22nd April 2014

Back to work today ;-( When I got home I got changed and took Milo for a quick 5k run, it was without Heart Rate monitor as Milo decided to take it into the garden and chew it, needless to say its now not working!

Distance: 3.34 mi
Time: 32:55
Avg Pace: 9:51 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 131 ft
Calories: 545 C

Route here…

Now I have had a chance to copy and go through all of my photo’s/videos from Belgium it seams like a good idea to write about my Liege-Bastogne-Liege ride :-)

It all started last year when I cycled the Tour of Flanders route, a friend suggested I should drive down to Liege-Bastogne, it was all a bit far and didn’t fit well with our plans, but the thought needled away at me and I started looking at the classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege route :-)

The BBC describe Liege-Bastogne-Liege as…

The oldest of the one-day races and final Spring Classic, Often regarded as the toughest of the classics, the race packs the majority of its climbs into the final 100km of its 263km (163.42 miles) route.

Wifey n me started planning the trip in January, we both agreed that we didn’t want to stop in a major town/city so neither Liege or Bastogne were an option, we settled on a nice little riverside camp-site at La Roche en Ardenne. ( It turned out to be perfect).

My next issue was sorting out the route, the classic route I found was this…http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3815743

Unfortunately it entered Liege on the motorway (E46), fine for the pro’s on closed roads, no good for a muppet like me! I worked on a route that would start in La Roche en Ardenne follow the route to Bastogne and head north to the outskirts of Liege and the follow the route south back to La Roche, giving me the essence of the classic without putting myself at risk in the big city ;-) I came up with this…http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4404106

So on Saturday 19th April at 6:30 am I set off towards Bastogne, it was only 20 miles to Bastogne ;-) unfortunately for me all but 3 miles of it were up hill!

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The photo is looking back towards La Roche.

At just before 8am I arrived at Bastogne, it was bloomin freezing, I was dressed with hat, gloves, long legs, winter jacket.

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With a quick lap of the famous roundabout I was on my way to Liege :-)

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Although I was now on a major road there was very little traffic and my speed was finally in the 20′s, I was actually starting to think I might do the 100 miles by lunch time :-)

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But following the N30 for 75K would have been far to easy, the route had me turning off and up hill again! but at least I was on lesser roads again :-)

There are constant reminders of the WWII conflicts all throughout the Ardennes, at Houffalize, they had a Panzer as the town memorial.

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The lumpy ride continued through Gouvy or as I like to call it Groovy.

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Another interesting fact I learnt this weekend, Gouvy was the site of the first German V2 launch, I always assumed they were launched from France!

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I started to see route markers for the forthcoming Liege-Bastogne sportive.

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I had been following the N68 for a while and it was starting to get a bit busy, thankfully the route turned off onto a nice quiet road, not so thankfully it started to climb, and it started to get damn steep! This was the Cote de Spineux, a mere Cat 3 but after nearly 60 miles of constant climb it was a tadge awkward and slow.

But at least I had a chance to admire the memorial…

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And the stunning views :-)

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No sooner had I reached the top and I was descending into Stavelot, where I encountered my first and last set of cobbles.

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Then came the long and steep climb up the Cote de Haute Levee

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Passing yet another cycling roundabout on the way ;-)

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After another far to quick a descent it was back to climbing, this time up the Cote du Rosier.

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At the bottom of the descent at Stoumont, I spied an open Sandwich shop, I managed without starting an international crisis to purchase a ham and cheese baguette, 3 bottles of coke and a Snickers bar ;-) I filled one of my empty water bottles, put one coke bottle in a pannier and then dined like royalty ;-)

Then it was on with the next climb (Cote du Vecquee)! The sun was finally getting some warmth so I had to stop and remove a few layers, it was finally time to expose the legs!

The descent into Remouchamps was excellent, the sun was out, it was warm, and I had 1500 ft full on descent ;-) at the bottom of the descent the sportive route markers where indicating a left turn and my route indicated a right, this was the crossover point to Liege, my body was saying turn right and short cut the route, my mind was saying turn right and don’t be a wimp! so I turned right, straight into yet another climb!

On teh next climb I really started to overheat, it was time to re-arrange my rack bag and panniers, the yellow coat had to come off! It was nearly 15:00 and 15k from Liege,  A few miles further up the road and I was within half a mile of my return route, I took the sensible option and turned left and cut the ride short by 15 miles, what I hadn’t banked on was how much less climbing there was on the Liege to La Roche leg! I was also being a bit simple the signs were saying 75 K to Bastogne, but I wasn’t going to Bastogne!

