BCC took 7 members and 3 friends to Majorca from the 8th to the 12th April, staying in the north of the island at the Hoposa Villa Concha Hotel, in the town of Port de Pollensa. Tan lines have been sharpened in glorious sunshine, 20-25C for all 5 days, whilst tackling classic routes such as Sa Colabra, the climb to the Lluc Monastery and the run out to the lighthouse on Cap De Formentor. It would have been a truly amazing training camp if we hadn't dented all of the good work with far too much of the excellent local wine and copious amounts of paella but how could we resist? Tales of extreme speed on the many smooth, beautifully tarmac'd descents can be verified on Strava (!!)
Sunday 31st May saw the club take part in the annual Chiltern 100. A wet and windy day in the Chilterns. My second year of completing the Chiltern Hundred Grand Fondo (110 miles) and it did not disappoint in terms of a challenge. Unforunately not as pleasant on the weather front this year and with a number of punctures this year was definitely a hard slog. It would seem that even with a couple of practise rides under the belt at around the 90 mile mark in the run up, this year's ride was as brutal as they come. However, in spite of the conditions and numerous hills (up, down, up down) it was still a great experience. If you want to challenge your body and mind in a day, this is the ride to complete for all medium/competent riders. Riding with a number of the guys from BCC certainly made this a more enjoyable experience and I will be back there again next year at the starting line. DU
Stage 19 of this year’s Tour De France was the route for the 2015 Etape Du Tour. Vincenzo Nibali from the Astana Pro Team won the stage in 4:22:53. The fastest from Beaconsfield Cycling Club was over double that time (just) and the slowest had the broom wagon in view more than once.
After contending with Operation Stack in Kent, a very long drive to Grenoble, a drive of the route the day before the race, a van that broke down when we should have been resting and a 04:00 start on race day it was almost a pleasure to be on the start line with 15,000 other riders.
16 of us set off at various start times with our own plans to conquer the 138km route of which 61km was uphill, 45km downhill and a short 28km ‘flat’ section. Weather was forecast to be thunder and lightning on top of Croix De Fer but turned out to be dry and sunny with the temperature passing 40 degrees. With no warm up the first climb started at kilometre 2 and was a ‘short’ 15km. A quick technical descent and the main 22km climb to the top of the Glandon was next and once above the tree line it became steep and very hot. The fight to get a drink or some food at the top didn’t help though many didn’t even make it that far. Many riders were already walking or holding their head in their hands at the side of the road.
The descents while much less of an effort than the climbs were by no means easy. It takes concentration to handle a bike on alpine bends at 40mph and the physical effort of braking is tiring. The race finished on top of a mountain with the final 18km to La Toussire. This proved to be a difficult challenge for most and all by then were suffering in some capacity. For me the race plan went extremely well until roughly 10km before the end when I suffered cramp for the first time on a bike. Suffice to say the last 10km took me nearly three hours and was agonising. Not as agonising as the poor chap I saw 1km from the finish suddenly get cramp, fall off and roll down a small cliff!
Well done to all of those that completed the ride. Before you ask me if I would do it again make certain I have had a beer or two beforehand. - Alister
Wow, that was an epic trip! I think we learned a few lessons along the way, one of which was that after the second day of nearly 100 miles, it doesn't get any sorer or harder. It actually gets easier!
We left very early on Thursday morning on the Chiltern Flyer, embarking in darkness, then cycling to the start point at the Mayor’s Office. Bit of faffing around and we were off - at about 10 o’clock! Fast cycle through south London and brief excursion on the A20 to liven things up a bit. Well placed stops ensured we had the right nutrition to maintain a good pace approaching 14 mph once out of the city. No difficulties in getting to Folkestone, then the fun began. The route from Folkestone to Dover was not clear, but we worked it out having circled folksiness many cliff based hills. Then a quick shower, a Guiness (not necessarily that order) and it was off to catch the Ferry to Calais.
Next day a quick breakfast led to a faster departure but with expectation of rain. It also became clear there was a pretty vicious headwind. No matter - it is what it is - I think the RULES say ‘harden the F**k up’ - so we did. Then the rain really started. TORRENTIAL. Well, once wet, you can’t get any wetter though it did feel a bit like being water boarded while cycling. By the time we had done 50 of our expected 100 miles it was time for lunch. We found a great bar/cafe and had some lunch. Whereby our second lesson is learned: driving headwinds and torrential rain could lead to extreme depression if not counteracted by a combination of gallows humour and kind French cafe/bar owners called Claudia with warm towels and fantastic chocolat chaud and croque monsieur. The rest of the day went well, good speed, checked into hotel, dinner and bed.
