Sunday, 2 March 2014

Review: Pearl Izumi Aero race gloves-Garmin edition

Looking for a glove to help you gain vital seconds in time trials, or just to make you look good in the peloton at a road race or criterium? Look no further than Pearl Izumi’s aero glove in the colours of Garmin Slipstream.

Pearl Izumi’s aero race glove makes it easier for you to gain those vital seconds during a time trial or even a criterium-they are designed to be tight to the skin, to help you slip through the air.
On my first look I was presented with a pair of gloves that had a classic Garmin argyle design, complete with 3T on the palms along with the Pearl Izumi logo.
One feature I liked about these gloves is that the end of the gloves extends up the wrists to add to the aerodynamics of these gloves. The material was Lycra with some padding added to the palms for extra comfort.
The lightness of these gloves makes it easy to forget you are wearing gloves, something which I think is a good idea come those summer days when the sun is splitting the trees.
When I tested these it was coming to the end of a 3 hour ride where it was relatively midland I took off my winter gloves and put these on.
The roads around where I live are something similar to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, so padding was a bit of an issue as there was not an awful lot of protection against the bumps of the road.
To summarise, these gloves are perfect for time trials, and I would say these gloves are up there as my favourite gloves to wear in terms of style and comfort.

Pros
Sleek, aero design
Classic Argyle design
Lightness

Cons
Lack of padding for the palms

Would I recommend these gloves to a friend? Yes

Did these gloves live up to their expectation? Yes

Overall rating: 9.5/10

For a link to purchase these gloves, visit ProBikeKit:

http://www.probikekit.co.uk/clothing/gloves.list

http://www.probikekit.co.uk/home.dept

Zako, out.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Castelli Lightness glove

If you're looking for an ideal glove to wear for those early-season races or end of season hill climbs look no further than Castelli's Lightness glove.


Designed for those races where it maybe a bit cold (but not baltic), the Lightness glove presents itself as a lightweight full-finger glove that is easy on the eye, with the distinctive Castelli scorpion laying claim to the top of the glove. Black in colour, it is ideal for those mucky Spring Classics where the roads may not be the cleanest, and with a small layer of insulation layered at the tip of the fingers, you can tell these gloves where designed for the early season.

As with all Castelli gear, quality is key. These gloves are made of a high-quality breathable polyester called Thermoflex, with a fleecy feel inside the gloves to press against your skin. I wore them when the temperature was 7 degrees Celsius, and I only felt a bit of cold at the start until I got going, then my hands where cosy after that. 
One thing I liked about the glove was the extra long cuff that fitted nice and snug around my wrist, and this helped keep out any drafts that may have had the opportunity to get in through my jacket. There's also a wee tab on the end of the cuff to let you pull it right down onto your wrist. 'Castelli' is branded across the cuff as well.



Onto what I think is one of the most important factors when it comes to picking gloves, the grip. You don't want a nice pair of gloves only to find that they don't grip the handlebars well! The grip of the Lightness made of a rubber material, and is designed as the Castelli Scorpion logo. The grip is on of the best out of any gloves I have worn, and when leaning on the hoods there is no chance of you loosing any grip, which was a big plus for me. 

They are comfortable glove to wear on the bike. Ideal for temperatures ranging from 7-15 degrees in my opinion.

Below I'll list the good and bad things about the gloves, to summarise everything for you:

Pros
-Extra long cuff
-Very grippy
-Warm
-Comfortable
-Simple design
-Sleek looking

Cons
-Little padding to protect your hands
-Lack of colour choice

Would I recommend these gloves to a friend? Yes

Did the gloves live up to their expectation? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

If you're interested in purchasing these gloves, which I highly recommend, you can purchase via ProBikeKit UK: http://www.probikekit.co.uk/sports-clothing/castelli-lightness-cycling-gloves-full-finger/10739304.html

And if you live in Australia, you can buy from their Australian website: http://www.probikekit.com.au/sports-clothing/castelli-lightness-cycling-gloves-full-finger/10739304.html


I hope you have enjoyed this product review, hopefully I will have some other pieces of equipment to review in the future!

Zako ,out.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Just stopping by...

Just a quick post here, won't be too long so you can breath a sigh of relief.

Nothing much has happened since my last update on this, training is going well and I'm just beginning to put together the final preparations for my club's trip to Majorca in 16 days.

On the racing front I took part in the Clann Eireann Cup on St Patrick's Day.
It was an A3 race so there wasn't going to be any big hitters competing.
To cut a long story short I ended up finishing after 5 out of a possible 8 laps after mechanical problems and a fall on a slippy hill, wasn't the best race I've had but it's long season so I'm not panicking too much.

