Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Onix Year!

It was back in January of this year during a training camp in Majorca that I first heard about Onix Bikes and the possibility of working together for the season. After a little browse of www.onixbikesonline.com I was soon to give the man behind Onix bikes, Craig Middleton, a call. From that very first conversation I soon realised how passionate Craig was for Onix Bikes and where he wanted to take Onix to. After returning from training camp I would make the trip up to Preston from Essex to meet the man himself and from that first meeting it was clear for all to see that a lot of work and thought had already gone into Onix Bikes and that was clearly set to continue in the year ahead. I got to see the equipment I would be using for the season and I was more than satisfied with what I saw. Over the coming weeks we would talk specifications and I would be given two bikes from Craig....one Azzuro (my race bike) and one Aurious (my training bike). As you will find out in this blog the two soon become interchangeable, as I found out quickly that the Aurious was more than capable for the demands of racing. In return I would publicize the bikes through my racing and training and something I saw as even more important, was a testing role. What better testing ground for an up and coming bike brand than a season racing in Belgium. If a bike can survive a season in the heartand that is Flanders then to me it has passed the ultimate test.
These bikes have not simply just survived this season....they have thrived! Lets start with the Onix Azzuro, given to me as my race bike and top of the range of the Onix collection. As in my initial review of the Azzuro earlier in the season, this bike is a stiff machine designed for performance. Initially we wondered would it be too stiff when it came to some of the rough roads, the pave sections and the cobbled bergs. Conclusion......it was never an issue! The Azzuro has been ridden over the rough stuff throughout the year and performed superbly from day one. Here Onix really have designed a top of the range frameset capable of any demands placed on it. When it comes to racing everyone wants a stiff bike and with the Azzuro you get that. But equally important is having a reliable bike that handles well and you feel in control of....exactly what you get with the Azzuro! And after all the demands that have been placed on the Azzuro throughout this season, it is still going strong and as a test of reliability I think that says a lot right there!
And onto the Aurious, the bike that little was known about prior to me testing one. The Aurious is maybe the dark horse of the collection and I think Craig was happy to here the positivity about this bike matching that of the Azzuro. Due to geometry differences I had to go with a size smaller when it came to the Aurious (52cm compared to 54cm Azzuro), but it was a good choice, something I was soon to find out as soon as I set out on my first ride on the Aurious. The bike just felt right. Normally with a new bike there will be the usual constant adjusting of components to get the desired position feeling right. It was simply not the case with the Aurious. A few little adjustments and I felt right at home. Feeling comfortable and in control of the bike underneath you is a big must and with the Aurious I certainly get that. This again like the Azzuro is one reliable bike. This bike has been ridden hard this year in Belgium, just as much as the Azzuro, as it has been ridden over the flanders pave and up the cobbled bergs countless times (sorry Craig I am drawn to the rough stuff in training) and like the Azzuro has held up perfectly and still going strong. And in terms of performance this bike could quite easily be mine or anyone's race bike. In fact it has been my race bike on many occasions this year. Racing in the hills of the Tour Nivermais Morvan, up the Muur de Huy in the Tour of Liege and on the kermesse circuit, in and out of the corners, over the pave, up the bergs, this bike has been able to cope with every demand placed on it and not let me down!
Onix Bikes is a company that is making its way and 2011 has been a big year in the development of the company. Craig is certainly not resting on his laurels. Much work is going into making the bikes even better for 2012. Trips to the production base, the Interbike show and constant hard work is going into Onix Bikes to take further steps forward for 2012. Craig was also very smart to produce Onix kit. Produced by BioRacer, this is for sure some quality kit and spreads the Onix name even further. I am not exaggerating when I say this is some of the most comfortable kit I have worn so far and it is a pleasure going out on my Onix bikes kitted up in my Onix Kit. If the bikes and kit are anything to go by, then anything coming from Onix in the future will not be short on quality!
It has been a pleasure to be involved with Onix Bikes in what is its real maidnen year and whatever team I find myself on in 2012, Onix has played a key role in getting me there throughout 2011. To have a company that is just starting out have confidence in my ability as a cyclist and to provide me with the equipment I need for a season in Belgium, is something I am truly grateful for. With only a couple of weeks of the season now remaining, Onix bikes have already taken me to two wins, two other podiums, eight further top ten placings and a two day overall classement all in Belgium this year. This again speaks volumes about the quality of bike coming from Onix. Onix Bikes are gathering momentum...join the Onix movement!

