bikinglondon.com

Saddle up for the Tour of Britain! Borough’s biggest ever sporting event …

History will be made in Dacorum tomorrow as the borough welcomes some of the planet’s top cyclists when the Tour of Britain pedals to town.

It will be the first time the town has bid to host a stage of the event, which is the country’s largest cycle race and also the biggest free-to-spectate sporting event held in the United Kingdom.

The race began on Sunday in Liverpool and finishes this Sunday in London.

The sixth stage, beginning in Bath on Friday morning, is expected to wheel into the borough through Berkhamsted in the afternoon, following a route through Potten End and finishing alongside Hemel Hempstead’s Gadebridge Park between 3pm and 4pm.

The borough itself will get a starring role in the spectacle with live coverage on ITV4 – and all the action will be shown from giant screens erected in the park.

At just over 200 kilometres, the stage will be one of the longest of this year’s Tour, with several testing climbs taken on by the 120 cyclists.

The cyclists – which include top British names Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish –will be travelling at speeds of around 45mph on the straight, and it is estimated that it will take them only 20 minutes to reach the finish from Berkhamsted.

Cycle sprinter Cavendish, who is considered to be the fastest road cyclist in the world, told the Tour website: “I’m racing this week because this is my national Tour, Britain’s big race, and I always want to support it when I can.”

Police convoys will lead the sportsmen through Dacorum during the race.

This will lead to rolling road closures and lack of access to main roads including the Leighton Buzzard Road in Hemel Hempstead, which will be closed from 8pm on Thursday, September 11 to 6am on Saturday, September 13.

The closure will affect the stretch of the road between the roundabout between the Link Road and Galley Hill, and the roundabout linking Queensway and Warners End Road.

The rolling road closures will take place from 2pm to 4pm and will last around 30 minutes each. Diversions will be signposted and drivers are advised to plan their journeys in advance to avoid the disruption.

Additionally, the main Gadebridge Park car park, off Leighton Buzzard Road, will be closed from Wednesday evening until late on Friday September, though parking will be available in Marchmont Fields, the Water Gardens and town centre shopping centres Marlowes and Riverside.

For more about road closures, click here.

Even for those not interested in cycling, the Tour’s trip through Dacorum has provided a host of opportunities.

Borough-based businesses have been given the chance to purchase invaluable sponsorship packages, giving their names nationwide coverage as cyclists zoom by.

Also lining the route will be more than 300 metres of bunting created by knitters from the area, who’ve been busy making hundreds of mini cycle jerseys out of wool. It is expected the bunting will be auctioned off for charity after the race.

The day is hoped to be full of fun for all ages with a craft and trade fair in the park, which will also feature a stall by the Gadebridge Splash Park campaign group who will be selling wristbands and hosting a fundraising raffle.

There will also be a range of organised cycling activities for anyone who gets the biking bug, as well as a children’s funfair and an array of food and drink.

If you’re unable to make it on the day, catch the sights of Dacorum live on TV.

For full details on the Tour’s visit from the Council website, click here.

For more on the Tour of Britiain, click here.

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Invictus Games 2014: meet the heroes

“I asked one of the surgeons whether I could try cycling as I wouldn’t be
putting as much weight on the leg, and he gave me the go-ahead. At first I
would go round the park with my crutches strapped to the handlebars, so
slowly that people were walking past me. As I got my strength up I could put
my youngest daughter, who’s nine now, into a trailer and pull her along
behind me.

“Last year I set up Military
Mountain Bikers
, to give other injured or sick soldiers the chance
to do what I’ve done. Now I do that full-time and employ a couple of other
guys in Lancashire, where I live, with funding from Help
for Heroes
. The Invictus Games are so important because, like the
biking, they’re accessible: everyone can come down and have a go.”

Xavier Le Draoulec, 53

Competing for France in track and field, and swimming

“I joined the army when I was 17 and was deployed to Lebanon, where I stepped
on a mine and lost my left leg. I spent two years in and out of hospital,
ending up with a prosthetic limb, but afterwards I asked to rejoin my
regiment. I was deployed abroad again – I served in Kosovo – then worked
training new recruits in France. Now I work as a sports teacher in Fréjus,
on the Côte d’Azur.

“I’ve competed in the Paralympic Games, in Sydney and Athens: I won medals
with the [athletics] relay team and also did pentathlon and long jump. Of
course it was amazing to do that, but there wasn’t the same sense of
fraternity that you get in the army and that there will be at the Invictus
Games. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been injured in the field or injured
at home – like my French teammate Phillippe Robert, who also worked in the
military and lost his leg in a car accident outside Paris.

“Invictus means ‘unconquered’. That’s us. There are no losers; we’ve all had
things to overcome and survived. But of course I would like to win in
London.”

Jacob Emmott, 25

Competing for USA in archery and swimming

“I was working as a medic in the Marine Corps in Helmand Province in 2010 when
we were shot at, with two casualties. I was treating the second casualty
when I was shot in the face: the bullet came in through my right nostril and
out just behind my left ear, but somehow I survived. I was looking up at the
sky when another Marine came up to me and said, ‘You’ve been shot, what do I
do?’ He had no idea because I was the one supposed to be treating people.

