Francis came for a ride with myself and Pete a while back. Heres what happened:
We all have a dream bike that we have always wanted. I finally finished building mine up now.
She was bought off a close friend's dad a few years ago and I have not looked back since. Having always had a soft spot for Focus, primarily because of their Cyclocross bikes and their founder Michael Kluge, a former 3x cyclocross world champion was a bit of a hero of mine.
This bike was the first road Focus I had ever seen and I instantly fell in love with her. For me the geometry fits perfectly, they are twitchy and always want to go fast making them great fun but also their heritage in cyclocross means that they handle incredibly well. I've done some amazing things on this bike from riding around Richmond Park for 24 hours to cycling across Romania. We have racked up a few stories. Nothing on this bike is original. I have built her up exactly how I want her.
She's a fantastic piece of kit to ride and it is always a joy, she's compact, light and nippy. A bike that I really don't do justice to and always wants to go faster and faster - it holds the speed incredibly well and handles like a joy. In contrast she's also one of the comfiest bikes I have ever ridden. I remember earlier this year I let my friend take her out for a ride in Mallorca, he had a smile on his face from cheek to cheek the whole time. Exactly how I feel riding her.
Thanks to SBC Cycles for tuning her in and Lawrence Carpenter for the great photos
Having a spin on the Wahoo KICKR was a genuine pleasure. Here is a short film shot my the chaps at AttacusCC.
Turbo training is tough. It'll never quite beat cycling out on the roads but when you're trying to put in the serious training miles, sometimes needs must. But the Wahoo KICKR's made turbo training more fun and structured. Direct mount means no concerns about wearing out tyres, while providing the best transfer of power to gain accurate data. I team the KICKR up with Zwift and the Verve Infocrank power meter. It lets me create structured training plans close to real world cycling. Zwift's ability to work with the KICKR and increase the tension on elevations in the virtual reality world is a massive leap in cycling technology. It's not the same as riding outdoors, but the KICKR allows serious cyclists to get the highest quality session they're ever going to get.
Howard and James, two good friends of mine started Massif Central a few years back to illustrate your achievements in the most beautiful of ways. The brand has grown from strength to strength, creating more and more beautiful pieces.
There are some fantastic rewards from 3D printed achievements, shirts, challenges such as cycling up Mount Ventoux or spending a day in the studio with the team.
Here is some information from the boys themselves:
WHAT WE DO - We design beautiful memento artworks of sporting and other achievements.
THE AIM - Help us build an online portal - 'The Massifier' - for people to create their own bespoke artworks of their achievements.
WHAT THEY SAY - Chris Froome - Winner of the 2013, 2015 & 2016 Tour de France "The MassifCentral Limited Edition 100th Tour de France print is awesome."
WHAT WE DO
MassifCentral (MaCe) illustrate achievements; turning your life-changing challenges, unforgettable holidays and great journeys into sophisticated infographic artworks that also tell the story behind the effort and the enjoyment.
MassifCentral was set up two years ago. After completing a long distance cycle adventure with a bunch of friends, we wanted to create a different kind of memento to give to each member of the group. Instead of the usual photos, medals or certificate, we wanted something that was beautiful in its own right and that could tell the story of the experience at the same time.
That first design quickly led us to start producing similar artworks for other people. Whether the achievement be cycling, running, triathlon, skiing, hiking, sailing or something else, we've always worked to produce prints that remain true to those early principles of beauty and story-telling. And the reaction we've had to our designs has been brilliant.
Initially this work was all done pretty much by hand. We manually traced route profiles and worked out angles using the most basic of tools. Each artwork took weeks, if not months, to produce. Over the course of time we have refined our techniques, streamlined our processes and expanded the possibilities. But, even with some initial software that we developed last year, building each artwork is still a very labour intensive process that stops us from reaching more people.
We want to develop an intuitive, user-controlled online portal that allows people to create their own bespoke Massif Central artworks; easily pulling in their own GPX data, making choices about look and size from our carefully curated designs, and adding their own thoughts and memories to an automatically populated geography. We will still print everything individually, and pack and ship with the same love and care we do now.
The initial software we have developed so far is great. But it's only the seed of what we need. It's not an outward facing item and it needs expanding and testing on all platforms. It needs to interface with Strava and Google Maps. It needs to help customers make decisions about what to include and what to exclude. It needs to be simple and clever at the same time, allowing people to create, preview, save and order their own memento artworks.
