Vanka Velo

Cape Crusader 1


What do you buy the middle aged man that has everything?

We know you take your cycling seriously, we also know that you want to stand out from the crowd, so how do you inject some fun and style back into your cycling wardrobe?

Have you ever considered wearing a cape? No, not the traditional rain cape but a glamorous “Vanka Velo” cape. The cape that turns you from sad git into instant superhero.

The cape has proven powers of recovery just watch the videos of the founding members of Vanka Velo trialling the cape after a gruiling few days riding through the French Alps

Cape Crusader 1

Cape Crusader 2

Vanka Velo is a new concept in cycling wear. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, in fact we acknowledge that most of society thinks we are in fact “Vanka’s” . To register your interest for a cape and other products to signify to the rest of the peloton that you are that little bit special, drop us a line…

Even superheros have bad days

Even superheros have bad days





It’s been a few days since I got back from riding my bike in France and today I make the final journey back from sunny England to Australia.

Being at my mum and dad’s this week has effectively been a half-way house before I re-integrate back into my normal existence.

Prior to my return I have noticed that there are a few habits I have picked up whilst on tour that need to be broken.

Clothing – It is not polite to eat breakfast, and indeed any other meal, just wearing snug fitting shorts. (Unless you are a German on holiday then it is your national costume so perfectly acceptable).

Dining – What’s the rush? Is the food going to run out before you get your fair share? I have discovered this week that if you eat slowly you can actually taste what you are eating. Also there is something to be said for quality over quantity. If you are not burning all that extra fuel then be careful because you’ll be carrying it up the next climb.

Conversation – Read the signs, when the eyes glaze over you have lost your audience. Apparently it is a lot harder for the people who didn’t spend hours on their bike in France to relate to the thrills of the descents, how to grind your way up 20km of mountain, the stunning scenery or the merits of different gear ratios. The normal daily conversations you had living with other bike nuts are not seen as normal in other parts of society.

I’m looking forward to getting home and seeing the family. I know that they will indulge me for at least a few hours.

Then once the presents are handed out, the pictures explained and the clothes packed away I will work my way through the mail, check my diary for next week and finally iron a few shirts to complete my rehabilitation back into society.

time gentlemen please...

time gentlemen please…


It’s a long way to the top…




I have cycled my way around France and in the process I have ridden over 1,000km and climbed 20,000 meters. All of this and I can still sit down without wincing!

Joining the Tour De Force group, 2 weeks into the overall tour, was a bit like going to a new school. Everybody who is part of it knows the routine and the way things are done. For the newbies working this out and getting the rhythm of tour life was our initial challenge. The fact that the whole thing is so well organised and that the other riders are supportive made it easy to feel that you were part of something a little special.

In all honesty I didn’t really know what I had let myself in for. Without a reference of what an Alp looks like I think I benefited from a little bit of “ignorance is bliss”. It wasn’t until the first evening and we got a briefing of our first days ride, 243km finishing with a climb up Mont Ventoux, that I began to think I may be a little out of my depth.

Even if you were a “lifer”, riding all the stages, or if this was your first stage like me there appeared to be a certain degree of nervousness about riding stage 15.

It was a baptism of fire, a 220km ride in hot weather across a very picturesque France and then the 20km climb. Up until the bottom of the climb I had really enjoyed the day, and then it just got a little silly.

It was hot and very steep. No amount of training around the hills of Sydney could prepare me for this type of climb and it was all I could do to keep the pedals turning. Periodically the body gave up and I would have to stop, slump over the handlebars and started wishing I was elsewhere.

Then some other Lycra clad loony would go past, shout some encouragement and I felt obliged to get back on and try again. This was the process I followed all the way to the top of my first HC climb.

As an added bonus I also got to descend the mountain in a full on thunderstorm. As hard as it was going up, coming down in torrential rain, cramping and wobbling all over the road as I shivered my way down is more memorable. I am sure that having completed one of the slowest ascents, I then followed it up with a prize winning performance for the slowest decent.


Having achieved this I took a degree of confidence into the other days. The body held up and even with some long days riding and some seriously challenging climbing I can honestly say I loved every minute and it was a truly great experience.

If I was to summarise what made the week so great, it would be…

  • The scenery and the weather, it was perfect  and just made the whole country look stunning
  •  The organisation of the whole event was great. If you want to feel like a pro and just worry about riding your bike and very little else, this is the event for you. You also get to raise some money for a very good cause
  • The people you got to ride with. I met some great people and had lots of laughs. Doing something like this creates a great feeling of camaraderie.
  • Riding up some iconic climbs, I can now boast to have ridden up Mont Ventoux, the Col du Glandon, the Cold de la Madeleine and to top it all Alpe-D’Huez, twice in the same day.
  • Getting to ride around Paris on Bastille day in a big bunch and with the mates that you have made over the week

All great experiences, if you were to ask me for one memorable moment?

Well it’s a little bit left field.

I could wax lyrically about the stunning vistas, the scary descents or the overall sense of achievement. For me the best moment was on the final climb on stage 20 going up Annecy-Semnoz. This is a steep climb, 10.7km @ 8.5% gradient, and what I shall remember it for is being involved in some of the slowest overtaking manoeuvres in cycling history.

By this stage I was cycling so slowly that it was remarkable that I stayed upright. If we had been on the flat people would have marvelled that you could actually ride a bike that slowly and not fall off.

So there I am doing my thing up the hill and a number of riders came past me. What made it memorable was that they were going only marginally quicker so it took a couple of minutes for them to draw level , nod or grunt some encouragement in my direction, then fix their gaze on the road ahead and it would then be several more minutes for them to pull ahead. It was like I was part of the Tour De France, only doing it frame by frame. All the same drama and intensity just done incredibly slowly.

It was only then that I realised how daft I must have looked.  I may have felt a sense of achievement and satisfaction but the reality is if you had driven past me you probably would have wondered why that daft middle aged bloke had nothing better to do with his time.

I was taking on the course of the professionals in my own unprofessional way and this really made me laugh. As I continued to grind the long way to the top, the only rock and roll was me going all over the road as I made it up another bloody big hill in France.


Go on, make a donation at  to a very worthwhile cause The  William Wates Memorial Trust 

Out and about


One of the joys or riding a bike is that it gets you outside and allows you to see and experience the countryside in all its glory.

Riding around the South of England over the last week means I have seen a fair bit of a very green England. I have loved riding down single track country lanes that are covered by trees. The weather has been good , the sun has been out and it has been warm enough to just about make a contrast to the Australian winter. I’ve seen genuine village fates, been paced by tractors and have concluded that the drivers of Fiat vans are a little bit madder that your average white van men.

I dropped Edna off today to be taken over to France where the fun and games will really start. Having a week to get over the jet lag and to catch up with friends and family was a good move. My only challenge is making sure that I am not overdong it so that I don’t arrive in France needing a rest rather than feeling up for a few days of challenging cycling.

In addition to getting to ride my bike over some spectacular scenery I can’t think of a better way to experience a little bit of French life. All I have to do is remember to ride in a way that is appropriate for a man of my age, to take the time to look around me and to occasionally get off my bike and enjoy France.