Posts Tagged ‘cols’

H – A – R – D.

September 16, 2010



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.

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Le Lac D’Annecy Dans ses Montagnes.

September 12, 2009

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Up until last weekend never had the tyre of a wheel I owned touched the ground of Europe or more importantly the surrounding area of Lake Annecy, that is to say that never had I ridden my bicycle outside of these shores so my preparation for our trip was somewhat minimal. A few 40s, 50s and even a 75 miler was what I had under my belt before last week, however all of the aforementioned distances were lacking in something, something rather important for the person looking to conquer the cycling down south in France…And that something is hills.

Because of my background I believed I would really struggle on these Cols, that for whatever reason my body would not be up to the standard of what these types of roads demanded but I was surprised and this trip has taught me a very good lesson but more of that later.

Our first morning was spent cycling a Lap of Lake Annecy. It was a beautiful way to start the week and we couldn’t wait to get out. This lap of the Lake was used as part of a time trial in this years Tour and it was the constant reminders painted onto the road surface of names such as ‘Contador’ ‘Lance’ and ‘Schleck’ that woke me up into the excitement of what awaited us in the forthcoming week. So after our 16 hour car journey the day previous and a strange nights sleep in a sloping field of cows I sighed and thought gleefully to myself “Aaaaah that’s it, we are here”.

Later on that day after yet another espresso off the camp stove we decided to venture out and upwards. Upwards to the Col de La Forclaz which was approx eight miles away. At this point I would like to say I had never in my life climbed a large hill, a Col, a mountain or anything such like so the climbing of Col de la Forclaz would be interesting.

Now I go back to what I mentioned earlier about that important lesson I had learned… Our bodies are far more capable of difficult tasks than we think. I got up that Col I did, my first one actually. It was tough at times sure it was, but I was getting up regardless. After what seemed like 10 litres of shed sweat in the mid-day sun, enough air in and exhaled from my lungs to fill a hot air balloon and my thighs feeling like someone was holding a flame to them I reached the summit and Joe was there to congratulate me and Kieran’s congrats followed shortly after. Amazing.

I used to hate ascending, in my mind ascending had me beat but the more we climbed the more I got a buzz out of it. The absolute sense of achievement I felt on the summits was unparalleled. To know that I wanted to give up ( on several occasions ) and didn’t was a surprise. Not that I had no faith in myself, I did but I had never experienced hills like these and it hurt real bad. At every point where the road steepened on these climbs it would have been very easy for me to have simply stopped but this is something I now know I am capable of… overriding my brains urges to quit because of pain and to carry on, because I can and because my body is more than capable of it.

The riding throughout the rest of the week consisted of many more climbs, steeper climbs, longer climbs, legendary climbs and climbs that would reveal to you some of the sheer beauty of what this planet has to offer. Take the view of Mont Blanc from the Cret de Chatillion… It took all the food in my jersey pockets, all the electrolyte replacement in my bidon and all the willpower I had inside of me to get up there that day but for the view alone it was totally worth it.

With climbs come descents. Descents! This stuff is exhilaration bottled, twenty minute journeys downhill through forests at fifty miles per hour is what I had endured hours of ascending for, I had earned it and I was made for it. Hairpins, shallow corners, undulations, change in light conditions and road surface, the sound of my ears rushing by the still air surrounding, my stowaway jacket flapping ferociously behind me all added up to something quite magical and it has me addicted.

I learned about fuel and hydration because without those you really could not continue, about having the correct attire because not only is it important to look good but you must also feel good. I fully realise and know now what I look for and need in a bike and with mine it is currently a new set of tyres to help me around those ‘hairy’ hairpins quicker and safer because next time the road may not be so clear and there may be a car there waiting to meet me, perhaps bonnet first. I learned that a correct fitting bike is absolutely imperative as regularly after approx 2 hours in the saddle I experienced some serious fatigue in my lower back and across my shoulder blades and this is something I need to look into, so next time the agony will only be in my legs and not in my back.

The elusive 100 miles I longed to clock still defeats me, I have still not gained it but I tell you this. It now means nothing to me as some 50 mile journeys over and through some seriously beautiful natural landscapes are worth 500 miles of any A roads through bland grey cities. I just want to ride more and more and I am already thinking about next year, did somebody mention Spain?

Thanks go to Joe Hall for the instigation and the motivation throughout, to Kieran Young for his enthusiasm and sunny disposition and to the lady camp site proprietor for her good use of the English language. To Aussie Rik who looked like Jo mangle “dude that is not your tent and it will break like that”, to the bar next door for the chips when they were needed ( Yes Kieran! ) and to the expensive fish fillets that were truly earned after that epic day. To Fig rolls the superfood, the in-jokes and tales on the jetty, to the Rapha Merino base layer and to the Lake for making our mornings worth rising early for. To the Cafe and Boulangerie in Veyrier for making the best coffee and baguettes in the whole of Annecy, Veyrier and Menthon Saint Bernard and finally to Col de la Forclaz for truly opening my eyes to the mountains.