We know what we need to do to achieve this. We have the skilled people lined up to do it. What we don’t have is the funding to put the wheels in motion. That is what we are looking for here..
May 2014 - Massif Central Launched
May 2015 - Initial Software Development Started
November 2015 - Initial Software Delivered
November 2016 - Kickstarter
December 2016 - Developed Software Development To Begin
January 2017 - First Rewards Delivered
March 2017 - Developed Software Completion
April-May 2017 - Developed Software Testing / Soft launch
May 2017 - Developed Software Launch
Thanks for reading. We hope you will join with us on our next great adventure.
James & Howard
A little bit from Freestak:
"As an influencer you communicate on a daily basis with your followers, creating a highly valuable relationship of trust. Your followers are the people brands want to be talking to. You find creative ways to tell stories around how and where you train, what you wear and what inspires you. Your followers listen to you. Your power as an influencer, athlete and brand advocate cannot be underestimated or ignored. Influencer marketing is disrupting the way brands market themselves.
Cycling, triathlon, running, outdoor sports and adventure racing are making waves and we want to help you ride the crest. Join our community to work with the brands that are perfect for you and gain access to the most innovative and exciting campaigns in your industry."
It's all rather exciting and I'm honoured to be part of the Freestak influencer network
I recently spent a few days riding around Italy with the tour company Traverse Aravis. Here is a few words from Michael Winterton about the trip:
For the second time this year we made the trip across to Bormio in Italy which is fast becoming a second home to us. It should not be a long trip, a few hours to Milan and then up into the mountains. However, that final 100km is slow going with single lane roads and local traffic along with miles of tunnels. It can be a little frustrating but when you emerge from the last tunnel and are greeted with the expanse of mountains and the old town of Bormio, you know it’s worth it.
It is impossible not to get excited with the weekend ahead as there is a buzz of cyclists around the town. You know that you are where it is at, for those who like two wheels. It is pretty special. Checking in and getting the accommodation ready with the welcome packs and goodies (a special thanks to Moma Porridge) was smooth and gave us a few hours to wait for the arrival of our group, the infamous Ripcor Cycling Club.
Arriving in time for dinner, which was up to the usual high standard that we come to expect from our base in Bormio, gave everyone the opportunity to discuss the weekend ahead and what was in store for them. They were uncharacteristically quiet and it became apparent that they were a little nervous about taking on the might of the Passo del Stelvio – understandable.
Our first day loops around this magnificent mountain, famed for cycling but equally important as a summer training base for skiers from across the Alps, showing just how high it is! It is a long climb of 26km and the plan was to drop down into German speaking Italy and across into Switzerland before climbing back up to the Umbrail pass which rejoins the Stelvio just 5km from the summit. For some though, the Stelvio is an amazing achievement in itself and there was no shame in returning back to Bormio having crested its summit. Everyone made it.
It is undoubtedly the middle part of the Stelvio which is the most stunning, it is here where the straight road that clings to the side of the mountain side is forced into the infamous switch backs as it comes head on with the face of the mountain. I parked up the support van to get some shots of the group coming up and they all actually seemed to be enjoying it. The spread of the group was not that big and they were all showing their strength. As the per the Ripcor motto: It’s all good.
The cluster of cafes and tourist stalls at the top of the Stelvio means that it is a good place to regroup, take in a coffee or two and revitalize. Everyone was in good spirits and thinking that they had made it, however, just because a pass is not famous, does not mean that it is not difficult. The Umbrail Pass was still to come. But first a 30 km descent. Speed Steve turns out not to be speedy and has a dislike for going downhill! His squeaking brakes reverberating around the mountains, surely confusing a marmotte or two. As I passed him, he asked for more water to help him cool the wheels down! It did the trick and they held out.
We set out lunch when we got into Switzerland. With just the Umbrail Pass to come, the day was nearing an end but this required a huge effort, lunch was certainly necessary.
The Umbrail Pass completes the triangle around the Stelvio, it is less well known and in turn less busy with fewer cyclists and cars on the road. This combined with the lack of kilometre markers creates a sense of true wilderness. That and “when will this end?!” It is though breathtaking. Once in a rhythm, it is just a case of keep plodding on. It was a little bit too much for Phil so he jumped in the van (the beauty of doing this with a support vehicle) for the last few km’s – not bad going though considering some turned back after the Stelvio. I will never forget John’s face when he arrived at the top – one of total pleasure yet total pain. Ripcor had earned their beer and cakes today.
