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Rolf Rae-Hansen

Rolf's a freelance copywriter based in Edinburgh

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cycling

Review: Anquetil, Alone by Paul Fournel

Anquetil, Alone may not be the most comprehensive history of the first rider to win five Tours de France but if there’s one better written I’ll eat my chapeau.

need for bikeTo Maître Jacques in a minute. First, the author: Paul Fournel is a French writer, poet, publisher, and cultural ambassador. A few years back I stumbled upon his 2001 collection of essays on cycling, Need For The Bike (Besoin de vélo, in its original French). If you’re a cyclist and haven’t read it then do yourself a favour, open a new tab in your browser and order a copy. Now. Fournel may not have been the best cyclist ever (he describes his own two-wheeled talent as banal) but there’s no one who writes better about the sport.

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Review: Rainbows in the Mud by Paul Maunder

Rainbows in the Mud – Inside the Intoxicating World of Cyclocross by Paul Maunder

What I knew about cyclocross before reading this book:

  • ‘Cross is what masochistic roadies do in the winter
  • Lots of mud
  • Running and bunny-hopping
  • More mud
  • Belgium
  • Did I mention mud?

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A Cyclist’s Paean to the Humble Banana

I was watching my guilty-pleasure TV show, Come Dine With Me, the other night when one of the contestants opined their phobia-level hatred of the banana. What had the mellow yellow done to make him so vociferous? I probably didn’t want to know, but I did take an instant dislike to the hater. The banana, you see, is a pal of mine.

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Scotland’s Best Cycling Climbs: Cairn o’ Mount

I’ve been making a belated effort to tackle some of Scotland’s toughest/best (depending on your penchant for uphill) cycling climbs. Towards the end of the winter I sampled the Mennock Pass (nice but by no means nasty), a few weeks ago the Bealach na Ba (nice and nasty, thanks to hideous weather) and, just the other day, the Cairn o’ Mount (read on).

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Cycling Bealach na Ba – Britain’s Hardest Climb

Thanks mostly to The Breakaway, when it comes to big-climb bragging among fellow cyclists I can usually hold my own. Ventoux? Not nearly as hard as I expected. Alpe D? It’s fun, like an uphill roller coaster. The Stelvio, Gavia, Mortirolo? Si, si, si.

However, one name kept cropping up that didn’t feature on my ‘palmares’, and its lacking left me a little ashamed. Sure, I’d ridden loads of the French and Italian climbs, but what about the big one in my own backyard?

Er, which one is that? The Bea-what now? I’d sheepishly admit to not having a clue.

Bealach na Ba, they repeated. Toughest in Scotland, they said, pleased to have caught me out, pleased at themselves for having completed that particular Caledonian challenge.

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Cycling Book Review: Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep – The Tale of the First Tour de France

Butcher, Blacksmith, Acrobat, Sweep – The Tale of the First Tour de France by Peter Cossins (Yellow Jersey Press) is part explanation of how the world’s greatest bike race came into being, and part sporting reportage of the inaugural Grand Tour’s monstrous stages. There’s a lot of historical detail packed in here but, thanks to Cossins’ telling and the nature of the events being told, none of it makes for dull reading.

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Tour de Pharmacy & a Sensitive Cycling Soul

Am I too sensitive a cycling soul or does the new HBO film Tour de Pharmacy look (more than a bit) crap? It’s a mockumentary lampooning cycling’s doping culture. Wow, well done guys, only (at least) ten years late to the party.

It’s not that I’m blinkered to cycling’s issues past or present. I quickly realised that my new climbing idol Marco Pantani might not be riding pane e acqua. I was an Armstrong doubter from the first of his seven. I now watch the sport through irises scarred by Festina, Puerto, Landis, Rasmussen, various vanishing twins, EPO Cera, steakgate, Ricardo Ricco’s innumerable fuck ups, motor-doping, whereaboutsgate. You name it, I’ve witnessed a very large jiffy bag full of eye openers.

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Book Review: Giro d’Italia by Colin O’Brien

Giro d’Italia – The Story of the World’s Most Beautiful Bike Race, to give it it’s full title, is exactly what it says on the cover. It takes in all the major editions and events from the Giro’s 1909 birth right up to Nibali’s win in 2016.

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Review: Aldi Waterproof Lobster Cycling Gloves – UPDATED

Bagged myself a pair of Aldi’s Waterproof Lobster Cycling Gloves during their last cycling Special Buys event after being recommended them by a few folk on Twitter. Given their measly £7.99 price-tag I wasn’t expecting much.

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