Such sweet sorrow

Well folks, it’s been fun. But unfortunately I have to go away for a while. And where I’m going, there will be no cycling mags, internet access will be severely restricted, and frankly I will be in no position to guide you through the stinking midden that is the UK’s cycling media (cries of “huzzah!” and “trebles all round” from Bristol, Croydon, etc).

But I will leave you with a few recommendations, based on my half-arsed analysis over the last six months. Think of this as my farewell Top 5 listicle:

Magazines

1 Cyclist. Still the best all-round mag for most right-thinking grown ups. Sure, they have the occasional duff issue, but they are mostly very good value.

2 Rouleur. An acquired taste, but if you like road-racing, good photography (mostly) and decent writing, this is the mag for you. Yes, a tenner a copy is expensive, but I feel it still represents good value compared to things like Pro Cycling and Cycle Sport.

3 Cycling Plus. There’s always a lot in it, but not necessarily a lot that I want to read. Certainly worth checking it out in the newsagent’s each month to see if it’s worth buying. More often than not, it is.

4 Cycling Active. Pretty dire these days, with a dreary mix of sportives, lightweight product tests, and dismal training plans for the wannabe racer. Don’t bother, unless you’re a faux-pro with more money than sense who thinks a 60 mile sportive is a race.

5 BikesEtc. Execrable shite. If it’s still going in six month’s time I’ll be quite surprised.

Websites

1 Cyclingtips.com. Excellent Aussie site (don’t let that put you off), with some really good content written by some very good writers. Going from strength to strength.

2 Road.cc. A fairly small site, but the quality is pretty decent, and it doesn’t over-do the listicles and click-bait (although you can find it there). Usually worth a look.

 3 Bikeradar.com. A big old site with plenty of content, most of it reasonably good. The forums are pretty busy too.

4 Rouleur.cc. Strange stories that you don’t get anywhere else, good writing, thought-provoking pieces. A good place to while away a few lunch-hours.

5 RoadCyclingUK.com. Way too many listicles and click-bait. Rarely has anything on it that hasn’t been done better by someone else.

Podcasts

1 Velocast. It’s paid-for, but is far and away the best bike racing podcast(s) out there. John and Scott are knowledgeable, engaging, amusing and add enormously to my enjoyment of bike racing (although John can shut the fuck up about bloody Hour records and TTing!). Cillian’s This Week in Cycling History is excellent, too. With the money you save from not buying shite magazines, spend it on this instead.

2 Pro Women’s Cycling. Properly good stuff from Sarah Connolly and Dan Wright, it’s slightly anarchic, a bit sweary, and mostly very entertaining. Their sheer enthusiasm shines through in a very appealing way (although Dan can sometimes over-do his Australian-ness).

3 Cycling News Podcast. I know! It’s actually not too bad! It does have a tendency to be a bit po-faced and earnest, but overall it’s a pretty reasonable effort most of the time.

4 Telegraph Cycling Podcast. Hosted by the Holy Trinity of cycling authors (Dan Friebe, Richard Moore and Lionel Birnie), I want to like this podcast. But I don’t. There’s a level of smug self-satisfaction from the hosts that I find a little bit annoying. My bookshelves are full of their books, and they probably have every right to feel pleased with themselves, but it doesn’t mean I have to like them. Being a “friend of the podcast” for £10 a year gives you access to long and dreary interviews with uninteresting sports people. The rest of it is free. I like Ciro, though.

5 The Spokesmen Round Table Podcast. Although fairly US-centric, Carlton Reid (Editor of Bikebiz) upholds the UK end of things. It’s quite “tradey”, but no less interesting for that. It’s primarily about recreational cycling, but does meander on to sport stuff from time to time.


 

And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

Never mind the width…

OK, much to get through this morning, so I’m cracking on with a quick look at Cycling Plus this month. And at 226 pages, there’s a lot to look at (so I’ll keep it brief).

It’s the Bike of The Year issue, and boy do C+ make a big deal of it. Really. A huge deal. But before we get to the BoTY, there are 50 odd pages of news, new products and other sundry stuff. Having dispensed with that, the BoTY stuff starts at page 53 and goes on…and on…and on…until page 95. As is often the case with these things, it’s not nearly as interesting as it should be, and it’s hard to know why. It’s more like a buyer’s guide than an awards ceremony, and on the whole it’s drier than a nun’s nasty — page after page of bikes that I no particular interest in (Merida Ride Disc 5000 anyone? Anyone? Zzzzzzzz).

