Wednesday, November 21, 2012

First 2012 VSF T900 Rohloff leaves shop

Pic 1 shows updated Rohloff shifter now with white numbering.
Pic 2 shows Hebie chainglider chainguard.
Pic 3 shows trademark red (Japanese made bell)and Magura HS 11 brakes.








Pic 4 shows you the fantastic Exal MX19 eyeletted rim.


Pic 5 shows the hydraulic brakes at rim positioning.
Pic shows Judi collecting her bike last weekend

























Pic 7 shows the whole bike in it's glory !! And finally pic 8 the work of art that is a Rohloff gearbox.



The first VSF T900 Rohloff 2012 has just left the shop. A customer from Henley-On-Thames has just become the lucky new owner.



The T900 is probably my favourite bike from the VSF range. I suppose that is for two reasons.






Firstly I have ridden this model much more than any other---it therefore suits one type of cycling that I choose to do---touring in hillyand mountaineous regions but with fairly decent road surfaces.





Secondly it is simply the fantastic quality of all the components and the frame.If you look at the testimonial page you will see at least one customer who feels the same.The Rohloff is the true heart of the machine and all other components such as the magura brakes, the MX19 double walled ,eyeletted rims with stainless spokes,the fantastic hub dynamoed standlight lighting system,tubus rack,sks mudguards,ergon grips,selle royale respiro saddle are all of similar quality..........you get the message ......this is max quality at a brilliant price.





Once you have spent the money you have a world class touring bike.





There are two main differences this year in terms of spec.Firstly the bike is now equipped with Magura HS11 brakes as opposed to HS33 last year. VSF assure me that quality and internal components are exactly the same in both models so the change makes sense for most cyclists as there is now a longer lever which for most will give better braking control.Secondly the Son hub dynamo has now been replaced with shimano model DH-3N80.



This bike is in the beautiful emerald green colour.




Price of bike 2199 euros. Times by 0.9 to get pound price.


























Saturday, October 20, 2012

Back from cycling Tenerife.Giant Defy versus TCR !

For anyone who has been trying to contact me over the last week I am back in action as normal again.
Duncan and I have been trying out Tenerife and it was fantastic cycling. Over 4 days we covered

250 miles
10000 plus metres of climbing
20000 plus calories burnt

We also managed to cycle up to the crater of Mt Teide 2300 metres from sea level three times from three different sides which was very satisfying but also very hard work.

The best thing of all was that Duncan excelled himself with the hotel this time. He found us a deal all inclusive for £20 per night. FANTASTIC !! As much food and drink as we could consume and a perfectly comfortable night's sleep to go with it !!

Bikes we took with us were Duncan's TCR Advanced SL running on Ultegra and I was trying out the new 2013 Defy Advanced 1 running on Ultegra.I was keen to see how the progression in frame design especially the larger headstock 11/4 to 11/2 would affect handling especially downhill cornering.I had been riding a TCR Advanced SL for the previous two years and was at one with the bike so really need to ride the Defy more to determine true differences. However any slight movement of the front end by you the rider is immediately picked up by the Defy and you are then settled very securely on your new course. Once your line is chosen the bike is really rock solid. In the Alps in July I had my TCR up to 58.5 mph and it was rock solid. Our top speed on this trip was only about 46 mph but the Defy was absolutely spot on stability wise.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Highlands Coast to Coast day 2 (Eventually ) !!






B&B with Marion


If you remember I had found a fantastic B&B in Invergarry. Marion had excelled herself with most comfortable accommodation and a super breakfast and all for £25.  I set off at about 9a.m with the Corrieyairack Pass paramount in my mind. Would there still be loads of snow up there? Would the eerie sounds of the lost piper announce themselves? Would I be strong enough to scale the heights ?






These thoughts soon left me as the body started working again and I approached the Caledonian Canal and cycled beside it to Fort Augustus.




















This is a lovely few miles-----perfectly flat of  Fort Augustus for some reason is a mecca for tourists ---mainly the type who drive and then exit the car to walk to a cafe and then go home and say they have been walking in the Highlands. It is selfishly quite satisfying to see this sort of behaviour but not brilliant in reality for the people who live like this.Last time I was here the staff in the very compact tourist information centre were extremely kind and helpful and this time they not only remembered me which was flattering but they also did me a great favour by charging up my Garmin and also my new friend the Go Pro Camera.  Thankyou !!


