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Rider City 08/27/2014


JE_Main_BoulderSitting at the base of the Rockies in Colorado at 5,430 feet above sea level Boulder has become a hub for American pro cycling, and every other type of cycling in between. With a population that sits under 100,000 from what I saw half of them spend a lot of time in the saddle. The ride selection out of the city is pretty incredible. Seven minutes from downtown will get you on Alpine like climbs and gradients, and they get good weather for all year round riding. It made a lot of sense to start the last stage of the US Pro Challenge there

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Colorado 08/25/2014


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The air is thin, very thin. The climbs are long and gradual.  The air is so thin and clean that it gives Colorado a special light all of its own. The landscape is some of the most spectacular you will see anywhere in the world, and no matter where the riders went it seemed to completely dwarf them. This is cycling country American style. Quite tough roads, small towns and a lot of personality. Colorado is where the Pro’s come to live because it is pretty much one of the most perfect places to ride a bike. This year saw the coming of age of the American based riders. No longer riding in the shadows of the European “Imports”. Kiel Reijnen brought is two amazing sprints alongside local boy Alex Howes. Ben Jaques-Maynes had an incredible ride to take the KOM. Carter Jones just gets better and better trading blows on the climbs with some of the best in the world. And last but not least Serghei Tvetcov just powering his way over everything to take third place on GC and a hard fought for spot on the podium. This just gets better and better every year.

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An Irish Giro 05/14/2014


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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.

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Categories: Journal

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MILAN SAN REMO 01/26/2014


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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

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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.

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Route 24 08/27/2014


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Route 24 is one of those roads you end up taking when you decide to ignore the GPS for a day. A road that looked interesting on the map, made up of lots of twisting bends and rapid elevation gains. It is labeled one of Americas Scenic Byways, “Top Of The Rockies”, usually a good sign that you are in for a spectacular ride. I found the weather in the Rockies some of the hardest to read anywhere I have traveled. It can go from blistering sun, to thunderstorms and rain, to windy cold descents all within and an hour, weather that makes for great shots but difficult riding. Climbing starts at the town of Minturn, a charming one street town, the home of Weston Snowboards. You enter Main Street after passing through some beautiful rolling meadows before heading towards Cooper Mountain Ski Resort and the road up to Battle Mountain. First climbing gradually, and then steeply, as you pass an old abandoned mining town and the mountain community of Red Cliff as you pass over a bridge and it lies beneath you in the gorge. The road up is quiet and holds a steady grade, but the air is thin making the climbing tough. You top out as you round the bend at the entrance to Cooper Mountain Resort at 10,500ft one of the oldest ski resorts in Colorado, and you pass over the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass the dividing line between the San Isabel National Forest and the The White River National Forest. The descent down the other side rivals most of the Alpine climbs before you roll out onto a massive flat open plain stacked on both sides with snow capped peaks and Galena Mountain. From there you roll straight on towards Leadville, one of Americas most famous mountain bike communities and the home of America’s Hall Of Fame for mining.

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L’Estérelle 07/04/2014


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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.

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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.

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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.

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STELVIO 01/22/2014


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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