I love the Tour de France but as a spectator sport road cycling is rubbish. On the television it looks amazing as the roads are lined with spectators waving flags, cheering on their favourite riders and taking selfies. Who can forget the scenes in Yorkshire last year as thousands attended the biggest free sporting event in the world but what you don’t see on the box is the real truth.
As I lined up with my fellow competitiors on the prom at Aberystwyth ready for the start of the Y Cawr 106 mile sportive, I barely listened as the event compere gave out the rider information. Warnings about cattle grids, oh yeah heard about those then the microphone was put in my face. "So what made you ride the Y Cawr route today?" It was a question I'd been asking my self on the early morning drive up from South Wales. A question I'd asked myself at the Velothon the previous week. Why, just why had I signed up to a 106 mile ride with nearly 3000m of ascent just a week after the Velothon. "Well" I said "I was on my laptop, I had my debit card in my hand, it was payday and I was on my second bottle of wine....
Crossing the border was a culture shock. Within a few kilometres it was like being in a different country (to paraphase Ian Rush). The first sign of this was a 10% gradient sign. A real leg burner after days of flat easy riding.
For our second tour we decided to finish where we set off the previous year. So Ljubljana would be the final destination. After a quick look for cheap flights to a feasible starting point we booked for Budapest. I love Hungary, I love the food, the wine and even have a tattoo to show for a previous trip. So excited and hopefully learning from the mistakes of the year before we packed our bikes and flew to the Hungarian capital. Opening the bike bags though the trip looked over before it had even began.
I’ve just realised it’s been a while since I’ve regaled you all with my tales. Am I apologetic about this? No I’m not and I’ll tell you why.
The second day the weather was slightly better. Well it had stopped raining anyway, but the sky was grey and it was a little chilly. When we told our host of our plans to cycle to Dubrovnik he said “no very dangerous stay here” but being naïve and brave we said we’d ride on, so we departed towards the harbour for an espresso before the ride south. Then I got my front wheel stuck in some tram tracks and the journey was nearly over.
Summer is coming and I’m starting to get the itch to explore. I need to discover new lands and new sights. The road is calling me and I’m longing for the simple rhythm of pushing on the pedals whilst mile after mile of road disappears under my wheels in the hot sun and not even knowing or caring where I’I'll sleep that night. Ah bliss.
Morzine in the Portes de Soleil is well known as an adventure hot spot. Once the white stuff melts away come spring, the baggy shorted, hairy legged arrive en masse to take advantage of some of the best mountain biking in the world regardless of if it's Downhill, XC, Enduro or simply high mountain trails to drink in the views. What about the men in lycra you ask? Well it's Alps and of course there are steep and high cols, fast rolling roads and all the ingredients for cycling nirvana which I just couldn't turn down the chance to discover for myself.
I have massive hands and skinny wrists. It's true and trying to find gloves that both fit and perform isn't easy especially for the colder months. I've been through many a pair and either they don't fit or I don't get any feedback from the handle bars. The price has been irrelevant £7 gloves have outperformed £70 gloves. So when the bonKa gloves landed I my door I didn't let the brand or the price influence me.
Hopefully the elusive season known as "Spring" will arrive soon. You'll know when it does. The drizzle becomes slightly warmer and pink thighs and knees will be evident as far as the eye can see. Yes the British cycling male will decide it's shorts time. Europeans are bemused by the rush to expose legs in Britain. At a brand event I was discussing with a German fellow and he couldn't understand why, when the temperature is below 10 degrees why us Brits risk injuring our important knee ligaments for no sensible reason.