The Magnificant Col D’Izoard 07/11/2011


It is rated a HC climb for a reason, as all the great climbs should be. It is breath taking in its beauty, and the effort it takes to conquer it. The 14km of the climb are the roads that have made legends in our sport. Coppi, Bobet and Thevenet in the glory days of steel. Chiappucci, Van Impe, Botero, and Garzelli in the modern era of lightweight and carbon. It is a very unique place, with a harsh beauty that bakes you in the summer sun and I can only imagine would batter you in a rain storm. The day we climbed it was a blistering 93 degrees. There is no place to hide, no shade, no respite. For the few weeks around when we were in Guillestre the stunning ravine section along the Guil river just out of the village was closed for repaving (apparently there is this race called the “Tour” going through there). Instead we were treated to a steep 5km climb detour that took us up and over the ravine and dropped us down at the Barrage, which marks the start of a steady 10km climb up to the foot of the Izoard. Nobody really mentions the 12km of climbing before the 14km of climbing. That happened a lot on this trip. Just because it might be slightly easier doesn’t mean it is not climbing. It is good to mention these things when trying to convince others to ride HC climbs.

The early part of the climb did make me ask what all the fuss was about? Then again we had been spoiled already on this trip as far as scenery goes. The road after the village of Cervieres is an 8-9% drag strip up the valley into a headwind, and if you are brave enough to raise your head off your front wheel what you will see up above you is the imposing peaks looming over the Casse Deserte. When you get yourself around those hairpins that last corner before the Deserte will do one of two things to you. It is the sort of view that will stop you in your tracks and will make your heart sore, or drop it down right into your cleats. There in front of you will be one of the most desolate beautiful scenes in the Alps, and a perfect view of the last 5km 0f 9-10% of climbing through the iconic Casse Deserte to the summit. You really need to ride the Deserte twice to take it all in. It is like a huge natural amphitheater that has seen some of the greatest showdowns in cycling. They couldn’t have picked a more perfect stage for maybe this years Tour decider. I can’t imagine what this climb would have felt like if I had the Col D’Angel in my legs as well.

A special note for my wife Nina. This was her challenge of the trip, her first HC climb. We couldn’t have picked a harder day with the heat and the headwind. She made it! Did it at her speed and took it all in. Couldn’t have been prouder seeing her crest the summit next to the Coppi monument.

Categories: Routes

From The Saddle: Sharon Loop 05/01/2011

1: West Cornwall / Lon 41.8721, Lat -73.3633
2: Sharon Road / Lon 41.9276, Lat -73.4439
3: Dug Street / Lon 41.9134, Lat -73.4461
4: Lime Rock Road / Lon 41.9324, Lat -73.4238

Categories: Routes

The Tweed Run London 2011 03/05/2011

I love this beautiful poster for the Tweed Run in London (shame I miss it by a week) by the talented Zoe Barker. I managed to catch this event by complete accident in 2009 when I spotted some guys riding down the street sporting a couple of serious mustaches, tweed jackets and some nicely restored bikes. When I asked them where they were heading, the one with the pipe (yes pipe) said “The Tweed Run of coarse!” Since then it has gone on to international fame and has inspired a Brooklyn version. This years ride is sold out already. If you are around Shoreditch on the 9th of April you should try to catch the “knees up” at the end, and if anyone wants to share some pictures we would love to publish them.

Categories: Classic / Routes

The 5 Days Of Christmas: Riding In East Coast Winters 01/07/2011

This post started out as a stab at documenting the Rapha 500, but quickly turned into a lament on riding in the east coast US during the winter, and an ode to cabin fever spurred on by the turbo trainer. In the end despite everything I still managed to get about 350 KMs in, although mostly done indoors, but also managed to do some nerve damage to the tip of my little finger because of riding in the cold.

Day 1 / 12.24.10

This is all pretty new to me up here in Litchfield County, CT, and in retrospect considering this may have been the only day I’ll get that stays above 3oºF (-1ºC), I probably should have picked a flatter route to eke out as many miles as my fingers and toes could cope with. Instead I ended up going over what seemed like endless hills, and whilst beautiful, were not helping me much in my R500 challenge.

Distance: 54.32km
Avg Speed:
20.96 kph (hills will account for the general slowness)
Feet climbed:
3oºF (-1ºC), with wind chill 21ºF (-6ºC)
Calories Burned: 1516 cal
Wine Consumed:
Half Bottle of a Cab and 1 glass of Argentinian Malbec
General Mood:
Despite the cold, happy to be out
R500 Prediction: Optimistic

Note: Wine consumed was not done during rides, please remember to ride responsibly.


Day 2 / 12.25.10

It just got colder, a lot colder. The air temperature was 27ºF (-3ºC) and the wind chill brought it down to a finger-numbing 17ºF (-8ºC). It is amazing how much difference the sun makes when it is shinning on your back. On the suggestion of a neighbor who thought I was insane for going out (I explained that there may be Rapha kit at the end of all of this as a logical explanation, didn’t seem to cut it, obviously not a believer) I went along the valley floor to hopefully clock more miles and less hills. Unfortunately leaving my embrocation back in Brooklyn meant my legs never seemed to get moving in any sort of fluid way. I dropped down gears to ride at a high cadence to try and elevate my circulation, which just proceeded to frustrate me at how slow I was covering ground. Alas, one hour out and my fingers had completely gone, to the point I was finding it hard to change gears, so I headed back. It is beautiful around here, but it is f#*king cold this time of year.

