Monday, 23 March 2015

Drying Out

The Spring classics are in full flow along with the early season as Richie Porte won a third Paris-Nice, Froome beat Contador to the Ruta del Sol race win, and Quintana won Tirreno-Adriatico, setting all the big names up for a firecracker season.

This weekend was Milan San-Remo, which was a big target for Cavendish. Unfortunately he failed to feature and some gutsy attacking let by Thomas for Sky didn’t result in a win either, with the race going to John Delankolb. Geraint Thomas has had a stunning start to the season, with an overall win at the Volta ao Algarve.

Elsewhere the Spring has dried out the trails beautifully in a matter of weeks and they are fast and skittery rather than the mud fest they were recently. I’ve been riding them.

I managed to connect a missing link in the loop around Hertford and Ware I’d explored between, using the canal towpath on the Lea which gives a car-free and often off-road route straight through the middle of Hertford. After that it was back on the tracks and lanes north of the town which are less technical but great for a fast long blast.

The week later I headed back to the North West of the town and hit the best of the trails up there, with a long run in below town to get warmed up.

The Global Cycling Network has been producing quality video magazine shows about the road scene for a while and they recently launched a Mountain Bike channel headed by Martyn Ashton and Rob Warner.

You can find the channel here, and the preview to when your appetite here:

On the subject of videos, do you want to work here?


Thursday, 5 March 2015

More Spring Classics

While the road pros rode their early spring classics I took the opportunity to ride a couple of my own. I had a weekend to play with and wet ground meant a careful choice of route was needed. I was not about to repeat the clay-clogged nightmare of the Hertfordshire fields.

First-up a blast at Swinley.

You’ll notice I missed a large chunk. This was due to a diversion in place because of forestry work, and I have a feeling I shot onto the trail early rather than sticking the diversion out. I joined a t point 11 which might explain my good (for me) performance on the later sections of the route I’ve ridden many times before. The sandy base soil drains brilliantly and the ride is fun and fast in wet weather as much as it is in the summer.

On Sunday I went for the Mendips, hoping the mud would be restricted to small areas. It really wasn’t as bad as I feared, even as my heart sank heading onto Blackdown through a deep mud section. The ride was a pretty standard loop that I’ve done before many times. Looping round, climbing on fireroad, dropping through the semi legal bits, and then climbing again. This time I went further and dropped into Cheddar on a track I’ve not gone down for years. It was worth it with a rocky blast all the way to the bottom of the gorge. The payoff is either a road slog, or a brutal climb on a bridleway onto the edge of the cliffs opposite and I elected for the latter. Pushing for far too long became worth it as the descent back to the road was another technical challenge.

A long road slog put me back on top of Blackdown and then it was the rollercoaster favourite back to the car.

Want an idea of the best bits? I think this covers it.


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Classic Racing

Well, we’re long overdue a catch up. So let’s crack straight on.

This went quite badly for everyone involved.

On the opposite end of things Kye Forte talked about all things two-wheeled and his love for all of it:

As you will probably be aware these are both oldish stories. For up to date news we could look at how Santander have sponsored the Boris Bikes for next year and so they’ll be painted red.

Not very exciting? No ne neither. This is quite good though.

The Spring Classics kicked off at the weekend giving us all a chance to see what the road pros really have to offer. We’re done with the hot races in the deserts and it gets serious in the spring sunshine and, more usually, rain.

On Saturday it was Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and it came down to a hard man’s race with a group of Etixx Quick-Step riders in a group with Ian Stannard. Stannard attacked and took a stunning win.

Let’s not forget that this is a rider who broke his back just last year. Here’s the race report form Sky.

Sunday was another classic race, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. This came down to a sprint where Mark Cavendish put together a much needed win as his contract potentially started to look shaky with a lack of big wins. He beat Alexander Kristoff in the first big sprint-off in the lead up to Milan San-Remo.

Let’s hope this is the start of another big year for British cycling stars.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Clay All The Way

Some rides are tough. I don’t mean in a big mountain way, but just a bit of a grind.

I set out to find an all-weather route yesterday, highly optimistically, given the weather and the month. It didn’t start well with traffic all diverted onto the road I wanted as the North Circular was closed. I plodded through and arrived late to start the ride on some decent tracks as planned.

This went well for a while and I cruised along on semi surfaced tracks until the mud caught up with me. Soon I was ploughing through claggy muddy fields which clogged the wheels within seconds. This meant clearing the wheels every few minutes and at times trying to carry the bike through the fields, with the added weight of half the field attached to the bike.

It’s hard to tell if I enjoyed the ride. I did at times and discovered new paths that will be fun in the summer but were an utter slog in these conditions.

On the positive side I raced a sunset to the car, actually met the landowner of a footpath I’d been sneakily using and was told to go right on riding it, and got to ride past here.


Monday, 9 February 2015

Keeping it Underground

Maybe it’s the prospect of Spring not too far in the future, or the inconvenience of bus strikes but cycling in London seems to be everywhere in the news, whether it’s Boris bikes likely to go red with new sponsors, or the agreed new superhighway, or yet more road deaths. The most ridiculous story is perhaps the idea of using disused underground tunnels for bike paths.. Let’s be honest, that isn’t going to solve any problems.

A better underground bike idea is this bike park built in a salt mine in Louisville in Kentucky. Also clearly they have a great PR team as this has been picked up by all sorts of news sites.

Let’s stay in the world of bike parks and look at this 10-year old who will definitely make all adult riders feel highly inadequate.

OK so what else, well more opportunity to feel inferior when you look at this Strava profile.. It’s where you can keep track of Steven Abraham who is shooting to beat the record for the number of miles ridden in a year. This is a massive undertaking, and to add to the fun he’s up against other riders shooting for the same records this year, including an American with a catchy nickname. Read about it all here..

Linking beautifully again to records and champions this story of thieves who broke into Specialized’s HQ, took two one-off bikes and then tried to flog them to a bike shop in the same area for a fraction of their value. They were caught by police and the bikes are back where they belong.