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ALGARVE Road and mountain bike paradise

FLANDERS Centurion ride and guide


EUR 5,90 / GBP 5,20 / SEK 69 / DKK 59

Öland reflections

01.05.2019 - 11.09-2019


— Passionate about cycling —



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Campagnolo, passion and innovation for great victories!



GRIPSTER 20 The Future is Pink

Mag 04



60 Guide to Flanders

Gravel & Ice Cream

Road Cycling in Algarve

48 Flanders Centurion Ride




74 26

Algarve Mountain Biking

Hard Land

94 The Easy Shift From Mojito


Places of Interest


Off the Bike


The Engine Room


Riding the cobbles of the Koppenberg is in many ways a very special experience. The challenge of getting up the steep, slippery climb is a very physical and real encounter. With the slightest amount of moisture, you need to engage all your technical skills to keep traction and not end up like most; clicking out and never getting back in motion, as it is near impossible to start from zero on the wet, inclined cobbles. Add to this sensation of the history of this iconic climb; a rider´s battleground, a stage for defeats and drama. Who doesn´t see images of Jesper Skibby almost being run over by an official´s car when thinking of the Koppenberg? The location itself is not spectacular and is not even a key location in the Tour of Flanders. A narrow street lined with trees. Often covered in greyish, lifeless hues, it is a location that is easy to miss unless you know what to look for. The surrounding fields seem faded and pale. The short, cobbled lane is far from the famous ´big´ climbs like Stelvio or Alp d´Huez, boasting grand views and making you feel miniscule in a monumental landscape. The cobbled climbs of Flanders are like poems to novels, folk songs to symphonies, a black and white photograph to a Hollywood movie: honest, full of heart, and with the capacity to make riders put life and death in a pedal stroke expose the souls of the mesmerised audience, letting in moments of life, celebrating mortality. At the cycling museums in Roeselare and Oudenaarde, you find yet another dimension to this praise of cycling; an intellectual aspect that puts the sport we love into perspective and historical context. It is a complete experience to visit Flanders: a thorough workout for body, soul and mind.

Welcome to gripster MAG Words by Martin Paldan

‘The value of things is not the time that they last, but the intensity at which they occur. That is why there are unforgettable moments and unique people!’ - Fernando Pessoa

Equally real, but less harsh are the roads of the Algarve region in Portugal. The only brutality one might experience will be the beauty of a landscape perfect for cycling. This region is full of quiet, perfect roads, stunning scenery, climbs to be named and defined, an unspoiled local atmosphere and plenty of small villages with charming cafés - all waiting to be explored by riders who enjoy shaping their own adventures and cycling stories. A winter climate that resembles the best of a Scandinavian summer, with temperatures up in the twenties, we predict the Algarve region to be a very popular destination for cyclists looking for the perfect winter escape. We welcome spring and look forward to summer with plenty of riding in all terrain, and hope that our articles will inspire you and contribute to making your cycling experiences complete.

GRIPSTER — Welcome to Gripster

Words by Martin Paldan, Editor in Chief



PUBLISHED BY GripGrab ApS Literbuen 11, 2740 Skovlunde Denmark

Ride in Colour. GripGrab is performance cycling products, that keep you riding in comfort in all conditions. This spring we present a new development to our range. It’s time to CLR UP!




Martin Paldan

SKY Design Eleanor Harper Keep It Moving Printall



Alice Fitzsimons-Quail

Fredrika Ek Martin Paldan Paul Dolean Traian Olinici


EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Thomas Jean Nielsen Tim Wiggins Tore B. Andersen

COVER PHOTO The Algarve roads invite you for a perfect cycling holiday. Photo by Martin Paldan #gripstermag

The next issue of Gripster Mag is out in October 2019.

IDEAS If you have a great idea for future issues of Gripster Mag, write to us at mapa@gripgrab. com.

ready for take-off North-west of the Danish capital, in an area surrounded by forests, fields and small villages, Fiona May from England enjoys a sprint on the old airfield known as Vaerloese Flyveplads. Left by the military in 2004, the recreational area is now a haven for aerobar loyal time trialists, interval eager cyclists and open space worshippers with its 2.500 meters of dead straight tarmac. Photo by Martin Paldan



We enjoy sharing your moments and stories. Tag your photos with #gripstermag to show us and everyone else your cycling passion. We feature nine selected posts in each issue.

Danny Sørensen is known as the guy with the dirt jumps in his backyard. He enjoys inviting his friends over for an Easter Jam, a summer barbecue or Halloween hangout. Backflips, 360s, whips and no-handers are casually going on in the background, while food is being prepared, shared and munched at this backyard bash. Together with his good friend Christian, Danny runs the comany Dirtbuilders, who moves and shape the soil to make the finest of all pumptracks, dirt jumps and mountainbike trails.

Composite by Martin Paldan

@robinbon94 — Was gibt es bitte schöneres, als bei dem Traumwetter durch die Berge zu fahren?!

@tvebak1970 — I love riding after dark

@wannesbosman — Yesterday wasn’t a normal day in the office

@steffenwieth — Nyt på væggen

@beukeb00m — Snowy days make me remember how much I miss summer, shadows and sunshine

@brentpeeters — It’s more than foot love!

@jannickpedersen1991 — Give a huge High five for Friday

@sbrt63540 — Mountain bike time or chestnuts time?

@andreas_tonelli — Riding down the craziest slabs on Earth faster than my shadow

GRIPSTER — #gripstermag


Danny Sørensen, Denmark Dirtbuilder, Downhiller


17 GRIPSTER — Places of Interest

Öland, sweden

GRIPSTER — Places of Interest



Getting to Öland (literally ‘Island land’ in English) involves crossing the Kalmar Strait in the Baltic Sea. This island lies off the coast of south-eastern Sweden and is accessible by a bridge from the mainland. However, from April to October, cyclists can opt for the more atmospheric 30-minute crossing in the small Öland ferry. The boat, Dessi, is a 19.8m catamaran complete with cafeteria and sundeck, and space for 50 bikes on the aft deck. Tickets can be purchased on board.

A house of athletes situated in Sineu, at the heart of a beautiful and warm Mediterranean island, MA-13 is a place where people live together, train together and enjoy sumptuous food in the evenings. The house cater for everyone from professional athletes to active holidaymakers and is presided over by sports scientists and former professional cyclist Jan Eric Schwarzer, who also offers individual tours. They proclaim, ‘Mountains for Breakfast!’ on their website, and it is very accurate indeed; the winding climbs and thrilling descents of the Mallorcan mountains are at your fingertips.




Beautiful and historical, with a mish-mash of architecture from the Moorish and Roman conquests to elegant 18th century buildings, and an offshore sandbar island, Ihla de Tavira, this should be a stop on any local or regional ride. Enjoy a coffee under a softly flapping parasol during the day or make your way through an excellent bottle of local wine and freshly caught fish in the long evenings, spent dining alfresco in the historic centre.

tavira, portugal

ghent, belgium



Sitting comfortably on the fence between cosmopolitan city and smaller, provincial town, historical Ghent is a relaxing and picturesque place to take a few days off the saddle and enjoy Belgian culture. The city centre is car-free and therefore refreshingly open, you can wander along the canals, admiring the medieval buildings, in peace and quiet. Take in the views from the 66m high Belfort en Lakenhalle, a tower completed in 1380, enjoy a canal cruise tour presenting all the city’s highlights, and munch your way through the local delicacies of ‘stoverij’ (meat slow cooked in beer), and ‘gentse waterzooi’ (a stew made with fish, chicken, and vegetables). Sip a coffee whilst watching your fellow wanderers, or indulge your evenings by exploring Ghent’s excellent collection of cosy bars.