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I arrived back at La Roche at around 17:45…

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It was a great day out on the bike, I found it very tough, I am amazed how the pro’s can race on this terrain!

The Garmin had the ride as..

Distance: 135.71 mi
Time: 10:05:06
Avg Speed: 13.5 mph
Elevation Gain: 10,594 ft
Calories: 4,549 C
Avg Temperature: 50.6 °F

Route here…

21st April 2014

Set off from La Roche en Ardenne at 6:30 am and boarded the time machine at Calais at 10:45.

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We disembarked at 11:15 (Reclaiming the hour we lost on Thursday), we made it back to Chippenham for 15:00.

After unloading the van I nipped out for a quick cycle ride ;-)

Distance: 21.34 mi
Time: 1:18:02
Avg Speed: 16.4 mph
Elevation Gain: 354 ft
Calories: 1,395 C
Avg Temperature: 59.0 °F

Route here…

I will write a missive on my ride between La Roche, Baston and Liege (well just short of it!) and back to La Roche in the next couple of days.

20th April 2014

Woke up at a leisurely pace, the sun was already out and it was warm!

I had a nice porridge and a cup of tea for breakfast, then set off for a repeat of Thursdays lost ride.

I thought I had done 20 miles, but it appears that it was only 18! but in my defence it was up followed by down…no flat at all!

The Garmin didn’t lose the ride this time ;-)

Distance: 18.83 mi
Time: 1:30:05
Avg Speed: 12.5 mph
Elevation Gain: 1,293 ft
Calories: 546 C
Avg Temperature: 58.0 °F

Route here…

I will be sorry to say goodbye to the Ardennes tomorrow, it has been so very nice and friendly.

19th April 2014

Quick blog post…Internet issues ;-(

I completed Le Roche – Bastogne – Liege – Le Roche, it was VERY lumpy!

Bigger better update when I get an Internet connection!

18th April 2014

Didn’t get up quite as early as I had hoped ;-( the gorgeous hot sunshine of yesterday had been replaced by a more seasonal chill accompanied by April showers ;-(

I dressed into long legs/arms and set off at 9:15 straight up hill towards Luxembourg, the roads although a little rough in places were nice and quiet and VERY scenic ;-)

I was hoping for some sort of sign when I crossed over the Luxembourg border, A big sign I could take a photo of would have been good, but alas there was nothing, the only noticeable indication was that the car registration plates changed from white with a B to yellow with an L.

I was quite amazed at the perfect condition of the little lane I was cycling along, then suddenly turned into a gravel farm track :-( I had no choice but to continue.

The gravel turned back to tarmac as suddenly as it disappeared. Then I was back in Belgium ;-) I hoped that I would not be off roading again any time soon, I considered myself uber lucky to have survived puncture free.

As I was climbing yet another twee lane the perfect surface again returned to unpaved gravel, again I had no choice but to follow my route, This unpaved section became seriously rough, but again I survived unscathed, even managing the steep and loose climb :-)

Finally I rejoined paved roads and climbed what seamed forever! and then I descended nearly 8 miles back into La Roche en Ardenne.

This time the Garmin didn’t lose the data :-)

Distance: 53.22 mi
Time: 4:05:28
Avg Speed: 13.0 mph
Elevation Gain: 4,465 ft
Calories: 2,057 C
Avg Temperature: 44.2 °F

Route here…

17th April 2014

We arrived at La Roche en Ardennes (Belgium) at 13:30, I then had to sort out stuff before I could go for a cycle ;-(

At 14:45 I was off…straight up a hill! I cut a few corners and was back at La Roche after a nice 20 or so miles…Unfortunately the Garmin has decided to dump the ride….no sign of it at all ;-(

Believe me it was nice ;-)

Hopefully the Garmin wont lose tomorrows ride!

16th April 2014

Worked from home today :-) I was far to busy to get out on the bike :-( and it was stonkingly perfect cycling weather.

We loaded the van up with kit and set off to Dover at 15:30, unfortunately the M26 was closed so we have taken a massive detour along the A272…but hey ho the sun is out and we are on holiday.

15th April 2014

Worked in Milton Keynes today, as per usual I took a bike to go for a lunchtime ride, unusually Ray decided to go for a ride to!

It didn’t seem too unreasonable to me to try and catch Ray up on his shorter route ;-) Jim and myself were on a 14 mile loop and Ray was on a 10 (well I thought 10, but he cheated and did 9).