“I talked the Marine through how to treat a head wound and I was led up onto a
helicopter. It was the week of the Icelandic Volcano eruption which was
grounding flights across Europe, so I was treated all over the place: in
Iraq, in Germany, then the States. I have no recollection now of those first
couple of weeks, because of what I later learned was Post-Traumatic Amnesia.

“My brain was so swollen they had to remove part of my skull and replace it
with titanium. The part of the brain which processes speech was damaged, so
I’ve had years in speech therapy. I also had a very hard time with my
balance, though my biggest issue is with migraines, which I used to have to
the point of vomiting. They are ongoing; every day my head is sore.

“I fought hard for three years to get back to full duty, but it never
happened. There’s nothing I would love more than to get back out there, but
these games are the next best thing. I’m officially retired from the army
now so I have every excuse just to stay in bed at home in Rhode Island, but
that’s not how you get better. The Invictus Games are another reason to
recover.”

Martyn, Xavier and Jacob were competiting in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving
Challenge ahead of the Invictus Games’ opening ceremony on Wednesday 10
September. For tickets to any of the events, visit invictusgames.org

Share

Epic cycle challenge raises £4000


Four cyclists have raised more than £4,000 by biking across 10 countries in memory of their friend who died from pancreatic cancer.

Rob Savin, Nick Busst, Tom Stone and Kieran Shanahan were among 86 competitors who took part in the Transcontinental Race from London to Istanbul.

They cycled 3,540km across the UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Turkey.

The team raised £4,200 for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF) in memory of their friend Simon Fenn, who died from pancreatic cancer in February 2012 at the age of 29.

Leeds Building Society e-commerce manager Rob, from Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, completed the race in 12 days and 18 hours to finish in 22nd place.

He said: “The way Simon led his life, even up to the last few days, was truly inspirational. We did lots of cycling and racing with Simon and, shortly before he died, we talked about doing the Race across America together when he got better.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get this opportunity so, inspired by Simon, we decided to take part in the ride from London to Istanbul.

“The route took us further than the riders completed in the Tour de France and we finished it in two thirds of the time.

“It was an extremely emotional and inspirational experience, and we are delighted to have significantly beaten our fundraising target of £2,000 to raise £4,200 in total.”

The team’s fundraising was supported by £400 from Leeds Building Society.

Maggie Blanks, PCRF founder and chief executive, said: “Huge congratulations to Rob and the team for completing this challenge so impressively and many thanks to Leeds Building Society for its additional support.

“The money raised in Simon’s memory will be used to fund world-leading research projects across UK universities that will progress our understanding of this disease and progress new treatments that are desperately needed to tackle pancreatic cancer.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Share

‘Invictus means "unconquered". That’s us’

“I asked one of the surgeons whether I could try cycling as I wouldn’t be
putting as much weight on the leg, and he gave me the go-ahead. At first I
would go round the park with my crutches strapped to the handlebars, so
slowly that people were walking past me. As I got my strength up I could put
my youngest daughter, who’s nine now, into a trailer and pull her along
behind me.

“Last year I set up Military
Mountain Bikers
, to give other injured or sick soldiers the chance
to do what I’ve done. Now I do that full-time and employ a couple of other
guys in Lancashire, where I live, with funding from Help
for Heroes
. The Invictus Games are so important because, like the
biking, they’re accessible: everyone can come down and have a go.”

Xavier Le Draoulec, 53

Competing for France in track and field, and swimming

“I joined the army when I was 17 and was deployed to Lebanon, where I stepped
on a mine and lost my left leg. I spent two years in and out of hospital,
ending up with a prosthetic limb, but afterwards I asked to rejoin my
regiment. I was deployed abroad again – I served in Kosovo – then worked
training new recruits in France. Now I work as a sports teacher in Fréjus,
on the Côte d’Azur.

“I’ve competed in the Paralympic Games, in Sydney and Athens: I won medals
with the [athletics] relay team and also did pentathlon and long jump. Of
course it was amazing to do that, but there wasn’t the same sense of
fraternity that you get in the army and that there will be at the Invictus
Games. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been injured in the field or injured
at home – like my French teammate Phillippe Robert, who also worked in the
military and lost his leg in a car accident outside Paris.

“Invictus means ‘unconquered’. That’s us. There are no losers; we’ve all had
things to overcome and survived. But of course I would like to win in
London.”

Jacob Emmott, 25

Competing for USA in archery and swimming

“I was working as a medic in the Marine Corps in Helmand Province in 2010 when
we were shot at, with two casualties. I was treating the second casualty
when I was shot in the face: the bullet came in through my right nostril and
out just behind my left ear, but somehow I survived. I was looking up at the
sky when another Marine came up to me and said, ‘You’ve been shot, what do I
do?’ He had no idea because I was the one supposed to be treating people.