While discovering the Algarve, we encountered the amazing Guarita Terrace. Close to Praia Verde, and with a stunning panoramic view of the ocean, it is the perfect spot for a post ride drink, and their menu includes an orange-topped Negroni and elderflower gin and tonic. If the sleek outdoor sunshades and delicious local seafood don’t entice you after a long day in the saddle, what will?

algarve, portugal

GRIPSTER — Places of Interest

GRIPSTER — Places of Interest



21 GRIPSTER — The Future is Pink

GRIPSTER — The Future is Pink

The future is pink Words by Alice Fitzsimons-Quail

Photos by Paul Dolean, Traian Olinici, Martin Paldan



23 GRIPSTER — The Future is Pink

GRIPSTER — The Future is Pink

The sunlight filters through the bright green leaves of early spring, and tiny flecks of mud spray as the riders take the corner. Czech MTB powerhouse Jaroslav Kulhavý flashes past, and the crowds are roaring. Nové Město XCO World Cup is in full swing, and the last rider of the field curves into view, tired but with teeth gritted in determination, driving forward on a bike that at first seems like those of the other racers, until you notice its hot pink colour. Kulhavý is long past and his group of fans are winding down, laughing together, sipping beer. They spot the final rider, see his bike, nudge each other. Then something unexpected happens – they start cheering again, clapping and jumping and yelling support like this lone rider was the leader of the pack, not the last in the race. They all know his story, and why he’s swapped more traditional MTB colours for this bright shade. The pink rider pushes past, a grin perhaps visible through the strain, and on to the finish line. Since then, that same group are always cheering for him, no matter what position he’s in, and it brings a smile to his face every time. Hailing from Cluj-Napoca in north-western Romania, Vlad Sabău first raced on a heavy steel bike in 2002. Always a sporty kid, first into swimming, then rugby, but biking was the hobby that really held him. Now he is a member of the Imprezzio Cannondale Racing team. His father coached the local kids’ rugby team, and his mother keenly accompanied him to all the local races when he settled on cycling, ‘she was always next to me, and supported me every time.’ Before he turned eighteen, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, in stage 3 or 4, with little chance of a full recovery. However, she had surgery and seemed to be headed in a good direction, until 2008 when a routine check discovered an inoperable cerebral tumour. They were told she had only one month to live, but in the end, it was two years. ‘The most difficult was the last six months, when she couldn’t speak or move at all, so we had to take special care of her.’ Vlad remembers, ‘but I have so many great memories of her, even when she was sick, things that I will never forget.’ FINDING THE WAY THROUGH LOSS He may have found solace in riding, but his mother’s illness remains in his memory as a hard time for him and his family. The medical system in Romania didn’t have a developed program for people in complicated cases like his mother, and he describes it was ‘both so hard for the person with the diagnosis, but also very hard for the family who has to stay positive and strong.’ All this left an itch, you could say, for him to use his platform to make a difference. Maybe there was a way he could use his passion for biking to generate money and awareness for those suffering from cancer and support their families. He spoke with his sponsors and they were ready and willing to help. Within months, a custom-made pink bike was in production. The project was a joint effort from Cannondale, Ashima, Tune, Sapim, Sram and Adidas Eyewear. The bike includes many custom parts in hot shades of pink, and the finished product is a vision in fuchsia. Eye-catching, it is also light and fast, making it the perfect addition to any collection. Vlad says the bike motivates him; ‘I know that the pink stands out, it’s so noticeable, so I try to push as hard as possible every single time.’ >



Vlad’s passion for biking has accompanied him through his difficult experiences. ‘I just wanted to ride to new places. After that I happened to go to a race, and since then I’ve never stopped!’ Now he’s a father to eighteenmonth-old Felix and has a very full schedule being a parent, working, and keeping up his cycling career as well. ‘I’ve definitely learned to manage my time better’ he says, ‘but I can’t say it has affected my cycling life too much – just that the training is more spontaneous, and I can’t do so many longer rides. But things will change as Felix is growing up too.’ Luckily the family live right next to the forested area of Faget. Getting there to train is very convenient and the area is far from crowded, you’re unlikely to meet any motorised traffic at all. The family also love to travel together – ‘usually my wife and I plan a trip together to a new country each year. Travel is another hobby of mine, you could say!’ THE RIDE Cannondale produced the unique frameset: ‘the one and only that came out of the factory.’ Ashima created a special pink edition of their Pancake breaks and custom outer cables. Tune supplied a wheelset and pink seat-post and saddle. It’s the first pink bike to see a season through, and Vlad says riding it motivates him; ‘I know that the pink stands out, it’s so noticeable, so I try to push as hard as possible every single time.’ He also uses it for training – so if you are wandering the forests near Faget or one of Vlad’s racing locations, you too could see a flash of pink pass you by! SHOWINGS OF SOLIDARITY The choice of colour is a reference, of course, to the international symbol for breast cancer: the pink ribbon. This identifies the wearer with the breast cancer campaign and expresses support for those suffering from the disease. Vlad doesn’t support a large foundation

however, the money he makes goes toward helping individuals ‘struggling to deal with cancer in a bad financial situation, who aren’t able to find help anywhere else.’ Vlad has channelled his own experience into reaching out to others, showing his own strength and making an ongoing tribute to his mother’s memory. Combining his desire to make a difference with his favourite sport and pastime has made his enthusiasm stronger and allowed him to meet a painful experience with love. ‘I simply just enjoy riding bikes. This was and still is my main motivation. I always try to improve myself, to be faster, even though with the years passing it’s getting harder.’ But he doesn’t give up (or slow up!) ‘having my wife and boy next to me gives me an extra boost. I am not a pro rider I still have to find the balance between family, cycling and work.’ Vlad runs a small online shop, Cycle Master, which allows him to work from home and fit his schedule around his training. It’s hard work, but at least it allows him the flexibility to keep training and is related to his sport. THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS Having many years of cycling experience has also left Vlad with a repertoire of experiences to share. Riding the pink bike opens up a whole new world for this, and its distinctive look makes people curious. And where does he want to take it from here? ‘My main goal is to race again at one World Cup, and to race as much as possible in Romania too. I really want to try new disciplines and see how I can give my best!’ He will also continue to auction his pink bikes each season; he fixes them up and replaces worn parts, makes sure they are at 100% functionality and gleaming, then sells them via his own personal website, Vlad is very grateful to all his supporters and the sponsors that helped him with this project. You can find him on Instagram n

GRIPSTER — The Future is Pink

GRIPSTER — The Future is Pink



27 GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

Road cycling in Algarve The Algarve is a region of outstanding natural beauty, as well as being a paradise for cyclists. WINTER WITH 20 DEGREE CELSIUS Our hotel receptionist boldly stated to us twice already this morning that “it is winter now”. Yet aside from the lack of other guests in our beautiful beach-side accommodation, you could be excused for thinking otherwise; we are preparing to ride, dressed contently in just short sleeves.

Text by Tim Wiggins

Photos by Martin Paldan

Our route for the day is a circular tour: from the coast we will ride up the Guadiana river, which forms the border between Portugal and Spain, then head into the interior of the Algarve to explore the hills and rivers that compose the lush green landscape inland from the coast. We are not aiming for personal records — it is December, after all; instead we are looking forward to café stops in the sunshine, and a leisurely lunch of local delights.


29 GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

A VIEW TO SPAIN Heading up the Guadiana, we enjoy the backroads and rolling hills. To our right we look out over the river to the Spanish territory on the opposite bank; Portugal seems so close to Spain in some ways, and yet it has a distinctly different character: calmer, quieter, and in many ways more welcoming. A quick coffee stop in Alcoutim. We sit contentedly on the terrace of a local bar, sampling their homemade Pastel de Nata, and listening to the stories of the smuggling history of this bustling little village. The sun has warmed the air to a blissful 26 degrees Celsius by midday, as we begin our ride inland into the Algarve interior. The landscape has an almost luminescent green tint in the early winter sun. Thanks to the few weeks of rain the area receives in late autumn, it is far less arid and desert-like than might be expected given its southerly position. This almost feels like a second Spring.

touring the algarve Bike Sul, the newest project of lifelong cycling enthusiast, mechanic, and founder of adventure sports company ExtremoSul, Ricardo Rodrigues, is tapping in to the growth of cycle touring and other outdoor bike activities. They offer the chance to explore the coast and interior of the Algarve, providing an alternative to ‘sun and beach’ tourism.


31 GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

EXPLORING When you imagine your warm weather cycling retreat, you likely think of the Mediterranean islands, or the climbs of the Grand Canarias. Well-established destinations with a lot to offer, winding mountain routes, beautiful vistas. But there’s always a desire to become a trailblazer, to discover new enticing routes and thrilling descents. Most do not know the secret of the Algarve —this southernmost region of Portugal boasts some of the best climbs, roads, culture, and cuisine found anywhere in Europe. We are here to explore, tempted by tales of deserted roads through an untouched serra. While our friends and colleagues back home are shivering and digging out their warmer coats, we have gratefully traded the cold grey for the blue skies of this southerly latitude.


33 GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

ROMANS WAS HERE We spin past reservoirs and through friendly and welcoming provinces. The roads and houses are beautifully kept and traditional in style; characteristic blue shutters reflect the azure sky, and the occasional section of refurbished cobbled road reflects the remains of a Roman occupation in centuries past. The heat of the sun brings the road side verges to life; smells of wild thyme and rosemary invigorate our senses. With 100 kilometres ridden, we stop for lunch at a local bar. This inland Algarve retains a beautifully traditional orientation, and we are served brimming platefuls of lamb and chickpea stew; seasoned with the aromatic plants that we had, moments before, recognised out on the road. The route shows a ten kilometre climb immediately after our lunch stop; this region may not be mountainous, but there is plenty of scope for gaining vertical metres. The climb, thankfully, is a forgiving one; with a gentle gradient allowing us to spin up the early slopes as our lunch settles in our stomachs. After five kilometres of switchbacks, we emerge onto the high serra. The vista opens out to show the hills cascading down to the Atlantic Ocean on the distant horizon. A panoramic view has been a beautiful distraction for the final few kilometres of the climb; but, by the summit, our well used legs are ready for a descent.