General Wade would not approve  !!


No point in hanging around any longer. Lets take a look at this pass and cycle up to and over it !!It was with trepidation and then disappointment as I approached the initial 10-15% climb. Modern man is here again and is preparing a road over the top of General Wades !! Sort of sacrilige really.....rather like taking down beautiful man made buildings which were constructed with skill ,sweat and tears and replacing them with breeze block and chipboard. Funny how we think we are advancing as humans.



I move on and see how bad this climb is. 3000' of supposed leg straining torture. It is steep and it is long and if you stick to the new road it eventually disappears and one realises how hard it is to push a bike through boggy, tussocky undergrowth with a steep incline.I saw a couple of backpackers and therefore located the path !! Embarassingly the climb was so steep that it was not much quicker than walking pace .......but I didn't get off !! At the top it was very, very cold and windy and snowing AND lots of snow on the ground. Great really !! I love these sort of conditions .......the photos of course never do justice !

Thursday, July 19, 2012

La Marmotte 2012





Here we go again. Same old story really.........the time has come and I realize that I have not really worked hard enough to complete this ride properly. 108 miles and 5500 metres in the day at altitude is somewhat different to cycling around the relatively flat areas surrounding Cambridge.

The plus side of all this is that we are a band of guys this year. 5 of us to be exact. Duncan is in fine form and determined quietly to do well after breaking his collar bone a week before the ride last year. John after being a national time trial champ in his younger days is edging his way back to proper fitness . Chris McCann at 61 is the old boy of the group in years but certainly much younger in terms of fitness and Nick has something to prove this year as it is third time lucky (hopefully ) for him this time...after mechanical problems have let him down on his two previous outings.This time he is taking it seriously ...having already been training in the Alps in May and clocking up huge mileages here in the U.K in the few weeks preceding la Marmotte.


On the Alpe D'Huez day before ride


So why are we all spending time and money travelling to the Alps for what is often called the worlds most difficult cycling sportif ? Same old answers really......it is there , why not do the best instead of all the rest,the stunning scenery and the chance to escape for a few days with a good group of guys who are great fun !!





This year we decided to take our own bikes which worked out well.The Bikeboxalan is a great way to carry your bike and you can throw all your kit in the box too.We flew to Lyon and took two hire cars for the trip to Bourg D'Oisans (took about 11/2 hours ). Duncan as usual had found us brilliant accommodation in Alpe D'Huez and once settled in we whizzed down to sign in and pick up our chips for the next day.







waiting for the off !

The race starts early so we were up at 6a.m next morning. Did our best to get as much food in as possible ... much easier for some than others !!One of the worst parts of the day is the 10km descent from the Alpe down to the start in Bourg. It is SOOOO cold and by the time you reach the bottom you are shivering and really, really cold. Problems on the descent this time as like a gunshot Duncan's front tyre exploded and there was nothing for it but to flag down a car and get a lift to a bike shop below for a replacement. We managed this and I didn't realize that whilst I was waiting for him at the start he had already set off.....tyre replaced and out of the back door of the shop ---leapfrogging to the front !!!



The other guys had already started but I set off at 8.15 a.m determined this time to finish the ride ,but also quietly hoping for a gold medal. This for my age group was a time of 9hrs 6mins.It would mean no stopping other than at feed stations to throw food and drink into my body.I know the route now which really is a help...I knew that even if really tired at the top of the Telegraphe or Galibier the secret is to keep going and recover as you hit the descents on the other sides.





On the way up to the Col du Glandon
This year I really enjoyed the 23km climb to the top of the Col du Glandon at 1924 meters. The sun is not up fully and the scenery is spectacular. Bumped into Duncan at the top and after a quick chat we were off again. Later I found out that he had suffered yet another puncture on the descent.. poor thing. The descent of the Glandon is not timed as this is where the really bad and fatal accidents occur so the idea is to slow things down by not timing the descent !! That said it is a tremendous downhill whizz and if you love travelling fast on a bike you still go for it......some things are either in your blood or they are not.  As things level out you find yourself in the town of Ste Marie de Cuines from where there is a long haul in sun and wind to the base of the climb up to the Telegraphe.I knew that the secret here as I mentioned in my blog last year is to selfishly stay within a group and not allow yourself to be persuaded to take the lead. Idiot that I am, I ended up on the front once, to lead a rather attractive French woman up to the peloton ahead of us (it is a problem being a man sometimes even at my age !! ) At least she said merci !!