“I talked the Marine through how to treat a head wound and I was led up onto a
helicopter. It was the week of the Icelandic Volcano eruption which was
grounding flights across Europe, so I was treated all over the place: in
Iraq, in Germany, then the States. I have no recollection now of those first
couple of weeks, because of what I later learned was Post-Traumatic Amnesia.

“My brain was so swollen they had to remove part of my skull and replace it
with titanium. The part of the brain which processes speech was damaged, so
I’ve had years in speech therapy. I also had a very hard time with my
balance, though my biggest issue is with migraines, which I used to have to
the point of vomiting. They are ongoing; every day my head is sore.

“I fought hard for three years to get back to full duty, but it never
happened. There’s nothing I would love more than to get back out there, but
these games are the next best thing. I’m officially retired from the army
now so I have every excuse just to stay in bed at home in Rhode Island, but
that’s not how you get better. The Invictus Games are another reason to
recover.”

Martyn, Xavier and Jacob were competiting in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving
Challenge ahead of the Invictus Games’ opening ceremony on Wednesday 10
September. For tickets to any of the events, visit invictusgames.org

Share

Epic cycle challenge raises £4000


Four cyclists have raised more than £4,000 by biking across 10 countries in memory of their friend who died from pancreatic cancer.

Rob Savin, Nick Busst, Tom Stone and Kieran Shanahan were among 86 competitors who took part in the Transcontinental Race from London to Istanbul.

They cycled 3,540km across the UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Turkey.

The team raised £4,200 for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF) in memory of their friend Simon Fenn, who died from pancreatic cancer in February 2012 at the age of 29.

Leeds Building Society e-commerce manager Rob, from Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, completed the race in 12 days and 18 hours to finish in 22nd place.

He said: “The way Simon led his life, even up to the last few days, was truly inspirational. We did lots of cycling and racing with Simon and, shortly before he died, we talked about doing the Race across America together when he got better.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get this opportunity so, inspired by Simon, we decided to take part in the ride from London to Istanbul.

“The route took us further than the riders completed in the Tour de France and we finished it in two thirds of the time.

“It was an extremely emotional and inspirational experience, and we are delighted to have significantly beaten our fundraising target of £2,000 to raise £4,200 in total.”

The team’s fundraising was supported by £400 from Leeds Building Society.

Maggie Blanks, PCRF founder and chief executive, said: “Huge congratulations to Rob and the team for completing this challenge so impressively and many thanks to Leeds Building Society for its additional support.

“The money raised in Simon’s memory will be used to fund world-leading research projects across UK universities that will progress our understanding of this disease and progress new treatments that are desperately needed to tackle pancreatic cancer.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2014, All Rights Reserved.

Share

Anyone for Segway polo? Why tech start-ups are taking outdoor networking to …

Riding the waves wearing a figure-hugging wetsuit may not sound like the way to score a serious deal but it’s where the leviathans of the tech scene are congregating. The likes of Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Yahoo! CFO Kenneth Goldman are all devoted kiteboarders and Forbes estimated the total net worth of a recent gathering at £4.1 billion.

These hardcore pursuits can be a place to prove yourself — victory on the Segway polo pitch may be an indication of future potential — and what better way to test a working relationship than over a game of ultimate frisbee? Those who can survive playing extreme sport together can weather anything, even the harshest economic climates.

Technology industry recruiter Alan Cutter is encouraging New York techno types to take to the waves, saying “the ocean is the new golf course”. Meanwhile Ed Baker, CEO of social networking site Friend.ly told Forbes: “Kiteboarding is a great way to meet new entrepreneurs and investors outside the boardroom in a non-pressure environment.”

The best ideas now happen away from the meeting room. Postagram was hatched when founder Matt Brezina wanted to send his picture of a pro-kiter as a real postcard.

Just make sure you don’t bash into Sergey Brin, who along with co-founding Google can count kitesurfing under the Golden Gate Bridge among his achievements. He is also known for his ultimate frisbee prowess and enjoys going to the Burning Man festival, which happened last weekend, and is a hotbed of alternative networking, Segway-based activities included.

These silicon schmoozers are a competitive breed. If you can’t go hard you might miss out on that contract. Steve Wozniak has set up a Segway polo championship, Silicon Valley Aftershocks, and its annual world cup, The Woz Challenge, is a big deal in the tech calendar. And if you want to find Nest co-founder Tony Fadell and his lead investor Randy Komisar of investment capital company Kleiener, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers, a likely haunt is the foothills around Silicon Valley where they test their mettle doing endurance cycling.

Over here, London is not immune. Silicon roundabout’s technology impresarios have started literally social climbing — meeting up to go bouldering and scale vertical challenges as they discuss how to grow their empires.

Founder of London Tech climbers Bud Chawla says while being “passionate about beer”, he “thought it would be super to have some networking opportunities that were a little more liver-friendly… so what better than a challenging, creative and collaborative activity like climbing?”

