Last month Team Torelli took a trip over to Belgium for the Retro Ronde here is how we got on; RETRO RONDE VAN VLANDEREN It was two o'clock on a Friday afternoon I had just turned up at Neil`s house with a large bag packed with everything I needed for a weekend cycling trip, we were off to do the Retro Ronde in Oudenaarde Belgium. For those who are not familiar with the event is a retro version of the Tour of Flanders. You ride a pre 1987 bike and get kitted out with retro style clothing.The event takes in the later stages including many of the cobbled climbs of the famous pro race. NeIl invited me in for a cup of tea before we loaded the car and set off to pick up Daryl on route just a few miles away. A quick trip along the M62 to the ferry port of Hull where we duly lined up with other holiday makers keen to get settled on board. Once on the boat we were given the keys to our berth, we dropped our bags off and headed straight for the bar. A few glasses of wine later we were decided to give the buffet a try. A wide selection of soups, starters, main courses and desserts, we all ate way too much than was good for us all washed down by another bottle of wine. After dinner we relaxed in the bar, then retired to our beds for a good nights sleep. Next day we arrived in Zeebrugge, we quickly carried our bags down to the car deck and were soon off on the main road out of town. We arrived in Oudenaarde at 10.30 and decided to have a late breakfast in the Cycling Museum Cafe in the centre of town. It was not long before we were tucking into Belgium rice tarts and freshly made coffee. In the corner of my eye I spotted a thick set guy in a light blue sweater with a typical rugged Flandrian face it was Freddy Maertens two times world professional road race champion who is the manager of the museum, he was holding court with a group of German tourists who we hanging off his every word. Freddy looked well especially for a guy in his 60`s.He was tanned and looked like he could still give you a hard time out on the bike. After several cups of freshly ground coffee and of course our rice cakes we decided to head over to the cycle jumble. As we crossed the courtyard we bumped into Paul and Roy from Bike Creche who run the Big Cycle jumble at the velodrome in Manchester they had a stall and were carrying boxes over the the old church which was to be the venue for the jumble. As we entered the large hall there were dozens of traders scurrying to set up their stalls up ready for the public opening in a few minutes time. Listening to the conversations there were traders from all over Europe including a healthy contingent from the British Isles. There was everything from old wollen pro jerseys to tables full of cycle parts from a vast array of manufacturers campag, shimano, simplex, TA, Brooks, Mafac,Stronglight, Bluemels to name but a few. It took me back to my school days when myself and my brother would cycle to one of the local bike shops around Manchchester and press our faces against the shop window and check out the latest equipment.At the side of the stands were bike and frames from Colnago, Raleigh, Gios Torino, Gazelle, Peugoet, Mercier,Flandria, Superia and many more. After nearly two hours searching through the boxes of treasure we made several purchases which we persuaded are ourselves we definitely must have then went to register for next days event. We signed the large sheet on the table and were handed a large brown envelope which had everything we needed to compete in the event, a programme , jersey number, bike number with four pieces of brown string to attach it to our bikes and a route map which had spaces for the marshals to stamp at the feeding stations. It was about now that we were feeling hungry again, we went outside to the main square which was the start and finish of the event it was a hive of activity, local council workers were quickly setting up the crowd barriers, the event crew were setting up the stage area. We spotted a Turkish cafe at the far side of the square and set off for some lunch. A quick look at the menu before we ordered and were tucking into Turkish kebabs, chips and salad.Time to find the B&B we had booked. We were lucky it was just 5 min's drive from the centre of Oudenaarde. Jenny the owner showed us our accommodation which was an ideal base for a cycling weekend. We unpacked the car and set about preparing our bikes for tomorrows event. After sorting out the bikes a quick shower and a freshen up it was time to meet Paul and Roy who we had made arrangements to meet at the jumble earlier in the day. We met outside an Italian restaurant just off the main square were we were going to spend the evening tucking into spaghetti, drinking Belgian beers and talkingbikes but before that we watched the criterium races for various categories fixed, single speed and multi speed. If we had felt more energetic there was also a Retro Dance at the Town Hall with Jazz and Jive bands, dancers and dj which went on until the small hours we decided that an early night was our best option as we had left our dancing legs back in the Uk and we would need all our energy for tomorrows event. Sunday Morning came around all too quickly. Neil got us all up at 7.30 just in time for breakfast which comprised of a traditional continental affair of various cooked meats, cheeses, bread, jam, fried eggs, croissants, orange juice and coffee. The weather didn't`t look to good, it was cold wet and windy. We asked our host Jenny who saidthat we had nothing to worry about