As for Majorca, I'm buzzing to get over to the island to get a week's quality training done, with plenty of miles and climbing to be added to the bank. Going over with the club so it'll be good craic at the same time.
Hoping to be let loose on the big climbs to see how I fare on them compared to the climbs we have in Dromara, so excitig times ahead!

That's all for now, I probably won't be updating this until after Majorca but keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook for anything happening.
My twitter name is @WeeZako, so give me a wee follow!
I'd like to Compressport Uk for their continued support, their products have come in useful since the season starts. Thanks!

If anyone would like to offer their support in the form of sponsorship, either financially or product-wise, don't hesitate to get in contact with me at zakhanna323@hotma.co.uk for a sponsorship proposal.

Zako, out.

Monday, 11 March 2013

First update of 2013

You still there? Good, now for the excuses to fly in about the lack of updates on this; winter has been rather hectic to say the least, with tech, training, horsing about and other arrangements being on the agenda, updating this wasn't at the top of my to do list.

To make up for lost time I'll just say that cycling wise I've had a good winter, plenty of cycling was done, went to the gym and also done a bit of snowboarding to mix up the training a bit. Didn't do any cyclo cross races this winter, just stuck to doing the rollers during the week along with gym work and out at the weekend putting more miles in the bank. A few days after Christmas I was hit with a nasty bout of man-flu which had me on my death bed for 10 days, spent New Years Eve on the sofa watching Jooles' Annual Hootenanny and feeling sorry for myself. Physically and mentally I couldn't move a muscle, so everything I had planned over the holidays had to take a step back and let nature/numerous doses of tablets and medicine take its course.
You're probably wondering where I done the snowboarding. Where? My house. For a week I opened Slieve Croob Ski Centre after Mother Nature decided to do the dirty on us and drop a blanket of snow over the country, leaving me to get the snowboards out and go exploring around the golden hills of Dromara for some steep slopes. Ventured onto Slieve Croob most days were there jumps and drops to ping off, great craic to say the least.


Now, onto what has been happening recently...
Before the season began I secured a new sponsor in the shape of Compressport UK. They have agreed to help me out by supplying me with their popular Race to Recovery compression calf guards, bike bottle, sweatbands, hat, chip holder, t-shirt and some promotional key rings. I've used the calf guards after being on the bike over the last two weeks and I swear by them now, my legs feel a lot more fresher after wearing them for a few hours. I'm grateful to Compressport UK for their generosity.

 The first race of the season was held last week with the traditional opener of the Ulster calender, the Annaclone GP promoted by Banbridge CC. 
As I'm a second year junior for this season, I was excited to this season underway. It was so cold that it could skin a brass monkey, although it was dry so I suppose it wasn't too bad. 
From the gun the A3 bunch got working straight away to maintain the handicap we had on the A1s and A2s, with the first two laps averaging 25mph.
The course was just under 8 mile long and had a few drags in it, but nothing too serious. I liked the course, but unfortunately as we were nearing the end of the third lap my hands were frozen and I couldn't pull on the breaks, so I pulled in at the start/finish area to gather some heat up, which took longer than I thought. The disadvantages of being a skinny runt!

On Sunday 4th March I ventured down to Newry to compete in the John Haldane memorial race, put on by Newry Wheelers. This has to be one of the fastest races I've ever done; it's billed as a sprinters' paradise simply due to the fact that it is on a carriageway were there are no real 'hills'; just a few of what I call 'invisible' drags. 
After signing on, I got the back ready, ate some food, went for a good warm up, came back and ate some more food.
At 9:45 the race organisers had called for all the riders to head up to the start at the Greenbank Industrial Estate, and for those who haven't a clue where that is, it's were Pairc Esler is located, the stadium that Down play their GAA matches in. At 10am the A3s were called to the line; then it was race on. I pushed my way up near the front of the bunch as they went around the first roundabout, managing to jump onto a wheel sprinting out of the roundabout which lead me right up to the front. I was happy with my positioning at that stage, witnessing a few people attempting to get a gap on the chasing pack. None were successful because of the speed of the pack, the first lap was averaging 28mph!
On the second lap approaching the Warrenpoint roundabout I was floating about when I managed to find myself going to the head of the pack. It was short-lived and I moved over to let the pack suck me up and so I continued pedalling on until the A1s and A2s caught us approaching the end of the second lap.
3 laps later and I was still in the bunch and I could feel my legs starting to hurt, and I was nervous about sprinting out of the Warrenpoint roundabout  in case my legs gave in, thankfully they held out meaning that I was sure of finishing in the bunch. 
Within 1 mile of the roundabout we entered a section of the road that was full of potholes. I counted 6 people within minutes of each other puncturing. I could see the finishing straight in front of me and was determined to finish in a good position.
Looking down at the speedo and it was reading 35mph with about 500m to go; I could feel the bunch winding up for a bunch gallop, but I wasn't going to attempt to get up to the front as I'm not a good sprinter. I had been pushing 52x14 gearing during the race, spinning out in the fastest sections.
I crossed the line in the bunch after 47 miles of racing at an average speed of 27mph. I was chuffed to have finished such a fast race; usually I would have struggled in races like this one but I went into the race determined to have a good one.  
After the usual pre-race chat of how another attack could have been the winning one or how the gears were jumping about in the sprint I tiddled back to the sign on to get changed and to get a bite to eat.
Then it was time for the journey back to the golden hills of Dromara to get some more food and then off to sleep for another week of tech.

