The Rides

by / 2670 posts

The Ride. It is the cathedral of our sport, where we worship at the altar of the Man with the Hammer. It is the end to our means. Indeed, The Bike may be the central tool to our sport, but to turn the pedals is to experience the sensation of freedom, of flight. It is all for The Ride.

The world is overflowing with small, twisty roads that capture our collective imagination as cyclists. We spend our lifetimes searching out the best routes and rides; we pore over maps, we share with our fellow disciples, we talk to non-cycling locals all in pursuit of the Perfect Ride.

The Rides is devoted entirely to the best routes and rides around the world. Some are races or cyclosportives, others feature in the Classics and stages of The Great Races, while others still are little-known gems, discovered through careful meditation on The V. Be warned: these rides are not your average Sunday Afternoon spin; these rides are the best and most difficult rides in the word – they represent the rites of passage into La Vie Velominatus. It is to be taken for granted that these rides require loads of Rule #5, many of them Rule #10, and all of them are best enjoyed in Rule #9 conditions. They have been shared by you, the community. The Rides also features articles devoted to the greatest rides and providess a forum for sharing other rides for discussion.

If you’d like to submit a ride or an article about your own favorite ride, please feel free to send it to us and we’ll do our best to work with you to include it.

Haleakala

Category: Grimpeur / Distance: 56km / Location: Paia, Maui, Hawaii, USA

haleakala

Haleakala is simultaneously the longest paved continuous climb in the world as well as the shortest ascent from sea level to 10,000 feet in the world. Though not terribly steep, this is a long, grinding climb that will reduce a strong rider to a whimpering lump.

To put the effort in perspective, this climb is 60km long a an average of 6% with two pitches as steep as 17%. That translates to somewhere between 3 or more hours of nonstop climbing, usually in Maui’s direct heat and often into a whipping headwind that spins around into a headwind no matter which direction the switchbacks take you.

Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/50412514

Liege-Bastogne-Liege

Category: Rouleur / Distance: 265 / Location: Liege, Belgium

lbl

Liege-Bastogne-Liege is not only La Doyenne, the oldest of the Classics, but also represents perhaps the most demanding course in cycling. The 280 km, 3000m vertical route starts with an easy ride out from Liege to Bastogne which lulls riders into a false sense of security; the hills are frequent, but none of them terribly demanding. Into Bastogne, and the story changes on the way back to Liege with 9 categorized climbs in the second half, including the fearsome Côte de la Redoute and the Côte de Saint-Nicolas.

Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/58053308/

Paris-Roubaix

Category: Hardman / Distance: 265 / Location: Compiégne, France

paris-roubaix

L’enfur du Nord. The Hell of The North. The Queen of the Classics. This isn’t a ride over the stones from your local brick-paved roads. You think climbs are what make a ride tough? We’ve got news for you: this is the hardest ride on the planet and it boasts a maximum elevation of 55 meters. These are vicious, brutal stones; the kind that will stretch each kilometer to their full length, the kind of stones that you will feel long after the rattling of the bars has stopped. These stones will change you. Forever.

Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/58052610/

Guide: Pavé Cycling Classics

Mortirolo/Gavia Loop

Category: Grimpeur / Distance: 115km / Location: Bormio, Italy / Contributor: Joe

The Mortirolo is perhaps the most feared pass in Western Europe, and the Gavia the most storied. Given their proximity to each other, its a wonder why this isn’t the most talked-about ride in Italy. Maybe it is; its impossible to say without being Italian. The loop nature of this ride makes it feasible as a solo escapade, but any ride with the kind of stats this one bears – 3200 meters ascended in 115 kilometers including the viscously steep Mortirolo – is best enjoyed with a riding partner or support car.

Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/59027020/

200 on 100

Category: Grimpeur / Distance: 330km / Location: Vernon, VT / Contributor: cdelinks

“Dumptruck of Awesome” has become the catch-phrase associated with this brutally hard, yet strikingly beautiful 330 kilometer (200 mile) ride down Vermont Route 100.  This ride was made popular during the summer of 2011 when Ted King, Tim Johnson, and a local amateur cyclist, Ryan Kelly, documented this ride on film. The ride starts on the Canadian border and finishes on the Massachusetts border.  With over 2500 meters of climbing on this 330 kilometer ride, you will need to pack a few lunches to get through this one.  Do this ride in the Fall, and the foliage might be beautiful enough to distract you from the horrible pain you will most certainly suffer.

Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/58052808/

De Ronde Van West Portlandia

Category: Grimpeur / Distance: 76km / Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

A ride that officially “never happens” each spring, this 76 km route charts a course through Portland’s West Hills, paying homage to the European Spring Classics. Approximately 1,800 meters of paved and unpaved climbs are spread throughout the course, with several sections reaching grades of over 20%. More information can be found at Ronde PDX.

Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/15276210

Seattle Master Urban Ride

Category: Rouleur / Distance: 130km / Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

seattleronde

This is perhaps the most challenging urban route in Seattle, hitting three of the big hills that define Seattle’s topography. The route starts and ends on Phinney Ridge, but hits the climbs of Interlaken and Alder Street/Lake Dell Drive on its way to Mercer Island, before coming back to hit Queen Anne and Magnolia, weaving its way up each of these hills as many times as possible via the steepest route available before the finale to the north via Golden Gardens, Blue Ridge Drive, and Carkeek Park. Panoramic views of the Cascades, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, The Olympic Penninsula and Puget Sound makes this a standout Urban ride.

Route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/57732282

  1. @ChrisO

    Chapeau indeed! I’m sure you represented yourself and the Velominati admirably. Nothing like doing a wee bit more than your fair share on the front to endear you to a group of strangers. (The opposite also holds true!)




    0
  2. Did anyone ride the Eroica Britannia??? If so, photos!!!

    I’ll be there reiterate next year or in 2019!




    0
  3. “Either”, not reiterate!




    0
  4. @Buck Rogers

    Did anyone ride the Eroica Britannia??? If so, photos!!! I’ll be there reiterate next year or in 2019!

    0

    The heresy with the numbers was at the request of the organisers to assist the marshals. The Rule #29 apparent infringement is that both bikes run tubs and if you put all your gear in a woolen jersey the darned thing ends up around your knees like some old granny! So that’s my buddy on The Butler and me on the Gios. Should have some official photos in a little while.




    0
  5. Only did the 90 Km as it was blazing hot and my buddy was doing the middle distance so that was a good excuse. These two are from a previous year but on the route this year too (there were no clouds this year) but in the 90 Km I think well over 50% seemed to be on Strade – and some of it pretty rough.




    0
  6. Might look to do this next year http://www.anjou-velo-vintage.com/en/




    0
  7. looks like a gorgeous ride on a gorgeous bike.




    0
  8. @Teocalli

    @Buck Rogers

    Did anyone ride the Eroica Britannia??? If so, photos!!! I’ll be there reiterate next year or in 2019!

    0

    The heresy with the numbers was at the request of the organisers to assist the marshals. The Rule #29 apparent infringement is that both bikes run tubs and if you put all your gear in a woolen jersey the darned thing ends up around your knees like some old granny! So that’s my buddy on The Butler and me on the Gios. Should have some official photos in a little while.

    0

    Bloody Hell! That is just mindblowingly awesome!!! Cannot WAIT to do it in a year or two. Definitely doing Limberg next year and maybe one of the Italian ones!

    Just got the final pieces to my Hinault build and I am sending them off to the guy who is assembling it all for me. Bob Jacksons finished with the 753 frame building with original early ’80’s Campag dropouts, chroming the forks and rear chain stay, and using an original Cinelli early ’80’s BB housing.

    Big Al came through again and built me up some 36 spoke tubulars on NOS Ambrosio Durex Montreal rims with Campag SR hubs. I have sourced all original early ’80’s Campag SR gourpo parts to include the old pedals with Binda toestraps. Cannot wait to get it soon.

    Only things that have me worried are the 21 mm tubulars on those gravel-esque roads and the 53/41 13-24 freewheel that I have on it. The cranks came with 53/42 and I could only find 41 that would fit on the 1985 Campag SR crankset that I have. Could not find a 39 that would fit that year’s Crankset diameters. Still searching for a 25 or 26 for the rear cassette.

    Your ride just looks unbelievable! I am so jealous (but not for long!)!




    0
  9. @Teocalli

    Might look to do this next year http://www.anjou-velo-vintage.com/en/

    0

    Oh dear LORD! These Eroica rides are so amazing!!! Cannot wait to get involved!




    0
  10. @Buck Rogers

    I run 25mm, Veloflex Paris Roubaix on The Butler and Vittoria G+ on the Gios. I compromised on the cranks on both and fit period Stronglight so that I could run 50/36 Chainrings. I have 14-28 Blocks on both. These events seem to delight at throwing in a few steep offroad climbs – as well as steep on road ones and my knees need all the help I can give them through gearing! You will need robust tyres – they do throw in some pretty rough tracks.

    I was feeling a bit dead legged for the second half of the ride and my buddy started setting the pace towards the end. It was only on getting home and cleaning the Gios that I realised I had been dragging the rear brake! No wonder I was feeling something was a bit sluggish.

    Can’t wait to see your finished article.




    0
  11. @Teocalli

    Ha! The Gods of the V paid you in kind for your compact by sabotaging your brakes!

    Yeah, the guy helping me to source and assemble all the parts is doing it for free (I pay for all the parts but he helps to find them and make sure that they are perfect and spotless) but he is totally insisting on it being an absolutely perfect 1985 Hinault bike, right down to the 21 mm tubs. Once ai blow a few I’ll replace them with FMB 25 mm ones but form the gate, they’ll be the period correct 21’s and I’ll be “cheating” with the 41 on front as opposed to the 42!




