Luigia Zilli, an Italian artiste with a passion for cycling and currently has an exhibition in Ontario, Canada.
I caught up with Luigi to talk about her art, inspiration and hopes.
CyclingShorts: Tell our readers all about your art and why cycling features so prominently in your work?
Luigia Zilli: I love how my paintings bring out happiness in those who are passionate about cycling. I can see the joy they feel when they see my work. It’s priceless.
Freedom, by Luigia Zilli. Oil on canvas
CS: Why cycling?
Luigia: That is one question I have been asked very often; It may be somewhat unusual in a world where visual artists usually depict landscapes or still-life or the human figure, just to mention few of the more common subject matters. I feel that an artist who is true to them self paints what they feel connected to and passionate about. That is who I am. The passion I feel for the sport of cycling and bicycles in general is rooted in my past.
CS: Tell us about your connection to competitive cycling?
Luigia: I grew up around bicycles and competitive cycling. My father and brother were racing cyclists and introduced me to the world of competitive cycling in my early years in Italy. Between training and racing, watching my younger brother race, working for a TV show about cycling and watching grand tours on TV, cycling encompassed my everyday life. I really missed it when it wasn’t there anymore. That’s when I started to paint it. Although I have an interest in several subject matters, bicycles seem to capture my attention most often. Bicycles and cyclists became a muse and an inspiration for creating something which is embedded deep inside of me. I want to share it with others so that they can feel the passion I have expressed in my artwork. I try to immortalize bicycles in the environment that tells their story the best. With cyclists, my intent is to depict motion and facial expression; speed and movement, strain and pain, fatigue and exhilaration, spinning wheels, winding and weaving during their battle on the saddle. My medium of choice is acrylic paint on textured canvas. I apply texture to canvas creating the look of worn out roughness yet exhibiting an equally deep and rich perspective.
CS: It seems that cycling for you goes a little deeper than simple competition?
Luigia: … to me cycling is comparable to life in general in many cases. Like in life, perseverance will lead us to success, it doesn’t matter if now we can’t do it, if we make a mistake, if it’s too hard. Also hard work: that’s one of my favourite mantras. Hard work will result in success, sooner or later.
CS: That is beautifully put and very true. Do you think your art has inspired people to ride?
Luigia: I’m very positive in encouraging people to ride the bicycle. For some, after they start to do it, it becomes really addictive. I grew up in a small town in Italy where it was the most common utilitarian way to move around for people of any age. I have wonderful childhood memories riding the bicycle with my friends, being able to go everywhere in a short time, it really gives you a great sense of freedom. The bicycle, in my opinion, it’s a simple but very attractive machine, it has its own elegance and dynamism. It’s a great invention and I also consider it a symbol and a precious tool for living our future in a clean environment keeping ourselves healthy and happy.
CS: We see you have linked your exhibition to the Pan American Games?
Luigia: About the Pan Am Games, as soon as I knew they were coming to Toronto and they were building the new Velodrome practically next door where I live, I thought it was a good time for an exhibition to target not only cyclists and enthusiasts locally and from all over Canada, but also coming from the other Countries which are participating. During the Pan Am Games every city that hosts has a lot of events organized in celebration of the games and to entertain the public, either local or visiting. My art exhibition will be one of them and my cyclist friends and family are looking forward to it.
CS: Have you any success closer to home in inspiring people to ride more?
Luigia: I started my partner cycling and now he’s the one buying all the technology and gears for the bike, even more than me!
CS: You may well have opened a Pandora’s Box there Luigia! Good luck with all the bikes, components and gear that will slowly yet surely fill your apartment. Thanks ever so much for taking the time to speak to us during what must be a very busy time for you. Thanks also for the generous offer of a signed print competition – one of our loyal readers will surely be a very happy cyclist.
INTRODUCTION OF ‘THE SUFFER PRIZE’ TELLS STORIES
OF EPIC SUFFERING IN EACH ROUND OF WORLD CUP
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is pleased to announce that The Sufferfest will be the Official Sponsor of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup in 2015.