Saturday was an all-together easier day, it is necessary to recuperate! It was a switchback ascent up towards Lake Cancano, they call it the mini-Stelvio around these parts and you can see why. Very, very steep to start with and then it eases off. Standing at the top, it was amazing to see everyone on the bends below, a fantastic view that you normally would only get from a helicopter.
Sunday was the attempt to complete the trilogy of big climbs in the area (and Italy in fact). The Mortirolo follow by the Gavia. A huge day. An early start was required. Dropping down from Bormio to the start of the Mortirolo is a gentle but fun 30km of freewheeling! The beams of sunrays breaking through the mountain tops gave me the impression that I was in a crystal, mountains in the mornings!
There is a tiny turning to the start of the Mortirolo, easily missed and for that reason, it is hard to imagine why it is so famous. Quoted by many as their hardest climb, including the drugged up Armstrong, it seems so innocuous. We do have a confession and say that there are two routes up that join for the last ascent, we went up the “easier” part. You tell that to the guys!
Just as you get to a little church, the road ramps up and really kicks in, I guess for the first time in the weekend, you realise why the Giro maybe regarded as a little tougher than the Tour. It was all a bit too much for Leigh but he took great pleasure in cheering everyone else on from the comfort of the van. Again just to get up to that point was an achievement that most cannot say that they have done.
The hot chocolate just after the summit makes it worth it.
Next stop the Gavia. Dieter was banging on about how he just wanted to do the Mortirolo, that was the famous climb of the two. What is all the fuss about this Gavia? Well, Dieter, its steep and long. It’s bloody hard. You think that you are cycling up to the doors of hell. But when you get to the top, it is magical. High, and unlike the Stelvio with all its hotels and skiers, it’s wild. You have certainly left the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life behind. Rewarding.
Just after a long, dark tunnel with about 2km to go, I found Alastair and Phil pondering their next move. The others were just finishing up. I told them in no uncertain terms that they were not getting in the van. They pushed on and shortly after made it to the top of this monster. Tears of joy (or pain) rolling down Phil’s cheeks, they, like everyone else had achieved something special. Chapeau as you would say in France. I was expecting a raucous evening of celebration but everyone was happy to relax and contemplate their achievements over a glass or two.
A COLD COLD morning in Richmond Park with the lovely Francis Cade, Attacus and some crazy Aussie.
19,608 miles. That's how far I have flown over the last few weeks in going to Perth, Australia and returning, then heading to Bormio, Italy and returning. All in the name of cycling.
Lets start at the beginning:
A Bank Holiday Monday involved last minute checks, making sure everything was ready to travel to the other side of the world to race in the UCI Gran Fondo World Tour Series Final. A massive achievement for me and Ripcor and an opportunity to don the Great Britain kit (made by Paria) Finally off to Heathrow.
The flight was a long one, with a transfer in Dubai, finally arriving in Perth on Tuesday evening (in their coldest winter in 35 years) to the apartment we were staying at for a few days on the short visit.
Wednesday: Wake up legs:
A short spin along the coastline in Perth to start to try and blow out the cobwebs. Perth has a great network of cycle lanes along the seafront which allow you to ride relatively undisturbed.
Today was about resting and stretching out the legs, being on a flight for about 18 hours definitely does take its toll on these parts. So visiting a local food joint for a local beer and some food meant in the clear skies an afternoon could be spent resting and thinking about what lay ahead.
A real rest day was in order, visiting Perth Zoo to see the local wildlife that we didn't think we would see elsewhere and exploring the City. A short walk to the promenade and a boat across the estuary lead to the start of our journey.
As a city, Perth has a mix of many high rises around Murray Street and Hay Street which contrast with more of the old warehouses and factories if you head towards Fremantle (Or 'Freeo' to the locals.)
Friday: Race Reccy:
A race reccy. The total length of the race is 155km with just short of 2000 meters of climbing. The route took the freeway out to the hills on the outskirts of Perth, a location where the race would be won and lost on climbs such as the Zig Zag. Our age category undertook two laps of the hilly stage with an uphill finish at the crest of the Zig Zag.
The Reccy helped to settle a few nerves and allowed us to realise that it was achievable to compete with the rest of the world.
There is something incredibly special about the cycling community. No matter where you are in the world there is always some one who will want to go for a ride and show you around. A special thank you goes to Shelby, our Australian friend who acted as our tour guide for much of our experience. Casual rides and cafe hunting during the day with an attempt of an early night before the big day itself.