as she slung her golf clubs into the back of her Citroen she explained that the weather would improve and the sun would break through later in the day. Feeling a lot better about what we had in store we opted for short sleeve jerseys, arm warmers and a rain jacket to get us through the morning, raincoats and tights could be taken off later in the day when the weather cleared. We set off to the start which was just 5 minutes away from our digs. As we arrived there we already hundreds of cyclists milling around the square. We were directed to the stage where a large sign on sheet ala Tour de France had been set up. All the riders had to queue up and sign the sheet, at the same time the commentator would take a good look at your bike and attire and interview the riders as they passed. As the town hall clock neared 10.30 the riders were all lined up, there was a short interview with Freddy Maertens and a blessing from the local priest and we were off. We were sent on a short promenade around the town centre, close to 1000 riders all dressed up in retro clothing, riding retro bikes, vintage motor cars and vintage motorcycles it must have had the locals wondering what decade it was. We had opted for the 100 km route which had 15 climbs, 7 kilometres of cobbles and five feeding stations, other options were 40k or 70k.The first climb of the day was Rottstraat short but tough especially with the head wind it gave us a glimpse of what was to come. After just half an hour of riding we came to the first check point and feeding station. A policeman dresses up like he had just come of the Allo Allo set was directing the riders into the farm courtyard where a band we playing. We queued up to get our cards stamped, we were then offered a punet of strawberries and a strawberry drink. A bit of a change from a energy bars and gels that we have come accustomed to in recent years but this was a retro event and the we we definitely getting into the swing of it. We didn't waste too much time and were quickly off to the next checkpoint which would take us to the next climb Den Ast followed by four cobbled sections, then our first cobbled climb Nokereberg. The next climb was Kleistraat which was only quite a short climb then is was fairly flat to the next feeding station another farm courtyard. There was a band playing old Belgia folk music, a lot of the Belgians were happily singing along to the songs. We queued up to get our cards stamped and get something to eat and drink. Just as we were about to walk away we spotted a guy pouring what looked like schnapps into small glasses and handing them out. It seemed rude not to give it a try. It was very nice and you could feel the burn as it swallowed. Our legs now felt even more like rubber than they did before. Just after the feeding station the routes split and the number of riders thinned out. We hit another cobbled section followed by the Tiegenberg climb. After few more kilometres we rejoined the riders on the 70km route. I seemed strange overtaking groups that we had already overtakenearlier in the day. The next climb was the famous Oude Kwaremont a favourite attacking place for riders in the pro Tour of Flanders race. It was a tough climb we passed several riders reduced to walking. Once over the top it was a fast descent and then the climb of Rampe which didn`t need any translation. We pulled into the fourth feeding station to get our cards stamped. You guessed it it was another farm courtyard this time with a 70`s rock band bashing out old hits. It was shame we didn`t have more time as they were pretty good. The relentless climbs and cobbled sections were starting to take their toll. The climbs are not that hard but they come one after the other, you can see why the pro race tends to be a wearing down process with just a small bunch left at the end to contest the finish. Shortly after the feeding station we hit the climb of Kuithol followed by a cobbled section, then the cobbled climb of Taainberg and Heidje before the last feeding station on the route. We queued up for our last feed and stamp on our route card before the last stretch back to Oudenaarde, we just had four more climbs to tackle Steenberg, Noenendal, Kapelleberg and Kokerelle. The last 5 kilometres were a welcome descent back into the town. As we approached the finish we could here the swing band playing, riders who had already finished were watching the dancers on stage. We were directed into the finish area where we were given a mussette bag full of goody's and a food token for a Flandrian Beer and a Burger. We quickly found somewhere to sit and slumped down to eat our food and enjoy the atmosphere. We had a great day, there was a great atmosphere at the event, the course was tough but manageable, the organisers had done a superb job. I can see this event growing into a huge event to rival other retro events like the Eroica in Italy in a few years time. Event Website http://www.retroronde.be/en/145-home
Pembrokeshire is a destination. A nice drive, but on the way to nowhere and not a place you can get to in a hurry. Although just a big village, St David’s has a cathedral, several decent pubs and cafes, boutiques, and far too many art galleries to keep the locals stocked with pictures. I’d met up the night before with Jim in the cosy Bishops Inn. We’re co-veterans of a few sportives now, and he was helping with the organisation of the ToP. Whale and chips and a couple of pints isn’t quite the nutrition choice of the pros, but it was irresistible and comforting.