A leading producer of indoor training videos, The Sufferfest has been a sponsor of the UCI since 2010 and of the UCI Women Road World Cup since 2014. It produces highly effective and engaging training videos using footage of professional races, including UCI events.
This year, the UCI and The Sufferfest will step up their collaboration by introducing a unique, new award for the UCI Women’s Road World Cup. At the end of each round of the World Cup, The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest will be awarded to the rider who demonstrated particular determination, courage and suffering to help a teammate, to animate the race or simply to get to the finish line against the odds.
The judging panel will be made up of the TV production team, the Chief Commissaire, the Race Director and the UCI. The concept was extremely well received by riders and team representatives at the UCI Women’s Teams seminar in early March.
“This award is not necessarily about winning the race, but about the Sufferlandrian values of pushing yourself beyond what you thought yourself capable of,” explained The Sufferfest’s Chief Suffering Officer, David McQuillen. He added: “Women’s professional racing is incredibly difficult and tells inspiring stories of effort, sacrifice and resilience. We want to share these stories and The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest is our way of showing how outstanding these athletes are.”
At the end of the season, The Sufferlandrian community will have the chance to vote for the Epic Moment of Suffering experienced by one of the winners of the Suffer Prize. The final winner will receive a $1,000 USD cash prize.
UCI President Brian Cookson commented: “The UCI Women’s Road World Cup is a magnificent showcase for women’s cycling, and I am delighted that The Sufferfest will again be supporting the series in 2015 with this incredibly unique prize. This is a demonstration of their esteem for this exciting and increasingly popular discipline.”
UCI Vice-President, Tracey Gaudry also welcomed the news: “As a former professional cyclist I have witnessed many inspiring demonstrations of courage and gritty determination within the professional women’s peloton. I am delighted that, together with The Sufferfest, we will be able to highlight some of these amazing stories.”
Winners of The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest will be communicated via social media (@UCIWomenCycling & @TheSufferfest). In addition, news and highlights of the races – including an interview with The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest winner – will also be available on the UCI YouTube channel (www.tv.uci.ch) throughout the season.
As the UCI Official Sponsor of the 2015 Women Road World Cup, the Sufferfest will enjoy visibility throughout the season, having kicked off with the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe in Holland. The winner of The Suffer Prize on that occasion was Orica-AIS rider Lizzie Williams (pictured above), who crashed twice, chased back to the pack twice and then broke her rear derailleur and had to give up, having no further spare bike.
WINNER OF THE FIRST
SUFFER PRIZE PRESENTED BY THE SUFFERFEST
Williams crashed twice and had twomechanicals. She twice battled her way back from the caravan to the bunch before ultimately withdrawing because she was out of bikes to ride. Not only that, after she completed her interview for The Suffer Prize, she discovered that her team had left without her and shewas forced to find her own way home.”It was probably the worst day on the bike that I’ve ever had, but you have to take the good with the bad in this sport. I had a bad day and hopefully tomorrow will be sunshine and no crashes. You’ve got to get back. You can’t give up. If you’re going to give up, you might as well not be here. I’ve come all the way from Australia. I’m not going to give up just because I have a tumble. I got to the front and hit the cobbles tenth wheel, feeling really positive, and 500 metres later myderallieur broke off and snapped into my back wheel. That was the end of my day. I had no bikes left. I had two bikes and they were both broken.”
Yes, OK, so I bought another cycling T-shirt, and cap, and wristband… It was all for a couple of great causes.
This astonishing pop-up exhibition displayed beautifully a collection of vintage and modern bicycles. There were some true legends beautifully displayed here…
Let’s start with…
Tommy Simpson: 30th November 1937 – 13th July 1967. The first British rider to wear the yellow jersey – 1962. Bike frame number 286.
The display was perfect and very peaceful. People stayed with Tom’s bike for long time, often lost in thought.
No records exist for bikes built by Woodrup Cycles before 1973 due to a fire, however both Barry Hoban – the rider, and Ian McLean – the frame builder, have verified it’a authenticity as one of those from the 1960’s finished in Mercier team colours for the Tour de France. Damaged and returned to Woodrup Cycles to be repaired, Jim, an employee at the time, rode it until it was sold to Chris Forbes in Otley. Restored to it’s present glory by Chris it was eventually sold to Bob Garside – who was very generous with his time and told me so much about the history of this beautiful bike and his astonishing collection – in 2010, its current owner. When can I visit, Bob?
