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Cycle Show Celebrates 15th
L’Eroica Britannia: Family Fun and
Blythe and Barnes Take Road Race
Titles at National Championships
HandleBards: Shakespeare by Bike Bicycle Ballet Co and reCyculture
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The Bicycle Diaries: Tran to Markovo,
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Training and Nutrition From the Workshop: Accessories to Put
Book Review: Viva Le Veulta! 1935-2013 Film Review: Nasu Summer in Andalusia
WALES FEATURE Hidden Ways: Tennant and Neath
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Veulta a Espana 2016: Preview
Interview with Stephen Roche Ibiza: Coming of Age to Cyclists Between Kale and Cake in Barcelona Girona Goes Big
OLYMPICS: SOUTH AMERICA Interview with Lizzie Armistead Lap the World: A Monumental
Rowing and Riding to Rio Cycling Across a Continent with No
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CYCLE TOURING FROM A NEW PERSPECTIVE The Atlas Mountains, Atlantic Coast, Sahara Desert … Morocco is the ideal place to have an amazing cycling adventure this spring. Hire a bike or bring your own to enjoy the great weather and fantastic landscape of this exotic country on Europe’s doorstep.
ED's LETTER August 2016 : Tour Envy
CTC brochure 1953 from Westminster City Counci
his is the time of year that I get the cyclist’s equivalent of itchy feet. I am reluctant to say what part of my anatomy is equivalently itching, as I’m sure you get the idea. The cause is having already watched two Grand Tours. May saw a thrilling Giro d’Italia with stages linking snow-capped mountains and sandy beaches. July hosted a breathtaking Tour starting just over the Channel in cyclingfriendly Normandy. Now the delights of August will be sun-drenched with a predominantly arid Veulta a Espana and an exotically humid Olympics; both harsh reminders of what a wet summer we are having. Thankfully the UK’s longer days and slightly warmer temperatures do facilitate more bike riding, though I have been experiencing the greatest use of both waterproofs and tyre levers so far this year. Kent is flint country, rain washes it onto the road and no
tyre, however many words like plus, proof or skin are added, can resist this Palaeolithic cutting tool. No matter, it is the holiday season and this must be embraced. When the children start to climb the curtains or get lost in their own PC World- Project Catatonia- it’s time to consider Project Catalonia. Bike touring could be your salvation. A tour could be an unvisited area of the UK, even just for the weekend. Tags and trailers make the transportation of family members not only possible, but dragging all the weight uphill is great training for that late summer sportive. Bikes can be taken on trains and it gets easier once across the Channel. If a more distant location is desired, bikes can be boxedup on planes or hired on arrival. Don’t let the summer slip by as you watch highlights from places that are cycling paradises while the children reenact physical activity on a screen. Get out there- whatever the weather.
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15th anniversary show
The Cycle Show Celebrates 15th Anniversary With Biggest Ever Event
fter a record breaking number of bike companies took part in 2015, the Cycle Show at the NEC in Birmingham (September 23 – 25, 2016) has expanded adding a new hall for the crowd-pleasing mountain-bike dirt jumping contest and the addition of a new electric mountain bike track where you’ll be able to test ride the latest Bosch powered Cube off roaders. It also means there will be extra space for the show’s retail village and even more bike brands showcasing their latest products. Joining the exhibitor line-up for 2016 is US giant Cannondale who are appearing at the Cycle Show for the first time. One of the pioneering brands of the UK mountain bike scene, Orange bikes from Sheffield, will also be making its debut at the show. Merckx bikes, from legendary five-time Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx, have recently launched an extended range of models across Europe and are certain to be another major showstopper. New to the UK and appearing at the show for the first time are direct-to-public brand Radon from Germany, Orbita from Portugal and Megamo bikes from Spain. Isla bikes also make their first appearance at the show and will be running an indoor kids’ track where children can try out their bikes and get advice on the perfect model. They join the biggest line-up of bike and accessory brands in the country including Cube, Canyon, Ribble, Planet-X, Trek, Bianchi, Colnago, Boardman, Whyte, KTM, Hope, SRAM, Lazer, FSA, Shimano, Cinelli, Kinesis, Ritte, Primal, Pinarello, Schwalbe, Deda, Lapierre, Mondraker, Storck, Condor, Campagnolo and many more. With e-bikes becoming ever more popular, it’s not a surprise to see that the show’s eBike village has grown again with a major new presence from Shimano Steps. The 800m outdoor eBike track was the most visited of the four test tracks at the show last year and you’ll find over 100 different models to try out this time. With this year’s show coming hot on the heels of the Rio Olympics, visitors can also expect to see a stellar line-up of medal winners, current pro riders and legends of the sport at the NEC including the likes of Rob Warner, Stephen Roche and Condor’s Ed Clancy who will be going for gold in Rio on the Track in the Team Pursuit. There’s also a new women’s cycling-focused area hosted by VeloVixen. Alongside their megastore, you’ll be able to meet and chat with riders, bloggers and female brand and product experts. As an official partner of the Cycle Show, Cycling World readers save an extra 10% off tickets to the show when booking in advance. Simply head to the Cycle Show website, click the book tickets button and enter ‘cycwld’ when prompted to redeem this offer. To view the full exhibitor list and for more details about the 2016 Cycle Show visit the new event website at http://www.cycleshow.co.uk/
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Family Fun and
Retro Bikes L’Eroica Britannia
ycling World Editor and family enjoy the retro bike festival in The Peaks To ride a L’Eroica event was on the to-do list, and as much as I’d like to go to the original one in Tuscany, it doesn’t come much easier than taking the family with caravan to Bakewell in the Peak District. L’Eroica Britannia is now in its third year, each version getting bigger and better. It is a wonderful opportunity to get out the old cycling jerseys and wear them all without any mocking remarks, because that is what everyone else is doing: it’s one big fancy dress party with a great bike ride tagged on. Anything from the invention of the bike to 1987 goes, so there is a wonderful mixture of Victoriana, land girls and colourful jerseys of the sponsor-dominated era of cycling. And then there are the bikes: ostentatiously paraded around like the mobile exhibits of a Cycle Museum were Penny Farthings, Moltens and WW2 paratrooper bikes. Classic Road bikes are in abundance: Bianchis, Colnagos, Merckxes, Raleighs and Williers- all your favourites. Some of these are proudly entered into The Best in Show event, along with costumes, dogs, moustaches and cakes. There are also good old racers that you left in a shed somewhere and hope are still there- Claude Butlers, Peugeots and Dawes. All the bikes get ridden on the final Sunday for one of the three rides: 100 miles, 55 miles or 30 miles. I opted for the hundred and made a 6am start on a Raleigh TI Competition, splendid in red and yellow with matching jersey. Making its way through Tideswell, Castleton, Edale, the Goyt Valley, Ilam and Tissington it is quite breathtaking. And a lot of breaths I found myself taking as my 52-42 chainring was not ideal for this hilly terrain. I haven’t stood up out the saddle so much on a bike ride, but fortunately we were well-catered for at numerous feed stops. The one on the front lawn of Ilam Hall was most memorable, as was the Prosecco cream tea at Castleton Estate. Sometimes it was really difficult to get back on the bike. Mechanical assistance was provided at key points, and was necessary as many of these old bikes are feeling their age and some of cycle paths were gritty and led to punctures. I was out there for ten hours, though in
Crowd assembles for Best in Show
Beautiful in Blue
Colourful bike jumble
my defence some time was spent changing a tubular, and a lot of time eating. As a festival there is all you could hope for. Bands play, films role, peddlers sell their wares; all bikes and accessories and some bargains to be had at the bike jumble. Food is varied and always tempting, it takes willpower to not spend the whole day eating and drinking. What really pleased us was the child-friendly nature of the festival. There certainly was a lot to do with the kids, from a traditional funfair to an enormous sand area. Plenty of make and do activities, films and even bedtime stories. Isla bikes sponsored a family ride on the Saturday which made use of the adjacent, traffic- free Monsal Trail. It was a very wet June so in many ways we were quite lucky with the weather. It rained heavily beforehand so the site was a mud bath but most had brought wellies. We were fortunate that it didnâ€™t start raining until 4pm on the ride day, when most had completed, but then the rain didnâ€™t stop. It made the final evening celebrations very much centred in the beer tents and departure the following morning challenging for larger vehicles. Luckily 4x4s were on hand to tow people out. So if you want to don the old attire and dust off the bike in the back of the shed, or even justify the purchase of yet another must-have stead, Lâ€™Eroica is for you. No need to sneak off and leave the family behind as there is something to entertain everyone. Why not go the whole hog and do some baking, make some homebrew, get the whole family dressed up and maximise your chances of winning a Best in Show?
14 Peddlers from Italy
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Blythe and Barnes Take
Men's Race by Allan McKenzie SWpix.com
National Road Race
dam Blythe and Hannah Barnes took the road race titles at the 2016 British Cycling National Road Championships in Stockton-on-Tees today – the first time either of them have claimed the national champion’s jersey in the road race.
the closing sections of the main circuit, but as riders headed into the city centre finishing circuit, they’d reduced it to just 25 seconds, with Cavendish driving hard. But the leaders were able to hold off the challenge for the first half of the finishing circuit, before fading in the closing stages.
Blythe (Tinkhoff) held off a sprint challenge from former world champion Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), while Barnes (Canyon - SRAM's) led a 1-2 family finish, with sister Alice (Drops Cycling Team) taking second, and the under-23 title.
The catch was made with two laps to go – with rain starting to fall as riders entered their final lap. The stage was set for a big sprint finish – and it didn’t disappoint. Cavendish, always in contention for these finishes went head-to-head with Adam Blythe – with the Tinkoff rider coming out on top to take the win on the line and claim his first ever national road race title. Team Sky’s Andrew Fenn took third.
The men's under-23 title was won by Tao Geoghegan Hart (Axeon Hagens Berman CT). In the men’s race, time trial champion Alex Dowsett (Movistar) was the first to launch a sustained attack, drawing out a 22-second lead at one stage, before being swallowed up by the peloton. There were repeated attacks in a frantic first couple of laps, but riders weren’t able to make them stick in the opening exchanges. Dowsett was active in a number of early attacks, but the first meaningful break came with eight laps of the main circuit to go. Josh Teasdale (Prorace Cycling Team), Alex Peters (Team Sky) and Kristian House (One Pro Cycling) were among a group of nine who broke away, building up a lead of 40 seconds at one stage.
Other chasing groups attempted to bridge the gap, with two of them proving successful, the second of which included Mark Cavendish, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Dowsett and Chris Latham (Team Wiggins), and caught the leaders with under three laps of the main circuit remaining.
No sooner had Geoghegan Hart joined the leading group, he had set off on a break, joined by JLT Condor’s Tom Moses, Adam Blythe and Alex Peters, opening up a ten-second lead with two laps remaining, extending it to just under a minute and a half. The leading four maintained a gap for
Blythe was thrilled to get hold of the national champion's jersey. He said: "I wanted that one. I was thinking about it all day and always trying to be in the right move. With a couple of laps to go, I thought we might hold off the chase, it was hanging around 20 seconds, we did a few hard turns hoping they'd stay away but we came back together and I just gambled it would be a sprint and luckily I got round Cav. "It was a hard day. We were marked out all day; we weren't really given any room as such. We were always on the pedals all day, I've had one of the highest powers I've had all year so I was really happy and I think Mark's happy as well, sort of, for me!" Meanwhile, the newly crowned under-23 champion had double cause for celebration. Tao Geoghegan Hart said: "It's my first time as British champion and my partner Hannah won this morning so, to be honest it felt like I'd already won today before the race even started. I think in some ways, in a race like that, a little bit of the pressure off and I knew I had to be super aggressive after doing this race last year so, it paid off I think. It was a target, it's really special."
Adam Blythe wins by Alecx Whithead SWpix.com
Tao Geoghegan-Hart wins U23 by Alex Whitehead SWpix.com
Earlier in the day, Hannah Barnes took her first national road race title, beating her sister Alice in a sprint finish. Second place in the race meant Alice Barnes retained the under-23 title she won in Lincoln last year. Wiggle High5’s Lucy Garner completed the podium with bronze, also earning her the silver in the under-23 competition. The race started with Drops Cycling Team’s Jennifer George attempting a break on the climb of Thorpe Thewles. She couldn’t make it stick and moments later, Podium Ambition’s Dame Sarah Storey charged ahead on a solo break, a gap that reached up to one minute and 20 seconds at one point on the second lap of the main circuit. With two laps of the main circuit to go, a group of 12 riders, led by Nikki Harris (Boels Dolmans) and Dani King (Wiggle High5) drove to swallow up Storey’s lead, eventually catching her. The group then surged on to build up a 50-second lead over the main pack. As Storey tired and looked in danger of dropping away from the lead group, King attempted a solo attack but was unable to make it stick as Storey found strength in reserve to return to the main pack. Entering the finishing circuit, the lead group had a healthy lead of 55 seconds – but the peloton, driven on by 2016 British Cycling Women’s Road Series winner Nikki Juniper, gradually started clawing them in, reducing the gap by 25 seconds with one lap remaining. The lead group remained cagey Hannah Barnes quickly attempted a break but King denied her the chance to stretch out a lead. It all came down to a sprint finish on Stockton High Street – and a battle of the Barnes sisters. After the race, a delighted Hannah Barnes – who only returned to racing in April following an ankle injury said: "It feels really great. It was a really big aim for me this year. I think having the winter off, it was a realistic aim for me to focus on this race. (With Lizzie Armitstead not competing) it left the race pretty wide open. I'm really pleased to have the race win and how I could finish it off.
"It's quite a fine line between being patient and making sure you go with the right moves. Thankfully it was a pretty small group that we got away so it was easiest to mark and go with the moves. Coming into the circuits it was pretty active and I had to make sure I was with everyone that went.
"I didn't expect Alice to be so close to me really, I haven't raced with Alice in a long time so it was really nice to have her there. For her to have the under-23 jersey as well, we have a very happy mum and dad!"
Alice & Hannah Barnes by Allan McKenzie SWpix.com
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Shakespeare by Bike
four-strong troupe of cycling actors who carry all their set, props and costumes by bike to perform energetic, charmingly chaotic and environmentally sustainable Shakespeare plays across the globe Three years ago four friends took it upon themselves to see if it was possible to cycle a 967-mile route which snaked across the UK starting in Glasgow and ending in London carrying with them all the necessary set, props and costumes to perform two Shakespeare plays at outdoor venues on their way. They called themselves the HandleBards. With very little cycling experience between them the boys learnt a lot on their first day on the road; like the fact that canal paths are not ideal for road bikes and that using a shoelace and a sponge to attach a cheap trailer to a bike was not a good idea.
Tom Dixon and Puppets in The Comedy of Errors
“Our first cycle resulted in a broken derailleur, three flat tyres and a fractured coccyx,” says founder and producer Paul Moss. “That evening a local bike mechanic came to our show and fixed the bikes whilst we were performing; he didn’t charge us a penny. We quickly realised that the support and generosity of others was paramount in getting us all the way to London, and one of the best things people could offer us was food and drink.”
