Third Quarantine done and dusted!

Phew! finally glad that THAT’S over. Once again, locked in because of some dumb anti-vaxxer. Please spare me your grumbling!

This is a point where the greater good of the many outweigh those of the dumb.

Anyway, after twelve days, I was raring to go, and since just before lock-up I bought a new bike (what’s new?) I thought it would be a great idea to wake up early and sample its delights.

May be an image of Chris Grillo and beard
Back at the garage, wasted by the heat!

As usually happens on a Saturday, one just lingers a little bit more in bed and lets his thoughts wander freely before getting up!

And yes, I overslept. My six am bike ride started at nine, when really, it was already too hot.

I wasn’t about to lose the opportunity though, so I shouldered my new Fuji, went down the stairs and rode off. Sadly it did not take me too long to pull up. The gear ratios on this machine are simply too steep.

My gorgeous single-gear Fuji Declaration!

So I returned to the garage, and swapped the rear Vera Corsa wheel (single speed 17T sprocket), to an old, old Raleigh Europa 10 speed. I just hooked the chain to the next highest cog on the wheel, a 24, and it was just perfect.

Yeah yeah, I remembered to fill the correct water bottle, charge my phone and slip a few euros into my pocket.

Took the road down to Santa Lucia, then offroad to Gudja, where I then returned via the newly dug up new road (this country is massively dumb!) up the new Santa Lucia bypass, and then back home. Not too much, I doubt I did 10kilometres, but seeing that it is a new bike, coming back from twelve days of incativity, and where I was last year, this is nothing short of a miracle.

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Short ride today. Just too hot!

HEAT UP!

It’s starting to heat up again, and after a couple of weeks of lower temperatures, it seems that the mercury will be rising once again.

One of the problems we have here with regards to Remote Working is simply that you just cannot work in the heat, so you reach for that AC Remote. Totally aware that you are paying for it out of your own pocket!

August of course, it’s bound to be hot…

Still sucks on so many levels. Take that vaccine will you? Perhaps I won’t be locked up again.

Three Swiss riders on the Olympic MTB podium!

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 women’s mountain bike race saw a historic 1, 2, 3 for the Swiss team, with Jolanda Neff claiming her country’s first women’s Olympic mountain bike gold medal and leading the way for a historic podium clean sweep.

In 28 degrees heat with high humidity, the race started with 38 riders on time at 15:00 local time at Izu Mountain Bike Park, 150km south-east of Tokyo. The course had been drenched in rain earlier in the day, bringing new challenges for traction, and a different character to that on which the men raced on the previous day. Due to the terrain the race was shortened by one lap.

On the 1.3km start loop there were good getaways for many of the fancied competitors including Sina Frei, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot (FRA), Jolanda Neff, Laura Stigger (AUT), Loana Lecomte (FRA) and Linda Indergand. 

Rebecca McConnell (AUS) and Kate Courtney (USA) were amongst those with slower starts and were hampered by the bottlenecks at the two-lane Amagi Pass, before the American pushed towards the top 10 at the start of the first full lap and the Australian slipped back. Great Britain’s Evie Richards got off well, vying with Kata Blanka Vas of Hungary, the youngest rider in the race aged 19, who blasted forward from her back-row start and was one of many riders taking an early small slip as they got to grips with what the surface offered.

Big names battle early

Neff and Ferrand-Prévot pushed ahead on the first of five 3.85km laps before the French UCI World Champion slipped into the ropes while chasing for the short line up a rock garden and dropped back as she remounted.

The 2017 UCI World Champion Neff broke away solo and it was Richards – perhaps inspired by fellow British Tom Pidcock’s ride to victory the previous day – who emerged to initially lead the chase.

By the end of lap 1, Neff – who recovered from breaking her hand at the Mercedes-Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Leogang in June – led by 19 seconds from the 24-year-old Briton with Lecomte and Frei together at 23’ and Indergand making it three Swiss riders in the top five as they sped down the tarmac start/finish straight. 

On the second lap the Swiss took the first three positions, with 28-year-old Neff’s advantage steadily growing out to more than 40 seconds. Ferrand-Prévot was powering herself back into contention in second position, moving away from former double Under 23 UCI World Champion Frei. It was not such good fortune for her compatriot Lecomte, the winner of all four UCI World Cup rounds so far in 2021, who had a mechanical problem, dropping her chain and dropping positions. Richards was drifting back towards the Dutch duo of Anne Terpstra and Anne Tauber working as a unit.

