That's another year in the books, folks. And what a bafflingly bonkers, bizarrely brilliant year 2021 was on the road.cc live blog. We've got one final round-up of all the top stories from the year hand-picked by chief live blogger Dan Alexander.
We're talking: Britain's new steepest climb, an Olympic rivalry that boiled over, groin-BREAKING news, a cleat set-up from Hell, plus plenty of Jeremy Vine, Mr Loophole and of course, the Surrey traffic cops...
Where to start this live blog bonanza? Let's go way back to the first week of January when the Christmas haze was fading into the distance and we were all back to the reality of lockdown life...
At least you weren't one of the angry Brexiteers screaming furious messages at Dutch Bike Bits, a bicycle parts website based in the Netherlands which stopped shipping to the UK because of a Brexit VAT charge. That's right, anyone in any country in the world could order from their site, except if you wanted yours shipped to the UK.
So how did the charming mob react? One said the decision had "ruined the place for me"...a shame because "I always loved the Dutch country and people". Surely it couldn't get worse? "We saved your asses during the war and as soon as it gets a bit hard for you, you turn and run." Oh, right, yes it did get worse.
Onwards. It can only get better from here...
Who doesn't love a crazy-steep climb? Fine, I'll rephrase that. Who doesn't love looking at photos of a crazy-steep climb? That's exactly what we were doing in September after 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs authority Simon Warren discovered a shocking secret lurking in the Peak District.
Beneath the trees, a former bridleway called Bamford Clough, and its freshly resurfaced 36.5 per cent slopes left Warren defeated, "There is no way on earth I can ride up that. The goal posts are moved again." The climbing connoisseur concluded the Clough is the steepest climb in Britain, averaging 21.7 per cent for 500m, with 300m at 26 per cent. When it looks steep in photos, you know you're in trouble. Will you brave Bamford in 2022?
I can't believe we've got this far without mentioning the presenter, broadcaster, and most importantly live blog stalwart...Jeremy Vine. The pedalling presenter's helmet camera footage, penny-farthing antics and social media presence have earned him a regular slot on the blog. But which of his numerous contributions gets a mention here?
Once again, we're going back to January, this time to Vine vexing a London cab driver with his considered response to a video of 'speeding cyclists'. "Your priorities are utterly bizarre," Vine told Tom the Cabbie. "Get campaigning on this and then come back to me. People on bicycles kill roughly two people per year."
Attached was the pedestrian fatality figures from 2012-2016, showing car drivers had been involved in more than 250 pedestrian deaths in each year. A zinger of a response which saw the original video deleted and no comeback from the cabbie.
Your priorities are utterly bizarre. Get campaigning on this ⏬ and then come back to me. People on bicycles kill roughly two people per year. pic.twitter.com/wcPiMyMlAC
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) January 15, 2021
In the summer, Olympic fever finally came around again, five years after Rio, and the fortnight was filled with all the usual drama, emotion, Team GB medals, and a touch of controversy. For a week we all became transfixed by the track. Filippo Ganna's buzzer beater comeback, Kenny and Archibald on top of the world (again), and a rivalry with the Danes that boiled over.
With no Wi-Fi at my new flat I scrambled around a local coffee shop franticly trying to keep up with the increasingly insane events of Tuesday August 3rd. No sooner had the GB women's team pursuit quartet broken the world record (before crashing while celebrating), the men's semi-final ended with the Danes cruising to victory, only to ride into dropped GB rider Charlie Tanfield.
The spill brought an end to proceedings and sparked some heated scenes trackside as Frederik Madsen was heard shouting "f*** them" while angrily gesticulating at the felled Brit. His super aero kit then took a beating on returning to the changing area...
With the red mist clearing it seemed as though GB were through to the final, but in one last twist the Brits asked for their rivals to be kicked out over banned use of medical tape on their legs. Eventually, the Danes were sent through, Madsen apologised, I went home for a lie down and the nice man from TalkTalk hooked me up. At least we've got three years to recover before Paris.
