cycling weekly rates the Brutal climbs now in the Giro


After two weeks of tired legs ….

Colle Dell’Agnello – stage 19

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The Colle Dell’Agnello marks the Giro’s passage into France for a couple of days and they’ll have to work hard to get up to the border.

While the Strava segment shows it as a nine kilometre climb, the riders go uphill for around 70km from Saluzzo to the border at the top of the climb.

The toughest gradients come near the top of the Agnello, maxing out at 15 per cent and holding at over nine per cent for much of the nine kilometres, with riders reaching the highest point of the whole race.

And that’s just the first climb of the day…

Risoul – stage 19

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When the riders get into France it’s downhill all the way to the foot of the climb to Risoul, where stage 19 finishes.

It’s not the hardest climb in the world but the legs and bodies of the climbers will be cold from the very long descent from the Agnelle.

It maxes out at 10 per cent in the first third of the climb and from then is a steady 8.5 per cent to the top. With the GC still up for grabs it’ll likely to be a battle ground all the way up, with attacks likely to come on the preceding descent.

Col de Vars – stage 20

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At just six per cent in average gradient, the Col de Vars shouldn’t cause any problems, but it’s the fact that it comes immediately at the start of stage 20 which makes it hard.

The riders will have to get their warm-ups done before the stage if they’re to be in any state to be up at the front of the peloton in the first 20km.

There’s not a metre of flat on the entire stage, making it one of the toughest in the whole race, so if there’s still anything to play for in the general classification, expect to see some action in these opening exchanges.


Col de la Bonette – stage 20

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Once they’ve descended from the Col de Vars the peloton hits the even longer and even tougher Col de la Bonette, taking the riders up to over 2,700m.

It’ll be a long, cold descent down to Isola at the foot of the third big climb of the day, with almost 40km of downhill, interupted only by a little flat bit after 25km.

With the stage only 134km in length we could see attacks on the pink jersey wearer on the early climbs, just like we did on stage 16 on Tuesday.

Colle della Lombardia – stage 20

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As if two 20km ascents weren’t enough, the organisers have chucked in a third one near the end to really test the climbers’ resolve.

The Col de la Lombarde brings the riders back into Italy for the final assault up to Sant’Anna di Vinado, where the finish line is located.

Like the first two climbs on the stage, the Lombarde isn’t particularly steep, it’s just relentlessly long, especially after the climbs that have come before.

It’s last chance saloon for GC contenders to launch their attacks, with the climb to the finish not really long enough to make up minutes of time.

Veloviewer gets better and better (if you use Strava)


VeloViewer has always been able to show you comprehensive views of your past rides and runs but plenty of people had asked to see similar views of routes they are planning to do. Fortunately Strava have just opened up their Routing API so now Veloviewer can display all the routes you have created and allow you to see their full details including the interactive 3D profiles.

Head there NOW …

Here is one example ….

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really helps visualize routes and see potential problems (gradients)

The 5 ferry route – what is all the fuss


Friday morning, I look at the forecast and it looks good for the weekend. I decide to do the 5 ferry challenge and take the touring bike with panniers and spare just in case the scottish fine weather also includes hail, snow, sleet and pouring rain as it is want to do.

Friday evening and a few too many whiskies whilst listening to my new valve amps …. so Saturday 7am blurry eyed I wake and zip into town to get tickets and the 8:30am train from Glasgow to Ardrossan. There is comic con in town so lots of weird and wonderful kids (and kidults) in costume are everywhere.5 ferries bike ride-2 5 ferries bike ride-3

long weekend and on this Saturday morning everyone with a bicycle is getting squeezed onto the Ardrossan ferry for the sailing to the island of Arran. I have done trips to Arran many times and have never seen anything like it. There is carbon and ti bike porn everywhere, skinny tyres and portly riders in a long snake pushing onto the vessel.

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Breakfast on the ferry is a custom so despite only cycling 5km so far – I have to partake.