Still on the way up to the Glandon !
Climbing up the Telegraphe was fine this year too. I was without doubt fitter than last year but I still didn't know how hard to push so was keeping well within my comfort zone . Top of the Telegraphe was at 1566 metres and I kept to my word and did not stop......gliding over the top and descending rapidly towards the lovely resort of Valloire...again !!


The ascent of the Glandon starts pretty much as you leave Valloire... but gradually at first. Still feeling good to be honest until the real hard part of the Galibier ascent starts at Plan lachat.You have been climbing but then things ramp up to 8-10% just as you are starting to feel the days ride !! Worse still ... as it ramps up you can steal glimpses of the hairpins snaking towards the summit and the snowline. You think you will never reach that summit which at 2646 meters is pretty high actually....at least coming from the flats of Cambridgeshire !!

Not stopping as I teetered over the Galibier I came to life again as another awesome descent presents itself. The adrenaline kicks in and the race down to the Col du Lauteret at 2058 metres begins .......fantastic. At the Col there is a right turn sending you onwards and downwards along beautiful sweeping bends ,through long tunnels (some lit and some unlit) and as I said last year beautiful views up to the glaciers of Girose,Meije and Tabuchet.

Things level out about 5 miles out of Bourg and time again to hitch a peloton ride !! but soon you are at the feed station before the ascent of the Alpe. Really couldn't stop for long as at this stage I knew my timing was good.  Turning that first corner and being presented with the first of the 10% climbs was physically shocking as it was last year. At that point I realized this final climb would take longer than I would want !! There are 21 hairpins on the Alpe and the first 4 or 5 are brutally steep. I lost time here and eventually came in at 9.22 which at 16 mins off gold time was better than last year ..... but guess what I still need that gold so if luck and good health bless me for another year I will be back for it. The aim is to train with more vengeance this year !!!!!

Back to the others.......the good news is that we all finished which was great. Duncan came in with our best time at 9.13. We were all pleased with our results and had enough energy to go out for meal and beers in the evening !!!

The next day Duncan and I did another ride which took us to the base of the Alpe again . He shot up it and I managed it 30mins quicker than the day before. Showed me that longer rides with some interval training would really help me fitness wise !!






Mileage 108 miles

Total ascent 6662 metres

Total descent 5526 metres

Calories burnt 10331

Maximum speed 58.5 mph

Time for ride 9hrs 22 mins.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Highlands Coast to Coast -----Mark 2 !! Day 1
































Off again. At least I know where I am going this time--well for the first day or so ! 9.30 train out of Inverness(sitting on the right side of the train this time for best views). Lovely ride as usual arriving approx 2 1/2 hours later in Kyle of Lochalsh. Pouring with rain on arrival just like last time---so took a few minutes to make sure waterproofing was all in place ---including the Ergon rucksack. Took quick look to the Skye bridge again and another look towards that beautiful area of Torridon and the only Alpine cycle climb in the U.K ---the Beallach Na Ba which finishes in the small dwelling at Applecross-----and then we're off again. 17 miles of road until the true start of the ride at Ratagan.It really didn't seem 6 months since I was last here-----seemed like yesterday. Soon arrived at Ratagan and immediately confronted with the first climb of the trip--the 1100 ft climb over Bealach Ratagain. Really steep in parts and at points the Garmin went off the scale when at 20% so not sure what the steepest part would have been. Anyway just grind up that one. Picture of me again at the top with 5 sisters again behind me (this time in cloud ).









Great downhill all the way into Glenelg where we meet the coast again on the shores of LochHourn ,Scotlands most inaccessible and spectacular sea loch.There was a little more life here this time . Previously there was a hailstorm as I passed through. This time the sun was trying to poke through the clouds and it wasn't raining anymore !!Blessings.I saw a sign "Cafe" and had a quick peep inside. Perfect ! Really neat and tidy and local people having snacks and lunch. I was pretty hungry so demolished fried egg and well done bacon roll ( Do you like the detail ?!! ) followed by chips and tomato sauce of course ,can of coke and finally carrot cake and coffee. Refuelled I soon regretted my greediness as it is really hilly and undulating through to Arnisdale.