    0
  12. @Buck Rogers

    It is bloody good fun searching out components. If a bit expensive at times!




    0
  13. H

    Here’s his 1986 La Vie Claire that he is finishing up while doing my ’85. Ever piece is legitimate 1986 or early (except the tubs, I guess!).

    He is just amazing and used to race in the later ’70’s through the ’80’s and was a bike mechanic for decades.




    0
  14. @Teocalli

    @Buck Rogers It is bloody good fun searching out components. If a bit expensive at times!

    0

    So FUCKING expensive!!! I was hoping to come in around $1,000 to $1,500 for my ’85 but I have easily gone twice that now. Really good nick Campag SR costs and arm and leg these days! (not to mention the “false”advertising and having to send stuff back for refunds and getting it again somewhere else).

    Luckily for me, it is all bought and paid for at this point (started last December) and the VMH has not killed me just yet!!!

    Still have to get some period shoes but I have all of the ’85 LVC jersey/bibs/casquette (Rule whatever-the-fuck-it-is-about-wearing-old-kit-be-damned!) and a good Belgian hairnet (not to mention pristine white socks!).

    But it is hell to find size 43 early ’80’s Sidi shoes! If you get a lead on some, let me know!




    0
  15. @Buck Rogers

    @Teocalli

    Guys, since you are discussing vintage builds… I have an early 80’s Somec with Super Record that would be ideal for these rides. The only thing I wonder about is that some of these Eroica rides have some serious descents along with the climbs, but my old SR brakes are pretty weak and pucker-inducing on the steep stuff. Would it be worth it to source some period correct Modolos (or similar), or just run the Campa and deal with the limitations? I don’t have experience with much else.

    To do these rides I’d also have to look into some good old shoes, too. If I find some Sidis in your size, Buck, I’ll let you know.




    0
  16. @Buck Rogers

    @Teocalli

    @Buck Rogers It is bloody good fun searching out components. If a bit expensive at times!

    0

    So FUCKING expensive!!! I was hoping to come in around $1,000 to $1,500 for my ’85 but I have easily gone twice that now. Really good nick Campag SR costs and arm and leg these days! (not to mention the “false”advertising and having to send stuff back for refunds and getting it again somewhere else). Luckily for me, it is all bought and paid for at this point (started last December) and the VMH has not killed me just yet!!! Still have to get some period shoes but I have all of the ’85 LVC jersey/bibs/casquette (Rule whatever-the-fuck-it-is-about-wearing-old-kit-be-damned!) and a good Belgian hairnet (not to mention pristine white socks!). But it is hell to find size 43 early ’80’s Sidi shoes! If you get a lead on some, let me know!

    0

    Fellas, I have some Campag SR stuff – rear derailleur, braze-on front mech, Cobalto brakes.Got an 80s Mavic chainset and rear dereilleur too. (The rear mech is when Mavic were doing the kinda angular stuff) Not doing much of anything in my tool boxes and in pretty good nick. Spread the word. I’ll sell for a reasonable price – whatever that is these days.




    0
  17. @Teocalli

    Love the blue colour of the Gios. Bad news: looks like I will not be able to join the Limburg Eroica since I need to be back in the land of cheese and chocolate early Sunday morning. So will do penance on Friday and Saturday here instead. Too bad, really.




    0
  18. @wiscot

    Tempting but I fear the overhead of US/UK shipment would make it impractical.




    0
  19. @Frank – I seem to be having posting issues when I include an embedded link. Is that a glitch or are they being held somewhere?




    0
  20. @MangoDave

    You do have to live within the limitations of vintage brakes. Makes me wonder how we survived as kids! One think I have found it you need to use modern rubber in the blocks as vintage may look nice for display but for braking 40 year old blocks are not to be recommended.

    For shoes I have decided to bite the bullet and go for modern vintage style shoes for comfort as both sets of vintage shoes I have are killers on long rides. The might look the d’s b’s but when your feet go numb they are not so good.




    0
  21. @Teocalli

    Ah, you’re right. Sending anything that weighs more than a feather across the pond gets ridiculously expensive.




    0
  22. @MangoDave

    @Buck Rogers @Teocalli Guys, since you are discussing vintage builds… I have an early 80’s Somec with Super Record that would be ideal for these rides. The only thing I wonder about is that some of these Eroica rides have some serious descents along with the climbs, but my old SR brakes are pretty weak and pucker-inducing on the steep stuff. Would it be worth it to source some period correct Modolos (or similar), or just run the Campa and deal with the limitations? I don’t have experience with much else. To do these rides I’d also have to look into some good old shoes, too. If I find some Sidis in your size, Buck, I’ll let you know.

    0

    Ooooh! You’re asking the wrong guy here! The only experience I have with vintage bikes is when I started racing in the late 1980’s I had toeclips and DT shifters!