Here’s Barry Hoban, dispelling a few myths, interviewed by Ned Boulting in 2012…
Jackson: frame info needed!
Beryl Burton dominated women’s cycle racing in the UK, setting numerous domestic records and as well as winning more than 90 domestic championships along with seven world titles. She set a women’s record for the 12-hour time-trial which exceeded the men’s record for two years!
Burton won the women’s world road race championship in 1960 and 1967, and was runner-up in 1961. On the track she specialised in in the individual pursuit, winning world championship medals almost annually across three decades. She was World Champion five times (1959, 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1966), silver-medallist three times (1961, 1964, and 1968) and took bronze in 1967, 1970 and 1973.
In domestic time-trial competitions, Beryl Burton was almost unbeatable. She won the Road Time Trials Council’s British Best All-Rounder (BBAR) Competition for an astonishing 25 consecutive years from 1959 to 1983. In total she won 72 national individual time-trial titles.
In 1967, she set a new 12-hour time trial record of 277.25 miles – a mark that surpassed the men’s record of the time by 0.73 mile, and was not superseded by a man until 1969! In the process of setting this record she caught and passed Mike McNamara who was on his way to setting the men’s record at 276.52 miles and winning that year’s men’s BBAR!
Beryl Burton also set about 50 new national records at 10, 15, 25, 30, 50 and 100-mile distances; her final 10, 25 and 50 mile records each lasted 20 years before being broken, her 100-mile record lasted 28 years, and her 12-hour record still stands today.
Her prowess led to the rare distinction, for a woman, of an invitation to compete in the Grand Prix des Nations in 1967.
“I don’t feel that I’ve got anything special about me. I’ve just got two legs, two arms and a body, and a heart and lungs.”
7 times World Champion – Beryl Burton, OBE.
Another installment to come, including the legendary and utterly charming Ken Russell, winner of the 1952 Tour of Britain whilst riding as an ‘independent’ (no team), and his Ellis Briggs racing bike.
1952 Tour of Britain winning bike by Ellis-Briggs
Ken, 84 & Renee, Harrogate, July 2014
Ken’s Ellis-Briggs with his 1952 Tour of Britain Winners jersey.
The official team sky diary of the Giro campaign and Tour victoryIntroduction by… Sir Dave Brailsford & Chris Froome
Words by Sarah Edworthy, Photography by Scott Mitchell
Cast your mind back to Team Sky’s annus mirabilis. Its 2012 and the halcyon day’s of Wiggo’s dominance in the stage races cumulating in victory in the Tour de France and yet another Olympic gold, this time in the time trial. Every pedal stroke of which, you’ll recall, was chronicled in the rather good ’21 Day’s to Glory’.
Now comes this 2013 Grand Tour journal charting the ups, downs, plan A’s, plan B’s, the tragedies, the triumphs and inner working’s of Team Sky.
The Pain and the Glory delves deep into Team Sky’s attempt to win the double: the 2013 Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. This is a book in two-parts and is generally chronological. It opens with a well written introduction from Sir Dave and quickly leaps straight into the Giro and Sky’s charge for victory through Bradley Wiggins – remember all the talk, Nibali or Wiggins – and their eventual re-structuring and plan-B second place in GC with Rigoberto Uran. The ‘second half’ of the book covers the Tour and Chris Froome’s gradual deconstruction of the other main GC contenders. Geraint Thomas’ epic ride through of pain will long live in the memory – a legend tales root.
The Pain and the glory has a real fly-on-the-wall feel to it. Although it does leave one or two crucial question unasked – as you’d expect from an internally employed team of professional journalists. The book rally excels in the unusual layers of detail about each and every stage. All supplemented beautifully by the Scott Mitchell’s sublime photography and enriched by input from the all the main protagonists – Wiggin’s, Froome, Uran, Thomas (he of the fractured pelvis in stage 1… This man is one tough dude!), Stannard, et al. It also allows an insight into to the oft hidden, but absolutely vital, work of the mechanics, medical staff, cooks and families.
