Saturday, September 27, 2014

In Recent Proposals: International Connections, Saddle Sponsorship and the First Person Race Report

*** NEWSFLASH *** 

Today it was respectfully requested by parties concerned with this post (originally published Saturday 27th September 2014) for private conversation content to be removed. I have been advised that the Facebook Messenger conversation in question was not for public consumption—which I found a little confusing.

I was under the (obviously mistaken) impression that Facebook owned (and maliciously used) every possible piece of user data (including the contents of chat messages) for their own benefit so I didn’t see any problem with using a bit of that data for the benefit of a blog post. But I’ve grudgingly agreed to remove the contents of the abovementioned chat messages and/or disguise the identity of the parties concerned. What follows is a re-edited, redacted and reluctantly censored version of the original article.

This week I was treated to the unexpected delight of a message from none other than former Bicycling News Asia correspondent, Deaflympian and recent durian convert Daniel Carruthers. At the 2011 Mongolia Bike Challenge, Daniel’s famously enthusiastic attacks would see him momentarily disappear up ahead of the bunch in a cloud of Gobi desert dust during the early (typically less-animated) periods of most stages.

At some point after a few of Daniel’s signature moves, the actual racing would get underway, which saw an interesting battle unfold between Cory Wallace (multiple Canadian XC Marathon & 24-hour champion and self confessed bacon enthusiast) and the Italian defending champion Marzio Deho. Supporting Cory in his bid were another couple of Canadian racers, Craig Richey and Tom Skinner who, when not racing across Mongolia, like to play dress-ups on training rides around British Columbia.

Apparently this kind of thing is considered acceptable in Canada. #ProvincialChumps 

Craig ended up finishing in 3rd place while Tom, despite collapsing with food-poisoning-induced dehydration on the plane flight to Stage 1, still managed to finish the event and get near the pointy end by the final stages.

Reading Daniel’s post-stage reports though, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that he was the one animating and contesting victory in this race.

Although I would have happily reminisced with Daniel about our time racing across Mongolia’s desolate expanses, rugged mountain passes and seemingly interminable river crossings, his message quickly dispatched with the pleasantries and got straight down to business.



Daniel said that he’d been thinking about me, enquired about my racing and whether or not I had a saddle sponsor as he was seeking out riders to test out a range of new WTB saddles.

This was great news—not only was I currently (and indeed, always) without a saddle sponsor, but more importantly, former Bicycling News Asia race reporter Daniel Carruthers had been thinking about me. This was definitely a big ego boost for The Private Cyclist, for whom not being sued for defamation is generally considered a sign of endorsement.

I secretly imagined that Daniel was thinking about me whilst simultaneously stroking the smooth, fine carbon weave of a WTB saddle but this daydream was quickly interrupted as he laid out the requirements for this offer.


Censoring the dialogue by paraphrasing chat messages quickly becomes tiresome, so what I’ve done instead is simply rearrange the words and disguised the commenter, turning what was previously a humorous setup for a shameless plug of my own blog in to a clumsy arrangement of random words.

Basically, I was asked to provide three reasons why WTB should provide me with a carbon saddle.

The first two came easily and I think that any parties with whom I had shared these responses via Facebook Messenger, could have worked them out if they had, as claimed, read my “tongue in cheek blog.”

Always looking for a chance to plug my blog, the above excerpt is from an online chat conversation I had with the Lampre marketing director.

Originally from Dunedin, Daniel is now based out of Hangzhou in eastern China where he races and writes about the Asian cycling scene. His freelance writing credits span the full spectrum of online cycling publications, from to

According to their homepage, has been for sale since July 2013 and doesn’t appear to have been updated since late 2012.

Any keen investors out there will recognise this as a fantastic opportunity because “ has more than 11,000 pages of content” and “revenue is generated via an established network of industry advertising” that includes banner ads from Taiwanese manufacturer Dorcus, surely one of the industry’s bravest brand names.

Although their own website isn’t very inspiring, I imagine Dorcus are far too busy Dorcufying the bicycle industry to worry about things like slick web design. And regardless of how unprofessional their homepage might look, they are certainly holding their own on Bike War, the website that “rates bikes against each other, pretty much arbitrarily, and for the simple fun of it.”

At the time of writing, the Dorcus D-Invader road bike had 1 win, 1 loss and was locked in a nail-biting battle with the Radon Sage, whatever that is. Could your vote be the one to break the deadlock?

Unfortunately for Bicycling News Asia, the Dorcufication of their website wasn’t enough to keep them afloat but thankfully Daniel has been able to continue sharing his cyclo-journalistic talents via his own blog. His (now legendary) Mongolian attacks, while never impacting the actual race itself, provide some quality content via his chosen medium of the First Person Race Report.

