The Blue and Red is a visual journal from in and out of the saddle and I always enjoy a peep. I especially like the photos that do not feature humans or bicycles, just like these!
Posts Tagged ‘ride’
We consider ourselves to be gloriously average cyclists. We appreciate the hard rides and the easy ones. Sometimes, we stop for coffee or beer and most of those times we linger a bit longer than you might expect. That is not to say that we do not relish the hard efforts that come with being a cyclist. The long pulls into a headwind or the climbs that dangle in front of you for what seem to be days. We have even found, a few of us, that we enjoy a trip or two over the pavé, or that we feel at home with gravel bouncing off our shins and shoes. Sometimes this makes us a little heady and we get caught up in the beauty and suffering of riding our bicycles, so we tend to think of ourselves as good riders. But that does not mean that for a minute, or second, do any of us think we can hold a candle to the professional peloton, to what it takes to be a professional cyclist. Read on…
Rapha’s 2nd running of the North London ride event celebrating the famous Paris–Roubaix road race held on the same day in Northern France. 100km through darkest Hertfordshire including 20 gravé sectors. All finishers were treated to free beer and frites and big screen Eurosport to watch Johan van Summeren become king of the cobbles.
The full flickr set is now up!
There they were, blasting along gravel roads, the odd bit of pavé and what were meant to be ‘mud tracks’ and not a grimace in sight, not even the hint of one. To be honest hell looked pretty good to me. Even a fellow who had encountered 4 punctures in his first 50km was as chipper as Gene Kelly underneath an umbrella. Hellish? Hmm, *looks left to right* not round here.
Hold tight for a full report and a stash of photographs over at Rapha later this the week.
Big thanks go out to Joe and Kieran.
This April sees the return of last year’s smashing success of Rapha’s HOTN ride. Looking forward to this as I missed last year’s event due to a ruined car… said car is now wishing it hadn’t tangled with me, while it sits atop another hunk of metal in the local scrapyard.
Find more details over at Rapha.
Not long been back from this, an amazing trip and currently juggling writing up my report and editing photographs.
In the meantime get your chops round these movies and if you look closely you will see me somewhere looking cool as ice in Black wayfarers.
Huge thanks go to Le Coq Sportif for inviting me out and making it all happen, you guys did an absolutely stellar job, to my roomy Matthew Sparkes of the Guardian, to Andrew and Phil of the Ride Journal, to Woody of Tea and Cake for being an awesome host, to the guys from Hanon and to everyone else involved. Thank you!
Stage one of the Rapha CCC Alps ridden by all. Some fast riders at front, setting a fierce pace. Interesting to see if they are still this competitive in eight days time. Some stragglers at the back, but they should be able to ‘get round’… Some have already gone into survival mode. Could be a long ride…
Read more about this epic adventure here.
It is 5.30pm and Army and I await the others at the foot of the mountain in Valloires, they are getting the water for their bidons and Joe has been collecting souvenirs. Suddenly the church bell tolls and Army and I look at each other in agreement, is this a sign?
It’s getting late, Kieran and I head off as we know the other three are stronger climbers. We say it’s because of their lighter bodies to make ourselves feel better.
We depart Valloires along a straight road through the town and after 1km the two and three story wooden log cabins used for après ski in the winter make way for scattered farmyards and roaming grounds for Marmottes. I can see the road unfold in front of me, it get’s steeper, I shift down a gear and my heart rate goes up.
I look down into the ravine on my right and see motorcycle tourists setting up camp next to the stream of fresh mountain water, I am jealous. The path becomes lined with empty powerbar and energy gel wrappers, I am yet to digest anything, maybe I should do so now. It’s been half an hour, I call to Kieran “have you eaten?” “No”. He grabs a handful of chewy sweets and throws them into his mouth, I grab a fig roll out my jersey pocket and commence.
We cross a bridge. This bridge signifies the difference between earth and another planet because up there, the only thing we will recognize is each other.
To my right, in my peripheral I see the entrance to the Col proper, like the dry, uninviting mouth of a hungry beast. The road becomes windy, no longer straight and unfolding, corners and hairpins obscure the view of the path, way markers indicate our remaining distance. 10km.
I hate climbing but right now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. My breath is short. ‘Club Tropicana drinks are free, fun and sunshine there’s enough for everyone’ goes over in my head.
I have been here before, I know that soon this grassy landscape covered in moving beings like Horses, Donkeys and Marmottes will disappear in favour of nothing, nothing but dust and shards of slate.
It happens, we turn right and enter into the monster, I am tired. Army passes us, how is this possible? He has extra energy, this individual is strong, he has proved himself this week. A few kms pass and Hardy goes beyond, this man too has proved himself, small and built for mountains, he himself must have Marmotte blood in his veins. Joe remains behind us for the time being, we are no better however, he takes his time, he takes photographs.
Kieran calls “there’s the top” I see the top and wish that I had not, it is far away, it may as well be among the stars and I wonder if and when I will make it there.
The sun is disappearing behind the cold ashy peaks of this, the grand Galibier and the temperature drops, my feet become cold. I see Army and Hardy a few levels up. I don’t know how much farther on they are but they look like slow moving miniature models of themselves up there. We continue.