This is the very official account of a tumultuous yet ultimately successful year in the life of one of the leading professional road cycling teams. Kudos to Sarah Edwards for generating such a flowing narrative.
Marginal gains on the road… Massive gains in reader experience: the book is accompanied by a fascinating commentary from the team players, photographers and writers. Just download the free Livebooks App from The App store or Google Play, scan the photo’s with the livebook symbol and sit back and listen. This really works and is highly effective in enriching and enlightening. I found the chats about photography, framing and choice, artistic and highly educational. CyclingShorts Star Rating: 80/100 (9 if Team Sky ran a women’s team!)
Cycling Shorts unleashes Santa’s Little Helpers.
Yes the panic is setting in, so much to get organised and so little time, the Cycling Shorts team have put our collective heads together to give you a list of gift ideas that won’t disappoint even the fussiest cyclist in your life.
We’ve split our choices into four perfect price parcels for commuters, kids, pro’s or fans. Click on the images or text links to visit the retailers (we’ve tried to find the cheapest deals for you). If nothing takes your fancy take a look at last years suggestions by clicking here.
Safety on the road is a hot topic at the moment, so I would suggest a OneLife ID Band, these silicone bands come with an etched metal tag with a unique URL and QR code that links to your personal profile where your “in case of emergency” can be stored and if someone enters the pin number on the back of the tag into the website your medical data can be viewed by a paramedic. It’s a highly customisable system, show as much or as little info as you want and it has multiple uses, lost property, ICE or Meditag. You can buy stickers, bands, keyrings and cards. Keeping a loved one easily identifiable in an emergency situation could save a life. If you click here you can see an example of what a profile looks like. Remember there’s a discount of 15% with xmasgift15 until 11th December!
Hannah Walker: Hannah Walker Matrix Mug £16
Cool little gift for someone you know who loves cycling, drawn by the amazing Marty McCrossan, this little gift won’t break the bank and it’ll help fund Matrix Fitness RA with part of the proceeds going directly to the team!!
Fancy a read… Rob Hayles: Easy Rider £16.99 – Very funny book which will keep you entertained for hours, and shows you the insights of what it takes to become a Pro bike rider! It’s one of those books you’ll read many a time and have you laughing out loud like I did on a flight to Germany!
Every cyclist needs to keep their neck warm in the winter and this Merino collar from Rapha goes down a treat for both the men and ladies alike. Available in just about every club colour you’d need, it’s understated by over delivers in warmth. Winter Collar £25
Secret Santa could get me a set of Speedplay Cleats. I became a SPEEDPLAY disciple earlier in the year. A little odd at first but once you’re used to them they’re brilliant. The best way I’ve found of describing the Speedplay experience is to say that it’s just like having the spindle of the pedal running through the ball of your foot.
Good prices online, but do what all good riders should do… check out your local shop..£28 in mine.
Leigh Marshall: One23 Coloured Multi-Tool – £11. Perfect for fitting in your pocket or saddle bag. Small, but adds rainbow coloured functionality to an often grey wintery world. Who says multi tools need to be boring.
Santa’s Little Helper
New club kit! Abergavenny RC have great new kit for 2014 and I would be very happy to get some for Christmas.
Hannah Walker: Adidas Response Womens Tour Rain Jacket £85. Brilliant jacket for training in during those cold winter months or rainy days, it’s great to use as a thermal as its a very warm jacket but also keeps you dry. It isn’t that fluorescent ‘hi-viz’ that everyone hates to wear so they’re seen on the road by trucks and cars, instead it’s still a bright colour just a lot nicer and actually looks cool to wear! It’s unisex however there is a mens version with blue stripes down the sleeves!
Loz Bywater: Rouleur Centenary Tour de France
Evocative as ever from the lovely folks over at Rouleur. Outlandish quality both in terms of its content and binding. Listen to the most recent Rouleur podcast for a review of the project.
