Journal_Thumbnail_Esterelle

L’Estérelle 07/04/2014


JE_Main_Esterelle

 

Rolling out of Cannes early on a Saturday morning to beet the traffic and the heat I set off on a ride recommended by the guys at Cafe Du Cycliste. In the distance as I rolled along the coast just west of Cannes you could see in the distance the red rocks of the Estérelle rise out of the Mediterranean as I headed towards the VAR and the village of Frejús. Accompanied by local riders and clubs all the way to Agay I turned right and up into the hills above the coast. The traffic stopped and I had the road to myself as I climbed up on quiet roads towards the Col de l’Ariasque and the treeline that defined the shape of the hills. Passing into the Adrets is marked by the stunning Auberge Des Adrets as you start to roll back down towards Cannes.

Esterelle_05 Esterelle_03Esterelle_07Esterelle_02Esterelle_01Esterelle_06Esterelle_04Esterelle_08

Categories: Journal

Journal_Thumbnail_Battenkill

Battenkill 03/16/2014


JE_Main_BattenkillThere aren’t many, and this one has seen its fair share of trouble with sponsorship and race categorization in the past, but Battenkill still stands as the true American Classic. Billed as “Americas Toughest Race” the terrain takes riders over dirt, gravel and tarmac, up and down rolling hills, and through covered bridges in the beautiful Battenkill Valley. This year will see the 10th edition of the race that is probably as close as we get to a European style classic in America. It runs in the first week of April usually making sure that the weather plays a factor in how the race plays out, and providing spectators with a very unique racing experience. These shots from the 2010 edition saw Floyd Landis start in the hope of a return to the pro ranks. The race was won by Caleb Fairly who went on to now race in Europe with Garmin. British champion Kristian House and the Rapha team showed up to race with a group of riders who also included Jonathan Tiernan-Locke who went on to win The Tour Of the Med and the Tour of Haut Var. It tends to be a proving ground for the up and coming riders in the north east.

JE_Content_BK01JE_Content_BK02JE_Content_BK03JE_Content_BK04JE_Content_BK05JE_Content_BK06JE_Content_BK08JE_Content_BK07JE_Content_BK09JE_Content_BK10JE_Content_BK11JE_Content_BK12

 

Categories: Journal

Journal_Thumbnail_Peyresourde

Peyresourde 01/25/2014


JE_Main_PeyresourdeWe were unfortunate enough to have rain every day for our four days in Bagneres-Di-Luchon. But after a day holed up in the camper van there was a break in the clouds just before lunch. After a scramble to get into lycra in a confined space we were out on the road and rolling towards Arreau over the Peyresourde. The early slopes give you a chance to ease into the climb as you work towards the twists and hairpins that are famous from The Tour. It a popular choice in The Tour starting in 1910, and the leaders taking the summit are some of our sports most respected climbers. Coppi, Charly Gaul, Bahamontes, Jiminéz, Van Impe and Robert Millar. As I rolled over the top there was a loud clap of thunder and the light changed as a bank of dramatic clouds rolled over the summit. It was going to be a wet descent.

JE_Content_Peyresourde01

JE_Content_Peyresourde02JE_Content_Peyresourde03JE_Content_Peyresourde04JE_Content_Peyresourde05JE_Content_Peyresourde06JE_Content_Peyresourde07JE_Content_Peyresourde08JE_Content_Peyresourde09JE_Content_Peyresourde10JE_Content_Peyresourde11JE_Content_Peyresourde12JE_Content_Peyresourde13

Categories: Journal

Journal_Thumbnail_Stelvio

STELVIO 01/22/2014


JE_Main_Stelvio00

Riding the Stelvio was one of the most beautiful and hardest things I have ever done in the saddle. It is the perfect climb. From forested to exposed rock face and stunning views to long sweeping hairpins on a perfectly paved surface. Add to that the altitude and you have a road that will challenge every rider who takes it on. Parts of it look deceptively easy, but we ll know how that goes. Even on fine summers day there is usually a headwind and unless you are used to climbing at altitude your forward motion isn’t going to be what you hope for. Other parts of the climb look demoralizingly hard and they are. Looking up you see what looks like a sheer cliff with a lace of hairpins falling over its edge, making it all too clear exactly what you still, and from there it is pretty much up all the way without rest. In just over 25km you move from 5427ft to 8985ft, with an average gradient of 7.4%. Some of those sections ramp up to 14% made clear by some kind soul  painting it on the road. Pictures will never do this climb justice, neither here or on TV. It is brutal and beautiful all at once.JE_Content_Stelvio01JE_Content_Stelvio02JE_Content_Stelvio03JE_Content_Stelvio04JE_Content_Stelvio05JE_Content_Stelvio06JE_Content_Stelvio07JE_Content_Stelvio08JE_Content_Stelvio09