35 GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

SALT FLATS With a strong tailwind, and an almost constant downhill gradient; it is a triumphant plunge to the coast. Twenty kilometres of sweeping bends and empty roads; you couldn’t wipe the smiles from our faces if you tried. We still cannot quite believe it is December, in Europe. As the road levels out, we can smell the clean sea air as we click into the final ten kilometres of our route. The road takes us through the charming town of Tavira, and then out onto the salt flats beyond. This landscape is a great contrast to the farmland of the Algarve interior; it presents a different way of life — one oriented toward the sea. In coming days, we will sample octopus caught by local boats, Bacalao salted cod fish, and Cataplana de Marisco seafood stew — all simple local dishes; inspired and served by the Atlantic. The sun is setting as we pedal the last few kilometres, and then finally unclip from the pedals at the Forte de Cacela lighthouse. We rest our bikes against the whitewashed walls and look out on the deep blue ocean below. We came to the Algarve hoping just to escape the cold and grey December days. What we found was so much more: a sun-drenched landscape of unforgettable roads and panoramic backdrops; and a ride of discovery to see, taste, and experience the unique experiences that this Portuguese region has to offer. n

Johan Vansummeren, JVS Cycling HolidayS Johan is establishing himself as a provider of cycling holidays in the Algarve, which he sees as the perfect destination: ‘the weather is good all year round, the roads are quiet and of good quality and there is beautiful scenery.’ The terrain is challenging but not impossible, even for amateurs, and the region being an established tourist destination means there is plenty of infrastructure and evening entertainment. Johan also praises the variety offered by the area for cyclists: ‘you can ride flat next to the sea and then turn inland and go up to 3000m. There are so many options for just a week-long cycling holiday here.


A irlok so lve s your s t or age and s ec ur it y need s i n o n e sim p le awa rd winning des ign. I ndus t r y leadin g s e c u r i t y feature s e nsure y our bik e is s af e and s ec ur e at a l l t i m e s . Hard en ed Stee l Fr am e | Hidden High Sec ur it y F i x i n g s 30 MM Ha rde ne d S t eel Loc k ing Bolt | 3 x Replaca b l e K e y s Rub be rize d Fram e Pr ot ec t ion | I ndoor + O ut d o o r U s e



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GripGrab Drinking Bottle The new colourful bottles from GripGrap provides multiple options for colour coordination, easy identification of which substance in which bottle or simply to choose a colour that matches your mood. The bottles come in a handy 600 ml and in an endurance 800 ml version.

GripGrab Aerolite InsideGrip Glove Knog Milk Man Lock 90mm Every cyclist must stop at some point, even if it is only to refill your water, grab a snack from a nearby shop, or a longer break to enjoy a more filling lunch or end-of-ride beer. And that means that inevitably, at points your bike will have to stand unattended for short periods of time. Knog have come to the rescue with their light and portable Milk Man cable lock. It’s a deterrent lock and not recommended for long periods but will help prevent opportunistic crime. Its lightweight and will fit snugly in the back of your jersey.

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Fizik Infinito R1 Knit Look Keo Cleats Look invented the first clipless pedal and have spent the last 30 years developing them. Their cleats are designed to minimize weight and size while remaining compatible with shoes. They come with three float options, 0°, 4,5° and 9°, and easily allows for adjustment. They also come in a jazzy bright red!

Get dressed for a summer´s performance on the tarmac switchbacks in a pair of knitted cycling shoes. The Infinito R1 Knit will keep your feet comfortable due to the highly breathable material. The performance-oriented kicks come with an ingenious fitting system, that promises a tight and comfortable fit designed for high intensity riding.

GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve

GRIPSTER — Road Cycling in Algarve




There is dust in the air, as the small front group of the Hansen Ride hits the Strade Bianche of Freerslev. They grind hard, tyre to tyre and with pebbles flying in all directions. After they have disappeared in a cloud of dust, there is only silence under the big summer sky. Several minutes later more riders emerge from the forest. 100 km into the ride, they feel the strain in their legs and look forward to the next feed station, equipped with a welcoming portable freezer filled with ice cream! FROM THE OFFICE TO THE DAIRY An archetypal young, successful Copenhagener, Rasmus Hansen was part of an advertising agency, doing well, living in the trendy inner-city, and occasionally biking out to Jægerspris, the headquarters of his father’s business, in north Zealand. ‘It’s a beautiful area around there for mountainbike, and I’m a mountain biker at heart’. Churning up mud on the local singletracks got Rasmus mulling over his career choices and thinking philosophically about life in general. ‘It was so beautiful to get out of the city, over the bridge into the forest, then on to make some ice cream.’ A very different kind of product than the abstract business of advertising; ‘you realise it’s a real product you’re making, something that people love, rather than sitting in an office chair. You realise the advertising and communication involves a lot of work that doesn’t really make a difference. It’s rare that your clients come to you and say, ‘this is really good!’, they just talk to you about impacts.’

GRAVEL & ICE CREAM Words by Alice Fitzsimons-Quail Photos by Martin Paldan

The Hansen´s Bike Ride combines the delight of eating ice cream with the joy of riding the backroads of Zealand. Not an obvious combination, but worth trying.

Somewhere between the mud, the countryside air and the smiles of customers as they tear open their ice cream packages, Rasmus made a decision. His brother went through a similar process, and it wasn’t long before they found themselves setting up alongside their father, in the middle of the gently undulating landscape, with a small team of eight people producing for only five customers. ‘We had so much space in the factory – we only used one room!’

GRIPSTER — Gravel & Ice Cream

GRIPSTER — Gravel & Ice Cream


spindly, round brick tower rises above the low buildings, looking more picturesque than industrial. The air is chilled, but the sun is shining, and birds chirp lazily to each other, surprised at the bright spring day. Only small details; a flash of a silver from a metal chimney, the low hum of a machine hidden somewhere behind the whitewash walls, hint at the real purpose of these buildings.


43 GRIPSTER — Gravel & Ice Cream

GRIPSTER — Gravel & Ice Cream

A LEGACY KEPT ALIVE While it was a new experience, the pull of family history also made it feel like coming home. Hansens Is (originally Frederiksborg Is) was begun by their great grandfather, Hans Hansen, in 1920, in a time when you couldn’t travel far in rural Denmark without coming across a cooperative dairy; ‘before, every little community had one, and now there are only 10, yet the production of milk is so much higher.’ Ice cream production began in 1922, following its huge popularity in 1920s America, and the popularity stuck. ‘My grandfather took over in the ‘60s, then my father in the ‘80s, and we expanded to sell all over Denmark and into some other countries too.’ The ‘80s and ‘90s spelled tough times for small producers as the ‘ice cream war’ commenced: brand giants competed, buying up businesses wherever they could, each aiming to topple the other. A small, family-owned brand had no chance in this freezer, and they eventually received an offer they couldn’t refuse ‘they weren’t even interested in the dairy, the buildings or anything, just the market share’. The war went cold later and they once again began selling off the small dairies and brands they had so eagerly swallowed up. A PERSONAL TOUCH The brothers wanted to bring their own touch to Hansens Is, and you can see it everywhere; their design and advertising backgrounds reflected in the careful, retro-inspired graphics on their packaging, to their annual curation and organisation of Hansens Cykelløb (Hansen’s Bike Ride). They use only premium ingredients in their products and decry ‘dressing up’ poorly sourced ingredients for a high price tag. ‘So many companies make a product and write “chocolate from Ghana” and wrap it in gold, but what they do is buy cheap chocolate and then pay an agency to come up with the story.’ Hansens use a professional from the local area, a ‘chocolate mastermind’ with a penchant for detail – he even hand wraps many of his products – and has his own network of trusted suppliers. This fits in with the Hansens vision; ‘in Danish we have this concept of “umage”, you “make yourself umage” and it means a little more than doing something the right way – more like doing it with effort’.

Hansens riding Hansen´s. The ice cream tribe of the brothers Anders and Rasmus with their father Hans Jørgen in the middle, getting ready for the annual Hansen´s Bike Ride. Matt Chandler: I was thinking about something different to do from the various “standard” sportives. I came across the Cyclist article and thought “let’s do this!”. A few of us have been riding gravel and bridleways, mostly in winter - mountain biking doesn’t really work that well in the flatlands of Cambridgeshire! I managed to convince three others to share the Danish adventure, enticed by the prospect of lots of ice cream. The event itself didn’t disappoint - friendly, full of local charm, plenty challenging and a fair bit more competitive than we expected! Some great riding in amongst but the dairy and its ice cream were the stars. Stopping the clock at the mid station for an ice cream-based lunch reminds you it’s mostly about the ice cream. Which was excellent - Hansens is well known in Denmark to be the best ice cream - I couldn’t disagree. I think we tried most of them through the course of the day - it makes a very welcome change from gels and jaffa cakes. Supplemented at the finish by local beer, burgers and milkshakes (of course made from ice cream), it rounded off probably the best sportive I’ve done. As soon as I can work out an easier way to get there with our bikes, we’ll be back. From left: Matt Chandler, Hannah Cooke, Sara Rogger and ­Andrew Caines.