I'd like to thank Marty McAnulty for taking me to the race, and to Newry Wheelers for holding a well run event. I'll be back next year!
Also thanks to Compressport UK for the calf guards, a brilliant piece of kit to help the legs recover from a days racing.

Zako, out.























Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A Champion

A Champion: By Brian Ford

A Champion isn't someone that always comes in first,
A Champion isn't someone that is the best,
A Champion isn't someone that tells how good he or she is,
A Champion isn't someone that has to be a champion.
A Champion is somone that has the heart to come in first,
A Champion is someone that tries his or her hardest to become the best,
A Champion is someone that shows, not tells, how good he or she is,
A Champion is someone who is already a champion,
because he or she has already accomplished their goals.

A Champion is someone that strives to become
better, stronger, faster, harder to beat.

Yes, alot of you can say you are a winner,
but are you a champion?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

From Another Planet: By Ryan Mallon


My friend and clubmate, Ryan Mallon has had a strong fascination with regards to doping in cycling. Becasue of recent events, Ryan was inspired to write this article. Once you have read it , please leave a comment below to let him know what you though of it. Go read!

From Another Planet

Ryan Mallon

Dark clouds loom threateningly over the Franco-Italian border as the ninth stage of the 1999 Tour de France approaches the final climb to the summit finish at Sestrières, the conclusion to the race’s first day in the Alps. Spindly climbers Fernando Escartin and Ivan Gotti have daringly escaped through the mist on the treacherous descent of the previous mountain, the Montgenèvre, and have established a lead of 30 seconds on an elite chase group of five riders, including race leader Lance Armstrong. That the Yellow Jersey is still in contention at the business end of such a mammoth 215km stage is of considerable surprise. Before his fight with cancer, Armstrong was a strong and burly one day Classics star, but struggled on the long climbs of the Grand Tours. While his exceptional performances in winning the two opening time trials of his comeback Tour were testament to his strength, the Texan was widely expected to relinquish his grip on the maillot jaune as the race entered the mountains. Instead, with more than eight kilometres remaining, Armstrong attacks through a bend, a flash of yellow amidst the gloom of the mountain. Legs pumping like an automaton at a ferocious and seemingly impossible pace, he devours the gap to the two front-runners and soon leaves them behind. He sprints up the mountain, an expression of pure power: his style is not eloquent, his rapid pedalling style brutally effective. “How do you like them apples?!” he roars to U.S. Postal manager Johan Bruyneel. By the finish, Armstrong has won the stage and stretched his lead over his nearest challenger, Abraham Olano, to a virtually unassailable six minutes. The next day, French daily L’Equipe ominously described Armstrong’s victory as ‘from another planet.’

Over thirteen years later, in a packed press conference in Geneva, the head of world cycling’s governing body, UCI President Pat McQuaid, declared that “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling.” The UCI had just ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to ban the seven time Tour winner for life, and strip him of all results since 1st August 1998, including that record breaking sequence. The 1,000 page USADA report condemned Armstrong and his U.S. Postal team as the leaders of the “most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” The evidence, though hardly surprising, is immensely thorough and at times depressing – in some instances former teammates, whose testimonies form the bulk of the report, broke down in tears as they explained their decision to dope.
The past decade has seen Armstrong continuously denounce his detractors as instigators of a ‘with-hunt’, and that the USADA investigation was a thinly veiled attempt to destroy his reputation. However, this most recent foray into cycling’s murky past is not just about Lance Armstrong. The Texan, as the most successful of a whole generation of dopers, was of course the principle target, but the implications are far greater.
The 1999 Tour de France was to be the ‘Tour of Renewal’. The previous year’s edition had been marred by the infamous Festina Affair, the greatest drugs bust cycling had ever seen. Teams were arrested and ejected from the race en masse - at one point it was doubtful that the Tour would even reach Paris. It was a watershed moment in the history of the sport. The systematic doping culture prevalent throughout the 1990s had finally been exposed. A new clean era beckoned – Irish youngster Mark Scanlon, the newly crowned World Junior Champion, was presented as the new face of cycling by the UCI at the ’99 Tour route unveiling.
The new era never emerged. The 1999 Tour was the fastest to date. Doping was driven underground, but was still as widespread as before. Clean riders who dared to break the Omerta (cycling’s mafia-esque law of silence regarding doping) were ostracised and hounded out of the sport. Armstrong, through his utter domination, established himself as the new patron and ensured that doping remained a forbidden topic within the professional peloton. Just as cycling had begun to catch a glimmer of light from the darkness of the nineties, Armstrong dragged it straight back down the hole. Meanwhile, the UCI, strong on rhetoric but limited in action, sat back and let it all happen (or as has been claimed, were complicit). That is what makes Pat McQuaid’s fist banging defence of the governing body and his reign all the more laughable. The Irishman and his predecessor, honorary President Hein Verbruggen (cycling’s very own Mr. ‘Never, Never!’) have continuously stood firm in the face of repeated accusations of gross negligence. Their positions are quickly becoming untenable. Scottish professional and repentant ex-doper, David Millar, is scathing in his condemnation of Verbruggen and has called for his resignation – “the buck has to stop somewhere… it's an absolute disgrace that he's even involved in this sport in any way.” Cycling finds itself once again at a crossroads and it is highly debatable whether the current hierarchy is fit for dealing with such an important phase of the sport’s history. Suing journalist Paul Kimmage, author of Rough Ride and staunch anti-doping advocate, for defamation is not the way to move the sport forward and is indicative of McQuaid and Verbruggen’s desire to protect their own shaky reputations over ushering in a new clean and most importantly open era.
But in July 1999, the outlook was considerably different. In the aftermath of Festina, fans wanted to believe the heart-warming cancer survivor and his miraculous story. Many in the media (rather ashamedly to some) wanted to believe it too. The UCI, sensing the waft of crisp new American dollar bills, were also eager to jump on board. Any morals and lingering doubts went out the window – for well over a decade the story was just too good.

Stage 18, 2004 Tour de France: Filippo Simeoni attempts to bridge to an escape group early on the road to Lons-le-Saunier. With only a few days left to Paris, Lance Armstrong is virtually assured of his sixth straight victory in cycling’s biggest race, a new record. Lying in 114th place, Simeoni is merely scraping for crumbs from the king’s table. On a transition stage like today, the morning breakaway is often left to contest the stage finish by a mountain-weary peloton. But today something peculiar occurs. An angry yellow-clad Armstrong makes his way over to the Italian on his own, an almost unprecedented move by the race leader. The event is baffling but the reasoning is simple: Simeoni is in the process of testifying against Armstrong’s doctor, the notorious Michele Ferrari, claiming that ‘Dr. Evil’ supplied and instructed him to use doping products. The Texan vents his fury at the rebel. ‘You made a mistake when you testified against Ferrari. I have a lot of time and money, and I can destroy you.’ With the break doomed to failure due to Armstrong’s presence, Simeoni is pressured by the other escapists to retreat back to the peloton. As the pair is engulfed by the bunch, the Italian is met with a torrent of abuse, and in some cases, spit. “I was just protecting the interests of the peloton,” Armstrong will later say.