Masters of all things social in the technology world 3 Beards have been on kayaking trips to expand their networks. Co-founder Joe Scarboro says: “Focusing an event around an activity, especially a fun and challenging one, allows people to form relationships without really thinking about it.”

Eze Videra, general partner at Google Ventures, runs London Tech Biking, which is designed to raise money for literacy charity Room to Read. Those who have been talk it up as the very place to for a chance to sit down (on a saddle, mind) with a potential investor and explain your latest venture.

Mark Jennings, co-founder of Tech Bikers explains the appeal: “There is nothing like riding next to an investor and pitching. It forces you to keep it brief. Cycling gives you time to speak and get beyond a role or title, you uncover more reasons to work together than just the immediate need or sales pitch. Nailing a killer hill is a great way to get to know someone’s true character.”

 The beginning of autumn doesn’t mean an end to outdoor networking. There is time to start practising for snowkiting season in March — watch out for Dropbox’s Drew Houston and Threadsy’s Rob Goldman tearing up the slopes. So pack your outdoorwear and don’t forget your business card.

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Riding with Shastri, trailing Pink Floyd

Ravi Shastri – still itching to get out there and play © Getty Images

August 14
Haven’t booked a train ticket from Manchester to London. Now the ticket is worth £88. Outrageous sum to pay. Remember reading travel forums before coming here that said sometimes splitting a journey helps. A bit of googling, and reach splityourticket.co.uk. Travel from Manchester to Stoke-on-Trent. Wait half an hour. Get next train to London. Save £50. Feel clever.

August 15
The Oval. Another ground by a train station. In fact a tube station named after the ground. Got to love these. Like Baker Street does Sherlock Holmes, walls on ticket hall of The Oval station depict cricketers in various poses. It has been observed that one of the stretchy bowling actions might be Gordon Rorke’s, who used to drag his back foot so much when he bowled he forced a review of back-foot no-ball.

India bowled out for 148 on a seaming track with resistance only from the captain MS Dhoni, who scores 82. Running out of excuses, India send fielding coach Trevor Penney for a press conference. Penney defends techniques and temperaments of his slip catchers. Revealingly says first slip has to realise Dhoni won’t be diving for catches between keeper and slip.

August 16
Denied entry in casino. Why? Wearing shorts. Man has come to lose money. They don’t want it. People are crazy. Times are strange.

August 16
Growing up, was always fascinated by the imposing structure near The Oval. Gas holders. Owned by Southern Gas. Redundant now. Seems a matter of time before this backdrop is brought down. Prime property after all. Had always wanted to watch some bit of the Test from around somewhere there. Had planned to go on the fourth day. What fourth day?

Gallivanting in London, spot building where the first Bentley was produced.

August 17
Battersea Power Station. Early in 1977 while biking around, Roger Waters took photos of this partially closed unit. He was drawn to its “doomy, inhuman image”. This was to be the cover of Floyd’s next album Animals. One fine day, residents of this area woke up to a big crew trying to get airborne a moored inflated pink pig at the power station. They even had a gunman ready should the pig escape the moorings and become a threat to air traffic. Much misadventure and three days later, they finally managed to complete the shoot. With foreboding clouds and gloomy pillars, it did indeed look doomy.

Now, Battersea Power Station is completely shut. Instead, a housing colony is coming up. Advertises “innovative, integrated and highly collaborative mindset”. Will restore the pillars but will try to retain their original look.

August 18
BCCI acts. Or is being seen to have acted? Ravi Shastri has been sent in to oversee what Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher are doing. Penney and Joe Dawes [bowling coach] are sent on “leave”. India support staff to come in. Shastri seen having meetings at the team hotel. Followed by a lunch with IPL COO Sundar Raman. Observers hope old Shastri, unafraid and uninhibited, takes up the job. They also fear that Shastri might have checked out long ago.

Listen to a busker bassing up “Yesterday” at Trafalgar Square. Are some members of the Indian team feeling all their troubles were so far away yesterday? Does it look as though they are here to stay? Busker has a sense of irony. Next up is Floyd’s “Money”.

August 19
Seven Dials. Roundabout with seven exits. In a city whose closest resemblance in India is Mumbai, this is the place Mumbai can claim to have replicated in a manner of speaking. Saat Rasta is a bigger version of Seven Dials. Also much more crowded and intimidating. Both also have a theatre. One at Seven Dials showing Matilda, based on Roald Dahl’s work. One at Saat Rasta, called New Shirin Cinema, playing the Bhojpuri film Ek Laila Teen Chhaila.

August 20
Robertsbridge in east Sussex. At Gray-Nicolls bat factory. Learn of a new sport – actually old – called stoolball. Apparently an ancestor to cricket, baseball and rounders. Stoolball bat looks like a frying pan. Sport was played by milkmaids who used to protect their wicket with that frying-pan-like wooden bat. There were no fours or sixes. Just a single each time for successfully defending the wicket. Now we have Powerplays and free hits.