Arnisdale was beautiful today. The sun was shining and it really looked like paradise looking west over Loch Hourn to Skye and looking east 2000ft mountains loom up at you all over the place. That is where I am heading .It is initially a gentle ride up Glen Arnisdale until it ramps right up and it really is hard even to push the bike. All the time I am thinking of water as the river looks high. I had recognized a lady from last time and she had also recognised me ( I was very flattered to have been noticed at all as a middle aged man !!)and I had asked her about water levels. She said that levels had dropped in the last day or so ---fording the river on the top of the pass should be o.k. I was still nervous as the river was thundering and full of peaty white water as you can see from the pic. No way I was getting into that !! Luckily once I reached the crossing point it was no worse than last time. Just under thigh deep but still forceful.



Once that little obstacle was over it was still hard riding to reach Kinloch Hourn. This pass seems (well does actually) to take a long time. It is hard work but the scenery and desolation out here is truly stunning. This is really getting away from it all !! People don't seem to hang around these parts.Pic with me in blue waterproof is in the middle of it. One other pic looks back to Loch Hourn and then the slightly hazy pic is at Kinloch Hourn.



This is not the end of the day's cycling. There is still 17 miles ( first 3 uphill as I was so gleefully informed by someone in darkness last time ) until the Tomdoun Hotel. It would have been great to stay here again but it has somewhat upsettingly shut through lack of business. This meant a further 20 miles to Invergarry. This would be fine so long as I could make the 8.30 shut off time for food at the local hotel !!! Time to get my skates on again !


The first 3 miles out of Kinloch Hourn are hard work--it is all uphill and steep too. Once over this climb the ride to the Tomdoun Hotel and onto Invergarry is a real pleasure. Cycling along the banks of Loch Quoich and then Loch Garry is undulating but somehow one can keep up a real good pace. I have never seen so many deer as along this section. It is a popular area for them !



Rolled up at the hotel in Invergarry 10 mins late but the mostly Polish staff were very kind and knocked up some soup for me.I then asked the price of B&B and wasn't surprised when they tossed back a figure of £100 at me.




"Sorry but not in my ball park " I said. " Do you maybe know of anyone needing a bit of extra money but not too expensive running a B&B around here"



"Oh Yes ! Marion across the river over there in that white cottage"The kind Polish girl offered to phone the lady for me and when I heard the words "Yes " and "£25 " I was satisfied and made my way round to Marion's and had a veeery warm welcome and a fantastic night's sleep !!



So endeth the first day !



Garmin read out


68 miles.


4316 calories


1626 metres up


1596 metres down


Ride time 6hrs 7 mins.






































































Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hub geared bikes.

One of my aims on going to Eurobike this year was to make sure that over the coming year and into the future my shop will be able to provide the most comprehensive range of hub geared bikes in the area ---I mean beyond Cambridge.

I will be having and already have the following selection of hub gears on bikes

Shimano 3 speed .
Shimano 7 speed .
Shimano 8 speed .
Shimano 8 speed premium.
Shimano Alfine 8 speed.
Shimano 11 speed Alfine.

Sram 3 speed
Sram 7 speed
Sram dual drive system.

Rohloff 14 speed

Come and ride a Rohloff or Alfine 11 speed or shimano 8 speed in normal/premium or alfine versions !! Come and try the dual drive system too.

Most shops do not even stock bikes like I do let alone let you ride them. This is my expertise and my passion. Come and take advantage of my passion and expertise !!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

VSF Fahrrad T Belt.





A star of the range.The T belt is now running with the new 11 speed alfine gearbox and this year has a factory fitted chainguard which was lacking last year.What can I say about this bike which is totally silent and which has such superior build quality (as do all bikes in the range.)It is an amazing bike.I will have one in stock so come and take a look and a ride.



Colour is slate and really suits the bike.These bikes have proved very popular-----another one leaving the shop today !!






So far this year the T Belt has been my most popular bike.The bike will not disappoint.






Friday, May 25, 2012

Highlands Coast to Coast -----Mark 2 !!