Day three and the run into Paris - great excitement - less headwind, no rain forecast and I (Craig) will see Nina and the kids who will be waiting for me at the Eiffel tower. Feeling great we make good progress and good speed - by this time we have managed to really organise ourselves into a travelling pellets thingy and we are motoring. Then we hit the outskirts of Paris. Traffic and congestion and a certain lack of precision around our route slows us down and it takes two hours to navigate into the Tower - which given its height is remarkably invisible…
…and then we’re there!
Commence celebrations - few bad heads in the morning but after a good breakfast we were ready to take on Paris. Renting a couple of Parisian ‘Boris Bikes’ to head over to the Arc de Triomphe turned out to be an adventure. Having safely traversed 290 miles of roadway way enter the suicidal ring of madness that surrounds the Arc. David shouts to me ‘close your eyes, it’ll be fine’ and miraculously it was. Then the police moved us on! Time to head back to blighty...
Good bunch of people to ride with and altogether a very sociable challenge. A Fantastic three days in all and I would definitely do it again. Highlights - cycling out though South London - complete chaos - and into North Paris - even more chaos, beating loads of others up hills - and there were plenty of them. BCC Saturday training did the trick - Simon, all is forgiven re your insatiable appetite to choose every hill en route to any destination.
Craig and David
A small group of intrepid cycling explorers ventured beyond the normal routes that start and end in Beaconsfield. Destination Cotswolds, a range of roiling hills that rises from the meadows of the upper Thames to an escarpment known as the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale.
Start Burford. End Burford. In between a 65 mile loop of beautiful countryside, fantastic views, glorious sunshine and some healthy banter.
Grant proposed the route. The Cotswolds are roughly 25 miles across and 90 miles long - it probably should not have come as a surprise that heading west we fell off the Edge on occasion and had to cycle back up. Our route took in more of the Cotswold Edge than the gentle rise. Great fun though, you never feel accomplishment unless it's not a challenge, right?
We survived and enjoyed a well-deserved pub lunch and thirst quenching drink. Thanks for sorting that out Simon, Thoroughly deserved nourishment. I would encourage you all at the club to venture further afield and face new challenges - in the English sunshine it doesn't get much better. Arelis
Saturday 26th August, for me the culmination of 6 months’ worth of training, after Ironman France last year where I lost too much muscle trying to lose weight and suffered on the bike, I went into this block determined not to make the same mistakes again…cue 207k of Swimming, 4200k of Cyclng and 650k worth of running! Much more road cycling this year thanks to BCC! Mallorca as many of you know is a beautiful Island and we spent a few days in our house in Santa Ponsa before making the short 40 minute drive across the island to Alcudia.
Swimming has always been my strong discipline so I lined up to do the 3.8k swim just behind the pros and in the sub 60 min pen, wetsuits were optional but most wore one as it does give and advantage, I did as well but would have much preferred without, it was very warm! Swim went well and despite the full on straight arm punch in the nose at the first turn buoy and the distance being more like 4k, I exited in 1.02, ahead of some of the pro women.
A quick run through transition and onto the bike, feeling great and conscious not to burn too many matches, settled into a 35kph tickover, eating and drinking when my Garmin bleeped. 110k came around in 2hrs 45 mins, going great and thinking that a 5.45 split was in reach. At which point the wheels fell off, something wasn’t right, I couldn’t get the power down, if I tried to coast, the speed dropped like a stone and my glutes were on fire. I stopped and checked the bike, seemed ok but then into the big climb of the day…8k at 8% up to Lluc! I’d been looking forward to this after enjoying many a hill on a BCC ride but this was the hardest I’d ever done and streams of other cyclist flew past me. The descent couldn’t come quick enough and although fun with speed over 70kph, the bike was squeaking and protesting…..final 60k was just a slog but manged a 6.18 split.
After last year 4.23 marathon at IM France, I was secretly hoping for somewhere around 4hrs to give me and overall of 11.30…oh dear oh dear……from the off it was more a shuffle than a run with stomach cramps and 10k into it, I thought ‘what’s the point’? But shuffle on I did…one foot in front of the other, 4.5 laps of circa 10k a lap, at the end of each lap you get a wrist band..so the whole run is then spent looking at everyone else’s wrist…cue band envy!!!
