Rob Partridge takes a sideways glance at all things cycling in his new column for BIKE Channel Canyon.
A big thank you to our Facebook fans Jonathan Calow and Paul Hargreaves for the name. If you reckon you can do better, get in touch.
For now, here’s volume one of Partridge, From The Pear Tree…
Us pro cyclists are a lucky bunch. For most of us our job is our hobby.
At times it’s hard, like crazy hard. You push yourself to the point where you gums start tingling and your vision goes blurry – and you sacrifice fish-and-chip suppers for a chicken and avocado salad. But we can deal with it because we get to do something we love.
One of the major perks are the goodies we receive from sponsors. In my first year as a senior I worked a whole summer just to pay for a set of Dura Ace shifters and a pair of overshoes.
I rode my first Tour of Britain on a bike worth less than a grand and got the mickey taken out of me by a couple of riders because I had stickers on my frame.
Now I’m racing on a bike off my all-time wish list – the Canyon Aeroad. It’s a stunning thing and the only sticker has my name with a Welsh flag next to it.
Times change. I never thought I would don a tailored suit, complete with pocket square, for a team launch. But thanks to Hawes & Curtis, there we were at the London Bike Show last month.
Now, I know it’s not tradition but damn we looked smart and felt the part. And who knows? Those contacts might come in handy, with my own wedding to plan for next year!
I’ve had my fair share of team presentations since becoming a fully-fledged professional in 2006.
The first, with recycling.co.uk, was the most bleak you could imagine. We were busy at the start of that year. First in Majorca, then at the Tour of Siam before the Tour de Langkawi.
I remember it well because we came back from 90-per-cent humidity to shiver in a scrap metal yard in Preston!
The following season, my last as an under-23, I thought I’d escape the crusher and head for Italy. I didn’t have much more luck there, though.
We were presented live on Tuscany TV, or something like that. Anyway, they didn’t realise I couldn’t speak Italian. I mumbled the odd word but the interviewer was just cracking on until, fortunately, one of the other lads on the team jumped in to save me!
Then there was Halfords, where I just had a phone call from the management, literally saying: “Right, you’re going to be good, aren’t you? Okay. Don’t do anything stupid. Let’s crack on.” A week later we were racing.
A few weeks after this year’s launch we were presented with a giant box of kit. To an outsider, it looks enough for four riders but we use it all. It’s the only justifiable reason that the bloke in the relationship gets a second wardrobe!
Our kit sponsor is Le Col, owned by Yanto Barker, a friend and former team-mate of mine. He understands the demands of a cycling team and it’s riders.
We were on it at UK Youth, too, so I knew it was going to be good. It was great then but Yanto makes sure it improves every year. Nothing is too much trouble, either. Even when you ask for extra-long shorts like me!
As for the design, I love it. I’m all for bright kit. We are pro bike riders and I think there should be a difference between what we wear and your fashionable cycling kit.
It should really stand out, so the nice, bold blue the Canyon design team have come up with gets the thumbs up from me.
By the same token, I really liked the Node4 Giordana one I rode in 2014. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, mind you!
It didn’t weather well, either. The bright orange soon faded to a peach colour after a few washes but I was a fan. I’m all for those bold colours.
One of my old managers says: “Never sacrifice style for speed.” But these days nothing is sacrificed – only my fish suppers!
We have our shiny white Sidis, our Italian-styled Salice glasses… the list goes on. I guess what I’m trying to say is a big thank you to all our sponsors.
Just as the season kick starts, hot on the heels of our Tour de Yorkshire selection and with this being my first column, I think it’s a good time to say it.
So thank you for helping us do what we love. In style.