44 GRIPSTER — Gravel & Ice Cream

OUT ON THE GRAVEL This is also their attitude to the annual bike ride. It is more than just making a route and grabbing a couple of cakes from the supermarket – it is about making it an experience, sharing something, enjoying the outdoors, and tucking into a top-quality ice cream at the end of it. ‘In our world, we have indulgence and effort, that’s our motto. You must do something in order to get the reward.’ The race draws international riders and locals alike, and aside from the riding, it provides a fun-filled day for everyone in the area. Rasmus senses his father’s influence here; ‘he is into cycling, and he wants to support the local community… for him that is what it is all about, so it just feels like it makes sense.’ The question remains: why a gravel race? Many of their staff are cycling enthusiasts of some sort, and it was because of the mix of interests. ‘We like mountain biking in the local area, the forests and hills, but we also love Zealand’s roads, the smooth asphalt. Often, gravel is freeing for roadies who just want to loosen up and get out in the forest. For mountain bikers the gravel bike is a new experience too, its much rougher, you don’t have that suspension, you feel all the humps and bumps.’ INSIDER TIPS Enjoying a rewarding ice cream is of course part of the race setup, and we wanted to get Rasmus’s top tips on getting the best out of your Hansen’s treat. The answer was surprising: ‘most of us are guilty of eating our ice creams too fast. We have a new concept here, “Hansen’s defrost” in English, that says you should wait 20 minutes before eating it. And we know most people can’t do it – they don’t have the patience! But you’ll find out it’s so worth it if you wait those 20 minutes!’. On leaving the Hansen’s factory, we definitely didn’t manage this recommendation! Perhaps our readers will fare better. n

RON SHEVOCK, USA My bike is from a Sacramento, California based company called Squid Bikes. The frame came as raw, unpainted aluminum, and then my friend Eric Nickell, did all the painting. While this is Squid’s cyclocross specific frame, I’ve found it more than versatile enough for longer distance gravel-specific events as well. For Hansen’s, I had it set up as a single speed (made possible by using “The Oner” eccentric bottom bracket that Squid makes), with a 44x16 gear. Keen observers may notice the mismatched wheel set! On the rear is a wide carbon rim from Kappius Components, that is mismatched with an aluminum Stan’s NoTubes Grail on the front which I had to borrow from my wife’s bike the night before when I damaged the rear’s mate on a ride just prior. And for tires, I ran 40c Maxxis Ramblers tubeless... kind of a ‘go to’ fast-rolling gravel specific tire for me.

Niels Thanild, Denmark Steel is real. I ride a Pelago Sibbo frame. Filet brazed Columbus steel. I like to keep my bikes simple and basic, and I have a thing for steel frames. I set it up with a Ritchey carbon fork, Niner RDO post, Brooks c15 saddle, DT wheels, Force group with an Absolute Black sprocket, Zipp bars and a Velo Orange retro bottle cage. It’s got a fresh and steep geometry with short chain stays, which makes it really fun on the Mtb single tracks, but it’s still good for just going out there. I spend much more time riding it than washing it, but it’s always tuned well. We get along well.

Paw Ager, Denmark My bike is a Santa Cruz Stigmata. Honestly, it is the bike of my dreams. Since I first laid eyes on it, I knew that I had to have this bike. I bought the frame 1,5 years ago, and then slowly built it up… no compromises with components. I love the simple lines and chose a black/white/grey theme. Unfortunately, I didn´t have a black and white saddle for the Hansen´s ride.

49 48

GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

The Flanders Centurion Ride Words by Tim Wiggins

Photos by Martin Paldan


51 GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride


here is nowhere to hide from the cold northerly winds that blow today. The trees have lost the bright orange and vivid green colours of autumn and adopted a more muted winter palette. Fields stretch away in every direction, neatly divided by hedges that too are bare of berries and leaves. Pausing on the side of the road, the wind strips my body of any warmth I might have generated on the short, steep climb and leaves me grappling for feeling in my toes and fingertips; just as I have been for grip on the road surface. Head down. Battle on. Be more Flandrien.

HISTORIC LANDSCAPE All the same, I feel a warmth of sorts… knowing that while my challenge today is hard, it is incomparable to the hard winter suffered in the trenches in 1917. The Belgian region of Flanders is a land steeped in history. One hundred years ago, it was on these vast windswept fields that The Great War changed the course of European history. The landscape now seems less scarred, thanks to the extensive post-war rebuilding and levelling efforts by Chinese labourers and German prisoners. Yet even now archaeologists and farmers are still discovering relics from the war. Lys, Zonnebeke, and Passchendaele—these are all names loaded with history; one especially remembered in 2018—the centenary. For bike riders, the cobbled climbs and Flanders fields represent a battleground of another sort—for more than a century, cyclists have battled it out on this iconic landscape in the Spring Classics races. The names in the history books include the likes of Flandrien Paul Deman, a pro cyclist who won the first ever Tour of Flanders in 1913. When the war came, Deman became a cycling spy and smuggled documents from Belgium to the Netherlands. He was arrested by the Germans, jailed in Leuven, and narrowly avoided being executed when the Armistice came. He went on to win Paris-Roubaix in 1920 and Paris-Tours in 1923.




53 GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

RIDING THE CLIMBS OF FLANDERS To commemorate Armistice Day 100, the legacy of locals like Paul Deman, and fuelled by my love of the Spring Classics, I made a pilgrimage of sorts on a cool November weekend—to ride the fields and climbs of Flanders. The intention was to ride one hundred miles to recognise the century that has passed since The Great War; on a route tailormade to link together the most iconic climbs of the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders). The pilgrimage began in the cemeteries of Ypres. The day before the ride I went to pay homage to the brave soldiers that gave their lives in the name of freedom; to see the wreaths of poppies laid on the graves—a crimson flower to commemorate the conflict. I have ancestors lying in these fields; this is not just history, it is a personal past. That thought, and images of bikes and battlegrounds floated around in my mind as I sipped on Belgian beer the evening before my ride. I headed to bed thinking of the small battle of my own that awaited me the following day—a century ride across the fields and climbs of Flanders. One hundred miles may be only a quarter of the distance I have ridden non-stop on previous ‘Big Rides’; yet this would be a challenge and battle against the winter elements, as well as a new territory to explore. 100 MILES CHALLENGE Dawn breaks on a cold and misty morning in the town of Oudenaarde. Drinking coffee and surveying the vast library of books and maps about Ronde van Vlaanderen found in my hotel reception, I eagerly anticipate what is to come: this is a chance to see, to feel, and to challenge myself—to experience this historical region from the saddle of a bicycle. Clip in. Roll out. Let us go in search of Pavé... The climbs come thick and fast: Kattenberg, Volkegemberg, Eikenberg,Taaienberg. Each cobbled road wakens the senses and mind. Move your body back on the saddle; push hard on the gear; stay seated to retain traction.



55 GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

REMEMBERING CHAMPIONS I ride south east towards an iconic landmark—the Muur van Geraardsbergen. This is a true ‘Classic’ Belgium climb. Weaving skywards from the market town the narrow cobbled road is a brutal but beautiful ascent. You skid and bump your way up under the thick trees lining the lower slope, before emerging onto the exposed hillside as the road sweeps upwards towards the hill-top chapel. I feel the history, and for a moment my thoughts drift back to 1985… Imagine being 23 years old… you have just become Belgian National Champion—proudly wearing the national colours in the most important national race. The year before you won two stages in the Tour de France (in a sprint). The eyes of a nation are fixated on you and you are hustled by the press and general public as the favourite for Flanders’ monument. It is a cold and rainy day with temperatures around zero degrees. Then 100 kilometres from the finish your wheel breaks. It takes forever to change it and you face a 30 kilometre chase. Yet, it is not over. On the foot of the Koppenberg you reach the back of the peloton and everyone is walking because of the slippery conditions. Pure chaos. Spectators and photographers block the sides where there is a chance of finding a fraction of traction. You are the only one still on your bike and ride a slalom through the field. You then make another move after the Koppenberg and close a one-minute gap to the leaders—the best of their generation: Kelly, Lemond, Van der Poel, Anderson, Kuiper and Criquielion. The road is a river of muddy water. Ludwig Willems skids in a turn, loses control, and crashes into a ditch. Massacre. You ride away with Kuiper and Anderson and arrive on the foot of the Muur. Massive crowds have gathered despite the freezing conditions. You ride off on the steepest part, your chest rocking heavily towards the cockpit—back and forth, in order to direct all the energy into your legs. Your heart beat is going crazy; the crowd gives a monstrous roar that mimics how every muscle fibre feels. Then, cresting the climb, you push on with a 22 kilometre solo ride—to win your first monument in Meerbeke. Only 24 riders make it to the finish that day. Your name—Eric Vanderaerden is the name to remember



