Posted on 2 Comments

Foix cycling

We cycled 150kms over from Luchon to Vernajoul (in Foix) for a 2nd chapter of cycling in the Pyrenees. The ride over took in 2 challenging cols, and 2 easier ones. There were plenty of other minor climbs too, so still plenty of challenge.

The first climb was the Col de Ares, a beautiful col which gains height with not much effort as it’s always under 5%. The road the follows Le Ger river valley on quite a drag to the foot of the very challenging Portet de Aspet climb. The climb is about 7% average with steeper sections at about 10.5% over about 4 or so miles. It’s worth stopping near the bottom of the climb to see the fabulous memorial to Fabio Casertalli who crashed and died in the 1995 TdF whilst descending at high speed.

The route descends all the way to St Girons, exhilarating descending around 30kms non stop! The route then follows the steep sided, and slightly chilly gorge of the Arac river all the way to Massat. This is an alternative town situated right in the middle of a multitude of mountain passes. A peaceful rural vibe.

From here our route took us around halfway up the Col de Port, a moderate 7% climb that is on a lovely smooth road. We then headed up the dreaded Mur ‘wall’ de Peguere, which is very steep over the first km and a half at around 18% and then levels(!) to around 10% or so, still extremely tough. The whole climb is around 4.5kms. What is nice though is the reward of descending all the way to our destination, about 20kms, downhill at a good speed!

The final destination was cyclepyrenees.com where the hospitality is second to none. (I’m afraid they’re fully booked for 2020)

Posted on Leave a comment

Portillon and other cols

The weather looked fine so climbing out of France and into Spain seemed like an ok plan. It was also a Sunday, so apparently there would be no lorries using the mountain pass, the Col Portillon. Even better as it must be terrifying to be passed by slow moving juggernauts on narrow mountain roads.

View to France Col Portillon

This col is hemmed in by high valleys either side, and to me, it made it feel as you were never gaining height, with no appreciable views of upward progress, unlike the Col De Peyresourde which we climbed earlier in the week. It was a bit demoralising, the gradient was also tough at times, the steepest part being at nearly 14%, but mostly hovering around 8%. At least it was fairly shaded from the sun so you never got fully roasted. There’s no 360 degree spectacular view at the top, just a view of a short distance back down the valley.

The descent is a great reward though for making the effort to get there, some good switchbacks on a wide road, with huge pine trees making the scenery feel somewhat prehistoric. There are also really spectacular views down the Val D’Arran if you stop halfway down.

Val D’Arran Spain

The descent finishes at the valley floor in Spain at a small village called Bossost. It’s quite attractive with a tree lined avenue and a big river running alongside the main strip. It’s very touristy, lots of restaurants and bars. We were passed by a big peloton and their leader shouted ‘vamonos’ to us, a friendly bunch!

Bossost Spain

We took the road down the valley, skirting alongside the big river with its spring melt strewn boulder bed exposed as it was the end of summer. A good fast descent of around 20kms to Saint Beat, and then the last major col to climb the Col de Mente. The climb was very tough as it was very exposed to the sun, my computer read 29.9 degrees! The average gradient is just a shade over 9% and there are quite a few pitches which are steeper. So not easy. We were glad of the fantastic fountain at the top. The restaurant was packed, but our legs would not have taken kindly to a long stop.

Col de Mente fountain

The ride from this point was largely downwards, with the minor col de Ares to tackle. It’s a gentle climb of 5%-6% so never too tough, nice and shady too after a long hot slog up the Col de Mente. The last challenge was 20kms mostly alongside the main valley road back to Luchon. It wasn’t unpleasant, not too much traffic, just into a headwind which on a big main road always seems to amplify the difficulty level! Overall a great ride, but tough.

Posted on Leave a comment

Climbing Peyresoude

The Peyresoude is a tough climb over the col from the attractive town of Bagneres de Luchon for about 15kms, it’s about 7% average gradient, but most of it is more like 8% -9%, which is what my Garmin computer displayed as I climbed. You gain about 950m in altitude and the views are spectacular.

With about 300m of climbing still to come a set of 4 or 5 switchbacks come into view. They look really steep and quite off putting because of this! But when you actually climb them, they’re not that bad. It’s probably because the switchbacks are ‘squeezed’ into a small portion of the mountain pass at its steepest part , and this makes it look all the more dramatic.

View from Col De Azet

Our ride then descended down The Peyresoude to Genos a lovely little village next to a blue green lake, to the start of our next climb up the Col De Azet. As can be seen in the picture above the views of the mountains 360 degrees were spectacular, the fine weather helped.

We descended three quarters of the way down the Azet, stopping to fill up on water at a very picturesque water trough which a local sheepdog decided to take a bath in! From there we picked up a small level ‘route forestier’ through 3 tiny villages. The road was lined with mature natural and planted forests, with the odd sheep farm or three. This road descended to the main valley road back to start, our last ascent up the Col de Peyresourde.