Formation of a Swiss 1-2-3 

By mid-distance Neff, who won the test event on the 4,100m Izu mountain bike course in October 2019, was maintaining a metronomic pace and stretched her advantage to just over 1 minute, finding the grassy edges of the course for every bit of traction and degree of efficiency. As Stigger and Japan’s Miho Imai withdrew, by the end of lap 3 the Swiss 1-2-3 had formed, with Frei (2nd in the 2019 test event) in silver medal position.

Richards, Lecomte, Tauber, Terpstra and Ferrand-Prévot had formed a talent-packed chase group almost 2 minutes back, before the French multi-discipline former UCI World Champion (for road, mountain bike cross-country, mountain bike marathon, cyclo-cross) suffered and pushed to hold on to a top-10 spot.

As the bell sounded at the end of lap 4 the two Swiss riders continued to work together, 1:27 behind their national champion to ensure that they could maintain all the podium positions. Lecomte headed Terpstra at 2’15”, with the Hungarian Vas holding an impressive 6th and looking strong after her 33rd-place start. The attrition continued to take its toll, with the adrenaline helping the riders through the final strength-sapping 3.85km. Neff’s victory never looked in doubt, and the podium sweep was confirmed.

Vas finished an amazing 4th , with Terpstra 5th, Lecomte 6th and Ferrand-Prévot 10th. The 2016 Olympic Champion Jenny Rissveds (SWE) came in 14th just ahead of 2018 UCI World Champion Kate Courtney and Catharine Pendrel (CAN), bronze medalist in Rio 2016, finishing her fourth Olympics in 18th place.

But the day belonged to the Swiss riders, with Neff proving the best, by some distance, in Japan. She went into this race with 74 wins, but the 75th will surely taste the sweetest. 

What an amazing race.

Quarantined again…

Well, it’s becoming a habit for us. We’re under quarantine orders again.

Damned Turkish anti-vaxxer idiot! Colleague of my daughter’s tested positive for Covid, despite her insistence on Covid being just a myth. Huw dumb can people be?

So yeah, you get the phone call at work from Covid Tracing to go home immediately.

On our fifth day now, and as I look at my brand new bicycle in the corner at home, I am absolutely livid that we still have another seven days to go.

All of us are vaccinated and the chances of contracting the virus is very limited. But still, we have to obey the rules. Because that is what people should do.

Not like that animal mob protesting in Valletta against rules and regulations. I wonder how many of those dumbasses will eventually contract covid and admit they were wrong.

Thankfully I can still remote work, but losing our free time is vital.

Olympic Bike Racing goodness!

Third Olympic bike race today, and while the first two races were the men’s and women’s d race, we had the men’s Mountain biking event this morning.

Surprise winners in all the races, with Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz taking the gold relatively easily, with Tour De France winner and runner up finishing behind him. I expected Tadej Pogacar to take this as well, but the Ecuadorian was well ahead. As for van Aert, he was not helped too much by his team mates.

Richard Carapaz, Wout van Aert y Tadej Pogacar en el podio de Tokio 2020

The women’s road race was a surprise. Totally devoid of any emotion or excitement. Except for the end because Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria pulled off one of the biggest ever shocks in women’s elite road racing to win the Olympic title in Tokyo yesterday.

The Austrian attacked from the gun as part of a five-rider break that managed to build a lead of 11 minutes before she dropped her companions on the Kagosaka Pass with 41km to go and held off the entire bunch to take gold.

The race also saw the Dutch team mess up their tactics, with silver medalist Annemiek van Vleuten crossing the line in second place but celebrating as if she had won the race. The Dutch leader later confirmed that she thought that the break had been caught well before the finish and that her attack with 2.1km was enough to take the title.

In the end, she was forced to settle for silver, with Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) taking third after a late chase.

and this morning the mountain bike race was an incredibly tough but entertaining race. Twenty one year old Tom Pidcock from Leeds took the gold as he literally tore his opponents to shreds.

The youngster went into the lead on the second lap, and held it easily until the end.

The 21-year-old gold medallist – who celebrates his birthday in four days on the 30 July – kept his nerve to win the gruelling 28.25km race ahead of Swiss rider Mathias Flückiger and Spain’s David Velero. Pidcock will now have even more reason to celebrate after he took the Olympic title in Izu, located to the west of Tokyo.

Thomas Pidcock takes gold for Great Britain in men's cycling mountain bike

Tomorrow we will have the women’s MTB road race… Looking forward to that!