Ventoux

Our guest writer & friend Leigh send us few lines about his experience with us at Mt Ventoux a couple months back...

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Firstly thank you so much for organising it Stef. Even when it went tits up with the airport strikes you managed to sort it all for us.

It was an amazing trip and I look forward to going on more with Saddle Drunk in the future. I was surprised how easy it was to get to Ventoux from London with the bikes on the plane and train. It was great that you had booked everything for us. Made the journey very straightforward, even after I went to the wrong terminal to begin with.

The accommodation was perfect. Plenty of space for us, very near Ventoux and came with great chef 😉. I loved the warm up ride to the very snazzy bar on the mountain. Excellent way to prepare for the next day's ascent(s).

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From a cold grey London in the morning I was now sitting on the mountain in the afternoon, enjoying beautiful views with great beer and greater company. Who could ask for more. I absolutely loved climbing Ventoux.

I couldn't have asked for better weather and better climbing companions. Apart from obviously reaching the top twice the highlight really was the hybrid pain au chocolate/almond croissant (most delicious pastry I have ever had).

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I will definitely be back to climb the mountain again. I need to bag the 3 ascents now. It is an addictive climb which really is legendary. Thank you to yourself and Dave for making the weekend such a joy.

Thank you very much Leigh & if you like more informations for our next trip across the continent please email us at ride@saddledrunk.com.

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Merry Xmas.

London 2 Paris 2017

By great demand our annual ride to Paris has been decided. Those are the date to pencil in your diary 16th to 18th of June. We will ride just over 300km of lovely rolling roads at an easy pace giving the opportunity to stay altogether.We will maintain throughout the journey the  "NO DROP" policy.

Dates of departure is 16th June from Ealing to Newhaven Ferry Port,approximately 105km.On the way there we will have a pit stop before reaching a nice restaurant to refill before jumping on the ferry.

The ferry ride to Dieppe is about 5 hour.As soon as we land in France we will ride along the famous "Avenue Verte",the old Paris to Dieppe rail track.

We will ride nearly 200km that day with stops along the route to refill and chill.

On arrival in Paris at Eiffel Tower we will do our photos before heading to the hotel.A quick shower to get ready for a lovely meal & a bit of socialising in the Parisian Suburbs.

 Around Paris!!

Around Paris!!

We will return to London on the 18th of June with Eurostar.

The price is for £ 250 which include:                                                                    

  • 1 x Driver/Mechanic to accompany the group 
  • Support Vehicle to provide mechanical and emergency assistance as required
  • Baggage transfer from UK to France
  • Bike return from Paris to London
  • Hotel 3 star (twin/double occupancy) on B&B basis
  • Ferry outbound including private cabin(twin occupancy)
  • Eurostar
  • Special Edition SaddleDrunk Jersey 

If you like more info or you would like to join us please email us at ride@saddledrunk.com.

SaddleDrunk Team.

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge,New Zealand

The SaddleDrunk Team has not returned to UK after a month Down Under.During our road trip we met copious amount of Cyclists & Triathletes. A particular rider volunteered to be our guest writer and share with the SaddleDrunk Community an event he attended.The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge 2016. 

The skies overhead looked threatening as the thousands of riders gathered to take part in the 40th Annual Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. Some rain droplets hit the up-turned riders faces as they were waiting to start in their selected categories for the iconic 160km loop around the spectacular Lake Taupo.

Fortunately, the rains did not come and it was a record-breaking day across all the categories, with the fastest time of 3hrs 39 minutes going to Aaron Gate. The fastest Round The Lake female of the day was Kate Mcilroy who was the first female ever to crack the sub 4hr barrier with just 12 seconds to spare. The 2016 event turned out to be a stunning day, heating up towards the end of the challenge when the sun came out in full force to provide warmth to the elated finishers who spent time mingling around the event village, recounting their epic journey around the Lake and enjoying a picnic style lunch and festivities.

The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is definitely New Zealand’s premier cycling event with fun and serious racing combined, having started way back in 1977 when only 26 riders lined up together to raise funds for the local IHC (ihc.org.nz), supporting people with Intellectual Disabilities.  Since then, more than 200,000 people have taken part in this annual fixture that saw 10,000 riders participate in its heyday.  After a few challenging years where numbers dipped, the event has always retained its title as New Zealand’s biggest cycling event for the masses. This year almost 7,000 cyclists turned out from across all the categories including the solo and elite groups. The mountain bike event categories that utilises the famous Craters of the Moon MTB Park in Taupo attracted one of the largest group of riders of any event in the country. 

