Firstly we would like to thank you all for the fantastic and inspirational stories in all the categories. The judges after much deliberation have finally agreed their favourites.

The Winners!!

The Race 
Mike Butcher

Judges comments – “wonderfully simple, sparse even but with humour and soul. Less is definitely more in this case. I also enjoyed the rather unexpected way it developed. Not your usual prescriptive 'race' piece at all.”

Three of them, one of me.
They've already started the hill; I'm still fifty yards away.
Maybe a third up, one gives up; I've a quick and easy success.
The second puts on a burst of speed but fades; my steady tempo riding gives me a second victory.
Number three reaches the crest first, all gritted teeth and frantic effort, but he can't sustain it and I pass him before it flattens out, before where the line would surely have been.
Add up all their ages and get - maybe, barely - thirty-five. Do they have decades on me or do I have decades on them? I can't decide.
The mum gave up first but she was carrying all their clobber, riding what looked like an old bike hauled from the depths of the shed for the day. She wasn't puffed, she was
laughing, and as I notched up my second victory her defeated daughter joined in - girly giggles and shrieks as you'd expect - no, hope for - from someone not yet ten.
The little lad only faded at the crest of the hill because his little legs couldn't turn any faster. I doubt the combined wheel sizes of the kids' bikes would total the circumference of mine. The loud, exaggerated cries of disappointment from his mother and older sister a few dozen yards back down the road made the pair of us smile at his second place.
Colnago, Campagnolo and Lycra versus whatever, whatever and whatever. It
was a laugh, like it should be.
Who won? With a bit of luck, they did. The little lad, especially, perhaps gained a taste for all the simple fun cycling offers, even for big old grown-ups. And if he did then I'll
count that as a victory for me too.

Address to Mikes fantastic Blog          

The Ride
Jonathan Budds

Judges comments – “A beautiful tale you can immerse yourself in”

‘Le patron et la doublure’
He looks across at me as he always does when we turn the corner for the final climb.
A challenge in his dark eyes. But this Sunday morning in June, as the church bells clang ten, I also see uncertainty. He hunkers over the bars, taped white, and begins to work the pedals. I wonder if I’ll ever have calves that big.
The sun, bright and high and hot, glints on our spokes. The tarmac is slightly sticky, like warm sweets.
He’s been looking at me a lot today, talking less. Perhaps he senses some kind of change. I’ve felt stronger than I’ve ever done, riding comfortably alongside him, and even, on the smooth flat road along the slow river, taking big turns on the front.
He reaches down and pushes the gear lever back and, as if panicked, the chain jumps. He stands. He’s never done that on the climb before, never had to, always beaten me to the top with ease. Sweat darkens his faded orange Bic jersey.
We’re halfway to the top now, adjacent to the retirement flats, and I can sense he’s beginning to labour. We pass my friend Stevie Gingell’s house.
Parked outside is his dad’s phonebox-red Austin Ambassador, which Stevie – with me laughing fearfully in the passenger seat – has already taken for an illicit spin.
Then something inside me reacts; connections are made. I begin to feel tense, anxious, and my heart thuds into my ribs, though not with effort. For the first time in my life I think of him as the enemy. It seems wrong, but this sensation is like a wave and cannot be stopped. I have to catch him. He looks behind, sees me there and turns back quickly, as if he’s shocked or afraid. He sits and sets his shoulders.
Earlier, when we’d stopped at Trevor’s News for a drink – Cream Soda for me, lemonade for him – he took off his white cap and his damp brown hair looked thin, as if his scalp was badly painted. I touched my head, wondered if I’d go the same way. It wouldn’t matter if I did, because I’d always wanted to be as much like him as possible. Still do.
We stood in the shade of a tree, sipping, looking at the bikes. ‘You’re tall,’ he said, as if that was something I wasn’t supposed to be. I saw him straighten his back and firm his jaw.
When we set off again, I happily matched his cadence, put my hands at the same place on the hoods that he did. Le patron as he jokingly called himself. I was la doublure, the understudy.
Now though, he grunts and his shoulders begin to rock and I know that this ride is the one that, no matter how many more he and I do, will never be forgotten, because with half-a-dozen hard pedal strokes, I’m beside him and we both understand.
He doesn’t look at me, doesn’t want to know what I’m going to do, but a kind of smile appears that loosens his face and then he gives the merest nod. A woman walking a small, white, panting dog that strains at its leash watches us pass.
Two lamp-posts from the turn, a hundred yards from home. The air seems to get thinner and there is an itchy tingle in my nostrils. He flicks an elbow; ‘Allez Doublure,’ he says and with this blessing, I accelerate and leave my dad behind.