57 GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride

MATTENTAART AND A NEW FLANDRIEN I take a moment and sit on my top tube outside the chapel at the summit of the Muur; regaining composure and surveying the moody yet majestic landscape that surrounds me. More climbs and more cobbles beckon. But first, coffee... I have made my way eastwards into the strong headwind and from here on it should be easier going, I hope. I head to a local bar set in the backstreets of Geraardsbergen. En-route I call into a bakery to satisfy my curiosity for the strange pies that line the window. It turns out they are Mattentaart—a pastry filled with soft cheese, famed in the town. I take one—fuel for the ride. Crumbs tumble to the floor of the local bar. The bartender is pregnant, smiling, and friendly. On a blackboard, the guests—all regulars it seems, are betting on the weight of the imminent new arrival. It could be a new cycling hero on the way. The onward route takes me on deserted but beautiful cycle paths; through fields left bare after the harvest. The landscape is stark yet holds a hidden charm; it is as if the fields must endure bleakness before they can welcome the colour and warmth of the distant spring. I fully understand why those hard winters in the trenches must have seemed never-ending, and equally why the Spring Classics are branded as the races of ‘hard men’ and ‘endurance animals’. This is a land of fortitude. GRIP ON KOPPENBERG The Mattentaart and caffeine begin to kick in, and the next few climbs seem to pass without drama: 88 kilometres – Eikenmolen, 100 kilometres – Rekelberg; 112 kilometres – Pottenberg. Then comes the Koppenberg—an icon. The road sweeps out of the small hamlet before rising steeply and suddenly through the shaded trench; darkness covers the path until you emerge into the light at the summit. The rain shower that toyed with me earlier has left the cobbles damp and slippery—I struggle for a grip on the polished stones and push hard to keep momentum on the twenty percent gradient, thinking of Eric Vanderaerden. Next comes Oude Kwaremont—a giant of Flanders; famed for being a cornerstone of the Ronde and Omloop Het Niewsblad. The cobbles are more boulder-like, and the road has a dome-like camber that tempts you down towards the gutters that line the passage. I can almost taste the Kwaremont beer—it is brewed to be 6.6 percent to match the gradient of the climb.



58 GRIPSTER — The Flanders Centurion Ride


light, as a shadow

The rain showers that surround me have been kind in leaving me untouched, as well as casting magnificent rainbows across the Flandrien fields in the setting sun. I have reached the end of my challenge but remind myself many soldiers were not as fortunate. Flanders holds an eclectic mix of history and legacy; the pain of war, and the historic home of bicycle racing. Both seem to be close to the hearts of the locals—there is even a rumour that the farmer who owned the Paterberg converted it from gravel to cobbles, just to have the Tour of Flanders pass by his farm. My legs are waning as the gradient hits twenty percent for the final time. Then, the sun breaks through the low cloud on the horizon, and all manner of thoughts come flooding into my mind. The Great War. The Cobbled Classics. The cyclocross races. The trenches and the tracks through the mud. These historic elements of the Flandrien world fuel emotions that are deep and diverse. Yet, they are all feelings of celebration: this has been a ride of commemoration—a salute to the soldiers of Flanders. n


Then, to the final — the superlative Paterberg; with its panoramic views from the summit.

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GUIDETO FLANDERS Steeped in the legacies of cyclists past and present, the cobbles of Flanders are always calling to visitors with a taste for life in the saddle. Tasty pastries, hidden local taverns, and rolling fields will greet you, but what other highlights should you include in your Tour of Flanders trip? Connecting with the history and culture of this unique area and its links to cycling (since cycling began) will bring extra flavour to your tour.

KOERS bicycle museum 61 GENT TRACK EVENT 62 CENTRUM RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN MUSEUM 63 CYCLO CROSS IN HAMME 64 Pedaleur de Flandres Cycling Café 65 - Routes to ride! 66

You find yourself in Roeselare, in the famed cycling region of West Flanders. The area that has produced some of the best cyclists in the world, whose stories are collected and presented by KOERS museum. ­Explore the life of Odiel Defraeye, the first Belgian to win the Tour de France in 1912 and the first in a line of Roeselare’s champions; Benoni Beheyt, Patrick Sercu, Jean-Pierre ‘Jempi’ Monseré and Freddy ­Maertens. Newly refurbished since 2018, the museum presents a unique opportunity to delve into the history of bicycles and cycling. Peruse and study their collection of racing bikes, trophies, a 90° cobble­ stone wall and a wide range of action images and cycling collection pieces. The museum welcomes visitors arriving on two wheels (of course!) and offers secure bike lockers, charging for electric bikes, and showers. It is part of the West Flanders cycling route and hire bikes and cycling maps are readily available.

Open 10am-5pm (closed on Mondays) Open on public holidays Open Sunday March – September

GRIPSTER — Guide to Flanders

GRIPSTER — Guide to Flanders

KOERS bicycle museum



Held annually at Kuipke Velodrome in the Citadelpark in Ghent, Belgium, this six-day track cycling race will guarantee you all the thrills Flanders has to offer. In this iconic location you can watch the race for points, the team race, the elimination race, time trial, super sprint and the Derny. It all began in 1922 with cyclists racing around the clock for 6 days and 6 nights and the tradition is well and truly alive. Nowadays you can still drink it all in, fuelled by hotdogs, local beer and nonstop spectacle. A perfect addition to a cycling holiday that also allows you to see the picturesque and historic city of Ghent.

12th-17th November 2019

Centrum Ronde Van Vlaanderen museum This is a must-visit when near Oudenaarde. If asked to choose their favourite race, many cycling fans would pick the Tour of Flanders. Immerse yourself in the exhibitions charting the victories of Eddy Merckx and the fall of Jesper Skibby on the Koppenberg. There’s a special focus on women’s cycling that illustrates 100 years of excellence. If you have the kids in tow, there is a children’s tour for younger fans, specially developed by children’s author Birgitte Minne. Chill out and refuel in the trendy ­Peloton café or grab a souvenir in the giftshop.

GRIPSTER — Guide to Flanders

GRIPSTER — Guide to Flanders

6 days of Gent track event



The DVV Trophy Cyclo Cross in Hamme is also known as the Flandrien Cross. The World Cup race was renamed (from Bollekescross) in honour of Greg van Avermaet who is a multiple winner of the Flandrien-Trofee, and happens to be raised in Hamme. The Flandrien Trofee is a prestigious prize presented by the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad and is awarded to a rider, who in a determined and strongwilled way, represents the Flandrien spirit of cycling. The DVV Trophy Cyclo Cross is a perfect example of how the Flemish embrace the cyclo-cross, and an opportunity to experience a full-on Belgian CX race with top riders fighting fiercely to the finish — not to be missed. Remember to get some of the frietjes in order to get the full experience!

Pedaleur de Flandres Cycling Café A cyclist’s dream in the heart of picturesque Ghent, here you can enjoy a post- (or mid-!) ride coffee, beer or cake, watch all the high-profile cycling races on television, and maintain and repair your bike in their in-house workshop and bike wash. With its smooth design and wall-mounted racers and jerseys, you will feel right at home.

GRIPSTER — Guide to Flanders

GRIPSTER — Guide to Flanders

Cyclo Cross in Hamme

66 GRIPSTER — Guide to Flanders - Routes to ride! Imagine planning a cycling holiday and having a readymade portal that gives you top quality advice on cycling routes, special destinations, accommodation, bike rental, tour operators … and a detailed calendar with all the local cycling events? Well, you are in luck – Cycling in Flanders has exactly this – a wealth of information to help you plan your trip, answering all your questions from ‘where can I rent a bike?’ to ‘where can I get the best Belgian beer?’ Leave no stone unturned and get the very best out of your visit!

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What is your favourite colour? Colours. Their usage, their meaning. How they make us feel. What combinations of them are pleasing and beautiful, which one’s clash. How, and in what situations we wear them. Black clothes in the western world indicate mourning, whereas yellow is used in Egypt, Mexico and Ethiopia and purple in Brazil and Thailand. Green indicates nature, the outdoors and in the modern age, sustainability, in the West, yet in the Middle East, it has connotations of balance (located at the centre of the spectrum) and is associated with the religion of Islam. New Age spirituality believes in the aura; vibrations of energy that are emitted from the body and take on various colour bands that change throughout a person’s life. With practice, they believe you can learn to see and interpret these colours surrounding a person, revealing their temperament and character traits. The ability to extract colour from materials for painting (and associated cost and availability) was definitive in art history. Take the metamorphic rock lapis lazuli, long revered for its deep blue hue when ground up into ultramarine. So expensive, it was reserved for special purposes such as the famous golden funeral mask of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, and later in Europe for paintings of the Virgin Mary.