From those who gave them left over picnic supplies to a grounds keeper who offered them a tasting session from his large supply of whiskey; the boys met people from all walks of life as they cycled to public gardens, bicycle yards, cafes and National Trust properties performing outdoors whatever the weather. “By the time we reached London we had tan lines to make any cyclist proud and the elation we had due to the fact we had completed the tour was unreal. I had never considered myself a cyclist; our bikes were cheap, we had no high spec equipment or fancy gadgets, and yet we had literally cycled the length of the country carrying two shows with us. That was when we realised we had to make it happen again.” And so they did just that the following summer; cycling two new shows 1500 miles from London to London via England, Scotland the Netherlands and Belgium.
20 The HandleBards
“Taking the shows to Europe was so much fun, they have a lot of love for Shakespeare and the way we perform it when down a treat: four people playing all of the parts, bicycle-themed props, being playful and silly and including audience members in the show translates really well across all ages and nationalities.” explains Paul. “The cycle highways are incredible over there too and it was very flat, but as odd as it sounds we started to miss pushing our trailers up the steep hills of the UK!” New Girls Troupe
They have now performed their brand of fastpaced, bicycle-themed Shakespeare in twelve countries across three continents, winning the support of legions of fans, including actor Ian McKellen who called them “uproariously funny” and sponsorship from reputable British companies such as Pashley and Carradice. This year marks a special occasion for the troupe, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death they announced their “4 for 400” season sending two new troupes of actors on the road, one all-male and the other all-female performing four Shakespeare shows between them. “We decided it was time to let someone else have an adventure,” says a founding member and producer Tom Dixon. “We still organise everything for the tour, programming their cycling routes on a Garmin, booking venues and marketing, but after cycling with them for their first two weeks we let them carry on without us and without any back up vehicle!” After three years of touring the boys have learnt how to deal with every eventuality and the tour is now much more organised and cycle savvy. Each Pashley Pathfinder is laden with a Carradice handlebar bag, two full Carradice Super C Rear Panniers, with a roll matt, sleeping bag and litre bottle of water on the top of the pack rack. As well as this two lucky people tow a bicycle trailer which has 125 litre box of set props and costume. “Having five Pashley Pathfinders with full pack racks and two trailers means that we make quite an entrance whenever we cycle through a town or village.” explains new company manager Olly Jacques. “People often ask us what we’re doing and why we need to carry so much stuff! It’s only after we explain that we are performing two shows that they realise we’re not just really high maintenance!” The boys troupe are touring Richard III and Much Ado About Nothing across the UK until the 3rd of September, the girls are touring ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ until the 10th of September. Find out more and book tickets at www.handlebards. com or follow their adventures through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by searching ‘HandleBards’.
Callum Brodie in Macbeth
Bicycle Ballet Co and reCyculture Karen Poley, artistic director of Bicycle Ballet and reCyculture, talks to CW about the art of cycling
n 22 September 2006, The Bicycle Ballet Co was launched with two shows on Brighton seafront performed by six professional dancers and 80 local people on bikes. With funding from Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton Cycling City the Arts Council England, the performance was created over three months with participants braving all weathers, climbing the largest hill in Brighton, on evenings and weekends, to reach the racecourse car park, our rehearsal space. The show was made up of sequences and routines which told a story of the joyful highs and gritty lows of city cycling. The feelings of swerving downhill with the sun on your Strictly Cycling face, contrasting the harsh realities of manoeuvring through traffic, theft and have at least one knackered bike in a vandalism. The soundtrack was garden, hallway or chained to a bike an eclectic mix carefully edited with rack somewhere. the performers’ stories about riding bikes. Included were installations of Over the years, we have worked with old bicycles, originally commenting nearly 170 performance practitioners on the difficulties of parking your and created five other smallerbike in the city. This project also scale shows and toured to over 100 subsequently evolved, becoming locations. Nearly 600 people have reCyculture. The audience was huge – participated in various projects and on three levels of the seafront it was we estimate that the shows and an estimated 2,500-3,000 people. installations together have been
The following year, we were asked to re-create the show for various events including a royal visit; The National Theatre’s outdoor programme Watch This Space; the Paris-Roubaix bike race; the Manchester International Dance Festival, Urban Moves….
It now became my full-time job and reCyculture evolved with a series of ‘virtual’ installations - sound, film, spoken word – alongside the seemingly impossible installations adorning the rooftops and walls of buildings around Wandsworth, Kent and Brighton. As we got people painting what seemed like hundreds of bikes for the installations, we interviewed them. We talked about their experiences of cycling and wondered why everyone seemed to
enjoyed by nearly 950,000 people across the UK and Europe.
Our aim is to overturn and subvert people’s ideas of what cycling is, using the potential for surreal interventions in the everyday. We’re able to show a lighter side, that riding bikes isn’t all about lycra, having the right kit and an expensive bike (no offence). The work speaks to a different audience, in a new way, and hopefully encourages people to think about riding a bike. If nothing else, there are over 100 performers who, over the years, have been riding to/from shows, who might not have thought of it beforehand. Following that incredibly wet summer
of 2012, we embarked on a new direction – a waterproof show (well, mostly), which can go pretty much anywhere you can take a bike. Strictly Cycling is a visual performance in glorious yellow with curious performers who play with audiences and seek to raise a smile. It’s so bright that anyone in the nearby vicinity will see it, and it appears larger than it should even from quite a distance. We think it also emits subliminal messaging about dressing to be seen when riding and the night version, Strictly Night Cycling, about lighting up after dark. The show has now been commissioned seven times by various partners. There is a pool of ten performers and a large number of spare costumes for enough participants to nearly take over a town; a pink version; a blue-red-greenwhite and yellow version; a two and a ten-minute version and of course, the night time version. Most recently, we created a pilot project at Cyclopark, Gravesend, bringing together elements of Bicycle Ballet and reCyculture to attract new audiences to the park,
whilst highlighting the features of the park’s landscape – the BMX track, skate park etc. I hope to develop this initial work into a medium-scale, touring night-time spectacular, with fire and pyrotechnics – a whole new dimension to lighting up a bike after dark! I’m currently looking for commissioning partners…. In development this summer, subject to funding, Blazing Saddles is a new show with a community engagement project celebrating women and cycling. It will take a wry look at the issues and ideas around women cycling, through history to the present day, using movement, humour, character and costume. Alongside the show, will be a range of community engagement activities, from performing to digital story-telling.
TO FIND OUT MORE www.bicycleballet.co.uk www.recyculture.co.uk www.kp-projects.co.uk
Our First Show
Strictly Cycling by Chris Watt Photography
Ask Anita Trains, Buses and Bicycles
nita loves discovering new places by bike, having explored many miles of the National Cycle Network, and taken her trusty Ridgeback to roughly twenty countries so far. She does the occasional sportive, commutes by bike in London and Surrey and dabbles in triathlons, mountain biking and visiting cycling cafes. She currently works for the charity Sustrans as a project officer. Anita’s main area of expertise is surrounding herself with experts, whose knowledge she will extract to answer all of your everyday cycling questions…
Sometimes I’d like to pop my bike on the train to take it somewhere new to ride. Is this easy to do? Is it just me, or is the information about this really confusing?
It’s not just you. It isn’t always easy, but it’s not always impossible. It really depends on where you’re going, when, who with, and how many other people also want to take bikes on the train. And luck.
TRAVEL COMPANIONS I’m going to resist ranting about specific train operators ridiculous policies, but it is suffice to say that it really depends on the train operator, their rules, and how strictly they apply them. Working this out can be more complex than identifying the flavour eruptions in a Heston Blumenthal scone. Some operators will take bikes all the time, some only at certain times, some need reservations, some don’t. Some need you to hang your bike in a space clearly designed by abattoir workers and not cyclists. For some it’s a clear cut case of computer says no.
by Federation European Cyclists'
Denmark, Belgium, and other countries have whole carriages of the trains devoted to bikes. And guess what? If there are no bikes you can just fold the seat down and sit on it as a person, so the space isn’t being wasted. Genius. Taking your bike on a train abroad can be easier than taking it to the ferry or the airport this side. If you have the chance to take your steed to Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, you’ll see how cycle paths and trains should be, and wish life was always like that.
24 by Federation European Cyclists'
KEEP CHUGGING ALONG Having said all that, give it a go – it might be easier than you think. I can’t remember the last time I made a reservation for my bike, but I take it on trains a lot. Only on rare occasions have I had to wait for the next train. Don’t give up if it’s too tricky. Sometimes policy changes come in that make it harder. But sometimes they’re reversed if they prove to be unpopular (this happened with Eurostar last year). Sign petitions, it can make a difference.
MULTI-MODAL TRAVEL More and more people have started to use bikes for commuting, or for part of their commute. Stations themselves have better facilities for cyclists, but trains need to catch up. Some people need the bike at both ends of the journey, or require more flexibility. Bikes give you freedom and restrictions on trains take this away. One step at a time, but it would be great to see buses catering for bikes too. Interestingly, in Sweden, no trains take bikes but all buses do. My advice is to take your bike to as many places as you can – life is short. If you can’t ride it there, try the train. It would be nice if there was more consistency and maybe one day there will be. For now, you’ve just got to do what you can, think ahead where possible, and don’t turn up at the station expecting to be able to take your steed on the next train. Just view it as a bonus if you can.
Bike Review: Bickerton Junction 1909 Country Folding £899 by Helen Hill to fix a puncture. It is fast and nippy to travel on and takes just ten seconds to fold and put away. Value for Money: this particular model retails for £899 which is about average for a folding bike. Whilst there are lower prices available on the internet, we would always recommend buying through a local dealer where possible to ensure the bike is properly set up and after sales service is available. If you are using it as a commuter bike, then this would easily pay for itself. My overall opinion: Would I buy this bike? Definitely because it is a little bit different and stands out from others in the marketplace. I enjoyed riding it and the larger wheels give the impression that you are going fast with less effort. It is easy to store, whether that is your living room or garage. I particularly like the silver aluminium frame.
SPEC Weight Frame Stem Handlebars Grips Brakes Gear Shifters Cassette Rear Mech Chainset Wheel Size Tyres Saddle Pedals
12.2kg Bickerton Custom Alloy Mono Telescopic, 60601- AL Kinetix Comp Ergon GP1 BioKork Kinetix Speed Stop V-brakes Shimano Alivio 9 speed 11-32 Shimano Sora FSA Vero Custom, 55T 20” 20” x 1.75” Schwalbe Marathon Supreme Raceguard Brooks Leather Champion Suntour Alloy Folding
IT N VIS ATIO ICKERTON M R INFO e.com/B ORE id FOR M x2worldw .2 w w w
ickerton Portable Bikes have been in production since 1971 when Harry Bickerton designed his first portable, folding bike. The latest technology has seen them develop into the classy and durable bikes that are on sale today. The Bickerton Junction 1909 Country is the company’s flagship bike for 2016. One friend said to me ‘it’s not your usual style of bike!’ and another is coveting the saddle. I love riding this bike. It is a fun and enjoyable experience. It assembled easily from being folded in the box and has been parked in the living room because I like looking at it. There is something quirky about it, probably something to do with the oversized chain ring, but it is also comfortable to ride and that could be down to the Brooks Champion saddle and the Ergon GP1 BioKork handlebar grips. I have zoomed around my village on it and because of the integral mud guards I have stayed clean whatever the weather. I didn’t have any problem when I rode uphill, probably because it has nine gears, and I’ve ridden comfortably further afield, travelling up to fifteen miles. The 20 inch wheels make it a portable bike rather than a compact one, but it is still manoeuvrable and light enough to carry around, weighing 12.2 kg. The quick release wheels mean it is easy to remove them
EDITOR’S PICK RETRO WEAR Galibier Ginettaccio Cycling Gloves £22 These elegant and comfortable, natural leather gloves were perfect for the stylish L’Eroica ride. The gloves are breathable and the goatskin wicks sweat extremely effectively. Additionally, the natural materials take the form of your hand after just a couple of rides. They are hand cut and sewn, the palm is lightly padded with an extra layer of leather and have perforations on the fingers and knuckle holes to assist with ventilation. Goatskin has very high tensile-strength and abrasion-resistant properties, but has excellent softness and is lightweight. Ginettaccio is an honourable name awarded to a champion road cyclist. Gino Bartali the powerful legend is more commonly lauded with the title. He became Italian champion in 1936. The most renowned Italian cyclist before the war having won the Giro d’Italia three times (1936, 1937, 1946) and the Tour de France in 1938. His second Tour victory came in 1948 gave him superhero status, as it was the largest gap between victories in the race.
Hand stitched with reinforcement at key wear points Road-specific pad design using double leather in contact points Knuckle holes Velcro fastener Embossed Galibier logo Presentation and storage cotton bag
Galibier Le Tricolore Sock £7 An attractive sock that stayed up for 100 miles- what bliss!
These cycling-specific socks are woven from polyester with Lycra® fibres and CoolMax®, which help the socks fit close and keeps them up. The weave and construction deal with sweat efficiently, and have an elasticated arch flat and ankle elastic so they stay in position. With a breathable mesh upper, these socks are designed for high-intensity riding or racing and will perform from 10-35 degrees C.
S-M-L sizes Air Mesh Antibacterial fibres Flat-seam toe 14 cm ankle cuff Abrasion resistant sole CoolMax® and Lycra®
St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club is ideally located in Chepstow, Monmouthshire the home of cycling in Wales!
hepstow is the start of two long distance trails; The Celtic Trail (220 miles) and the Lon Las Cymru (185 miles). Road cycling events taking place in and around Chepstow include the Wales Open Criterium, Grand Prix of Wales and only 25 minutes away is the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling. Monmouthshire also offers a wealth of mountain biking facilities across the Wye Valley and the Black Mountains including Bike Park Wales. Once a 14th century manor house, St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club, blends historic architecture and elegance with the best in modern, four star facilities. Set in 400 acres of beautiful Chepstow countryside, guests can make use of the state-of-the-art spa and leisure
facilities, including a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and beauty treatment rooms, offering additional opportunities to relax and unwind, while three restaurants provide an extensive range of food and drink options for visitors and guests. St Pierre also offers 2 golf courses including the Championship Old Course. Facilities for cyclists include bike storage, bike cleaning and over 400 complimentary car parking spaces. With excellent transport links - this stunning property is just minutes from the M4, making it a great base for exploring everything that Wales and the surrounding area has to offer including Chepstow Racecourse, Chepstow Castle and the Welsh Coastal Path.
St Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club the ideal location for The Celtic Trail and the Lon Las Cymru.
Offering 148 bedrooms, 2 restaurants, leisure club, spa and 2 golf courses, we are the ideal cycling base. Visit MarriottStPierre.co.uk to discover our latest offers.
St Pierre Park Chepstow, NP16 6YA Tel: 01291 625261 Web: MarriottStPierre.co.uk ST PIERRE MARRIOTT HOTEL & COUNTRY CLUB @STPIERREHOTEL
St. Pierre Marriott Hotel & Country Club
A richly rewarding ride along the banks of the Tennant and Neath canals by Gordon Oldham
he crunch of bike tyres on gravel and sweet birdsong are the restful sounds that have the dominance in my surroundings. The hum of traffic on a busy main road nearby is something I have to make a conscious effort to be aware of, so unobtrusive is it. This is the way of the Tennant Canal, flowing eastward out of Swansea. It has all those much sought-after virtues that canals everywhere contain between their two hedges – a depth of peace, and an easy pace of life. A lady wrote in my local newspaper how, fed up with the frustrations of a stop-start car drive through heavy traffic to work, she hauled out her neglected bike and tried cycling the canal route instead. Along with a hymn of praise about her improved sense of well-being, she also commented on the peaceful frame of mind in which she arrived at work. George Tennant constructed this linear park of green peace during 1817 and 1818. He was a lawyer from London who came to South Wales in 1811 to handle a sale of shares. With a businessman’s eye he saw the prosperity of the area with its rich mineral deposits. Already these were being drawn from the hills of the Vale of Neath and shipped down the existing Neath Canal to Neath docks. George’s idea was to create another canal that linked Neath with Swansea and its larger docks, thus facilitating more trade. That’s a simplified version of how and why the Tennant Canal came into being. The project was highly successful – over 110 years a steady procession of barges brought coal, timber and other products into Swansea docks for export. It ceased operation in 1934, succumbing to stiff competition from the Swansea & Neath Railway.
