Archive for December, 2015

The Baby Eater and the Flea: the Stories Behind Pro-cycling Nicknames

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Pro-cycling has a history of giving wonderful, weird, and terrifying nicknames to its stars. Below are just a few of the greats of the male pro-cycling world and their even greater nicknames.

The Baby Eater or The Tashkent Terror

Djamolidine Abdoujaparov


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Djamolidine Abdoujaparov was one of the most feared sprinters in the peloton during the early to mid-90s, not least for his erratic style in sight of the line. He was called The Baby Eater because of his ferocity on the road and also his strange habits. The other racers on his team found it strange that he rarely spoke and would eat a diet heavy in raw garlic and onions during tours.

The Lion King or Super Mario

Mario Cipollini


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Cipollino, or Cipo for short, was a super pro racer in the 90’s, he was considered the best sprinter of his generation. He was called the Lion King because of his majestic mane of flowing hair and wild showiness. He famously wore flashy skin suits that were designed by artists, not the team, and sponsorless. This is an amazing video of Cipo you should check out—he gets tricked by the Italian version of Punk’d into thinking someone stole his teammates’ bikes. He does what each of us who has ever seen a forlorn P&Y strapped to the front of a 99 has wanted to do.

The Eagle of Toledo

Federico Bahamontes


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Bahamontes grew up in Madrid as a refugee from the Spanish Civil War. He was a famous star climber and he legendarily climbed up a pass in the Tour so quickly that he was three minutes ahead of everyone. So he did what anyone would do, he stopped and ate an ice cream cone while he waited for them to catch up. Bahamontes was named the best mountain climber in the history of the Tour on the Tour’s 100th anniversary.

Il Pirata

Marco Pantini


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As is hopefully obvious, Marco Pantani was called Il Pirata–The Pirate–because he looks just like a pirate.

Angel of the Mountains

Charly Gaul

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Charly was known as the Angel of the Mountains because of the way he flew up even the most treacherous passes. He is known for being a reserved, rarely happy rider who, perhaps appropriately, always performed best in cold, wet weather.

Il Falcon

Paolo Salvoldelli


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Savoldelli was known as The Falcon because even though he was an excellent all-around racer, he was an astounding descender; one of his descents was so flawless it won him the Giro.

El Purito

Joaquim Rodríguez


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Purito is a Spanish word for a small cigar and Rodríguez is a very short rider who packs a real punch. There are a few other stories about how he got his nickname floating around as well, but if you check out his website it’s obvious that no matter how he got the name, he likes it.


The Flea of Torrelavega

Vicente Trueba Pérez


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(He’s carrying his own tubes!)

Vincente was the first racer to ever win the King of the Mountains award in the Tour de France. His somewhat unflattering nickname was reflective of how agilely he leapt up mountains and destroyed his competition in the hilly stages.   

Spartacus, Tony Montana, and The Swiss Time Machine

Fabian Cancellara


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Cancellara is known as Spartacus because he’s so tough, you may have heard about how he got back on his bike and finished the stage after a massive crash during the 2015 Tour in which he fractured two vertebrae. He’s known as Tony Montana because, well, he really looks like a world-class athlete version of the title character of Scarface. Finally, he’s called The Swiss Time Machine because he blows everyone away in time trials. For a while people were so amazed at his racing that they demanded his bike undergo a ct scan because no one could be that fast and the bike must have an engine inside it–there of course was no engine.

The God of Thunder and The Bull from Grimstad

Thor Hushovd


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As a massive Norwegian man named Thor with flowing blond hair it would have been surprising if he hadn’t been nicknamed after the Nordic god of Thunder. He occasionally held his trophies like hammers and apparently was once ceremoniously presented with a massive hammer at the historical Puy de Fou theme park in France.

Pou-pou or The Eternal Second

Raymond Poulidor


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Raymond Poulidor had the misfortune to be racing when Eddie Mercyxx was annihilating the competition and so, as his name suggests, he never won first place in the Tour. He was second in the Tour de France three times and third place five times–he even placed third in the Tour once when he was 40! As is probably unsurprising, he was a fan-favorite, everyone loves an underdog you can count on to be an underdog.

The Gorilla

André Greipel


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Greipel is an awe-inspiring sprinter whose rivalry with Mark Cavendish has only gotten more intense and interesting as the years progress. He is known as The Gorilla because of his extremely muscular build. Here’s a video of some of his best (and Cavendish’s worst) moments that’s definitely worth checking out.


Curious about other racer nicknames? Check these out:
Pistolero, The Killer, The Manx Missile, and The Cannibal



Wednesdays are Volunteer Day!

