London Cyclocross League 2016-17 Round 5

Round 5 at London's iconic Herne Hill, always a magical place with a fantastic turnout and brilliant heckling. It's always great as you get to line up with mates who often are not able to make it to some of the further afield races. This race will stand in the memory as a special one. It was my first seeded race of the season. You never forget when your name gets called out and you have to roll to the start. Obviously quicker guys are behind you but its satisfying to know that you've been able to get a few meters ahead. 

Attacus CC, Ripcor and East London Fixed, 3 different teams, but firstly 3 friends. 

Attacus CC, Ripcor and East London Fixed, 3 different teams, but firstly 3 friends. 

Herne Hill itself, a course that is notoriously technical, lots of sharp climbs, turns and mixes of surfaces, there is always a person waiting to watch a crash, slip or wobble. You start inside the velodrome and switch in and out of it, traveling out the back into the rough land which most people don't know about. 

Hurdles are always a crowd pleaser. Photo by Kamal Balgobin

Hurdles are always a crowd pleaser. Photo by Kamal Balgobin

A mix of sharp steep climbs, where the only option is to run and hurdles keep the hecklers in certain areas, hoping for that slight slip or incident. This race itself was a fast one, grass trails tend to be. 

A huge thank you for everyone who came down to watch, heckle, pinch/ slap the derriere. Special mentions have to go to the ladies from 5th Floor, East London Fixed, Team Full Demin Jacket and our friends at Brixton Cycles. 


Strava file below:

Dolomites - Day 1

A few days in Italy, it would be rude not to be in search of the up. On a ride organised by Traverse Aravis   a group of Ripcor riders ventures on this search for all the clims that Italy and The Dolomites have to offer.

The Dolomites are a mountain range located in northeastern Italy. They form a part of the Southern Limestone Alps and extend from the River Adige in the west to the Piave Valley in the east. Also known as the "Pale Mountains", they take their name from the carbonate rock dolomite, itself named for 18th-century French mineralogist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu, who was the first to describe the mineral.

Day 1- Stelvio and Passo Umbrail

Our first day in Italy was a big one, the legendary Passo Stelvio, climbing out of Bormio and descending into Switzerland for lunch, before climbing back into Italy via Passo Umbrail. 

Stelvio; with its elevation of 2757 meters, and roughly 25km in length is a big one to get the legs turning over. From leaving the chalet we were climbing up with the 48 hairpin turns creating the wall effect as you look up the mountain climb. It's one that appears to go on and on, but the scenery does not disappoint as you head higher and higher nearing the cafe at the top. 

Upon reaching the top and taking a much needed coffee stop, the descent was quick, flowing and equally as beautiful. We descended into Switzerland with some riders having to stop intermittently to cool down their carbon rims from over heating. A huge bonus of disc brakes is not having any concerns of this. 

Arriving at the base we knew one thing. It was a case of heading back up.. The Swiss side of the Dolomites was green, luscious and full of farm land as we waited at the base of Passo Umbrail for lunch served by Michael from Traverse Aravis   

Once we were fueled up, the climb began again. Steeper than Stelvio and having already climbed a huge amount in the morning, the legs were quickly burning winding through the forests. Finally we joined back on to Passo Dello Stelvio with the descent of what we climbed ahead of us before rolling back into Bormio.

Day 1 complete. 

Strava file below. 

Focus Challenge Ambasadors Day

All the Focus Ambassadors were bought together for a clinic with Michael Kluge. 

Kluge is a multiple German champion and amateur world champion in cyclo-cross in 1985 and 1987 and professional world champion in 1992.

In 1992 Kluge set up the bicycle manufacturing company Focus Bikes in Cloppenburg, Germany.


We were given a masterclass in mountain biking skills and handing, with Michael analysing and accessing how we did. 

The day also involved filming with The Bike Channel and became an opportunity for all the Ambassadors to meet and ride together. 



Rise Above

Mark Cavendish: The Manx Missile: 48 Grand Tour Stage wins, 30 Tour De France Stage victories, 3x Madison World Champion. A cycling legend in his own right. Rise Above is a sportive around the roads he learnt to cut the cloth in his profession, where trained whilst a youth cyclist in the British Cycling Academy. What better way to celebrate the amazing season he has been having than riding these roads. 

We started early in Chester with the initial stages of the sportive on closed roads before heading out into the Welsh hills. 

As the sun came up the amount of climbing we were about to contend with started to become a reality. Over 2400 meters across just shy of 170km became a long day in the saddle. 

The route included a timed climb of Horseshoe Pass. 

(Bwlch yr Oernant, "Pass of the Cold Stream") is a mountain pass in Denbighshire, north-east Wales. It separatesLlantysilio Mountain to the west from the 565 metre (1,854 feet) mountain and Marilyn Cyrn-y-Brain to the east. The A542 road from Llandegla toLlangollen runs through the pass, reaching a maximum height of 417 metres (1,368 ft). The road travels in a horseshoe shape around the sides of a valley, giving the pass its name.

