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Rolf Rae-Hansen

Rolf's a freelance copywriter based in Edinburgh

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tour de france

Review: We Rode All Day by Gareth Cartman

We Rode All Day is a fictionalised account of the 1919 Tour de France, told from the riders’ perspective.

We Rode All Day is a work of fiction based on the historical fact of the 1919 Tour de France. Gareth Cartman has used historical archives, and sometimes artistic license, to conjure a ‘voice’ for each of the featured riders and then set their stories around the events of that year’s race.

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Review: The Yellow Jersey by Peter Cossins

The Yellow Jersey by Peter Cossins is a fitting commemoration of the 100th anniversary of one of sport’s most iconic prizes.

Conceived, and first worn, in 1919 as a means of helping spectators at the roadside more easily identify the Tour’s leading cyclist, the maillot jaune is one of the most coveted prizes in the sport of cycling, only rivalled by the World Champ’s rainbow bands.

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Review: Full Gas by Peter Cossins

It’s a long time since I last pinned a number to my cycling jersey. Back in my day (when MTB wheels were all 26 inches and fluro lycra wasn’t retro) I entered a lot of cross-country races. The only tactic I observed, with mixed to middling results, was to ride flat-out from start to finish. My only ‘glorious’ road-racing memory involves failing to ride my breakaway companions off my wheel on a climb, then leading out the sprint, ignoring my inner monologue, which was breathlessly shouting, “you shouldn’t be leading out, you shouldn’t be leading out!

I have no immediate intention of returning to competitive ways and so picked up Full Gas – How to Win a Bike Race: Tactics From Inside the Peloton, to give it its full title, unsure if this book was really for me.

It didn’t take long for those doubts to be dispelled.

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Review: The Invisible Mile by David Coventry

The Invisible Mile by New Zealand author David Coventry is a fictionalised account of the five Australian and New Zealand cyclists who, in 1928, formed the first English-speaking team to ride the Tour de France.

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Cycling Savoie Mont Blanc

I’m recently back from a few day’s riding in the Savoie Mont Blanc, the lumpy, Alpine part of Eastern France that borders Switzerland and Italy. The area, hugely popular with winter skiers, is making a big push to promote its many mountainous delights to summer cyclists. Not that cyclists haven’t already discovered the place. I stayed in Morzine, which has already hosted 19 Tour de France stages, including this year’s Tour’s penultimate etape (the soggy stage won by  Ion Izagirre’s demon descent off the Col de Joux-Plane). The locals clearly took the Tour to heart and a month on from the big event the whole area was still decked out in white with red polka dots to match the maillot a pois rouge worn by the race’s best climber. 2016-08-20_17.25.00.jpg

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The Season’s Cycle

I live my life by the season. That’s not a spelling mistake, I don’t mean seasons, plural, I mean the cycling season.

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Cooked on the Casse Déserte

Stage 14 of the this year’s Tour de France takes in a wee hill called the Col d’Izoard. Here’s an extra from The Breakaway on the day that very climb very nearly claimed us: Continue reading “Cooked on the Casse Déserte”

Never Meet Your Heroes – Redux

Back in June last year I wrote this short blog about ‘meeting’ the polka dot jersey won and worn by one of my cycling heroes, Robert Millar, at the 1984 Tour de France. 

I’d encountered it after stumbling into Billy Bilsland Cycles on the way home from an afternoon watching the British Road Race Championships at Glasgow Green.
Well it seems as if another trip west (surely a pilgrimage?) is on the cards. Billy Bilsland Cycles have this week unveiled an addition to their Millar tribute. Alongside the signed and framed spotty jersey you can now see the actual Peugeot bike upon which Millar rode to that famous victory.
Apparently the bike hadn’t been seen in public for 30 years, having been in the ownership of a private collector. Well now (but unlike it’s ilusive original owner) the bike is very much back in the public eye — and in one of Scotland’s best bike shops too. Definitely worth a trip to Glasgow, if only to marvel at the size of the inner chainring — what, no compact?!
There’s more info and a full gallery at Billy Bilsland’s Facebook page.

(Still reckon retro Peugeots look better in fluro pink, like my old steed.)

Best of Times, Worst of Times

One of the great things about having ridden a load of Tour climbs is pretending to know how the peloton feels as the Tour cruises and crawls over the same roads. Stage 19 takes in the Col du Glandon and the Col de la Madeliene, both of which I tackled during The Breakaway. For me the Madeleine was a total and utter nightmare. I suffered like a dog (trapped inside a hot car) the whole way up. The Glandon was that day’s second ascent and, surprisingly, I recovered enough to find it, dare I say, enjoyable.

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