Silverstone 9 man Team TT

It was that time again.. 9 men, a race circuit, 3 laps. This time there was a very different goal. To win. I was asked to join the chaps at Spokes BPC (2016 winners of the 9man TTT) for what was going to be a painful 3 laps of Silverstone Circuit. 

9 man team made up of Spokes BPC sponsored riders and development team.

9 man team made up of Spokes BPC sponsored riders and development team.

Now we all know this probably is not something that sorts me perfectly. I have been training for endurance over what I would call a balls out hard effort for maybe 20 mins. The team had some real credentials, British Landspeed Record Holder, some very competitive crit, track and cyclocross pros and juniors. And me. Needless to say I was a bit nervous but we knew there was one objective for me, to get the team up to speed and firing all cylinders out of the start gate. Thanks to my Verve Infocrank we know I have a very good 5-30 second power which would be enough to get the team out the gate and up to speed and then attempt to hold on..

So the bike I chose to ride:

Focus Izalco Max Etap with Verve Infocrank and DT Swiss tubs

Focus Izalco Max Etap with Verve Infocrank and DT Swiss tubs

I opted to ride on my Focus Izalco MAX Etap, the lightest, fastest and most bad-ass bike I own. The bike is fitted with a Verve Infocrank with some big chain rings. Zipp finishing kit and a Fizik Antares carbon railed saddle. The wheels were borrowed by my friend Olly Bridgewood (Cycling Weekly Editor) which are a set of carbon DT Swiss Tubs.

We headed out, I did my job and managed to last about a lap and a half. The pace was obviously relentless. You are allowed to drop 4 men in the team and we did that, leaving the 4 strongest riders in the field for the last lap or so. The result was...

SECOND PLACE!

SECOND PLACE!

We managed 2nd place! Not quite 1st as last year but only just into second place. An incredible team performance all round!

#107for107

107 FOR 107: CYCLIST CHRIS HALL COMPLETES 11,550KM ENDURANCE RIDE

chris hall endurance cyclist 107

Taken from the press release for 107for107:  

Endurance cyclist Chris Hall has completed his mission to ride 107 kilometres every day for 107 days.

 Chris has cycled at least 107km each day since December 16th - battling snow, suspected food poisoning and brutal storms - and triumphantly crossed the finish line on his final ride at the Tour of Flanders sportive on April 1.

 A retail designer from East London and cycling’s answer to Forest Gump, Chris covered 12,674.6km in just over three months to raise awareness of a vital school called the Pace centre.

 Chris, 27, is no stranger to tough cycling challenges. Last summer he became the first person to cycle for 24 hours around London’s Richmond Park. This time he has gone even bigger - slogging it out for at least five hours on the bike every day alongside his full-time job.

 THE RULES

 The rules of the 107 for 107 challenge are simple. At least 107 kilometres must be ridden each day from December 16th 2016 until April 1st 2017 - rolling over distance to the next day is not allowed. There are no rest days. All distance must be covered on the road or a Wahoo smart turbo trainer due to their accuracy and ability to replicate road gradient. Rollers are not allowed. Official distance will be uploaded to Strava.

chris hall 107 time trialist

 THE REASON

 Pace is a school in Aylesbury, Bucks, dedicated to transforming the lives of children up to the age of 18 with motor disorders such as cerebral palsy. The charity is founded on the belief that every child has the ability to learn and make progress, whatever physical or sensory challenges they face.  A group of specialist teachers and therapists create programmes to support each of the 107 pupils and their families, helping them to unlock their potential.

 Chris explained: “I was first introduced to Pace through my cycling club, Ripcor. The club has been fundraising for the school for over ten years and some of the members have children who went there.

 “Each of the 107 children at Pace face daily challenges. Whether it’s waking up, getting to and from school or inside the classroom, every element of their day requires complex planning. But seeing what Pace enables them to achieve, it’s just incredible. I want to make more people aware that schools like this exist and that they need funding to keep going.

 “I knew I wanted take on an endurance challenge which also relies on careful daily planning. The number 107 has become special to me, I even wear it on my jersey. So riding for 107 days just seemed like a no-brainer!

 “Physically I was all over the place, mentally I was all over the place, but there was never really a doubt in my head about whether I’d be able to get up the next day and ride 107km again. I just told myself I haven’t got a choice.”

 Caroline Bennett, Head of Fundraising at Pace, said: “When we found out what Chris is doing we were just amazed. The school exists to give children with motor disorders the tools they need to develop communications skills, access their education and gain their independence. People like Chris are vital in helping us continue that work, through raising awareness and donations. We’re so honoured to have him supporting our children.”

 HOW DID HE DO IT?

 With only so many hours in the day, planning was key. The majority of Chris’ days usually began at 4.30am, when he headed out in and around London to start racking up kilometres before work. He then had to jump back on the bike after work and finish the distance - while somehow managing to fit sleeping, stretching and a whole lot of eating.

 Managing fatigue was a constant battle. Chris’ coach, Ken Buckley, was closely monitoring his daily heart rate, speed and power data to help him limit the effects of so much overtraining.

 Chris explained: “A big part of being able to do this challenge was having the right tools in place. Having good tech and good kit I could rely on day in, day out was essential.

 “But not getting a rest day was pretty brutal. It’s such a physical battle and Ken has been vital in helping to manage that. He could see when I’m getting tired, when I needed to hold back and helped me work out how best to manage the distance each day, so I had the best chance possible of completing it.”

 IT’S NOT BEEN AN EASY JOURNEY

 Chris has faced plenty of hurdles during the challenge - isolation, a severe sickness bug, not to mention the typically terrible British weather.

 He explained: “I’ve definitely had my low points. Those times when I’ve cycled through the rain and the snow, and freezing my fingers to the point I thought they were going to drop off. I was even out through Storm Doris! Having that headwind to battle was painful. I looked down and I was doing 500 watts and 15kph, it was pretty crippling.

 “On Day 39 I got so sick I couldn’t even leave the house. I’m pretty sure it was food poisoning. I had to stay off work and I was going between the bike and the toilet for two days. All I wanted to do is curl up in bed, but I knew I still had to get the distance done. It took me 9 hours to complete the distance on the turbo one day, I physically had no energy to turn the pedals.

 “It shows what a big mental battle this whole thing is. And getting through that was a stubbornness more than anything. It’s the worst my body’s ever felt. But I knew there couldn’t be many days worse than that, so knowing that I got through that was a sort of personal boost.

 “I also had to do a lot of riding on my own, and there were times when it felt isolating. One of the things getting me through this is the support from the cycling community, both friends and strangers. It’s been both amazing and humbling. Having random people show up to give me company out on rides, and sending encouraging messages online, it makes a big difference. It’s what makes the challenge doable for me.”

One of the biggest boosts for Chris came in his final week of the challenge, on day 103, when more than 60 riders turned up at London’s Regent’s Park at 7am to join him for laps.

 Chris, who had put a call out on social media for friends and strangers to join his his ride, was overwhelmed by the turn-out. He said: "When I turned up at the park and saw the huge group of people it was pretty surreal.

 "Obviously with so many miles to do, I was often riding alone and a lot of the time in the dark so that can be quite isolating. I guess when you're wrapped up in a challenge like this you end up a bit in your own bubble, not realising who is looking in.

"Seeing so many friends and strangers all show up to ride was so humbling. The company really has been priceless. It just goes to show the amazing camaraderie of the cycling community, I’m incredibly proud to be part of that."

Source: 107for107pacecentre

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

IMG_0870 (1).jpeg

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!