    Like most things I do, I heard about Eroica, did a tiny amount of “research”, decided it was the greatest fucking thing ever thought of, dumped way too much money into it and now I am hooked and cannot wait to get my final build in about two to three weeks!

    That being said, if all the gear is in good shape (and you have new brake pads) I see no reason that it would not be safe. I am going to be running 1985 Campag SR brakes with new pads and I do not see why I cannot descend like anyone of my ability could with them in 1985.

    And thanks for keeping an eye out for some euro size 42.5 to 43 Sidis from the ’80s for me! Any help that I can get is greatly appreciated. It is the last bit of kit/bike that I need!




    1
  23. I have a pair of size 43 black leather Duegis doing nothing. They’re in pretty good shape. No insole. Beautifully soft black leather with lots of little perforations. Interested? We could chat off-site if you are.




    0
  24. @wiscot

    Sent you a PM. I’m actually a 43.5 in my 3 modern pairs of Sidi but I have very narrow feet so if your shoes are leather, there’s a good chance they’ll stretch and fit fine.




    0
  25. @Buck Rogers

    PM me about the shoes… your two-word handle is causing trouble for the message feature and it can’t ID you.




    0
  26. @Buck Rogers

    At this year’s Eroica Limburg in Margraten:

    Unique in the route this year is the passing of the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, the only American military cemetery in the Netherlands. Here the heroes from the past are being honoured, perfectly suitable for Eroica, honouring heroes. It is unique that a ride is allowed, but there are several rules.




    0
  27. Team cars for the week at L’eroica Limburg




    0
  28. Day out from Valkenburg to Henri Chapelle….




    0
  29. Super stuff, Mate! My bike is now complete.

    I just need to find a way to get it from Scotland to Germany now!

    Cannot wait to start riding it and joining in on these Eroica events!

    (although the L/XL Belgian hairnet ebay listing turned out to be a scam so I am still in need of a helmet but I did manage to get some NOS 1985 Vittoria shoes exactly like Phil Anderson wore that season pretty cheap!)




    0
  30. @Buck Rogers

    Super stuff, Mate! My bike is now complete.

    I just need to find a way to get it from Scotland to Germany now!

    Cannot wait to start riding it and joining in on these Eroica events!

    (although the L/XL Belgian hairnet ebay listing turned out to be a scam so I am still in need of a helmet but I did manage to get some NOS 1985 Vittoria shoes exactly like Phil Anderson wore that season pretty cheap!)

    0

    I’m seeing that someone is starting to remake hairnets for Eroica events. Getting originals in anything other than S seems like a rarity.




    0
  31. Did my first 100 mile TT on the weekend… bloody hell that was hard.

    It’s not just staying in position, it’s the constant pedalling – probably a good thing I do so much training on the turbo.

    I wasn’t sure how to pitch it but I tried to go out at 80-90% to get the miles done and then hold on to the finish however I could, rather than taking it easy and trying to ramp up. I was a bit worried when I overtook my minute man at about 10 miles in – wondered if I would see him coming past me later on !

    I just kept an eye on the average power and my average speed. Would have been happy with anything under 4hrs30 and my optimistic target was 4hrs15 (so avg 38 km/h). In the end I managed 4hrs10 so I was pretty pleased – and it’s close enough to aim for a sub 4 at some stage on a fast course.

    Not sure I can contemplate doing it again in a hurry though. Got a 50 next week which will seem easy ny comparison I hope – I’m aiming for a new PB and a sub-2.




    0
  32. @Teocalli

    @Buck Rogers

    Super stuff, Mate! My bike is now complete.

    I just need to find a way to get it from Scotland to Germany now!

    Cannot wait to start riding it and joining in on these Eroica events!

    (although the L/XL Belgian hairnet ebay listing turned out to be a scam so I am still in need of a helmet but I did manage to get some NOS 1985 Vittoria shoes exactly like Phil Anderson wore that season pretty cheap!)

    0

    I’m seeing that someone is starting to remake hairnets for Eroica events. Getting originals in anything other than S seems like a rarity.

    0

    Seems like there should be a good market for quality, original-like hairnets. Surprised they are not making any good ones.




    0
  33. @ChrisO

    Did my first 100 mile TT on the weekend… bloody hell that was hard.

    It’s not just staying in position, it’s the constant pedalling – probably a good thing I do so much training on the turbo.

    I wasn’t sure how to pitch it but I tried to go out at 80-90% to get the miles done and then hold on to the finish however I could, rather than taking it easy and trying to ramp up. I was a bit worried when I overtook my minute man at about 10 miles in – wondered if I would see him coming past me later on !

    I just kept an eye on the average power and my average speed. Would have been happy with anything under 4hrs30 and my optimistic target was 4hrs15 (so avg 38 km/h). In the end I managed 4hrs10 so I was pretty pleased – and it’s close enough to aim for a sub 4 at some stage on a fast course.

