Scicon Bags at the Tour of California

It’s a bit of an advert no doubt, but fascinating nonetheless. I’ve been using a Aerocomfort for a fair while now and have found it brilliant to use, from long-haul flying to simply taking a bike across London on the underground it’s made travel so darned easy!

TOUR OF CALIFORNIA- THE LOGISTICS OF RACING OUTSIDE EUROPE

 ‘California’- a place name that conjures up images of glamour, sunshine and Arnold Schwarzenegger driving around in an SUV power by vegetable oil. But for one week each year center-stage is hijacked by professional cyclists and their entourages.

The Amgen Tour of California seeks to emulate the European Grand Tours with a demanding course that traverses hundreds of miles of California’s iconic highways, byways and coastlines each Spring. Divided up into 8 grueling stages with a cumulative distance of around 700 miles.

But we want to focus on the logistics behind the cycling teams and not the actual race itself. The vast majority of World Tour and Continental teams are based in Europe and the ‘journey to victory’ starts a long time before the race itself.

TOC-infograph1

Scicon currently sponsor 9 professional cycling teams of which 4 are racing at this year’s Tour of California, Cannondale-Garmin, Trek Factory Racing, Tinkoff-Saxo and MTN-Qhubeka. Scicon, as bike bag manufacturer, play a huge role in facilitating safe transportation of thousands of bikes every year to and from races and training camps around the world.

As you can see, each of the 8 riders has 3 bikes: 1 road, 1 TT and 1 spare. Cannondale-Garmin also take a couple extra spares on top of that.

Henriette Greenwood- Logistics Manager of Tinkoff-Saxo tells us:

We currently book an average of 1100 flight tickets per year and that includes 240 bikes in bike bags to races like the Tour of Down Under, California, Colorado, Dubai, Qatar etc. and of course, also to our training camps.

Henriette also explained that they have a dedicated ‘overseas package’ which is always readily available at their service course in Luxembourg. This overseas package includes a list of spare bike parts, water bottles and nutrition as long as your arm. Here’s a simplified version of the equipment set aside for each rider in the form of an infographic:

TOC-singlerider-infograph-2

MTN-Qhubeka Team Principle Douglas Ryder explains to us that travel logistics play a huge role in his team as they are flying a lot further than other teams as many of their riders live in Africa:

60% of our riders live outside of Europe where the majority of races are held meaning we have to fly to races that other teams don’t have to.

Douglas goes on to state:

This is why having a good bike bag is so important. The AeroComfort is the best in the business and we want to get our riders out to races like the Tour of California in the best shape.

This year is in fact the first year that MTN-Qhubeka have been invited to participate at the TOC which makes it all the more important that they pack safe and ride fast!

Trek Factory Racing, on the other hand, have been racing the TOC since the team was founded in 2011 as Leopard Trek. Former rider Chris Horner actually won it back in 2011.

Scicon’s sponsorship of this team also began back in 2011. They have been travelling with the AeroComfort for 4 years now and Tim Vaderjeugd, Communications Manager, tells us:

We have complete faith in our Scicon Bags.

Something that all the teams seem to echo is the huge increase in the number of races outside of Europe. Head Mechanic at Cannondale-Garmin Geoff Brown claims:

The globalization of professional cycling is great for the sport, and it is critical for teams to get the equipment we need where it needs to be, safely – so we are lucky to have a sponsor like Scicon that helps ensure our equipment arrives in great condition for racing and training.

It means more work for Geoff but also more trips to exotic places too which I’m sure none of the riders and staff are complaining about! Cycling is, for most people including professional riders, about exploring new places, going on adventures and of course, looking stylish at the airport with their Team Edition AeroComfort 2.0 bike bags.

But why do so many teams choose to fly with Scicon? We currently sponsor 9 pro teams but in fact, a total of 20 teams are using this bike bag.

What sets the AeroComfort 2.0 apart exactly? Have a look at our product illustration below to get a better idea:

aerocomfort-infograph-960

The TSA locks are obviously especially important for when the teams are flying across to races such as the Tour of California as the Travel Sentry Agents can access the contents of the bike bag at customs.

The biggest benefit to the teams is the vast amount of money they save by using the AeroComfort as opposed to a bike box. This bike bag weighs 8.9kg, most teams’ bikes weigh around 6.8kg (as that’s the minimum allowed) so that totals just under 16kg which is within pretty much all airline baggage limits.

Whereas if the teams were using bike boxes, which usually weigh between 12-20kg, they might be pushed over into excess baggage fee territory.

Lets put that into real terms-

Lets take a bike box which weighs in at 17.5kg (this weight is based on a leading bike box model)

+ 6.8kg bike = 24.3kg total weight

VS 15.7kg total (including bike) with the AeroComfort 2.0 TSA

And lets take a standard airline company that many pro cycling teams including Cannondale-Garmin will be using to fly across to the Tour of California- Lufthansa, who are pretty reasonable when it comes to bike fees in comparison to some other airline companies.

They allow bikes on for free if under 23kg but will charge €100 ($150) each way if over the given allowance (inter-continental). This means that the total excess baggage charges for the four teams travelling to the Tour of California with the AeroComfort should be €0 whereas if they were travelling with a heavier bike box it would cost them roughly €4800 extra for a round trip. Bear in mind too that Lufthansa’s fee are quite low in comparison to some other airlines who charge per kg in excess and have more restrictive dimensional restrictions.

TOC-article-collage1-1600x900

And this is just for one race. If we take the figure given to us by Tinkoff-Saxo of 240 bikes transported via plane per year to and from races and training camps then the total amount of excess baggage would be between €24,000- €36,000!

