For me a cycling event is not a “challenge” unless I’m unsure if I can actually finish it, that’s the point of a challenge right? It has to be personally challenging. Many sportives pick a route of similar length to a cycling club’s Sunday ride and give you a medal at the end. Now to many that is a challenge (everybody is different, lets not get elitist here) but I have enough confidence in my abilities to know that I could finish an 80 or 100mile (160km) route even if it has a lot of climbing. The Dragon Ride offered something I found truly challenging, the longest single day route; the Dragon Devil offering 189 miles (305km) with something like 4000m of climbing. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounded pretty daunting. That would be one sportive medal I would be proud to earn.
It’s glorious sunshine outside, with temperatures above 20°C. It’s a beautiful evening for a ride, but I booked the tickets to this a month ago, I’d better go and sit in a dark theatre. Ventoux by 2 Magpies Theatre, a play about stage 12 of the Tour de France in the year 2000. Where Marco Pantani comes back to cycling to challenge Armstrong after Armstrong’s first Tour de France win, a win that many thought was a fluke; a fluke because there were no previous grand tour winners to compete against. Continue reading
This is probably my favourite ride, not just in the Peak District, but probably in England. I like to think of it as a ride through the quiet back roads of the White Peak, the mainly Limestone valleys of the South and West of the National Park. I love a single track road with grass growing out of the middle, I love the deserted lanes where Sheep and Ramblers are the main traffic problem. In one of the most visited National Parks in the UK it is still possible to feel in the middle of nowhere and do some pretty amazing riding too. Continue reading
Waterproof and breathable, the holy grail of outdoor sports clothing. It’s something that’s claimed when marketing most technical clothing, but it’s always a trade off between the two. Just how breathable or how waterproof do things need to be to be classified as just that? What we really want is something that’s as waterproof as a hardshell jacket, and as breathable as a normal cycling top. But that’s just fantasy right? Well maybe not anymore… Continue reading
“First you shave your legs, and now you’re reading romantic fiction? What has happened to you?” My fiancée politely asks. “It’s about cycling really, the romance bit is just… erm a bit of it” I protest. I’m reading Wheeler, a fictitious tale about an elite female cyclist’s racing season. Or more accurately it’s about her life on and off the bike throughout the season. Continue reading
I had this preconceived idea of what bicycle based adventures would be like before I’d even done one. I dreamt of freedom, 100s of miles of beautiful winding back roads and setting up my wild camp as the sun started to set. Before setting off on my first adventure I channeled my enthusiasm into riding a lot, getting fitter; and spent many evenings making my own tent to spend the night in. I wanted to cycle Lands End (South West England) to John O’groats (North East Scotland), and I wanted to do 100 miles a day with wild camping every night (wild camping is not technically legal in England where most of the journey would take place).
I was not adverse to buying a nice lightweight tent, I just couldn’t afford the ones I wanted. All I wanted was a small lightweight tent, something around 1kg. Less material should mean less money, but we all know that’s not how things work; less is often so much more! So whilst I wouldn’t be able to come up with something of professional quality, making it myself would keep it within my tiny budget and I also had a few ideas about saving excess weight, it all made perfect sense at the time. This is the story of the homemade tent, to act as a warning to many and inspiration to the brave – 900 miles with a homemade tent. Continue reading
I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one of the Team GB track bike frames used in the Rio Olympics at a recent motorsport engineering show that I was attending for work. Having recently read Chris Boardman’s book and learnt about the “Secret Squirrel” program developing the equipment for the next Olympics and the Team GB medal factory. It was fascinating to see the latest creation, the product of wind tunnel testing and computer based aerodynamic modelling simulations. At this point in time it’s probably the most aerodynamic bike frame in the world, until the next Olympics that is. With aerodynamics being one of the most important factors in performance cycling and the general public having no more insight into the drag coefficients than the sales brochures; it’s fascinating to see the pinnacle of the current development if only as a visual reference point. I wanted to share this as I find not just the engineering, but also the process interesting. Continue reading