Some of the biggest draw cards of a good 24 hour race aren’t just what happens on the bike, but the things that happen off it. Lucky there's a few 24s to choose from then.
24 Hour season is about to begin. The Scott Australian 24 Hour Mountain Bike Championships begin in two Saturday's time at Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra. On October 25-26 the Mont 24 (Kowen Forest, also in the ACT) and the Thule B24 in Bright, Victoria, offer riders two more chances to surrender a good night's sleep.
A good 24 is an annual pilgrimage for some riders and a great way to get more involved in the sport for many more. The basic idea is that teams send riders off in a relay style format from midday Saturday until midday Sunday, a mountain bike event format that first hit Australia in 1999.
Cycling is about more than what we do. It’s also about what we see, writes Kath Bicknell.
I don’t know about you, but before I started cycling I happily slept through sunrise almost every day of the year. A nine to five-ish work or study day means a lot of us get up once the sky is already light in the morning, pause for the sunset occasionally and go to bed a long time after it’s dark.
By contrast, in a rapidly growing number of cities in Australia, organised early morning road bunch rides bring people together for a solid hit out, in the safety of a group. 6:00am starts beat the peak hour traffic and allow time for a quick coffee before most cyclists start work.
Asks Anthony Tan, has the inexorable rise and rise of ‘the Mamil’ killed the working class ethos of cycling, and is such blatant conspicuous consumption destroying the sport’s identity as the great leveller?
They're rich. Many, very rich. They have some of the best bikes money can buy. They buy the glossiest of glossy magazines. They watch the Tour religiously. They're middle-aged. They're in lycra - only the best, of course.
Yes, they're Mamils... Middle-aged men in lycra. And they're an advertiser's dream.
Earlier this week we published a review of the film, Slaying the Badger, a documentary that follows Greg LeMond’s journey to become the first non-European to win the Tour de France, in 1986. But the story itself is nothing without Bernard Hinault, the elder French champion, who continually rattles LeMond’s nerve throughout, keeping the American on his toes until the finish.
If you’ve not seen the film, read Richard Moore’s book first, which gives a far more detailed and insightful account of the context of the LeMond-Hinault relationship, and the intriguing rivalry the played out between both riders in 1985 and 1986.
As the Vuelta rages on, it’s a timely reminder of what makes sport great. The protagonists. The characters. The rivalries. Merckx-Ocaña. Lewis-Johnson. Armstrong-Ullrich. Contador-Schleck. Federer-Nadal. And the ongoing, and unfinished Contador-Froome.
It is the climbs that define a Grand Tour - it is the mighty ascents which separate the strong from the weak, the champions from the pack fodder and are the most anticipated stages of any race.
The Vuelta a Espana is perhaps the most exciting and least predictable of the three Grand Tours, and with a stellar line up of contenders the mountains are going to be a true test of the best.
Spain is a very mountainous and varied country, and in recent years the Vuelta organisers have gone to cruel lengths to seek out remote and dastardly steep climbs.