Monday, 9 April 2012

Cycling News from around the World 09.04.12

Women's Tour of Belgium? - Bjorn Leukeman's Spring campain is over - Sanchez makes Tour plans - Scots bus firm seeks to protect cyclists - Staffs firefighters turn to bikes - Study into female cyclists' sexual health raises concerns - anti-bike Clarkson praises Copenhagen Model - Fixies are bad for your health, warn Singapore scientists

Women's Tour of Belgium
Women's cycling has received a huge boost
in Belgium since the Flanders Classics began
running women's races alongside the men's.
Overheard rumours suggest that a Women's Tour of Belgium may be on the cards in the coming years (not saying how this one found its way to Cyclopunk, but it was via a professional rider on a well-known women's team). There's no confirmation as of yet and any such race would presumably still be in a relatively early stage of planning, but with the Flanders Classics and other Belgian races doing their bit for the sport by running (successful) women's races alongside the men's events it seems reasonable to hope there's a grain of truth behind it all. The race would, presumably, co-exist with the UCI 2.2 Lotto-Decca Tour that runs over three days in August.

Several major women's races have closed in recent years, most notably the Tour de France Féminin which came to an end in 2009 after many years in which organisers found it difficult to find sponsorship. The Giro Donne is currently the most prestigious European women's race and the nearest to a Grand Tour, but with women's cycling enjoying greater popularity in Belgium and the Netherlands than anywhere else on the continent a Tour of Belgium would be likely to match it in importance.

Bjorn Leukeman's Spring campaign is officially over. Having suffered knee pain since a crash at the Tour of Flanders, the Vacansoleil-DCM rider underwent an MRI scan on the 3rd of April and doctors now believe he has damaged his menisci, two cushions of cartilage within the knee that serve to reduce friction between the femur and tibia when the leg bends. He'll now undergo more tests to find out exactly what is wrong, but it looks as though surgery will be required. (More from Vacansoleil-DCM)

Fresh from his unexpected victory at the Tour of the Basque Country, Euskaltel-Euskadi leader Samuel Sanchez plans a quiet spell before the Tour de France and Olympics. "You've got to plan carefully, and I'm not so young now," he says. "Cadel Evans knew very well what he had to do to win the Tour and I think that taking part in fewer races would lave me in a better state for it."

Bikes in the News
Scottish bus firm has cyclist safety at heart
Hardly a week goes by without a new front opening up in the ongoing war between cyclists and buses - and it has to be said that, for every viral video of a bus driver deliberately swerving into a cyclist and every driver who simply can't be bothered to check the mirrors, there's a cyclist so lacking in common sense that he or she was surely destined to end up as a statistic.

A very common complaint among cyclists who report incidents to bus companies is that their concerns are not taken seriously. For that reason, it's great to see that Lothian Buses in Scotland are making a real attempt to address the issue, producing a video in which a bike and a bus negotiate Edinburgh streets with rider and driver linked by radio.. The video, made to form part of the company's driver training program, is called "Bus v. Cyclist - there are no winners" and has since proved to have great educational value for cyclists too and has received numerous positive comments on YouTube. (More from

Using bikes to fight fires in Staffs
With fire engines unable to reach some sports and costs ever soaring, Staffordshire firefighters have discovered that mountain bikes are the ideal way to carry out some tasks. Among other roles, they'll be used by firefighters to visit isolated houses, canal boats and other properties that cars and engines have difficulty in reaching so that the rider can give advice and fit smoke alarms.

"This is an innovative and cost effective way in which we can spread our fire prevention and other safety messages to areas of the community that are normally difficult for our fire appliances or other vehicles to reach," says fire prevention officer Neil Pedersen. "It's also of course an added way for firefighters to keep fit and encourages other members of the community to do the same." (More from This Is Staffordshire)

Yale study finds cycling may affect women's sexual health
It's been known for a long time that cycling can cause erectile dysfunction in men, which has led to the so-called anti-PNS (penile numbness syndrome) that are now commonplace. However, there have been precious few studies into what effects, if any, conventional saddles may have upon women.

Specialized were one of the first companies to
study women's cycling and introduce a range
of women-specific bikes and components
Following on from a 2006 study that suggested female cyclists experienced reduced genital sensitivity compared to female runners, researchers from Yale University carried out tests to try to find out the cause - and discovered that the problem becomes worse when the rider adopts a "racing stance" with the handlebar positioned lower than the saddle. Dr. Marsha K. Guess, obstetrician and gynaecologist, says that the study allows doctors to "educate riders on safe riding practices that may actually be beneficial to reduction of pressure and lost sensation in the pelvic floor."

Dr. Steven M. Schrader of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was the author of an earlier program that studied PNS in male police officers and concluded that the most effective remedy was the use of "noseless" saddles: "If you don’t put weight there [on the perineum], there’s no pressure," he says. However, anyone who has experimented with a noseless saddle will know that removing the part between the thighs also reduces bike control, and female racing cyclists will be no more willing to give up their streamlined stance than male cyclists. It seems, therefore, that further study is required in order to develop more effective women-specific versions of anti-PNS saddles. (More from the New York Times)

Clarkson praises Copenhagen biking
He does it in a roundabout way and smears it with a hefty dollop of ridiculous quasi-controversial statements in an effort to maintain the tedious public image image that is, apparently, the sole reason for his fame and fortune; but Jeremy Clarkson has come out in favour of Copenhagen's world-famous cycling policies.

After attacking British cyclists in his characteristic "comedic" fashion, the Top Gear presenter - who frequently refers to cyclists as road lice - used his Sunday Times column this week to say, "In Copenhagen it’s just a pleasant way of getting about. Nobody wears a helmet. Nobody wears high-visibility clothing. You just wear what you need to be wearing at your destination. For girls that appears to be very short skirts. And nobody rides their bike as if they’re in the Tour de France. This would make them sweaty and unattractive, so they travel just fast enough to maintain their balance. The upshot is a city that works. It’s pleasing to look at. It’s astonishingly quiet. It’s safe. And no one wastes half their life looking for a parking space. I’d live there in a heartbeat."

The so-called Copenhagen Model, which seeks to promote bicycle use as much as possible, is almost universally admired by urban planners, architects, transport experts and cyclists alike and has led to the invention of the term copenhagenisation for similar programs. (More from Bike Biz)

Fixie trend may lead to health problems
Fixies - for the painfully hip
Than Chen Munn of Singapore's Safe Cycling Task Force advises novice cyclists to think twice before buying fixed-gear bicycles and says that riders need to have gained a good understanding of road safety before they can be safe riding them.

Fixies have no freewheel or freehub, meaning that the pedals will continue turning as long as the rear wheel is in motion. While the law requires all bikes sold to be fitted with at least a front brake in some countries, they're commonly removed, which leaves the rider reliant on using his or her leg muscles to force the bike to slow using the pedals. This technique requires a great deal more effort than conventional brakes, which may encourage some novice riders to avoid stopping at red lights - a cited cause of several accidents involving fixies, especially in the last few years when they've become enormously popular among urban riders.

Gino Ng, a scientist at the Sports Solutions clinic, also in Singapore, believes that fixies may lead to health problems. "If cyclists use their legs to stop the bicycle after going very fast, it may damage the ligaments in their knees and legs," he explained. (More from AsiaOne)

No comments:

Post a Comment