Finally the last lap loomed and as if by magic, my legs started to work and I actually felt good. An Ironman finish shoot is one of life’s great experiences…typical American razzmatazz, what feels like thousands of screaming supporters….I managed to spot my wife and grabbed her and gave her a big sweaty hug to then continue running across the line the with the words ‘Matt Conrad-Jones…you are an IRONMAN’.
Overall I finished in 12.47 which was/ am desperately disappointed with! Lessons learnt.. Don’t put new tyres on in the final week, especially if you change size from 23 to 25….this means that despite adjusting the drop outs, they wind themselves back in and you spend 60k with the tyre rubbing against the frame!
Will I do it again…of course I will…roll on 2016!!!.........Matt (Is this picture before or after the race?!!!)
Majorca February 2016
Day 1 - I have been on a few “foreign tours” in the past but I wasn't really sure what to expect on this trip. A very early flight to Palma, a slick pickup by Natalie and Matt our hosts and a half hour drive to the villa which would be our base for the next 5 days. Then off to collect the bikes, a mixture of Canyon’s and Cube’s. Really high quality kit with both Ultegra and Dura-Ace in mechanical and electronic form. After a game of “Hunt the helmet” we set off for a 51Km leg flush into the hills north west of Palma with 962 meters of climbing. A nice day with a whisper of winter’s crispness in the air.
Day 2 started a bit rainy but soon cleared. An 83Km ride out with 2716 meters of climbing. A really nice lunch in a cafe that was not at all fazed by 16 hungry cyclists arriving simultaneously, guess they are used to it by now. The wind was blowing after lunch which required the windproof jacket. Another climb then back to the house to a massive Paella which had been cooked by Matt.
Day 3 dawned bright, no rain and everyone was anticipating and relishing the day ahead. This was the big one. Sa Calobra ! It’s been a few years since I’ve ridden a rock like this and I will admit I was a little, (Little! who am I kidding) worried. Happily, we all boarded a minibus with a purpose built trailer then off up the motorway and after a longish climb to the cafe which signals the 2.5km climb BEFORE you get to the top of Sa Calobra.
Then off downhill for 10 Km to the bottom of the climb, only one way up and down this hill. I really, no really, enjoyed the return climb. Rob the elder and I matching each other’s pedal stroke, for pedal stroke. Then off up yet another hill, Puig Major through the Tunel de Monnerber until the promised 20Km descent to lunch in Soller. Talk about perfect, the surface of the road was truly wonderful, British councils take note. I was truly inspired to see some real tour riders being paced UP ! the hill behind a motor scooter. Beautiful villages and for me a personal voyage of discovery. The “Casa De Robert Graves”. Robert was an Irish poet and writer who was close friends of Spike Milligan, A personal hero of mine. One of Spikes books mentions staying at Robert home as does Roberts book mentioning when Spike came to stay. That must have been fun. The sun was sinking fast as we raced (Ish) back to the house. A brilliant day on the bike.
Day 4 dawned somewhat cloudy and a “Gentle leg stretcher” along the coast to Palma. Raining off and on but nothing to write home about. Palma must be the biggest harbour for pleasure boats I have seen since Monaco. Some real monsters, Gin Palace really doesn’t cut it. Great cafe on the key.
Day 5 and a swift 53 km,1000 meter ride over to St Elm. And the first of the day’s punctures. Rob the younger with the first and Alister with the second, which he had to fix in a strong wind and the odd burst of hail. Then back up the hill in brightening sunshine and a dash back to the house. During another repair it had warmed up enough to lose the rain jackets and we sped back to the house all sporting the BCC Pink. Funny thing, as we sped along in perfect 2x2 formation a guy was videoing us as we rode home. Fame at last, guess we looked like a pro team. PB
BCC's first winner!
“I took part in the Windsor duathlon series on Sunday, and raced in the sprintedition, which was the medium distance. The race started with a 5km run where I had a strong start and ran straight into 3rd place where I felt reasonably comfortable and was keeping in close contact with 1st place. The next part was the transition from run to bike, where I was not too swift and unfortunately lost my place and found myself all the way down to 5th place. The 20k bike was next and feeling quite apprehensive I rode the first 5k quite conservatively and I was passed by an extremely strong and fast rider who went on to win the race with an average speed of 27.5mph, after being passed by this man I felt that I should pick up the pace so the next 15k were much faster and I managed to fight to second place with an average speed of 25mph. The second Transition was by far the hardest where I took more than a whole minute and I lost one place so I was now in third. The second run was tough and it was clear that I had not done enough cross training, but I ran it pretty well and I lost one more place and finished the race in 4th out of 60 people and achieved 1st as the overall fastest junior. I really enjoyed every moment of the race, and would not hesitate to do it again, and very much recommend it to anyone wondering whether or not to take part.” JG, 22/03/16
EDT Preview 2016
In the shadow of the Mont Blanc massif from Megeve to Morzine the 2016 EDT will be a ride of two halves with the first two climbs being challenging but comfortable and the second two becoming increasingly difficult on tired legs. It will be vitally important to conserve energy, particularly if it is hot, during the first half of the course in preparation for the tough HC rated Col De Joux Plane above Morzine. The length and gradient of each climb though significant does not fully reflect the challenge ahead. The key to success for the average club cyclist is the ability to hold a sustained effort at a manageable level for over an hour for each of the climbs and a consistent downhill performance. If you have the fitness and talent to challenge Marco Pantani’s 33 minute ascent of the Col De Joux Plane your contract is in the post! Regardless of speed it will be vital to have a tried and tested plan including a flexible stop strategy to cater for the sometimes over crowded feed stations. Remember weather will be pivotal and may replicate the freezing wet conditions of 2014 or the suffering heat of 2015 or indeed both, these are mountains after all. Good luck and keep the broom wagon behind you.
Click on this link for a Full Review and here for a few more pictures
The Tour of Cambridge June 2016.
Tour of Cambridge, 82 miles of flat riding on closed roads. Sounds good! Keeping a friend company for a mini Ride London experience to prepare her for the event in July. Sounds like a nice day out! Chauffeur driven to Peterborough and an early start to avoid the eye-wateringly expensive parking fees after 10.00am. Left Beaconsfield, full of porridge, bikes on the top of the car like the pro's and apart from getting lost about a mile from the Showground (signage a bit random) arrived safely and in good spirits in time to register, prep bikes, have high carb lunch and enjoy free access to lots of ladies toilets with no queues at all! Always a bonus at these events when it's mostly men participating :)
Start was very delayed....lack of clarity around the start gates, lots of hanging around and a cold breeze so we were regretting our summer kit - but once we got going we thought we'd warm up! But the constant, fierce crosswinds and the exposed, flat terrain made for tough, relentlessly unforgiving riding conditions. The first 40 miles were a bit hairy with lots of accidents - cyclists overtaking on the inside, whizzing past on the outside without saying a word, cutting us up and displaying suspect road craft - not much camaraderie from the chaps!
Part of the course seemed to involve about four laps of a dusty, windy, disused airfield and the only good point was a random public loo which everyone else sailed past whilst we stopped and used the facilities, obviously!
We managed the next chunk without a break although were desperate for water about 20 miles from the end and thought we'd missed the last refuelling stop. Turned out it was actually just 10 miles from the finish so not worth stopping - we carried on, fighting cramp and thinking we were nearly there at 82 miles but ended up doing 84 so someone hadn't got the distance quite right. But we completed it and now have the medals to prove it!
Protein shakes downed and fleeces pulled on back at the car park then home to bed - too tired even to unpack and clean my beloved bike, or even down a celebratory G&T.
Grant's Stelvio Adeventure
Only Grant could pick the fearsome Passo de Gavia and Passo de Stelvio as his first mountains! As the highest paved roads in the Eastern Alps these are not to tackled lightly. Read all about his adventure here.
Etape Du Tour 2016
Melting tarmac, early starts, vomit and the odd pint of beer all add to the experience of riding this year's L'Etape du Tour. Find out how Nik P not only survived but is keen to do it again. His review can be found here.
Just days before the TdF arrived one of our intrepid members tackled the giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux. I don't think there was any attempt to emulate Chris Froome by running up the mountain but she made it to the top, the professionals did not. Apparently it was a little windy, shame! Not something that would stop a BCC member.
Click on this link for a Full Review.
London to Brighton by Brompton
London to Brighton is a good ride with a significant hill or two to climb. Quite why Colin thought it would be a good idea to ride it on a Brompton is another question. His report can be found here.