    Not sure I can contemplate doing it again in a hurry though. Got a 50 next week which will seem easy ny comparison I hope – I’m aiming for a new PB and a sub-2.




    0

    Dear GOD, Man! Why in hell would you do that?!?!? Bordering on Ironman madness there!

    But, in all seriousness, that is one HELL of a Bloody Fucking incredible ride! Chapeau!




    0
  34. @ChrisO

    Did my first 100 mile TT on the weekend… bloody hell that was hard.

    It’s not just staying in position, it’s the constant pedalling – probably a good thing I do so much training on the turbo.

    I wasn’t sure how to pitch it but I tried to go out at 80-90% to get the miles done and then hold on to the finish however I could, rather than taking it easy and trying to ramp up. I was a bit worried when I overtook my minute man at about 10 miles in – wondered if I would see him coming past me later on !

    I just kept an eye on the average power and my average speed. Would have been happy with anything under 4hrs30 and my optimistic target was 4hrs15 (so avg 38 km/h). In the end I managed 4hrs10 so I was pretty pleased – and it’s close enough to aim for a sub 4 at some stage on a fast course.

    Not sure I can contemplate doing it again in a hurry though. Got a 50 next week which will seem easy ny comparison I hope – I’m aiming for a new PB and a sub-2.

    0

    Chapeau indeed! That’s great for a first 100 – I was never quite that mad – I stopped at the 50 in TTs. (PB was 2:00:24) That’s a helluva machine you have there too – wow! But why no aero helmet? Too warm?




    0
  35. @wiscot Taking advantage of CTT rules !

    It was a bit warm yes, certainly by the last hour – very glad I wasn’t starting off at 9am, and the scratch rider ended up DNF.

    But also, because I don’t normally wear one I do tend to notice the extra weight on my neck muscles, especially a heavier aero helmet. And four hours in TT position has actually left my neck and shoulders more sore than my legs.

    As far as I’m aware a backwards cap is as good as, if not better, than any aero helmet anyway. While the fabric of speedsuits is faster than bare skin the helmets still have disadvantages. But I’d be lying if I said I was doing it for aero purposes.

    I do wear a helmet in most TTs as I find having the visor and being able to look up without looking over the top of the glasses is quite beneficial.




    0
  36. @ChrisO

    Yeah Gods. A Merckx. Chapeau.




    0
  37. good lord what a hard ride. that’s great stuff. congratulations!




    0
  38. @Buck Rogers

    Dear GOD, Man! Why in hell would you do that?!?!? Bordering on Ironman madness there!

    First thing I thought of too ! Ironman madness. 100 mile TT ?!? Never heard of such a thing except in Ironman races is essentially a 100 mile TT. @ChrisO cheers to that madness and effort. I did our club 10 mile TT last week… sounds so pathetic in comparison.




    0
  39. Well 50 done today and hit my target of going sub-2.

    Was on course for a 1.56/57 when I had a little incident at a junction and my chain got jammed in the derailleur in a weird way – lost a minute trying to get it out plus the momentum.

    In the end I did 1.58.10 and I guess the chain incident means I can realistically hope for a better time at some point – it’s a good course but it wasn’t a float day by any stretch of the imagination.

    I really tried to get down and aero after seeing the pictures from last week. My NP was about 25 watts lower than my previous 2 hour best but I was definitely more aero – my glutes were killing me after the ride rather than my hamstrings and quads so something was very different.




    0
  40. @ChrisO

    Chapeau




    0
  41. @ChrisO

    Well 50 done today and hit my target of going sub-2.

    Was on course for a 1.56/57 when I had a little incident at a junction and my chain got jammed in the derailleur in a weird way – lost a minute trying to get it out plus the momentum.

    In the end I did 1.58.10 and I guess the chain incident means I can realistically hope for a better time at some point – it’s a good course but it wasn’t a float day by any stretch of the imagination.

    I really tried to get down and aero after seeing the pictures from last week. My NP was about 25 watts lower than my previous 2 hour best but I was definitely more aero – my glutes were killing me after the ride rather than my hamstrings and quads so something was very different.

    0

    Nice one Chris! The seemingly never-ending power vs aero equation.

    I’ve finally got myself a power meter and in a TT a couple of weeks ago my average output was only 2 W lower than the guy who came 2nd (and who regularly beats me my 2 minutes over 10 miles). So either, my pacing is shoddy or I’m as aero as a brick wall. Probably a bit of both.

    But last week, in my last 10 of the season I paced on power, rode a really controlled race (apart from the last 500m where I was suddenly riding on fumes) and set a new PB- 22:16.

    Hit my season target of a sub-22:20 time and I know I can still get quicker.