Matching colours, especially in clothes, will often lead you to the colour wheel, used by both artists and scientists for many hundreds of years (including Isaac Newton’s ‘colour circle’). Primary colours (blue, red and yellow) are joined by secondary colours (mixes between the primaries) such as green, violet, and orange. Tertiary colours are mixes between primary colours and secondary colours. Within this wheel, a few basic rules govern how to match colours together, such as complementary colours (opposite each other on the wheel); split-complementary colours – matching one colour with the two colours adjacent to its complementary colour; analogous colours – three colours next to each other in the wheel; and lastly, triadic colours –any three colours that are spaced equally apart on the wheel.

Hope is here, in all hues So, even if you feel a bit colour-challenged, there is hope in the colour wheel s­ ystem! Luckily for you, GripGrab’s Spring/Summer collection for 2019 is designed to help brighten up your kit, with a range of colours for an even bigger range of products. Cycling has been historically conservative when it comes to colours, and athletes like the featured Vlad Sabău have used bright and bold hues to make a personal statement. White socks were traditionally the only option and were even stipulated in cycling rulebooks. These days, things have changed, and riders are far freer to experiment and express themselves with their colour choices. The GripGrab Freedom Baselayer comes in fiery red, stylish navy, trendy pink and bright sky blue. Across the range of short cycling gloves, you can find red, pink, navy, High-Vis yellow, pink and purple, and the same with the shoe covers. And with socks of course, you can really go to town! Pick the same as your gloves or practice your new colour wheel knowledge and pick a set of complementary, analogous or triadic colours to spice up your look. The Lightweight Summer Neck Warmer and Summer Cycling Cap come in eight different shades so there really is something to suit everyone’s kit and preferences.



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75 GRIPSTER — Hard Land

GRIPSTER — Hard Land

Hard Land Words and photos by Martin Paldan

My journey seems to be cursed with a diminishing velocity: From fast to slow, to stagnant. And eventually stopping at the end of solid ground near the ocean. Literally where the ground starts to crumble and fall apart - a bit like this ride. Perched on the edge of the world, I lay down my beaten body, not knowing if I can get up again. The pain from the crash is uncomfortable and I pity myself. The speed at which I travel through the landscape fits my visual sensitivity. The flickering of sunshine through the trees is a sweet feeling. I bet that if I tried, I could match my speed to the flickering, so it would be close to 24 ´flickers´ per second – the same speed as Netflix series are eyeballed on flat screens. Reality streaming.



It starts raining and I find shelter under one of the old windmills populating the island. I wait. A negative feeling creeps up under the dark, wooden wings of the windmill and takes a shot at occupying my mind. I shake it off by reaching out with a photo to a friend sent via Messenger and feel closer to the illuminated little screen, with words from my friend in reply, than to the rain and windmill. The rain stops, an hour later the sky is clear, and I travel north into the evening.

HALF-NIGHTER I left Copenhagen by train, rapidly crossing southern Sweden to Kalmar with my bike packed for a few days adventure. In Kalmar I realized that the ferry transporting me to the island was still running on a winter schedule, so I had to wait a few hours. Plus, it didn´t run on Sundays. Darn! Today was Friday, I had taken the day off, and now, before the journey had even properly begun, I had to change plans. It had to be a one-nighter. It turned out to be more of a half-nighter. I cross the mighty Alvar. Not a soul in sight. The Alvar is a huge area covering more than 200 square kilometres with hardly any trees, due to a very thin topsoil. It is vast and mysterious. I want to get lost, but don´t see any bikeable paths leading into the area. I stay on the little tarmac road and ride on in an easterly direction.

GRIPSTER — Hard Land

GRIPSTER — Hard Land



79 GRIPSTER — Hard Land

GRIPSTER — Hard Land

PURPLE PARTS It was a crazy idea leaving Copenhagen. A week before I had a really bad crash when my chain snapped off the chainring in a sprint. I crashed into a parked truck and almost penetrated my stomach and hip. In the following days an aubergine coloured bruise migrated from my crotch and across my lower abdomen. I was alright, I thought, and didn´t go to the hospital or even to a doctor. I just needed some rest. I couldn´t walk. I couldn´t lift my right leg. Putting on clothes, socks and shoes was a nightmare that took ages with much needed rests in between. While staggering around, I wondered if I could ride a bike? Putting weight on my (uninjured) buttocks might relieve my hip. Getting on the bike was a project involving putting the bike to the ground on the side, crossing over and then lifting the bike and somehow getting on it. It turned out to be much more pleasant to ride than to walk. Ok, so far so good. Maybe I should go on a little journey? Escape my pain – and myself.

FALLING APART Clouds build up again. It doesn´t look too good. I speed up, slightly frustrated that I need to stay within reasonable reach of the port, as I need to catch the ferry tomorrow. I enter a gravel road and enjoy riding next to the sea. The light is surreal and the landscape even more so. It is like a cake being cut through: you can see all the ingredients, and it is a bit of a crumbly mess. Millions of flakes of rock make up a dramatic and vertical coastline. It is raw and uninviting, and makes reality appear as a vulnerable conglomerate of giant molecules. As if everything would fall apart by the whisper of a spell. In a split second. The complete loss of ground beneath my feet.


81 GRIPSTER — Hard Land

GRIPSTER — Hard Land

BAD SLEEP Love brought me to this island. Love of cycling, adventure and life itself. I admit being naive, but I somehow expected that a ride would ease my pain. I manage to find a big, flat piece of rock that will make a doable platform for my bivouac. I hastily boil water for my freeze-dried dinner as raindrops circle the surface of my tea. On the distant horizon the sun exits in a narrow veil of orange hues. There is no way to escape the solitude and it is a solid confrontation with the now. Such is love - present and painful. I wake up in my minimalistic bivi-home, surrounded by rock, water and a vague light. The ocean is pushing waves towards the coastline with a gentle, distant hum. The constant whisper of oxygenating water that I see only as a blur without my glasses. I listen to the breathing of the ocean and locate my glasses tucked away in my cycling shoes. It is 4 o´clock and I cannot lie down any more. The pain has made the night miserable, twisting and turning in the sleeping bag. Regardless of arrangement, my hip hurts and I have hardly slept for a full hour. I might as well get up and get going. After all, it is on the bike that I feel the best.

AUTOPILOT I ride through small villages along the coast. Everything is quiet and grey, like the day hasn’t been switched on yet. Behind the walls are souls just waiting for the signal to sound, and their eyes will pop open, and their hearts will start pounding. Another day in island land. And then it strikes me: Why am I here? What am I doing? I´m in pain, in Sweden, on an Island called Öland – ‘the Island Land’ literally translated, on a bike... I ride on, contemplate on the question, with the sense of my eyes turning inwards and having a good look into the skull they are lodged within. With my eyes fixed on my mind, I ride autopilot on the long, flat road. My thoughts go in the direction of being a traveller, one who defines a home, and then leaves it for seeking a momentary adventure. I argue with myself, as I cover miles. I come across an abandoned railway section, with a perfectly straight, flat road going on for miles. I stray away from my thoughts and pay attention to the details along the road, to see if I can spot any evidence of this being an old railway; an old station building, a platform, a sign. Maybe it is just the way that the electrical wires and supporting poles are framing the road?


83 GRIPSTER — Hard Land

GRIPSTER — Hard Land

NO PRISON I drift back into my internal argument and start circling a conclusion. I recall a phrase that I once read and that stuck in my mind. It reminds me to not only get out the door, but also to make even the smallest journey into an adventure by taking a new route to work or go down a never visited street in my own neighbourhood. “A place you never leave is a prison” Pieces of the puzzle come together, and I smile. The island has woken up, and I salute a man walking his dog. It feels good to finally meet another person. I now understand why I left my apartment and came to this island, because I can feel as much home here as I can on my couch. And I might as well feel the pain here, as it at least feels stimulating to be somewhere I haven´t been before. It hurts if I try to put my leg behind my head. Or if I try do the splits. My body has limitations and they have now expanded due to the pain I´m feeling. So Martin´s current state on Öland: cannot do the splits and cannot lie down to sleep. Body movement reduced, but faith in getting better intact. Can ride bike and mind is ok. Life quality high. I fall silent and don´t really care about arguments and explanations in my head for now. I´m on this island, on a bike. n



Words by Tim Wiggins

Photos by Martin Paldan

It is December — I am a little concerned that I am out of practice. Usually I hang up the chunky tyres when the mud and grime of British winter arrives; retreating to the relative cleanliness of the lanes and gravel. Yet, here I am: stood outside a rural hotel in the rolling green hills of the Algarve; dressed in just short sleeves, and with the promise of dusty trails hanging in the air. This southern tip of Portugal is not well known for its mountain biking, but rumour has it that it is a secret waiting to be discovered. Those that know about it, rave about it. The region has hosted UCI Downhill Championships in recent years and has one of the best mountain bike cross-country stage races in Europe: The Algarve Bike Challenge. Let us see if my slightly rusty MTB skills are up to the challenge.