For those aficionados of road cycling out there, the National Cycle Network is brilliant for getting around. Built and maintained with the aid of nearly £50 million of National Lottery money, it makes road cycling in the UK really easy. There are even paths that form part of the larger Euro Velo Network, with large stretches of the 1, 2 and 12 routes traversing the UK, funded by the EU.
It is the ultimate road biking/cyclosportive challenge; the toughest Peak District sportive ever! The route weaves it’s way across the length and breadth of the Peak District on small country lanes passing over 14 categorised climbs (over 20 actual climbs) including Longstone Edge, Higger Tor, the infamous Winnats Pass at Castleton plus the Cat and Fiddle via Goyt Valley. Once the riders reach the finish they will have ascended 4000 metres in just 162km (100 miles). The equivalent of 3 times up Ben Nevis!!
Include the name ‘Eddy Merckx’ in any sentence and it automatically provokes thoughts of a certain era in cycling. With his Elvis Presley hairstyle and his ‘course en tete’ approach to destroying his opponents, the ‘Cannibal’ is easily emblematic of cycling prestige. And so it seemed befitting to hit the sportive arena with the daddy event of the Belgian calendar, the Gran Fondo Eddy Merckx.
Looking forward to the Greater Mancheste Bike Ride June 4th - hope they are better at organizing than sending out replies to emails - I failed to order a shirt on entering, I followed that with 4 emails to date asking how and if I could order and guess what "No reply to date" -
110 miles (170km approx.) of undulating ride in a day. Starting at 8am and hope to be there by tea time.
Wrynose or Bust Cycle Sportive is being run for the third year on April 29th 2012 – are you ready for this. Last year Andrew Wilkinson took on the 112 mile challenge and came home in a fantastic time of 5:39:11 and it's hard to see if that time could be bettered next year.
The end of season Cyclosportive Party was sometime ago but I thought I would put some photos up of the day. It was a great day for being out on the bike. Lovely weather and equally lovely company as cyclist form the Cyclosportive industry got together for this ride. I was there to enjoy myself so the photos won't win any pulitzer prize for photo-journalism just snaps of my day.
Route ridden 17th July 2011
Ok, how many got the play on words in the title - 10 calories if you didn't. For those that didn't then it's Achensee (achen-zay) and then a lake (Ah Can Zay A Lake)......OK, it's rubbish. I know but I'm not sorry!
I hit the Zillertal and immediately noticed that I was cruising at 24 or 25 mph on the falt for no effort....Gott Verdamned Wind.....(the German coming out in me). It was a strong tail wind coming straight up the Zillertal behind me and throwing me along the road.....I've got to ride back into this!
I reached Strass and then left the Zillertal and started the climb. It was a very warm day, 30c on the Garmin and the wind was crossing me as I zig-zagged up the climb. It wasn't hard today but then again I was just spinning easy rather than really trying. The traffic on this road is quite heavy, Achensee is a huge lake and a huge pull for non-cycling tourists and today was no exception. I was careful because of the traffic, but thankfully no near death experiences today.
The top was reached and rather than descending to the lake and eating (I do loads of that, eating.....) I decided to head straight back to meet Trace and watch the TransAlp come in to Mayrhofen. A couple of club mates were riding it. The descent was everything it promised on the climb and I reached 48mph max speed, I could ahve got faster but for the wind.
Then onto the Zillertal at Strass and a nightmare of a road ride back. 20 plus miles in 33c heat and what I estimate was a 20mph head wind. I died, grovelled, prayed to the wind gods and got no answer. I suffered every bloody mile back and the average speed of the ride dropped rapidly, my virtual partner on my Garmin overtook me laughing while giving me the two fingers and he rode off without letting me get his wheel, the swine! Two gels later and I got a bit quicker but then ran out of fluid and died again for the last two miles from Hippach to Mayrhofen.
The TransAlp had taken over the centre of Mayrhofen and the place was full of very skinny, fit looking cyclists and I felt rather tubby.....so I consoled myself with some Goulash Soup and three bottles of mineral water......then when I got back here, to the appartment I had two beers.......all calories burnt now added back plus some and my belly is no smaller. The Over Weight Cyclist is still overweight, but chilled out.