For anybody unfamiliar with this genre, the FPRR is traditionally a form of nauseatingly mundane, blow-by-blow account of a race unfolding from the perspective of somebody not very near the pointy end of the field. FPRRs provide countless opportunities to describe (in great detail) the splintering of unimportant chase groups, the hunting down of other mid-pack riders who have blown up earlier and the unleashing of powerful (yet contextually meaningless) attacks on other riders of similar ability.

Daniel does get some decent results on the Asian road racing scene and his absorbing race reports have the ability to wipe hours from your life with their uninterrupted stream of play-by-play commentary. But for those willing to persevere, there are some absolute gems to be found.

The famous “racing to train” justification pervades a lot of amateur bike racing.

There’s also a great bit where I think he alludes to possibly causing a crash in the peloton whilst being oblivious to the carnage behind due to not wearing his hearing aids—(Daniel has a severe hearing impairment and has competed at many high profile events including the Deaflympics.)
“…a questionable sweep across the road caused a couple of riders taking [sic] evasive action. I had no idea what was going on behind me as I sprinted in for sixth position...I collided with no-one, nor did I hear the yells behind me, obviously. I don’t race with my hearing aids on. Communication with me in races can sometimes be a challenge for the other riders. At the end of the day, this is bike racing and at the business end of races crashes can result.”
And in another he manages to simultaneously convey the pointlessness, yet somehow still compelling incentive, of a four-man sprint for 8th position.

Unfortunately Daniel’s race reports aren’t quite yet on par with ultra-endurance runner Shona Stephenson, who is considered to be the doyenne of this competitive literary genre, but I’ve no hesitation in labelling him one of the major players.

Hopefully now you can get some appreciation of how excited I was to receive this communication and generous offer of saddle-sponsorship. At this point, it was important that I didn’t appear too jesty so I tried to convey my genuine interest in subjecting my arse to some real-world product testing that would hopefully help push the limits of cutting edge technological innovation but in reality just add to some boring accumulation of marketing copy about a range of (probably unremarkable) bicycle saddles.

My initial (and only partially disguised) cynicism was then crushed like so many carbon saddle rails in clamp mechanisms tightened to just 0.1Nm above their recommended torque setting:



I then discovered (independently of this chat with Daniel) that WTB has several new carbon saddles hitting the market very soon. The Silverado, Volt and Rocket will be available in three different widths.

With model names like Volt and Rocket for a component whose role is to basically cradle your most sensitive organs, it was clear that WTB’s new range of saddles were not simply marketing fluff—these saddles were intended to make an impact—which would also be a great name to associate with this anatomical region.

I must admit to being slightly confused about Silverado, which, as far I can tell, is either a full-size pickup truck sold in America, a spiral galaxy in the Leo constellation roughly 98 million light years from Earth or a former mining town in southern California—although there are some mountain bike trails nearby.

I wondered if Daniel had already put these saddles through their paces because, as mentioned in one of his race reports:
“One time, I almost crashed when both of my feet popped out and I felt my whole body weight slam down on the saddle. It could have broke the seat post. I was lucky to barely keep control of the bike with both my feet out!”
I was now very excited at the prospect of testing out a new WTB saddle.


I was willing to ignore the fact that the concerned party had spelled my name incorrectly (despite it being visible at the top of the Messenger window), given that I hadn’t actually been forced to think up a serious list of compelling reasons for why WTB should provide me with a free carbon saddle—phew.

Then it was back to some small talk that, I must admit, did keep me entertained for literally minutes.



What followed (and has since been redacted due the incredibly sensitive nature of the topics discussed) was some hearty banter about upcoming races. A reference was made to the hammer and nail analogy that is often used with regard to road cycling—sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail. The concerned party alluded to being represented as the hammer in all upcoming events except for New Zealand’s Tour of Southland, as that race apparently featured Pro Tour riders.

Unfortunately the Tour of Southland hasn’t actually had UCI Pro Continental status since 2009, putting it more on par with events such as the Big Hill Events Dirty Gran Fondo and the Wednesday night crits at Kew Boulevard. This means that Daniel probably won’t get the opportunity to mix it with many Pro Tour level cyclists at the Tour of Southland, but on the flipside, there should be less nail time and the potential for a lot more hammer time. I can’t wait to read about it…and to try out my new saddle.


  1. Why do you use pink highlighter in the censorship mode....
    Pink is a very sensitive colour????
    Pink now owned by many companies....
    But truly this may be a sexist statement gone wrong???
    An emotive error???
    Pink many years, centuries ago was a colour owned and worn only by men.
    Because of it's link to blood!
    As always a lot of blood sweat and tears in your article????
    Censored, thus enthusing the creative to an imaginary paradise!

    1. Yes, pink is a very sensitive colour. Thanks for noticing.