In October I set off to cross the Highlands from Ratagan (17 miles from Kyle of Lochalsh just to the east of the Isle of Skye ) to Montrose on the east coast(in between Aberdeen and Dundee).Total distance approx 250 miles.

I had no idea what sort of terrain to expect and took a rigid older mountain bike with rack and panniers . ( laughing to myself at thought of it now ). I managed to cross west to east ending just south of Montrose at Carnoustie (golfing territory ) where the rear wheel finally exploded.The kit was totally inappropriate !!

So back to try again. Let me explain -----this is a ride which literally goes across the Highlands .It does not follow tarmac( ( although there is of course tarmac riding in some parts) for easy ways out.It goes west to east over four mountain passes and it is up to you and your equipment as to whether you can do it or not. Just the sort of thing I personally LOVE. Brutal terrain and brutal conditions at times --even in May.

LOGISTICS
As before Inverness is the hub from which you set off . It is the centre from which most of the fantastic rides up here are accessible.Train up to Inverness from Cambridge is a joy.Leave 11a.m and arrive Inverness approx 8.30p.m (Yes it is a long way up ). Normally change Peterborough and York. When you book tickets make sure you book your bike on as well and then things run really smoothly.
From Inverness following morning take the fantastic train ride from Inverness to Kyle of Loch Alsh. Departs 9a.m and arrives approx two and a half hours later. You get an idea as you travel --the sort of terrain and desolation you will be dealing with on this trip. The vastness and unforgiving nature of this area does send shivers down your spine.Fantastic !!! especially when you realize you are in it alone ------once on route you rarely see people.

Once in Lochalsh take a look at the Skye bridge and long for the Cuillin Hills and maybe a glance towards the awesome region to the north which holds the only Alpine cycle climb in the British Isles (The Beallach Na Ba ) and the almost mythical Torridon (for photos of this landscape look up Steve Carter on the internet ) and then get going !! You will have a long and hard ride if you are to get to Invergarry in the day !!

Getting home from Montrose is no probs as the station is on the main East coast line and will take you non stop to London Kings Cross if you desire !!

ACCOMMODATION

O.K this is where I have gone a little soft !! Recently I have realized that staying in Youth hostels or any sort of hostel is not the way to go. It used to make sense when one was younger---they were considerably cheaper and this factor would outweigh the awful idea of dormitory bedding down (had 8 years of that at boarding school with a little chair beside my bed !! ) and the certainty of hearing at least one person snoring or even worse another one starting up with them to almost create an orchestra. These days are past and it makes sense to stay in B&B's almost without doubt.

Let me give you an example or two. The hostel in Inverness will charge you the same amount for a room on your own (miserable one too ) as the lovely B&B I stayed at. Invergarry was the same . On the same road there is a hostel offering nothing but a bed charging £20. 100 metres away is a lovely Scots lady called Marion offering B&B with your own bathroom and lovely breakfast for £25 !!! Make your own choice but heed my advice !!

The other great thing with B&B is that they have towels and soap etc so you need not carry these extras. Infact I carry only a toothbrush and toothpaste.In Montrose the B&B actually had a shaving kit so that was brilliant as I could remove my mini beard before entering" society" boo hoo again.

BICYCLE
This fascination of mine with the Scottish Highlands started (bicycle wise )when a customer gave me a book written by MTB pro. This trip was the subject of the book. Anyway one of the things I quite liked was that they say you can do this trip on pretty much any bike. To quote (after providing good advice on the ideal) they say "any clunker of a MTB will do ". O.K this book was written in 1995 when perhaps men were hardier ( but not as hardy as the men in tweeds from the turn of the last century !!)

Forget that bit of their book. Take my word for it -----to complete this ride you need at least front suspension and I would say ideally a proper dual suspension machine (where you can lock out your suspension units). Also vital is disc braking. If you run with rim brakes as I did last time you may well have a destroyed rim by the end or before. The other thing about braking is that there are many fords and depending on water levels lots of rivers to cross some of which can be knee to thigh deep and disc brakes are perfect for this sort of terrain.
I took a Giant Anthem 4 which was faultless. I can now see why these bikes exist -----it is only when you take them into terrain for which they were developed that you can understand why they are as they are !!! The bike took a pounding, a real pounding but it took it !! Awesome. I was treating it like my friend the longer we rode together. It was sort of like my horse and without it in areas like Mt Keen and Arnisdale it would have been tricky at times .