Onix Bikes Website: http://onixbikesonline.com
Twitter: @Onixbikes (http://twitter.com/#!/Onixbikes) & @Cyclecraig (http://twitter.com/#!/Cyclecraig)
Onix Bikes YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Onixbikes
Until next time....



Saturday, September 3, 2011

back to winning and back to typing......

Yes I am still alive....though the last week I have not moved far from my bed after being hit hard with a chest infection! Anyway I apologize for my lack of updates recently. It has been a pretty busy few months of racing and the weeks have just been flying by without even knowing it. My trusty macbook has also been playing up on me, which couldnt have happened at a worse time (apologies for any spelling mistakes as I am currently typing with a belgian keyboard which my computer does not recognize :)). Remarkably I have held good form for the most part over the last few months and with that has come some good showings and more importantly some good results. Most recently 2 weeks ago I took my second win of the season. It was a kermesse race in Wambeek that saw me and a rider from the Kazakhstan national team (Alexey Lutsenko) dominate and ride away about halfway through....never to be caught again! With a cobbled berg each lap for 13 laps, the course certainly is selective and so it proved on this day. We worked well together and I would go on to take the win come the finish. Coupled with a 5th place in the same race two days previous, it also meant I took the overall two day classification. On both days I also took 2nd in the berg classification so it really did turn into a successful series of races for me.

Between my successes in Gits and Wambeek I have had a number good top 10 placings, the best being a 3rd in Merelbeke and 4th in Ingelmunster.....both very strong performances and coming very close to the win on both occasions. I also had a very strong showing in the Belgium cup race (Beker Van Belgie) Zillebeke-Westouter-Zillebeke where I was away on the attack from km1. Though the breakaway would begin to split up on the finishing circuits, I always remained in the front, attacking probably more than anyone in my search for freedom. Though the break whittled down, unfortunately we were to be caught by another small group in the last few kms and I would end up 12th. Not the result I was looking for but certainly a strong showing having been out from the off. I would also have an attacking Tour of Liege (Ronde van Luik), stage 2 in particular where I was out for most of the day. Going over the famous Muur de Huy in second place, I would continue pushing on in the second half of the race when the peloton was closing in. It was inevitable that we would be caught eventually, however yet again I think I showed the type of rider I am and continued to ride even when it was only me left out front, until they finally dragged me back. I actually found myself in nice time trial mode... well that was until I see the lead motorbike turn off up a road that resembled a wall and at that stage of the race that was to be the rhythm breaker for me and the peloton would swallow me up.


A couple of weeks later I would come very close to winning the first stage of the Tour of Namur. At this point I was beginning to get a bit tired and in need of a break. However despite suffering through most of the first stage (and I was hanging at times), I was able to come alive at the end and get away in a small move in the final 10kms. With 3km to go it was just three of us but we were soon joined by eleven more. I misjudged the finish a little, leading the race through the final chicane with around 50m to go, only to be swamped and ending up with 9th. With 21 seconds time gap over the peloton this did give me an ideal opportunity to try and go into a jersey in the next days. However events on the road over the next couple of days meant the advantage soon slipped away. The last couple of days I would lend my services at the front of the peloton to help control things with the team of the leaders jersey (EFC Quick Step). It was something I had done for a little bit on the 4th stage to help bring the gap to the breakaway down. However it was something they were clearly grateful for as on the final day they thanked me for the help and asked if I would help again....ofcourse I obliged. Its important to make friends in the peloton and im sure one day the favour will be returned. Above all else it is something that once again showed the type of rider I am and the work I am prepared to do, as I look for a chance again to move up for 2012.



So that kind of fills you in on the last few months for me here in Belgium. With just over a month of the season remaining I hope to get over this chest infection as quickly as possible so that I can get back to racing and add to the win tally before the season is out. In a few days I will be posting a blog about Onix Bikes, how they have helped me this year and my overall impressions on the bikes as we approach the end of the season. Lots going on with Onix ahead of 2012 so be sure to check out:

http://onixbikesonline.com


Until next time....