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Introducing your new favourite day of the week…

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Wednesdays at your local community bike shop are about to get a lot more exciting. Starting January 6th 2016, Wednesdays are volunteer days at the Bike Kitchen. That means that every Wednesday from 11-5 volunteers are invited to drop in and lend a hand.

What exactly does this mean? We’ll still be running P&Y night as well as Recycle Night and Women & Queer at their usual times, but the activities we usually do at Volunteer Bike Building will now take place during the day. Having an entire day for volunteers allows for more people to have access to the shop. This way more people get to strip bikes, organize and/or clean parts, and build bikes for Bici Libre and Pedals for the People.

Volunteer duties will include:

  • Stripping Bikes – removing all parts and accessories off of frame
  • Dividing parts – identifying reusable vs. damaged components
  • Dividing parts and pieces into proper recycling bins
  • Sorting bins of parts to get rid of damaged components
  • Cleaning and servicing high quality parts for resale/reuse
  • Prepping bikes for rebuilding

Volunteers who are already familiar with these tasks can put their knowledge to use by helping us build and refurbish bikes for those that need them, but wouldn’t otherwise have access. For those looking to expand their knowledge we’ll be holding midday workshops from 1-2 pm. Topics range from frame manufacturing to a history of bottom brackets and everything in between. We’re really excited about it and we can’t wait to see you there!

Since work stands will be reserved for volunteers, DIY repair time will be limited to “quick fixes” such as flat repairs. The shop will still be open to drop off your bike to be fixed by our mechanics, and purchase accessories.

More specific information about Wednesday volunteer duties and workshops can be found here.



The Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships 2015: Recap

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

by Jordan Mackinnon

Woke up to my cell phone alarm vibrating on the wooden floor. I blinked a few times and sat up, the grogginess starting to wear off as I moved around my tiny room. Stretched a little bit, then threw everything into my bag for the day. This was the day. THE day. Race day. What would I need? Snacks, some beers, a couple extra layers, notebook, a pen, water bottle (full), lock, phone. Zipped up the bag, threw it over my shoulder, out and down the quiet hostel stairs to breakfast. I relished the slow morning, as the rest of the day would be fast.

Speed was a prominent theme that weekend. The singlespeed cyclocross world championships (SSCXWC) came to Victoria this year. I’ve been aware of cyclocross (CX), the bikes, the races, and the culture surrounding it for a while, but for just the past 2 years I’ve been getting more into it. I went out to some races, put the fattest tires I could fit on my road bike, practiced dismounts a few times, etc. For the uninitiated, CX is like road racing, but off road. Think drop bar bikes with bigger, knobbier tires, disc or canti brakes, higher BB drops (for clearance), and usually somewhere between road and touring geometries. The courses: lots of mud, obstacles/ barriers, and run-ups (i.e. stairs or sections that are not ride-able), but not quite as technical or bumpy as most mountain bike trails. One thing I instantly gravitated to is the inclusiveness of the sport. Much less elitist than road or track racing, the people into it are typically very welcoming. It’s also FAR LESS about the bike than other cycling disciplines. In cyclocross, especially singlespeed cyclocross (SSCX), you “run what you brung,” meaning, basically, make due with what you’ve got. As long as it’s only got one gear, no one’s gonna call you out. CX races are won by technical skill, bike handling, and being able to see a line through a tricky section. Plus there’s always the less-than-friendly weather to keep in mind. Then afterward everyone drinks beer (not always the craft variety) and jokes about who endo’ed/crashed and what the next race will be. It’s competitive, but always about fun, first and foremost.

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Photo credit: Dylan Vanweelden via

I finished off my muffin and gulped the last of my coffee, double-checking the directions I somehow managed to write myself the previous night after getting back from the pre-race party. Seemed easy enough: ride along the Galloping Goose trail (which is lovely, especially on sunny Fall days), then turn North and onto a few more major roads to get to Western Speedway, where the race was held. I checked the contents of my bag again, grabbed my bike and hit the road.

On the way there, I saw a guy turn onto the Goose heading the same direction as me. He was riding a single speed bike with canti brakes, with a basket on the front, loaded with a case of beer. We were obviously going to the same place. I rode with him (Greg, from Washington) the rest of the way there, checking directions with each other, making sure we don’t get lost. The winter sun peeked at us through the trees, as we rolled along smooth pavement, through piles of leaves, then turned onto some more car-laden roads. Soon enough we made it to the speedway. I coasted through the parking lot, past the vendor/sponsor tents and surveyed the scene. The course was like motocross with a sense of humour. Rolling hills, through heavy dirt and mud, out into a flat grassy section, then some steep climbs and more rolling hills and a run up over some strategically placed monster truck tires. Then boat jumps. Yes, boat jumps. Dirt jumps, over capsized boats. Out into some paved straight sections, curving into some switchbacks then a little snow hill before finishing the lap.