2016 saw 23 countries across the globe participate with the majority of international visitors coming from Australia. So, if you are looking for an excuse to visit New Zealand this 2017 year, the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is the perfect excuse. You can sign up for this event, spend time in Taupo and then when the event is over, you can check out many other stunning cycling opportunities in the Central North Island; take a look at ridenz.co for a more MTB focused website in the region. It pays to organize well ahead of time, as this amazing event sees the population of Taupo almost double with more than 17,000 spectators and supporters streaming in for one big fun-filled weekend.  As part of the experience, the Great Lake Cycle Trail should not be missed.  It is highly recommended to plan your New Zealand trip to allow enough time to visit some of NZ’s Great Rides like the Timber Trail, Waikato River Trails and the Mountains to Sea. All of these rides are within easy reach of Taupo and would make your journey to New Zealand a fantastic cycling-centric holiday.

If the fast and furious criterium racing appeals to you, then you can also experience the criterium event which is held on Friday night through the centre of Taupo in front of a good sized crowd with cycling legend Robbie McEwen providing non-stop commentary, for the record Robbie also took part in the160km Round The Lake fun event. If you want to ride in the criterium, you can enter the elite category (provided you have an elite license) and mix it up with the big boys of New Zealand racing.  There is an open category also.

ABOUT LAKE TAUPO CYCLE CHALLENGE

The first organised ride around Lake Taupo was in 1977 when local schoolteacher, Walter de Bont gathered 25 others to ride with him to raise funds for what was then the local IHC charity.  Walter, who was the event patron sadly passed away in October 2016. 

The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is best known for its 160-km Round The Lake ride, a one-lap circumnavigation of Lake Taupo, but this is just one of the 13 categories on offer with short and longer road cycling and mountain bike course options for individuals and groups, catering to all levels of cycling and fitness abilities, including young children who ride the 5km Kids Heart Ride.  Because it was the 40th anniversary, it was a blast from the past as retro clad cyclists turned up on their retro bikes for pre-event build up the day before the main 160km event.  There was plenty of colour about as there were prizes up for grabs for the best 70s costume, best retro bike and first across the line on the criterium circuit which provided ample entertainment for the spectators just before the serious criterium racing begun.

According to Event Organizer Aaron Carter, “The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is a celebration. It’s an incredible, unique opportunity for thousands of like-minded people to spend time together to connect and share what they love, which seems to be getting off the couch and onto their bikes in one of NZ’s truly great regions, Lake Taupo.”

If you are thinking about planning a New Zealand cycling holiday this year, do consider signing up for the 41st edition of the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge to be held on Saturday 25 November 2017 and then design the rest of your trip around this amazing New Zealand event. You can jump onto their website to start your planning process, sign up to enter the race this November.

Until next time a big thank you to Daniel to write this amazing article and providing amazing photos.

Have a good week everyone & stay safe on the road.

SD Team.

 

Vamos en España , 23rd March 2017 !!

Ciao a tutti,

In collaboration with PA Cyclism we have created a cycling package to Spain for March 2017. Those Spanish tour can be for Road Bikes or Mountain Bikes. There will be plenty of climbing this is why the area has been used copious times by the VUELTA.

 Fresh water to keep you hydrated.

Fresh water to keep you hydrated.

 History on route.

History on route.

The date for March trip is departure on 23rd of March 2017 and return on the 26th late evening.

3 Days of cycling + 3 Nights = 570€ plus flight

 Every night amazing fresh food.

Every night amazing fresh food.

The prices above includes:

  • Half Board accommodation in double room
  • Great local Staff to make your wonderful trip amazing
  • Daily Energy pack (gel + bars + powder)
  • Transfer from & to Madrid Airport
  • Daily Support Vehicle to transfer your luggage between hotels
  • Full travel Insurance
  • Free Cycling Jersey
 Wild Nature

Wild Nature

We have left the freedom to each individuals to book their own flights,given them the flexibility to stay longer or depart at different times.

If you are interested in joining us please email for more infos at ride@saddledrunk.com

The World Famous Stage 4 of the Granfondo China.

Last week everyone in the world was admiring and talking about the crash that happened at the finish line in Dali right next to the Olympic Stadium.

Road.CC was the one advertising in the western world, unfortunately they have reported what they picked up from local medias in China & Riders that were not there,and even worst then ever made no contacts to the Organising Team.Quite unprofessional I would say. 

I was there,and this happened few hundreds yards before my crossing on the line.Therefore, it would be unfair for me to explain this and also because I feel a quite passionate about the accident.

Therefore an anonymous rider that was in the pack writes to us to understand.