 

Categories: Journal

Journal_Thumbnail_Gavia

GAVIA


JE_Main_GaviaI rode the Gavia the day after riding up the valley and doing the Stelvio, so my opinion of it may be tainted by the tiredness in my legs. The Stelvio despite being one of the toughest climbs you will ride helps by being stunning to look at, the Gavia right from when you roll out of Bormio feels completely inhospitable. It kind of meanders out of town on a side street, without the grand entrance of the Stelvio with its beautiful sweeping hairpins. It pushes up through a series of villages, some paved  with cobbles to add to your distress. The second phase seems endless as it meanders through cow-covered pastures that have an particularly strong smell of cow dung, and a cacophony of flies to accompany you. When you break out of this you enter the final phase of the climb onto a road carved out of rock leaving steep sides all around you. It is a tough drag and a little dangerous with the Moto Guzzi’s taking corners a little wide. The Gavia is an icon of a climb, but not one I fell in love with. I think we just met each other on off days.

JE_Content_Gavia01 JE_Content_Gavia02 JE_Content_Gavia03 JE_Content_Gavia04 JE_Content_Gavia05 JE_Content_Gavia06 JE_Content_Gavia08 JE_Content_Gavia09 JE_Content_Gavia10

 

Categories: Journal

giro_thumb

An Irish Giro 05/14/2014


giro_main

Did it really happen? If it wasn’t for the stickers still on the shop windows and the seats painted pink outside pubs, it would be hard to believe one of the biggest bike races in the world just rolled through Northern Ireland. I guess the risk with bringing a race like this to a place like Belfast is “Will they get it”? Well I am happy to say “they did”, and in a big way. The city basically treated the GIRO weekend like a big festival and lined the roads everywhere it went to cheer it along. Villages had obviously been preparing for weeks and I doubt very much if there is a kids bike left in the province that wasn’t commandeered and painted pink. To be expected the weather didn’t co-operate, but then again it wouldn’t have been a true Irish start without some rain, and lets face it when they reached Bari on Tuesday the weather was worse! The riders seemed surprised at the turnout and enthusiasm from the Irish crowds, which I am not. The Irish love sport and love athletes pitched against the odds. The weather certainly gave it that angle and turned the first two stages into a more difficult prospect that the road book showed. Some of the best in the world were on display and we all knew it. Apart from the Irish riders Cadel got a special reception and an extra cheer everywhere he went. He is a fighter and a personality, someone to follow and believe in. Then there was the tragedy of Dan Martin crashing out, Irelands hope for a podium left lying on the road in shreds with a look of complete shock. His dreams of riding a grand tour on the roads of the country he represents gone. How can one rider have so much bad luck, but we kept on cheering. As the teams left Dublin on Monday Belfast got back to business knowing they had gone a long way to setting the world straight on what the city and its people are all about, and happy to see the world talk about them and their home in a positive way.

giro_03

giro_04

giro_05

giro_08

giro_10

giro_14

giro_11

giro_06

giro_07

giro_09

giro_01

 

Categories: Journal

Journal_Thumbnail_MSR

MILAN SAN REMO 01/26/2014


JE_Main_MSR

The longest race of the season at a leg breaking 298km. In the past it was called the “Sprinters Classic”, but with the recent race changes it has become a race more for an all round strong rider who has prepared well in the winter. I was lucky enough to travel there with Specialized and had a pass that got me inside the barriers before the race. Despite this race being one of the recognized monuments the atmosphere around the start is pretty relaxed, with fans having a lot of access to the riders. In 1907 Lucien Petit-Breton won the race in a time of 11hr 14min 15sec, and the last time the race went its full distance Simon Gerrans threw his bike over the line at 6hr 59min 24sec (which was also 10km longer).JE_Content_Square_MSR03JE_Content_Square_MSR01JE_Content_Square_MSR04JE_Content_Square_MSR02JE_Content_Square_MSR05JE_Content_Square_MSR06JE_Content_Square_MSR07JE_Content_Square_MSR08