August 21
“Peanut Vendor”. Possibly the most famous piece of music from Cuba. One of the most recorded songs too, with at least 200 versions of it in various languages and styles. Song based on a hawker’s street cry. In London, in Islington, come across The Peanut Vendor. A vintage furniture store. Quite posh. Not the image you have in mind when you think “Peanut Vendor”. That’s Marcia Griffiths singing of the sesame smell she remembers from childhood.

August 22
Back to some cricket. Indians practise against Middlesex, and even though they continue playing everyone-play-everyone warm-up games, they win easily. There is a moment of slight embarrassment when they have to send in Suresh Raina at No. 11 because they have lost nine wickets in little over 40 overs.

Read the Wodehouse joke about Lord’s.

“Ever heard of the wasps inside the Lord’s pavilion?”

“No.”

“Exactly. Only members can get in.”

August 23
Spot at Paddington station in London, India’s new team director buying a ticket. Will be sharing a ride with Shastri. Unlike other members of the Indian team, who avoid journalists like the plague, Shastri wants you to sit with him. Not sure yet if he can take this new job full-time. First responsibility is to instil some confidence, and then suggest some sort of roadmap for the tour of Australia and the World Cup. Is a big believer in county cricket helping the development of cricketers and human beings. Have to do everything yourself. Strains his neck when he sees cricket being played in open fields. “That makes me want to play.” Ask him if he is in touch with Tilak Raj, the bowler he hit for six sixes in an over in 1985. He isn’t, but says he can never forget the amount of time Raj made him spend on the field when he used to play against him.

August 24
Bristol. Many parts of Britain’s much-loved sitcom Only Fools And Horses set in London’s Peckham suburb, were shot in Bristol. The Nelson Mandela House of Peckham is behind Ashton Gate in Bristol. Famous pub Nag’s Head in Only Fools And Horses is actually a set, but scenes outside the pub were mostly shot in Bristol.

August 25
Coldest Bank Holiday in recent memory. First ODI washed out without a ball being bowled.

Things about Bristol
Looks an old port city.
Must have most graffiti per capita in the UK.
Must also have the least punctual buses in all of the UK.
Sachin Tendulkar once scored an ODI century here, days after his father’s death.
It is the headquarters of the BBC, and a popular filming location for other TV too.
Indian reformer Ram Mohan Roy, who challenged Hindu conventions in the 18th century, died here in 1833. He rests in Arnos Vale Cemetery.
Home to the Bristol L, something individual to Bristolian dialect. They round the “a” or “o” at the end of words more pronouncedly than elsewhere. If Glenn McGrath is McGrar in Australia, here it is possible his name might be pronounced McGraow, which to the outsider can sound like ending in L.

August 26
A NATO summit is on in Cardiff. City centre looks a bit like a fort. Nine thousand and five hundred extra policemen have been drafted in. Despite all these arrangements, steal two missile men, Michael Holding and Wasim Akram, for an interview. Full of respect for each other. Keep making each other laugh. Ask Holding what his ideal field set was, and Akram interrupts, “They never had a mid-off or a mid-on.” Holding laughs. Says, “Six slips, fine leg, leg gully, bat-pad.” When Holding talks of Dujon, Richards, Lloyd, Richardson and Garner taking all the catches behind the wicket, Akram counts how many were dropped by his keeper and slips off his bowling.

The Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham is the oldest pub in England © Getty Images

August 27
Chris Jordan has the kind of day beginners in tennis dread. He just keeps bowling wides. Like serving faults. At least in tennis you serve two faults and you lose the point. Here Jordan has to keep running in to finish his over. He bowls 12 wides. Five in one over. Crowd mock-cheers him. Truly embarrassing.

August 28
Back to Nottingham. Stop at same bed and breakfast. Take same buses. Visit same alehouse. Tour has come full circle.

August 29
Visit Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. Apparently the oldest pub in England. Find also Duncan Fletcher has brought all his support staff, new and old, here. No Shastri here. Signs already that they might be a team?

August 30
Raina turns another game on its head with the wicket of Alex Hales when England are 82 for 0 in the 18th over. A tame sweep shot brings the downfall. A choke hold follows. India chase 228 easily. Can’t lose the series now.

August 31
Yet another train ride. To Birmingham this time. Remember vaguely that in 2012 MPs claiming first-class train fare in the UK was a proper scandal. How Indians will laugh.

See Gary Barwell, Edgbaston’s groundsman. He is not happy with journalists because he believes they write what they feel like without checking with the groundsman what actually might have gone wrong with the pitch. Says he doesn’t want to talk. Then realises he is turning back someone who is actually making the effort to find out from the groundsman about the pitch. Shows the pitch. Explains properly different nuances to it.

September 1
In a vintage store, find Vic Lewis’ book, Music Maiden overs. Jazz guitarist and orchestra bandleader. Played with who’s who of music. Also with Garry Sobers, Viv Richards, Frank Worrell, Glenn Turner, and a host of England and foreign cricketers. Book tells of a match in Crewe, played for Surrey batsman Dennis Cox‘s benefit, when Sobers et al wanted him to captain. Lewis had Roy Gilchrist in his side. Opposition captain was a certain Geoff Bull. As Bull came in to bat at No. 6, Gilchrist asked Lewis for the ball. Lewis asked him to wait. Bull asked Lewis, “You won’t be bowling Gilchrist, will you?”

