The Velocast

The Velocast is a podcast about the world of professional cycling.

The show is hosted by John Galloway and Scott O’Raw with regular contributions from Cillian Kelly. It is a generally fairly lighthearted look at the world of procycling, the hosts are jovial and humorous for the most part although they manage to consistently strike the right sombre serious note when required.

All three men are united by a genuine burning passion for the sport and this shines through in the work. They attempt and succeed in bringing their passion through a polished and well run podcast. There are lots of podcasts out there where the host is knowledgable and passionate but the production values are so poor that it makes it intolerable to listen to. Not so with the Velocast.

I have been listening since before they made a decision to go from a free to air show to a subscription feed. It’s now what both John and Scott do full-time and this shows through in the quality of the product we get.

The regular features of the show are the weekly show, all year round which is a summary and discussion of the previous weeks events. During the grand tours there are daily shows discussing the days racing and previewing the following days race. There is also a preview and a wrap up show for each of the grand tours. In addition there are extremely in-depth previews and reviews of each of the monuments. John and Scott will tell you that their best work is the daily shows but I dare to disagree and I believe their best work is done in the spring around the cobbled classics and I think that’s because of John’s love of Paris-Roubaix. I am probably biased because it is far and away my favourite race of the year and I find myself in early January wondering if I can get a weather forecast for northern France in April.

The third musketeer is Cillian Kelly who is a follower of cycling and writes periodically for a variety of online publications as well as his own blog and more recently featuring on GCN no less. Cillian is the main provider of content for “This week in cycling history” which is a look back and a chat about two or three events in cycling history, often contrasted against events in the current peloton. Generally John acts as the foil for this podcast with much of the discussion over to Cillian who seems to carry around with him a fat suitcase full of fascinating facts and obscure details that he manages to breathe life into. His interest in the history of the sport is infectious. Any cyclist who scratches the surface of the sport generally gets interested in the history and will know the tales about the 400 kilometer stages in the early Tours de France and mending forks with bellows in the local blacksmiths. Cillian takes this discussion to another level bringing up things that you might vaguely be aware of but putting such context and detail around them that you are given a whole new view of whatever the event is. The research he does is superb and he genuinely puts real effort into ensuring what he is presenting is both accurate and interesting.

If the above wasn’t enough there are sporadic book shows, which take the format of an interview between Cillian and the author of the book. These are a good guide to a book and more importantly a good reference point for what you might want your better half to give you for Christmas/Birthday/whatever. Cillian has a knack for getting into the writing process with the author to understand what drove the author to write the book and what the process was for actually producing the book which leads to interesting conversations about people met and interviewed, obstacles overcome and a nice insight into what its like to write for a living and then within that to write for a niche like cycling aficionados.

When things go calm in the winter the lads bring in special guests to cover cycle cross as well as discussing the various rider moves and the machinations at the UCI as the politics takes over for the winter. If I was to make a minor criticism it would be that the shows in the winter understandably change in their content and nature. Its hard, what are you going to talk about on a cycling podcast when there’s no cycling happening. Don’t get me wrong, the shows are still good and will keep you up to date with whatever is going on, but obviously there’s no racing to dissect to the content will invariably be different.

Both John and Scott are extremely helpful if there are any issues. Twice in the course of the many years I have been listening I have had to email them to sort out an issue with my feed (both times my fault) and they were extremly supportive and quick to respond. They genuinely value their customers (not in a corporate Vodafone bullcrap kind of way) and are keen to assist subscribers who migth be having an issue with a feed or a technical issue of somekind.

The Velocast represents great value at around £60 for the year if you buy the early bird or there is a pay monthly option which will be a little more expensive. At just over £1 a week though, for frankly more content that you can listen to in peak season, all of it high quality, you really can’t argue that its anything but extraordinary value for money. I can’t think of any means of entertaining yourself for so little on a cost-per-hour basis.

Ed Rating: 9/10

Regular readers will know that nothing gets 10/10 because nothings perfect, so 9/10 is as good as it gets. The Velocast is an excellent addition to your life if you have even a passing interest in procycling. If you’re just getting into it, it will bring on your knowledge leaps and bounds. If you’re a long-term follower of cycling it will bring in-depth quality analysis and knowledge that you won’t get elsewhere and will bring you new perpectives on the sport that it is so complex, it surprises you every time you think you have just started to get your arms around it.

The 2018 Giants Draft

OK, so this is the first NFL related blog post I’ve written on here. I’ve been an NFL fan for a long time and the Giants have always been my team. After a few great years with 2 Superbowls in recent memory, last year was a train wreck. The Giants cleared house, out went the head coach and the GM and in came the promise of a high draft pick, No 2, the highest the Giants have had in decades.

