Selfies of elation

Back in July while tackling the Cols of France I decided to take a selfie at the top of every collected col. I think one of the pics has already featured in the blog but I thought it was time to put the collection together.

Col de la Croix de Fer (South side)

crossoffireselfie Col_de_la_Croix_de_Fer_Barrage_du_Verney_profile

Col du Mollard (South side)

Col du Mollard selfieCol-de-Mollard-Gradient

Col du Galibier (via the Col du Telegraphe)

Col du TelegrapheCol du Galibier

Ignore the weird wink. The sweat in my left eye was more painful than my legs.


Col du Glandon 

Col du Glandon Col-du-Glandon-La-Chambre_profile


Selfies of elation

Cross is here and so is the mud

“I’m looking forward to a muddy one”. All I heard through September and October during the early parts of the cross season this year. The early season dry races do offer a good opportunity for some faster cleaner racing and the chance to go home and just wipe the dust of your bike (note singular) ready for the next race. It was fun for a while but you do get the feeling, “this isn’t cross”.

I think any cross riders get a very romantic thought of mud when contemplating the season of an image of a rider slipping and sliding around corners while just about managing to stay upright powering through the bends with a airbrushing of mud coming off your front wheel to give you that authentic “Belgian tan”. In reality we end up falling off our bikes rolling around in the mud like a happy pig and finishing looking like a swamp monster…well some of us do anyway.

Cross is here and so is the mud

Top of the Cols Part 2

Continuing on from last weeks log.

I wish I’d…

Watched the tour from Dutch corner. The penultimate stage of the tour this year was on our final day staying in the Alps. After a tough week of riding where we’d racked up over 250 miles and all that climbing it was the last thing we really wanted to do but it’s one of those things I’d like to see in the future (good excuse to go back again!)

Ridden up the Col de la Madeleine. One of the most famous passes and we didn’t even try to get over to it. I suppose if we were all a bit better trained pre trip it would of been on the cards.

Ridden the Marmotte route. I think this is one of the main reasons why I will be making the trip back to the area in the future again. Even if we’d wanted to we couldn’t ride the Marmotte route we couldn’t of ridden if this year with the road being washed away by a big landslide on the way into Bourg d’Oisans from the Col du Galibier. It’s a big ride that needs ticking off so maybe one for the future.

By the way a Marmotte looks like this ——->marmotte

The Marmotte route is below

marmotte route

Where next?

I think its going to be worth a trip to the same place again in the future but there are so many other places I’d like to tick off before hitting the same climbs again. Mont Ventoux is the one climb I really want to tick off. The history and drama that’s unfolded on that climb in previous tours makes it a climb that needs to be ticked off.

The Col d’izoard maybe isn’t one of the most famous passes in France but just look at the picture below. If that doesn’t make you want to ride it I don’t know what will.

Briancon, Col d'Izoard

I think the alps needs to be explored a bit more before moving on to the Pyrenees. I mean there’s so many other mountain passes in other countries across the alps that don’t have the history but I’m sure they have everything that the French alps can offer. I’m looking forward to doing a bit more homework and a lot more exploring.

Top of the Cols Part 2

Top of the Cols Part 1

The title kind of works…anyway.

It’s about a month since I returned from the Alps and after the disappointment of bailing out of going for Paris-Brest-Paris this was the main thing I was looking forward to this summer.

I thought rather than going through all the details of the trip I’d do a ranking of some of the good and bad points of riding in the alps, maybe it’ll give you some tips and help you not make the same mistakes and possibly give you a better insight into what you’re getting yourself into before you go.

So here goes!