Remember that major problems with your bike in this sort of area is trip over and potentially real problems actually coming out of the environment per se so go with a really good quality machine.

GEAR
Most important words here are LIGHT and MINIMAL. I chose to ride with an Ergon rucksack designed for cycling where 80% of the weight is carried on the hips . The other great thing about this bag is that the frame and main body move independently of each other which means you hardly notice the weight on your back. 25 litre capacity but was never full. 5 days away with very minimal kit. I was pleased with that.The most important things are your waterproofs as you will have days of continual rainfall and if you are cycling from 9a.m until 8p.m as I was you need to be as comfortable as you can be.I ran with Altura Attack X waterproofing and as usual it did not let me down. No water in and as breathable as you can get. For me personally perfect. Overshoes are vital. You need heavy neoprene variety --mine were Pro and down to -15. You will struggle to do the trip without these as your feet are continually wet for the whole ride because of continual river crossing.The neoprene acts as a wetsuit does --keeping that water by your skin warm if not dry. Cycle without these at your peril.
Obviously warm and waterproof gloves which ideally fit over your cycling mitts and a skull cap to fit under your helmet are also essential. You set off in May thinking maybe I won't need these but YOU WILL !! Don't underestimate the conditions you may and almost certainly will meet.Although on the world map the Highlands are minor mountains they can be and often are ( even in May )as bleak as Arctic tundra.When you add altitude and wind into the equation you are talking serious weather conditions. For example the difference in temp between Fort Augustus and the top of the Corrieyairack Pass at 2500 feet on a clear calm day is about 7 degrees.Add in another -10 degrees in the inevitable fresh gusty breeze which is always up there and you are talking !! Can easily be -14 up there even at this time of year. This pass is officially classed as Arctic between Nov and March.

Clothing wise take very little. You need something to change into at the end of the day and if this can also be something you can sleep in then all well and good. I took a merino wool base layer ,pair of lightweight trousers and two fleeces ,spare pair of socks and underpants. Don't be tempted to go with any more -----you have to carry it.So at this time of year I was cycling with my Altura bib tights which were brilliant as usual (mini wetsuit in rivers) altura long sleeved thermal base layer and windproof top.On top of these for 90% of the time were my waterproofs of course as there were very few dry periods on this ride. Shoe wise running with MTB shoes with spd but dual sided pedals. You do not want to be clipped in when skirting round Mt Keen or hairing down 2500 feet from the top of the Corrieyairack pass (This tremendous descent alone made the whole trip worthwhile !! )

EXTRAS
I took an Altura seat post pack with me which proved invaluable for storing my tools and spare tubes and other bits and bobs. Really good idea I think to have one of these. You don't notice the weight and means you don't have to keep taking your rucksack off for things you may need throughout the day.One bottle with water in and always topped up at each stop.

Gadgetry-----I am lucky I suppose in that if I want to use a great bit of kit I just use it. So I had my Garmin 800 which was invaluable in terms of read out for trip but also for navigation.In complete white out on Mt Keen with no visibility and almost losing path because of snow depth garmin was showing due south and I knew that was the course I needed.Another friend on the ride.

My new toy on this trip was the Go Pro Hero2 video camera. Fantastic. The video footage was great and really brings back the parts of the journey that I filmed.

NAVIGATION
One word of importance. This ride has no waymarking at all. You will need to rely on yourself and your ability to navigate at many times over the course of the ride. The most tricky parts will inevitably occur in bad weather, when you are tired and in the middle of this vast area knowing there will be no one to help you. If you can not navigate this may not be the ride to take on especially if going alone.One stipulation was that I was to phone each evening into command centre (My Dad) --to let him know I was safe!!

I hope this has been of help if you decide to do the ride. It will no matter what trips you have done previously go down as unforgettable. The scenery is truly awesome and vast ( the Caingorms and Grampian Mountain ranges alone are home to over 25% of Britain's endangered species ) and you realize how insignificant we each of us really are!! You know how it is -----the modern world can have a way of letting people get above their station. In these environments you surely are humbled--- a very important place for humans to be in sometimes. The striving for wealth and material belongings is a truly crippled way to live I am afraid. It takes a lot more guts and belief in your self NOT to keep up with the Jones's than to do it .Remember that one needs balance in life.