    0
  42. @ChrisO

    Curious what kind of turn out do you see at these 50 and 100 TT’s ? You get a lot of people sign up (and pay ?!) for these efforts? I can imagine a 100 mile TT where I’m from just might attract a handful of folks (if none at all ??) at best but I have no idea. I’m not even sure where we could set one of these up. 100 miles of reasonably flat without a lot of back and forths on a stretch of road. That’d be a neat little challenge to create that course. Our club will run a little 10 mile series and our State Champ TT is 23 miles. 50’s and 100’s ? Those would be hard for sure. And not just to race but also to create and attract a lot of racers. Interesting idea though. Cheers for the efforts your’e doing.




    0
  43. @Randy C

    TTs are pretty popular in the UK – it has a lot of history from the days when road-racing was literally not permitted. It was the only way people could compete on a bike and was huge. I’m not sure when that changed but not until the 60s or 70s I think. I saw a photo recently of the programme from the 1953 annual TT association awards which were held at the Albert Hall in London – if you don’t know it, that’s like Carnegie Hall in New York !

    I gather it was a bit like an illegal rave – a course code would be publicised (they’re still used – the one I did on Sunday was Q50/11) riders would go to a point and set off at one minute intervals. Often wearing black, not club colours. So if anyone official asked it was just that all these gentlemen and ladies were individually riding their bikes as fast as possible.

    Consequentally the organising body, Cycling Time Trials, is not part of British Cycling and doesn’t follow UCI rules either. Most clubs will have a TT group within them and nearly every club does a 10 mile club TT on a Tuesday or Thursday in spring/summer, but there are some clubs which are basically known as attracting time triallists (or Testers as they’re often called), and more recently there are some sponsored teams like Drag2Zero and Team Bottrill who coach and specialise in TTs.

    So yeah they’re pretty well attended. Most events would have 90-120 entries depending on length and time of year. The 50 on Sunday had 100. Another strange legacy is there are often places for a number of tandems and tricycles – tends to be the older guys but on Sunday there were 5 trikes entered. They aren’t expensive either, usually under £10 to enter.

    In fact a TT on a fast course will often be so popular that you can’t get in unless you have a fast qualifying time (has to be set in the last three years). That was one reason I wanted to set a new PB although 1:58 still wouldn’t get me into some of the more popular ones. So some events will actually reserve places for the slowest entrants who are looking to improve their PBs but I’m annoyingly in the middle !

    Other variants are:

    Veterans Standards – as we don’t usually get faster as we get older there’s a thing called the Veterans’ Time Trial Association. In a VTTA event there’s a table of times called the Veterans’ Standards which is basically a target time which increase by a few seconds for each year. A bloke worked it all out in the 50s using mountains of records and they’ve pretty much stayed the same ever since. So the 50 mile target for a 50 year old is 2:20:00 and for a 40 year old it’s 2:17:52 and for a 65 year old it’s 2:28:38. That means when I did 1:58:10 I got a ‘plus’ time of 23:50. A 40 year old who did 1:56:52 would beat me by over a minute on scratch but I would win on standards because his plus time was only 21:00. There are usually prizes for outright place and for place on veterans’ standards at most events. The table goes from 40 to 100, and I have seen a 90 year old competing – in fact he won on standard !

    SPOCO – so because a lot of testers are very obsessed with getting PBs what can happen is they either don’t enter unless it’s a fast course and then if it’s bad weather they just don’t turn up. A ‘float day’ is the term people use for days when conditions are perfect. And when people don’t turn up you get big gaps in the start list and it takes away the fun of chasing your minute man (or being chased). So there’s a thing called the Sporting Courses association which promotes events on more challenging courses (a ‘sporting’ course is one that is rolling or hilly) and apart from positions on the day they award points in a series based on your placing and there’s some other complications of previous performances etc. I’ve done some of their events but not the series so I can’t recall the details.

    Generally the TTs don’t have to be flat, but you do need a course that doesn’t have interruptions like traffic lights. Sometimes you have to deal with pedestrian lights and other road stuff but generally they try to make it left-turns only (right turns for you). If there is a possible bad intersection they might have a rule like everyone having to stop and put a foot down, or not be on aero bars through a section.

    So yeah, it’s quite a thing here and you do sort of feel like you’re part of a distinct cycling tradition when you do it, even though you’re turning up with carbon disc wheels and a magic hat !




    0
  44. Just to clarify, the Veterans’ Standards apply to various distances too e.g. 10, 25, 50, 100, 12 hour, 24 hour and there are male/female categories.

    Even with irregular distances (SPOCO events are often non-standard distances) there are Standard times calculated for veterans (40+).