Valley stop before final climb

The final climb of the Peyresourde was fairly painful, about 8%-9% with a flat section quarter of the way up! The relief at getting to the top was great, as by that point I’d certainly had enough of climbing by then. Getting out of the saddle more and more on the last climb was a sign my knees were asking for a bit of respite.

Posted on

Ex hire sale 2017

ALL BIKES SOLD NOW

There are some bargain ex-hire bikes from 2016 and 2017 to be had!

Scroll through the pictures, description, prices and sizes below each.DSC_0034Adventure Women’s Prima available in Medium and Large for £130

DSC_0035Men’s Adventure Prime available in Medium and Large for £130

DSC_0032Women’s Saracen Urban Response 2016 model in Medium and Large for £165

DSC_0033Men’s 2017 Urban Response in Medium and Large for £220

DSC_0037Ladies Adventure Prima Cafe Deluxe Medium 17″ for £220

DSC_0036Mens Adventure Double Shot cafe racer Medium and Large available for £220

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Kinesis GF-Ti for sale

For sale is my own Kinesis GF-Ti bike, well looked after and runs like new.

It makes a great all year round bike, mudguards are simple to remove come summer.

£1000 for full Shimano 105 10 speed (inc. 105 pedals) Other highlights are Hope Wheels on Velocity A23 rims, Pro carbon seatpost and  Pro carbon bars and stem.

Size is 51cms would suit anyone up to 5’7″, ask to try it out if in doubt.

Kinesis GF-Ti

 

Posted on

Ex-hire bike sale

ALL BIKES SOLD NOW

Now looking for some loving new homes for our hire bike fleet!

On sale now are our ex hire bikes, some have hardly been ridden.

(See full updated list of bikes at the end of this page as there are a mixture of hybrid, ladies, road and children’s bikes)

adventure_prima_cafe_deluxe
We have :

1 x mens medium sized 18 inch hybrid £230 (Was £413 new)

3x ladies hybrids one 15″, 17″ and one 19″ £130 (was £299 new)

1x mens classic steel framed 3 speed cafe racer medium £230 (was 449 new)

If you’re interested come by and try one out!

Posted on

Urban cool

10516702_766072283414357_1634520085096427502_n

Clever Mike (left) and Studio 74 (right)

 

Been a little while since our last blog, so here’s a quick one about this years most popular bikes.

The Saracen Urban range has something for everyone who is looking for a hybrid – and for the most part, around here, a hybrid is a good choice of bike for either commuting or leisure.

These hybrids have more of a mountain bike style geometry to them, so they are more relaxed and upright than a road bike, and offer more agility and control for sharper corners, whilst the larger wheel size still means they are quicker than a smaller wheeled mountain bike.

10468080_766072270081025_4127247184748233723_n
Studio 74, fitted out with rack, mudguards and secure D – lock for a customer

The Saracen Urban Studio 74 is the most popular of the range, and for good reason. It sits  second from the top in the Urban series at a reasonable price of £539. It features 3 x 9 Shimano gears in a wide range capable of making even Baths hills seem easy (or at least tackle-able for the new to cycling), hydraulic disc brakes, a lightweight alloy (rigid) fork and good quality tyres from the off. As with all the Urban series it can be fitted with full mudguards and a rack, so really is a good choice for a commuter.

10432943_766072356747683_1181659702086860022_n

10473371_766072286747690_3792700471613934209_n
Clever Mike

Our own personal town bikes are the Clever Mike – the top end of the series. For £899 you get an 8 speed Shimano Alfine hub, so a bit of a luxury, but a handy low maintenance one! You also get Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, hardy kevlar tyres and high quality over sized handle bars.

10462542_766072323414353_3258546560709642122_n

 

The top two models have been popular, but so have the lower end models – here’s a quick summary of each:

The Urban Esc has been our hire bike of choice for three years now . At £299 they are lightweight and come with good quality components including Shimano 3 x 7 easy shifting triggers and strong double walled wheels.

Next in the range is the Myth, which for £369 features an extra gear, lighter alloy fork and a suspension seatpost. At this price point there is also the Urban Cross 1, essentially the same bike but with a suspension fork.

For £459 and £539 there are two more Urban Cross bikes – the 2 and 3 respectively. These two have the added advantage of hydraulic disc brakes, whilst the 3 features 3 x 9 gears along with extra Shimano components.

Prices may vary depending on offers and availability

Posted on

Field testing in Wales – Tom

We recently took ourselves off for a trip to the Afan valley in Wales for a bit of field testing (well, holiday) where we tried out many items that we sell now or were consideration stocking.

 

The trip was a mountain biking based one from the various trail centres in the area, with the weather being well on the toasty side!56

 

Photos courtesy of www.bartthebikeman.wordpress.com

 

Tom’s reviews:

 

iXS protection

I’d never worn any protection for mountain biking but as we were tackling table tops and steep berms in the Afan bike park I thought it sensible to try some.  I have been wearing the iXS Carve knee pads and the Flow elbow guards.  The knee pads were pretty irritating to wear at first, until Becci pointed out the tiniest label under a velcro flap showing which was left and which was right!  From that point on the knee pads have been incredibly comfortable.  The extra length down the shin is a nice idea to protect from pedal strikes, it has prevented a couple of these so far! The elbow guards are very lightweight virtually all highly breathable mesh apart from protection on the elbow and down the back of the forearm.  Becci’s had a couple of crashes and the elbow pads have definitely saved her from more serious injury, whilst I slid on a large slab of rock and my knee pads prevented grazing etc.  So all in all they have been a hit, if not adding a bit of extra warmth in this mini heatwave but surprisingly not to an unpleasant level.  In the shop we have the slightly cheaper version of the knee and elbow pads these are the Hack elbow guards and the Slope Series Evo Knee pads, if the pricier ones are what you want they can be ordered in.  We’d certainly recommend trying these on as the mediums which the iXS size guide recommended for me are right on the cusp of just about too small for me!

iXS protection

Madison Zenith shorts

I had to buy some new shorts this year as my previous 4 year old shorts were pretty worn.  Luckily Madison have a new range of shorts out this year, and the Zenith shorts have been the first to come into the shop.  The material is really soft and whilst this seems a bit odd for a mountain bike short I can guarantee that having crashed and slid in them twice they are very hardwearing.  The nice thing about the soft material is it stretches when pedalling, under the thighs and above the backside. The short has four large pockets which can be left open as venting and a small water resistant pocket.  They come in bright blue which makes a change from boring black!

Colourful Zenith shorts

Madison Zenith and Flux tops

These two tops were great in this mini heatwave, very breathable and they did not get damp even when riding quite hard.  They felt great worn under a backpack, no bunching or riding up.  They are very well priced too at only £26.99 so they’re pretty much a bargain. They come in a range of bright colours with contrasting zips which is funky, but they both come in black if you’re more stealthy

Tru flo mini track pump

I needed a larger volume pump for inflating the mountain bike tyres, as my minipump would just take too long to inflate the tyre.  TheTruflo mini track pump seemed ideal as it has a ‘telescoping’ barrel, effectively doubling the stroke of the pump but keeping the whole package down to a manageable size for carrying in a backpack.  I have used the pump quite a lot, even to inflate a tubeless tyre onto a rim, and it has worked amazingly well.  One of the best features is the valve attachment.  The valve head presses on firstly and then you screw it on to the final bit of the valve to secure it in place.  Its easy to use and a bit quicker than the Lezyne equivalent it seems, also I’ve had no issues with the pump unscrewing the valve core – although recently I have discovered this tool which ‘sets tight’ valve cores in the valve stem by hand, a job which is impossible to achieve with finger power alone!

Posted on

Summer Bike Sale

We’ve a summer bike sale for 2 weeks up to Saturday the 30th June.  There is a 10% offer on all Lapierre and Kinesis 2012 bikes in stock and to pre order.  There is also 10% off accessories bought at the same time as the bike.  (Fitting charges apply) We offer free lifetime servicing with every bike sold.  There is a further deal of 15% off all clothing at the same time as purchasing the bike.  Please note prices on our website are for the full RRP.

 

 

 

Posted on

Car friendly cities?

Great piece by Nigel of http://bikingbrits.blogspot.co.uk/ about making cycling more pleasant in the UK

“” sadly I don’t detect any suppressed majority yearning to get onto their bikes!”

Probably that’s because you’re not looking.

Plenty of evidence out there to suggest that most of us don’t actually like driving much and would welcome the opportunity to use our cars less frequently.

Lynn Sloman’s research suggests that 30% of us don’t have access to a car; 50% of car users don’t like driving. Sustrans research suggests that 70% of us won’t cycle on the roads in their current format because it is perceived as too dangerous.

Lynn Sloman’s research again: The 40:40:20 rule: 40% of current car trips could easily be done by other means right now, without any change to infrastructure or public transport; another 40% of car trips could be done by other means after infrastructure changes, leaving 20% of car trips that cannot be done by other means.

No one’s suggesting we all give up our cars completely; simply not a practical proposition – I’ve no plans to abandon mine – but the concept of the car as the default mode for all trips needs to be challenged, and frequently.

Call it “ideology” if you must. Some of us call it common sense. The “ideology” of striving to make your city more car friendly is probably not the best idea, especially when that city’s street layout evolved long before motor transport. “Quart” and “pint pot” spring to mind. The lessons of the 20th Century need to be learned and taken to heart. Building for car traffic has only ever resulted in more car traffic, resulting in more building to “relieve” the congestion. A vicious circle we really need to break out of. The answers are out there and have been successfully implemented on mainland Europe a generation ago. Time we caught up.”