So we say thank you to Mr Tennant for such a wonderful inheritance he had no idea he was giving us. We can picture yesteryear’s scene – the powerful horses plodding the towpath, the rope taut as the filthy barge drifts slowly forward. Nowadays, the much cleaner water is ruffled only by a family of swans.
The wonderful thing for cyclists is that when the two canals, the Tennant and the Neath, were joined, we were provided (except for a short break where we leave the Tennant and join the Neath) with 20 miles of traffic-free peace, from Swansea to Glyn Neath, passing through a variety of woodland, estuary and, as we engage with the beautiful Vale of Neath, distant mountain scenery. The half mile or so of the canal heading into Swansea docks has long been covered by road and
railway. We must get beyond this burial ground to reach the Swansea suburb of Port Tennant. Here, a quiet back street gives way to a track, narrow and with a bumpy tarmac surface, and we are lured onward by one of those familiar little blue signs, ‘NCN 4,’ (this canal route being a branch of the main NCN 4 which runs along the A483 eastwards out of Swansea). The main road is just a stone’s throw away from where we are but the hum of its traffic is amazingly dampened by an intervening stretch of trees and bushes. Canals are commonly screened from the outside world, usually with hedges. In fact there are 600 miles of hedges in the nationwide canal system. When they were installed by the original canal builders their role was quite different from that of ‘guardian of the peace’ we appreciate them for today. They were there for financial reasons – to protect the genteel eyes of the landowners whose land the canals traversed from the dirty traffic and its operators. In short, ‘no hedges, no canal through my land.’ Another bit of good but unintended ‘spin-off’ for today’s users. Both the Tennant and Neath Canals have that characteristic of reticence from the outside world - hence the title of this article. For a long time my route eastwards from Swansea was along the main road; then I stumbled across the canal. And how often have I driven the fast road through the beautiful Vale of Neath wishing for a quiet means of bicycle exploration, unaware of the availability of the canal towpath to cyclists and walkers. Here on the Tennant, on our left is not a hedge but a wide watery swathe of reeds and, in their season, bulrushes. (The bulrushes always bring memories of when, as a boy, I and my mates in the Lea Valley, North London, plucked, painted and peddled the things door to door. The enterprise didn’t make us millionaires). About a mile of patient pedalling lies ahead of us before the canal emerges from its choking reeds and the track assumes its proper role as a towpath. During its post-commercial, sleepy retirement days, the Tennant has become a rich habitat for aquatic plants and animals, and of course a wonderful variety of bird life. My research also tells me that there are some ‘amazing spiders’ to be found, for those who like that sort of thing. It’s only about two miles before we have to leave this towpath, but, taken slowly, it is two miles of the most richly enjoyable pedalling experience we could wish for. What ends it is the Jersey Marine Road crossing our way, after which the canal continues blithely on but the towpath does not. We
Neath Abbey ruins
29 Water wheel at Aberdulais Basin
Banks of the Tennant
Neath Canal towpath
The O.S. Explorer sheet 165 is a most helpful tool on this expedition. On it you can trace the two canals, Neath and Tennant, flowing through Neath town. You will see a point where they draw quite close together. My reason for mentioning this is that it is rewarding to regain the Tennant, towpath now back in place, and go back westwards for a short distance to find the remains of Neath Abbey. Canals are not just about aquatic tranquillity, for it is fascinating what gems of antiquity we find along their banks. Here is a haunting, grey-stoned Cistercian pile that has stood in its grounds since the 12th century. Affiliated to the Cistercian Order in 1147, its inhabitants were known as ‘white monks’ because of their habits of undyed wool. They practised strict austerity and deliberately chose remote locations in their desire for poverty and isolation, supporting themselves through farming. The Order at its height established 500 abbeys across Europe, Scandinavia and the near east. Neath was one of 85 in Britain. It’s a lovely spot, retaining something of the old sense of isolation. On a fine summer’s day, it is worth lingering here and quietly wandering among the ancient walls: walls that have been saturated over the centuries with the sound of the monks’ psalmody. Listen carefully and you might just catch an echo. And even if you don’t, there is no entry fee for trying. Retracing to the Neath Canal and NCN 47, we follow the stream gliding so silently through the town of Neath. We could almost be dissuaded there were busy streets a stone’s throw distance. We could engage with those streets if refreshments were needed, with a range of cafes to choose from. A short way beyond Neath is Aberdulais Basin. Here the Neath and Tennant canals meet, the latter carried over the River Neath on a tenarch, 340-foot long aqueduct to achieve the union. Right alongside and frowning down at the aqueduct is the railway viaduct, built by Brunel to carry the Swansea and Vale of Neath Railway. From its superior height it seems to gloat down at the canal whose business the railway would curtail. Now of course, both structures are but monuments, empty of the traffic they once carried. That traffic for the canal included funeral processions at a cost of one old penny and, during the Napoleonic wars, cannonballs. The river Dulais, after its journey from the high ground that leads to the Brecon Beacons,
joins the River Neath here with a spectacular waterfall: hence the name – Aberdulais. There is a lift that takes visitors to a spot where an excellent view of the falls is obtained. Here also is the largest electricity-generating water-wheel in Europe. I’m sure it does more than power the kettle for tea, but nearby is a café, housed in the old school room. Its terrace and outside tables make a delightful spot when the sun shines, for thirsty cyclists to relax awhile. In this area are the Tonna Workshops that served the Neath Canal, the blacksmith’s forge, the first, or last, of its nineteen locks and the lock-keeper’s cottage. I could not find the latter and to enquire slipped into an unpretty building with the blue and white British Legion legend on its wall. At the bar I was told, “You’re standing in it mate.” With lock-keeping a thing of many years past, the building had been put to other usage. Rather large for a cottage, it was not the quaint, attractive breath of yesteryear I was anticipating. The other buildings mentioned on this site have been lovingly restored by the Neath and Tennant Canals Preservation Society and capture something of the spirit of the Industrial Revolution which gave birth to the canals. There follows now eight miles of the most pleasurable cycling as we accompany the Neath Canal from Aberdulais to its end at Glyn Neath. Each turn of the pedals hauls into view an increasingly clearer outline of the Brecon Beacons. There is yet more evidence of the ongoing hard work and dedication of the NTCPS in the form of restoration of locks and various other artefacts, and the upkeep of the towpath. Kingfishers, long-tailed tits, bullfinches, snipe, heron and swallows make the canal their habitat. Otters may be seen at dawn and dusk. Legally protected, these are now on the increase. For dedicated tea-drinkers there is another refreshment stop on the canal side at Resolven. This is an 18th century lengthman’s cottage called Ty Banc. (Lengthmen were employed to maintain sections of the canal). For a change from pedalling to paddling, canoes can be hired from this spot. Ty Banc (House on the Bank) is featured in Alexander Cordell’s novel Song of the Earth, providing inspiration for his Old Navigation Inn featured in the story. Although a work of fiction, Cordell’s beautiful and evocative writing weaves in a lot of historical fact relating to 19th century South Wales as he vividly portrays the life of a family working and living on a barge on the Neath Canal. Glyn Neath, where the waterway ends, would in its heyday have been a hive of industry with its warehouses and stables for the horses – but now it is a quiet backwater living with its memories. The canal finishes as it began back in Port Tennant – choked in reeds and silt. But what glorious cycling lies in between.
must follow the NCN 4 roadside route before paradise is regained in the form of the Neath Canal towpath at Briton Ferry. This towpath, which is the NCN 47, takes us quietly into Neath, our progress slowed at intervals by metal bar arrangements that allow cyclists and walkers to slip through, but which are deliberately too narrow for motorbikes.
Train and stay on the worlds toughest triathalon course
Cycling accommodation in Pembrokeshire, West Wales 01834 844565 | fbmholidays.co.uk
Nestling at the southern end of the lovely Rusland Valley you will find two hand built Shepherd Huts one sleeping four and one sleeping two. Sitting neatly in their own garden with gated access & private parking. Secure bike storage with washing facilities for your bikes after a day on the fells. The Woodmans Huts are the very best in Glamping, with their own bathroom and kitchen area. Comfy beds and crisp white bedding. Fully equipped which provide everything you require for a relaxing stay, even down to champagne glasses! Underfloor heating ensures you will be cosy and warm throughout the coldest weather. Ideally located in the South Lakes, four miles from Grizedale Forest - a bikers paradise! Five minutes from the south end of Lake Windermere. Spend a day out on the bike trails which are directly from your front door, to be welcomed back to the BBQ Artic Cabin, with its open fire and reindeer skin seating. A great retreat away from it all but with everything on your doorstop.
Woodmans Huts, Haverthwaite, Cumbria, LA12 8AB 07809402484 firstname.lastname@example.org /woodmanshuts @woodmanshuts
AWARD WINNING TEAROOM • 10-ACRE SITE • CHILDRENS PLAY AREA ZIP WIRE • LIVE MUSIC EVENTS • WYE VALLEY WALKS • FAMILY EVENTS
THE OLD STATION
TINTERN * Entry is FREE to all visitors, parking charges apply
For more information email email@example.com, or phone 01291 689566 www.visitmonmouthshire.com/oldstationtintern
The Old Station Tintern
he Old Station nestles beside the River Wye in the heart of the Wye Valley in Tintern on the main A466 Chepstow to Monmouth road, a mile north of Tintern Abbey. This idyllic 10-acre site boasts the best of what Monmouthshire has to offer and has plenty of space for large groups of cyclists to sit out and enjoy the views while re fueling with a variety of coffees, teas, and cakes. The award wining Victorian tea room serves home baked cakes, light lunches and 12 different loose leaf teas. The flap jack, bread pudding and speciality sandwich peanut butter, honey and banana are extremely popular with visiting cyclists as they supply much needed energy reserves for the rest of the ride. The site also offers a campsite, riverside meadow walks, a Sunday afternoon live music programme and children’s activities are available every day. The tearoom manager is also a qualified natural juice therapist, the first one in South Wales and is able to advise on bespoke training programmes and you can also pre order freshly made juices.
Tintern, Near Chepstow, Monmouthshire, NP16 7NX 689566 www.visitmonmouthshire.com/oldstationtintern
TRAFFIC-FREE CYCLE RIDE
8 BR ECO N CAST L E & CAT H E DRAL B4601
L L ECH FA
T HE AT R B RYC HE I NI O G
MONMOUTHSHIRE AND BRECON CANAL
PE N CE L L
(ABERGAVENNY TO BRECON)
B R E C O N B E A C O N S
Ta lyb Reser
www.sustrans.org.uk/CyclingWorld Distance: 22 miles
TEXT BY WENDY JOHNSON
Start: Llanfoist Village Hall, near Abergavenny
Pentwyn Reser vo ir
Finish: Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon NCN route number: 46 at the start only 8
Train stations: Abergavenny. No train station at Brecon but a Bike Bus with capacity for around 20 bikes operates between Brecon and Cardiff on Sundays and Bank Holidays from May to September
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Cycling World 34
This long and meandering ride follows one of Britain’s prettiest towpath routes through the rural Vale of Usk, with remarkable mountainous scenery across the Brecon Beacons National Park. Start at the little wooded nature reserve at Llanfoist on the edge of Abergavenny before zig-zagging sharply upwards to join the banks of the canal. The dramatic scenery across The Black Mountains in the opening miles is impressive, with the giants of Skirrid and Sugar Loaf visible on the distant horizon. Within a few miles you’ll be near the little villages of Llangattock and Crickhowell, where the limestone cliffs of Llangattock Escarpment dominate the hillside to the left and the distinctive flat top of Crug Hywel ‘Table Mountain’ can be seen to the right. Thick woodland covers the slopes of the valley in parts so look out for red kites soaring over the treetops and for the impressive red country house of Gliffaes and its
A 406 0
B4 27 6
Mostly flat with a climb up to the towpath at the start and gentle climbing in the route’s second half. Tarmac path and stony trail, narrow and rugged in parts. Some gates and small road crossings with a short, quiet on-road section around Ashford Tunnel. Take care passing under low bridges running close to the water’s edge.
A465 Italian-inspired bell tower poking out from between the 05 trees at Myarth Hill. Locks are in noticeably short supply 4 throughout this ride, which makes the five Llangynidr Locks a bit of a rare treat. They appear at Aaround the 4102 halfway point and make a pretty spot for a mid-ride picnic while taking in the views. Alternatively, The Coach and A Horses pub near the bottom lock has a scenic waterside beer garden. A4
TERRAIN, GRADIENTS AND ACCESS
After the Llangynidr Locks, watch boats disappearing into the long, dark Ashford Tunnel, before climbing up to join the short and quiet road that will take you around it. Back on the towpath, the pretty village of Talybont-on-Usk in the Central Beacons appears, where there are lovely traditional pubs in the village, or Talybont Stores and Canal Side Café for supplies and snacks. There’s also an opportunity here to leave the canal behind and head for the attractive Talybont Reservoir along a section of the renowned Taff Trail. In the final miles, cross the gushing River Usk on Brynich Aqueduct. Brecon is close now and the towpath is often busier with walkers and cyclists around here. End at Theatr Brycheiniog at Brecon Basin or follow the short road into the narrow streets of Brecon centre. The cathedral and the ruins of Brecon Castle overlooking the Rivers Usk and Honddu are both worth a visit.
T H E L l a ng o rs L a ke
B L A C K
TA LY BO N TO N - U SK
G L I F FA ES CO UN T RY H OUS E
M O U N T A I N S
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e ir l sh na th Ca ou n m co on re B &
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2 5 follow NCN 46 Clydach Gorge, an eight-mile traffic-free From Llanfoist B4 trail from Llanfosit to Brynmawr. At Talybont-on-Usk follow NCN 8 Taff Trail alongside Talybont Reservoir then loop back on a quiet road along the opposite side of the reservoir. NCN 8 Lôn Las Cymru is a longdistance challenge ride across Wales from Holyhead to Chepstow or Cardiff following a mix of traffic-free and on-road route.
86 B44 A4 0 4 6
LOOPS, LINKS AND LONGER RIDE
The Star Inn, Talybont-on-Usk (01874) 676635 www.starinntalybont.co.uk
EAT AND DRINK
The Coach and Horses is canalside at Llangynidr. At Talybont-on-Usk try The Star Inn, The White Hart, The Usk Inn and Talybont Stores and Canalside Café. The Three Horseshoes near Brynich Aqueduct is popular or try Tipple ‘n’ Tiffin at Theatr Brycheiniog at the route’s end. Venture into Brecon town centre where The Café on High Street is lovely and Tower Café at St Mary’s Church is very friendly with a pretty tea garden.