We were guided around the seafront, taking in beaches, Gelato, Coffee, great chat and food. A perfect resting day in preparation for the big day...
Sunday: Race Day
The day was upon us, a night of little sleep and an early start, rolling down to the docks for a 7am start. We were kitted up and out in our GB Paria kit ready to rock. There was obviously a heavy Australian dominance in the race but it was an incredibly proud moment to see so many Great Britain kits on the roads.
The race was a tough one, designed for climbers with it's undulating terrain. Sadly my race was over 80km in, with a puncture. I sat by the side of the road, and after some moaning and swearing, it was fixed and back on the road I went with the aim of just setting the best possible time.
Monday: The Return
After the race, the bike was packed up and prepared for the long return journey. The bonus of the Scicion AeroComfort 2.0 is how easy it is to pack the bike away. Simply you clip the frame into the supported shock absorbent base and slide the wheels in the pockets. You then just need to strap up the bike to hold it in place. The simplest bike packing bag I have used and means you can pack in roughly 5-10 mins, leaving you more time to get on with more important things.
Finally I landed back in the UK on Monday night...
Tuesday & Wednesday: A day back in London. Pizza
Feeling jet lagged but alive meant that the two days back in London were filled with catching up with people, cycling and eating Pizza before the next adventure...
Jimmi, Francis and myself did a small film about riding around London and heading to Regents to see the family who ride there. Check him out and his brilliant videos.
It is always a real pleasure heading into Richmond Park, especially early doors in the morning. Today a group of us headed out for a few pre work laps then a cheeky coffee in Dynamo in Putney. Well worth a stop.
Noun1. An Outcast. A person who is rejected or cast out, as from home or society: In the beginning the area was settled by outcasts, adventurers and felons.
Given the above, we would imagine you asking what it is the connection to cycling?
Paria have always had a passion for the irreverent and alternative, whether this be design, attitude or even out look. They have prided themselves on this, but it means sometimes ended up feeling like the odd one out.
Take this raison d’etre, and twin it with a keen eye for design and all things unconventional then you have the makings of Paria.
Their aim was borne out of a desire to deliver something fresh into the cycling market taking urban influences and attitude, coupled with the grit and fervor driven out of the Yorkshire countryside.
They want to design apparel which will deliver exceptional performance with no compromises in either technical ability or durability. Paria have made it their mission to design and manufacture top class apparel and kit which will take some stick and still look good.
How are they doing this? Rather than get a sweat shop of creatives and bespectacled hipsters, they are working with up and coming designers and artists from a range of disciplines; illustrators, digital specialists and bamboo tattoo artists.
The brand's ethos and attitude is something that sits well with many cyclists out there, as generally we are extroverts in our own ways. Paria and Ripcor have collaborated on two kits so far, the Richmond24 Jersey and the Gran Fondo Great Britain Ripcor kit. Both of these are availible to order for a limited time on the Paria website.
Infocrank have supported me for several months since Richmond24. Currently I have been using the double sided power meter on my Focus Izalco Pro 3.0 and bike computer across my bikes. The chain rings are Praxis Works which are installed onto my Focus Izalco Team.
InfoCrank is loved by the pros and Institutes, but in reality it was designed for normal cyclists who want to improve their cycling performance.
InfoCrank is a highly complex scientific unit, but its easy to install, setup and beautiful to ride. From start to finish of your ride, an InfoCrank bike power meter records true Left and Right power balance, Pedal Smoothness, Torque Effectiveness and Cadence – all without skipping a beat. All in all a fantastic device providing you with accurate data to train to.
The device is used by the UCI, British Cycling, One ProCycling and Dame Sarah Storey to name a few people who use the infocrank.
For more information click here
Jamie (left) and Mark (right) the two owners of SBC both come with a wealth of experience, knowledge and love of all things bike (and Zuber)
SBC Cycles is a truly independent bike shop in the heart of East London, situated a stones throw from Old Street Station and sit right in between Shoreditch, Hoxton, Hackney and Islington
They are just two mechanics with near debilitating bicycle addictions. They love all types of bikes from Carbon Road to Vintage Choppers to Full Sus MTB's and have a special passion for the rare and interesting parts of bicycle history.
They believe that riding bikes is not only the best transport and great exercise, its also FUN! and they think that going to a bike shop should be too.
The two met whilst working at Tokyo Fixed back in 2010 and realised they had a somewhat compulsive love of bikes, bicycle modification, riding everything and heavy music… With the seed planted they started working on the idea of opening our own space. These things never go as quickly as you think, but in 2015 launching our own bespoke workshop.
