The Tour de France 2017

Towards the end of June I was offered the chance to go to Paris on the final weekend of the Tour de France.

This was too good of an opportunity to turn down so I got the flights booked and an extra night at the hotel (to make a nice long weekend) and dragged the girlfriend along!

This is my thoughts on TDF 2017 (limiting to 5 points) and also a short round up of my thoughts on the race.

Race Thoughts

  1. Peter Sagan was very unlucky to be disqualified – This point is pretty self explanatory. He can feel hard done to for receiving a disqualification for the crash. At first glance this was going to be detrimental to the Tour and we may as well all call it quits now because the man who animates the race is now gone. However, the battle for the Green Jersey was now wide open and at it’s most interesting for years as Sunweb and Michael Matthews showed their class in their attempts to secure. Michael Matthews was one of the standout performers of the Tour with his stage wins and consistent finishes that allowed him to claim the TDF Green Jersey. Every cloud and all that…
  2. Team Sky grind it out – Not really being a fan of a cycling team and having no particular allegiances; I just want an interesting exciting race. At times we got this, at times we didn’t. One thing can be agreed on though: Team Sky controlled the race from start to finish pretty much. Whilst it can be argued that Team Sky suck the life out of the race, I would disagree and say that it is Sky’s opposition (Movistar, AG2R and Astana’s responsibility to take the race to Sky.
  3. France finally get their Bastille Day win – Warren Barguil delivered that; and this Tour was arguably his breakout Tour. He looks like a real prospect for the GC in years to come.
  4. France’s new generation are coming of age – With the likes of the aforementioned Warren Barguil, Romain Bardet, Lilian Calmejane and Tony Gallopin it would appear that France now has a host of riders that can win stages of the TDF and could potentially go for the GC in years to come.
  5. The main challengers aren’t always the most obvious ones – With Quintana being burnt out, the sands of time catching up with Contador and Aru having no team mates left; Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet were Froome’s main challengers. This was refreshing as Bardet would probably not have got on the podium had these three performed as predicted. The real left field challenger was Uran, who has been in the wilderness for the last couple of years.

Final Stage

We (me and my girlfriend) were in Paris for the final stage of the Tour so decided to go down to the finish on the Champs Elysee and take in the experience. We walked in to the centre from our hotel as we didn’t know which Metro stations would be open and which would not. The walk was around 7km according to Google Maps.

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Suresnes Metro station with La Defense in the background.

Suresnes was a very nice part of Paris to stay in and felt more authentic than the last time we were there staying in the centre; but back to the cycling…

Walking in to the centre we appeared at the L’Arc de Triomphe and after getting through the security we had a look around.

The whole atmosphere was fantastic, almost carnival like. We arrived quite early as, having done some research, everyone recommended getting there as early as possible. In hindsight, we were probably there too early as we landed at around midday and the race was not getting into Town until about 6.30pm.

We decided to walk down to the Louvre after lunch to try and get a good spot.

Big mistake.

The further towards the Louvre we got, the busier it became.

We did a lap and ended up back where we started, on the Champs Elysee. As the Peloton was making it’s way round to begin with we were about 3 or 4 people back from the barrier as it was busy. However, the view was excellent and we had 8 chances to see the peloton pass by.

As they went by for the 3rd time people were beginning to get bored and leaving so we jumped at the chance to get to the barriers.

The pictures below were taken by myself and illustrate how good the view and the race was and; also, how quick they were actually going!

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The Peloton zooming by
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The Yellow Jersey Train
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The Cannondale Drapac Train

It was a class event and must do for any cycling fan!

Peace out.

Winter Cycling Shenanigans

Autumn, Winter, Spring are all seasons I very much like in a cycling perspective.

Many people hang up the bike for the Winter and jump back on in the spring but some of my most enjoyable rides have been in a tight knit group with the wind howling and the rain lashing down!

On the flip side of that I find I take in the country side and views more which means I can get some stunning winter shots.

Within this post I’ll take you through some of my highlights of winter riding when taping out the miles for the “summer smiles”.

Whilst cycling through Winter I only tend to do weekend riding and during the week I jog. I don’t enjoy cycling in the dark. Therefore, on the weekends I’ve got to maximise my riding.

The one ride that stands in particular as generally being a stunner was a loop from Harrogate to Masham, Ripon and back to Harrogate. 8.30am start with the local club.

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Very cold ride!

As we set off it was clear it was going to be a very feisty ride. I set several PB’s coming out of Harrogate, through Ripley to Burnt Yates just trying to keep up the main group. I got dropped just after Burnt Yates, which in its self was no bad thing as the group was planning on going over Lofthouse.

The ride temperature didn’t get above 2 degrees and as it was particularly chilly I decided to for go the hill and perilous, icy descent. I hung a right just before Pateley Bridge and went up Blazefield.

At the top of Blazefield I was greeted with this view:

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Low Early Morning Cloud
Winter Cycling In Nidderdale
Winter Sunshine

Another highlight ride was:

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The First Proper One After Christmas

As the title of this ride (above) suggests it was the first ride after Christmas.

My word did it feel hard too!

