Reliability Rides 2017 West Midlands

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At the start of every season a number of local clubs arrange and host reliability rides around the area. These are often around 50-60 miles in length, are unsigned, cost very little and have excellent cake at the end too. Traditionally these rides were the first test of the legs in an event, to see how they were faring at speeds a little quicker than the average Sunday club run. The reliability ride has now morphed into a popular mini-sportive, with a strong mix of riders at all levels taking part.

West Midlands Reliability Rides in 2017

Stratford Cycle Club Reliability Ride
When: 12th February 2017
Where: Home Guard Club, Tiddington, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire
Start: 10am
Route: Here
2016 Review2014 Review

CC Giro Reliability Ride
When: 12th February
Where: Rosliston Forestry Centre, Rosliston, Derbyshire/East Staffordshire
Start: 10:15am
Route: Here
2016 Review

Bridgnorth CC Reliability Ride
When: 12th February 2017
Where: Clee Cycles, Station Works, Hollybush Road, Bridgnorth
Start: 09:30am
Route: Here (gpx)

Malvern Cycle Sport Reliability Ride
When: 19th February 2017
Where: Malvern Victoria Bowling Club, Victoria Park, Malvern Link, Worcestershire
Start: 09:30
Route: NA

Mid Shropshire Wheelers Reliability Ride
When: 19th February 2017
Where: Shrewsbury Sports Village, Sundorne Rd, Shrewsbury
Start: 08:30
Route: Here

Royal Sutton Coldfield Reliability Ride
When: 19th February 2017
Where: Town Gate, Sutton Park, West Midlands
Start: 09:30am
Route: Here

Solihull CC Reliability Ride
When: 26th February 2017
Where: Bluebell Cider House, Solihull, West Midlands
Start: 09:00am
Route: Here

Redditch Road and Path CC Reliability Ride
When: 26th February 2017
Where: Mettis Aerospace Sports & Social Club, Cherry Tree Walk, Redditch, Worcestershire
Start: 08:30am
Route: Here
2016 Review

Audlem CC Reliability Ride
When: 26th February 2017
Where: Scout and Guide Hut, Audlem, SE Cheshire
Start: 09:15am
Route: NA

Echelon Cycles 3 Counties Challenge

Bromsgrove Olympic Reliability Ride
When: 5th March 2017
Where: Scout Hut, Kidderminster Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
Start: 10:00am
Route: NA

Echelon Cycles Three Counties Challenge
When: 5th March 2017
Where: Echelon Cycles, Pershore, Worcestershire
Start: 09:00am
Route: Here

Stafford Road Club Reliability Ride
When: 5th March 2017
Where: Stafford Rugby Club, Stafford, Staffordshire
Start: 9am
Route: Here

Nova Raiders Reliability Trial
When: 12th March 2017
Where: New Inn, Newport, Shropshire
Start: 09:30am
Route: Here

Wolverhampton Wheelers ’50 in 4′
When: 15th March 2017
Where: Pattingham Village Hall, Pattingham, Shropshire
Start: 08:45am
Route: Here

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Reliability Rides 2017 West Midlands was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Cycling Fights and Bust-Ups – Top 3

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Sometimes fights happen when tempers boil over and particularly in a cycling peloton where crashes happen regularly and usually result in a bad injury. The higher tensions mean that sometimes aggression gets the better of some riders. Below are three recent examples of such altercations.

1. Andriy Grivko fights Marcel Kittel, 2017 Tour of Dubai

Today’s news is that Marcel Kittel was punched by Astana’s Andriy Grivko on Stage 3 of the Tour of Dubai. As you can see from the picture it looks like it was a solid punch too. Andriy Grivko has been thrown out of the race and Kittel is asking for him to be banned for 6 months. It seems that as the peloton entered an area of crosswinds, with riders jostling for position Grivko lashed out without provocation. The punch broke Kittel’s glasses and a later attempt at an apology fell on deaf ears.

Marcel Kittel after Andriy Grivko fights with him

2. Gianluca Brambilla & Ivan Rovny fighting whilst riding 2014 Vuelta

Two riders in the breakaway, with one saying the other wasn’t pulling his weight effort wise. Brambilla gave Rovny’s jersey a short tug and then it all kicked off. Both riders were ejected from the Vuelta Espana after this bout, which seems to have been allowed to go on for quite a while with no other interaction. The wry shake of the head from the Caja Rural rider in green says it all.

3. Carlos Barreda fights Rui Costa with a wheel, 2010 Tour de France

Possibly the worst one on this list because it involves using something else as a weapon. As well as being a bit more premeditated than an out of hand disagreement on the bike. Carlos Barreda storms across a crowd and tries to fit former World Champion Rui Costa’s head through a wheel. Everyone else around just seems to let them get on with it in the mean time. Apparently a touching of bars near the end of the stage precipitated the attack and both riders got off lightly with a €300 fine.

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Cycling Fights and Bust-Ups – Top 3 was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Rapha Festive 500 2016 Roundel Opening

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I completed the Rapha Festive 500 again between Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2016. The challenge is to cycle 500km over 8 days during the darkest, bleakest and most social time of the year.

Part of the reward for completing the challenge, other than the massive leg muscles, is a woven roundel patch to commemorate the achievement. This year’s has just come through the post!

Rapha Festive 500 Roundel 2016 Postcard

Not quite as nice a package as two years ago, but the patch itself is just as good. Previously the card it came with was full of facts such as how many riders completed the challenge, which countries they were from and so on. This year it’s just a cartwheeling figure on the figure. Maybe too many people completed it and the cost is starting to climb!

A nice touch this year is a jersey available at an actual reasonable price (unlike the usual ones, jealously griped about here), I bought one, mainly to be able to show off – standard, I’ve had previous for this.

Rapha Festive 500 Roundel 2016

Job done, onto 2017’s challenges!

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Rapha Festive 500 2016 Roundel Opening was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Rapha Festive 500 2016 – Getting it done

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Completing the 2016 Rapha Festive 500

This Christmas, I set myself the challenge to complete the Rapha Festive 500 again. The challenge that Rapha set is to cycle 500 kilometres between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, which given the Winter weather and social restrictions of that time of year presents a fair obstacle. I completed the Festive 500 back in 2014 so knew that I could do it again, provided the weather was kind and I was sensible.

Christmas Day Festive 500 2016
My Christmas Day…

Day 1 was tough, a ridiculously windy day and I didn’t get to enjoy much of the wind behind me on the fun sections! The headwinds were on the already more difficult rolling sections with the climbs and long steady gradients. Disappointingly towards the end of the ride when I should have been able to tank along with the wind, I had to keep stopping because round seemingly every bend was a horse – it turned out the local hunt were out doing their thing. I slogged through 39.6 miles on my own, but didn’t particularly enjoy it – an inauspicious start!

The second day was Christmas Day, just like two years before I split today’s mileage into two separate rides. Making sure I’d done the bulk early in the day, it was another windy solo day but thankfully dry. With the wind in the right direction, it was fun blasting along the lanes using the body as a sail. A nice easy 10 miles later on in the dark along the flat roads not far from home.

Stratford Cycle Club Post Ride Coffee 27th December 2016
Post ride cafe fun

I get some company on the Festive 500

Boxing Day saw me join the Stratford Cycling Club’s Boxing Day ride, a leisurely jaunt of 50 miles for me. Meeting up at Box Brownie, a great cafe in Stratford, we headed up towards Shrewley and Lowsonford before heading back to Stratford via Alcester. I sat in the wheels for most of the ride, being told I was showing off because of my trackstanding whilst waiting at junctions, before taking the reigns near the end of the ride. Somehow we managed to get split up coming up the rise by Billesley, but being so close to Stratford it settled into two manageable groups. Just about 1 mile from Stratford and on a short rise I decided to liven things up by attacking on a small rise, blasting away with only Max managing to bridge the gap on the way into Stratford. We decamped into a cafe for some more coffee before heading home.

Stratford Cycle Club Social Ride 27th December
Waiting for John to sort his puncture out

The next day was another social club ride with most of the same (allbeit smaller) pack. We did 25 flat miles to begin with towards Bretforton and Badsey before making the turn back towards Stratford, someone was clearly bored and fancied a hill or two so we ended up both Saintbury and Baker’s Hill. Max smashed up miles ahead of everyone else, I was setting a good pace ahead of John and Dave but thinking we were making the left turn halfway up Saintbury pulled in, only to find we weren’t as those two went past. Momentum lost, the rest of the hill was a struggle. Leading the charge past Chipping Campden and down into Mickleton, Baker’s was taken far more sedately. Again a last little sprint was had just outside of Stratford, pleased to say I got the tactics right having sat at the back to begin with, moving up the line as people dropped out and making the sprint count at the end. Back into town for more coffee again! Managed to get another 11 miles done that evening cycling into down for some drinks.

After the harder previous days, the 28th was a relatively rest day, just a ride over to Shipston on Stour and back to see my grandparents. Still 17 miles though to keep things ticking over nicely.
The legs were beginning to ache and felt very heavy on the 29th. It took me most of the day to work up the energy to head out and I only did 21 miles that day on flat roads. I accidentally set a bit of a PB on half of a local TT circuit, which I ended up using as a banker time to try and beat later in the week.

40 miles to go Festive 500 2016
40 miles to go…

Festive 500 Ice and Mechanicals

The club had another group ride on the 30th, the weather had changed from earlier in the week and got colder, ice was now an issue. The main road into Stratford was fine, but as we headed out towards Tysoe we found a particularly icy stretch and one of our group managed to hit the deck because of it. As we all stopped for a check up, it was hard to even stand upright at the moment and it became easier to get going again by starting on the grass verge! Tim and I decided we’d had enough of looking over the front wheel for ice all the time and bombed back into Stratford along the main road. Coming out of Stratford, crossing an island, my chain unexpectedly fell off. It turned out I’d completely destroyed the chainring, snapping it good and proper because a couple of chainring bolts had fallen out at some point. The bike was still rideable in the big chainring so that’s how I finished the ride. I got home, had some lunch and then popped out for another 20 miles on the main roads to get some miles advantage in again and have less to do the following day.

New Year’s Eve, just 25.5 miles left to complete. I went out solo, did a couple of loops of the Stratford Tuesday bash circuit by Ilmington and found time for a half-proper TT attempt to finish off. Into a headwind, I knocked over 50 seconds off the time of the first half set a couple of days earlier and set a time for the circuit which is a good starting point. Finishing in the dark I was glad to have it all over and done with – 500km in 8 days!

Rapha Festive 500 2016 Rides Wheel

The patch for completing the challenge.

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Rapha Festive 500 2016 – Getting it done was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

UCI Worldtour Transfers 2017 Round-Up

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Transfers round-up for the 2017 cycling season

As with every season, there has been a large amount of transfers and changes over the off-season. New teams have been created, old familiar teams and team names have been consigned to history. The highest profile transfers have seen the rainbow jersey of the world champion Peter Sagan change teams, as well as GC heavyweights Vincenzo Nibali and Alberto Contador. Strong sprinters, classics specialists and GC helpers have also found new homes elsewhere.

Long-term great Fabian Cancellara retired over the winter, along with fellow World Champion Michael Rogers and Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal. There was also the sad retirement of Gianni Meersman, who after winning stages at the Vuelta Espana in September last year has been diagnosed with heart issues. The man who achieved notoriety for being knocked off his bike into a barbed wire fence during the Tour de France, Johnny Hoogerland also hung up his wheels (always feels a bit of a forced phrase…).

With the introduction of Bahrain Merida the peloton gains a splash of red, Abu Dhabi disappointingly went for a mostly black affair, just to make things more difficult from the overhead helicopter shots on TV. The peloton also loses the distinctive yellow of Tinkoff, with Oleg Tinkov throwing in the towel of his second attempt at a cycling team after a falling out with the powers that be.

With things shaken up considerably, we’re set for an interesting 2017 season.

New Teams:

Bahrain Merida 2017 Jersey
Bahrain – Merida

Folding Teams:

Tinkoff 2016 Jersey
Tinkoff Cycling

IAM Cycling 2016 Jersey
IAM Cycling

New Names for Existing Teams:

Bora Hansgrohe 2017 Jersey
Bora – Hansgrohe (previously Bora – Argon)

UAE Abu Dhabi 2017 Jersey
UAE Abu Dhabi (previously Lampre – Merida)

Orica Scott 2017 Jersey
Orica – Scott (previously Orica – BikeExchange)

Katusha Alpecin 2017 Jersey
Team Katusha – Alpecin (previously Team Katusha)

Quickstep Floors 2017 Jersey
Quick-Step Floors (previously Etixx – Quickstep)

Team Sunweb 2017 Jersey
Team Sunweb (previously Giant – Alpecin)

High Profile Rider Transfers:

[table id=6 /]

Other Notable Rider Transfers:

[table id=7 /]

Noted Retirees:

[table id=5 /]

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UCI Worldtour Transfers 2017 Round-Up was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

Zwift Riding and Q&A with Jens Voigt

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Zwift Logo

This Winter I’ve spent most of my time riding indoors on a turbo trainer, safe from the dangers of ice, snow, wind and bad driving. I have a good setup but generally need group rides and some uptempo music to keep me entertained as I literally stare at the walls. Every now and again one of the perks of Zwift is that you get the chance to ride with a pro rider who could be your hero. Jens Voigt is possibly the most popular 00s non-contender cyclist. His 17 consecutive Tour de Frances between 1998 and 2014 made him a well known name for all cycling fans, especially for his two breakaway stage wins. Jens Voigt took the chance to lead a group ride on Zwift this week.

Jens Voigt Riding on Zwift
Jens Voigt in the virtual world of Zwift

Riding with Jens Voigt

The ride with Jens Voigt took place very late one night (00:30am) as it came live from the Tour Down Under which started yesterday in Australia. Luckily this ride was on a Friday night so I knew I would be able to have a lie-in the next day! We rode for 60 minutes around the London Classique course which was used for the Women’s Worldtour race in 2016. It’s a fairly flat and easy course at 5.5km long, but it takes in all the sights of central London which even look good virtually.

Riders are taken past the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square before heading down the Mall to Buckingham Palace – I think even the London Eye sneaks in an appearance. As we cycled along at a quick tempo for mere mortals, riders were able to pose questions to Jens Voigt and have him answer to the group.

Jens Voigt Tour de France Yorkshire 2014 Stage 2
Jens Voigt wearing the Polka Dot Jersey in Stage 2, 2014 Tour de France

Questions & Answers with Jens Voigt

Many questions were asked and answered, most fairly sensible ones too surprisingly – no-one took the chance to ask him his favourite film or beer for instance. Given the proximity to the Tour Down Under which has now started (albeit with a truncated stage due to heat), he reckoned that Richie Porte had the best chance of winning it. Whilst on the topic of pro-cycling, Jens was asked quite a few questions about his time in the peloton. The best room-mate he had was ‘funny guy’ Bobby Julich, who he rode with in 2000-01 with Credit Agricole and also later at Team CSC between 2004-08. The best leader he rode for as a domestique was Andy Schleck, described as ‘classy’ – the two won the 2010 Tour de France together.

Lance Armstrong naturally came up, Jens says that he always got on with his 2011 team-mate, chatting about family and kids over coffees. Surprisingly despite the red rag to a bull effect that the Armstrong name has, something sensible followed it up. Whilst riding as a pro, Jens would clock up an average of 35,000km during the year with around half of that taking place at races – I thought I’d done well to manage 13,000km last year!

Jens Voigt Hour Record
Jens Voigt whilst breaking the Hour Record

The Hour Record

Once the rules for the Hour Record were changed, Jens Voigt was one of the first riders to take to the velodrome to try and beat the existing record. Jens briefly held the record for 6 weeks before Matthias Brandle set a new record. For the Hour Record Jens was weighing 78kg (I can only dream to be such a weight!) and averaged 413 watts (I can only dream to hold such wattage for an hour!). It’s unusual to get the actual numbers, but it shows the difference between the average club cyclist and a pro. My best power to weight ratio I’ve recorded is 3.6w/kg whereas Jens held 5.3w/kg – a huge amount of daylight!

Everything else…

We also learn that his eldest son plays lacrosse and his second son raced bikes for 5 years but stopped. Clearly there won’t be any new Voigts gracing the pro peloton in future years. Finally, Jens’ worst bonk (where you run out of all energy and can barely turn the pedals) was in a junior stage race, whilst in the lead and once the bonk happened he lost the race by a big margin.

It’s always worth keeping an eye out for Zwift events with former and current Pros, you never know what tidbit you might learn!

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Zwift Riding and Q&A with Jens Voigt was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling

As 2016 comes to a close…

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At the start of the year after a lacklustre 2015 cycling-wise, I set myself the target of cycling 10,000 kilometres in 2016. As it turned out, I managed more than 13,000!

I’ve completed a few sportives in the UK (CFC Sportive, Mad March Hare) and rode the Dunwich Dynamo on a restored 1930s singlespeed tandem. I also completed the Festive 500 for the second time, after completing it before in 2014.

I also managed a couple of trips abroad, seemingly centred around Belgium. I went and saw Fleche Wallonne, rode and watched Liege-Bastogne-Liege and cycled from Brussels to Cologne for a beer festival. I also managed a few cheeky miles in Copenhagen for good measure as well.

I’ve got a couple of sportives already signed up for in 2017 such as the Mad March Hare, I’ll repeat the 10,000km target and I’m working out a trip abroad again. I’m also increasingly tinkering with the idea of doing time trials for the first time in 2017 as a way to release some of the competitiveness without having to deal with crashes. I’ll continue to race indoors on Zwift.

Happy New Year and good luck for 2017!

2016 Infographic Strava Veloviewer

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As 2016 comes to a close… was originally published on Me vs. Pro Cycling