Granfondo Yunnan 2018...Part 1..

Ni Hao !

Ciao & Welcome to China in the beautiful & colourful Yunnan area.

 A view of Mangshi from the Temple.

A view of Mangshi from the Temple.

For me is the second time attending the lovely Granfondo Yunnan thanks to the great relationship with Niclas Hellqvist & Kris Van de Velde from Nordic Ways.

We(Tom & I) arrived from London on Friday in the local town of Manghsi where Kris picked us up from the airport to go to the hotel followed with a lovely catch up chat to inform me of all the new changes are in place this year edition since 3 years ago when i have last attended.

 The Start Line!!

The Start Line!!


The Saturday,which I was supposed to be home due to wife’s birthday, I was instead a prepping the bikes and get few bits & pieces(cit A.P) sorted before the 8.5KM Prologue (Individual Climb Time Trial) in the afternoon.

As expected knowing the great qualities of Kris to pick and choose for his events only the best routes, that in the afternoon we were going to have a go at something peculiar & stunning.

The start was by the side of a lake next to a dam,then we had to race around the perimeter of this lake with some “mangia e bevi” before hitting a nice 1.1 Km tree covered climb with 8% average incline finishing at the top by the entrance of a temple. Some of the serious boys here racing for the prizes made it in a stunning pace.

 Saturday night local dinner in Mangshi Square

Saturday night local dinner in Mangshi Square

Stage 1, on Sunday was the so called “ Border Ride” ,105km race to the town of Ruili coasting along the border with Myanmar(Burma) and finishing at the border check point. Due to the location & altitude the climate is tropical, where trees,plants & flower grow freely all year round to enable us to experience an enrich sceneries with plenty of colours & smells.

 Lunch Stop.

Lunch Stop.

After the stage some of us went together for lunch to an amazing restaurant.The groups of us was a mix of 14 riders from 4 continents and 13 nationalities.Taking part at Nordic ways events are always great experience,because thanks to our passion of cycling individuals from different origins comes together for the sport.

 Dinner time.

Dinner time.

Stage 2,on Monday we start & finished from the border check point routing us through the city of Ruili before hitting only after 9km from the start a nice 16Km climb with an average of 5% with peaks up to 10%. The ascent was pretty via little villages & nature before reaching the peak and throwing us descending into a false plain with a misty & foggy atmosphere. Followed by that we had at km 56 a climb for 10KM with an average of 6% before riveting in a serious of roller coasting hills taking us back to the finish line…

 Tom being chased.

Tom being chased.

Kris has been good to all of us participant giving us a rest day,so we could rest but also move from Ruili to Tengchong for the Queen’s stage(Stage 3) of the event with 185km with a total climb of 3000m.

 Teng Chong at Sunset.

Teng Chong at Sunset.

For now is Ciao & Arrivederci from Yunnan on Sunday the 11th of November part 2 will be published…

STAY TUNED TO BE CONTINUED……

SD

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.

Cycling Dreams, South Africa

I met Jessica last year at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle , Switzerland while visiting Tegshee. He was great to speak with her and listen to her story.

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My name is Jessica Brown, I have been cycling for 7-8years. Three of those years being a professional cyclist for a women's team in South Africa and two years being a national representative. I have achievements on the road and track,

I've also represented SA at 3 international events as a junior and 2 track training camps at the WCC (World Cycling Center) in Switzerland. I'm am the 500m, team sprint and points Junior Track African Champ for 2017 and Team Sprint record holder. 

My experience as a young cycling was quite tough. I was thankful to have development teams (Uber Development & Lorraine BestMed) that helped where they could. 

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We did not have many races or sponsorship to support our young rider back then and yet still today. Progress from U/16 to junior and elite is a big step for the youngsters and in the process we've lost many young riders , parents also play a big role in our cycling lives financially and supportively. Many found it expensive and unfortunately had to pull there kids out of this amazing sport. 

Two of my biggest and most amazing races in SA was the Cape August Cycle Tour and Paarl Boxing Day track event. These two events were my biggest events as a youngster, organizers and supporters brought an amazing welcoming and supportive atmosphere with some of the best races in SA. 

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My expectations for young riders is for CSA (Cycling South Africa) to develop a development project, including all 6 cycling sports (road,track,bmx,mountain biking,xco and para cycling) . This will help the riders and provinces to see what development is needed to be put into the rider and performance expected. 

I also would love to see more development functions for the youth and not only coaches as we all need the guidance to show us the right direction and to make those big discussions. We expect to see more support from sponsorships and international recognition for our riders international and local. 

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Young riders in SA mostly dream of making it as an international professional cyclist. Junior Worlds is there main goal, until they realize there is bigger fish out there to catch, after junior worlds there dream or goals get bigger aiming to the Olympic Games. Where others dream of representing there country with pride and making every move to get SA recognized and show them we can do it. 

My dream was always to be a professional cyclist and win an Olympic medal for my country in the 200m flying lap and 500m time trial. After my dream and goals give back to the youth and show them the direction and guid them to a successful future. 

Thank you for sharing your dreams with us.

SD Team.

La Vacanza e' Finita!!

Ciao a tutti,

Now the holidays are over and we will be getting back to the normal life,routines, activities.

We will spent the next few rides chit chatting away about the amazing holidays we had & peoples we met..

 Photo Credits of PA-Cyclism

Photo Credits of PA-Cyclism

Brain cells will start to plan for your next trip,goal.target or PB's...Always remember to stay concentrate on the road while talking on the saddle.

Therefore if you let me, I would like to give you few cycling events which are worth taking part:

  1. The Road World Championships 2017 Granfondo in Bergen,Norway just less the 4 weeks away;
  2. Leg of Steel 2017 in the Surrey Hill it say on the tin..good riding.Amazing event organised by Ful On Tri (30th of September); 
  3. Our few days trip around the Mount Ventoux, 8th to the 10th of October email us at ride@saddledrunk.com for more info;
  4.  The stunning KOM in Taiwan ,for real climbers not for the faint hearted (October 2017);
  5. The Granfondo China in November ,multi stages event in the stunning Yunnan (November 2017);
  6. We also have another little trip away to Majorca from the 6th to the 9th of November, email us at ride@saddledrunk.com for more info;
  7. Ethiopia Wild Bike organised by a good friend Willy at PA Cyclism (December 2017);
  8. Another one is the Patagonia,Argentina & Chile ride, for real wilderness (December 2017);
  9. Finally my favourite...The Mongolia Bike Challenge....Mongolia is a stunning country,people are amazing and this is the best way to see the true colours (August 2018);
 The beautiful Colours of Yunnan.

The beautiful Colours of Yunnan.

Those ones are my favourite that I would like to share with you. So now is time to shape up, to keep dreaming or start dreaming.

Be determine and you will reach your destinations, push your limits.Don 't create barriers that are not needed.Just do it.

SD 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.