Lewis didn’t know what was up, but was annoyed nonetheless. Bull got a few runs on the board whereupon Lewis decided it was time for Gilchrist, who set his own field: four slips, two gullies, two leg gullies and a mid-off. The first ball hit Bull in the kidneys and knocked him out. Gilchrist went up to him, bent over him and said, “Serves you f***ing right.” Turned out Bull was a local cricket writer who used to accuse Gilchrist of chucking.

September 2
Another limp batting display from England, which is easily overshadowed by Ajinkya Rahane’s first ODI hundred.

Moeen Ali feels the Edgbaston crowd is booing him because they are of Indian origin and he of Pakistani.

September 3
Get into Leeds. Take train immediately to New Pudsey to meet 82-year-old Ray Illingworth. Until four years ago he was the groundsman of Farsley Cricket Club. Gave up when his back gave up. Still sometimes does the boundary lines on Saturday mornings.

Talk to him about the acrimonious tour of Australia, the rare away Ashes win against a full-strength Australian side. Says the acrimony was between the officials and players, not the two sets of players. Aussies in fact respected tough Yorkshiremen. Remembers a particularly officious umpire Lou Rowan, who once stopped play and walked 70 yards to the edge of the boundary. Why? “Because there was one young kid sat with his legs dangling over the wooden boundary fence. Rowan wanted to tell the lad to get his legs the other side.”

Seen in Farsley: Melbourne Street and Sydney Street.

September 4
Shoaib Akhtar. A walking, talking bundle of hyper energy. There is a bus driver who has driven visiting teams in England to and from grounds for the last 20 years. Shoaib sees him. Driver says hello. Shoaib wants to hug him properly. Knows almost everybody in England. Almost everybody knows him.

September 5
England finally get on board in the ODI series with Joe Root and Jos Buttler taking apart India’s death bowling. A little too late with the series lost, but the win lightens up Alastair Cook a little and makes for a lovely exchange at the end of the press conference.

Hardly a day has gone this summer when Cook’s job – as Test opener, Test captain, ODI opener, ODI captain – hasn’t been questioned. Now that his summer is over – he won’t be playing the T20 – Cook greets everyone in the press, and says, “See you soon.” Asks one of the journalists, “In the West Indies (England’s next Test assignment)?” And it’s all good banter. Cook pauses a moment and asks the journalist, “So you aren’t covering Sri Lanka? (England’s next ODI assignment)”

September 6
Back to Birmingham. Like on a treacherous pitch, can never feel at home in here. Keep getting lost in the city centre because of circular roads, malls and construction work almost everywhere.

Sit and have a drink by the canal in Birmingham. (By the way, Birmingham has more canal miles than Venice.) Spot Ian Gould. Much-loved umpire. A character. Once responded to a ridiculous lbw appeal by saying he wouldn’t give the batsman out because he loves to watch him bat.

September 7
Dhoni provides one final twist to the tour by farming the strike with seven balls to go, 17 runs to get, and a specialist batsman Ambati Rayudu for company. T20 possibly won’t provide for enough time to analyse and reflect on this. Dhoni says he felt Rayudu wasn’t middling the ball, and that he had to take the responsibility. Came out on the wrong side of the ledger this time. Dhoni leaves without Cook-like pleasantries. There is no off season for India cricketers. Dhoni already has the Champions League on his mind. How he has not gone mad with so much cricket is beyond logic.

As soon as Dhoni leaves the press-conference room, people start saying their goodbyes. Seventy-five days of not looking beyond the next story later, all of a sudden a tour ends. There’s a general wistfulness even though the cricket hasn’t been excellent. Suddenly autumn leaves are being noticed on the floor. A cricket season has ended. Normal life will take getting used to. England will be missed. Since saying more will be unEnglish, ta.

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Consider Buying USD/CHF. Here’s Why…

Aspen TradingUSD/CHF has pretty solid price and time support as noted below.  Given that USD/CHF is leading the charge higher in terms of dollar based pairs, longs make sense.

Consider buying (scaling in) into the support zone highlighted below with stops at .9210 and an upside target zone towards .9400

image001 (2)

About Dave Floyd, Founder AspenTrading.com – Head of Research Trading 

dave floyd

If he lived anywhere but Central Oregon, where the trails of the Cascades mingle with the warm sunshine and fresh air of the high desert, Dave Floyd would probably be one of those guys who lives and breathes trading and analysis 24/7. And he’d be about as boring as a cricket match. But fortunately for his clients, not to mention his wife and son, he found IT possible to manage Aspen Trading from anywhere in the world, and chose Bend back in 2004.