I think it was only about 40 miles with 800 meters of climbing but I felt like I was carrying about 10kgs of excess Christmas indulgence! Suffice to say getting up those 800 or so meters were a real struggle.

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Looking across Kearby Cliff

Towards the end of ride I went up the back roads to Kearby Cliff and took the above photo.

Any excuse for a break! I think at this point I was thinking “God, I’m going to pop and it won’t be pretty!”.  At the top of here (and it really is a tiny incline with minimal ascent) I was frantically searching for food in my pockets. I only took a banana and a flapjack and was feeling like I was going to be weaving home!

Thankfully, the view made the post Christmas sugar crash worth it!

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Leathley Lane

Earlier on in the same ride I went down Leathley Lane and took this photo. I love it and think it catches the essence of winter cycling/training.

This being the peaceful desolation of quiet winter lanes. With no leaves on the trees you feel quite open to the elements; particularly in the wind, rain and occasional snow. Trudging on knowing that, hopefully, it will all be worth it in the summer.

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Hilly

I try to mix up my rides in the winter and tend to cycle in groups more. I cycle with the Local Shop from the bottom of my road. Meeting like minded people in the pouring rain or freezing cold is far more motivating than going out on your own.

However, the winter group rides do not tend to be as hilly and I find that climbing on the Winter Bike makes climbing on the Summer Bike that much easier! The above route is a good one to blow the cob webs away as it tackles Hartwith from a couple of ascents: the quite sedate climb to Brimham Rocks via Hartwith Village and then the climb from Summerbridge up Hartwith Bank. Which is a fearsome 20% (in places) climb.

The picture below was a much needed rest as lugging the Winter Bike up those climbs and then “Church Hill” in Birstwith to Menwith afterwards meant the legs were a bit jellified!

All good practice for summer though!

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Glasshouses

Anyway, enough of the rambling post. I just wanted to share some pictures with you all and show that winter cycling isn’t all doom and gloom!

Review: Power Race Mirage Sunglasses

New Sunnies; everyone loves a pair!

Due to an unfortunate break in the arm of my “current” (no longer) pair of sunglasses I was on the hunt for a new pair.

Being based in the UK I had quite an exacting list of requirements for these sunglasses:

  1. Multiple lenses
  2. Good looking
  3. light
  4. Under £30 (Inc delivery).

Given these requirements it meant that my choices were quite limited both in terms of retailers and brands.

In terms of retailers I narrowed it down to Planet X. Planet X are a Sheffield and Rotherham based independent cycle retailer. They pride themselves on offering good products at low prices due to their direct to consumer business model.

I, personally,  like Planet X. I do not order a great deal through them but when I have I have not been disappointed. I know that Planet X can suffer in the UK from brand snobbery but as I’m on a budget (house purchase in the process) at this current time I cannot be too picky.

Planet X do tend to have left field brands every now and then and this is certainly the category that these glasses fall in to.

Let me present: the Power Race Mirage:

Power Race Glasses
Power Race Mirage

(Apologies for photo quality)

The glasses I went for were £15.00 (inc delivery) and come with a cleaning cloth, case and 4 sets of lenses. In terms of lenses you get clear, mid level tinting, dark tinting and polarized lenses.

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What’s in the Box?

The frame itself is made of “unbreakable” (we’ll see how long that lasts) Grilamid TR90 injection moulded thermoplastic. The frame feels very light and in comparison to my other glasses, I felt like I wasn’t wearing any. Likewise, the fit is perfect and the arms do not feel like they dig in at all behind the ears; even on 3 + hour rides.

4 lenses are a bonus, however, being in Yorkshire I have only used dark tint (in the frame in the photo’s) and the clear lenses. The dark tint has a coating to reduce the glare from sunlight on wet roads and that works excellently. The clear lenses are just that, clear lenses. Nothing more to say about them really.

In terms of lens performance on the bike I have not suffered from any steaming up when hammering it up steep climbs. This is down to the vents that are cut in to the lenses. They are placed perfectly to stop steaming up and you also do not feel any air on the eyes from through the vents.

The nose piece has serrations so the sweat does not build up under it and between your skin. I found this to be useful as I didn’t feel as greasy at the end of the ride in that region. The grip offered by the nose piece was also excellent as they are yet to slip off.

The frames are available in 4 other colours:

  1. Astana (Yellow and Blue)
  2. Red
  3. Red and Blue
  4. Black and Blue

I went for the Fluo Green and Red because they were the cheapest…and it also helps that I like green and red!

The only downside to the glasses are the lack of instructions about how to change the lenses. The instructions are typically Italian, flowery language that lacks actual usable information. I had a quick check on YouTube and also couldn’t find anything useful. After careful testing and practice it is done by bending the frame lightly (there’s inbuilt flex) and popping the lens out. I’ve got it down to a minute to change which is quick considering it took me 10 mins the first time!

The link for the glasses is: http://www.planetx.co.uk/i/q/CLPRMIRA/power-race-mirage-cycling-glasses

In conclusion I would give these glasses a good 9/10 due to the excellent price these can be picked up for, the build quality and the lens selection that the frames are bundled with.

Excellent for cyclists on a budget!

 

The link for Power Race’s official site: http://www.power-race.it/en/