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Up the east coast – its 19 miles to Loch Ranza but its slow going as I stop about 5 times to take pics – letting the portly 3 musketeers overtake me 3 times and then i catch up again.

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The road throws in one fairly stiff climb before the descent into Lochranza. Quick photo and i just make ferry number two.

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We climb and then drop down to work our way up the coast road to Tarbert. It has a busy harbour fringed by tourist shops, cafes and bars we miss this ferry by 3 minutes and see the ferry pulling out so I head back with 2 other roadies to a cafe for soup …

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The ferry takes us across Loch Fyne to Portavadie and another climb. There are stiff little grunting climbs, but the views are wonderful.

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Over on ferry number four to the small island of Bute for quite an easy section of riding. This is a good thing as my legs are shot. In Rothesay I admire the loos as I have been here a few times on the yacht … but I don’t need to pay to spend the proverbial penny this time …

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Boat then train home – a very quick steak then out to the pub with a pal and a perfect excuse for 4 pints

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The Birthday Ride


So tuesday was my Birthday – 45 (I know what you are thinking …. ‘old feck’ OR ‘young pup still’)

Well I digress … it was a nice day so after dropping the girls to school I decided to head out for a ride. I had been grumpy last week after not been outside to ride and Saturday dawned and I was ready for my 100 miler (or 100km’er). I lifted my arm dressing and pow – my neck spasmed and i was left turning like a robot all day. I had spent the whole day before painting floors so can only think this must have strained something. But a pinched nerve was quite literally a pain in the neck so I went down to the gym 3 days in a row and sat in the turkish suite letting the steam and heat do its work. Not that i didn’t guilt my partner into multiple neck and shoulder massages … ‘and its nearly my birthday’

So tuesday dropped the girls noticing the new signs going up in the park …. small steps are still steps.

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travel in terms of walking speed or bike.

Then out on the bike and up the Crow road – my staple ride.

bike stop and the crow road climbing the Campsies behind
bike stop and the crow road climbing the Campsies behind

as you can see from the pic I have my Flash and Flare lights on when i ride. So sick of hearing stories about car drivers killing cyclists and saying ‘the sun was too bright and low and in my eyes and the road was glaring’ LIKE THIS MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

I just hope the odd twinkle will allow them to see me. As i climbed the crow I caught up with a guy dressed all in black and I only saw him really when 150m behind. I am sure my bright yellow vest can be seen from much further back.

Anyway great ride but not feeling very fit at the moment so must exercise more.

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A sunday MTB ride on old trails and noticing changes


Since moving 3 years ago across the city I have only managed to head west and go on my old trails a handful of time and i think that in the last year i havent done one ride on my old regular. This morning i headed off early and headed along the canals then up the kelvin river walkway and then on road to Milngavie. The West Highland Way is a famous walking trail in the west of Scotland (here comes a description)

The 154Km (96miles) Route starts at Milngaviepasses through Mugdock Country Park, follows the shores of Loch Lomond, passing Ben Lomond, through Glen Falloch and Strathfillan, crossingRannoch Moor, past Buachaille Etive Mor to the head of Glencoe, climbing the Devil’s Staircase, descending to sea level to cross the River Leven at the head of Loch Leven before entering Lairigmorand Glen Nevis and finishes at Gordon Square inFort William. 

The terrain ranges from lowland moors, dense woodland and rolling hills, to high mountainousregions in the Scottish Highlands. These environments provide habitats for a diverse range ofwildlife species, both flora and fauna 

MY ROUTE ON STRAVA here

Like is says my start is Mugdock where there are many trails cutting across the park – what i noticed this ride is how wet all the trails were despite the fact that there has been little rain these past 2 weeks … it goes to show more how wet the summer has been. None of the streams have the typical low summer flow and the trails still have water running across them that is slowly draining out of the hills. Needless to say i was soon caked in mud.

There is nice rock and roots section quite early on to get your singletrack technical head in gear … then a haul along to Carbeth Loch then through a gate and a steep technical climb (Rosies Gate to treeline)  – I seem to remember there was always a risk of spinning out in the past and the effort to get up without falling off was always a challenge but today i had no issues and Strava said i had a PR but i know there are about 100 tracks from the past that i haven’t uploaded so i am sure i have done it better in the past …

elevation profile – nothing too steep or scary

After Rosies there is now a more level graded road as the forestry workers are in cutting down some sections of the forest … as i was hammering along I glanced a new trail heading off to the right so went for an explore. Someone has been trailbuilding as there are sections of wooden ladderwork over some muddy sections but not all the mud is covered as i discovered when coming off the trail and sinking the front 29er wheel nearly up to the hub in the mud. The sections under the trees were completely muddy and the Racing Ralph on the rear was soon a mud didc happily spinning and sliding and occasionally biting into the trail … I think it may be time to get some better traction all round tyres (this is Scotland after all)

some better roads to help lose some of my tyre mud collection

Back home and a quick shower for the bike and then for me …. now time to start cooking the roast Sunday Lamb (organic Shetland Lamb as well YUMMMM)

Sunday worship


A bit last minute, I know, but a change of plans have forced my hand so I’m gonna go round the Lake of Menteith tomorrow.

This might not be to everyone’s taste as I don’t plan to stop at all. It’s 60 miles but with a big breakfast and some food in your back pocket it’s definitely do-able. Up through Milngavie, up over the Queens View, Pipe Track, Gartmore, the Lake, Arnprior and home via Balfron and Killearn. If we don’t mess about too much we can be back home by 2pm ish

Cycle around Arran – fekkin brilliant


Arran route and elevation profile

Sunday morning and the day breaks just as the weather app told me it would … bright but cold. So a quick dress and a scoffing down of some raw oats and I cycle down to the station to get the train that connects to the ferry to Brodick on the Isle of Arran. Arran is a bit of a mecca for cyclists, walkers, twitchers and climbers. This being a bank holiday it was busier than normal with about 30 bikes on the early ferry crossing over.
Last time I came down here I was very tired and slept most of the way on the train … but this time was bushy tailed and felt that the journey was a tad long. The problem with having only the space in my back pockets for things, so alas no reading material.
Departing the ferry it is a simple case of hang a left and keep the sea on that side of you for a clockwise circuit of the island.
Some cyclists opt for the road straight over the hill to Blackwaterfoot but I opted for the slightly longer route that takes you past Holy Isle.

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onwards pushing to the south looking at some menacing clouds on the Kintyre peninsula that never came my way until I got to Blackwaterfoot and caught up with some of those cyclists that had taken the shorter route. The roads on Arran are a mixed affair … some sections including the extra south loop are actually pretty crappy in places.

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Up the west coast is great – generally the wind is from the west or SW so this section is pretty quick – cruised up here at close to 30km/h.

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The next good place to stop os Lochranza for a pic of the castle / a bite to eat / a trip to distillery or perhaps all 3 …. I did the castle as i wasn’t really hungry despite it being 2pm so started the climb out of Lochranza …. this is a pretty nice climb – I was in my lowest gear for the bottom but then was able to shift up a gear or two as the incline lessened and the two riders in front egged me on to passing mode.
Over the top the section os very rough then suddenly ‘sublime city’ there is brand new tarmac and the loveliest of sweeping descents that is buttery smooth and allows you to really fly … I hit 64.3kmh on this section which was very sweet …. not sure of the incline degrees but probably could only get a tad more next time. Not quite as steep as the one hill I hit in Shetland on the steel pinarello ….
then finally into brodick after 90km and 3h28? (26kmh average so something to aim for on my next attempt.)
I had missed the 2pm ferry so went to Bilsland the outdoor shop and sat down and ate a massive steak pie … the things that become fantastic after burning 2000+ calories (2239 according to Polar and 3000 on the Garmin)
Then the ferry home chatting to a lovely man who at 74 was burning around on his Flying Scot.

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