My favourite ride. The Dunwich Dynamo. How to ride this overnight beauty from London through the small hours to the Suffolk coast? Smile. Not that you’ll need instruction. For you’ll smile involuntarily throughout this glorious night ride.
The Dunwich Dynamo is a free group ride, a sportive without the structure and racing mentality. A joyous 112 mile conga line of blinking red lights. Bikes wrapped in fairy lights, a festival atmosphere along the route, the odd moment when you question your own sanity. Why am I riding in the middle of nowhere at 3am? Oh yeah, because it’s amazing!
Welcome to a world of steep climbs, impossible gorge roads and wild bears. Welcome to Asturias and the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain. The moutains here may not rise to the skies, peaking out at 2,600 metres, yet the roads to the summit are steep and scenic, making these short, sharp climbs breathtaking in more ways than one.
Challenging and beautiful, from the famous climbs of Angrilu and Lagos de Covadonga, to the lesser known Gamoniteiro and Jito de Escarandi There’s a good reason why the Vuelta a España returns to these roads each year.
Gorges, snaking roads and more gorgeous gorges. Tall triangles corrugate the horizon, a wall of snow-capped mountains as far as the eye can see. Welcome to a stunning tour of the Mercantour national park, just north of Nice, France. A ride to remember.
New. Never travelled. Perhaps your eyes traced a pixellated line on a screen the night before or perhaps you simply turned left instead of right. Ahead only virgin road unridden. The unknown.
Every turn a mystery. Eyes keen, alert for every next direction. A cartographer committing landmarks to memory, extending your mental map lest you travel this way again.
Gasp. The landscape surprises, amazes. Simple things. A twee village, a church perched on a hill, parallel trees in formation either side of the road, a big cow. Nothing of great note, not even worthy of a photograph, the scenery the sum of its parts, less a vision more a feeling.
A tunnel.Cold and dark, scary yet soothing, entry to another world. A rewarding moment of quiet and calm, the cool relief much welcome after climbing a mountain for mile upon mile, toasted beneath the mid-summer sun.
Darkness. The world turns black. A quick mental check to see if you’ve passed out, the effort finally taking its toll. Still moving, your eyes fail to adjust. Gravel crunches beneath your tyres at the road’s fringes, the small white dot at the end of the tunnel your only focus.
The Transcontinental Race (TCR) is a bike race across Europe or perhaps more accurately, a voyage into the unknown mental and physical capabilities of oneself.
The rules are simple. Ride unsupported across Europe following your own route via four checkpoints before reaching the finish line. There’s no official cut-off time for this c.2,500 mile (4,000km) race but many riders aim to finish within 14 days to be a part of the finish line celebrations.
Following an ultra-distance cycle race is fascinating (and tiring!). Forget about the theatre of the Tour de France and the other so called ‘Grand Tours’. TCR is the real thing, very real, a vivid drama on a human scale, an adventure both relatable to most cyclists whilst being equally unfathomable.
Let’s talk cobbles. Why oh why would anyone think riding over gap strewn paving would be fun? It’s pure evil I tell you!
I went cycling in Flanders recently, heading to Belgium to ride the famous climbs and routes from the Tour of Flanders, or Ronde van Vlaanderen, as it’s known to the cycling mad locals, or simply The Ronde. Here’s my routes, along with an insight into cycling in Belgium, riding the cobbles, bergs (hills), and wind, plus a certain type of cyclist.