For those that don’t know, the NFL selects players from the college ranks every year who are eligible and have declared that they wish to leave college and enter the pro-game. The team with the worst record from the previous season gets the first pick, and the team with the best record gets the last pick. There are seven rounds of picks. Its a little more complicated than that, but you’ve enough there to understand if you know nothing about the sport that the Giants were god awful last season, hence the number 2 pick.

Round 1 – The Giants opened by taking a running back, Saquon Barkley. Barkley is probably the most talented player in this draft at any position. Big things are expected of him and without doubt he has the potential to dominate the league for the next 10 years at running back. Barklay seems an intelligent level headed young man, he was calm and assured in his first press conference as a Giant and appears to know how to say the right things, or better yet, say nothing at all, much like Eli Manning. This is a positive thing in New York with the media circus. That being said, I am not a fan of this pick, not because of any problems with Barkley, but rather the position he plays. Running backs are disposable in the NFL nowadays. They play 4-5 years, get hurt and end up in a rotation somewhere and you never hear from them again. Moreover the difference between an elite running back and a committee of good enough running backs isn’t that large. If we think back to the truly outstanding backs of the last 10-15 years we thing of Adrian Peterson and LaDanian Tomlinson. Both truely elite players in their prime. Neither of them carried their side to a Superbowl. The Giants have much bigger needs right now, namely at quarterback and are unlikely to pick this high again in the years to come so if they haven’t got a QB this year, then they could struggle to get one in years to come, unless they trade up which costs future draft picks, which are not really spent on that QB, but have been spent on Barklay. I wish him all the best and I don’t have any real doubt that he will succeed. Its just that the Giants had bigger problems that should and could have been addressed with this pick.

Round 2 – The Giants selected offensive guard, Will Hernandez. Hernandez is very likely a day one starter and will bring help to the Giants offensive line which has been frankly terrible for some time now. He will be a big asset in the run game and he plays the game with a mean nasty streak that quite frankly I like. He comes across as an intelligent grounded young man, just like Barklay and that’s important everywhere, but especially in New York. We’re not going to be reading about him in the papers for the wrong reasons. This pick is a great bit of business and will be a big help to Barklay in year one, who the Giants are clearly hoping to lean on.

Round 3 – In round three the Giants selected Lorenzo Carter, an Outside Linebacker. The Giants were once famous for their Linebackers but that hasn’t been true since the 80’s and in recent years, this has been a constantly neglected unit on the roster. Perhaps an overall reflection of how the league has changed, your number 3 corner is now far more important than your number 3 linebacker. In any event, we’re here in round 3 and the Giants have picked another guy likely to be a day one starter. Thats tremendous value. The Giants have beefed up the linebacker unit considerably this offseason and the addition of Carter will be welcome. Carter can get after the passer from the Outside Linebacker spot and thats something the Giants needed badly having ranked 29th out of 32 teams last season. I mentioned that the Giants were terrible last season right?

Round 3 – The Giants had a second pick in round three, I did say it was more complicated, but anyway, they chose to use that pick on a defensive tackle BJ Hill. Hill is a good athlete and has the size you look for in a D Tackle. He played with Bradley Chubb in college so may have had an easier time than you’d expect with opposition teams focused on Chubb. Hill a two down DT who should be able to play well against the run, but he needs a little work. He’s no pro-ready but you can’t always expect that from a round three pick. In time he may become a starter or he could flame out. It’s a good value pick at this point though.

Round 4 – Giants took quarterback Kyle Lauletta from Richmond. Lauletta is a good player who moves well. The knock on him is questionable arm strength. It’s not unusual for NFL teams to take a QB in the later rounds and see if they can develop him into something. The problem is the Giants already have that player on their roster and his name is Davis Webb. Because last season was so badly managed, when the Giants were out of contention management refused to put Webb in the game and so the Giants have no idea what he is capable of in game situations. One suspects that he is not highly rated by the current management team, otherwise they wouldn’t have drafted Lauletta. It’s an admission though that the QB position is not where it needs to be in New York and makes the pick of Barklay look more like a luxury pick.

Round 5 – Last pick was RJ MacIntosh, a defensive tackle from Miami. MacIntosh has long arms and will provide depth on the d-line. He’s likely to contribute on special teams and perhaps as spot cover on defense but he needs to improve if he’s going earn significant playing time on defense.

Ed Rating – 7 out of 10

I am not a fan of the Barklay pick and I think the round 4 pick of a project QB makes it look even worse. That being said the Giants have unquestionably added a lot of talent in this draft and the team is instantly improved. If everyone stays healthy next year (a real challenge for the Giants, see again, train wreck that was last season) then the offense has the chance to be special. It may be held back however by the 37-year-old quarterback the Giants have failed to replace.