Brighton to Exeter: a Bikepacker's Tale

It was the first big climb of the day. Earlier on we’d spotted it on the map of Dorset – a chevron marking a particularly steep section. As the road began to rise, a 17% road sign announced the gradient we were going to have to attempt. I looked up ahead to what really seemed like a wall and wondered if I’d be able to get up this one. It would have been tough on my light skittish road bike, but here I was loaded down with 30 kilos on the back of my touring bike.

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A Rookie's Guide to Bike Packing

Ok, we're not claiming to be experts here or anything - we've not gone head to head with Mark Beaumont round the world or just returned from a 5 year stint alongside Super Cycling Man or anything. No. We just did our first bike packing adventure along the south coast of England, which is pretty tame, I admit. But we did learn a few things along the way, useful tips for genteel explorers cycling a few hundred miles to visit family and camping along the way, sort of thing.

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Bye-bye Bertie

So farewell Bertie. After 14 years as a professional Alberto Contador has decided to bow out of bike racing. We can’t wait to see him at the Vuelta for his final race where it won’t just be the Spanish fans cheering him on. An outright GC win looks unlikely but he’ll be a good bet for a stage victory.

Now in the twilight of his career, he is remembered for his panache and swashbuckling attacks in the mountains, the pedal dancer who won many a battle on the slopes of forbidding mountains in the Alps and Pyrenees. That distinctive style as he rose out of the saddle, weaving from side to side as he dropped his rivals remains a defining image.

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Simon Warren, King of the Hills

When Simon Warren first published his “100 Greatest Cycling Climbs” back in 2010, he probably never dreamt that it would spawn a whole series of guide books about climbing hills on a bike. He’s now the author of twelve separate publications which cover all the regions of the UK as well as Belgium and famous climbs of the Tour de France.

He was appearing at the Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival last month where he was signing books and chatting affably to all and sundry.

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Bespoke Cycle Touring from Oxford Bike Works

We’re in the 'between' season - post Tour and pre Vuelta, many of us feeling bereft having devoted so many hours glued to the telly for the best part of July. For us, the only diversion to compete with the tussle for the yellow jersey is pipe dreams about cycling touring, or bike-packing as the serious aficionados call it. 

So gripping is this fantasy that it actually took us into the wilds of Oxfordshire to meet the owner of Oxford Bike Works, Richard Delacourt. For those not hooked on adventure cycling blogs, Oxford Bike Works is literally the only serious provider of proper, hardcore bikepacking steeds, favoured by legends such as Tom Allen and Anna McNuff (look them up if you’re not in the know!)

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Behind the Scenes of Le Tour de France Part 3

As dawn breaks over the city of Pau I wake up with eager anticipation and look out across rooftops to the peaks of the Pyrenees that loom over this town. After two flat stages this is where the Tour will be headed tomorrow, promising a tussle among the GC contenders at last. I imagine the likes of Quintana and Aru licking their lips at the prospect of finally having an opportunity to challenge Froome for yellow. But they'll have to wait: today is another long, flat stage.

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Behind the Scenes of Le Tour Part 2

It’s an oft-quoted fact that the Tour de France is the biggest sporting show on earth. TV Audience figures are hard to quantify but they vary from the modest 1.5 billion to a bullish 4 billion people watching at least a few minutes of the three week race.

And it’s from the TV compound at the finish area of each stage that the race is broadcast to 190 different countries. The logistical miracle of packing up, transporting this whole village and setting it all up again some 200 kilometres away on a daily basis is astounding.

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The Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival

The Chilterns: an area of outstanding natural beauty featuring a 170 mile circular cycle route, so accessible to London you can actually get there on the Tube. So why hadn't we ridden there before? It wasn't until several people at Eroica Britannia asked us if we were taking part in the Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival that we decided to check it out. This year for the first time, the Chiltern Cycling Festival combined with the brutal Chiltern 100 sportive - steel v carbon, heritage vs technology - this was going to be interesting...

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Behind the Scenes at Le Tour de France (Part 1)

“I always heed the words of the Queen Mother: never turn down the chance of a cup of tea or a pee.” It’s the first of many golden nuggets of advice, quips and bon mots from my avuncular host behind the scenes of the Tour de France 2017. It is of course none other than the Eurosport commentator, Carlton Kirby, as he shimmies his way into the urinoir outside the commentary box in Bergerac for a quick one before he takes up his post.

Stage 10 and 11 of this year’s Tour may have been two pan flat stages that featured hours of televised chateaux, vineyards and fields of sunflowers with little else to entertain the viewer. But for me they were a dream come true when, for two whole days, I had unfettered access to the behind scenes goings on of Le Tour.

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Philippa York Drops Robert Millar

For a sport whose (male) participants shave their legs, wear tight, revealing clothing and are constantly obsessed with their weight, you would have thought that there would be more openly gay cyclists or at least a greater understanding, tolerance and discussion of LGBT issues.

Yesterday’s announcement from Philippa York (formerly the hugely successful TdF cyclist Robert Millar) that she is to join ITV4’s Tour de France commentary team as her ‘new’ self could well presage a sea change in outlook from a largely traditional and backward looking culture that has been the norm in cycling.