After the BoTY snooze-fest we get an interesting piece on doping in the amateur racing and sportive ranks. It’s a good, well-written and thought-provoking read from James Witts, if rather depressing. Next is some more new product stuff and then a Spring clothing guide, presented manufacturer-by-manufacturer. It’s by no means comprehensive, but most of the big names are present and it reads pretty well.

Trevor Ward’s piece about Reliability Trials is a lovely taste of old-school cycling and reminds me (once again) why things like Zwift are no substitute for real, actual cycling. It’s also slightly sniffy about modern sportives, which I always enjoy. A good, interesting piece from Trevor. This is followed by a pretty decent look at budget wheelsets, for those that might be in the market for such things.

One of the best things in this issue is the on-location test of the Marin Gestalt 5, a gravel-grindy-adventurey-type-thing. The words are good, the photos are lovely, and it’s a properly good way of testing a bike…good work, fellas. The Tour of Flanders piece is also pretty good, but then it was written by Peter Cossins, so you’d expect that. And even though the Big Ride feature is ostensibly about some sportive, it’s actually a nice look at the north Yorkshire moors with some very nice photos.

At the back, Ned Boulting is taking the Emiratis of the UAE to task for not installing cycling infrastructure for the migrant workers. Frankly, these poor sods have more on their minds than bike paths, but he makes a few good points.

That’s it for this month. It’s a hefty read and decent value, certainly compared to CA this month. The BoTY stuff seemed endless, and I would like to see a bit more imagination used for things like this, but overall C+ gets a B+ this month.


 

Tomorrow I’m back with a bit of a surprise (brace yourselves).

@TranquilloTommy

 

A bit of a Curate’s Egg

Holy crap, there’s a lot to get through in the latest issue of Cycling Plus. At 186 pages this is a big issue, and the C+ team has clearly been busy.

The first 50 pages are devoted to a melange of news, new kit and new bikes, plus a couple of columns, which is fine even if there wasn’t a whole lot that caught my eye. The first test is of adventure bikes, a niche about which I’m pretty sceptical. I skimmed through it and it seemed OK, but I’m not terribly interested in heavy adventure bikes with mechanical discs.

Next is another tranche of new products stuff before we get an article entitled Burn Fat Fast. I must confess my heart sank a little….NutsEtc and CA do this sort of thing endlessly, and mostly it’s tedious shite. This one is better than most, in fairness, but it doesn’t really tell me anything I didn’t know.

The article about on-board video cameras is interesting in that it is more about the whys and wherefores rather than being a test of products. The article centres on the “vigilante” aspect of action-cameras, but does make a nod in the direction of using them as a coaching aid and also talks to Graham Bartlett (Velon’s master of spouting bollocks while saying nothing of any substance) about their use in the pro peloton. Earlier in the mag Jeremy Vine talks about presenting footage to the police and how good they are at responding, but I suspect if you aren’t a celebrity with a show on national radio you probably get a slightly different response (Are you dead? No? Well fuck off then).

Following on is a test of sports drinks is OK…most of the major players are represented, the important ingredients are listed, and it reads well enough. For me, though, it’s a bit formulaic and familiar, and I long for something more imaginative (feed them all to five-year-olds and see which one causes the highest level of hyperactivity, or something).

Next up is a three-way shoot-out between Trek’s top-of-the-range models — the Emonda, Madone and Domane (obviously the keyboard in Trek’s marketing department only has six functioning keys). It’s a good feature, an interesting idea, executed well and with nice snowy photos. It’s part test, part analysis, and Warren has done a very good job with it. I’m not in the market for one of these bikes, but it makes good reading and is the polar opposite of the joyless “test” of superbikes CA did last month.

The tubeless tyre piece is a decent look at the pros and cons of going tubeless, with some wheels and tyres examined in a little detail, but it didn’t convince me that I need to join the tubeless evangelists. So I won’t. If you’re thinking about it, this is worth a read.

At the back there’s a piece on riding from London to Paris in under 24 hours (don’t really see the appeal) and about getting a bit lost in the Lake District. They are both OK, without being anything special. And then we have Ned Boulting at the back talking about winter clothing, revealing he wraps his feet in cling-film, and listing all the lovely people who have given him free stuff.

And that’s it. I have to say this isn’t one of their best, but it still has enough in it to keep me amused for an hour or two. And there’s a bagged sportive guide with it, which is a bit more interesting that CA’s one but which is nonetheless now in the recycling bin. Overall, not so much C+ as B- (sorry).


 

I’m off on a week-long road-trip next week, so you’ll just have to fend for yourselves for a while. I’ll be back the week after with…er…stuff.

TranquilloTommy

Solid improvement

As covers go, I’ve seen a lot worse. Yes, it’s still hyper-lit, but at least the sky is blue (certainly Photoshopped given how wet the road is), and the rider is clean-shaven. Shame about the hideous uncut steerer on the bike, though, mostly because the importers take a dim view of hacks hacking away at steerer tubes on £6000 bikes.

Kicking off the February 2016 issue of Cycling Plus are First Rides on an Orro Pyro 105 Disc (mechanical discs, don’t bother), a £3000 CXer, and a rather tasty-looking aero De Rosa SK Pininfarina for £7.5k. As an old scrote it never occurred to me that the author would have to explain who Pininfarina is, but I suppose there are those that don’t know. I would have liked a bit more info about Pininfarina’s input, though…did they do anything at all, or did De Rosa bung them a few thousand Euros for the use of the name?

After the usual news and new prods stuff we have a column by Rob Ainsley about urban bike-rental schemes, which I didn’t really understand, and a piece by Timmy Mallet, which I couldn’t be arsed to read. And then we have the first big bike test — six aero bikes priced between £2500 and £6000. And you know what’s coming next, don’t you. Of course you do…why these ones? And why not the Canyon Aeroad that everyone else is raving about? I remain solidly unconvinced about the whole aero thing for recreational cycling, and this test does nothing to change my mind. A little more critical analysis of the whole aero thing would be good, maybe explaining that aero bars and helmets are more important than aero frames.

Next is a piece about a £1200 (yes, one thousand two hundred pounds!) turbo trainer. I’m just going to let that hang there for a moment.

£1200 for a turbo trainer.

It makes the Rapha Shadow range look positively good value!

There follows a lot of new product news and tests (gloves, helmets, waterproofs, etc) and then we get to the next big feature…about turbo training. And again, C+ seems to think that either we are all elite-level athletes, or aspire to be elite-level athletes. We’re not, and we don’t. But that doesn’t stop them quoting pro coaches blithering on about threshold and intervals, or interviewing a bloke who does all his training indoors and consequently became “the third-best best all-rounder in the Shropshire Cycling Clubs Association time-trial series” (stop sniggering at the back, this is serious stuff!).

The Very Important Bike this month is the new retro-styled Bianchi L’Eroica. And I’m torn…is it genuinely lovely, or is it a rather vulgar pastiche? I change my mind every time I look at it. But ultimately I love a skinny steeler, and I’m really looking forward to next month’s C+ when they will be testing it against the new flagship Bianchi Specialissima. That’s a bike test that I can get behind, and I really hope they do it justice because there’s a lot to talk about.

Next up is Best Kit for Under £50, which is a decent idea done reasonably well. Perhaps they could follow this with a piece on Seriously Good Value-for-Money Kit, pointing the readers in the direction of excellent kit at sensible prices (there are some out there).

This is followed by a very good piece by Rob Kemp about the dangers of rural cycling. It’s intelligent, well thought-out, well written, and tackles a subject rarely raised in cycling circles. There’s even some decent first-aid advice in there as well. It’s a properly good feature about something that affects almost all of us. Good job, C+.

The “women’s bikes” test is less impressive. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a decent enough read and the photos are OK, but it doesn’t really address the issues surrounding female-specific bikes. There should have been far more devoted to whether there is even a need for female-specific bikes (as opposed to small-person-specific bikes). I would like to have seen a discussion about frame geometry on smaller bikes (they usually have pretty extreme STRs, and toe-overlap issues), and even some thoughts on female-specific issues regarding saddles and riding positions (a very serious problem that no one wants to talk about).

The photos in this test show the Focus with it’s saddle seriously nose-down and its stem flipped upwards, suggesting problems with comfort and fit. And the Liv Avail has its saddle dropped to below the level of the bars, also suggesting a terrible fit. The fact is that many women suffer serious pain and numbness in their “soft tissue” when put in a normal riding position on a drop-bar bike. Leaning forward and rotating the pelvis forward means the rider takes most of her weight on a delicate piece of anatomy not designed to be weight-bearing. I wrote an article about the problems faced by women on race bikes. No one wanted to publish it. Ssshhhh! Don’t put them off. Don’t mention numbness, pain, sexual dysfunction or even physical damage to vaginas. No one wants to know. It’s shocking. And shameful.

Next up is a top-end race shoe test. And pretty good it is too. The testing process is explained properly, the major players are represented, and it all reads well. Personally, I’d like to see real world prices quoted as well as rrps, and I would like a bit at the end that says “best for wide feet”, “best for narrow feet”, etc. Because ultimately it’s the fit that matters. I love Sidis, but unless I buy the Mega versions (a limited choice) I can’t wear them because I have wide feet.

The How-To section is mostly stuff for newbies, and is followed by a piece about how race teams influence the bikes and gear we ride. Except that it feels rather too much like an advertorial for Madison Genesis. There’s a nod in the direction of Endura and Rapha, but mostly it’s Madison Genesis and even the layout makes it look subtly different from the rest of the mag.

But C+ has saved the best till last. The Big Skive is an excellent feature, a real I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that moment. Basically it’s John Whitney deciding to throw a sickie for the day and go cycling. Except he decides on a day-trip to ride Sa Colabra in Mallorca. Genius idea, well written, and with some nice photos. I love pieces like this, and it’s been done pretty well.

At the back, Ned is burbling on about the perplexing lunacy that is pro bike racing, which is a nice read.

So that’s it. 170 pages, of which 108 are editorial. It’s another reasonable issue from the C+ team, with some interesting and thought-provoking stuff. C+ seems to be moving in right direction (as far as grown-up cycling is concerned). It’s not perfect, but it’s decent value for a fiver and there wasn’t much to make me angry, so it’s tutto tranquillo here.

Ooops! Nearly forgot…there’s a free Urban Cycling supplement bagged with this issue. It’s basically a rehash of stuff from sister title Urban Cyclist (incorporating Artisanal Fixie Top-Knot Monthly, and Lumbersexual Beardscaping Weekly). It’s all about leather satchels, metal bikes and locks, but didn’t contain a single recipe for five-seed sourdough coberg loaves or gluten-free granola bars. Tsk.

Haven’t we reached peak beard yet?

Oh dear lord…a beardy man illuminated by 9 billion giga-lumens of artificial light graces the cover of this month’s Cycling Plus. Seriously, people…beards are only acceptable if you are in the Navy, live in a wilderness, look like you’re 12 years old without one, or you’ve got a particularly weak chin.

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Anyway, we have a hyper-lit beardy on the cover. It’s not nice, but there you go. At least it doesn’t feel like an over-excited gossip mag (yes, NutsEtc, we’re looking at you). First off are a couple of First Rides — a Van Nic CXer, a Kona steeler, and a Marin CXer. Nothing for me here, but they’re probably of interest to some people. The Big Picture (achtung, beard-alert)  is a shot taken in New Mexico that looks for all the world like Cheddar Gorge and features a bloke with two heads and three arms.

After a few pages of newsy/new producty type stuff we have the monthly columns…Rob Ainslie talking about riding his tourer up Ventoux, and MotoGP rider Bradley Smith talking about cycling. They’re both good pieces.

The first test is an interesting one. German bikes. This works as a concept, and makes interesting reading. If you can’t get six bikes that all cost £1500/£2000/whatever, then find a common thread and run with that. That’s what C+ has done here, and they have attempted to see if there is such a thing as “German-ness” when it comes to bike design. Personally, I would have liked more analogies drawn between German automotive design, architecture and industrial design, maybe looking at the way Germans approach engineering and design solutions, but ultimately this is still an interesting way of testing a few bikes.

Next up is a section of new product tests (wheels, brake blocks, saddles, etc) which are absolutely fine, although I think they’re pretty generous with the Vittoria wheels which cost £900, weigh 1982g and get three-and-a-half stars. And then we have a meaty six-page feature about heart-rate versus power-meter training. I’m sure this is good stuff, but the pull-quote

“It’s important not just to have a coach, but that your relationship is closer than just firing over the occasional email.”

made me roll my eyes and wonder just who reads articles like this. If you’re a racer, then I guess stuff like this is relevant. But surely the vast majority of C+ readers are recreational riders who are happy to ride with their club, their mates or on the occasional sportive. You don’t need a coach or power meter for that. Nor a training plan. If you’re blathering on about VO2 max, Functional Threshold Power, and lactate levels, and you’re not a racer, then you need to have a word with yourself. And while you’re at it, ask yourself what exactly it is that you are training for?

The next big feature is a six-pager about what it’s like to be a recreational cyclist thrown into a pro team. It’s a nice read, albeit rather longer than strictly necessary, and gives an interesting insight into the huge gulf that exists between us recreational riders and the pros.

Following on is a test of softshell jackets and winter bibs. As usual this is a men-only feature, but at least C+ has attempted something elegantly simple here…they’ve done it by manufacturer. And, most of the big players are represented here. Not all, but most. A pretty good job, I would say. On a related note, it would be nice to see some more women in the pages of the mainstream press. CA does it, but no one else. And the female market is growing. Perhaps all the publishers are about to bring out their own women’s cycling mags (which would doubtless be piss-poor tokenism).

Next is a winter bike test — old-school Dolan Preffisio versus new-school Giant Defy. It’s not a bad feature, but I take issue with the premise that everyone should have a winter bike. The author says why wreck a £120 cassette when you can wreck one costing £25? What he doesn’t mention is that this £25 cassette comes attached to a £1000 bike. You can buy eight £120 cassettes for the price of a winter bike. My problem is that I want to ride my best (only) road bike all the time. That bike has been everywhere with me, we have history together, it cost a lot of money…of course I want to ride it everywhere. And I do. I just have a pair of winter wheels with a cheapo cassette on. And if I was ever in the market for a winter bike, I’d buy a secondhand one for £400, not a new one for £1000.

Anyway, it’s a test of turbo trainers next. Personally, I hate my turbo, and tend to use it only if there is actual snow on the ground. But lots of people buy them, and the new generation of “smart” trainers allow people to Zwift and get all Bluetoothy. I’m not even remotely interested in spending £800 on a trainer, but at least C+ has conducted a properly scientific and repeatable test, including things that are important, such as how loud these things are. An explanation of decibel readings (were they dBA or dBC readings?) would have been good…did you know that every increase of 3 dB represents a doubling of sound intensity, or acoustic power?. But that’s not necessarily a doubling of perceived noise. Anyway, a good, thorough test.

Dear god, there’s a lot in this magazine! Next up is an excellent piece about riding the Paris-Brest-Paris, a 1200km uber-audax randonneur type event. You’d have to be certifiably insane to enter this, but it makes for a great read. Equally as good is David Millar’s deconstruction of the Velominati Rules. I’m not a huge fan of Millar, or the Velominati, but he talks some sense in this article.

At the back is the On The Road section, with a good piece about the Granfondo Stelvio (one of my favourite climbs), a sportive round Oxford (don’t care), and the forthcoming LEJOG sportive (now that’s a proper sportive!). Rounding off the mag is Ned Boulting’s column…this month ostensibly about ebikes, but actually about being terrorised by the world’s smallest dog. It made me chuckle.

And there you have it. At 186 pages overall, it has 118 pages of editorial and feels pretty good value for £4.99. The front of the mag is very bitty, mainly due to the poxy ad department selling so many right-hand facing-matter pages, and I suspect the production editor has a complete ‘mare flat-planning this lot, but it’s a decent effort and considerably less EPIC! than last month. Cycling Plus has definitely upped its game this month, let’s hope that trend continues.

 

Plus c’est la même chose

It’s the December issue, so all the mags have to run some or all of the following:

  • Winter bikes test (because you can’t ride your summer bike if it’s cold)
  • Winter tyres test (because it’s winter)
  • Bike lights test (because it’s getting dark)
  • Winter hats/gloves/bib-tights (because it’s getting cold)

Next month it will probably be winter jackets, overshoes, base layers and gravel bikes. Oh, and all the New Year’s resolutions bullshit, planning your summer of sportives, 10 Ways to Be a Better Rider in 2016, blah blah blah.

Anyway, back to the December issue of Cycling Plus. This is another mag that likes photograph bikes contra-jour, using a bank of static flashguns to blast any semblance of light and shade into submission. The result is an eye-scorching cover image, devoid of any feeling of dynamism or movement, with the rider dressed in the obligatory red top and black shorts. And they do like a screamer (exclamation mark) at C+…we’ve got five on this cover, but only one EPIC.

ENOUGH WITH THE FUCKING EPIC RIDE SHIT, ALRIGHT? Unless it’s at least 120 miles long and contains 4000 metres of climbing per day, or results in hospitalisation for at least one of the participants, IT’S NOT EPIC.