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Photo credit: Dylan Vanweelden via

After scoping the course, I ate my lunch for the day while checking out what the vendors had. Hard to miss was the amount of booze. It was everywhere, as it had been all weekend, but this was on another level. It’s being handed out like water. The Giant Bicycles vendor was giving out shots, and had an entire table devoted to rows of free 6 oz flasks FILLED WITH RUM. The Santa Cruz truck had essentially a full bar on display. Just walking by, they offered me beer and jerky, and ya know, I didn’t want to be rude. I managed to achieve my goal of staying sober ’til passed noon, (just barely). Thus sufficiently sated and buzzed, I wondered some more and chatted with a few folks I met the day before. Some were racing, some just hanging out. Then I made my way to the boat jumps to spectate. I had a feeling this would be where the carnage would happen.

I turned out to be quite right. The first “everyone’s not a winner” consolation race was for those who didn’t qualify for the final race, open to all genders. Hence a lot of people, still kinda fast, not giving many fucks, going at it. Hilarious costumes too. A cow, Mario and Luigi (riding a tandem), a Captain Hook, a male stripper, a dinosaur, many tutus and shirtless bodies. Some guy dressed as a strip of bacon. Yup.

A chorus of cowbells began ringing, someone set off a bunch of roman candles and suddenly there they were. The racers diving in and out of sight coming through the rolling hill section, leading up to the boats, toward me and a bunch of other supporters. A few brave people took handups while getting over the jumps. Jerky, beers, cucumbers, one especially wasted person had a large jar of Absinthe (or that’s what he said it was), and was handing up shots. There were a couple spectacular crashes. It was obvious someone was going to get hurt very soon. Many people went right over the bars, or barreled right into the spectators, amid cheers, and heckling. The smiles were infectious, all day. Even the racers, hammering through a grueling course, were grinning the whole way. “STOP SMILING!” was a common slogan among us humble hecklers. Everyone looked like they were having fun, and just happened to be racing at the same time. The jumps were the best action spot though: there’s a certain teeth-clenching brand of chaos that comes with watching four or seven muddy racers try and ride/carry/throw their bikes over a muddy obstacle, all at the same time. The only reason there weren’t more crashes was due to the insane trail riding/bike handling skills of some riders. Being able to stop just on the crest of a jump, as the person in front of you stops or falters, hop or pivot and somehow lunge your bike around them, and keep enough forward momentum to get a decent start on the next rise. Insanity.

I have no idea who actually ended up winning that first race. I was pre-occupied accepting more free beer from some very friendly folk who had dragged a full cooler up beside our little crowd by the boat jumps. I rode over to the starting area just before the women’s race and cracked one of my own beers I had been packing for the day as I watched them line up. I saw an impressive Tinkerbell costume, Furiosa from Mad Max, a few super heroes, a couple riders in some very creative tights. Each race had a Le Mans style start: the racers left their bikes, walked about 50 feet away, and sprinted to them. After the starting airhorn, those even semi-serious about racing made their intent evident in the women’s field. About 4-6 racers opened a big gap early, and sustained it for the whole race. It became hard to know who the leaders were, as many people fell way behind, and the liquor/beer handups increased. The amount of alcohol just tossed at, not handed to, racers, was also rather astonishing. I’d never seen full open beers chucked at racers before. If your kit didn’t smell like beer by the end of the day, obviously you were doing something wrong. Some gnarly crashes ensued again. Kelsey, a rider I met out of Chicago, rocking a purple All-City Nature Boy, had a pretty innocent looking wipeout just outside the course, except it is was on a bunch of shattered glass that just happened to be right beside the race track. Her leg was more than a bit cut up, but she finished the race!

single speed picture 2

Photo credit: Dylan Vanweelden via

The race ended after 6 intense laps, with Mical Dyck (from Victoria!) taking first place pretty handily. The sun started arcing downward, a bit of a chill filled the air, but the energy certainly didn’t stop. Probably because basically everyone at the speedway was full of beer/rum/whiskey/jerky/cupcakes, all of which were still being given away in absurdist quantities. The mood was good n’ rowdy, with no signs of slowing.