GRIPSTER — Algarve Mountain Biking

GRIPSTER — Algarve Mountain Biking

Algarve Mountain Biking

86 GRIPSTER — Algarve Mountain Biking

FLOWING SINGLETRACKS We clip in and roll out from our base close to Tavira; getting here the day before could not have been easier — we flew into Faro and then took a half hour transfer. Yet, the cold, dark, and damp northern ­European December seems a world away from this secluded sunshine retreat. It is doing wonders for topping up the Vitamin D levels. The trails start straight out from the hotel — without hesitation we are onto flowing singletracks through the hectares of cork trees. A light morning dew and some rainfall in the last few weeks has left the surface grippy and fast in these lower valleys; we splash through river crossings and skirt round farmyards – eager to explore the exciting new terrain. Before long we are climbing — onto wide open dirt roads that will take us up onto the sierra. The sun is high in the sky, and the ­temperature is touching 26 degrees on the exposed hill side. This is December — a bead of sweat has just dripped onto my ­computer screen — I must remind myself that we are indeed still in Europe. WORLD CUP TRAILS The view from the summit is a panoramic picture of colour: red earth, blue skies, and lush green forests. It is a landscape completely unique in its profile: influenced by the Atlantic weather, but also by its proximity to the African continent — it makes for a diverse and interesting place to ride. At the trail head we spot one of the abandoned Enduro trails from the previous year’s UCI Downhill World Cup. My riding companion – Dutch professional mountain biker Didi de Vries shoots off down the berms; flying over the jumps and drops as if they were a frequent feature in the flatlands of the Netherlands. I gingerly pick my way down in her wake — conscious that whilst cork trees might have a spongy looking appearance, I am sure that I would come off worse in a collision. After descending through the bracken and bushes, we are back into the green surrounds of the lower valley. A refreshment stop is called for, and we head to a nearby local restaurant.



Portugal is not famed for its cuisine; but it seems that much like the riding here, it is a secret waiting to be told. We are served up platefuls of lamb and chickpea stew; seasoned with local herbs, it has a Moroccan influence, and offers a riot of flavours. Following a compulsory slice of fresh orange cake and an espresso to finish, we are back (slowly) onto the trails. The terrain is something quite different now — closer to the coast, the wide-open trails of the sierra have given way to narrow and twisting singletrack between ancient dry-stone walls. We reach a section of an old Roman road – huge cobbles that force you to pick your way between them going uphill; then slalom dive around or jump over them on the subsequent descent. I am thankful we are riding full suspension bikes. SALT PANS The sand under our tyres seems to get whiter as we get closer to the coast. The swooping single-track through the orange groves morphs once again; this time into tree-lined avenues of gravel, twisting between glamorous villas. Then, we emerge onto the coast. The Atlantic is a calm deep blue, today. We rumble across the vast salt pans, with the white mountains piled high alongside. Finally, after 60 kilometres of some of the most varied, secluded, and beautiful trails I have ridden to date, we park the bikes on the sea wall in the bustling seaside town of Tavira. As we sit feasting on a dinner of octopus and bacalao we re-live the day’s riding over an ice-cold beer. From the high Serra gravel roads, to the cork forest singletracks, and the surprise Enduro trails; the Algarve could well be Europe’s best kept mountain biking secret. One thing is for certain, it is leagues above the mud and slush endured in December in northern Europe. We came to escape the cold. We found a mountain biker’s treasure trove; dusty trails, delicious food, and heaps of adrenaline filled smiles. n

GRIPSTER — Algarve Mountain Biking


90 GRIPSTER — Algarve Mountain Biking

HOW TO GET THERE You can fly to Faro Airport from most major European airports.

WHERE TO STAY We recommend the stunning Praia Verde Boutique Hotel set in beautiful surroundings near the beach. Their A Terra restaurant is a delicious culinary experience with a very relaxed atmosphere.

3PACK value!

If you are looking for a countryside setting, we recommend the Quinta do Marco rural hotel, not far from Tavira. Surrounded by orange groves and plenty of other fruit trees, and aromatic herbs beneath, this place has a unique charm that makes you feel right at home.

TOUR OPERATOR If you prefer to participate in an organized mountain bike trip, take a look at Their Trans Algarve trip is a 300 km, 6 days adventure for all levels.

MORE INFO To plan your stay and get further inspiration, go to


The GripGrab Ultralight Sleeveless Mesh Base Layer is your go-to option for hot summer cycling. The open-weave material allows your skin to breathe, while also moving perspiration away from your body to leave you feeling dry and comfortable.

ALGARVE, PORTUGAL Explore the new baselayer range at



Keeping your body safe and in good shape is an essential for any serious rider, and Six Six One’s Rage Knee Black is pedal-friendly, soft and breathable behind the knee, and weighs in at just 346g per pair (size Medium). The internal impact cap is covered by Kevlar, and the subtle design makes them a flexible and versatile option. Ride in style and protect yourself from humps and bumps!

FOR ALGARVE mountain biking KASK REX Italy’s KASK offer up their best MTB bike helmet with the Rex; specially designed for maximum ventilation at lower speeds and in warmer climates. Numerous vents and frontal pads absorb excess sweat so you can keep your concentration on the road, while the unique design provides a high level of protection for a trail helmet at both the front and back of the head. A nice additional touch is the comfy and soft leather strap, a step away from designs preferred by other MTB helmet designers, but we think the innovation has paid off

CLIF bar Planning a ride always comes with the need to ensure your energy stays up during the day, and CLIF is there to assist with their selection of nutritious and tasty energy bars. Packed with organic ingredients, these snacks will provide the ultimate refuel. There’s plenty to choose from, with spiced pumpkin pie, white chocolate macadamia, blueberry crisp, and oatmeal, raisin and walnut, to name a few.

GripGrab Racing InsideGrip TM Full Finger Glove

Scott Spur

The Racing is a pro level MTB glove, with InsideGrip technology silicon grips inside the glove to give maximum control when riding. The fingertips are similarly designed for control over brake levers and gear shifters. The palm is contracted from a high-spec abrasion suede so it can withstand the frictions of riding. It also includes handy extras like a sweat wiper and reflective logo. Your ultimate lightweight racing glove!

These specs are carefully designed to protect your eyes from both wind and objects flying up from the ground as you skid through the forest. The ELC system also allows you to switch lenses easily, while special tailoring keeps a cooling airflow around where the glasses sit. They’re also, of course, super light.

ODI Elite Pro Lock-On There’s nothing like the feeling of tearing through the woods, kicking up dust in every direction, but it is also important to stay firmly in the saddle. With ODI Grips you have a much better chance of that! The grips provide excellent grip while cushioning your hands, without feeling cumbersome to the rider, and the Elite Pro Lock-On features a half-waffle pattern on the front that gives extra control from the back of the bike. They’re also available in 6 different colours to match your kit and style, from vivid ‘cyan blue’ to fluorescent orange.

GripGrab Expert Seamless Lightweight Base layer SS This base layer is versatile and practical, suitable for all sports and conditions and the shorter sleeves make it perfect for the summer months. It is made of polypropylene to wick sweat away from your body and leave you comfortable even on hot, strenuous rides. The perfect base for your kit.

GRIPSTER — Algarve Mountain Biking

GRIPSTER — Algarve Mountain Biking


Six Six One Rage Knee Black



Words by Alice Fitzsimons-Quail & Tim Wiggins

Photos by Martin Paldan

GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

The Easy Shift from Mojito


97 GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

Dude, you’re blocking my legs. Tim, British, from Isle of Wight, looks at the tall Norwegian rider, and displays a big question mark in his facial expression. With a constant grin on his face throughout today’s ride, it is difficult to decipherer the level of seriousness in the tall Norwegian rider’s remark. They pose for a photo in a rare Mallorcan velodrome, and Tim accidentally - or deliberately – puts his bike in front of the Norwegian´s holy legs.

The two riders left Sineu this morning with friendly knuckles in front of MA-13, an overnight sassy temple lounge for riders, run with precise atmospheric strokes by German expat Eric Scwarzer. So, the story begins - with three nationalities – well actually four, as our crew also counts three Danish ambitious media guys armed with light carry-on capture artillery. ‘We gotta get the content’ they say - storming up and down roads and hills and jumping in and out of their rental car and speeding ahead in search of the perfect #roadslikethese scenery. Under a blue Balearic November clear sky.



99 GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

“Today is about celebration – a ride devoted to all the great offerings provided by the Spanish island of Mallorca: from breath-taking climbs, to hair-raising descents, and of course mouth-watering cuisine. My ride partner is Dan Erik Hansen – a Norwegian professional turned resident Majorcan; the attraction of the long summers and warm weather are an obvious lure when presented with training in a dark Scandinavian winter. Dan has promised to show me the best the island has to offer – an insider’s wheel to follow for a memorable day in the saddle.”