6km to go. Not far now but the Col still looks like a million miles away. My legs are cold but still they burn, they have rhythm, in sync with my breathing, in –out –in –out – in time with the revolutions of my pedals.
I reach around to my back and to my right jersey pocket and pull the golden packet from inside, I tear off the top with my teeth and squeeze the packet of the iced tea energy gel from bottom to top with my fingers into my mouth. It is thick and for a moment I believe it tastes good, it does not. It is sharp, like acid on the tongue. A bit get’s caught in my throat, so lacking of liquid it refuses to sink, I cough. My concentration is broken and so too am I. I look again, despairing at the summit, how so far away? I have been pushing for hours, or so it seemed.
Hairpin after hairpin, way marker after way marker but still the road stretches out before me, unrelenting in it’s gradient.
Painted letterforms on the road make up the words ‘forza Pantani’, ‘Schleck’ and ‘Go Armstrong’ on the asphalt. Legends have been up this path before me, I may be struggling, short of breath but when I reach the top I too can be great. The human is capable of many things. The pedals keep spinning.
I hear Hardy shout down from above, I take this as a way of encouragement, he is nearly there, I shout back but it sounds like a whisper “go on lad”. Army is gone, disappeared into the mountain like a camouflaged soldier. I am envious.
I see Joe behind me, he has caught up. I slow down and wait for him to pass, having someone stronger than you on your tail is demoralising, he does not pass as soon as I expect. “Gooo oon son!” bellows towards the back of my neck like the noise exiting a football fan’s mouth at a game, all British and full of excitement. I smile.
I turn left to avoid the tunnel, I feel a hand on my back, it is Joe. This moment of solidarity on this our final day came as Joe and I pass the 1km mark. Thank you Joe. He passes me the camera and slowly accelerates away up the final straights of this beast.
The tarmac is new, still black and the road is steep. The drop to my left is sharp, no safety barrier, I must remember this when coming down. I travel forward and at the hairpin the end of the road may as well be the end of he earth, were it flat. Where am I? I could be anywhere, Mars, the moon, not earth, certainly not earth.
I can touch the gods from up here, it is almost dark, I must hurry. I turn right around a hairpin, there is the top. I have done it. I count the pedal revolutions, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-Stop.
I unclip my cold shoes from my pedals and place my foot atop this monster’s head. I beat it, not the quickest slaying but a slaying nevertheless. Remember, this was a personal battle between me and it and I won.
Handshakes and hugs all round we congratulate each other. No time to waste though, a quick photograph and we must be on our way before night takes hold of us.
What a movie! I have watched this a few times over the weekend and it’s just mystifying how it was possible to do back in 1910. The human really is capable of more than we expect of it.
Well done guys. Truly an epic journey.
Watch the movie here.
It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Every few metres, there were riders slumped over their bikes at the side of the road. Each of the famed 21 virages saw people leant up against the walls, taking any small amount of rest they could. There were queues for the alpine streams that traverse the mountain, with riders taking ice-cold showers to try and cool themselves down.
Once over the top, another amazing 1000m descent had Stuart and I in aero tucks on the long straights, and on the ragged edge of grip into the switchback sections. Cars by now were just an inconvenience to be drafted until we could out-sprint them into the bends. Taking a hand off the bars to give a thumbs up to any drivers that got out of our way as we swept past at 50mph-plus was exciting.
Great read and a few great shots too, especially loving the Galibier shots. My, my the sign that used to say ‘Col du Galibier’ now resembles something outside of a skateboard shop. Enough stickers, already!
The Blue and Red is a visual journal created while on and around the bicycle. These images document my experiences racing and training, as a top amateur cyclist in Southern California.
Great shots, see more here.
The week previous to Rapha’s Hell of the North ride comes this, the Northern UK equivalent to the monster that is the Tour of Flanders.
Come and join us for the real deal in East Lancashire on Sat 3rd April – cafe at the car park for post ride dissection, weather guaranteed (not saying what sort…) and of course more cobbles than you can shake a 24mm Pave tire at.
More details here.
it’s definitely a budget thing, because all of us have financial restrictions, whatever those might be; when it comes to choosing a new bicycle, there’s always a notional amount beyond which it is not wise to go, a limit either self-imposed, or imposed upon us by a partner who really can’t see why it is necessary to own more than one bicycle. just as an aside, I do have a certain sympathy with this, because it cannot be denied that the colnago has been sorely neglected since the cielo turned up (though I have told it that it is still loved as much as ever). I can only ride one at a time, review machines notwithstanding, and i figure most riders are the same, though I can see exceptions being made for those who need both road and cyclocross, and maybe mountain bikes, though i’m inclined to discount the latter option. just because I can.
An excerpt taken from the Washing machine post’s recent piece on the differences between cheaper and more expensive racing bicycle purchases. To spend more or to spend less?
A real interesting read. More here.
Rapha Japan has it’s office in Nobeyama, on the mild eastern slope of Yatsugatake mountain: A farmer’s village of only 3500 population, the summers here create the best batch of wine grapes. Harsh conditions of 1400m elevation, with huge temperature differences from day to night makes highland vegetables unusually sweet. Cabbage, lettuce, and nappa cabbage from this area are considered to be the best and traded at high price for those who live in the metropolis. We eat for free, of course, as neighboring farmers leave them at the door every cool summer morning.
Read more on the trip and see more great photographs right here.