Will provide a day to day report of the ride ---------

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Escaping to the mountains of Majorca again

Pics L>R
1 View of mountains from Palma. 2. Great sunset up by lakes. 3 Plaza in Soller.4 One of a trio of walking companions!5 6 7 Sa Calobra. 8 By the tunnel at Puig Major.



































Winter can be pretty dismal in the U.K at this time of year so I will be off to Majorca again . I will be spending New Years Eve in the square in Soller ( probably taking part in traditional grape eating festivities !!! ) and then heading off on some of my favourite rides in the western mountains. I plan to take the climb out of Soller up towards Puig Major and up and down Sa Calobra again.

I also intend to head further south to Deia and Valldemossa and several other climbs such as the twisty road up to the Col de Soller and into Bunyola...

I will do a blog on the rides on my return. O.k here goes------










Arrived in Palma on the 30th and sun was shining with blue sky. Wow to think that only hours before I had been in dismal, grey U.K. We had a fantastic lunch by the sea on the south of the Island and then after a great walk to clear the cobwebs. Back to the car to find broken window and rucksack gone. Luckily only cards and incidentals disappeared -----I hope they enjoyed my cheese and pickle sandwiches though !




After a night in Palma which is a lovely place ( when you know where to go ) and feels very safe walking around at night time, headed off to Soller .This was fun because we had left the car to be repaired, so borrowed another friends old Peugeout. If any of you have seen the Bourne Identity it was a bit like that (the Mini scene) !Anyway the old diesel had next to no clutch so we would without a doubt take the tunnel through to Soller and avoid the enjoyable hairpins up and over the col de Soller !Soller is a beautiful old town with cobbled streets linking up beautiful 3 and 4 storey houses with the Plaza in the centre as the main focal point .With it's restored Victorian tram line still transporting people back and forth to the Port of Soller and the backdrop of the mountains on three sides it really is a magical place !!



Once you open the big solid wooden door of my friend's house you are taken aback as these rather austere old houses- which look so unfriendly and cold from the outside- become beautiful and frankly luxurious living quarters. Lovely !



Regarding cycling-------It would have been rude to cycle everyday so I did a full on two days of cycling interspersed with some amazing mountain walks which were just as much fun !!



The first ride was from Soller up to Puig Major so a climb of over 1000 meters over about 10 miles.I have been down this before but never up and it is a super climb with great road surfaces which have even been improved upon since last year (particularly the road from Pollenca up to the Monastery of Luc). From the tunnel I cycled past the lakes and on to the Col de Reis and then of course one of my favourite rides was coming up-------descent to and ascent from Sa Calobra. Fantastic again ------sunshine, blue sky, warm and no other cyclists all day apart from one. Sorry !! ------you should all go !!!



The climb up from Sa Calobra was as usual fantastic------yes the cycling was great but also admiring the engineering feat too.The day was a public holiday so having set off with no drinks -thinking as usual that I could pull in for something en route-there were no cafes or shops open.So apart from a coke at Sa calobra I was pretty parched.Probably because of lack of fluid I found the climb back to the tunnel quite hard and it is always pretty cold up there too--reasonably high. The whizz down to Soller was of course over in a flash and as exhilarating as usual at speeds of 45-65kms/hr.



So cycling day was approx 82 kms and really enjoyable.



Day 2 I decided to cycle south to Deia , Valdemossa with a descent and ascent to and from Bunyolbufar. From there headed back into the hinterland through Esporles to join the main road running from Palma to Soller. This is a long straight road but traffic is generally very sympathetic to cyclists------lets face it in the season lots of money comes to the Island from people like us.



The reason I had come this way was so that I could climb up the Col de Soller which once again I have been down but not up. Lovely hairpins and views back to Palma. Not high at about 565 meters but really pleasant. From the top (Cafe owned by English guy shut too ) fairly rapid descent to Soller.I was feeling really good and had just over 11/2 hours left before agreeing I would be back !! So shot back up to Puig Major and down again. This ride was approx 120kms so a really good days ride .

Hope you enjoyed the read...................