Link to Jonathans wonderful Novel 

The Bike
Alex Brown      

Judges comments – “quite simply inspirational”
In 2010, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, so I built a mountain
My bike serves a dual purpose: it separates my mind and body, and
simultaneously bridges the gap between them. My mind has been
compromised, from birth, by my condition. It makes noises overwhelm me,
touch is hypersensitive, and I can’t imagine my life without control over
the insignificant details that otherwise make me cringe and turn hollow.
But, worst of all, I can’t understand other people. Knowing what to say,
or do, in any given situation - to please or appease the expectations of
others - is a mystery to me. My mind doesn’t speak that language. Its
metric to everyone else’s imperial.
You can understand, then, why I might not trust my mind all that much. It
sends me false messages. I see that face of yours. I hear that tone in
your voice. It means nothing to me. I resort to guesswork.
What it needs is something it does understand. Something simple,
complete, concrete, tangible. Spoke length calculations, chain-lines,
ISIS drive axle lengths. These are things it can learn, read and reflect
on with easy understanding. There is no effort, no chore to making that
judgement between the fat tyre/rigid fork combo or expensive suspension.
It’s a breeze. And while we’re there, lets line that valve stem up just
I’m in familiar waters. The tape measure doesn’t lie, it doesn’t use an
expression I don’t understand. It just gives me exactly what I need. The
pressure falls away and I can think like myself, without the constant nag
of the second guess.
And then I’m in the saddle. I’m sure I’m not the only one who talks to
his bike, but I bet I get more out of it than most. My bike tells me
things about myself. My mind doesn’t matter at the moment. Who else is
there, 60kms from home, for me to struggle to talk to, to avoid eye-
contact with, to bumble and grope for words before falling over my cleats
in awkwardness? No-one. Just me, the occasional Muntjac deer and my
bike. Who cares if my mind doesn’t work, out here, alone in the
My body works. I know, because my bike tells me. I feel my muscles
moving, soaking up the terrain, informing me of the history of this
earth. Its bridleways and the churches, schools and farms they connect
teach me about the humanity that populates its surface, the humanity that
can feel so distant to me. My bike gives me those bumps. It places me
where I can finally compartmentalize the fractious segments of my
identity, and locate myself in the fabric of humanity. I’m alone, but
still in good company in the history of mankind.
And there I can qualify that my mind does work. It can build this amazing
contraption: transport, tool of therapy, and instrument of self-
sufficiency. I can survive out here, and get home. I am capable.
Perhaps not in the same way as you. I can’t handle a job interview. I
need to psyche myself up (washing my hands works) if I want to make a
phone call. I will literally go mental if you talk while I’m watching a
But looking at my bike (the bike I built on my own), and the mud that
embellishes it, and my printed maps… I know my mind is capable of looking
after me. And I know I am capable of looking after myself.

Alex's superb Blog site        

The Competition  

To reflect British cycling success throughout 2012, vb is holding its first writing competition with some fantastic prizes on offer.  Chris Puttnam of Vélobici says “The cycling world has a wealth of writing talent and we thought after all this year’s success in all riding disciplines that there are some inspirational stories to be told. We have 3 categories: The Ride, The Bike and The Race, so your story doesn’t have to be about professional racing. It can be about your own rides, your own memories”.  Entries should be no more than 1,000 words (there is no minimum, to encourage the odd Haiku!). Simply click on the relevant link above to submit your entry by email.  The closing date is 10pm on 17 August 2012 and the winners will be announced during September.

The Winners

The winner of the Race category will receive a set of the new roadwear, either Van Abel or Van Dapper (Jersey & shorts); winner of the Bike category will win either a Classic Bob Maitland or Tommy Godwin jersey,  and the winner of the Ride category will win a Lombardy Classic Cardigan with matching Seamless Merino Scarf and Gloves. For female winners, we have a set of Ella Paris or Ella Nice as well as a set of Vélobici’s soon-to-be-released women’s wear, a technical vest and briefs. Each winner will receive a copy of the latest publications from Mousehold Press and all three finalists will also be recorded by commentator David Harmon and made available as a podcast on the Vélobici website.

The Judges

The six judges are: Adrian Bell of Mousehold Press; Matt Rendell, cycling author and journalist; David Harmon, Eurosport’s lead English language commentator; Matt Stephens, 1998 British Road Race champion and pro rider between 1998 and 2011;  Andy Ward, cycling Doctor and writer and Chris Puttnam co founder of vélobici. Two judges will preside over each category, submitting their favourite two to a ‘grand final’ where all the judges will decide on the three ultimate winners.

Good Luck!

Full list of the Competitions terms and conditions can be found Here

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