Wonderful day out and thanks to Simon for all the organising. I took a few shots and they are here
Author Archive for: andys
In the last week of May during the school holidays Rutland riders Andy Smith and Dick Cubison rode the Pyrennean coast to coast with Richard Walker from Sheffrec and Mike who is too busy drumming with Sheffield punk band ‘the Fuckwits’ to be in a cycling club. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB4Xw3Ngav0
We took the train to Biarritz which is a fine way to get there and knocks the spots off the bike bus. But you do have to take your bike apart. There are bike spaces on the French TGVs but I haven’t a clue how you book one on the main routes. Stick your bike in a bag though and no-one bats an eyelid, plus there is no need to pay a fee. I stuck mine in a John Lewis blanket bag, cost £7:00 and will do me a few more train trips.
We even got to Biarritz an hour early. Got back to Sheffield from Perpignan in 12.5 hours including 2 changes at Paris and St Pancras.
From Biarritz it was six days to Perpignan following more or less the classic Raid Pyrenean route but with a loop into Spain on day 1 and finishing with the much quieter Port de Paillheres. We managed all the classic climbs plus a few others such as the Bagargui.
The weather was varied, we had everything, hot to cold, dry to wet, clear to mist, often on the same day.
We booked accommodation at the start and finish then winged it for the rest. That worked out really well especially the Hotel de Cimes on the slopes of the Peyresourde and the spa at Tarascon that was full of ill people smoking! It felt like booking into an old peoples home for a night.
The Pyrenees are much wilder and quieter than the Alps though slightly less high. But there are miles and miles of fantastic smooth quiet roads. When we climbed over the Port de Bales I think we met about 6 cars in 40 Kms.
We didn’t find that many other cyclists except for the first day when we looped into Spain when there were hundreds on what seemed like mega teacakes. Ever single person wearing a crash hat as well but I got away with, only saw one cop and he didn’t make me get off and walk.
We did meet some Dutch guy in the bar at the top of the Tourmalet who left to go down to Luz in the rain into the wind wearing very little. He’s probably still shivering. We were lucky as we descended in the rain with a tailwind!!
My own highlights were
Biarritz – Beautiful town and a great place to start
Cols de Iraty, Spectacular roads and hardly any traffic at all
Lightning strike at Argeles. Seemed about 50 metres away from where we were eating.
Hotel de Cimes – what a place.
Port de Bales – what a climb.
The spa at Tarascon – what a hoot
Next year I’m planning to do a trip through the Italian dolomites. If you haven’t been before the Dolomites make the Alps look dull. Watch this web site for details on how to sign up in the next few months.
If you’ve managed to get someone to buy you some sleek carbon fibre or polished titanium for Christmas then it’s probably not too late to take it back. In the British Medical Journal a few weeks ago a study by Dr Jeremy Goves at Chesterfield Royal Hospital proved(!!) that riding an old steel lag is no slower than on a brand new carbon framed thoroughbred. There is a summary on the bbc news here or you can read the whole bmj article here
The proof is included in the article and is (95% CI –00:03:34 to 00:02:30; P=0.72).
In fact his fastest commute to work was actually on the old steel lag but this was “as a direct result of chasing one of my fitter cycling colleagues to work”. Probably not too difficult to figure out who that was so he must be fairly fit to keep up.
This is a great boost to my confidence. When Pete Goodfellow drops me on Cressbrook on that old rusty steel thing with a rack and panniers it’s not because he’s fitter than me it’s because he’s riding an old steel bike thus gaining an unfair advantage.
So, we’ll no doubt see Bradley Wiggins burning off Schleck and Contador next July on an old 1970’s Raleigh. You can’t argue with science and I expect to see plenty of supporting comments from the British Steel section of Rutland CC.
Last month Dick Cubison and I spent a week cycling through the Vercors and the Alps. Five trains got us from Sheffield to Valence in less than 12 hours then we spent the next 6 days cycling 700 Kms (720 for Dick as he added in another col) in an arc east, then north and finally west to Geneve.
We only needed three trains back in another 12 hours to Sheffield. Going by train is a breeze. No airline baggage attendant to trash your bike and you are with it all the time. Because of different bike carrying rules on the different trains we packed them up on the way out. Dick got his in an old Planet X cardboard bike box and mine dropped into a £1.99 laundry bag. This has the advantage of being free and disposable. On the way back we paid 28 quid to get them from Geneve to London in the train.
The weather was mostly excellent. July and August can be just too hot in central France, even quite high in the alps. We ended up putting a few layers on in the descents but as it was dry no problems. Everywhere we stayed was really friendly although getting lunch was sometimes a bit difficult. For the first three days everywhere we seemed to try first was either full or lunch was finished.
Over the 6 days we managed a whole bunch of cols including the spectacular Combe Laval, The beautiful Croix de Fer, the awesome Iseran and the very pretty Saises with it’s views of Mont Blanc to name but a few.
There were a few Rutland members who expressed an interest in going. All I can say it that you missed a fantastic trip. There are few better places to ride a bike within relatively easy reach than the Alps. One is of course the Dolomites and I’ll now give you plenty of advance notice for the ‘Andy Tours’ trip through the Dolomites with a saddlebag in 2012. Now that will be spectacular.
Full picture set is here http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/nd.smth1/20100906_alps#
Well done to all the Rutland riders in this years Monsal hill climb. Marc Etches and Sheffrec put on a great event once again and the large crowd must have been inspiring for the riders. There was only Jamie Burgan, John Smallwood and myself at the meet for 10:00 am and we arrived just in time for the start.
First Rutland rider up the hill was our veteran Steve Ellis who rode up like a twenty year old. Steve didn’t ride into anything (has a bit of history here!!) and got 2nd place in the gurning competition.
Next up was Sarah Birkby. All that grimacing and puffing on the tea cake was obviously worth it and she floated past the point where I was stood.
I didn’t catch her time but she certainly looked quicker than the women who had gone past me earlier and much quicker than these 2 Rutland members who are now too slow to even try it. If only she didn’t have the extra weight of that helmet…
Michael Birkby was up next at number 49. Seen here with the endorphin stare wishing the finish was closer and demonstrating Einstein’s special theory of psychological relativity whereby time slows down in relation to how much your legs are hurting.
Into the top half of the field and Robert Stewart came up the hill at number 64 posting a 2 mins 12 secs.
Twenty minutes later and Richard Lindsay flew up to post a 1:52. Twenty seconds faster than Robert but still outside Steve Ellis who by now had been at the top of the Rutland leader board for almost an hour and a half.
We were now waiting for lightning Nick Latimer. He went past me so fast I could only get a slightly blurred picture of him so no picture Nick, sorry. Fresh from his victory in the previous weeks Pea Royd Lane hill climb Nick came in with a storming time of 1:38.7. putting him well up the overall classification.
Only 2 Rutland riders left. Would Danny or Tom be able to beat Nick’s time. Danny tried but only just failed, posting a time of 1:40.1.
He does however win first prize in the gurning competition and please Danny, next year, can you borrow Sarah’s helmet so you don’t mess my light meter up.
Last Rutland rider up was Tom. Pushing a fixed he flew across the finish but he also failed to topple Nick posting a 1:41.2 although he told me later he’s come up that hill quicker in the past.
A few minutes later Russell Downing crossed the line and claimed victory with a 1:20.5. If Sky haven’t re-signed him for 2011 they will now once Brailsford hears about this.
Thanks to all the Rutland riders for turning up. There were some riding up who were even bigger than me so next year…..
And well done Marc and Sheffrec for a really professional event.