Fair warning, we did tell you this was coming...Mr Loophole returned to all of our screens at the start of the month. This was before he got ruthlessly ripped apart by the Surrey Traffic Cops, scraped over the 10,000-signature mark for his petition to get cyclists wearing ID, and had his idea chucked back in his face by the government. We haven't heard from Nick Freeman since. Shame.
This particular tale all began with the lawyer, famous for getting celebrities off driving charges, videoing a group of cyclists riding two abreast on a country road. Loophole told the camera how disgraceful the scene was and that road users could have been travelling at 60mph on the derestricted road.
Did someone call the traffic cops? Ready to take another big-name to school on road safety issues, the Surrey Roads Policing Unit was quickly on the scene to educate Freeman on his claims about helmets, high-vis and riding two abreast. Happy days.
No they shouldn’t Nick.
Drivers should drive their one tonne vehicle more carefully and stop killing 5 people every day.
To use your opinion in a different analogy, should kids in American schools wear bullet proof jackets in case of a mass shooting?
— Roads Policing Unit (RPU) - Surrey Police - UK (@SurreyRoadCops) December 1, 2021
Number six on our list, and one I'd forgotten about, is that coffee shop that went viral for tweeting a 'cyclists are c****' sign. A coffee shop that doesn't like cyclists, eh? As far as business strategies go, that's a bold one...
They never teach you that on The Apprentice do they? Pick a group in society who almost unanimously love your product and tell them they're a load of c****. I'm no Lord Sugar, but I'm guessing that particular approach could be problematic.
Moving on from the divisive to something that unites us all — the catharsis of seeing someone else take one where it hurts. Groin-BREAKING NEWS was the headline after one poor kid Down Under had his painful bump caught on camera while a News First presenter gave a live report about a fire at a linen factory in Perth. Too much front brake, forwards he went, straight into the unforgiving top tube/headset/stem area...rather you than me, mate.
Of course everyone was as sympathetic as you'd expect...
We don't do pro rider awards here at road.cc, but if we did, Mark Cavendish would be taking them all. The Manx Missile's comeback was one of our highlights of 2021: a first win in three years, a Tour de France return, four stages, equalling Merckx's record. What a year for Cav. In true live blog fashion, however, we're not here to talk about any of those.
Instead, the moment which got all you talking was when a surprised punter spotted the star sprinter spinning through London in full Deceuninck-Quick-Step kit. "Full kit wan...that's Cav!"
It sparked an amusing discussion about pro riders' obligations to their sponsors. Does Cav have to pop the kit on for a spin to the shops? Knowing Patrick Lefevere we think we know the answer to that question...
Elsewhere in the world of pro cycling the live blog was the destination for some of our favourite stories of the year: G checking his power data to see if the 15-year-old kid who stole his bike has any talent, Richard Carapaz laying down some mega watts on a brutal climb back home in Ecuador, and of course, the wild fans of the Giro chasing Egan Bernal up Passo Giau while wielding chainsaws. No wonder Bernal sped off to win the stage by almost half a minute.
Sometimes I feel like we all need a reminder things could always be worse. At least you didn't try riding with both SPD and three-bolt cleats on each shoe...
September's live blog gold came courtesy of a bike shop in the States which shared a photo of a perplexing cleat set-up brought to the shop by a rider "tired of pedalling on his tip-toes".
Our bike shop mole recalled the moment he realised what had happened..."I must have stared for two minutes straight - not uttering a word - fully expecting cosmic black holes to open up on the bottoms of those kicks."
Two cleats on each shoe. One SPD and one three-bolt. How was our poor rider clipping in? To the SPD? To the three-bolt? Or were they wedging it in between? So many questions, but a fitting way to end a year where all of us have felt like we were pedalling squares at one point or another...
That was 2021 on the live blog. Thank you all for your comments, jokes, spelling corrections, criticism, scepticism and tip-offs. Let us know your favourites, plus what you want to see more of next year. Here's to 2022 on the live blog...
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.