Distance: 43.4km
Avg Speed:
22.5 kph (legs frozen will account for that general slowness)
Feet climbed:
27ºF (-3ºC), with wind chill 17ºF (-8ºC)
Calories Burned: 866 cal
Wine Consumed:
Half Bottle of a very nice Chateau Leoville Barton
General Mood:
It’s Xmas! How could you not be happy?
R500 Prediction: Semi-Optimistic


Day 3 / 12.26.10 / Snowopolis

It just got really white and unridable around here. In the evening things weren’t looking too bad, and then we saw the “Severe Weather Warning“. The first picture above was just before it started, and the second picture is the 18 inches of coverage we got in one night. The day fast became a day of drinking coffee and sanding and painting walls.

Distance: 0 km
26ºF (-4ºC), with wind chill 17ºF (-8ºC)
Calories Gained: Lots
Wine Consumed:
Other half bottle of the very nice Chateau Leoville Barton
General Mood:
R500 Prediction: Doubtful


Day 4 / 12.27.10 / Snowopolis Day 2

It is amazing how quickly they clear the roads around here in Litchfield County, but still not enough to ride, so some indoor trainer time ensued. Looking out the window into this winter wonderland got old really quickly.

Distance: 51.4 km
72ºF (22ºC)
Calories Burned: 926
Wine Consumed: Started in on a nice Malbec

General Mood:
Still Hibernating
R500 Prediction: Fail


Day 5 / 12.28.10 / Snowopolis Day 3

We decided to take on riding of another type and take advantage of essentially being snowed in. We broke out the snowboards and hit the local hill for an afternoon of “Cross Training”. I crouched as low as my very tuned snowboarding style would allow to get as close to a squat simulation as I could. It didn’t work, but I did enjoy the snow.

Distance: 10 km
Temperature: 3oºF (-1ºC), with wind chill 21ºF (-6ºC)
Calories Burned: I think I may have added some by getting a Hot Chocolate
Wine Consumed: Finished the Malbec

General Mood:
Optimistic Again
R500 Prediction: Maybe I should just try and do it all on a trainer….never going to happen

Categories: Rides / Routes

The Col De La Cayolle, An Undiscovered Gem 07/10/2011


The Cayolle was a climb I hadn’t read much about before traveling into Barcelonnette and the Mercantour National Park. It is nestled in amongst some of the greats, The Bonnette and The Allos, and sits at 7361ft with a winding 29km to the summit from the village of Barcelonnette. It is a beautiful ride. The road surfaces were smooth and hadn’t suffered too much in the winter, but most enjoyable of all was the complete lack of traffic. It is too narrow for the campers and maybe a little too bendy for the motorbikes. The lower slopes are carved out of the gorge and hug the river in the shade in the opening KMs (the gradient fluctuates between 4-5% with one section touching 8-9%). It is a great introduction to help find your climbing legs, and really only started to test in the last 5km when it starts to average between 7-8%. The climb was last in the Tour on stage 9 of the 1973 edition, when it was positioned as a Cat 2 climb and was crested first by Vincente Lopez Carill riding for KAS. So no name marking on the road. It felt like I had found someones secret training ride. Imagine having this on your doorstep for your hill repeats.

Categories: Routes

15,700km. 220km Per Day. All In 80 days. 05/30/2011

Read it again, it isn’t a typo. If you were to start in Sydney and head south, and more or less hug the coast all the way around Australia, that gets you to 15,700km. Riding in support of the Smile Foundation six riders will head off on June 30th to complete a coarse 5 times the length of the Tour. They are doing this insane route to raise money for children suffering from rare diseases. If you want to show your support and donate you can do that here. The route is detailed here, with the towns they will be passing through and the dates. Check out if they come close to you and get out there and ride with them for a bit. I am sure they would appreciate the support and someone different to talk to. Can you imagine talking bikes and cycling for 80 days with the same six blokes….ok yes I can.

Categories: Riders / Routes / The Other Stuff

Specialized Lunchtime Ride Report 1 12/15/2010

Coming out of winter hibernation and more or less 6 weeks off training is probably not the best way to introduce yourself to a Specialized lunchtime ride. I knew the previous week they had all been riding with HTC or competing at the Cross Nationals in Bend so it was definitely going to blow the cobwebs away, if not a lung. I was spending the day with what could be best described as my dream client, and as Sean said, “everything from noon to 1.30pm can go on the blog, everything else stays in the building”. So that is what I will limit my account to, and based on that, the “dream client” tag was a little tarnished post ride.

Now you know that a bunch of guys that work for a bike company and live and breathe the sport of cycling, coupled with a ride like this 5 days a week, is going to be a “spirited” outing, so you are kind of hoping for a little help. Mine came in the way of my ride for the day, a beautiful SL3 built up with SRAM Red. That has to be the best “loaner” I have ever thrown my leg over. They are blessed with some pretty beautiful riding right out of the headquarters’ doors, and after a few car park pleasantries and traffic lights, a pace line soon developed. I was feeling surprisingly good until Ben rolled up next to me and pointed out that the approaching kickers is where it would “heat up” – I was already pretty hot. And just as I was coming off the front in a very short period in the wind, it got hotter.

For those of you who usually ride Shimano (me) and have not used SRAM before (me), beware of what I call the “brake and change“. In those moments when you are a little cooked and changing down a gear, that same brake lever shift on a Shimano actually more or less pulls the brake on SRAM. Not what you need when your elastic is stretching. I would like to have said I saw the town line sprint at the end, but they were small colorful dots in the distance by that point. So now I know what to expect and I can only get better from here. I also picked up some very special kit. A Prevail helmet, which if the weather gets above freezing your feet off I might actually get out to try, and a pair of the very cool Miura team issue optics. We will get a review up as soon we actually get out to test them.

Categories: Riders / Rides / Routes