There appears to be gross misinformation and interpretation going rampant on global social media about what happened at the Yunnan Gran Fondo Day four spectacular crash. This is a comment in the attempt to shed light on what actually happened in China and for the record, it could happen to any organiser in the world.  Something similar had happened in Texas racing in the past where the lead group and chase group go separate ways on the race course, although not on the same scale in Dali. First, lets correct some facts. There were allegations that the lead car went the wrong way and that the organiser, Nordic Ways, deny fault. Both are un-true and come from people interviewed that were not even at the race. It seems that most of the Western media, including road.cc just copies the story released by China Press Agency Xinhua without verifying any of the facts including misquoting the name of the event. The statement that 17 cyclists were hospitalised as a result of that crash is also incorrect. There were many crashes, as is normal in bike racing, during the high speed stage and those riders went to the hospital. It is quite common for riders in China to be taken to the hospital as a precaution.  

Where is the investigative journalism in the sport of cycling?  Are journalists in the sport just seeking sensationalism without checking facts?  It was unfortunate that the local Chinese media based their reports on testimonies provided by people who had not even witnessed the crash accident and never bothered to verify claims with the race director or relevant people in the organisation.  This has led to Western media picking this up and re-publishing; thus creating the social media storm we are witnessing now. 

There was no doubt that the local organisation made a mistake with the final corner that led the lead group riders to take the wrong side of the road.  It was also announced immediately after the crash that damages of any kind would be compensated. This shows that Nordic Ways was taking responsibility for the incident, so the claim that the organisers refused to take the blame is ludicrous. It should also be remembered that a number of riders from the lead group said afterwards “as a rider you also need to keep using your head”.

As it happens, I was part of the lead group contesting the stage and now will offer my view on what happened in those last few moments of the 125km stage around the ErHai Lake of Dali. 

Firstly, this type of crash with riders from opposing directions hitting each other like Spartacus on bikes is perhaps a one-of-a-kind. As far as I know this type of crash had never happened before in the history of cycling and, statistically speaking, it is highly unlikely it will never happen again. It also could happen to any organiser and not just because it is in China. There seems to be an undercurrent of borderline racist comments happening on social media channels without any basis. These are people who have never before raced in China, perhaps never even been to China on a visit.  China does actually put on fantastic events and they are run with a high safety record. If you have raced in other countries like Philippines or other South East Asian places, you will understand how chaotic it can be. 

Think about it for a second, a peloton sprinting in full flight in the wrong direction to the finish-line and colliding with a second group of racers sprinting in the correct direction, makes for potentially a nasty fatal crash. Fortunately, all riders made it through relatively unscathed despite nearly 20 riders hitting the deck crashing into riders head on.  The final corner in question should have been marked and marshalled by local police officials. It transpired that the two assigned workers for the left-hand corner that led to the finishing straight, approx 800m before the finish-line, bungled the corner. They did not follow instructions given to them and they closed off the corner on the outside with tape instead of the inside. The workers had also placed bright orange cones but spaced too far apart, thus in the heat of the action the lead group followed the first rider and thats how the large group went down the wrong side of the road. Further confusing riders was the red banner on the right side of the road next to the correct banner.

I truly don’t know what was going on in their minds when the decision was made to do the U-turn and sprint again when it was crystal clear that the riders went down the wrong finishing chute?

Perhaps it was desperation for a result and thus prize money that is on offer?  What happened was truly the worst possible way to crash. There was a small group of five riders contesting the sprint amongst themselves (they had been gapped off the front group due to the crash with 4km to go). The rider in red buried himself and did not look up during his final 150m sprint. When he did look up, it was too late; he had smashed into the first rider also sprinting to the finish-line. It was miraculous that all riders came out of the crash with minor injuries; the damage was restricted to one broken collar-bone and one broken finger plus plenty of bruises. 

If there was no prize money on offer, would the riders still be so desperate to sprint in the wrong direction to win a bike race?

Back to the final corner blunder. In hind-sight, which is always 20-20, if riders themselves took on responsibility by scouting out the last 1km of the course, it may have prevented the events that happened as all would know to take the left side of the road after the corner. But then again, the organisers need to make it water-tight so that it is impossible for riders to take the wrong turn.  

This whole incident shines light on how important it is for protecting rider safety by ensuring water-tight courses. This was an unfortunate incident that transpired but lets not get caught up on the idea that it could only happen in China; it could happen anywhere. 

Racing in China is a unique experience for foreigners and lets not let an event like this prevent you from exploring the racing scene yourself, should you ever have the opportunity.   Nordic Ways has been putting on events in China for more than 10 years and have a solid reputation for putting on iconic events. They are also responsible for popularising the Gran Fondo movement in China. Visit their website for more details - www.granfondochina.com

Thank you