This route dates from 1811, when a turnpike road was constructed across the area. As with the rest of the roads in the Clwydian Range, it is not uncommon for sheep to gather in the road, sometimes causing problems for drivers. The road is also frequently closed in winter due to snowfall or landslides.

The Pass is well known for the Ponderosa cafe at its highest point and the scenic views along the road. Both the cafe and the pass itself are extremely popular with cyclists & motorcyclists. There are many walks and routes in the immediate area that are popular with hikers, and there are a number of campsites nearby.

The route itself was equally rewarding and challenging. Meaning you could attack the hills as hard as you liked. All feed stops were also well stocked up. All in all a fantastic sportive in a beautiful part of the world. 

Here's the Strava file!

Coast to Coast Plus.

Day One

We started our coast to coast adventure with the intention of tackling 4 National Parks and areas of outstanding beauty across Northern England, these being The Lake District, The North Pennines, The Yorkshire Dales and The North York Moors. There was always going to be plenty of stunning views and climbing to tackle along with some steep descents. 

The chosen steed for the trip was the Focus Izalco Max Disc, equipped with a set of Hunt Aero Light Disc Wheels. Restrap have provided the frame bag and Tom Tom the Bandit Camera. The bike is equipped with 11 speed Shimano Dura Ace with an FSA SLK Lightweight Crank and Fizik Antares saddle.

The chosen steed for the trip was the Focus Izalco Max Disc, equipped with a set of Hunt Aero Light Disc Wheels. Restrap have provided the frame bag and Tom Tom the Bandit Camera. The bike is equipped with 11 speed Shimano Dura Ace with an FSA SLK Lightweight Crank and Fizik Antares saddle.

The journey started early.. On a sleepy train at 5am to head to Lancaster. Arriving to be welcomed by local coffee shop 'The Hall'. Well woth a stop for a flat white and croissant. 

Once other members of the team arrived on different times we started to head out on our casual first day. We departed Lancaster with the Lakes on our minds, heading towards Silverdale and to Milnthorpe for the custom of dipping the wheels into the sea. (Or the estuary. It was close enough) 

From this point, the roads took us into the Lakes. We were lucky enough to be joined by one of the chaps from The Cold Dark North for part of what was his 'commute'. 

There was one major climb of the day, Gummer's How which hit roughly 20% at one point. A great leg stretcher to start how we mean to go on. After this we continued into the start of the Lake District finishing the day at Blawith. 

Day Two.

Day two, we departed the house we were staying at early doors to take advantage of quiet roads. 160km with 2775 meters of climbing. We all anticipated this day heading straight through The Lake District and into the North Pennines. 

The first major climb of the day. The aptly named 'The Struggle' a road that runs from the village of Ambleside up to Kirkstone Pass. One gent wished us luck at the bottom, as the rain came down and the mist closed in whilst we climbed. 

The view from the top, even though covered in mist was still rewarding.

The climbing didn't stop as we headed into the North Pennines with brutal 20mph headwinds to battle against. As you pass through The Lakes on day two, be sure to recover from The Struggle at Helvellyn Country Kitchen and again at Hartside Top Cafe, the highest cafe in England. The climb up Hartside, is a long one but equally stunning. 

From the top of Hartside we are graciously greeted with a 20km descent. Any climb is worth a 20km descent. One last climb for the day, greeted by the 20mph headwind to battle through. This proved a tough, long climb where you could simply get your head down and hope. 

Our day finished in Kirkby Stephen. Fletcher House is a wonderfully welcoming spot to rest your head and lock up your bike while mentally and physically preparing for the final leg of your journey. 

Day Three. 

182km and 2770 meters of climbing infront of us and the coast in Scarborough. Another big day of climbing from the set of. Number 78 in the 100 best climbs, Lamps Moss. One way to get the legs warmed up. 

The majority of the rest of the day involved rolling hills, some of steep gradients as we ventured through the Yorkshire Dales towards The North York Moors. 

Long straight roads, lined with heather greeted us as we travelled into the Moors. With the scenery we had seen on this adventure its understandable how all of them are National Parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty. 

80km into day three sees you arrive into Northallerton, a small town between The Dales and The Moors. If you're lucky enough to be passing through Monday to Saturday, a myriad of local bakeries and cafes await. Sunday's offer a reduced choice, but there are still plenty of options on the high street. 

We stopped briefly in Whitby for a refuel and headed towards Scarborough. As we headed close to Scarborough traffic lights appeared and we could sense the end of our epic adventure.  Lots of climbing, all the weather you can think of. Great memories and renewed friendships. 

This ride was organised as part of the 10000kmcc collective. Check them out. Photos by Ele Suggett, Richard Frazier and myself.  You can download the routes here

London (Loch Fyne) to Paris

To celebrate Ripcor's 10th anniversary, we decided to do the first ride founders Treve Ripley and Sean Cornell rode together London (Loch Fyne in Ascot) to Paris.

