Riding the Coast to Coast cycle route (C2C)

Killhope Cross cycle climbBrutal. Coast to coast, sea to sea, and back again, in two days. 224 miles. Easy. 5,800 metres of climbing. Ouch. Heavy rain and riding into a 43 mph headwind hour after hour. Eugh. What the hell was I thinking?

Truth is, I have no idea why I attempted a double C2C ride in March, the tailend of the UK winter. The classic sea to sea route doubled as I figured it was logistically easier to drive to the centre of the route and ride each way and back. A lot of effort to avoid taking panniers or catching a train!

Yet once an idea forms, it becomes difficult to shake, even with the daunting prospect of howling headwinds and more rain than Noah’s nightmares.

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Vélib’ Cycling in Paris

Paris, Cycling the Champs-Elysee

Paris. An empty day. Two wheels. Ahead only joy. Time to indulge, a cycleur with a city to discover, unknown streets to aimlessly meander by bike. Turn left or maybe right, whimsy my guide, seeking new sights and sounds and smells, new moments that will form long standing memories and will come to define the city.

“To err is human. To loaf is Parisian.”
Victor Hugo

Which way? You can’t get lost if you’ve nowhere to go and you can’t be late if you’ve no place to be. Time is unimportant, so too location, for everything is about the here and the now.

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The wonder of cycling in the New Forest

Cycling in the New Forest
The New Forest is an amazing place to cycle.
A plethora of tiny lanes, lost to the world. Riding beneath the trees, between horses and ponies and donkeys, green everywhere, a carpet of purple heather, the smell of fern, of pine.

A look up, a quick glance of the sea, sail boats rocking in the Solent. Hills? There’s few to talk of, gentle rises here and there, road surfaces excellent. If I could build a hill free cycling paradise it would look a lot like the New Forest. Only with even more donkeys.

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Cycling in Pembrokeshire

Cycling in PembrokeshireA warm up ride through the Brecon Beacons seemed like a good idea when sat at my laptop, not so much when sat in the saddle. It’s been a while since I last cycled in Wales, how quickly I’d forgotten the only flat roads in this land are supermarket car parks.
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The thin red line | A tempo ride

formentor-3Charting the emotions of a tempo ride to the Formentor lighthouse, Majorca’s best cycling route.

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Dawn. Sun yawning. Sky, sea, eyes pink. I set off, legs still snoozing. Air warm, thick, already. Streets empty, beach deserted. The masts on the boats in the harbour clank and clatter, ringing in the new morning, birds waking, the roost all a tweeting, more a cacophony than a chorus.

Legs spinning reluctantly, the warm up for the climb ahead is a quaint dawdle along the beach front, eyes glued to the ever changing colour of the sea and sky, red now, almost orange, the day warming up quicker than my legs.

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A return to Majorca – Flat rides, hard rides

majorca-return-2Returning to ride in Majorca was a little like meeting an old friend. We knew one another’s ways, we respected the other yet said little, mutual appreciation unspoken.

For Majorca is a cyclist’s friend, smooth roads, manageable mountains, rolling hills, billions of hairpins, long coastal roads, picturesque rides through orange groves and verdant valleys. Oh and did I mention the weather? Sun, and lots of it.

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Riding in the French Alps – Part deux

alps-lacets-2
Riding in the mountains is addictive. The drug comes with its own highs and lows, pleasures and pains. Thankfully the former are great enough to help you forget the latter. Half way through my cycling holiday in the French Alps (part one here) and I was compelled not only to climb but to ride into oblivion.

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Road cycling in the French Alps – Climbs, routes, pain and awe

Galibier The French Alps. A cyclist’s nirvana but with the addition of suffering, a strong sense of self and an even stronger desire to cycle forever. So nothing like nirvana then. Too much torture to be heaven too. A rapture then, for here you are transported from earth to heaven or your sins are punished accordingly. Will you be left behind?

Famous mountains open to all. Rider’s heads go down as the roads head up. A struggle ensues, the victor never certain until, yes, almost there, boom, the summit. As many emotions as heart beats.

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Cycling Bealach na Ba – Climbing to heaven

Cycling Bealach na baWant to climb one of the greatest cycling climbs in the UK? Head north, is usually the answer. Like, really north, all the way to Scottish Highlands, just north of the Isle of Skye. Bealach na Bá is unusual for a climb in Scotland in that it goes over the top of the pass rather than through the valley below like most climbs. Some claim it to be the toughest climb in the UK, which I doubt having climbed Hardknott Pass in the Lake District, but it is certainly the most dramatic in terms of length, scenery and remoteness.

Every cyclist should ride this climb.

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