if I’m OK. I am. OK, that is. Just busy, really busy. (How busy? Too busy to go get an iPhone 3G today).

I’m working on a book and podcast project with a few others. All will be revealed soon but here’s a couple of clues:





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Jul 07, 2008

Tour de France cavalcade always stuns


I love the racing in the Tour de France, I really do. But I think the TV coverage and the cycling news sites don’t linger long enough on the publicity caravan. It’s a procession that never fails to impress.

The amount of diesel spewed out is truly staggering, and all to promote processed cheese, a French movie or two and a bunch of other stuff.

I might be in mock mode here but the Tour wouldn’t be the same without the caravan.

Giant cuddly lion

Coffee anyone?

For those who prefer close-ups of riders, I’ve got a couple of them, too. Here’s a shot of Scotland’s David Millar:

David Millar in wistful mood

More pix on my Tour de France Flickr set. I was only there for the grand depart from Brest so don’t go expecting any action shots from the road. Before and after the Tour’s passing I was embedded on a press trip to sample the cycle touring highlights of Brittany and I’ll write about this later.



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Jul 07, 2008

Between a Rock and a hard place


With ITV announcing a ‘red button’ interactive TV service for the Tour of Britain - see story below - we’ll get to see lots of Tyler Hamilton racing in the UK.

For those who believe he’s guilty as hell it’s worth reading the full arbitration ruling. Starting on p. 14 of this PDF, tribunal member Christopher Campbell identified many aspects of the case against Hamilton that didn’t stack up.

As can be seen by the past dispute over fairness of doping case arbitrators, these hearings are far from impartial.

Hamilton’s case didn’t stand or fall on the so-called ‘chimera defence’ but he will be for ever a blood doper to the majority. Sadly, the Rock Racing rider will get a cold reception in Britain, with the cycle press attacking him from all quarters long before he arrives for the London start of the Tour of Britain.

For footage of Tyler - and Tugboat RIP - get the ‘Brainpower’ movie rushes from the Quickrelease.tv spot on iTunes.

That’s a full nine minutes of high-quality Tour de France footage, shot on IMAX cameras. The lo-res, shorter version has been watched 125,000 times on YouTube:



The footage is a series of rushes from ‘Brainpower’ that later turned into the IMAX movie ‘Wired to Win’. The rushes included footage of Tyler Hamilton, footage that was chopped from the final film. The movie started life as a semi biopic of Hamilton but was delayed a year when the then CSC rider was embroiled in the blood doping saga.

Quickrelease.tv reader ‘deekayed’ recently emailed with an anecdote about meeting Tyler Hamilton:

“After see ‘The best Tour De France footage ever shot’ from your sit, me and a group of friends that I ride with went to Philly’s Frankilin Institute Imax and watched ‘Wired to Win’. We were blown away.

“We all live in the Reading PA area and a week later the Commerce Bank Reading Classic came to town. Who do I end up having an extended conversation with but Tyler Hamilton. Before I knew it there were at least fifteen people with microphones standing behind me. Unfortunately then was the time that I said to him just what a shame all that time and expense was lost on ‘Brainpower’. It was as if I had asked how Tugboat was doing. His eyes filled with tears, he said nothing, put his head down and a few moments later rode away, speechless. As I turned around to make my own way there was all these stunned looking people with microphones who had no idea what just transpired but gave me the look of, you just killed his dog.”



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Jul 07, 2008

ITV adds ‘red button’ to Tour of Britain coverage


ITV Sport has a deal with Vsquared TV for the rights to broadcast the Tour of Ireland 2008 and a deal with Tour of Britain Ltd. for the right to broadcast the Tour of Britain.

ITV4 is currently running a highlights package for the Tour de France.

The Tour of Britain has previously been televised by the BBC, but only once the Tour has all but finished. ITV will broadcast a daily highlights programme of both the Tours of Ireland and Britain on ITV4, Men and Motors, itv.com and ITV mobile as well as new, live coverage via a red button interactive service.

The Tour of Ireland will take place 27th to 31st August and the Tour of Britain on the 7th to 14th September 2008. The Tour of Britain will visit my hometown of Newcastle.



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