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Brompton Review: Ugly Duckling to Design Icon

The first time I saw someone riding a Brompton back in the 90s I have to say that I thought it was a joke. It was the antithesis of the skinny steel road bikes that I loved. Tiny wheels, silly handlebars and an upright riding position went against all the aesthetics I thought I knew and loved.

But, while this eccentric looking folding bike has pretty much stayed the same since its invention in 1986, it’s no longer laughed at. In fact it’s become a design icon and no more so than in the Far East where a love for British design and innovation knows no bounds.

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Carlton Kirby’s Top Tips for Le Tour de France 2017

As Eurosport’s main man Carlton Kirby prepared for his three week stint commentating on the Tour de France, he interrupted his packing to give us a few last minute tips on what to expect. It’s shaping up to be an unpredictable one with a route that is a little lighter on the climbs than in recent years and the main contenders showing variable form. Here are some of Carlton’s thoughts.

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Boardman, Boulting and Millar on Le Tour, Eroica and...Watermelons

As the Tour de France starts this Saturday, many of us will be spending the next three weeks desperately trying to snatch a peek at the TV during the daytime or, at least, making an early evening appointment with the daily highlights show. For Messrs Millar, Boulting and Boardman, July 1st – 23rd is a slog around the ‘Hexagon’ as they commentate on the great race for ITV4. And this year sees them cover each stage in its entirety.

The trio were on hand at this year’s Eroica Britannia as invitees of sponsors Maserati for an informal chat and Q&A with vintage festival revellers who revealed a passion for the modern Tour. Despite more old fashioned Molteni, Brooklyn and Peugeot jerseys never being seen in one place at one time before, their wearers were desperate for the latest on Froome, Sagan and Quintana. 

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Join our Fantasy Tour de France Competition

It's now just over a week until the greatest annual sporting event on earth begins: the Tour de France. On 1st July the peloton tackle a 14km time trial through the streets of Dusseldorf followed by 9 flat stages favouring sprinters, 5 hilly stages for the rouleurs and breakaway riders, 5 mountain stages for the climbers and finishing with a 22.5km time trial in Marseille before the coronation of the Yellow jersey bearer in Paris.

Think you know who's going to win? You can test your cycling knowledge by joining our Fantasy Tour de France pool and win a prize of your choice from our online shop. It's free and fun!

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Eroica Britannia 2017: Photos and Report

Well...What a weekend! The sun shone; the most handsome steeds in the country were on show; gentlemen, ladies and children dressed up in their finest; New Romantic legends, ABC, took us back to 1987 and the fab disco had all generations dancing their socks off to cool funkadelia and 70's hits late into the night.

Take a look at our fabulous photos and find out all about it here.

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Rapha Nocturne 2017 in Pictures

Well done to Rapha for laying on such a fantastic event in the London Nocturne on Saturday night. A tricky, technical circuit resulted in quite a few thrills and spills. 

Cycling fan, Sir Paul Smith was there to watch a bit of racing as was Cycling Podcast's Richard Moore. We caught up with Ed Clancy before he set off with the elite men and got some great shots of the folding bike shenanigans and our favourite, the fixed gear Crit. It's all here!

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Top Ten Cycling Jerseys of All Time!

Our friends at GCN did a quick survey of the pro riders' favourite jerseys a few months ago. While one or two actually chose their own kit (Mentjes?) the guys showed pretty good taste with Greipel going for Indurain's Banesto jersey and Dumoulin opting for the classic Molteni. We had some fun choosing our own Top Ten, trying to spread them out over the last six decades. Apologies for the 80s bias, a giveaway about our age here. Let us know what you think!

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200 Years of Bicycles! "Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.”

“Whoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity.”
Lord Charles Beresford

Next week , on 12th June, we will be celebrating 200 years since the first documented journey by bicycle. In that time we have seen it develop from something that resembled a balance bike to the state of the art modern machines we know and love today.  

The humble bicycle was a simple invention that still conjures up complex and powerful emotions and has moved some of our great thinkers from Einstein to Roland Barthes to philosophise over it. Meanwhile its impact on society has been enormous. What is it about the bike that stirs these feelings and thoughts and what does the future hold in store for it?

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David Millar: The Next Chapter

“Being an elite athlete – there’s a certain time in your life when you can do it. And the reason it was so hard in 2014 was because my head had started to fall off. I couldn’t really do it anymore.”

Comfortably ensconced in the plush surrounds of a smart hotel on the outskirts of Bakewell prior to a preview for the upcoming Eroica Britannia, David Millar spoke to Ride Velo about life in the peloton, his last year at Garmin and revealed how he’s forging a new life for himself.

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The Demise of the Unwritten Rules of the Peloton?

As Tom Dumoulin lost two minutes of his lead in the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday as a result of a mistimed ‘comfort break’, fans and commentators were up in arms about the fact that his rivals took advantage of him being caught short. To many it seemed that the likes of Nibali, Zakarin and Quintana were breaking some of the age-old unwritten rules of professional cycling - that you don’t exploit a rider’s mechanical (or other) misfortune, especially when they’re wearing the leader’s jersey.

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