Hopyard Cycles, Abergavenny (01873) 830219 www.hopyardcycles.co.uk or Bikes and Hikes, Brecon (01874) 610071 www.bikesandhikes.co.uk
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FO R EST COA L P I T
L L A NB E D R A40
L L A NT HO NY
CYCLE MUSEUM As a keen cyclist in Wales, do visit the National Cycle Museum
The museum has been based in the delightful Art Nouveau Automobile Palace building in Llandrindod Wells, Mid Wales since 1997. There are over 250 bicycles on display of all ages and types spanning around 200 years of bicycle history. Find out how riders get on a Penny Farthing which ladies didn't ride, we are told, unless they were of 'ill repute'. Admire the different materials used for bicycle designs including bamboo, plastic and magnesium. Our newest display is the new Sinclair X-1, of very futuristic design. The museum has undergone many changes recently and our most popular exhibit is proving to be the 1950s cycle-themed camping display. There are many unusual and unique bicycles including a ten-foot tall Eiffel Tower bicycle, a Kangaroo bicycle and even a bicycle with a steering wheel! Various tricycles of all ages, including some rare tandem tricycles are on display. There is also much cycling memorabilia, lots to bring back memories for older visitors. Free activities for children are available during school holidays. Try the easy museum quiz or draw a favourite cycle. The museum is run as a charitable trust and is normally manned by two trustees who job share as volunteers to keep it open most weekdays and occasional Saturdays. They are also helped on some Fridays by Bob, a retired gentleman from Llandrindod Wells. Best to check on the website http://www.cyclemuseum.org.uk/ or tel 01597 825531 before visiting. The museum has an outreach service, taking cycles to schools, shows and events. Mid Wales is a beautiful area of Wales, it's cycling country with many places of interest to visit including the Victorian town of Llandrindod Wells. Come for a day or a few days and visit the museum during your stay.
WALES AT ITS BEST Pr
Cycling World visits British Cycling MTB Cross Country Series, Fforest Fields, near Powwys, Wales Text by Matthew Head, photos by Andrew Gazard
ycling World was invited to Fforest fields to experience an MTB weekend in Wales, and to spectate the British Cycling MTB Cross Country Series. I had never been to Wales and mountain biking is a big hobby of mine so there was no hesitation to grasp the opportunity of an exciting weekend away. I took close friend and freelance photographer, Andrew Gazard, who did a cracking job at capturing our exhilarating trip.
THE PLACE TO STAY
Fforest fields is a family run campsite situated in mid Wales, on the outskirts of Powwys. George and Katie Barstow have lovingly been tending the campsite on their hill farm for the last 25 years. Campers have hundreds of acres to explore alongside the open moorland of the Aberedw Hill directly from the site.
It is simple to find being signposted from the local village- we found this worked better than using a sat nav. Being a lot later than planned due to the typical motorway traffic, site owner Katie Barstow gave us a call to inquire after our whereabouts and let us know that someone would be waiting for us on arrival, which I thought was a lovely gesture. Driving into the complex at night was a beautiful sight, lighting and flowers on the main gate gave you a really high expectation of what was to come. As promised, staff were waiting for us in reception, and we were shown to our caravan as we just wanted a good night’s kip before the planned cycle ride the following morning.
We went on a breath-taking tour which took a good few hours. Fforest fields is surrounded by looming hillsides, one being right behind the site with countless bike trails criss-crossing its gradients.
Most of the main tracks were closed as the MTB Cross Country Series was taking place the following day so we took an alternative route through sheep fields, climbing 451m above sea level. The ride was intense and nothing like Andrew and I had experienced before. Being a bit rusty I fell on a steep descent, actually going straight over the handle bars, though luckily I was not hurt. We returned to Fforest fields with huge mud-splattered smiles upon our faces. Mud, sheep manure, sweat and grass is a fashionable combination in these parts.
CROSS COUNTRY EVENT
Fforest fields is beginning to host a growing number of events. The site has hosted rounds of the British Cyclocross and Downhill and also had the Championship final of both one year. Welsh Championship Cyclocross events and British Series events are regularly held here.
Andrew and I stayed at the Start/ Finish area, getting shots of the thrilling event. The campsite was heaving with people turning up to ride and find out what this area has to offer. I spoke to some riders who were not disappointed, saying they really enjoyed the track and the facilities at Fforest fields.
charged up and hungry for the win.
The onsite café was delicious; the menu had quite a wide variety with something to tickle everyone’s taste buds. Food is home-made with care, using fresh ingredients and catering for vegans and vegetarians. It is also reasonably priced.
STAY IN COMFORT
Campsite facilities at an amazing standard. The cleanliness was particularly impressive, with extra cleaning sessions taking place due to the high number of people staying. During evening chill time, we sat on our camping chairs taking in the calm atmosphere of the site, watching people strolling around the lake and gazing into the hills beyond. We had an amazing break at Fforest Fields. Andrew and I will remember this for a lifetime and would recommend anyone to go and visit.
After quite a dull morning the weather cleared for the event, and youthful energy started to fill the valley. We walked to the top of the nearby hill where you can see nearly the whole track and get a sense of just how popular this event is. We then rushed to the start of the elite men’s race, where riders were in the zone, focused on the track ahead with a massive crowd to see them off. The standard of riding was exceptional, from both adults and elite juniors, who I must say looked a lot more
We were made to feel welcomed by the Barstow family on their homely site set in a picturesque, quiet location.
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S Ev ets en U ts p M In o Th st e Cy Ar cl ea e
Hillside Behind Fforrest Fields
Main Facilities Area
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45 1m Ab ov e Se a Le ve l
Bike it in Britain’s only truly coastal NATIONAL PARK
Breathtakingly beautiful coastline, a warm Welsh welcome and awesome sea and mountain rides make the Pembrokeshire Coast National one of the best cycling destinations in the UK.
Whether you’re a family looking for a seaside adventure on two wheels or an Ironman contender seeking a seriously tough challenge, the Pembrokeshire Coast has it all. “Pembrokeshire will appeal to anyone who appreciates the open air and a beautiful, unspoilt landscape where they can really enjoy exercising at their own pace,” said Hannah Buck, Health and Tourism Policy Officer with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority. “Major events have enticed keen cyclists and active families to the National Park in recent years, including the Ironman Wales and Long Course Weekend triathlons and the Tour of Pembrokeshire sportive. “From the shortest eight mile family ride in the Tour to the full 112-mile cycle in Ironman, the routes feature inspirational coast and countryside. What’s great is that those routes are here for everyone, all year round.”
Pembrokeshire is a spectacular place to discover; a patchwork of sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and islands, ancient woodland, peaceful estuaries and dramatic hill country, plus pretty harbour towns and Britain’s smallest city, St Davids. Strikingly beautiful and remote, the county is home to more than 20,000 people.
Supporters spurred Gayle on from first light to midnight, when she completed the course with nine minutes to spare. She added: “If you want to train for a big event, Pembrokeshire is perfect, but it’s equally suitable if you just fancy a quiet family cycling break in stunning surroundings. Whatever your reason for coming, the warm welcome you’ll receive is part of the package.” Pembrokeshire has miles of rides for mountain bikers, tourers or racers and you can make it as easy or as hard as you like. The Preseli Hills and the woodlands around Canaston Bridge and Stackpole are suitable for true off-road mountain biking but in any area you can link villages, coastal views and historic sites via quiet country lanes and byways. Find out more: www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/cycling
Ironman is the ultimate triathlon. A 2.4mile sea swim, followed by a 112-mile cycle and finishing with a full 26.2-mile marathon, all within a 17-hour time frame with strict cut-off times for each discipline. For five years the epic annual event has been hosted in Tenby, one of the jewels in the National Park crown, and supported by the National Park Authority. For registration and spectator information visit: www.eu.ironman.com
Tour of Pembrokeshire
There’s a distinctly Welsh feel to the Tour of Pembrokeshire, which draws around 3,500 visitors to the county each spring. Organiser Peter Walker said: “It’s not just that we’re able to give people a great ride with sea and mountain scenery of unrivalled beauty, but we offer people a real taste of Pembrokeshire too. With the exception of things like bananas and energy drinks, every item on our feeding stations is made in Pembrokeshire, from Welsh cakes to faggots. People seem to really appreciate this.”
With the recent elevation of Pembrokeshire as a major player on the world triathlon stage, many of those people have taken cycling to their hearts.
Gayle Lister, a National Park Discovery Ranger who herself completed the Ironman course in 2015, said: “There were very few sections along the bike route that didn’t have people waving flags, shouting and cheering or offering help with the inevitable 40 punctures.”
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Discovery Ranger Gayle Lister enjoying the local support during Ironman Wales
Find out more: www.tourofpembrokeshire.co.uk
Llys y Fran
Milford Haven Pembroke Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Family cycling routes
Relatively quiet roads and safe off-road routes make Pembrokeshire a first choice for families with small children. • Goodwick Parrog – start of the 14mile Last Invasion Trail, linked to the last invasion of Britain near Fishguard in 1797. • Llys y Frân – a 7.5-mile trail circles the reservoir in this country park. • Pantmaenog Forest – open to cyclists and horse riders on 12km of signposted tracks. • St Davids Airfield – a former airfield, managed by the Park Authority as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Great for beginners to lose their stabilisers. • Stack Rocks to St Govan’s – a rare bit of bridleway on the 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail. Follows a fairly level gravel track. • Brunel Trail – a 14-mile route starting at Brunel Quay in Neyland, then along bridleways and quiet lanes. Once part of the Great Western Railway. Find out more: www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/cycling www.visitpembrokeshire.com Pic credits: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Frank Whittle, Pembrokeshire County Council, huwfaircloughphotography.co.uk.
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Bananas cyclists' best friend
Training and Nutrition by Tim Ramsden. Tim is an Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) Level 3 Coach and owner of www.blackcatcyclecoaching.com
ast time I talked about the “lunch date”: the full nutritional strategy/ menu to fuel a long ride or sportive. But…let’s say that your one long ride is only part of a series: maybe it’s a week- long tour, or a multi-stage event where you will be clocking up the miles, and burning the calories, over a number of days. It may be just that you want to fuel the next training session…then the “pudding” is of great importance! Research into nutrition for endurance performance has shown that there is a window of time after exercise in which refuelling your body with the nutrients it requires produces the optimal effect: this window is up to two hours after a session, and should be the time in which a mix of carbohydrate and protein are consumed in order to allow the body to replenish glycogen stores and repair muscle fibres. Due to the fact that some riders find it hard to digest solid food after a hard workout, often the chosen way of refuelling is in liquid form: the recovery drink. There are a number of ready-made recovery drinks on the market which are aimed at cyclists, and all are a far cry from the foodstuffs and “additives” favoured by professional riders from 80-100 years ago – it was not uncommon for individuals to eat large numbers of boiled eggs and, indeed, quantities of less innocuous substances such as nitro-glycerine in order to “prepare” themselves for the next race or training session. Nowadays, the recovery drink comes in powder form, to which is added water. For the endurance athlete (that’s us….), a recovery drink should contain carbohydrate and protein (a protein shake is a different product, though in my experience this term is often used to describe a recovery drink, even if the drink contains carbohydrate) and this is generally in the proportions 2-3 parts carbohydrate to 1-part protein. The carbohydrates in the drink may be a mix of both simple and complex. But…. what about keeping things “real”? There is no evidence to suggest that all the elements needed to fuel exercise can’t be found in a balanced diet without the need for additional dietary supplements: could the same logic be applied to recovery drinks? The answer is yes…and the backdrop of the Rio Olympics gives me an opportunity to share the bones of a recipe given to me by one of my clients – thanks Michelle – which features a Brazilian fruit known as acai berry. So, enjoy the games, and recover well with this refreshing drink – quantities are a guideline, half the fun with this is to have a go at mixing and try it out! Add the ingredients to a blender and serve…or better still blend it and pop in the fridge while you ride! Can’t find acai berries? Try any other fruit that takes your fancy!! • A banana • Acai berries – up to you how many… • Plain yoghurt (low fat) maybe 100g • ½ pint skimmed or semi-skimmed milk – you could use almond milk here if you like • A small amount of honey – to taste here, but probably half a teaspoon
Aldi recreates Rio skyline
From the Workshop ACCESSORIES TO PUT ON A NEW BIKE By Martial PrĂŠvalet
A new bike needs accessories which turn a common bike into your own bike. Equipment can increase performance (tyres, wheels), ergonomics (pedals, saddle) or comfort (water bottle cage, storage)
Pedals can improve comfort. Remember the left has reverse thread. Before assembly grease the thread
A new computer is a very personal item due to its placement, size of the screen, functions, etc
Bikes are rarely sold with a water bottle cage, though it is an essential item
A saddle bag is practical for tools, inner tubes, rubber patches, keys and mobile phone
Cycling Regular World
Outer cables cause marks of wear. A piece of tape or specific protection prevent this
Donâ€™t hesitate to replace tyres and inner tubes to suit your riding and the season
The quality of brake pads is mixed. Use top of the range as the wear of pads and rims is reduced
Itâ€™s often necessary to change the saddle. If a saddle suited you in the past, then buy the same one
Some cyclists have pumps that are so small they cannot inflate to 8 bars. When I am training, I take this big pump
I use metal valve caps as they are easier to remove
Think of the specific tools you need. A torque spanner allows you to work without the risk of causing damage
Mudguards should be wide and long. Youâ€™ll be popular with fellow riders
To ease the maintenance of the transmission, I use a chain connector on all my bikes
August May 2016 2016
Cheaper bikes come with bottom of the range wheels. Lighter or stiffer wheels will improve your performance
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Please keep sending your thoughts, feelings, ideas and insights about all things cycling. Send letters to: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Post: Editor, Cycling World Magazine, Myrtle Oast, Kemsdale Road, Fostall, Faversham, Kent ME13 9JL We may edit your letter for brevity and/or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you. Editor
THE BICYCLE DIARIES O â€™ L T : 7 ne woman s solo cycle from
Cycling Regular World
Rebecca Lowe embarked on a 10,000km 'bummel' through Europe and the Middle East in July 2015. Her aims are threefold: cultivate a pair of shapely calves that will be the envy of all she meets; survive; and shed light on a region long misunderstood in the West.
