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.


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 


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.


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.


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.

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.


Orkney and a great ride

Italian Chapel - built by Italian POW during WW2 when helping construct the barrage protection around Scapa Flow

Went for a great ride today through Orkney – last night I mapped this ride out and although it was slightly different it was a great ride. HERE IS THE RIDE  Went east past the airport then swung south narrowly avoiding a massive pissing cloud then down over the barriers to south ronaldsay. Popped in past the Italian chapel which I filmed in years ago … Most of the times I was dodging the rain having forgotten to buy a rain cape for roadie work – there is nothing worse than doing miles wearing an impossible heavy jacket ….

ridewithgps screen

2 hours, 3 piss stops and 54km later got back a bit wet and a bit cold. Still better than nothing … Any ride beats no ride ….

Can I sneak in a ride …

The eternal question for the family man …

Can I sneak in a ride?

  1. Eldest daughter to school at 9am
  2. Father in law coming at 10am to take youngest for a couple of days …
  3. Jolene down to London on the train at 10:20am
  4. Couple of work calls to make ….
  5. G>>A>>P
  6. pick up daughter from school at 3:10pm

Could this be the GAP I SEEK??

EAT KILBRIDE LOOP - mapped out on


Robert Penn backs call for proper London cycle map

Robert Penn, author of the bestselling book ‘It’s All About the Bike: the Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels’ has added his backing to the London Cycle Map Campaign – a single clear and easy to use unified network of signed cycle routes spanning the whole of Greater London.Robert told Cycle Lifestyle magazine: “I lived in London for nearly a decade – the 90s – and rode a bicycle almost every day. I invested a lot of time and ardour in finding the best routes across the city – the safest thoroughfares, the shortcuts and back alleys, the one-ways and parks that turned a simple bike ride into a gift. I remember how hard that knowledge was won. There weren’t many regular cyclists to compare trip notes with then. I kept studying the A-Z; I kept taking wrong turnings on purpose; I kept on nosing down the dead ends.

The knowledge did come, though. And through it, through seeing every common and cemetery, every allotment and every sweeping cityscape, I came to love a place I’d always expected to hate. I’m a country boy, really. And now I’m back in the country. I moved to the Black Mountains, in south-east Wales, eight years ago.

Now, I return to London regularly, on the train, with my bicycle in the guard’s van on the Great Western service from Swansea. Each time, I set off blindly from Paddington to Kentish Town or Dalston, Southwark or Soho. And each time, I seem to come unstuck. I arrive at a junction I know well… only to realise I’m lost. The knowledge is fading. Holes are appearing in my subconscious street map of the city – partly because I’m getting old, and partly because I don’t ink over the routes often enough anymore.This is why I believe the London Cycle Map is such a good idea. Clear, well-signed routes would be easy to follow. It would be a huge boon not just for me, but for anyone bringing a bike to London. Who knows, it might even encourage a few more people onto two wheels as well.”

As well as regular publicity drives and lobbying from Cycle Lifestyle Magazine, there’s also an online petition which has reached over 1,500 signatures to date – and they’re aiming for thousands more. MAP HERE

Cycle Lifestyle editor Ben Irvine said: “We’re aiming big – for the 100,000 signatures needed in order for a petition to be debated in the House of Commons. There are enough committed cyclists out there to make this possible: the Cyclists’ Touring Club has over 68,000 members, the London Cycling Campaign over 10,000, and Sustrans over 40,000.”

Currently, unless you’re planning a short local ride, you’ll need to check up to 14 folding cycle maps covering London’s different areas. Then, once you’re on your way, you’ll need to remember all the street names and directions – sometimes hundreds – for your journey because the signs on the London Cycle Network aren’t regular or informative enough to allow you to follow them as you go along.

Sign the petition now!

Only 7 month until the next Giro d’Italia


From Saturday May 5th to Sunday May 27th 2012, the 95th edition of Giro d’Italia will start from Herning (Denmark) and will arrive in Milan. – The route for the 2012 Giro d’Italia, which was unveiled on Sunday, will be easier than in recent years, when it has been labelled inhuman, and riders are expected to spend less time on transfers between stages.

The race will start with an 8.7km individual time trial in Herning, Denmark, on 5 May and after three days fly to Italy. It is the 10th time in its 95 editions that the Giro has started abroad and on this occasion the first three stages will all be held in Denmark.

The world champion, Mark Cavendish, who wore the leader’s pink jersey for one stage and won stage 10 of this year’s race, is likely to be pleased with the profile of the first week, which clearly favours sprinters, but the Giro should be decided in the final week, with the penultimate stage, a 218km mountain trek ending with the tough climb up the Stelvio, likely to create significant gaps.

The race ends on 27 May with a 31.5km individual time trial in Milan – this year’s version of which was won by David Millar – the third test against the clock after the first stage and a team time trial in Verona.

Unlike last year, when exhausting, high mountain stages were lined up in succession with long, energy-sapping transfers, the 2012 route features a flat stage between two mountain treks in the final week.

Riders have complained in the past about the Giro route, and the former director Angelo Zomegnan has accused of setting up a “freak show”. But Zomegnan has been replaced by Michele Acquarone, who promised to take riders’ demands into consideration.

Perhaps partly as a consequence of the demanding 2011 route, Britain’s Team Sky entered effectively a second-string team, with Russell Downing and Peter Kennaugh – who would finish as the highest placed Briton, in 87th – the only British riders on the squad. But the prospect of Cavendish possibly lifting the pink jersey for the team in the first week, and the profile being much more suited to Chris Froome or Bradley Wiggins, who finished second and third in this year’s Vuelta a España, respectively, are likely to persuade the team principal, Dave Brailsford, to enter a strong squad next year.

The 2011 champion, Alberto Contador of Spain, who has already announced he will not be taking part but focusing instead on the Tour de France, spoke positively of the 2012 route. “This Giro will be more human,” he said. “There are more ‘recovery stages’ and, although I don’t think I’ll take part, it seems to be a very interesting route.”

Contador, a three-time Tour de France champion, said of his decision not to defend his Giro title: “I don’t think I will ride in the Giro; it will be very difficult. It’s very difficult to do both the Giro and the Tour. Maybe in two years’ time. I still have to talk to the team managers and discuss it with them but at the moment it’s not in my plans.”

Of next year’s race he said: “It’s a nice course, a bit different to last year and maybe a bit more even. For me the Giro is the best race in the world. It has a particular fascination for me. And if it was only up to my heart, I would race it. But next year I will think of other objectives, such as the Tour de France.”

The Liquigas rider Ivan Basso, the 2010 winner, said it would be a pity not to compete against Contador again. “I think it’s too early to talk about who’ll be there and who won’t because we’re in a bit of a particular situation, in that they’ve only revealed the route about 15 minutes ago so the cyclists have still to look at it properly, talk to their teams,” the Italian said.

“We also have to finish this season. But I would definitely prefer him to be there. I want to race against him.”

Next year’s Giro will have a solemn tone, with the third stage to be dedicated to Wouter Weylandt, the Belgian cyclist who died after a fall during this year’s race. Weylandt crashed on the descent of the Passo del Bocco on the third stage of the race – the same stage he won the previous year. The jersey No108, which Weylandt wore during the Giro, has also been retired.

Sunday Ride – a nice 50km *cough cough*

Still haven’t shaken my cough and it was a pain this weekend as went up to nr Dundee to see pals. I went out for ride with Tom a nice 50km into the teeth of a fresh breeze and then looping around the hills before gliding home with the sun and wind on our back.

Not sure whether it is the 11kg steel bike or the cough or a lack of fitness but was suffering up the hills. Tom is debating on a new ti road bike with a budget of around £4000 … need to send him my Cycling Plus which had a great review of the Enigma Eclipse which would also save him a fortune.

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PDF below of the review for Enigma Bike


Kelvingrove park – a runners delight

Sometimes you can easily forget what a great place is like to run in. For me this is the case with Kelvingrove park – an 85 acre park in the west of the city. Kelvingrove was originally created as the West End Park in 1852 by noted English gardener Sir Joseph Paxton, Head Gardener at Chatsworth House, whose other works included The Crystal Palace in London. The Town Council had purchased the land, which formerly represented the Kelvingrove and Woodlands estates, that year for the sum of £99,569,[1] around £8million today.[2] The park was intended to provide for the continued expansion of the city to the west, providing relaxation and recreation opportunities for the new middle class to the west, and an escape from the rapid slumming of the city centre for those left behind.

The park when run around is around 2km a loop with a nice hill climb and decent. I had been at a friends house so had run down the river and through the botanics and down the river again to Kelvingrove – a nice little 10km loop

If in glasgow have a run here – a beautiful park that is so often overlooked.


10km and the snap happy near death of Findlay

the route is here on WALKJOGRUN – a good app and website that I will go into later

walk jog run the route

It started off with a simple chat during the lunch at the local and often neglected Tapa, where Findlay and I were catching up and wolfing down a rather excellent red pepper curry.
Findlay has been running the festival club during Celtic connections and as such had spent a lot of January in boozy company with fine musicians and finer malt.
He confessed to wanting a run (his first in a month) and I wanted a decent run before catching the first of 3 flights the next day. ‘Come to mine about 9am and we will go for a 10 km run’

So this morning at the delayed time of 9:30 he was at the front door- just had to wait for Jolene to arrive home so that I could take off. Right from the off Findlay was breathing harder as we headed down to glasgow green.

km 2 - sun ees a shinin

It was a peachy day and I had my iPhone withe as wanted to see how runmonster app on the phone compared to my gps pod on the suunto T6. Well that was short-lived as I quickly managed to pause and the reset the app by touching it with a non-sweaty palm. So comparisons off and I then decided to document the run as I rarely venture out with a camera on a run. Findlay by this stage was at a steady 5m/km pace so I could run ahead, stop and snap.

along the river

Not sure he was having as much fun as me.

tower blocks typical: sunshine rare

I even video’d the odd bit but that is shaky.

A nice run and an even 10km courtesy of a short loop atthe end to bring the numbers up.

Stuck in Kuwait

Snow in the UK and transport grinds to a halt. Currently in Kuwait waiting for the decision to be made on whether it’s better to go east (to Dubai) before heading west (to Glasgow direct flight) or whether I have to wait here for morning flight to heathrow and then Scotland.

7am view from hotel

Staying in cheapy Ibis in Kuwait – but one block from the sea so this morning got up and went down to esplanade for a run.
It’s in the Salmiya area of Kuwait – 12 kilometers southeast of Kuwait City and is one of the largest areas in Kuwait consisting of both commercial and residential areas. The blocks located beside the Persian Gulf coastline have a great deal of commercial and up-scale residential real estate. The interior residential areas apparently hosts a huge population of foreigners who seem to do all the work here…..

This area was flattened during the Gulf War Salmiya by the invading Iraqi occupation, but was gradually rebuilt and re-populated. This area used to have old rugged 3-storied buildings and open fields and the beach front, once a hub and harbor for the fishing and pearl diving community, has been transformed into another middle east faceless area of tall towers and roads.


But when they redesigned it they did get some things right – although there seems to have been no thought given at all to cycling or alternative transport.
The esplanade has been nicely laid out and makes a great running route – paved with a nice seabreeze coming in should make it doable even when it hits 50C in the summer.

Had a great 8km run but noticed that Kuwaitis don’t run – they all were walking for exercise – only saw 4 other runners and they all looked like expats or visitors to me.

HR from run - Suunto T6C

Nice ride

Went out on the Klein for a ride down the river Clyde then looping up to the canals and back east to home

Ride details here

Klein (with knobblies wheelset on) is set up as 32:16 so I run out of speed/cadence at about 23km/h – should have put on the slick wheels as that is 32:14 gearing and I can pedal all day at 27km/h – the route itself is ideal for a cyclocross bike or geared mountain bike (although really a spinning training route as opposed to a proper mtb route) and good for kids.

the ride on endomondo