This is a huge amount of saving for a team, especially one with a more limited budget e.g. MTN-Qhubeka or a female team like Velocio-SRAM (who are racing in this year’s women’s Tour Of California). Also, some continental teams and almost all women’s teams don’t have a team bus or a large service course meaning that the riders tend to look after their own equipment. This means packing and flying out with their bike bag themselves, much like an amateur rider who participates in a lot of sportives and/or often goes on cycling holidays.

From professional mechanics to pro riders to cycling tourists, the AeroComfort 2.0 TSA is the number one choice in bike transportation worldwide with good reason.

The Nocturne Returns!

I visited ol’ London Town last year, and as I was leaving I was reading on Twitter that the London Nocturne was that night, I was sorely peeved I can tell you! But not this year, oh no. June the 6th is the date, just need to keep that in mind now as I’m planning jollies this summer!

The Jupiter London Nocturne is back for its 9th time this year, racing through the tight streets of Smithfields market. More than 10,000 fans flocked to the event last year, creating an electrifying atmosphere on the 1.1km street circuit around the historic Smithfield Market. This year’s event will once again include the traditional Folding Bike and Penny Farthing Races, culminating in the men’s and women’s Elite Criteriums which will feature a host of British and international cycling stars. 

Nocturne - phone boxes

All types of cyclists ranging from commuters to Olympic champions will take to the streets of the City of London on 6th June to kick off another spectacular summer of cycling in London.

This year’s event will once again include the traditional Folding Bike and Penny Farthing Races, culminating in the men’s and women’s Elite Criteriums which will feature a host of British and international cycling stars.

The City Criterium will see corporate teams vying to claim the glory as the fastest business in the Square Mile with one of the teams qualifying from the Jupiter Race earlier in the programme.

Also included will be the Brooks Retro Criterium, Leigh Day Criterium and the Santander Cycles Race – the cycle hire race, sponsored by Transport for London (TfL), was one of the highlights last year and returns on a new fleet of Santander Cycles in 2015.

Nocturne - close up

Information on how to enter the Santander Cycles Race and all the Jupiter London Nocturne races can be found on www.londonnocturne.com 

The Jupiter London Nocturne is free to attend with grandstand and hospitality tickets also available to purchase.

#JupiterNocturne @nocturneseries | facebook.com/TheNocturneSeries 

 

Awesome cycling Kickstarter project

One of the key learning experiences last year during my Transcontinental race was that stopping to take photographs involves stopping, and stopping, as obvious as it sounds, means not moving forward. Too much not moving forward and you end up losing significant chunks of time, to the extent that you miss cutoffs and eventually can’t reach the end-point (or you are perfectly placed to assist someone who is in need!).

One of the very first things I realised from that experience was that it would be awesome to share the TCR adventure with someone to help document it, by having a photographer along for the journey I would be able to keep on turning the peddles and still share the trip with family and friends back at home.

Enter Camile McMillan, ex of Rouleur, Rapha, and a whole host of publications, brands and companies, and now settling into his home in the mountains of France.

Camille is coming along with me this summer for the TCR, bringing his trusty moto and camera kit for the adventure of the year – even as I type that I get excited, Camille is quite simply a fantastic photographer and his passion for cycling and appetite for adventure lends itself perfectly to such a jaunt!

He’s currently on Kickstarter right now, looking to raise funds for a  240 page book of cycling reportage, featuring classic pictures from his long and eminently successful career around the professional peloton.

Absolutely check it out, £25 gets you a copy – which is great value already – so it’s totally worth backing!

enjoy!

New Kit from Oakley: Jawbreaker Sunglasses

Last year at Le Tour I managed to grab of photo of Mark Cavendish prior to the race starting, and atop his hat was something new and shiny….

Cav up close
Cav up close

With style cues taken from both the Jawbones of modern times and Lemond-era Eyeshades they were clearly something a little special.

Today they were released to the masses. The Oakley Jawbreaker.

2 years in the making, 4 score and 20 design iterations, and countless hours of field testing – effectively the whole of the last 18 months of riding from Cav’ – and Oakley have come up with what Cavendish calls Armour for the eyes.

Jawbreaker Design

I’ve been a wearer of Oakley glasses since about ’92 when I stole and broke my big brother’s Frogskins (Black frame, purple Iridium lens), and whilst they don’t all work, this pair do look pretty awesome!

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 15.00.57

Designed specifically for cycling they offer an increased field of vision when riding in the drops (Oakley did some eye-tracking to see where riders where looking when riding).

Oakley have kept their SwitchLock lens replacement system – incredibly simple to use once you know where to press – and have a bunch of lenses available for the Jawbreaker.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 14.59.15

Featuring ventilated lenses to reduce fogging (massive pet hate!) and Oakley’s new Prizm technology – allowing the wearer to (and I quote) “spot subtle changes in the texture of the road surface”.

Oakley pretty much set the benchmark in optics, in my opinion, so any improvement in clarity will be a good thing!

Available now from £180….

Coming Soon: Fisherman’s Friend STRONGMANRUN!

At the best of times I’m not a ‘Strongman’, I’ve got reasonable cyclists legs and I try to cultivate a cyclist’s physique on my upper half – that is to say my arms are good at climbing mountains on a bike, but not for climbing them on a rope. Yet, despite this, at the point of being asked, it seemed like a totally sensible thing to agree to, saying Yes to entering the Fisherman’s Friend Strongman Run at the Nurgburgring in May.

Of course I was invited and agreed well before I broke my bones, putting the brakes firmly on my running training so this rest was never in my plans, and is probably slightly less than ideal preparation for a 24km obstacle course run! 24km is longer than I’ve ever run before, with my biggest distance being about 18km – although that didn’t have obstacles in the way!

But life is for living and all that, so there was no way I was going to pull out, after all is said I done, I want the t-shirt!

43 days to go, there is a good level or nervousness built up already!

%d bloggers like this: