We did the Sky Ride and got a free rubber duck!!

Being a member of British Cycling brings plenty of benefits but in a recent email I received was the most useful thing yet.  It was a reminder to get involved in the local Sky Rides that happen right across the country.  This weekend there was a ride in Leicester and I took the family in to town to see what it is all about.

After a short train journey we were soon sporting fluorescent yellow bibs and joining thousands of other families to enjoy a 6k, traffic free route that took us right around Leicester city centre.

I can’t talk highly enough about the event and have told everyone I’ve spoken to about how good it was.  6k is a perfect distance for my eldest daughter to ride and with several stops along the route we were never far from a little break or some entertainment.  Most of the stops included the opportunity to do something else cycling related.  Team Sky had an exhibition stand where people were testing their strength on some Watt Bikes, and we had a family shot on the podium on front of an Arc de Triomphe backdrop.  Halfords was offering some free bike servicing and the Leicester Tigers were giving out goody bags (including RAF styled rubber ducks!!??) and taking pictures of families with the Premiership Trophy.

All this was combined with a carnival atmosphere that encouraged novice cyclists and families to get involved.  There were activities for kids of all ages so my eldest took part in a short bike handling course while the youngest scooted around on a balance bike.

There were a couple of points through the route where we got a little congested but the busiest part was also the highlight of the ride when we were able to cycle through the Curve theatre in the citys Cultural Quarter.  Aside from one or two over eager lycra clad speed freaks, the other cyclists demonstrated the type of courtesy and respect that you’d hope for when cycling with a 6 year old.

All in all, the Sky Ride is a great way to spend a few hours with the kids and there were plenty of things to help get people on their bikes a bit more.  The only thing that could make it any better now is if my girls get to see themselves riding their bikes on Sky as they are now expecting …..

Head says Froome, heart says Wiggins

So with Wiggo now out of the Giro early with a chest infection, he’s now got 6 weeks to recover and train for the Tour de France.  As a minimum I’m expecting him to play a key support role but with 6 weeks to prepare, surely Sir Brad has got the opportunity to get the all important “numbers” right to once again lead Team Sky in July?
I wouldn’t like to be in Chris Froome’s shoes right now. After months of speculation, the needle had just swung his way after Dave Brailsford said Plan A was Froome for the Tour and Wiggins for the Giro, will that still be the case in a months’ time?
Leading out Cav

Leading out Cav

The logical approach would be to stick to Plan A and provide Froome with the world’s best domestique to support his attempt at winning the Tour.  But the romantic in me really wants Wiggo to defend last year’s victory and go all-out to win again in Paris.  Back-to-back victories would put Wiggins up with the greats and show that he has got the ability to continue 2012’s “Golden Year”.  Just writing this, I am getting goose bumps thinking about his victory punch whilst wearing yellow at the end of the last time trial and what a fantastic day I had watching in Paris as he led out for Cav on the Champs-Elysees.  And this is the 100th Tour – taking in every great climb (sometimes twice) against every great climber in the world.
Plenty of Hills

Plenty of Hills

Let’s face it though.  It’s because there is more climbing and less time trialling than 2012, that Froome should be number one.  Froome is outstanding in the mountains and has already shown in Romandie this year that he has got the ability to kick away on the slopes, whereas Wiggins is best being supported at a constant high tempo.  I don’t think Team Sky will be allowed to dominate on their own terms this year – even with Wiggins and Porte as their super-domestiques.  With the return of Contador and Joaquim Rodriguez, the peloton is likely to be shaken up with regular attacks in the mountains.  So my brain is telling me Froome has to be the man to lead Team Sky this year because he can deal with the opposition better.
But I’d love it to be Wiggins …..