Red Bull alleycat shot from helicopter

This alleycat is one of the most professionally organised I’ve ever seen. With helicopter-shot footage, pro-style podium and legion of staff, it beats the charming-but-shambolic affairs I’ve taken part in, at least on paper/YouTube.

It ran through the streets of Auckland in New Zealand, with five checkpoints, or six if you ran a brake. That’s right, being safety-conscious did effectively rule you out of the winning spot. Odd decision, that.

Red Bull Eye in the Sky was a fixed gear, track bike race around Auckland City, New Zealand.
 There were 5 checkpoints around the city and riders had to collect a token at each checkpoint.
 If a rider was running with a brake they had to visit a 6th checkpoint.

The thing is, Auckland isn’t a very good place for a race like this. Being built essentially at random over two thousand years is an advantage, if you’re a city looking to host a good alleycat. All the accouterments of high-level sponsorship can’t make up for the fun of London’s claustrophobic and chaotic street planning.

Someone called Rainier Schaefer took 1st place with a time of 19.22min, in case you’re interested.


Counting down to Tour de France 2009

MonacoThe Tour begins tomorrow in Monaco with a 15.5km time-trial forming the first stage. What will follow for me and you is almost a month of fantastic television.

What will follow for the competitors is almost a month of the hardest, most competitive riding they will ever face.

So, on the day before, how does one prepare for such a grueling event? To find out, let’s turn to the most accessible of all professional cyclists, Lance Armstrong (thanks, Twitter).

* Wake up in glorious, sunny Monaco.
* Strap on a pair of LIVESTRONG-themed trainers and head down to your bike.
* Do a few circuits of the Stage 1 time-trial course, learning every curve and dip.
* Meet Laurent Fignon, a.k.a. The Professor (have blurry picture taken).
* Grab a bite to eat with Bono of U2 fame.
* Write thoughtful blog post entitled Why I Ride.
* Unveil latest in a string of artist-designed custom Treks, for use in Stage 1.
* Go to sleep and dream of yellow jerseys.

Tomorrow, Lance will be focused on putting in a good first day, ultimately aiming for that eighth win. I’ll be spending the first half of the day in Thetford Forest getting muddy, and the second half glued to the television.