The infamous Chimney bank, often referred to as the steepest or joint steepest road in England (Not Wales they have a steeper 40% climb). The internet is full of comments about chains snapping on the way up and professional cyclists having to walk up it during the tour of Britain/milk race. If you’re oblivious to all this there is no ignoring the very obvious sign at the top warning of a “Dangerous Hill” and politely requesting that cyclists dismount to descend it. There is however no direct warning about cycling up it, the sign stating that it is a 1 in 3 hill should be warning enough to most. Continue reading
The peloton’s most straight talking cyclist has written a book, and it’s very entertaining. It’s not the usual autobiography that you might expect from a successful cyclist, but a collection of thoughts on every aspect of road and track cycling and life on the road. Though inevitably the book does cover Geraint’s own experiences and anecdotes, so there is some degree of biography present. With no story line running through the book, and short sections/chapters it’s really easy to fit into a normal busy day. Making the “Be with you in a minute, just let me finish this chapter” challenge quick and easily achievable. Continue reading
“Oh you’re heading North? Over the Sognefjellsvegen? Wow, Good luck!” the man said, as I borrowed some change for the showers at the camp site. I’m just over 540km into my journey (not yet half way), and tomorrow I’ll ride the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe. In 36 degree heat; carrying all my camping kit, cooking equipment, food and clothes more suited to typical Norwegian weather than the record breaking temperatures I’m sweltering in. Continue reading
Sometimes it’s just not possible to be riding a bike. Sometimes you just have to sit down and eat dinner, watch TV with your partner and do all manner of household chores. By decorating your home with bicycle related images or paraphernalia you can keep you mind focused on your obsession. Next time you hear “I think we should redecorate”, don’t think about the time out from your training schedule, think about how many bicycle related items you can squeeze into the room. Continue reading
I’ve always had more than one commuting route. I used to let some traffic lights decide if I should turn left and go through the smaller roads, or straight on along the busy but more direct main road. With fresh legs on a direct route I challenge myself to hit the rolling hills as fast as possible; the feeling of nausea as I crest the most challenging hills now a familiar feeling so soon after my morning bowl of porridge. By the tail end of the week the overwhelming feeling is the disappointment I feel when my legs complain about the aching and my will power gives in, changing down a gear to make it easier. “It’s a recovery ride” I tell myself. But cycling doesn’t just have to just be about speed and suffering, whatever happened to fun and adventure? Continue reading
The American accent cuts through the conversations on Bedoin’s main street, it’s early evening and the restaurant’s outside seating is full of diners in full conversation. “Have you rode up the mountain yet?” I overhear, “We rode up this afternoon” the American voice proclaims. They are a retired couple from America, in their late 60s, touring Europe and they had Mont Ventoux on their to do list. The giant of Provence seems to captivate the attention of so many as a cycling mountain, not just cyclists either, but anybody young and old who wants to challenge themselves. The array of people who attempt this mountain, on all manner of bicycles from basic mountain bikes to serious road bikes, is really something to behold. Continue reading
We arrived in the early afternoon and set about finding a hotel for the coming night. It was going to be a flying visit, a single ascent of Alpe d’Huez followed by a refreshing shower and some dinner. The village of Bourg d’Oisans lies at the foot of the legendary alp and after a quick walk around town we settled on the Hotel Des Alpes on the main pedestrianised street. The hotel looks to be in the process of a renovation, the deluxe rooms being nicely finished but the rest of the hotel and standard rooms looking a little unloved and out dated (the owners are friendly and a room is provided for bike storage in the basement).
There wasn’t time for lunch so I stuffed down an energy bar whilst assembling my bike in the car park, and prepared to see what all the fuss is about this “legendary alp”. First impressions were that it looked pretty unspectacular, you can see the ski resort from the valley roads and it didn’t look all that far away. The statistics also didn’t sound that bad: 1118m elevation gain, from 742m to 1860m and an average gradient of 8.1%. That all sounded quite acceptable when reading it on paper, so just what made this worthy of the Hors catégorie status? After all it’s far from the longest or the highest climb in the area. Continue reading