Day one.

Morning – lap of Lac D’Annecy / 20 miles
Afternoon – Climb of Col de la Forclaz ( 1157m ) Via Veyrier and back / 17 miles

Day two.

Climb of four Cols on the west side of Lac D’Annecy / 46 miles.
Col de Bluffy ( 613m )
Col de Leschaux ( 936m )
Montague Semnoz( 1704m )
Cret de Chatillion ( 1790m )

Day 3

Recovery ride up Col de la Forclaz ( for the second time ) / 17 miles roundtrip.

Day 4
Tour du Glieres and Tour du Bargy / 85 miles.
Annecy – Col de Bluffy – Thones – Le grand Bornand – Col de Columbieres – Col de Fleuris – Scionzon – La Roche sur Foron -Thoron Glieres – Annecy le Vieux – Annecy – Veyrier

Day 5
Recovery ride up Col de la Forclaz ( for the third time ) 17 miles roundtrip.

Day 6
Alpe D’Huez ( 1815m ) 15 miles roundtrip.


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Les Alps.

September 2, 2009

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So I have been lucky enough to be invited along with a couple of my pals on a trip to Lake Annecy in the French Alps for a week of pure cycling and check me, I can hardly contain my excitement!

I have my lists ready, spare tubes, maps, tent, stove, bbq, sleeping bag the lot and I am ready to go.

I leave this Friday and return the following so please expect no posts between then as I will no doubt be vomitting from over exertion somewhere off the side of a french mountain.

Wish us luck!

Alpine greatness.

August 18, 2009

Sorry about the lateness of this, I perhaps should have thought about posting it BEFORE I left to go cycle and get lost on the way to Malvern… but I’ll save that one for another time.

After yesterdays post on the joys of road cycling I stumbled across the following.

I typed in the URL of my new favourite blog and what was presented there before me was one of the best posts I have come across in a quite a while so I had to share it with you.

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As a spindly-legged kid, I spent most of my summers tucked in my Austrian father’s broad slipstream while we pedaled up and down New Hampshire’s winding back roads. Saddled atop his dinosaur of a Motobecane, ragged cycling shoes wedged into his toe clips and his unruly grey hair flapping in the wind (he never wore a helmet, which, he assured me in his heavily-accented English, were for loozahs), he’d ramble on about all the epic Alpine rides he and his fellow farm boy buddies had done as teenagers. Then he’d crack open a can of Coors when we got home, drain it and tell me more. I knew ‘em by heart: The time they’d hooked their hands onto the back of a bus in order to coast the last few rain-soaked kilometers into Munich just to buy an LP of Revolver; the time they’d stumbled into a Swiss gasthof, cycling caps askew and faces full of grime, only to be fed for free by the matronly proprietor who’d pitied such a worn-out and weary-looking crew; and of course the many occasions on which they’d outmaneuvered slick Italian sport coups down Passo di Stelvio’s 48 hairpin turns. Sure, just the other day I blew a few too many freelance checks on this carbon fiber racing rig, but no matter how modern my tastes have become, I’m still – thanks to dad – obsessed with vintage bikes, no-frills cycling apparel and leg-breaking rides.

Which is why I was so psyched to find these photos. Snapped by (and in some instances starring) Jobst Brandt, a former mechanical engineer for Porsche and the author behind wheel-building bible The Bicycle Wheel, these photos chronicle the Californian’s 20-something Alpine cycling trips dating back to 1959. Despite Jobst’s techy background, however, you won’t find anything in the photos below but rawhide tans, long surfer hair, wool jerseys, vintage touring bikes, gravel roads running wet with Alpine snow melt and summer snow banks piled higher than a set of stacked Suburbans. No route was too daunting for Jobst and his buds. Pretty refreshing stuff.

But what really makes these photos so interesting is that they serve as testament to America’s love affair with cycling and adventure. Long before anal-retentive endurance athletes hijacked the sport with their scientifically engineered training programs, heart rate monitors and recovery shakes, laidback westerners were going nuts for two-wheeled competitions like Colorado’s Red Zinger Classic and California’s Nevada City Criterium, and, just like Jobst, many headed for Europe to retrace the pedal strokes of their heroes. Packing their jerseys’ with spare tires, passports and enough Schillings, Liras and Francs to buy a few post-ride rounds at whatever bar they found themselves in, these guys had a boyish mentality to riding and a real sense of two-wheeled camaraderie, proving that a bicycle’s true value isn’t measured in pounds or price tags, but merely by where it can take you.


Words by James Jung of the Foggy Monocle.
Photographs by Jobst Brandt.
Found at A Continuous Lean.

See more fantastic scanned photographs of Jobst’s Alpine cycling adventures right here.


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