Having worked in a fair few bike shops in the past 10 years, they've taken all of the best bits from their previous jobs to create a destination store for cyclists, created by cyclists. The shop was designed and fitted out solely by them. Nearly all of the furniture and fixtures have been handcrafted and built from scratch using recycled and found materials.
They have a fully equipped professional workshop that can cater for any servicing and repairs. Along side that they specialise in custom bicycles and hand built wheels. They have the capacity to fix absolutely any mechanical issue that you may have, regardless of what type of bike you own. SBC stock a variety of parts for builds, along with componentry and upgrades across all cycling disciplines.
Their ideology behind the shop is based around adventures on bikes, whatever shape or form. Whether it’s shredding trails in a forest, riding track bikes on the street, day long road rides or touring the mountainous landscapes of the world. As long as it’s with a good group of friends."
Pop in. You have to make this your local bike shop.
I have been privileged to help test and collaborate with Tom and Peter for a while now, both on the 24, racing in Perth and out in Italy. We will also be collaborating on another exciting project in the near future. To give you some information on the brand:
WHY - The bike wheelsets we want to buy aren't easily available so we've made them. Peter and Tom Marchment, are avid cyclists and have years of experience in the UK bike industry sourcing and marketing bike components from around the world. Tom has worked with several leading performance wheel brands. This knowledge means HuntBikeWheels bring you the latest practical technology and thinking in all things round. Their hubs, spokes, rims, bearings and quick-releases are manufactured by leaders in each field and are then lovingly hand-built into outstanding wheels by experts with thousands of builds to their names.
THE CHASE - Most of their rides are currently on the road so that's where they began. The wheels used for the vast majority of road miles need to be fast, light weight, suitable for wider road tyres, durable, easily serviceable and provide excellent braking performance. They have become strong advocates for tubeless technology. Having tested tubeless extensively on and off road they know it provides you with noticeably improved ride quality, grip and puncture protection. All their wheels come tubeless ready, but work perfectly with standard tyres and tubes, and provide excellent specs and low weight. Plus you're future-proofed if you want to go tubeless later. Of course, the wheels have to look stunning yet sophisticated too. They don't spec down to a price point we just create the best wheels for each type of riding.
THE PLAN - Their wheels are available to order through your local bike shop (just ask them to contact them) or purchase directly here at HuntBikeWheels.com, with international shipping available free of charge. They invest more in the details and significantly increase the specification of each component so Hunt wheels provide maximum performance to the rider. Their direct customer service means you will always be able to speak to a person and access the parts and servicing you need fast. Above all they want to create wheels and provide service you depend on, and allow you to perform to the highest level day-in day-out. They would love to hear how we can help you ride further and faster.
A key thing about being able to plough down more and more miles adding further and further distances are making sure you comfortable.
Fizik has always been a brand that I have used with saddles due to finding the range comfy, flexible, light and strong. I rode the 24 hours around Richmond Park on an Arione R3 and Antares R5 which allowed for different positions on two different bicycles and had slightly different sit bone resting points. Crossing between the two on the two different bikes allowed for a change in positioning and flexibility.
Currently, Fizik and myself are collaborating to work out what is the best saddle for myself for long distance ultra endurance. They have kindly provided me 3 different saddles to use:
Each of these saddles I will be putting through their paces and seeing how my body reacts and responds to each of them, so far I have put a few miles down on the Kurve and the strength and flexibility in the saddle feels great. Lets see how it goes over a longer distance. This weekend will be the first real test for the Arione K1, being used on a cycle from one coast to the other.
Cycling and coffee. Two things that go hand in hand. Before, after or during a ride, it all works. That wake up caffeine hit, mid ride motivational boost or a means to an end to cause an excuse to talk about the bike, off the bike. Workshop Coffee had been a regular on my list of breakfast after training places, have a look at this little video done by the lovely chaps at Let's Talk Films.
As Berkshire’s premier cycling collective In Ripcor and down right good folk, we are celebrating our 10th Anniversary this year by aiming to raise £20,000 for our friends at The PACE Centre.
To date we have cycled over 3,500 miles and helped raise in excess of £500,000 for them. Whilst our team continues to grow our commitment to our charity remains as strong as ever and is an integral part of our DNA.
Please feel free to sponsor us here and in doing so, help the children who are a constant source of inspiration for us.
It's all good.