A native of Lancaster, Massachusetts, Dave earned a BS in Economics from Northeastern University in Boston in 1991 and landed his first gig in the trading industry in 1993 when he joined the fixed income FX desk of Standard Chartered Bank. The following year, his focus shifted to equities, and he spent the next eight years trading on a proprietary equities desk. In 2002, Dave decided it was time to go maverick and start his own niche FX firm; and the seeds for Aspen Trading Group were planted. Since then, Aspen has grown from a pure prop trading firm into a provider of expert FX research and analytics to both institutional and retail clients worldwide. Dave’s two decades of expertise in technical analysis and global fundamentals has led to him being published in Active Trader, Futures and SFO, as well as being seen on Bloomberg television and CNBC. Dave’s vision helped Aspen become nominated for Best Institutional FX Research Strategy in 2009 by The Technical Analyst magazine in London. In 2010, the company was nominated for Technical Analyst of The Year

And if that weren’t enough, Dave recently completed his EMBA (Executive MBA) at The University of Oxford Said Business School, in Oxford UK. But as we said, there’s more to Dave than just trading and analysis. He also gets excited about skiing, mountain biking, CrossFit, watching his son play soccer and of course, Bend’s famous microbrews. Those are things he won’t trade for anything.

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Ski hosting and instructing in France: what’s happening?

It’s been a difficult few years for British ski hosts and instructors in France. The situation is complicated, far from settled, and it affects the Ski Club too. Here’s your comprehensive briefing on the story so far

What is this verdict about?

  • Ski hosting was ruled illegal in a test case in Albertville in February 2013, brought by the French authorities and the ski school ESF (Ecole du Ski Français) against British tour operator Le Ski. Following the ruling, ski hosts must now hold an instructor’s qualification to lead groups, if they are being paid. Ski hosting is a service that is free to guests, but the hosts are paid employees.
  • French police stopped a host employed by Le Ski on the slopes at Tignes during the 2011/12 ski season. After losing the case, Le Ski appealed against the ruling.
  • Le Ski have lost the initial appeal in September 2014, but has confirmed that it will appeal to the Supreme Court in Paris.
  • ESF had claimed €12,000 in damages from Le Ski for loss of earnings. The appeal has reduced this amount, but it has not been confirmed what this was reduced to.

What is the argument?

  • Ski hosting, ski escorting, or social skiing is when guests are shown around the resort, usually by an employee of their chalet, hotel or tour operator. The guest doesn’t need to look at the map every few minutes, can be taken to the best pistes for the time of day and conditions, and gets the chance to ski with a small group – particularly valuable for people on holiday alone, or couples or groups of mixed ability. There is no instruction given.
  • Some French civil servants and teachers are exempt from holding a qualification, so Le Ski claim that the ruling is discriminatory, and therefore unjustifiable under EU law.
  • ESF’s argument is about safety. Although hosts don’t give any ski instruction, the guest may still consider them to be responsible for the safety of the group. ESF argue that therefore the host should be qualified.
  • Some British ski holiday companies argue that the ban is a protectionist move by French ski schools. In recent years EU employment laws have allowed for more movement in the international labour market. One French newspaper likened the British ski instructor to the Polish plumber.
  • Until recently ski schools did not offer an equivalent hosting service. Since the ruling, some schools have offered new ‘social skiing’ options that are either free or much cheaper than traditional instruction, and strictly involve no instruction.
  • EU law should abolish any discrimination based on nationality between workers, but some limitations can be justified on various grounds, including public health.
  • Crystal, Britain’s largest ski operator, chose not to work with ESF in 11 of its French resorts last season, switching instead to the French ski school Evolution 2, who provided free ski hosting for guests on Sundays.

Ski Club Leader

Ski Club Leading in France has been replaced by our Ambassador service for the 2014/15 season

Where do Ski Club Leader’s fit in?

  • Ski Club Leaders offer a hosting service, but the Leaders are not paid – they are volunteers; this makes the situation different from the Le Ski case. Leaders undertake a two-week training course, and receive expenses during their on-snow leading slots. French law does allow for legitimate expenses, and so this is the case that will be argued.
  • A Ski Club Leader was stopped on the piste in Val d’Isere in April this year and will be required to attend a preliminary investigative hearing. The Ski Club are providing legal representation and complying fully with the authorities, but unfortunately under French law it is the individual in the dock, and not the Ski Club.
  • The Ski Club has been advised that the hearing due to take place in Albertville on Monday 1st September has been deferred until Monday 8th December 2014. The Club has been told that this deferral is to allow the French authorities, including ESF Val d’Isère, more time to prepare their case. The deferral of hearings is not uncommon in such cases, but it is disappointing to the Ski Club who’d like the case to take place as soon as possible.
  • The same French lawyer as is representing Le Ski in their case will represent the Leader in court.
  • The Ski Club continued the service last season on advice of lawyers, but has suspended it for this season. This is because we do not want to expose individual leaders to possible prosecution, and do not want to be potentially acting outside of the law.
  • Ski Club Leaders continue to operate in Andorra, Austria, Italy, North America and Switzerland.
  • In France the Ski Club will have Ambassadors for this season. They can advise on itineraries and book guides, introduce members to each other, and meet up with members for lunch and after skiing. There will be Ambassadors in all of the 11 French resorts where there were previously leaders: Alpe d’Huez, Argentiere, Avoriaz, Courchevel, Flaine, La Plagne, Les Arcs, Meribel, Tignes, Val d’Isere and Val Thorens. Details of the ambassadors and where to find them are here
  • The Ski Club considers the suspension of Leader services in France to be temporary, pending the outcome of the case. In the meantime, as well as providing the Ambassador service, the Ski Club are launching an improved forum where members will be able to more easily make plans with other members, to organise holidays, ski together, meet up in resort, share lifts etc. Updates on the case will be posted here.