    0
  45. @ChrisO

    @Randy C

    SPOCO – so because a lot of testers are very obsessed with getting PBs what can happen is they either don’t enter unless it’s a fast course and then if it’s bad weather they just don’t turn up. A ‘float day’ is the term people use for days when conditions are perfect. And when people don’t turn up you get big gaps in the start list and it takes away the fun of chasing your minute man (or being chased). So there’s a thing called the Sporting Courses association which promotes events on more challenging courses (a ‘sporting’ course is one that is rolling or hilly) and apart from positions on the day they award points in a series based on your placing and there’s some other complications of previous performances etc. I’ve done some of their events but not the series so I can’t recall the details.

    0

    The PB obsession means that round here you only get good turn outs on the few flat drag courses.

    I personally like the idea of ‘racing’ a TT, by which I mean trying to place as high as you can or beat someone who you’re similar in ability to.

    I rode a 10 on a sporting course a couple of weeks ago, did 23:44 but was actually quite pleased. I took over a minute out of my minute man (who was a woman), who had recorded exactly the same time as me the week before.

    I’m all for a sporting course with draggy hills, crap surfaces and wind as it’s the only time I’m likely to beat the skinnier aero guys who are good on flat drags.




    0
  46. @ChrisO

    @Randy C

    TTs are pretty popular in the UK – it has a lot of history from the days when road-racing was literally not permitted. It was the only way people could compete on a bike and was huge. I’m not sure when that changed but not until the 60s or 70s I think. I saw a photo recently of the programme from the 1953 annual TT association awards which were held at the Albert Hall in London – if you don’t know it, that’s like Carnegie Hall in New York !

    I gather it was a bit like an illegal rave – a course code would be publicised (they’re still used – the one I did on Sunday was Q50/11) riders would go to a point and set off at one minute intervals. Often wearing black, not club colours. So if anyone official asked it was just that all these gentlemen and ladies were individually riding their bikes as fast as possible.

    Consequentally the organising body, Cycling Time Trials, is not part of British Cycling and doesn’t follow UCI rules either. Most clubs will have a TT group within them and nearly every club does a 10 mile club TT on a Tuesday or Thursday in spring/summer, but there are some clubs which are basically known as attracting time triallists (or Testers as they’re often called), and more recently there are some sponsored teams like Drag2Zero and Team Bottrill who coach and specialise in TTs.

    So yeah they’re pretty well attended. Most events would have 90-120 entries depending on length and time of year. The 50 on Sunday had 100. Another strange legacy is there are often places for a number of tandems and tricycles – tends to be the older guys but on Sunday there were 5 trikes entered. They aren’t expensive either, usually under £10 to enter.

    In fact a TT on a fast course will often be so popular that you can’t get in unless you have a fast qualifying time (has to be set in the last three years). That was one reason I wanted to set a new PB although 1:58 still wouldn’t get me into some of the more popular ones. So some events will actually reserve places for the slowest entrants who are looking to improve their PBs but I’m annoyingly in the middle !

    Other variants are:

    Veterans Standards – as we don’t usually get faster as we get older there’s a thing called the Veterans’ Time Trial Association. In a VTTA event there’s a table of times called the Veterans’ Standards which is basically a target time which increase by a few seconds for each year. A bloke worked it all out in the 50s using mountains of records and they’ve pretty much stayed the same ever since. So the 50 mile target for a 50 year old is 2:20:00 and for a 40 year old it’s 2:17:52 and for a 65 year old it’s 2:28:38. That means when I did 1:58:10 I got a ‘plus’ time of 23:50. A 40 year old who did 1:56:52 would beat me by over a minute on scratch but I would win on standards because his plus time was only 21:00. There are usually prizes for outright place and for place on veterans’ standards at most events. The table goes from 40 to 100, and I have seen a 90 year old competing – in fact he won on standard !

    SPOCO – so because a lot of testers are very obsessed with getting PBs what can happen is they either don’t enter unless it’s a fast course and then if it’s bad weather they just don’t turn up. A ‘float day’ is the term people use for days when conditions are perfect. And when people don’t turn up you get big gaps in the start list and it takes away the fun of chasing your minute man (or being chased). So there’s a thing called the Sporting Courses association which promotes events on more challenging courses (a ‘sporting’ course is one that is rolling or hilly) and apart from positions on the day they award points in a series based on your placing and there’s some other complications of previous performances etc. I’ve done some of their events but not the series so I can’t recall the details.

    Generally the TTs don’t have to be flat, but you do need a course that doesn’t have interruptions like traffic lights. Sometimes you have to deal with pedestrian lights and other road stuff but generally they try to make it left-turns only (right turns for you). If there is a possible bad intersection they might have a rule like everyone having to stop and put a foot down, or not be on aero bars through a section.

    So yeah, it’s quite a thing here and you do sort of feel like you’re part of a distinct cycling tradition when you do it, even though you’re turning up with carbon disc wheels and a magic hat !

    0

    First of all chapeau on the sub 2 hour 50. The closest I got was 2:00:24 on a course near Stirling.

    All our courses were GD something (Glasgow District). The code was created (I believe) when mass-start racing was banned and TTs took over. That was so I could say to you “7am Sunday GD1” and no-one but us would know what were talking about!

