From The Saddle: Music Mountain Loop 09/20/2015
The Full “Lost Col” photo essay is here
St-Jean-Pied-De-Port is a perfect place for a Pays-Basque Pyrenean raid. An area surrounded by climbs that David Miller called his training ground when he lived in Biarritz, and one that he also called “hell”. The Col d’Ispeguy was a climb we were drawn back to over and over on our stay there. Riding a climb many times is how you come to know it, just like your “local” back home. We rode it on brilliant clear hot mountain mornings, in the soft warm evening Pyrenean light, in stifling humidity under hazy skies, with chest thumping thunderstorms in the distance, from the French side, from the Spanish side – every single time the same road offered something different. Featured in The Tour just three times it doesn’t carry the same fame as its Pyrenean sisters – but it is indeed a beautiful and hidden gem. It has had some famous names crest its summit first when raced in anger, Lucien Van Impe in ’77, Richard Virenque in “92 and Pascal Hervé in ’96. The Spanish side offers a beautiful descent with sweeping corners and a better surface, all the way down to the village of Erratzu and the bottom of another climb The Oxtondo, which makes for a beautiful loop. Ascending the French side from Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry up a “V” shaped valley it has the look of a classic with the road hugging a steeper exposed finish as you near the restaurant (and gift shop, and the biggest selection of cow bells I have ever seen) at the top. It is a climb loved by the locals one that if the Tour ever ventures this far west again will surely get the credit it deserves.
A really nice project from Search And State here in NYC. In June 2014, they brought Joseph Holway to New York City to deliver their fist S2R Performance Jersey from their sewing room in Manhattan to The Golden Saddle Cyclery in Los Angeles – by bike. Joseph did the 3,000 mile journey to LA in 21 days all by himself and completely unsupported. Here is a really nice documentary of his journey.
The full photo essay for Otxondo is here
We based ourselves in the village of Ainhoa in France for our second week in the Pyrenees, a beautiful traditional Basque village in the Labourd Province. Every road out of the villgae took you over rolling hills, medium Cols or up into the Spanish Pyrenees. One beautiful road out of the village was the N-121-B over the border into Spain. About 2km out of the village the road starts to rise and the climb up to Otxondo begins. As you pass by the exit to the village of Urdax the road hits the tree line and takes you all the way to the top. Worth a little side trip is what looks like a cattle track to the left, that takes you up to the radio mask at Pico Gorramkil where you get spectacular view down ithe valley to Erratzu and the road that takes you up the back side of the Col d’Izpegui. It made for a wonderful day in the saddle and about 8000ft of climbing.
Just outside Eindhoven in the Netherlands designer Daan Roosegaarde has creates a 1 KM stretch of bike path inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night“. 50,000 small pebbles were coated in a luminescent material manufactured by Heijmans and then pressed into the bike path concrete. These pebbles essentially charge during the day in natural sunlight and glow in the dark after sundown. Summed up beautifully by the designer “Some people will come because they’re interested in safety and energy-friendly landscapes, others will come because they want to experience art and science”.
On the 19th of September this year I will ride the Fire Flies West again from San Francisco to Los Angeles (600 miles in 6 days). I am doing it again not because it is an excuse to spend 6 days in the saddle on one of the most beautiful roads in the world. I am doing it because I have never met a group of people so dedicated in their fight to beat Cancer. Last year I lost my father to it and this group of riders through the ride showed me the way back, and a way to help fight.
The charity we ride for is called City Of Hope in Los Angeles, they are pioneers in the fight, and an incredible organization. Last year we raised $250k (sounds better when you say a quarter of a million dollars), our goal this year is to beat that, and beat it well. $350K is our goal. I know we have a lot of organizations that want what we can give, understanding that I am going to ask for your support anyway. I can assure you that every single dollar you give to City Of Hope is put to good use. Anything you can give helps get us to our goal and makes soaking up the miles that little bit easier.
The link below enables you to donate and will be open from now all the way through until we reach Los Angels on September 24rd. Anything you can give is much appreciated.
Donate here: http://bit.ly/1sL6sea
If you are interested in reading about last years ride and hearing about some of this great group here is a link to a post I did last year.
Thank you in advance for any support you can give. For those who suffer(ed) we ride.
Thanks to a nice ride recommendation from Café Du Cycliste I was able to escape the Cannes festival and head up the coast to steal a few miles. A new journal post from the ride is up. If you are in the region and looking for rides in and around the Alpes Maritimes check out their site here. They have a great selection close to Nice that will take you up on some great climbs like the Col d’Ezé and The Turini.