We all set off together, Jim hanging on to my back wheel and Ray disappearing off behind us, at the top of Cranfield (5 miles in) we were 50 seconds of the 20 mph pace I was driving for so I put a bit more effort in ;-)

At the 10 mile point we had 15 seconds spare :-)

Jim started to drop off the back, I pulled over and stopped to wait for him to catch up at Salford, I was expecting to catch Ray up at the Golf Course…but there was no sign of him.

We arrived back at the start with a comfortable 20mph average, not too shabby considering we were held up at a couple of junctions ;-)

It turns out Ray put a bit of effort in to avoid being caught so it was a win win situation, we drove hard to catch him and he drove hard to avoid ;-) I WILL get him next time!

The Garmin had the ride as…

Distance: 13.54 mi
Time: 40:22
Avg Speed: 20.1 mph
Elevation Gain: 282 ft
Calories: 585 C
Avg Temperature: 59.3 °F

Route here…

I am rendering a video now, I will upload it in the morning ;-)

When I got back home, it was still sunny and warm (Shocking as it was already 6:30 pm!)so I got changed into running gear and took Milo out for a swift 5k :-)

The Garmin had the run as…

Distance: 3.48 mi
Time: 32:55
Avg Pace: 9:27 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 118 ft
Calories: 452 C

Route here…

14th April 2014

Night off, played computer games ;-)

I did render another video from Sunday, this time a descent of the Bwlch ;-)

13th April 2014

Loaded my Surly, Gary’s Cannondale Bad Boy and Simon’s Plastic Specialised S works thing on to the bike carrier and set off to Pencoed at 7:15 am ish.

We arrived at the free car park at about 8:30 and set off on a wee 120 mile ride around the mountains :-)

The sun was out and it was relatively warm (Providing you weren’t in the wind or descending a mountain)

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We made quite good time to the first climb – The Black Mountain, Simon and Gary raced on ahead whilst I enjoyed the scenery at more of a touring pace;-)

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Once over the top the descent was stunning :-)

We turned right at the bottom of the hill, with the expectation of stopping at the Red Kite centre for a spot of lunch, perfect timing 12 o’clock and 52 miles done, as we got to the centre it was all boarded up, another victim of the recession it would appear ;-( We had no choice but to carry on for an unknown length of time and more tough climbs.

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Finally at 72 miles we passed a pub at Defynnog, we held it in reserve as just around the corner there was a nice little tea room – the operative word was, it is now closed and boarded up, so we returned to the pub (The Tanners Arms).

Unfortunately they were only doing Sunday Roasts, but we could order starters! so I ordered Leak and Potato soup all round and a pint of coke  and a pint of Cider ;-) we sat outside and ate, enjoying the sun (It was a bit cool!)

After playing a little joke on Simon (we hid around the corner when he went in to the toilet, giving him the idea we had left), we set off up the hill on our way to the Devils Elbow.

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It was as usual a stiff climb to the top, bit the views at the top are worth while ;-)

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We rejoined civilisation (well major roads with lots of speeding boy racers and motorbikes) and climbed the Rhigos, Simon and Gary once more decided to race up it! I took it at my pace!

Gary bought me an ice cream at the top and we froze in the chilly wind at the top of the mountain.

After a nice quick descent we set in to the days penultimate BIG climb, the Bwlch, this time Gary stayed with me and Simon didn’t get that far ahead (either they were both tiring or I was getting faster).

The Bwlch descent was almost as thrilling as the Black Mountain, but it was starting to get far to cold!

At Blackmill we did my sadistic left turn and returned back to Pencoed via the High Moor road, a tough enough climb on fresh legs but after 115 miles – a real test of stupidity!

The Garmin had today’s ride as…

Distance: 118.80 mi
Time: 8:44:59
Avg Speed: 13.6 mph
Elevation Gain: 11,299 ft
Calories: 4,880 C
Avg Temperature: 56.6 °F

Route here…

Cycling Stats

Road (+ Roller) miles...
4,198.78 Miles in 2008
9,504.17 Miles in 2009
10,808.93 (763.77) Miles in 2010
11,790.49 (287) Miles in 2011
10,906.37 (682.2) Miles in 2012
9,242.14 (842.63) Miles 2013
2,960.24 Miles 2014

Rollers/Turbo 2014
83.7 miles 3 Hours 31 Minutes

Running 2014
79 miles 13 Hours 33 Minutes

Miles on
Surly Pacer
12,585.83
Cassette: 587.61
Chain1: 587.61*
Chain 2: 0
Chain 3: 0
Chain set: 5,585.83

Genesis Croix De Fer
3,872.11
Cassette: 271.57
Chain: 271.57*

Genesis Day One
3,263.55

Giant SCR4
1,301.87

*Currently fitted chain

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