Top 5 Ascents

  1. Col du Galibier (from Valloire) The sense of achievement and the views all the way up the climb make it a very rewarding climb. The final view kilometres are the hardest with the final kilometre hardpining and steep to say the least as you summit the 18.1 kilometre beast!
  2. Col du Glandon (from Saint-Etienne-de-Cuines)
  3. Col de la Croix de Fer (from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne) Another beast but the road gives variety and some slight descents as it makes it’s way to Saint-Sorlin-d’Arves, just before the town there is a 5 kilometre section offering a false flat that offers a feeling of ease to your legs…although the last 6 kilometres of the climb are brutal so it’s good to take advantage of the ease in terrain.
  4. Col du Telegraphe
  5. Alpe d’Heuz

Top 5 Descents

  1. Col due Telegraphe
  2. Col de la Croix de Fer (to Allemond)
  3. Col du Mollard Very scary!!!
  4. Col du Galibier (to Valloire) Think this would have been higher but I got soaked on the way back down to Valloire and couldn’t really enjoy it over the shivering.
  5. Col du la Toussuire I’m going to count it but we didn’t start from the top as we didn’t get a chance to ascend (police stopped us 3 km from the top!!!) the whole thing but the road was sweeping and wide on the way down, easy to read (no blind corners to make mistakes on).

5 things I would have done differently

  1. Taken a compact gearing It was a daft move to take the smallest gearing of a 39 inner ring. I’ll never do it again. Spending near to 2 hours riding up a mountain with that gear nearly broke me on the first day and I was cursing myself for not changing it over. I would recommend taking a 36 at least just so you can enjoy the ride rather than feel like it’s a slog.
  2. Filled my bottles at the bottom of Alpe d’Heuz A mistake made on the first day to not fill my bottle at the bottom of this famous climb. It meant I had to stop in Heuz about 4km from the top which resulted in me finishing the climb in just over 1 hour which really p*ssed me off!
  3. Taken more hot weather base layers Not really knowing what it was like in the alps I only took 1 hot weather base layer. The base layer that I washed and used again day after day when I realised it was too hot out there to wear anything other than a string vest!
  4. Take a full rain jacket…just in case I found out the very hard way when I only took a shower gilet on our ride to the Galibier. When on our way back down to Valloire for lunch a couple of us hit a major storm which resulted in a soaking. Not fun at all. It took a few coffees, couple of sandwiches and some borrowed armwarmers with me down to my baselayer in the sun (not a good look) to get warm again before setting off.
  5. Learnt how to stop sweat getting in my eyes Think this is more ofGalibier Wink a room 101 scenario but going up mountains for a long time make you sweat, as a result that sweat from your forehead gets in your eyes and there’s nothing you
    can do about it. I resorted to taking place sunglasses off and wiping my eyes with my mitts but eventually that just leads to more sweat getting in your eyes! Honestly it was more painful than my legs at points. It did result in this very funny selfie at the top of the Galibier, though the saying “if the wind blows you’ll stick like that!” did cross my mind… (any ideas on how to stop this one let me know, please!!!)


Top of the Cols Part 1

North West Passage 200


With a distance eye on Paris Brest Paris in August the North West Passage 200 was the first challenge of four that I will need to complete before I even make the journey across the channel.

Starting from the Spinner Inn located in Rochdale the route took in a number of challenges along the way…wait I think I’m jumping the gun a bit here to I’ll start from the beginning.

With the start of the event being a 8am I had an early alarm call (5.45am!) to leave the house at 6.30am. It wasn’t a bad morning all in all while packing up the car but on our drive over to Rochdale from Bolton the rain started. With the idea of a soggy all day ride I was glad I’d put a decent rear mudguard on to keep at least my derriere dry. By the time we’d unpacked the car and readied ourselves it had snowed slightly but only a light dusting so nothing to worry a hardened cyclo-cross rider.

We missed the mass roll out of riders and saw our toe slowly roll away down the road before we set off at about 8.15am.


Rochdale to Settle

The route to our first checkpoint in Settle was very urban, stopping pretty much every 10-15 minutes for a fresh set of traffic lights. we gradually started catching riders who had start earlier than us as we made our way onto the major climb over Blacko (a great climb with unbelievable views over Pendle Hill, highly recommended) where we saw some seriously dark clouds skimming past us. The descent into Gisburn was great fun with it’s sweeping bends fast bends and scenic views over the Forest of Bowland showing us the coming bright sunny weather.