    From what I’ve seen on trips back to Scotland, there’s much more traffic on the roads and they’ve totally fucked up a lot of courses with roundabouts and traffic lights. How anyone can race on them is beyond me.

    We always had a nice smattering of hilly/odd distance TTs and two-ups early and late in the season which were fun. Tour of the Shire and the Tour of the Trossachs to name but two. I think both were in the 40-45 kms range and pretty damn hilly!




    0
  47. @wiscot

    Cheers, yes I’m hoping maybe with some aero work I can get under 1:55.

    Your post reminded me I missed a couple. Two-ups of course and also the Gentleman’s TT… a traditional end-of-season event where a veteran is paired with a younger rider. The idea being that the younger rider tows the older one around the course until he makes an all out effort for the last few hundred metres.

    The other end of season thing which comes under TTs is Hill Climbs. These are also a Big Thing in the UK. Usually held in October on some horrible 500m 20%+ climb. The Catford Hill Climb, which is not far from me, started in 1886 and is allegedly the oldest continuing cycle race in the world. It usually takes place in the morning and the nearby Bec Hill Climb in the afternoon. (Catford and Bec are clubs not hills).

    When David Millar ended his cycling career his last race was the Bec Hill climb. He said he wanted to finish in the way he’d started, at a club event which was part of the sport’s history.

    Brad Wiggins is also known for turning up at club weeknight TTs… and if he doesn’t have an official PB set in the last three years he goes in with the unseeded riders like everyone else. Then the riders ahead get the thrill of being chased down by an Olympic champion. It’s one of the reasons Froome could win the next ten TdFs but he’ll never be as well liked as Wiggins, not here anyway.




    0
  48. @ChrisO

    Wow! Brilliant post with tons of super interesting info! Thanks for that!




    0
  49. @ChrisO

    @wiscot

    Cheers, yes I’m hoping maybe with some aero work I can get under 1:55.

    Your post reminded me I missed a couple. Two-ups of course and also the Gentleman’s TT… a traditional end-of-season event where a veteran is paired with a younger rider. The idea being that the younger rider tows the older one around the course until he makes an all out effort for the last few hundred metres.

    The other end of season thing which comes under TTs is Hill Climbs. These are also a Big Thing in the UK. Usually held in October on some horrible 500m 20%+ climb. The Catford Hill Climb, which is not far from me, started in 1886 and is allegedly the oldest continuing cycle race in the world. It usually takes place in the morning and the nearby Bec Hill Climb in the afternoon. (Catford and Bec are clubs not hills).

    When David Millar ended his cycling career his last race was the Bec Hill climb. He said he wanted to finish in the way he’d started, at a club event which was part of the sport’s history.

    Brad Wiggins is also known for turning up at club weeknight TTs… and if he doesn’t have an official PB set in the last three years he goes in with the unseeded riders like everyone else. Then the riders ahead get the thrill of being chased down by an Olympic champion. It’s one of the reasons Froome could win the next ten TdFs but he’ll never be as well liked as Wiggins, not here anyway.

    0

    Memories of good times! I rode a few Gentleman’s races BITD with Dave McCallum from Dundee Wheelers. Fast old guy. We usually shared the pacing; some years I was stronger, others he was. We usually did well on actual time but got killed when the age allowances were factored in. These races were usually hyper competitive as the older guys had been racing against each other for years and there was quite the rivalry!

    Did a couple of hill climbs each year but not being gifted in the “lighter is better” category, just rode them to support my club or the event.

    Indeed. Time Trialling is/was the bedrock of the sport in the UK. It’s not like road racing where there are skills, tactics and distances that might put off a younger rider, in the TT world you can start at 10 miles and race against yourself and others. Changing at the side of the road or in someone’s car or van, getting someone to pin your number on, giving it your all.

    I can’t imagine the thrill of being a young rider and having a Wiggins or Millar show up to a club 10. I think that’s why Kelly is still so popular – he always seems to be willing to ride with regular guys. It was always awesome to have Graeme Obree catch you as no matter how fast you thought you were going, he was going much faster!




    0
  50. Gents,

    Love the history the backdrop and stories shared on the UK TT scene. That’s really special stuff. 100 folks show up for a 50 miler w/a person off every minute ? Wow. Two man “gentleman” teams. Gaming the system for PB’s. The idea of it being underground and code names for routes back in the day. And so much more. All very cool to learn. Much respect. Thank you.

    In add’n to our club’s ten mile route we also have a 2km uphill run. That one is not as popular. It’s fun to see the new riders come out each season for their first efforts and we have a club member that keeps tracks of series points and historical PR’s. It all makes for good stories and in year’s past we’ve celebrated the year’s points winners at our Christmas Party.

    Speaking of TT’s… why can I not get used to seeing Tony M in red with K ?

    Cheers all




    0

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar