Nelson Vails The Cheetah (Cheetah was his nickname) defied the odds in cycling, he was one of ten kids from a family in New York and a father himself at the young age of 16, those kind of odds do not make good for an Olympic athlete. His lucky chance happened when he got in to cycling to earn money as a messenger, not as a hobby sport, but to survive. Somehow he saw the potential of riding a bike and worked hard not only as a messenger, but training between work and rest, hoping it would give him and his family a better life.
Eventually the hard work paid off for him and he found himself in Colorado where he trained full-time in the United States National Team, he received expert coaching and propelled himself further than before. For me I know him best from the film Quicksliver a typical 80′s film centred around a bicycle messenger played by Kevin Bacon. Only second to American Flyers but, neither beat Flashdance, I digress…
Vails was an awesome talent and achieved history in 1984 winning silver at the Olympics in the Individual Sprint, he was the first African-American to win an Olympic medal. The hard work paid off. Vails went pro in 1988 and had good success on the track. After he retired from cycling he became a flight attendant! Mainly to satisfy his desire to travel.
“I had been traveling my whole life, so it just came natural to me,”. “Working as a flight attendant is not a job, it’s a lifestyle.” Nelson Vails The Cheetah.
Recently Nelson has produced a documentary (called Nelson Vails The Cheetah) and is getting his incredible story out there. He also has his own website: nelsonvails.com Also, after his sporting career he has worked as a cycling commentator for major TV networks and taken part in cycling safety programs. Busy man! A Busy hero!
Lucas Brunelle is a well known filmmaker who has been doing his point and shoot bicycle work for a long time now, this video for Cinelli is brilliant but, then and adventure as such paired with some talented people is bound to produce something great. This is how it goes; A new chapter begins with GEO, the ultimate adventure-bike for the offroad travel, which will take you where no one has before. Tested and refined crossing the incredible Darien Gap, the most secluded jungle on the earth, between Colombia and Panama, where the Pan-American road stops. For more info go to Cinelli Bootleg
Cycling photographer Paul Davy has just spent 3 days at the Tour of Britain photographing the Giordana Racing Team and has kindly sent these photos our way. Here’s an extract of the story he wrote of those days.
Phil Griffiths’ racing team have gone through numerous incarnations over the past few years, and this year they are known as Giordana Racing Team. Originally this story was to be based around rider Richard Hepworth but unfortunately he came down with a virus and didn’t make the selection.
With Richard out I needed a new angle, and Bill Nickson – former Ti Raleigh rider and Milk Race winner – came to the rescue. Having reached out to some contacts, I got a phone call late one night a week before the ToB was due to start, and it was Bill the team DS asking who I was and what my intentions were. I explained I was a small time photographer looking for a story and a team to cover.
After a long chat, with Bill’s blessing I collected my accreditation and was on the Tour. Giordana Racing Team is steeped in cycling history from ownership through to management, mechanics, clothing and riders…
Head over to Paul’s site to read the full story.
Pilgrim Cycling Co is founded by Tom with the aim of creating small collections of hand printed cycling t-shirts. They are created for people on everyday adventures and celebrate the soulful side of cycling. For Tom the best thing about cycling is the adventuring, exploring and freedom. We couldn’t agree more. As part of the collection there are the 9 t-shirt designs, a cycling cap, some awesome patches, an enamel mug and screen print all available to buy. Tom has lots of plans and i really hope he gets to put them into action. Pilgrim Cycling Co’s first collection is now available through their kickstarter page.
Jens Voigt will attempt the Cycling Hour Record this Thursday 18th September. It’s exciting times for the Hour with Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara lined up to also have a go at the record presumably right after they compete in the World Championships. They are keeping quiet but i’m sure Jens won’t hold onto the record for long, sadly. The UCI changed the rules this year to allow current endurance track bikes to be used and this is the Trek bike Jens will be using. The wheels have clock numbers on and there are two Jens specific graphics on the tubes reading: “Jens Voigt can beat the 1 Hour Record in under 60 minutes” and “Jens Voigt doesn’t normally ride in velodromes because he doesn’t like to lap himself. Brilliant. Eurosport will be broadcasting the event live. For more on the Hour, Jens and details of the bike i recommend this site and this one.
Donhou Bicycles launches Signature Steel, a series of handbuilt bicycles designed and built by Tom Donhou. We’ve been waiting to see what Tom has been cooking up for Signature Steel and the DSS1 Performance Disc Road is the first model on offer. All Signature Steel bikes will be available in stock sizes, paintwork and geometry with super neat TIG welding as apposed to fillet brazing seen on the custom bikes.
Having built the Rapha Continental bike a few years ago with disc brakes and plenty more since it’s no surprise to see them on the DSS1. Tom has put his knowledge of the Rapha Continental build he created into the DSS1 to produce a frame that is comfortable for all day riding.
Built from oversized Reynolds 853 Pro Team Tubing, the best regular steel they produce it has been TIG welded creating a light weight frame that comes with an ENVE Disc Road carbon fork and Chris King headset. Available for £2295 the Donhou Bicycles DSS1 comes in three sizes with options for Di2 cable routing. It’s painted in house in granite grey with pink and lime pearl fade and classic Donhou logo and headbadge. What a frame. You can order them from the Donhou Bicycles website.
Engineered Bikes just sent over a sneak peak of their freshly painted Donder in custom green. It’s looking great. Can’t wait to see this one up close. You can see the details like the stripe that runs underneath the down tube and up the back of the seat tube or is that the other way around? I think this is a good looking frame and it’s had a few updates since the version shown at Bespoked earlier this year. Most noticeable is the smooth welding that looks like a filed fillet braze on a steel frame. This frame is aluminium and is created for Criterium racing with a lively and aggressive ride and available in custom colours as an option. Here’s the regular Donder finish, head to Engineered Bikes for the full details.
Raymond Poulidor was called the eternal second. His rivalry with Jacques Anquetil is legendary. He was a tough rider for sure and didn’t have the style of Anquetil or as some say the souplesse. But what he did have was a character and the French public adored him. Whenever he came second to Jaques they loved him even more. I think outside of France we don’t refer to him much. That is a shame. He was an incredible rider and even though he was nicknamed the eternal second because he never won the tour he did win many races. Even so he never really thought that highly of himself, he was humble in his racing ability. He had this to say in an interview when asked if he was distracted (Velo Magazine France).
“It was true. I thought what was happening to me was already marvellous enough. I never thought of winning. Never, ever, did I get up in the morning with the idea of winning!”
Raymond never really got the same chances in life as Jacques so it’s not surprising he never truly beat him at the Tour when is mattered but, Jacques was always frustrated by Raymond, more so his popularity. I like to think Raymond was a clean rider, I say this as he was the first person to be drug tested at the Tour. Whilst the peloton objected to these tests Raymond was not bothered. To not be bothered is telling perhaps? Given the time and place at least.
Later on in life, after the racing, Anquetil and Poulidor became good friends. This again shows the character of Raymond but, also Jacques;
“For a long time, I detested him. In the criteriums we were obliged to get on but we never ate at the same table. It was often Jeanine [Anquetil's wife] who acted as an intermediary. But later we got on. When he died, I had the feeling that I had lost a friend.”
There is a lot to say about Raymond Poulidor, too much for one post, I urge you to visit the wiki page on the man. This photo below is probably the best known photo of Poulidor and really sums up his era of racing and to us, I think it’s a romantic image of what the Tour used to be like. Today, it’s way more clinical and seeing this sort of emotional racing is much less.
We are big fans of bicycle inspired music at Headset Press. We previously posted about the band Me For Queen and their album, Iron Horse. On 17 September they will be having a video and Album launch. This will happen at Lee Valley Velo Park just outside London. You are all invited and the details are over on Facebook. The video is for the song White Bike and is well worth the listen.
Machines for Freedom have launched their Fall Collection consisting of the Dot Print Jersey, GeoFloral Jersey and Endurance bib shorts to go along with the great looking caps we featured. The jerseys are made from a Swiss fabric that’s breathable, moisture wicking, has an SPF of 50+ and uses COLDBLACK technology to keep you cool. The Endurance bib shorts have a leg band that has been designed to not squeeze thighs and create a bulge. The Italian Chamois is designed to be comfy with all sit bone widths and has a centre cushion for comfort when riding in the drops. Machines for Freedom worked with an LA textile designer to create original patterns. They look great. Head to Machines for Freedom for full details.