101 GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

Before we can descend all the way to the harbour Dan makes a sudden left turn, taking us down what looks to be a backroad to the beach. The road skirts around hotels and beach bars – now closed for the season; then just as I am beginning to wonder if we are on an unfruitful quest for a late season ice-cream, the real reason for our diversion emerges – high above us, the Faro Capgros lighthouse.

The single-track road to the lighthouse is a sudden awakening for the legs, with sections reaching close to twenty percent gradient. The reward when we turn around at the lighthouse gates is worth it though… a stunning view of the Es Bufador bay. This lighthouse was built to safely guide ships into Port Sóller, to collect their cargo of oranges for export to the French and Spanish mainland. On this windless and clear autumn day it appears almost redundant, but I know this coastline is far from forgiving when the winter storms eventually arrive.


102 AROUND THE WORLD IN 1000 DAYS GRIPSTER — The Easy Shift From Mojito

The thud from the Moroccan exit stamp reverberated like a physical pain in my chest. The ferry across the water was pure anguish (…) This morning I woke up in Africa. Now I´m lying in the tent next to the road, completely sure that no one will be coming here. Driven by curiosity and a desire to explore, Fredrika Ek left her hometown of Sundsvall, Sweden on a Sunday in March. She then spent the next 1042 days on her bike, cycling around the world, facing different cultures, meeting people and falling in love with the world. Her adventure is beautifully reported in her book Around the World in 1000 Days, published by Gawell Förlag, Photo by Fredrika Ek

Then as we near Sineu, a landmark of a very different kind comes into view – the rare sight of an outdoor velodrome, nestled into the side of this Mallorcan hilltop town. There is nothing for it… we need a Paris-Roubaix style lap! Back at our home for the evening – the MA13 cycling house, our host Jan Eric Schwarzer has cooked us a stunning meal made from fresh local produce. As the last light fades on the terrace, we crack open bottles of Kwaremont beer, and toast to an amazing late summer ride. We will sleep well tonight. “




A MTB RACE CLASSIC TURNS 25 01.08.2019: Alpenhaus Trophy & E-Bike fox hunt 02.08.2019: Kids & Juniors Trophy S 03.08.2019: Ironbike Marathon T R A T S FREE r all fo olds HIGHLIGHTS r a e y 5 2 Free starts for all 25-year-olds DJ‘s and live band Top culinary delights by a local gourmet chef SIGN UP NOW




Words by Thomas Jean Nielsen

Summer is just around the corner—if it has not already arrived by the time you are reading this. The warmer months bring the World Tour, long summer rides, and hopefully some time by the beach or pool. It is a season to kick back and relax, for at least part of the time— so, you deserve an enjoyable book to turn to. Summer reads often follow a pattern: what is current, what can be grabbed last minute in a sale, or simply what is available in the airport vending machine. However, if you are tired of the same old crime and fantasy novels, and you are looking to expand your knowledge of the beautiful world of cycling, then here are some suggestions to get you started.

by Peter Sagan — Yellow Jersey Press Opening with a description of the final kilometres of the 2017 UCI World Cycling Championship in Bergen, ­ orway; you get a peek inside Sagan’s mind and follow N him on the last intense lap, feeling every inch of his excitement all the way to the finish line. The book goes on to give an interesting insight into training and racing strategies, as well as a look at the individual races that Peter Sagan participated in from 2010 to 2018. You even get a look into Peter’s personal life, accompanied by repeated use of his mantra: ‘Why so serious?’ A literary masterpiece it is not, but it is definitely an entertaining and involving read for all Peter Sagan fans, as well as for anyone simply curious about the world of cycling. It is written in a language that makes it accessible to all and would provide a good introduction for a cycling novice who has not caught onto the hype around the big races yet. Personally, I gained a basic understanding of the tactics and strategies of a race, and I cannot wait to use that knowledge while following the races this summer.

HOW THE RACE WAS WON by Peter Cossins — Velopress Here we are presented with an investigation of the deli­ cate details of bicycle racing, through extensive interviews with riders, managers, and directors – I am actually quoting the publisher there! – but that is exactly what this book is about, so there is no point in rephrasing. It is truly a book for the bike enthusiast, whether you follow all the races, or you want to participate at a high level. This book provides you with expert insights and an understanding of the tactics you might be witnessing in a race. It might even help you to win a race! Do not bet on victory just yet, though. Cossins also makes it clear that you cannot win a race on tactics alone; the right timing is just as important, and that is hard to achieve. Whether you are looking for a racing summer read (pun intended), or to get stuck into boosting your technical knowledge, these two books should definitely be in your luggage. Ditch those dusty paperbacks and let cycling take over your intellectual (as well as physical) energy this summer.

GRIPSTER — Off the Bike

GRIPSTER — Off the Bike





40 COUNTRY Denmark TITLE Designer

A peek inside the GripGrab Engine Room

Meet GripGrab’s Designer

Mette was born and raised in Randers in Jutland, the western part of Denmark. She spent some years working abroad, and after studying and working in different places across Denmark she moved to Copenhagen in 2006 because of the best reason of all – a sweet guy! Now she lives with their two kids in a small, cozy house with a very big garden! She joined the GripGrab team in September 2018 after many years as a designer in the fashion textile industry.

SPORTS Cycling, running, horse riding, gymnastics

FUN FACTS Is a little worried about the huge amount of Lycra in this business: “I need some time to get comfortable wearing all that tight-fitting gear, and then the bum padding on top of that… but I guess it’s just a matter of getting used to it.”


How has the new job changed your interest in cycling? I have always been a cyclist – I always preferred my bike over the bus. However, I had never ridden a racing bike, but that has changed since joining the company. I tried it for the first time in Mallorca and I must say I became an instant fan! I’m so excited and can’t wait to go on another cycling adventure with my colleagues and my new best friend: a brand new gravel bike! What does a typical day at GripGrab look like? A typical day for me in R&D includes a lot of communication with all our suppliers. We have many projects going on, all at different development stages. My daily work is basically to handle all the tasks, comment on samples and find solutions until we have the best possible products in our hands. The best part is starting a new project and seeing the progress from idea to finished product. It is important to keep searching for the ideal solution. Here I have many good (and fun) discussions with Kristian (R&D Director) and he is a valuable source of cycling information. What’s been your best moment in cycling so far? Definitely our team building trip to Mallorca. Riding a high-end road bike was fantastic! The best moment was climbing my very first mountain. It was one hell of a steep climb – 18% in some parts – incredibly hard for me! But I did it! From bottom to top in one go. I couldn’t speak afterwards, as I was trying hard to get my breath! I was so proud of myself for completing this ride. Any funny biking stories you’d like to share with us? I haven’t had much bike trip experience yet, so I don’t have any embarrassing stories to tell! However, I remember many funny episodes from our Mallorca trip. For example, on our so-called ‘coffee ride’ where we were on-road, off-road and even climbing fences – riding accidentally through private property hoping not to meet a guard dog or a Spanish bull – we never found a coffee spot. But it was hilarious all the way and a trip full of laughter.

What is different about the kind of design work you do at GripGrab compared with your previous experience as a designer? Firstly, I really like the way we develop products here. Every single product has a meaning and purpose. We do product and market research and tests to make sure we are on the right track. After being a part of the fashion industry and designing thousands of garments every year, developing GripGrab products is a much more meaningful and satisfying work. With a focus on quality, durability and a lifecycle of several seasons/ years, we can optimize and improve the products constantly. I like the approach of keeping good designs, and having the ability to improve and deliver the best for our customers. What are your highlights for the coming range? I especially like the small racing stripe element used on blocking details and the bold all-over print. I cannot take any credit for this design – it all belongs to Michel (former GripGrab designer) and Kristian. Well done! For FW19 I can reveal that we have put extra effort into baselayers and have extended this product group. You can look forward to natural materials that will keep you warm and dry – and feel extremely soft – during your winter rides. Of course, we have many more exciting things cooking here in R&D, but that I won’t share with you just yet. Do you have a bucket list of places you’d like to go on a cycling holiday? Well, first I need to see what adventures are waiting here in my hometown. You do not necessarily need to go somewhere far away to experience something unique. There are so many places for me to explore just around the corner. This will be my starting point and then I will expand the area as I go. I have heard that the Dolomites are fantastic. I would love to go there for hiking and biking. I also have a lot of GripGrab products I look forward to trying out along the way - to gain knowledge of the huge GripGrab portfolio. n

GRIPSTER — The Engine Room

GRIPSTER — The Engine Room


Next Issue


Out in October 2019 The small island of Bornholm has fostered both pro riders and keen amateurs. Gripster Mag enters into a state of pleasure, as we explore the roads on the little island in the Baltic Sea.

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Gripster Mag #04 2019  

Cycling | Travel | Adventure

Gripster Mag #04 2019  

Cycling | Travel | Adventure

Profile for gripgrab