2011... Thats A Wrap

What a year. We saw Gilbert dominate the spring classics in a way that was just off the dial, witnessed a very deserved and honourable tour de France victory (well every fibre of being believes it was a true performance... I hope dearly it was). One of my fave moments personally, being the soppy romantic I am, was seeing the reunion of Van Summeren and his lady at the finish line where he proposed in true style (and with a massive rock too!). 
2011 pro cycling had it all - the textbook perfect year for the Manx Missile - a WC title, TDF sprint domination & even a little nipper on the way. It was a great year for British cycling with some heavyweight performances, such as Froomey at the Vuelta and Brads Dauphiné victory. 
So 2011 was a cool year for cycling. Personally.... I spent a good portion of 2011 travelling and living on the road due to being posted out to the field to work as a photo editor for the year. 
I saw some amazing thinngs, including the Tour Finale, I spent 2 months posted out to New Zealand where I indulged in some pretty epic riding, and of course I took part in a wicked 24 hour race challenge with an awesome bunch of lads deep in the forest-laden hinterland of Germany. 
The year also saw challenges for me, in that I put on a little weight and lost fitnss due to an erratic work schedule that negated any chance whatsoever of regular and structured riding... It became a little bit of a case of 'grab the bike' whenever I had the chance. This past month has seen me rectify this with a work diary that's given me back a daily 75 minute commute, and im no longer eating out on the road 3 times a day. 
Diet and riding structure has been nailed down and im seeing results already. Not to mention I took up running. Fear not as I hear you gasp aloud in shock! with a charity half-marathon on the way in March its just a nice excuse to supplement the riding and fitness with a little bit of cross training over the winter that's going to pay some well deserved benefits (or at least I hope it will - otherwise I may cry!).
Im really digging the social side of riding this past year, with a mention got to be thrown the way of instagram. If you have an iphone I implore you to get the free app downloaded, its a wicked way to connect to some really cool people and share an insight into their daily life. Look me up, username gematkinson. I also dipped my feet into the world of Tumblr, and found some really cool blogs out there.
Late April I took delivery of my lovely Acciaio from Condor. It has become my go-to bike for pretty much everything. I had a go at racing a crit on it (which I hated - im def not a racer!), I took it to 60mph on a decent and have never felt so secure! Im really looking forwrad to putting some special miles on it for the forthcoming year, its made a big difference to how much I enjoy my riding these days.
I decided that racing wasnt for me - maybe thats because I was a tad out of shape in 2011 (indulgence on the road is a killer! and no regular base mileage is hard to compensate for some the summer when everyone is flying). I also tried a hillclimb, but didnt do too great. My sensei Konrad has urged me to bother to warm uop for more than 40 seconds next time! 
Iv met some super-cool people this year too, have to throw out a big shout to some really awesome people doing some cool things, these guys are worth following > Fabrica Della Bici, I Get Cross, Out of Leftfield, Vicious Velo, In The Saddle, Gage & DeSoto, WMP, Tracko Rex, Bike Tart, and so many more I have forgot to mention... Theres a wicked online cycling community growing and spreading ideas and events, and its been cool to be a part of this last year. Hopefully 2012 will see me being able to dedicate a bit more time and put something back into the scene thats helped me roll along nicely the past few years. 

So for 2012, make some big goals and work hard towards them.... I have a good feeling about it! All the best & big love to all! Gemx    


Beautiful steel frames - spied over at Keith Anderson Cycles flickr

Hackney GT

At the recent Vicious Cross Race, I had the pleasure to meet Russ Jones, godfather of 'Hackney GT'. Hackney Globe Trotter is a collection of really cool ideas, manifesting themselves in fashion, design, cyclewear, and sick musical events, with the emphasis on style and fun. Head on over to his website for some fresh mixes and links to radio shows, events and the shop where you can cop some sick jerseys. Below is Russ's natty looking CX bike. HOT! 