Taking the “traditional” route

Soon enough we hit one of the stretches of road I wasn’t looking forward at all, the A65. This section of road goes from Skipton through to the M6 making it really busy. It didn’t help to be riding into the teeth of a gale all the way to Settle but I can safely say I survived!!! somehow.

Settle to Kirby Lonsdalesubwaylunch

After a nice bit of quiet road upon leaving Settle we were back on the A65 for the whole journey up to Kirby Lonsdale. The least said about this the better. particularly as one of our group smashed their phone after it fell out of their pocket (sorry Sarah). It was just a matter of get your head down and ride into the brisk headwind up to the next checkpoint. It’s a nice section of road that would have been far more enjoyable with the views and rolling nature if we didn’t have lorry’s whistling past our ears!

Kirby Lonsdale to Scorton

This was the chance to relax for a bit on a quieter road through to Lancaster. We used it as a bit of a playground, sprinting (more pedaling quickly) for boundaries and setting a good tempo. We gradually picked up a few riders along the way which turned into a long tail by the time we’d reached Lancaster (seriously I looked behind from the front briefly and it looked like we had a whole peloton lined up behind me!).

The gang at subway

We decided to stop for a Subway in Lancaster to refuel (only a 6-inch unfortunately) instead of stopping at a checkpoint or proper cafe more for speed than anything. It was a good idea in theory I just wish I’ve gone for the foot-long…nevermind 😦

We reached Scorton in one piece (just about) after a bus completely cut the group up. You could guess it was another A road we were on at the time leaving the biggest city in about 30 miles.

Scorton to the Spring Inn (The finale!)200kgarmin

The profile of the final leg of the ride showed two peak like vampires teeth before heading downhill all the way into Rochdale. We’d been blessed with a tailwind since Lancaster which was literally blowing us home helping tired legs in our race to beat dusk. I started to feel light headed and to be honest pretty weird on the return leg finally concluding that I had had far too much coffee and sugar so was as high as a kite! Unfortunately this didn’t last too long and the after effects of this was cramp. Thinking I hadn’t taken in enough water during the day I downed a decent amount of water and carried on knowing we had a could be steady climbs on our way through Burnley and over Haslingden Road (possibly one of the most picturesque roads in the area).

As we raced back into Rochdale we hit football traffic, Rochdale supporters leaving Spotland made for an ever changing labyrinth of cars and coaches on the final roads slightly ruining the whole days ride which had felt like a real adventure.

We rolled into the car park at the Spring Inn around 5.30pm ready for our pie and peas and definitely a pint. It was the end of the 200km on the way to qualifying for P-B-P but it felt like it was only the beginning.


North West Passage 200

The Journey Begins…

In 2015 I will be attempting to complete Paris-Brest-Paris, the oldest long distance cycling event still in existence. From 1891 riders have been required to complete the 1200km route from Paris to Brest on the west coast of France and back again within the 90 hour time limit. It’s a true test of cycling endurance that draws so many cyclist from across the world in August every four years.

2015 will be its 18th edition, and my first attempt, but before I can get to Paris I need to do a number of qualifying events to even register for the opportunity to ride this prestigious event. I will need to complete events to the distance of 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km, before the deadline date the 14th July. It’s going to be a tough journey even before the main event with the distances I will need to cover but the opportunity to participate and finish this event is too good an opportunity to miss and I will be putting a lot of time and effort into training and preparing properly for these events.

The first distance I will be completing is the 200km as I take part in the North West Passage 200 starting from Rochdale. This route takes you out around the north of the Forest of Bowland  for one of the checkpoints in Kirby Lonsdale. It marks the beginning of the process so I’m excited to get this one under my belt and roll onto the next one.

Let the journey begin…

The Journey Begins…