Tran to Markovo, Bulgaria (23-28 Oct) Total miles cycled: 2,205 (3,550km)
Instead I make my way to the Tran bus station. This transpires to be a grim concrete lair with water pouring through the roof into deep, oily pools on the floor. A woman in a tiny, dirty cubbyhole, barely discernible in the gloom, tells me the next bus to Sofia goes at 1pm. So I return to the hotel to wait it out over a bowl of 'paunch soup' – an experience I still have troubling flashbacks about today. Suffice to say, if a soup costs under 30p there is usually a reason. When I return, I discover the bus is tiny with almost no boot. But I strip Maud down to her bare essentials and a helpful group of about seventeen bystanders assist me in squeezing her indelicately inside. Then we're off, and for the next three miserable hours, we plough sluggishly through the tsunami towards Sofia. By the time we arrive, the rain has now slowed to a funereal drizzle and I cycle the final seven km in the growing gloom over heavily cobbled streets and thick traffic. Pavements appear and disappear on a whim, along with the occasional halfarsed bike lane. I have a vague idea where I'm going, having taken some photos of the location on Google maps, but find myself wishing not for the first time that I had a sense of direction. It could come in handy at moments like this, when trying to find somewhere. I finally arrive at the house of my hosts, a family I found on the cycling couch-surfing website Warmshowers. They have a newborn baby and hyperactive two-year-old, and the flat is in disarray. She is exhausted and barely able to speak, while he does his best to drag the infant off me while serving cold red wine and pizza. What possessed them to host me, I think to myself? Some kind of cycling sadomasochism? He is Welsh and works as a teacher for the British Council, while she is Bulgarian and an electrical engineer. They are gentle, liberal sorts with a beatnik edge and unkempt charm. He tells me about the quirks of the
country through the eyes of an ex-pat. People shake their head when they mean yes, he says; except those who have been abroad, who tend to nod. So the country exists in an almost constant state of ambiguity – which may go some way towards explaining why nothing has really been achieved over the past couple of decades. Tensions still exist between the majority Orthodox Christians and minority Muslims, I learn, and there are concerns about the influence of Turkey that hark back to the Ottoman Empire. We then get onto food, and he confirms my belief that all waiters here are miserable cretins. 'They expect tips no matter what,' he says. 'There's no sense of paying for good value.' On the positive side, the communal, family culture in Bulgaria is very useful, he says. His wife's grandmother takes their son every weekend, allowing them some much-needed relaxation time. Wow, I think, watching little P eat the curtains while destroying the parquet floor with his plastic Triceratops. Poor woman. The next day, I venture out into Sofia to explore. Everyone is huddled up as if braving an arctic tundra and seems sad, brittle, brusque. The city itself is attractive, however, full of striking buildings, musty churches and handsome, stray mutts. The architecture is grand and diverse, from the Roman-Byzantine Rotunda of St. George and Neo-Renaissance market hall to the Stalinist Gothic public buildings and Brutalist tower blocks. There's also a pleasant aura of tolerance about the place, with a church, mosque and synagogue co-existing comfortably on one of the main squares. Over coffee, a young lawyer gives me her take on the country. It's difficult to get anything achieved here, she tells me. Bureaucracy is huge, its cogs oiled by bribery and corruption. Everyone takes their cut: the politicians, police, judges, doctors. 'Nobody has the will to reform the system,' she says. 'Because everyone hopes they will one day benefit from it.' People are also terribly poor and cannot afford to fight for abstract principles like transparency and accountability. Despite being an EU country, the average wage is just €450 a month. Few pay their taxes because they can't afford to and don't trust the government. 'Many of the best people are leaving,' the lawyer says. 'Though it's getting better. Young people have more job prospects than five years ago.' I move to my second Sofia home later that day. My new hosts are a pleasant young couple with a baby, who chat with me into the early hours about their country and the challenges they face. Tensions are growing between Muslims and Christians, they report ruefully, with a climate of fear
August May 2016 2016
y first day in Bulgaria doesn't bode well. The sky is black and buckets of rain thump down outside my window. I spend an exciting 20 minutes wrapping all my electrical equipment in plastic bags – laptop, cameras, sat-nav, YB Tracker – then venture tentatively out. Ten minutes later, I venture tentatively back in again. I can't see a thing through my glasses and my padded underpants are already sodden. This is almost certainly how I'll be spending my dotage so I'd rather not start now.
fomented by nationalistic parties clambering for power. Only a few weeks ago, the Orthodox Church called on the government not to let any more Muslim refugees into the country to prevent an 'invasion', they tell me. Is the country safe, I ask them? 'Be wary,' I am told, especially where the Roma are concerned. 'One village might invite you in with open arms, but the next may rob you blind. And you have no way of knowing which is which.' This makes me a little nervous, but I'm aware that fear-mongering is often worst among locals, who are exposed daily to media and political hype about the wolves lurking at the door. In my experience, the reality is almost always better than the perception. And the Roma have long been the last vestige of socially acceptable discrimination, even among the most progressive of souls. In the morning, R makes me cheese on toast while breast-feeding the baby. Very few people breast-feed in Bulgaria, she tells me, as they think it's not as good as vitamin-heavy formula: a hangover from the Soviet era, when women were encouraged to return to work quickly. Plus, there's apparently a prestige inherent in buying things rather than squeezing them naturally from one's nipples. 'We're a proud nation,' R says. 'People have a chip on their shoulder about being poor and see western consumerism as allied to progress. They buy Ferraris and can't afford the fuel.' I find it easy to judge such attitudes. But I am from a rich nation and had a financially secure upbringing. A moneyed lifestyle is distasteful to me because it has always been within my grasp. If economic modesty were a necessity rather than a choice, would I embrace it so wholeheartedly?
Resignation and disappointment are clear in R's voice as we talk. Their flat is large and clean, but dingy and cluttered. Both she and her husband have good jobs, but they are clearly struggling. It's a dull, normalised poverty; unremarkable, unrelenting, unsexy. A low, heavy hum.
Like some kind of pathetic fallacy, it rains constantly in Sofia while I am there, so I spend a couple of days catching up on admin and work at ex-pat cafe +TOVA. There I meet O, an art teacher from Washington DC who kindly warns me about Bulgarian dogs. They can be large and dangerous, he says, though since he arrived five years ago he only knows two people who have been killed. 'Killed?' I say. Yes, he confirms. But they were both fairly old, so not to worry.
Later on I meet a woman who provides legal support to refugees and Roma communities through the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. Once Roma enter the spiral of poor education and crime, the battle is already lost, she says. 'There's no policy to deal with these issues, just systematic discrimination. Until a couple of years ago, even schools were segregated.' Where refugees are concerned, Bulgaria was caught entirely unprepared, she tells me. In 2011 it had around 1,000 asylum seekers; in 2013 it was ten times that amount. There were no refugee centres, and integration centres were overwhelmed. 'The media calls refugees illegal immigrants, while farright parties say they are terrorists. It scares a lot of people.' My final host in Sofia is D, a keen cyclist who lives a small, grimy flat in a dank ex-Comecon tower block. Over the next couple of days he generously buys me food and drink, helps me service my bike, takes me up Vitosha mountain and gives me a spork (not a euphemism but a spoon/fork combined). When I finally leave, he leads me 16km to the outskirts of the city, past a large outdoor market and half a dozen packs of bloodthirsty hounds. It's about 2C now and my hands and feet are numb. Having originally intended on outrunning the winter, I am not prepared for this weather and have had to pull together an impromptu outfit that involves four top layers, ankle socks and sandals. It's so important to be a leader not a follower of fashion, I think to myself, before posting a picture of my new look on Facebook. My mother is quick to comment. 'Well, at least you're less likely to get raped,' she says. And with this ringing maternal endorsement in my ears, I head for the Balkan Mountains. Follow Rebecca's journey on her website at thebicyclediaries.co.uk, Twitter at reo_lowe or Facebook at facebook.com/ bexbicyclediaries. Rebecca is sponsored by Kona, Lightwave, Garmin, Arkel, Berghaus, Lenovo and Pedros.
Veulta a Espana 2016: Preview Cycling World sent Spanish resident Clinton Sumner to review this year’s Spanish Grand Tour
he 20th of August until the 11th of September is the time for the Spanish Grand Tour: La Vuelta. It comprises of 21 stages with two rest days to complete 3277km. The majority of the route goes around the north of Spain. The early stages take place in Ourense Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Pais Vasco. Here the climbs can be steep as the roads go through green vegetation and no doubt there will be some rain that's going to create an added level of difficulty in this first week. However, the first nine stages shouldn’t give the riders too much trouble, with some flat stage and not too many high mountains.
From stage 10 we’ll see the battle of La Vuelta starting with a 186km ride from Lugones to Lagos de Covadonga. Here on the 19th of September 1996, 20 years ago, Spain’s best cyclist finished after 134km.This was five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain, not just finishing a stage but retiring from racing. Saturday 3rd of September will be another great stage with 195km and four super hard mountains from Urdax to Aubisque. This will be the first time a stage of La Vuelta has finished in French territory. Before the special climb of the Aubisque they will have to survive three hard climbs, particularly the last 3km of Marie-Blanque. Then the Aubisque, the infamous climb of nearly 20km with no rest and long roads going through low temperatures where even at this time of year there can be snow at the peak.
The two last stages could be decisive, spring-boarding the eventual winner in Alicante. Alicante is a cyclists’ heaven and where I work as a guide for Meta Bike Café. There is sunny weather all year round and it hardly rains, perfect for quality training. There are some flat roads around the coast and challenging mountains only 20km from the beach. This is the reason why teams like Giant Alpecin have a permanent base in Calpe, and why our cycling clients share climbs with teams like Trek
Factory, Sky or Etixx. The 19th stage is a 39km individual TT from Javea to Calpe that runs along the coast on perfectly wide roads to a short climb of 8%. The following day will see a lot of attacks during a 184 KM hard stage from Benidorm to the Alto de Aitana. In the first 20km they will be crowning the first mountain called Coll de Rates (630m). After a technical descent riders meet the next climb up to Alto de Ebo (540m) just 25km later. 3km downhill and up again to Alto de Tollos (830m). After 50km of ups and downs it will be time to meet a popular and famous climb of Puerto de Tudons, starting at around 5% but ramping up to 10 and 14% near the summit. Then itâ€™s back down and up to lead up to Alto de Aitana. The riders will go pass Relleu and Sella, dry roads that are a complete rollercoaster, aa leg breaker, just what any rider doesnÂ´t want before attacking a beast of a mountain like the Alta de Aitana. Very few riders know this ascent up to Alto de Aitana as it only opens its gates to the public on special occasions. Alto de Aitana is a military base that is heavily fortified for the majority of the year. To the end of the stage there will be 7km at over 500m and this will be the place where the red jersey will be decided. clintonsumner.es
Alto de Aitana
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Viva Le Veulta!
Federico Bahamontes, El Mundo Deportivo
etween the two images on the front cover lie 80 years of Veulta a Espana history documented in this comprehensive book. In 1935 Mariano Canardo fought in vain against a powerful Belgium squad; in 2012 Alejandro Valverde was one of the all-Spanish podium in an explosive edition. The intervening years saw the Veulta surviving a civil war, four decades of dictatorship, economic desperation and entry into the European Community. The race changed hands several times and moved from spring to late summer. It has seen the triumph of stars like Anquetil, Merckx and Hinault as well as giving top cyclists like Sean Kelly the glory of winning a grand stage race. Above all Viva la Veulta! recounts the stories of Spanish Cyclists whose lives reflect an ever-changing country. The book is an interesting account of a race trying to establish itself in the calendar, dealing with its inferiority complex in comparison with the Giro and the Tour, becoming a competitive race that is now often the most exciting of the three grand tours. It is a must read for anyone who has an interested in grand tours and/or Spanish racing. It is the only English-language history of the Veulta and although it has to cover numerous races, it's not quite the sprint through the years that some books about the Tour de France tend to be. It lingers upon interesting and moving stories that give Spanish cycling its unique character. One such story is cited as a favourite by author Lucy Fall in an interview by podiumcafe.com. “I love the story of Jose Manuel Fuente, the indomitable Tarangu. I love Asturias, where he was from, and its landscape, which is both awe-inspiringly beautiful and melancholy. The past is brought to life when you go into a bar where they still have framed newspaper articles about his victories. Or a small cycling shop, where there's a photo of Tarangu in flared trousers standing next to the owner as a boy. His story is of someone who made good, rose against the odds. I love the way he was the antithesis of the radio-controlled modern cyclist, achieving heroic victories one day, losing it all the next. He had so much character and expressed it in his racing. The 1974 Vuelta is a classic - he won it by a handful of seconds.” The book is full of such gems.
Authors Published ISBN Price Review by
Lucy Fall and Adrian Bell Mousehold Press, second edition 2013 978-1-874739-67-8 £17.95 David Robert
Purito Rodriguez, 2012 on the Ciutu Negru. Photosport International
Sean Kelly by Phil O'Connor
57 Luis Ocana, Photosport International
Film Review: Nasu Summer in Andalusia
oday is Pepe Bengeli's big day. This racing cyclist, a domestique of his team's star, participates in the Vuelta a Espana. Pepe is faced with pressure from his sponsors and the wedding of his former girlfriend, Carmen, to his elder brother, Angel, coinciding on the same day of the penultimate stage of the race. Pepe accidentally overhears a conversation in his sponsor's van through his radio com-link in which he finds out, to his shock, that his sponsor intends to fire him after the race. Realizing that he may not find another team for the next season and wanting some sort of victory over his brother, a former racer, he sets out to win the race for himself. Nasu is the first Japanese animated film on cycling and was initially conceived by the brilliant Ghibli Studio’s founder, Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke). After having read the Manga with the same name, he convinced collaborator Kitaro Kosaka to make a film out of it. Kosaka thus creates this very precise medium-length film on the world of cycling, noteworthy for its formal virtuosity, but also for the use of a “seen from inside” point-of-view that is unusual for aficionados of cycling race images. It is an enjoyable film that really catches the essence of Andalusia. The heat is ever-stifling, a constant reminder that “beyond the Pyrenees is Africa.” The viewer is often blinded by the sun as it reflects off the body of a car or the glasses of a cyclist. Food and drink play a major role, from a giant wedding paella to the local delicacy of pickled eggplant, always washed down with local wine. Via the Veulta stage we are given a tour of the harsh landscape, which dictates both the bike race and the rhythms of those who live there. The cycling is handled well; capturing all the thrills of a peloton led by sprinters’ teams trying to catch breakaway riders. You’ll also recognise team kits of 2003 and today, with team names that seem all too familiar: Estina, Lampo, Onesto, Pamie and the dominant sprint train of team P-Phone leading out Bazel.
DIRECTOR: Kitaro Kosaka STUDIO: Madhouse Production Company 2003 LENGTH: 47 Minutes SUBTITLES: Japanese Audio with English subtitles GENRE: Animation PRICE: £9 from www.playtech-asia.com REVIEW BY: David Robert
ycling World interviewed the former world champion and Tour de France winner on The Veulta and his recent love affair with cycling in Spain.
You only rode the Veulta a Espana once in 1992, placing fourteenth. Why was it a Tour you avoided? The reason why I did not do more Vuelta is that during my career it was always in April, and I was more suited to the Giro which was around the same dates or shortly after. Also the Giro was closer to the tour so it was a better preparation for the Tour de France which was the one I preferred – the most prestigious one. In 1992, my team Carrera was asked to do the Vuelta, and I was named race leader – so I was interested in doing it. On the other hand, Cappucci was named leader for the tour.
How did you find that Tour of 1992?
Cycling CyclingWorld World
The tour was very hard and it was very cold in the mountains, being early in the season.
Now you run a Cycle Holiday business in Mallorca. What made you fall in love with cycling in Spain? The road network has totally renovated the last 25 years, and for cyclists and group cycling, the road surface is very important. Even the smallest, secondary roads are very well maintained in Mallorca. Also, the hotel infrastructure which is and was at the time really good, were looking to fill rooms during the off season – so this was a great opportunity for us to set up base in Mallorca for cycling. Furthermore, the accessibility from most European and American countries with most airlines having direct flights to Palma was a key element.