Simon Butler

Simon Butler

What about instructors? Haven’t some of them been arrested too?

  • Seven British ski instructors were arrested on the slopes in Megeve in February 2014 and three spent the night in police cells. Simon Butler, one of the men arrested, has been an instructor in France for 32 years. He is also a tour operator, and the other instructors arrested worked for his company.
  • Ski instructing without the correct qualifications is an offence that can be punishable by up to three months in prison.
  • Instructors must hold a diploma from a certified French ski school, or have the top-level qualification from Basi (British Association of Snowsports Instructors), along with an additional qualification called the Eurotest. The Eurotest was made compulsory in the year 2004, with the intention of ensuring that all instructors working in France were qualified to the same level.
  • Simon Butler passed his British ski instruction qualifications in 1985 and updated them in 2008. He has not done the Eurotest which came into effect in 2004, when Simon Butler was already working in France.
  • Simon Butler has been ordered to pay a fine of €30,000 or spend 200 days in a French prison. The other six instructors were ordered to pay between €1000 and €4000. Simon Butler has appealed. He is also facing charges of failing to declare foreign employees.
  • Simon Butler has been arrested multiple times, He was taken to court in 2004, fined €10,000 and told not to practice in France. He also received a sentence in 2013 against which he appealed.

Can’t instructors and hosts just do the French qualifications?

  • In 2004 the French brought in a controversial rule that all instructors had to pass the ‘Eurotest’. It is a timed giant slalom run initially devised by the ESF. A base time for the run is set on the day of the test by a ski racer who is usually a professional. Candidates are allowed two runs, and their best time must come within a percentage of the established base time: 18% for men and 24% for women. It is widely considered to be very difficult.
  • Advocates of the test say that it ensures a very high standard of instructors, is a fair way to test on-piste ability, and sets the bar high, ensuring that there are no poorly trained or unsafe ski instructors of any nationality working in resorts. Every nationality including French must pass the same level of Eurotest, and Eurotests are held all over Europe, including in Scotland on occasion.
  • It could also be argued that French skiers who grow up in resorts should have access to highly respected, well-paid careers as instructors. Large numbers of less-rigorously qualified foreign instructors would outstrip demand and therefore lower the wages of instructing. Local ski instructors might no longer be able to make a living.
  • Critics say that a speed test does not prove good instruction skills, and that the test is unfairly preferential to French skiers who often race from a young age. Europe is a single market and this very difficult qualification unfairly discriminates against candidates that do not come from a culture of ski racing.
  • Simon Butler is a skilled skier who competes in the Masters category in slalom and giant slalom in the FIS (International Ski Federation) league. He says he would ‘probably’ pass the Eurotest, but will not take the qualification as a matter of principle.

Is it only snowsports instructors who are affected?

  • No- instructors of many outdoor activities are concerned. In early August 2014 a mountain biking instructor who teaches in the Alps was issued with a letter that formally forbids him to instruct. He has the highest level British qualification but it is considered inadmissible by the local prosecutor because his examination did not take place in France. He risks one year imprisonment and€15,000 fine if he carries on teaching.

What will happen next?

  • Simon Butler and Le Ski both intend to keep fighting their cases. Le Ski have been joined in their appeal by 12 other British ski holiday companies operating in France. If unsuccessful they have stated that they will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Simon Butler’s judgment stated that local prosecutors could exercise a discretionary power which would allow them to insist that instructors follow tougher rules than EU law stipulates.
  • The outcome of Simon Butler’s case could have serious repercussions for other outdoor instructors working across a range of activities in the Alps.
  • The French Embassy in London are keen to point out that the majority of British ski instructors working in France have adopted the current standards and continue to work.
  • According to the statement of the French Embassy, a new system will be introduced shortly: “The UK, France and nine other member states have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a professional card for European ski instructors. The first professional cards are expected to be issued in 2014/2015. This will go a long way to helping standardise practice for ski instructors while also helping to guarantee the sort of professional teaching everyone should be free to enjoy”. The MoU stipulates that the instructor would be exempt from the Eurotest if they held 100 FIS points in alpine skiing for men, or 85 FIS points for women.
  • It would be impossible for ski hosting in its current form to continue if all hosts were required to have the high-level qualifications that allow them to instruct in France.

 

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