Day 1- Loch Fyne to Newhaven

We started early doors outside Ripcor's dedicated clubhouse, AKA Loch Fyne in Ascot. Teams were sent off in waves to keep disruption on the roads to a minimum. Long flowing roads with a few climbs and multiple punctures lead to my group arriving at Newhaven last, but we made it in time for the ferry, which was our main worry. 

Day 2- Dieppe to Beauvais

Day 2, we compared shoes early on and set off from Dieppe loosely following an old railway line which runs straight into Beauvais. Long straight roads were our friends for the day, leading past fields of crop and animals. 

Occasionally met by small villages, farmer's shops, coffee stops and chateaus, there were plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the scenes around us. 

We arrived in Beauvais accompanied by yet more beautiful architecture and a great bar to prop up in until the rest of riders arrived. 

Day 3- Beauvais to Paris

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Our final day, the homeward stretch into Paris, the opportunity to celebrate Ripcor's 10 years with all groups riding the majority of the ride together, Teams leading out their strongest sprinters for the town sign sprints, regular coffee pauses and chats and banter all the way.

Coffee stops were frequent, in an attempt to extend our final glory day of riding into the French capital. a moment to mix up with people you may not have seen much on previous days. The roads into Paris became congested and busy, but the excitement levels were high. All 37 of us made it on one piece (just) to achieve a ride set out by the two founders 10 years ago.


Chapeau Ripcor 

Prudential Ride London 100

We agreed to ride it as a team. That was the plan.

On the 31st July a budding group of 4 Ripcor Riders were lined up at the start of the Prudential Ride London 100. We entered as a team through the British cycling scheme allowing affiliated clubs to enter a team to race together and aim for the best time.  

The Route; 100 miles of closed roads through London, into Surrey and back into the city finishing on The Mall outside Buckingham Palace.


The Elevation; There were a few major climbs, Leith Hill, Box Hill and Wimbledon Hill (chucked in at the end providing the main challenges over the 100 mile loop.

The Weather; Dry, slightly windy but warm. Much better than previous years with the 2013 rendition having the aftermath of a hurricane to deal with.

With thousands of riders taking part in what is known as the largest festival of cycling the roads, even though closed were busy with riders able to take up the full width. One major incident caused us to be delayed for roughly an hour and lead to a bit of impromptu cyclocross along a public footpath. 


Leith Hill is always a challenging climb but with this number of riders along the relatively narrow lane added to the need to keep your head sharp, similarly with Box Hill but things seemed more leisurely by that point for our team. 


We finished the 100 mile route in 5 hours dead, crossing the line next to eachother, a tremendous effort for all involved and great fun. We will be back next year!



Richmond 24: Cycling for 24 hours around London's Richmond Park

The big day came, and went. 24 hours around London's iconic Richmond Park. It was a mammoth challenge to ride for 24 hours around a 6 mile loop. 520km were covered, 4168m were climbed, and at least 143 chocolate bars 4 pizzas, countless waterbottles and hundreds of coffees were consumed.

Focus Challenge

In collaboration with Focus Bikes, 9 different cyclists were selected from a mix of backgrounds and disciplines to ride and race some of the German bicycle brand's bikes. As a fan of Focus already this became too good of an opportunity to turn down. Each rider has been setting their own personal #focuschallenge which you can follow through that hashtag.

The Bike:

Focus Izalco Max Disc:

Get ahead of the disc brake revolution, and your opposition, with the Focus Izalco Max Disc Dura Ace Road Bike 2016. A race ready disc equipped road bike, rather than just disc brakes added to an existing model, this is a showcase of German engineering at its very best.

The phenomenal Izalco Max P2T 10 Disc Carbon fibre frame weighs just 790 grams, with the Izalco Max P2T 10 Carbon T4 fork adding a mere 325 grams. Thanks to their revolutionary Rapid Axle Technology (RAT), this slight weight increase over the calliper version also comes with a stiffness increase. RAT gives the excellent strength and lateral stiffness of thru axles with the fastest wheel-change system ever.


The carbon fibre fork comes from one seamless piece gives superb lateral stiffness for performance, with the necessary shock absorption to remove the vibrations coming from the road to boost comfort. The tapered headtube adds stiffness. The lengthened chainstays additionally contribute to the handling.

Having worked with the AG2R La Mondiale team, Focus now individually designs each frame size so that all of them offer the perfect balance of stiffness to weight that their engineers desire. The professional touch continues with the internalisation of cable routing, with all the necessary space for electronic groupsets.

Superb quality is continued with the Shimano Dura Ace 9000 eleven speed parts. More carbon fibre is added by the FSA SL-K crankset that allows efficient power transfer. Weight is also saved with the inclusion of a stylish Fizik Cryano handlebars and exceptional Antares R5 Manganese saddle that is comfortable and pressure relieving.

Finally the DT Swiss R23 tubeless ready wheels offer you the snappy response you would want from this bike that is undeniably ready to race. Thankfully, should you just want it to rack of some fast miles of recreational riding, then the carbon seatpost adds another level of comfort to that already provided by the saddle and excellent frame design.