Often called the little brother, how do you think the Veulta compares with the Tour de France and the Giro? Despite the Vuelta and the Giro upgrading their tour, the Vuelta will
always be in my opinion number three – after the Tour and Giro. However, the change of dates from April to August/September, meant that any of the top riders that have missed out on Giro or Tour (for injury or any other reason) have the opportunity to save their season with a last tour. Also it’s great for young riders that want to start a major tour as it is less demanding than riding the Tour de France, and the fact that it is at the end of season, means they can give it all and have time to recover after
What do you think of this year’s route? I thought 2015 was a hard tour with nine mountain finishes, but this year there are ten mountain top finishes! The first mountain top finish being only three days in, with 13% average finish and a steepest part of 29%. I am not too fond of too many top finishes, as it restricts the race to only a few riders. The first mountain finish will already eliminate a few guys. One of the good things is that the tour is kept in the north, which will limit the transfer times. This is one thing riders often criticise, is the length of time spent in transfers, arriving late at the hotel, having a late massage and late night. I am also glad to see there is a team time trial for opening stage and individual time trial two days from the finish of 39 km. It will also be a tricky route for these riders that will be doing the Tour and the Olympics. It will be hard for them to keep good form for such a long period of time. A rider that wants to do well in the Olympics may jeopardise his training for a good Veulta
Any predictions of who will win? For the moment Quintana has confirmed riding it – but it will majorly depend on the results of the Tour who will be riding it and who will be a favourite. We should also see riders like Dumoulin, who had an excellent Vuelta 2015, coming back with a revenge mission.
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Cycling World 62
Ibiza coming of age to cyclists David Oxberry, professional photographer and keen cyclist, shares the beauty of the island through the lens and upon the saddle
On the first day riding on the island we are scheduled to link up with Lawrence Dallaglio and his group of riders on the penultimate stage of the 2016 Dallaglio Foundation Cycle Slam. We meet them at over 1600 kilometres into their adventure, having set off from San Sebastien 17 days earlier via the Pyrenees, Girona and Majorca. At the start line for today's stage the talk amongst the riders is of tired legs and sore heads. Ahead of us is a 135km circuit of the island which some of the team are tackling on 45-minutes sleep, having spent the previous night enjoying Ibiza's other attractions. But there is serious motivation powering these legs. Dallaglio's foundation has raised well over £10 million since he started it eight years ago and this year's ride is already set to add significantly to that target. Past rides have raised money for Cancer Research and Great Ormond Street but on this occasion they are raising money solely for Dallaglio's own social inclusion charity Rugby Works. 50 riders of varying degrees of fitness head out of Ibiza Town's port, many of whom have donated tens of thousands of pounds for the opportunity to ride with Dallaglio on all or part of this epic. This morning we are led by Austin Healey who looks every inch the cyclist, now in his retirement from Rugby. As he's proved recently, he's still pretty light on his feet and he tells me later he regularly puts in between 200 and 300 miles a week. The gentle climb out of Ibiza Town is quite busy with traffic but the green hills that promise quieter riding look tantalisingly close and it's only a few minutes before we find ourselves on more cycle-friendly roads. We’re heading North West but soon the rolling olive groves give way again to the island's alter ego and Santa Eularia des Riu comes into view. Ibiza’s third town Santa Eularia offers a touch of Ibiza Town's old world charm but one of the first beach front signs I see is offering “A Live Lizard Show”. I don't have much time to consider what this might entail before we are pushing upwards again into quieter climbs on our way to Cala San Vincent. Again the comparison with Majorca comes to mind as both islands share a cove beach named San Vincent in their North West quarter. Both these beaches are nestled into the edge of the wildest and hilliest part of their respective islands. And everything about the topography of Ibiza is similar to Majorca's,
just on a smaller scale. Despite that and with the increasing morning heat, the climb to Sant Joan de Labritja is still feeling pretty arduous but the backdrop now is much more desirable. Twisting tree-lined roads that snake upwards, away from the coast to more remote locations. Sant Joan de Labritja is ‘real’ Ibiza; quiet churches, small cafes and deserted streets. Cafe Gard du Nord provides the mid-morning coffee and a chance to meet and chat with some of the other riders. Amongst them Marc Giusti, founder of Veloforte, is sharing out his delicious Panforte-based riding bars and they were much appreciated, especially since the cafe had run out of cake! Although we were refuelled, the climb out of the village was very steep and after just five minutes everyone took the opportunity to stop again and admire the view as reward for our efforts. Now we were on single-width back lanes but the road surface was by no means Majorcan billiard smooth and the descent into Portinatx splits the group as many take it easy to ensure their dentures stay in place. Portinatx is a more restrained affair by Ibizan standards and I see no reptilianbased entertainment on offer as we flash past. We push on through this quieter part of the island and the group begins to splinter as the stronger riders decide to forge ahead and I find myself in a group of five at the front, led by Austin Healey who has ridden on the island before. Cold drinks are now in order as the temperature makes coffee a less appealing option, so we stop in Cafe Can Cosmi in the tiny village of Santa Agnes de Corona. One of the support vehicles finds us to let us know the main group are a long way back. It’s decided we should press on, with still a third of the ride to cover. Mercifully we just skirt the environs of San Antonio and possibility of more reptilian-based entertainment on our way South, in search of a very late lunch. The roads are busy again now and a chain gang of sorts forms between the five of us. My stints at the front are short, which I put down to the four kg of camera equipment I have on my back. We fly past Tropicana Beach Club, which seems like a missed opportunity when Andrew Ridgeley is making up one of the five-strong group, but we continue on in search of a recommendation. Finally, we reach Restaurant Sa Caleta overlooking Platja d'es Bol Nou and it is well worth the wait. Exactly the kind of badly signposted dead end that you dream of stumbling upon. A perfect cove overlooked by a great restaurant serving delicious Paella to a laid-back local crowd. A little too much rosé is consumed over a long lunch but everyone has made the mental calculation about how hard we've
t is said of the Balearic Islands that they are like jealous siblings and Ibiza certainly has qualities similar to her big sister and more popular cycling destination Majorca. Ibiza is looking enviously at Majorca’s booming cycle tourism and hoping to emulate some of its success by offering similar attractions, albeit on a smaller scale.
already worked and how comparatively little there is still to go. Fortunately the final run back into Ibiza Town is kind to us, if a little on the busy side. A great day's riding in good company, and I’m starting to warm up to the idea of Ibiza as a cycling cousin to Mallorca. Day two finds us guided by Simon Rose who runs Velo Club Ibiza. Now a resident of the island, Simon offers tours and bike hire. We head out this time from San Antonio and are quickly on quiet rural roads a world away from the bustling bars and beaches of the town. It’s clear Simon knows these roads intimately as we track quickly into some lovely locations, deserted smooth roads, rolling hills and distant sea views. Here the obstacles are less likely to be road humps but more likely wandering goats that slow our progress. This carefully curated route is much more the kind of satisfying riding the island will sell itself on.
The morning coffee stop comes via Cafe Can Tixedo. Its location on a crossroads might suggest it would be busy but I count only two cars that pass by as we enjoy our coffee in the sunshine. Next up we whistle through one of the island's vineyards. Can Rich de Buscastell opens its doors for tasting the island's wine but today that will have to wait until the end of the ride.
Another advantage of a guided ride is that often there are gems just a few metres from the roadside that would easily be missed by following your GPS. Simon brings us to a halt in a wooded area and we dismount and walk for a few metres through the trees until we find ourselves atop the 150 metre cliffs. These overlook Ses Balandres cove, which in turn looks out over Ses Margalides, a rocky sea arch which is possible to take your boat through and is very popular with divers. The cove itself is accessible via a rickety wooden ladder and then a bit of a clamber but we decide that, wearing cycling cleats, it might not be the best idea today. Things might have been different if I’d been bolstered by
that wine stop. Inevitably we have to leave the beautiful rural Ibiza and roll back into San Antonio. But the day has a final treat in store when we keep going through San Antonio and on to Port d'es Torrent, a little gem of a beach on the outskirts of the town that is well worth the extension to the ride. There we find the Imagine Beach Bar and we don't use much of our own imagination to order up another Paella for four with a jug of Sangria. Never let it be said that I do not immerse myself in the customs and cuisine of wherever I’m cycling! Day three is a different approach and Velo Club Ibiza's hire partners Kandani Bikes meet us to swap our Orbea Orca road bikes for MTBs. The Orca - Spain's own race machine - has been a fantastic companion. A very stiff bottom bracket area has made the most of my efforts and the geometry handled descending on the mountainous roads extremely well. Mountain bikes, on the other hand, are often a great way to find the path less travelled and so it proves on Ibiza. We start in the coastal backyard of Cirque du Soleil owner Guy Laliberte, who has built his own Stonehenge-like folly on the rocks outside his seafront home from 420 tonnes of Basalt. We continue on the coastal path, past isolated coves populated by the odd naturist and continue following the sea. The terrain is always rideable, if a little bumpy, and once again the bicycle proves a wonderful way to see a different part of the Island. This trip was organised by Easyjet who now offer a range of cycle-specific holiday packages in nine European locations including Majorca and Andorra. The packages can include cycle-friendly hotels with storage, access to hire bikes and guides such as Velo Club Ibiza. Prices start from around £142 per person, based on seven nights on a room- only basis at the three-star Marco Polo in Andorra, departing from London Gatwick. Guided ride and bike hire provided by Veloclubibiza.com
Your base to explore Caernarfon and Snowdonia Since the early 15th Century The Black Boy Inn hotel has been welcoming weary travellers and visitors to the Town of Caernarfon and region of Snowdonia. Some things donâ€™t change, whether you want to drink, dine or unwind, you will find The Black Boy Inn the perfect base to explore the beautiful Snowdonia Mountains of North Wales and Anglesey. We have thirty nine comfortable guest rooms all with private bathrooms and all individually styled and furnished. Free Wi-Fi is available for all our guests throughout the entire hotel. Our celebrated restaurant is awarded a Visit Wales Bronze Award and has a menu to suit all tastes. Each dish is devised and perfected by our head chef and is designed to utilise local ingredients from local suppliers. Whether itâ€™s a light lunch or an evening meal, The Black Boy Inn offers a warm welcome and good food to those in search of a relaxed and traditionally welsh experience and environment. Our Caernarfon B&B, hotel style stay is handy for Snowdonia and we strive to provide a personal service. From the moment you arrive our friendly inn staff are always on hand to assist and share their local knowledge.
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Between Kale and Cake in Barcelona
utchman Rik van den Bosch is nuts about cycling. He’s also unashamedly fond of music and food, and has been known to indulge all three passions simultaneously. Rik is the co-founder of Healthy Start Holidays (healthystartholidays. com) and, chatting to him, it’s easy to understand why cycling features so prominently in the company’s activities. ‘After graduating, I got a job as a bike messenger to support my music. I was averaging 80 kilometres a day, and so I became a good cyclist,’ Rik explains. ‘Since then I’ve worked as a bike taxi driver, a bike mechanic, a bike tour guide… always bikes.’ ‘Rik’s bike was like a third person on all of our early dates,’ jokes his fiancée Laura Hopkins, the company’s co-founder. ‘He never wanted to leave it locked up anywhere.’ ‘In Barcelona, someone would have stolen parts of it!’ exclaims Rik, clearly horrified by the mere thought.
Fitness, Food and Fun
We are chatting to Rik and Laura in the comfortable lounge of a luxurious villa in the Spanish countryside, sipping green tea in a frightfully civilised fashion and giving our pleasantly aching muscles a wellearned rest. The carefully selected property just outside the town of Cardedeu, less than an hour from Barcelona by car or train, boasts extensive private grounds and facilities and provides an ideal base for the holiday. Not that there’s an abundance of relaxation time in which to make the most of our surroundings; whilst this is certainly no boot camp, the carefully planned schedule keeps us busy from eight in the morning until nine at night. The activities aren’t compulsory but we’re keen not to miss a thing. As well as some really good bike rides there are walks (or runs, should you feel that way inclined), swimming and Pilates sessions, and even cookery lessons, a day trip into Barcelona and a tour of a nearby eco-farm. It is this holistic, balanced approach that characterises Healthy Start Holidays. Based around three main streams of ‘movement, nutrition and lifestyle’
Niki Baker and Martin Webb check out the launch of Healthy Start Holidays in the heart of Catalonia
– or ‘fitness, food and fun’, if you’re a fan of alliteration – these short breaks give you a tempting taste of healthy living and equip you to continue the best bits when you get back home. It’s just a shame that you can’t sneak the Spanish sunshine into your suitcase as well. Everything is served with a big refreshing dollop of common sense, too. The holiday takes us back to basics, giving us some much-needed reminders about how to stay fit and look after our bodies and minds. It’s realistic – and therefore sustainable – with a full appreciation that we all have busy lives and bad habits. The focus is on taking on the aspects that work for you personally, and giving you the inspiration and confidence to experiment with different activities and good food. ‘Some magazines and websites create an impression that you need a whole load of expensive gear and specialist ingredients,’ says Laura. ‘Healthy living has become some big inaccessible secret. It’s daunting, and it’s nonsense.’ If Rik’s ‘bag’ is cycling, Laura’s is definitely Pilates. However, it wasn’t a case of love at first sight. Following a serious back injury, Laura ignored advice to take up Pilates for eighteen months. When, in pain and desperation, she finally gave in, it transformed her life and helped her get back not only to normal fitness but also to participating in triathlons again. Now she’s a trained Stott Pilates instructor and a passionate advocate of the method and, during the holiday, we benefit from her enthusiasm and considerable expertise. In keeping with the couple’s belief in demystifying healthy living and making it more accessible, Laura has posted an excellent series of bitesized ‘tips and techniques’ video clips on the Healthy Start Holidays website.
Fruits and Glutes
Laura and Rik are perfectly complemented in their new venture by two other members of the team: nutrition expert and resident chef Ros Bates, and body guru and coach Ian Smith. ‘I’m rubbish at following recipes,’ confesses Ros, waving fragrant fresh ingredients at us during a cookery
lesson in the villa’s spacious kitchen. We learn a surprising number of interesting things we feel we should already have known, as she willingly shares a little of her wealth of knowledge about the nutritional value of different foods. Nothing is ‘bad’ (with the possible exception of highly processed fare) and we’re reminded of the reasons why our bodies need a balance of carbs, proteins and fats. Anyone dreading a lettuce and alfalfa starvation diet will be in for a pleasant surprise, as Ros keeps the communal dining table laden with more than enough delicious food to sustain us through each day’s activities and we can help ourselves to drinks and fruit at any time. The menu can include pizzas, curry and roast chicken as well as kale and cake and a huge variety of yummy salads and other dishes. Nothing is over-fussy or prohibitively complicated and everything is made with simple, fresh, good quality ingredients. There are recipe cards on the table for those who want to recreate some of the dishes at home – and everyone does. ‘It’s a question of thinking about what the food you eat is actually doing for you,’ says Ros. ‘A piece of white toast with jam as a snack will make you feel full for a little while, but a piece of home-made banana bread or a carrot and orange muffin is more satisfying and gives your body a few useful nutrients.’ Hands up who still wants boring old toast and jam. The fourth team member, Ian, is an accomplished triathlete and experienced coach, not to mention a qualified ‘Bodymaster’ and acupuncturist (and yes, he usually brings his needles). He’s always on hand to offer friendly advice or fine-tune a technique or position while we’re cycling or swimming, and he teaches us how to stretch after exercise to address any problems and generally keep our muscles conditioned and happy. ‘Stretching properly is one of the most important things you can do,’ Ian tells us. ‘Think about it. It’s the first thing an animal or a toddler naturally does when it gets up from sleeping. We tend to un-learn these things as we grow up, but they’re natural behaviours that help to protect our bodies.’
The rides we did from the villa, through beautiful Spanish countryside, delivered an entertaining variety of climbs, descents and different terrain. It’s tough to beat the feeling of wellbeing that comes from savouring a sweeping downhill on excellent roads, with the sun on your back and the wind in your face, occasionally glancing up to appreciate the way the peaks of the Monseny Massif bite into the cloudless blue sky. The team are constantly scouting new routes and can offer choices to suit the abilities and preferences of every guest. Bike hire is included in the package and we rode Sphene road bikes by Basque Country manufacturer BH, which we found pleasantly light and responsive. Mountain bikes or hybrids are available too. If you don’t have a whole week to spare, Healthy Start Holidays run short breaks from a Thursday evening through to a Sunday afternoon, and – perhaps of particular interest to Cycling World readers – there’s one designed especially for cyclists, the first of which is scheduled for 22nd to 25th September 2016. The itinerary features a ride on each of the three days, naturally, but also includes sessions on bike maintenance, route planning, nutrition, Pilates and stretching, all tailored specifically to the needs and interests of those of us with a penchant for pedal power. Prices start from £450 per person (based on two sharing a room) and that includes airport transfers, equipment hire, accommodation and all meals and activities. You’ll get a great deal of enjoyment and knowledge from this short break, regardless of whether you’re new to the sport, wanting to get back into it, or already an avid rider, and activity groups can be split to accommodate guests’ differing levels of fitness or ability. And, unlike some activity holidays, you’ll come home feeling motivated, informed and inspired to do more. Don’t worry if you can’t make the September trip; details of other holidays are available on the Healthy Start Holidays website, and Rik and Laura are always delighted to chat about other ideas and bespoke options. If you want to travel with a group of friends or belong to a cycling club, they’ll even tailor-make a perfect active getaway for you.
Veggies on Toast
Above all, the team want their guests to have fun being active and feel empowered to continue a healthier lifestyle back at home after the holiday. Their enthusiasm is certainly infectious. And at the villa, sitting around the dinner table in the evenings, sipping wine with our fellow guests, it’s lovely to witness the transition from polite smalltalk with strangers on day one, to hearty chatter and laughter by day three. Reliving each day’s shared adventures is a great way to make friends. We will offer just one note of caution, though: if you value your sanity, do not under any circumstances ask Rik to sing you his delightfully silly breakfast song, ‘Veggies on Toast’. To be fair, we were warned that it sticks in your head, but it’s still rattling cheerily around in our brains on endless repeat several months down the line. Even if we weren’t continuing to apply much of what we learned on our Healthy Start Holiday, ‘Veggies on Toast’ is an irritatingly effective way to ensure that we don’t forget our experiences in Barcelona. Not that we’ll ever want to.
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GIRONA Goes Big Girona, in north east Spain, has a reputation for being a cycling paradise. A training base for many pro riders, it’s now got a week-long cycling festival with a Gran Fondo Words Kenny Pryde, Photos Graeme Brown
iven the rise and rise of the Gran Fondo, sportive, Etape du Tour; mass participation rides all over the world, it was surely only a matter of time before the Catalan city of Girona decided it too was worthy of such an event. In the last decade the popularity and reputation of the city – 60 miles north east of Barcelona – has grown to such an extent that there are often close to 100 pro men and women riders living and training on its fantastically varied roads. If you want high mountains, then the Pyrenees are only 60 miles further north towards France. There are undulations and shorter, steeper two and three mile climbs on your doorstep and, if you fancy an easy day and some ice cream at the beach, then the blue Mediterranean Sea is 35 miles due east. Whatever you want, Girona has it – and that includes clement weather almost all year round. From a professional bike rider’s point of view, the weather, the roads, the high-speed rail connections to Barcelona and Madrid, the proximity to Barcelona airport (as well as Girona’s own) all add to the appeal. Additionally, unlike many parts of Spain that are temporarily colonised by itinerant professional riders, Girona feels like a real city, not some breeze-block, concrete justbuilt tourist trap. Girona is, indeed, a medieval city with a bustling student population and the feel of a ‘real’ city.
The team behind the Girona Bike Festival and Gran Fondo are Dave and Saskia Walsh, an English – Dutch couple who moved to the Catalan city over fifteen years ago and ‘went native.’ The pair built up a bike shop business in the old town, hiring top-spec road bikes for enthusiasts and hybrids for more sedate tourists, offering guidance and advice as well as repairs for the locally-billeted road pros, lost without recourse to their team mechanics.
“I was watching all these other Gran Fondos spring up all over Europe,” explained Walsh, “and I just thought that Girona was an ideal location for one. Given the fame – or notoriety – that Girona developed through Lance Armstrong, a lot of ‘sporty’ riders knew about it; it wasn’t a totally unknown location. And of course, after Armstrong left, it was still a popular place with other pros – there are lots of Australians, Canadians, British and Dutch riders here.”
Walsh was enthusiastic and persuasive enough to get the local council on board with his project and attended any number of council meetings to ‘sell’ his project to the sport-loving Catalan locals. Happily, Walsh can speak Catalan himself, which came in handy when explaining the project to the various small village mayors around Girona. From the initial idea to run a Fondo road event, Walsh expanded the concept to include a timed hill-climb on closed roads up a tough local climb popular with pros as well as the World Tour Volta Cataluña stage race – Els Angels. Then there’s a nocturne race around the cobbled Medieval centre and a spectacular urban downhill mountain bike event too (Walsh initially came to Girona to race with a Barcelona-based downhill race team). In the end the Fondo has grown from a one-day event to a week-long festival of cycling. For riders looking for quiet roads shared (by and large) with considerate drivers wellused to sharing space with cyclists, Girona was already an appealing destination. The fact that the cost of living in this corner of Spain is among the cheapest in Europe means that coffee stops and eating out aren’t going to break the bank either – this isn’t France’s Cote d’Azur, not in terms of the cost of coffees or over-busy roads either. In the end, you don’t really need a cycling festival of any kind to visit Girona and ride your bike. The location isn’t insanely popular with professional riders for no reason; it boils down to the roads and the people. However, if you are looking for a little bit of a nudge, something to tip you over the edge, then the Festival is as good an excuse as you need.
The highlight of the week is, obviously, the Gran Fondo itself: 125km starting and finishing in Girona. “I’ve had a lot of experience of riders coming here from all over Europe and asking for route advice,” says Walsh, “and almost all of them say they want to do 100km as soon as they get here. I always try to explain to them that the roads here are really demanding, in that there’s not really a lot of flat and that 60 or 70 kilometres will feel like 100. Mostly they ignore me, go out and ride themselves into the
ground and come back the next day to say I was right,” laughs Walsh. The anecdote serves to explain why the Fondo is ‘only’ 125 kilometres. Believe us when we say that 125 kilometres in the hills around Girona with 1,700 meters of climbing will be plenty. www.gironagranfondo.com
You can fly to Barcelona airport, then get the transit train to Barcelona Sants, change there for Girona and be there 45 minutes later. You can, if you are lucky, fly to Girona airport itself, though it’s small and regional so you may need to get a connecting flight. It’s worth checking the budget carriers though because if you get a flight to Girona, all you need is a cheap taxi ride to the heart of town. No need for a hire car!
Of course you can fly and drive, but parking can be tricky if you want to be based in the heart of the old town. Once you are actually in Girona, you probably won’t want or need a car anyway.
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Interview with Lizzie Armistead C
ycling World catches up with Lizzie Armistead about adding Olympic Gold to her World Road Race title
As World Champion, do you feel you’ve crossed the divide from being well known within the cycling community to being recognized as a British sports star?
“I think it’s difficult to know whether I’m a British sports star in the eyes of the British public, or just a cyclist. I’m in my little bubble, and what I focus on is on the bike and not really the other stuff surrounding it. I hope so, I hope that cycling has become one of the most popular sports in the UK. And because of that, then hopefully my profile will increase.”
Has fame made things easier for you or harder?
“Harder – definitely! I don’t class myself as famous, not at all. But the small level of fame that I do have makes things, quite difficult. I’m a lot busier off the bike than I used to be and that can have a detrimental effect to performance. But at the moment I’m trying to balance, and I think I’m doing okay.”
What do you think of Britain’s chances at the Rio Olympics?
“Great Britain is one of the strongest cycling nations, and I think we have the chance of lots of medals. And hopefully lots of gold medals in Rio.”
Team GB dominated London 2012. Can they do the same in Rio?
“I don’t see why not, yeah. Everybody’s working just as hard as they were running into London. Obviously we might miss that home crowd, but the determination is just the same as it was in London.”
Is there anyone in the British team you think we should watch out for in particular? “I think Chris Froome is going to have a phenomenal race, if he wins the Tour de France and goes on to win Olympic gold, then that’s going to be incredibly special.”
The Rio 2016 course will feature plenty of climbs. Has this impacted your preparation? “All my preparation is specific, completely focused on the final climb in Rio.
How do you stay energized and hydrated on race day? “I eat a lot! (laughs) I eat a lot and I drink a lot. It’s something that I focus on just as much as turning the pedals.”
Talk us through your training regime…
“My training regime’s very varied. It’s sort of between three to five hours a day at the moment, including different intervals on climbs mostly.”
How did you actually get into cycling in the first place?
“I started cycling when I was fifteen- years-old. I was talent spotted at school. I was a normal teenager before that. So luckily enough, this talent identification programme came to school and I started that way.”
Cycling World wishes you a winning ride in Rio. “Thanks. Let’s hope so.”
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Lap the World: A Monumental Adventure A cycle journey that starts in Paris, through France, Spain and Portugal where it becomes a world record breaking row to Trinidad. Then a South American cycling adventure through Guyana, Brazil and Peru, clocking up over 7,000km By Sam Greatrex
huffling the bike at a pace that’s barely quicker than the farmers who walk cattle in the neighbouring fields, up a road that rises relentlessly to 4,100m: the Andes mountains are, without giving any second thought, the single most exhausting part of a journey that started nine months before, and included an ocean row across the North Atlantic. Starting each day in the Peruvian Andes I know that no amount of food or sitting in the granny gears will make a blind bit of difference. Sure as the view from our ocean rowing boat was of blue seas, I know that I’ll be hitting the red, and reduced to walking with the bike until my lungs are again full of air and legs have stopped feeling like jelly. But for all those times I swore at the top of my voice at the inanimate road, Peru is still the greatest, single, cycling experience I’ve ever had. It’s the sixth and final country on a journey that started from Paris, and continued south-west through Spain and then Portugal. After taking 51 days to row from Portugal to Trinidad I saddled up again on the east coast of South America, to continue cycling from Georgetown, Guyana to Brazil, finishing the journey on the west coast of Peru. France had held the title for ‘favourite cycling’ since the first fortnight of the trip. But here, in Peru there’s no amount of patisserie flan that could bribe me to say anything other than that there’s a new highlight. Faced with one last 50km continuous ascent to 4,100m, before starting the drop to sea level, there was even some reluctance to put this landscape behind me. Any hesitation is forgotten as I trudged towards what appeared to be a final bend in the road, just as each bend in the road for the previous hour had promised to be the last. The few truckers that pass sound their horns to check my well-being, I respond with a nod of the head. At this altitude even that feels like a huge effort. My lips feel as parched as the surrounding rocky landscape and the bike feels even heavier when laden with a splitting headache. But I’ve come to expect this in the week spent fluctuating between 2,500m and 4,700m above sea level, just as much as I’ve known to expect the amazing vastness and variety of Peru’s landscapes. Here, on the approach to Nazca, an unending succession of intertwined peaks rise in every direction. The only sign of civilisation from the top of the passes were the hints of village rooftops
located far down the slopes. Just as the mountains fall from sight, sand dunes the size of mountains take their place. Any hopes of a quaint free-wheel downhill are forgotten as I grip the brakes with the road plunging dramatically through a series of switchbacks. At over 2,000m high Cerro Blanco the highest sand dune in the world is here, I try to pick it out between the few moments not concentrating on the tight switchbacks. Only ten days before when I crossed the border from Brazil there was lush rainforest on the western fringes of the Amazon, and the peaks of the highest Andean mountains dauntingly appeared above the cloud line. The variety of landscapes throughout the country is incredible. That’s not to say that there weren’t low points during the 7,000km cycle. Throughout France and Spain the temperature consistently hit the high 30s, but this felt pleasant compared to Guyana and Brazil. The rainforest humidity is not something that can be lessened with a quick sip from the water bottle. Within a day of cycling in South America my leisurely 8am alarm clock had been pushed back to sunrise to avoid the unbearable heat and I spend my days with the cycle jersey as a sweaty second-skin. No such diminishing effect on the village dogs though. Their energy soared as soon as the bike came into view. The first few times being chased were actually quite fun, comfortably able to outrun the dogs on flat terrain, but as I reached mountainous Peru, these village dogs gained the high ground, barking alongside me until I either climbed off the bike or reached a safe distance away from their home. Exhausting inconvenience turned to concern when one dog took a bite out of my pannier, but the teeth marks where nothing more than a badge of honour in an otherwise unscathed trip. The ride started beneath the Eiffel Tower. Negotiating a route through the Parisian city streets towards Fontainebleau takes my mind off the goodbyes from my parents and family and within a few hours the relief of being able to be out on the road, and away from the logistics of planning a journey, several years in the making. ‘Better to ease into the journey’, and week one feels less like powering through 10,000 miles and more like swanning alongside the Loire from Orleans to Savonnieres by way of minor roads and paths. A highlight reel of churches and castles perched overlooking the river, and for those not inclined towards the Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the patisseries and chocolatiers have their own artisan appeal. You may have already guessed that this wasn’t your typical ‘adventure cyclist’ territory. Here, the flat roads of rural France beckon many a retiree leisure rider, touring between chateau to chateau tasting the specialties of sparkling white wine along the Loire and red in Bordeaux. They’re given away as much by the wobbly back wheel as the shock of grey hair. Even for someone not especially fond of the claret, the sight of vineyards on the approach to Bordeaux made for great cycling. I'd managed to resist the huge clumps of grapes suspended from each vine, until passing a pop-up Wine & Cognac wooden hut. I picked up a bottle of
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Bordeaux rogue for 3Euro, packed it safely in the panniers and used the thought of opening the bottle as motivation to complete the 177km ride into Bordeaux. If all this sounds like a leisurely saunter through France then that's because it largely was, and I can’t recommend it enough! If pushed to dramatize the journey and pad out the story to curious locals, there was always the Pyrenees for that. Even that was more of a day trip. Heading south from San Sebastien provided just enough time to see Pyrenean Chamois climbing impossibly along the cliffs that neighbour the road. The highway road made for a gentle introduction to the mountain chains of Spain for non-climbers like myself. It’s not until reaching the Sistema Iberico some miles further south in central Spain that I first climb above 1,000 meters, but there’s no sense of achievement at the summit to be found here. Peaking at 1,2000 meters the plateau has vineyards and you’re not greeted with signs to proudly announce your heady altitude, but by farmers ploughing fields. It’s demoralising struggling up an 8% climb which is higher than Ben Nevis only to see a tractor has made the same journey. There’s an onomatopoeic shift from the ‘oooohs’ of France to the ‘arghhs’ of Spain. I’m more grateful than I otherwise would be, to be joined by my friend Louise to negotiate the Sierra Grazalema between Cordoba and Gibraltar. Having never cycled further than 25km in one day before she was faced with a 400km, three-day cycle and an initiation of 90 miles to reach Seville on the first day. Any fatigue I feel is immediately replaced by admiration for the determination she shows to push ahead through the long days on undulating terrain. Within those three days I recognise all the hallmarks of cycle touring that I’ve come to expect. First day tan-lines worthy of most Brits in Andalusian Spain. Then the feelings of complete exhaustion and having no more to give as Louise asks us to pull into a roadside garage mid-afternoon in temperatures hitting the high 30s and the miraculous sugar-induced recovery. But as we reach Gibraltar and I join Louise in a ceremonial front wheel dip in the sea, I’m inspired that she’s overcome such an unknown challenge. No longer are beaches a place to relax, or to sunbathe, they are instead a scene where a pasty-skinned man, who needs no further way to look out of place, weaves a bike between the frolickers to dip a wheel in the sea, to mark the start, or end of a cycle ride. The Guinness World record for rowing the Atlantic (the fastest ever Atlantic Ocean row in just 51 days) recently added to the pannier makes South America no less daunting. Between Georgetown and the end of the challenge in Paracas, Peru, there’s the Amazon rainforest and the Andes mountains, the challenge of cycling up to an altitude of 4,000 meters and negotiating the highways of dirt roads that cut through the rainforest in Guyana. That trepidation has no time to settle as I
head in from the beach to central Georgetown, the streets are lined by houses on stilts and each of the adjacent roads to the ‘Main street’ are flooded. St George’s Cathedral, the world’s second tallest wooden church is still standing and has not been transformed into the world’s tallest raft. By 11am the heat and humidity are stifling and each downpour is greeted jubilantly, as though it was an official trade mission to correct the stereotype of the British hatred of rain. As the tarmac ends suddenly in Linden and several hundred kilometres of dirt roads begin, the finicky Brit re-surfaces, and I seek the perfect amount of rain to refresh the temperature without turning the road into a stream. The rainforest trees enclose the road providing a canopy against the sun until mid-day. As 4x4s bog down in the road, the slinkier Dawes bike wiggles through triumphantly and where trees fall and block the full width of the road I quite smugly hop over. Celebrating the small victories against the test of the humidity is my only way to sanely make it through the days. Crossing the border into Brazil marks the end of dirt road and that’s genuine cause for celebration. The fortnight in Brazil isn’t long enough to get a true sense of the country (or any kind of grasp on Portuguese) but crams in some of the quirkier experiences during the 10,000 miles, with tree climbing chickens, a seemingly scale model of the statue of liberty, cows taking shade beneath palm-trees…and aggravation by a thousand mosquito bites. Arriving in Porto Velho there's an abrupt end to the jungle that began over a thousand miles east in Guyana, with a 50ft replica of the Statue of Liberty, which announces itself with no real explanation and a Texan Grill and Subway, a few doors down. I’m deep-fried back into Western culture. But cities such as Porto Velho, Manaus and Cusco are at 500 mile intervals. Curiosity towards westerners in small town South America would already be piqued but throwing in a bike is enough to attract a small crowd. People queue in the small Peruvian village square of Ocongate to buy delicious quinoa soup for warmth against the weak heat at sunrise, and in the lowlands there’s an abundance of fresh fruit, including my favourite, Jugos Naturales (blended fruit juices). For 5 Peruvial Nuevo Sol (£1) you can buy soup, a main meal (usually rice and chicken) and drink. For cycle team nutritionists (and accountants) it’s a mecca! For me too, Peru provides the perfect end. Even against the physical torment of the Andes, I find the landscape, the people, the food, every aspect of the country thrilling. Receiving news that the fundraising total reaches £250,000 for Macmillan with two days of the expedition remaining is the storybook ending to a country I can’t recommend highly enough.
Rowing and Riding to Rio Carrying the Olympic Spirit on a Row and a Ride to Rio
n 3rd June 2016, Row2Rio successfully completed their final leg of their journey cycling 100km a day for over three weeks and travelling 2,500km from Recife to Rio De Janerio, Brazil, ahead of the Olympic Games this summer. This was the third and final stage of Row2Rio’s world record-breaking endurance challenge carrying the Olympic legacy from London to Rio-De Janeiro, all to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. After rowing 2482 kilometres across the Atlantic from Portugal to Recife, the mixed team of four (Jake Heath 30, Mel Parker 28, Susannah Cass, 27 and Luke Richmond 31) team set off to cycle down the east coast of Brazil, cycling the distance of London to Brighton each day in temperatures above 30 degrees centigrade. Unlike the UK, the roads are not ones the team were used to cycling on. Jake Heath comments: “After successfully rowing an ocean, cycling 2,500km in Brazil sounds easy. However, with the heat and treacherous roads, cycling was definitely harder. The worst bit was actually getting back on bikes after rowing constantly for two months. Our bums just were not ready for that and our hands were covered with blisters.” The team cycled along the coast from Recife, on the east coast, travelling south through Salvador, carrying on to Rio De Janeiro. The team were joined by Eric Gunnar, footballer and sports coach from Sports Club Do Recife,
to support them through the journey with translation and directions. Jake Heath continues: “We could not be thankful enough to Brazil for welcoming us and we are very excited to arrive in Brazil and finally complete our journey linking London to Rio ahead of Rio2016. The best thing though is knowing we’re inspiring others and raising money for a good cause.” Having completed the journey linking the two host nations ahead of the Olympics through person-power alone, cycling and rowing all the way from London to Rio unsupported has broken two world records, and completed a world first for the journey. Mel Parker, from the Row2Rio team states: “This challenge is a personal one, one close to all of our hearts. For me the best day on the boat was finding out that a very close relative of mine had been given the twelve-month all clear from cancer. There were definitely tears on the boat. It has been a tough year, not made any easier by me rowing the Atlantic. The support we have received from Macmillan has been incredible. We all realized in our own ways that we need to give something back – it’s time to payback the kindness we received, with this challenge of a lifetime.” When so much of the London 2012 legacy has faded, the team have the honour of transferring the Olympic spirit from one host city the next.
Located just outside Cheltenham, on the Cotswold Way, StarGlamping offers the freedom of camping without the hassle of ropes, tent pegs or rain. That’s because our camping pods – built from environmentally friendly and sustainable wood – provide all the comfort you need while being the perfect base to enjoy relaxing rural walks, bike rides and hikes. The site is especially convenient for those walking the Cotswold Way National Trail. We currently offer three types of StarGlamping accommodation: The Shire House, an oak timber building complete with a wooden double bed and mattress; two camping pods sleeping one or two people; and a family camping pod that can sleep from one to four persons in single beds. You will be required to bring everything you would usually need for a tent holiday (bedding, toiletries etc), and a nearby facilities building provides access to toilets and showers. Well behaved dogs are welcome to accompany well behaved owners!
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Cycling Across South America
with No Money A moving, personal account of crossing South America, discovering what brings pleasure to lives filled with struggle
by Laura Bingham
ould I do it again? No. Am I glad that I did it? Yes. But I’m still processing all the emotions and experiences…
This journey was made up of two things; highs and lows. There were little highs and lows on a daily basis and they have both made me and broken me. Throughout this whole experience I have learnt what it feels like to have nothing and no one and there were times where I had to look very deep inside myself to find out what I was made of. Imagine a time when you were hungry and times the pain by five. Now take away the option of having money to pay for food or a place to rest and think about how you’re going to survive a 6,500km cycle – the majority of which will be at an altitude of 3,000m and it’s raining. I set myself this challenge I know, but no matter how much I tried to prepare for it, I soon realised that no amount of prep would have been enough. Day sixteen will forever be a day that sticks in my mind. I was pushing my bike up a hill in the pouring rain and no one would take me in or give me food. I was wet through, cold to the bone, starving and penniless. I collapsed next to a lady’s house, the tears were streaming down my face and I desperately asked for a place to sleep but the woman just looked at me and shook her finger. I felt hopeless and empty, there was nothing I could do but pick up my bike and carry on. I was travelling with a cycling partner at the time and together we found a spot big enough to set up our tents. We couldn’t cook the small handful of rice we had between us; because of the rain there was no chance of finding dry wood to make fire. Cold, wet and unbearably hungry we tried to say goodbye to the day. The feeling of waking up with extreme hunger pain is hard, but even harder when you don’t know when you’ll next be able to eat to satisfy them. We picked up from where we left off, desperate, tired, exhausted and starving and struggled up the hill. This was a critical low point, which was quickly followed by an ultimate high when a family took us in to their home with open arms. They made a fire for us to warm up by and dry our clothes and fed us a hearty meal; meat, rice, vegetables followed by popcorn. The satisfying feeling of having such a full stomach was overwhelming; I seriously hadn’t ever felt a feeling of such happiness. The family let us stay the night and we slept in their worshipping room which made me feel so safe and secure. I slept well that night.
Operation South America is a Christian organisation that gives food to 70 children every day and looks after young girls from various backgrounds and situations. I originally wanted to raise money and awareness of this amazing charity throughout my expedition but I feel even more passionate about it now having lived this way myself. For them, there’s no finishing point or end. For them, it is indefinite. Being helped by others only strengthened my
Leaving the next day was hard. We helped the family on their farm with their chores as a way to thank them, but nothing we could do would suffice for what they did for us. They looked after me and the feeling of going back out in to the unknown was terrifying. I just needed to remind myself that it wasn’t indefinite, it was just for now and one day I would reach the end where I would be able to go home to my fiancé and live a life where there was love, food and shelter. Some people don’t have this luxury and sometimes the only way to appreciate what you’ve got is to experience not having it.
resolve to help who I could. I haven’t been on my own the entire time. I was fortunate to begin with a cycling partner, then my fiancé joined me for a little while followed by my sister and it was great to share some of this experience with them. One day, my fiancé and I were cycling through Bolivia when he suddenly got hit by a lorry. His body rebounded off the side of the vehicle, propelled onto the tarmac, landing in front of my bicycle. I screamed and everything became a blur. It was horrid and I panicked as he lay on the floor writhing in pain – but he was moving and conscious. He was struggling to breath; I sat there holding his hand watching him go pale. I felt completely helpless and in denial that this was happening, my whole world was falling apart. We were rushed to the local hospital and thankfully it turned out to be just severe internal bruising and there was no long term damage. Witnessing the person you love in such pain is an ordeal I never wish upon anyone and I am grateful to the people that helped that day. The people in Bolivia were kind and giving. I’ve had a lot of hungry, sad and lost days but so many more heart touching and faith building days that have changed me. It really made me understand what it means to be shown kindness and how important it is to be kind to people around you.
When I was sixteen, my father suffered a blood clot in the brain. I couldn’t face seeing him in the hospital so I went for a walk. I passed many people on that walk, but as I passed one particular man, he gave me the biggest smile and I instantly felt lifted. I have never forgotten that smile and I’ve found myself thinking about it more and more over the course of the challenge. A smile from a stranger can lift you from the deepest, darkest place because it takes nothing for someone to smile at you, it’s purely genuine. The people in Bolivia and Paraguay flooded me with smiles and I felt happy and positive. I’ve now made it my mission to give a smile to anyone I see who looks low. Neither you nor I know what a person is going through and if a smile could lift me in times where I was utterly low, then I hope my smile can do the same to others. It makes a difference.
I am still processing the last five months whilst I write this. To live for a period of time without money shouldn’t be taken lightly. Really think about what you have and value it, you are very lucky. My heart goes out to the people who helped me through my journey but also to those who don’t have a home to go back to and their life on the street isn’t a journey, it’s a reality. Please donate to Operation South America who help support children in this situation.
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Bower House Inn is nestled in the eskdale valley. We are a 17th century inn with a great ambience throughout the building. Our Bar and Restaurant offer great home cooked food using the best of local suppliers. We have a top selection of local ales on offer to try. All can be enjoyed within the roaring fires in winter or basking in the beautiful gardens, taking in muncaster fell in the summer. We have 21 bedrooms in the main building and a short hop across into the barn conversion. There is free wi-fi available throughout the inn. All are rooms are en-suite featuring flat screen tvâ€™s plus tea and coffee facilities. If you have unfortunately experienced a wet day in the fells then you can dry your clothes and walking boots in the drying room. There is storage for your cycles in a safe and dry room across the car park. You really are spoilt with many routes to explore in the area especially with hardknott and wrynose pass just a short pedal away. We also have a dedicated cycling and walking room. Plan your routes out around the table review them on the walls where maps of all the local areas are available for your attention. You can also download your route and print it off or upload to your personal device. Why not come back after your journey aand reflect with some of your pictures on the big screen while enjoying a pint of the local ales.
We look forward to you enjoying your time with us at the Bower House Inn.
WHEELS IN WHEELS CYCLING RIDE CAMPS 2016-17
heels in Wheels have been arranging camps since 1999, originally based on Mallorca until 3 years ago when the Islands roads became too busy and in our opinion a little unsafe. Many of our regular clients first visited the Island when the roads were empty and cafes were easy to stop at without booking and prices were sensible. The professional teams usually find the best locations and Mojocar in Andalusia, was extensively used by the Rabobank/Belkin squad for their camps. You can ride for 30mins and not see another car or climb 2000 metres in the middle of March and come back with bragging rights and the full tan lines to prove it. Our first year was based on a small villa complex, but we required to match our “Ride like a Pro” concept. “Ride like a Pro” This service is to match what a professional gets when they go racing or riding except it is at a pace suitable for all. No saddle bags, if you puncture the team vehicle or motorcycle comes up and a spare wheel is fitted. You want another bottle or gel then ask the ride leader and they radio back and you drop back for one. Yes we can organise camps for professionals, club teams and riders wanting to train for the upcoming season or sportive, but we specialise in the everyday cyclist that wants to ride their bike in
safe warm conditions and make a holiday of their time with us. We have many experienced partners with a full nutritional support from Clifbar, tyres and wheels from Continental and Shimano and a full mechanical support team at the hotel or en route. Our location in Andalusia is 45mins from Almeria airport and 2hours from Alicante. These airports offer an excellent service from the UK and other parts of Europe. Once settled at the 4 Star Valle del Este hotel, we get you on the road for a short ride along the coast to our favourite café. The Valle del Este hotel is a fitting location for our camps and aligns with our “Ride like a Pro” tag offering everything you should need, with first class twin bedded rooms, a eat all you want breakfast and dinner buffet. A state of the art Spa complex offers sauna, steam room and massage. Wi-Fi is available all over the complex. Wheels in Wheels Ride camps offer a holiday for cyclist of all abilities and aspirations, with all the hassle taken away. Our trips are from 4 nights* up to 14 nights from late February through to May and include Airport transfers from Almeria, half board at the Valle del Este 4 star hotel with secure bike storage. Guided rides, full daily ride nutrition and free bottles, wheels and mechanical support. Prices start from £395* Let us take the pressure of organising your trip to sunny Spain and contact Graham at Info@wheelsinwheels.com for more details
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PLACES AVAILABLE FOR PRUDENTIAL RIDE 100
Martlets Hospice in Sussex has places available for the Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100 which takes place on Sunday 31July. Starting in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the course follows a 100 mile route on closed roads through the Capital and into Surrey’s stunning countryside; before returning to ﬁnish in the Mall. With leg testing climbs and a route made famous by the London 2012 Olympics, it’s a truly spectacular sponsored ride.
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