Categories: Journal

Journal_Thumbnail_Jaques

JACQUES 01/22/2014


JE_Main_JaquesWalking around a flea market in Switzerland I stumbled across a stand full of vintage sports memorabilia. Needless to say in this part of the world that tends to be mostly skiing and boating. When I asked the owner if he had anything cycling related he broke into a wonderful smile (turns out he was a cyclist). He reached under a pile at the back of his table and presented me with two things of beauty. The first is this feature, a Jacques Anquetil Souvenir Magazine, published by Miroir De Cyclisme in Paris in 1987. The images on its pages capture the essence of one of the most stylish riders to ever grace the roads of Europe. They show him in both the joys of victory, and in the pain of defeat. A true icon of our sport, and one of the few riders to ever wear the Tour’s yellow jersey all the way from day one to the finale in Paris. It took a while to convince the seller to part with his magazine, but I am glad he did.

JE_Content_Jaques01 JE_Content_Jaques02 JE_Content_Jaques03 JE_Content_Jaques04 JE_Content_Jaques05 JE_Content_Jaques06 JE_Content_Jaques08 JE_Content_Jaques09 JE_Content_Jaques10 JE_Content_Jaques11

 

Categories: Journal

Journal_Thumbnail_Ghisallo

GHISSALO


JE_Main_Ghissalo00

As one local pointed out to us when asking for directions, it is pronounced “Geezallo“. The Tour of Lombardy has always been one of my favorite races, with a name that just adds to the romance: “The Race of the Falling Leaves“. In all of the trips to Europe over the years we have managed to miss this region, so this time a whole 9 days was dedicated to Lake Como and then up into Bormio. You don’t have to spend long on the roads around the lake to realize that you are at the heart of Italian cycling. Riders of every size and age were out clocking miles on some of the best roads you will ever ride. The Ghisallo itself has played the role of decider many times, from the Giro to the Tour of Lombardia, and in the lesser known Coppa Agostini and Giornata della Bicicletta. They live and breathe riding here. Lombardia has over 700 registered cycling clubs with over 12,000 members. If you are wondering what they do all year, they have a choice of over 1200 races to to choose from in any given season. And of coarse the climb leads to the church at the top, maybe the most sacred and respected monument to cycling and those we have lost.

JE_Content_Ghissalo_01 JE_Content_Ghissalo_02 JE_Content_Ghissalo_03 JE_Content_Ghissalo_04 JE_Content_Ghissalo_05 JE_Content_Ghissalo_06 JE_Content_Ghissalo_07 JE_Content_Ghissalo_08 JE_Content_Ghissalo_09 JE_Content_Ghissalo_10 JE_Content_Ghissalo_11

 

Categories: Journal

Journal_Thumbnail_Corniche

CORNICHE 01/21/2014


JE_Main_Corniche

Just west of the late night parties and socializing of Cannes a road hugs the coast all the way to St Raphael, and is held close to the hearts of the locals. Once you break beyond the suburbs of Cannes and La Bocca the traffic frequency drops and you find yourself on a roller coaster all the way to Frejus. On one side you are propped up by scorched red rock, and on the other by the vivid blue Cote D’Azur. This is a “local” ride, and every day I joined clubs from Nice to Mougins. It is a route that hasn’t really found its way into the folklore of our sport (the neighbors to the east in Monaco and Nice get that fame) and I have a feeling the locals are happy to keep it that way. As you crest bends at the top of kickers you are presented with picture perfect bays and places you wish you could retire to. Yachts anchored in bays that can only be accessed by sea. At one point a sunbather on one of their decks waved at me as I stopped to take a picture. I don’t know who was happier.

 

 

JE_Content_Corniche01JE_Content_Corniche02JE_Content_Corniche03JE_Content_Corniche04JE_Content_Corniche05JE_Content_Corniche06JE_Content_Corniche07JE_Content_Corniche08

Categories: Journal