How has the peloton responded to Armstrong’s dethronement? Surely there should be a universal denunciation of the once great champion? That would be expected: the likes of Armstrong created a world in which drugs were not only common but essential to survival in the professional ranks. For twenty years, rider upon rider was forced to come to an astonishing decision – dope or quit. Doping is not a black and white issue. Good ethical individuals were backed into a corner, aware that without EPO they stood little chance of progressing up the ladder. Scott Mercier quit. David Millar doped. Brian Smith believes his sacking by U.S. Postal at the end of 1994 was due to his admission to Armstrong while on a training ride that he would never dope. So where’s the backlash from a whole generation of riders forced to compete on the terms of the cynical and calculating elite?
As is seemingly always the case in cycling when doping rears its head, the response has been muted. While Millar and those who appear in the USADA hearing, such as Jonathan Vaughters, have been vocal in their condemnation of Armstrong and in particular the UCI’s handling of the drugs issue, the omerta still remains deeply entrenched. Unrepentant Spanish dopers Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador have even expressed support for their old rival. Five time Tour champion Miguel Indurain still believes in the Armstrong myth. Confession after confession from ex-dopers is one thing, actual positive anti-doping responses from current stars is another entirely. But perhaps most disappointing is the ambivalent nature of the likes of current Tour champion Bradley Wiggins. He compares Armstrong to Father Christmas but insists ‘cycling isn’t like that anymore’ – this all happened ‘ten, fifteen years ago.’ The sport has changed; nothing to see here, move on. Maybe the effect of all the post-Tour and Olympics champagne is still affecting Wiggins. Was it not the same Armstrong that beat the Londoner to a podium place in the Tour merely three years ago? Perhaps he’s towing the Team Sky line. Perhaps he’s unwilling to tarnish his own yellow jersey by persistent talk about doping. But the contrast between Wiggins’ demeanour now and five years ago is stark. Where’s the Wiggo who railed against ‘the cheating bastards’? Where’s the ‘angry young man’ that Kimmage so adored? Cycling needs that Bradley Wiggins now more than ever.
So how does cycling move forward from its longest running controversy? The zero-tolerance policy adopted by Team Sky has already witnessed one casualty in the form of Bobby Julich, but is it naïve to purge anyone formerly involved in doping in a sport so heavily tainted in recent years? Perhaps Jonathan Vaughters’ suggestion of a South Africa style Truth and Reconciliation Committee, independent of cycling, is a better proposal for the long run, though the consequence of cheats walking free without punishment may be difficult for some to swallow. Whatever happens, cycling cannot just continue on blindly with no regard to its past, however murky it may be.
Back to July 1999 and that fateful first win. As the ‘blue train’ of U.S. Postal dominated the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong seemed unstoppable. His rivals couldn’t touch him, nor could a positive test for cortisone, conveniently brushed under the carpet by a backdated prescription and a great deal of panicked swearing. For the next seven years, Armstrong ruled cycling with an iron fist, competitors and journalists alike frightened into submission by his immense power, a withering stare and fiery legal team. His cancer and miraculous comeback made him transcendent of his sport, of any sport in fact. Awed by greatness, fans reached for the slightest touch, journalists bowed their heads subserviently and rivals merely retreated to anonymity. He was champion, messiah and dictator all at once. But now it’s all over.
USADA’s report and subsequent sanctions have been the conclusion to a long hard road form some. Armstrong’s fall from grace is a victory for Travis Tygart and his anti-doping team, committed to clean sport. It is a victory for David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, journalists and long standing critics of Armstrong. It is a victory for Emma O’Rielly, Betsy Andreu, and Stephen Swart – the first of what would prove a long line of whistle blowers. It is a victory for anyone who believes in cycling and clean sport.
The dam has finally burst. From another planet, indeed.



Zako,  out.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Wind your neck in!

I'm sure you have all heard in some form the scandal thats going on in the cycling world now as regards to doping. I'm not fluent in being able to speak about it, I don't know all the details but I do know that a lot of secrets have came out in the last few months. I'm 16 and don't really want to be involved in it. I just want to ride my bike.
But knowing that a man who was a hero of mine since I started cycling has been charged with doping has made me wonder how Lance Armstrong kept a clear conscience for all those years, surviving cancer and winning 7 Tour de Frances isn't so something an average person could accomplish in their lifetime. At first I thought it was a load of crap about Armstrong doping , but after seeing so many people on Twitter and other places talking about it and hearing stories from his ex-team mates I'm beginning to have second thoughts. My question is, why? Why did he do it? Surely he couldn't have been that scared of losing if he felt the need to use performance enhancing drugs? Imagine how his wife and children must feel.
And also, with Rabobank pulling the plug on a sponsorship deal lasting 17 years due to doping, will other sponsors follow suit?
I know I may not know every last detail on what has happened recently, but if, and I hope, you are a professional cyclist reading this, I have a question for you: Why the hell would you dope? Surely the reason you are a pro in the first place is purely because of your talent and natural ability, something many young cyclists like myself dream of having. Do you want to loose your supporters through your wrong doing? My message here simple: Wind your neck in and ride clean!

Zako, out.

PS feel free to leave a comment on this post, I'd like to know how I done on this post.