Nipping from my flask, I watched the next group of racers assemble. This was it: the men’s final race, the event so much toil, sweat, drinking and questionable life decisions had led up to. Big field, maybe 40 racers. Once again a smattering of epic costumes: a banana, a lumberjack, a rocketship, etc. They lined up to sprint to their bikes, good-natured tension thick in the air. An airhorn sounded, the cowbells began again and off they ran. Adam Craig, a professional enduro rider, reigning SSCXWC, and former Olympian in the mix, riding a tricked out Giant with flat bars, and ZIPP wheels got out to an early lead, just shredding the course, with a few people right on his tail. These dudes were flying. The speed through the corners and off-kilter spots indicative of their skill. Thick mud, slanting curves, and quick, steep climbs barely seemed to slow them down. And the fact that they could stay on their bikes and ride through sections that forced other riders to their feet. Everyone behind was still going fast, but they were also more than likely a few drinks in. Each face seemed to say “I’m trying hard but not going to kill myself.” I ditched the starting area and headed to the snow hill to watch people try and clear it, as it was proving to be a tricky spot, potentially a bottleneck. Most racers got over OK, some more shakily than others. Most of the riders in the first few groups ignored the various handups continuously being held out to them from just outside the course by eager spectators. After a few laps though, as the field got increasingly spread out, it was obvious most riders knew where they were going to finish. Illusions of victory vanish, and they grabbed beers, jerky, shots, cucumbers, gels, chocolate, whatever, as the end neared.

Honestly, the finish itself was pretty anti-climactic. Adam Craig ended up winning, with a few people sticking to him the whole way. Racers began piling up just passed the finish line, panting, drinking, smiling and bantering. The sun had just sunk below the mountains. It seemed like perfect timing. I entered the muddy mix and chatted with some of the riders I met, cracking a beer and giving my last one away to a guy who had just finished, and had the I-need-a-beer look dialed way up. Smiles, revelry, a lot of laughing and hugs. Everyone was tired but still buzzing from the race, looking to continue the party. Most barely cared about the podium. 

Sitting on the ferry ride home the following day, watching the rain streak down the windows, pleasantly exhausted from such a weekend, I remembered one of the most important things about cycling. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the gear/tech talk, the politics or infrastructure surrounding cycling, but really, when you get down to it, it’s about just getting on your bike, and having fun. I smiled out the window, taking solace in knowing that I had definitely done that right.



The Biking World: Wardrobe Time

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

In this blog series, our Volunteer Coordinator, Gretta, will demystify some of the quirks and cornerstones of cycling culture. 

Maybe you’ve seen bikers wiz by looking like they were late for a tight and bright party at the frats, in skin-tight spandex kits. Maybe you’ve wondered what exactly they were wearing and why they were wearing it. Maybe you also made fun of a biker’s biking shorts; we all know the butt pillow really doesn’t help anyone. All of those wardrobe mysteries and secrets are revealed below, prepare thyself for mighty enlightenment:

The Bike Short

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The basics of biking shorts are that they are generally made of spandex and have a built-in cushion. These cushions look funny but you won’t be the one laughing after a seventy mile ride without them, they are seriously life savers (or butt savers?). They’re tight because loose shorts are more likely to get in the way of biking, tight shorts just make everything easier.

The Jersey


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Jerseys are great! They have pockets in the back for snacks and small tools, they are the most fun and flashy part of the biker’s wardrobe and are made of breathable, light weight materials. The tighter the better when it comes to jerseys in order to prevent any wind drag. Often you’ll see jerseys branded with various non-bike related companies, sometimes representing the rider’s sponsors or, just because… y’know, fashion and stuff.

The Bib


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These kind of weird me out but apparently they’re great for long rides and all the pros wear them. Bibs are essentially the overalls of bike shorts, and you wear jersies over them.

The Humble Cycling Gloves


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Bikers wear padded gloves, with or without fingers, in order to cushion their wrists which hold a lot of the pressure from your upper body. For cold weather there are many kinds of insulated gloves made especially for biking and even handlebar covers for when it’s especially chilly. Extra points if they match the rest of your kit.

The Cycling Cap (La Casquette)

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Cycling caps are part practicality and part fashion throwback. Before helmets became compulsory in professional cycling, cycling caps were worn to shade from the sun and rain and perhaps absorb sweat. The cap can also denote membership to a team or advertise sponsorship. Today, the caps are still a cycling fashion staple for pros and non-pros alike. They fit snuggly under a bike helmet, or may simply be worn around town (so that everyone knows you’re a cyclist).

The Neon


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You may have noticed that a lot of biking gear is reflective neon yellow, red, orange, pink, and green. This isn’t just because they are fun, flashy colors, it’s really for safety. Visibility when biking on the road is extremely important because cars are more likely to see you and therefore, not hit you. I, for one, love it when cars don’t hit me. That’s why it’s also important to always ride with bike lights when you’re riding at night. You may feel a little silly for looking like you’re having your own personal rave, but you’ll be thankful for the extra protection a little bright lycra and a few cheap lights can give you.