A Couple of Reads

I recently picked up a couple of real nice books to enjoy over the festive period. First up is a wicked photo book chronicling the UCI World Cup Cyclocross season of 2009/2010 by a really awesome snapper, Balint Hamvas.
The format of the book is a great introduction to the world cup racing scene, with each round of racing summarised nicely in prose, with a bit of pre race background about the riders and their standings, before launching into a succint edit of great photos from that leg of the competition. 
The photos capture the real essence of the race, with some cool key moments. I also love that Balint shoots the ladies equally too, and he has some truly cracking pics of girls shredding it on the circuit.
This is a great little reference book, useful and enjoyable for both hardened mud fans and newbs like myself. I really hope Balint plans to produce one for this season which has been so far really cool to watch (its probably the first year iv bothered to follow the races and riders that much, being a self-confessed die-hard roadie). The book can be ordered from Balint directly, shoot him an email through his website
Next up is the unique offering from British bike stalwart, Condor Cycles, a beautifully curated collection of stories, history and ideology of the brand and their racing heritage. Entitled "Past, Present and Future", the book serves up delicious anecdotes from such names as Eric Clapton, Jon Snow, Monty Young and Kristian House. Delving deep into the brands history as well as referencing the current rise in cycling popularity and exposure, the book serves as a perfect anchor point for all things Grays Inn Road.
The range of articles is great, and I was honoured to be asked to submit a short personal story for the book, and there are some other awesome personal customer stories, all unique and interesting, bound with the common thread of riding condors.
I love the inclusion of stories from all sphere of the brand, from racers, staff members, old school heroes , Mr J Herety himself, and a piece on the new-school resurgence of the steel frame (something condor have truly mastered in the acciaio IMO). Its a truly really interesting read, having dipped into it a dozen times since receiving a copy, I find myself going back to it for more stories again and again...
The book is priced at £15 and available instor or via telephone from condor or online at rapha.


A Vicious Introduction To Cross

Firstly apologies for the seemingly baron virtual space that is bianchista, I concede the updates have been thoroughly lacking these days, and can only offer the excuse that life seems to have ramped up to around 200% on the busyness scale, well that and im actually riding my bike/attending bike type things!
So without further ado, let me launch into today's blogpost which will be a hearty congratulations to all the Vicious Velo crew for organising such a fantastic day of gnarly cross racing down at Herne Hill Velodrome. I had my first practical introduction a few weeks ago to the muddy & intense world of cross via the lovely Konrad Manning (more on my virgin knobby-tyred outing to come this week on the blog), but was yet to head down and actually watch a race... I mean, sure, iv streamed my fair share of begian uber-cross fests when the office is quiet, and im pretty au-fait with the riders and courses on the world cup (thanks in no part to an excellent cyclocross photobook by balint hamvas, in which you can read a review this week), but a rare Sunday off work meant a perfect opportunity to taste all things vicious at Herne Hill.
Boom was in residence on the airwaves, utilising the 'Megamouth' for epic heckles and commentary, the like of which may be shunned by the cycling establishment as it was literally 200% HILAR. Goading riders into grabbing curly wurlys and passing seat height judgements were amongst the best. Respect! 
Ben did a fab job designing the course, with crazy turns, a pretty gnarly looking wallride (I think I saw 3 people attempt it, of which two crashed and burned!). The technical sandpits became real leg-crampers towards the end of the race, and the section outside of the velodrome proved tight and pretty unforgiving.
Massive congrats to all who raced today, I was so impressed by the amount and variety of riders out on what was honestly a brutally cold day. You have so much respect in bianchistas book, I feel shattered after just turning up and shooting a few pics.
I managed to fire off pretty much a frame or two of every rider, but as you can imagine its a pretty mammoth job to get them all edited and uploaded. But keep an eye on my flickr towards the end of the week and il be adding them all into the Vicious Cross set.
Nice to meet Geoff too, who kept everyone going through the corners with his awesome drum skills, got to hand it to a man that's willing to come out and play a session (gloveless) on a freezing December morning! Anyway, if you missed it, there's always next year, this is Ben's annual event, and it really is such a wicked atmosphere. I implore you to dig your wellies out, grab a camera, maybe a flask of tea and head down to your local cross race. It needs everyones support, and I don't mean financially, just get down and cheers a few of the guys on, I know they will appreciate it...

WC Laces


Vicious Race!

The very ViCiOUS crew are holding a mega cross-fest on the 18th December at Herne Hill in London. Bianchista & JR will be donning out wellies and getting amongst it with some brewski's and grabbing some snaps. All bikes are welcome and there are a variety of categories to enter. Just turn up & have a go!