Aaaaand breathe…

One thing that is immediately obvious is that Cycling Plus has pretty much the same stuff in it as Cycling Active and BikesEtc. We have winter bikes in Cycling Plus, BikesEtc and Cycling Active; we have pedaling articles in Cycling Plus and BikesEtc; and we have winter tyres in Cycling Plus and BikesEtc. I expect it’s the same in other hobbyist titles. The angling titles probably all have an “EPIC Winter Waders Shoot-Out!” around this time of year, and flying mags probably all have “New Season, New Parachute!” tests. Or something.

So Cycling Plus this month kicks off with the usual First-Rides and product news pieces, then we have a test of sub-£1000 bikes (aka winter bikes). I honestly couldn’t be arsed to read this because a) I don’t want a sub-£1000 bike, b) I know that they are all basically the same (ally frame, Sora or Tiagra gruppo, crap wheels, cheap finishing kit). Precisely why they chose these bikes, and not any of the other two dozen £1000 bikes available in the UK, remains a mystery. At least there’s a comprehensive side-by-side spec panel to make comparisons easy. Next, the Head-to-Head compares a £90 saddle with a £40 saddle. No, I don’t get it, either. The brake-block shootout at least makes some sense.

My favourite bit of the whole mag is the Our Bikes section, where journos are obliged to pen a few polite words about living with whatever bike they’ve managed to scam for the season. I know…I’ve done this myself on many occasions, but it still makes me laugh. This month the Editor admits he can’t be arsed to write much, so has cut-and-pasted someone else’s test of it, and then mentioned that he’d put some new tyres and saddle on it. Top stuff!

Riding With The Enemy is a long and rather worthy piece about how other road users perceive cyclists, using interviews with various cabbies and bus and truck drivers who also cycle. You’d have to be living in a croft on the Outer Hebrides not to be aware of the “war on Britain’s roads”, and this article does little to add to most cyclist’s understanding of the situation out there.

Next up is a six page feature on three C+ staffers riding the three Haute Routes. Normally I quite enjoy these pieces about EPIC mountain sportives, if only because they remind me never to sign up for any of them. But this one is done as a kind of Q&A with the three riders, and I find Q&As a bit crap really. It’s like they couldn’t be bothered (or didn’t have enough time) to construct a flowing story into which interesting quotes can be dropped. This smacks of sending out a list of questions, then boshing the replies on the pages with a few photos, and the job’s a good ‘un. And yes, I am judging others by my own exceptionally low standards.

The lights test is actually not bad, as far as it goes, but it’s by no means comprehensive. There’s useful info, running times have been checked, and there’s a short para on each. But there are many more out there, so how did they decide on these ones? We’re not told, so it feels like it’s a quick email to the distributors and then a test of whatever they send. Personally, a separate test of town lights and country lights (which have very different requirements) would make more sense.

Next up is a test of the ultra-lightweight Fuji 1.1SL conducted during the HotChillee Alpine Challenge. It’s quite interesting and immersive reading, even though anyone who’s ever seen the HotChillee events on Eurosport will know that this is serious faux-pro wannabe stuff.

And so to winter tyres. Get a pair of 25c Conti GP 4 Seasons. All the mags say so, I say so, most of the forums say so. End of.

The How To section at the back contains all sorts of bite-sized (lightweight) pieces on choosing shoes, fueling, gearing etc, all of which is familiar ground for anyone who’s been reading the bike press for more than three months. The Grade Adventure (adventure cycling on a GT Grade) feels like an on-going advertorial, and this month they’ve gone riding around a quarry somewhere. Oh, my bad…they went to Iceland, which is an amazingly beautiful country even though C+ have made it look like a quarry in north Wales.

After an extract of Geraint Thomas’ new book (stop calling him G!) there’s a nicely written and photographed piece by Trevor Ward about riding in the snowy Cairngorms with a Paralympian which bizarrely made me want to go and ride around Scotland in the snow. I probably won’t.

Wrapping it up is Ned Boulting’s column, usually good for a chuckle, in which he spends his time either napping or getting really militant about cycling. Not having napped since I was three years old, I didn’t really understand that bit, but I’m all over the militancy. For a start, let’s improve cycling immeasurably…by banning the word EPIC!

So, 186 pages, of which 113 are editorial. That’s a very healthy Ed/Ad ratio and there are a whopping number of facing-matter ad pages in there. I find Cycling Plus’ cheap paper stock rather nasty, and the overall feel is a bit bitty, but generally it’s not a bad read. It’s one penny cheaper than Cyclist (which I’ll be deconstructing tomorrow), and 24p more than BikesEtc and Cycling Active. If that makes a difference. Which it probably doesn’t.