This week has been the best of this year for hours in the saddle and miles covered in a single week. I'm happy with that as there's some good climbing in there too.
See you next week.
Here is the Endomondo workout for today.
We had two rather inclement days and I over indulged myself with food and wine - well, I am on holiday!
Today I hit the road, feeling tired from yesterday's ride to Hochfugen. I decided to head to Barenbad, a really nice little alpine hut in a valley called the Zillergrund, possibly one of the most beautiful in the Zillertal.The road climbs striaght from the digs in Mayrhofen. I've ridden it a few times now and know what to expect. The first big gradient is 500m from the digs - 15% for about 200m then in levels out. The road climbs at gradients between 1% and 15% for about 10 miles all the way to Barenbad. As you climb there are several cafes and guest houses to stop at and the views of the surrounding mountains are amazing. The road is fairly straight, just a few twists and turns and you just know it's going to be a blast on the way down.This year I wasn't going to beat my best time for the climb, I was riding up the climb into a headwind, quite strong too. I could see that the weather was closing in, the grey cloud was starting to cloak the visible summits around me. The air was cooler today too - just 27 on the climb and with the wind it was really making it a pleasure to ride.Saying that, the end of the climb is steep, a couple of hairpins followed by straight sections straight into the wind. I was on the drops low over the bike climbing a 15% gradient into a 15mph wind......it was a killer. I reached the top and was another sweating, heaving wreck. It was chilly here so I put on my helmet, zipped up my jersey and headed down......what a scream. 45mph max on the descent, overtaking cars and zipping through the curves as fast as I dared. I got up the climb in 1 hour 13 minss - down in 20mins......The total was only 22 miles so I headed down to Zell am Ziller to bring the mileage up and then back to Mayrhofen - where I went, yep you guessed - to Mo's cafe. I sat outside for an hour people watching and tying to cool down.Another great day and now I need a day off - but the weather forecast for tomorrow is bad anyway - so no hassles there.Here is the Endomondo workout
Melting In Mayrhofen - or M.I.M. as it's now known. If you hadn't guessed I'm no on holiday in Mayrhofen, a wonderful small town in the Zillertal Alps, Austria.Now, as you should have guessed I'm a Brit - and us Brits simply aren't used to warm weather, never mind HOT. We got here from the UK and the temp there was around 18 degrees, here in Mayrhofen it was 28 when we arrived - and that was 6pm!I've managed a few rides, I did a nice little warm up ride down the Zillertal, not a bad ride at all. Well, it was supposed to be just a leg stretch but I hooked up with some other guy and we were hitting 27mph on the flat roads. And it was hot, 32C. I got back to Mayrhofen and wilted at Mo's Cafe in the town.Here is the Endomondo workouutOn Tuesday I decided to head to a place I've not visited before - Hochfugen. During the winter it's a ski centre and is up in the mountians. A climb.......I hit the road at about 10am as the weather forecast was for hot weather again - I didn't realise just how hot it was about to get. The road to Fugen follows part of the route I did on Monday down the Zillertal then it heads into Fugen town and begins to climb.Now, like I said I've never been here and didn't know what to expect. What I found was an inital slope at 9%, I thought that this would be as steep as it got but I was wrong. This overweight English cyclist began to chug up the mountian and I watched as the Gradient on the Garmin began to rise, up to 16%. Then it dropped to 12% and stayed there! And I mean it stayed there for 3 miles..........big fat old me was dying, I saw my speed drop to 3 or 4 mph at some points. Oh and did I forget to mention the heat? It was 34.5c on the Garmin. I had to stop twice in the shade near to a water source to soak my Bandana, that gave some Dutch tourists a laugh anyway. I thought I was going to die!I was using High5 and was clagging my mouth with the sweet sticky stuff, I got a gel down my throat too and felt a bit better. The last 3 or 4 miles of the ride vary in gradient from about 2% to 11% but was much easier. A slight breeze was pushing me on and the altitude meant that it was cooler. I reached Hochfugen, out of fluid and a heaving sweating wreck. I bought 2ltr of mineral water and made my way back down the hill......it was a blast but I don't have my descending confidence yet and by the time I got back to Fugen my wheels were nearly melting and my hands were aching from all the breaking.I arrived back in Mayrhofen and went straight to MO's cafe (there's a bit of a theme emerging here) for mineral water and some food. My Garmin registered 36c on the valley floor and I think I got a touch of heat exhaustion.It was a great ride 48miles - here is the Endomondo workout.