Whilst I must admit I’m not a subscriber to VeloCast’s premium content – with this package on offer its hard not to sign up. If it’s half as good as their work for Eurosport then I’m sure it will be a triumph.
This would be on my Santas list… Limited edition print from Aaron Kuehn. I love this picture, it’s something that I come back to time after time and it’s great for showing folks who are learning which bit is which on a bike. On sale for $99.
Leigh Marshall: Velobici Ella Vest and Shorts Set – £66 for the set. Designed and made in the UK, this set is soft, durable and discrete. Perfect for the leisure rider, commuter & more serious cyclist alike.
The only thing that every cyclist in the UK should have is gold or silver membership of British Cycling because this gives you up to £10 million in third party liability cover, with gold membership also giving you personal accident insurance. For peace of mind, buy your loved ones membership of British Cycling.
Louis Garneau RevoXR3 – I have two pairs of these and I defy anyone to tell me that £200+ worth of Specialized or Sidi are really worth the extra amount of money. Firm on the sole comfortable uppers and the heel retention ratchet system is superb. Currently £79.99 in Evans.
I LOVE this silver necklace from Oliver Bonas. I never take it off! Silver Bike Necklace £38
These have been a hit for Ana Nichoola, although you’d be lucky to get your hands on a pair they’ve been so popular. The Star Tights are great for the commuter, the easy-going cyclist and the regular club runner. Winter Star Tights £55
I don’t want to leave the boys out – Every bike deserves to be treated like a piece of art and what better way than hung on the wall. Bike Shelf £75.41
Why not let the fine folk at Rapha keep you warm and cosy with their distinctive stripy 100% merino wool Cross Scarf, £40.
I have to agree with Loz. The podcast, jersey and eBook bundle from Velocast is a must have for the pro-cycling fan. I’ve been a subscriber since the early days and honestly can’t think of a better team than Scott and John – full of panache and plenty of chapeaux! Their stock & legend is growing fast. An absolute bargain.
Something Under The Tree
I have always struggled with women’s jackets – I am totally in love with all the jackets that Bioracer make because they actually fit and are Italian made but are also well-priced. They also follow the European fashions (the brand is massive in Belgium, Holland and Germany, to name a few!) A good example is the Climate long sleeve jacket.
For readers in the UK, Onimpex are the sole distributors, so you will need to visit their website: www.onimpex.co.uk Retails in the UK for £109.
A perennial favourite, the Garmin Edge 500 is a popular choice amongst cyclists due to its size (small and therefore lightweight).
I love being able to relive the best parts of my season back, and there’s no better way to capture the moment than with a GoPro. The built in WiFi also allows you to connect your camera to the GoPro app on your smartphone. The app allows you to control the camera, play back your recordings and allow share you content.
So your trusty steed has gone to the bicycle graveyard in the sky… you can still have those memories, hang the memories pride of place above the mantelpiece hunting lodge stylee (but with less actual death involved). Bicycle Taxidermy have the answer…. Love it!
This is one for the boys, you can’t beat the quality of Le Col clothing, any man would be happy to receive a stylish Mizuro B5 Winter Jacket, worth the price tag of £249.99.
For the city cyclist who likes to travel around town with their iPad in understated style. New Yorkshire brand Blanket Row bring you their Finkle Street Bag and iPad sleeve set. This set is hand tooled from quality leather, it sits comfortably across your body, on your shoulder or slide both arms through the adjustable strap and it sits neatly on your back while riding. There’s plenty of room inside for your other accoutrements, it’s a very adaptable bag and currently comes in Red, White and more traditional dark chocolate brown. popular with bot men and women. I’m seeing them pop up everywhere. £165
Hannah Walker: Bont Vaypor+ and Bont Vaypor Shoes £225
The coolest and comfiest shoe around! With the option to ‘heat mold’ the shoe to suit your feet these shoes are the bees knees with regards to the quality for money. They are well made, cool, comfortable and will last you a long time (if you a person who takes care of their belongings). Now with the option to have a ratchet fastener (buckle) or a dual dial retention system the shoe is suited to everyone. If you want to look like the next Bradley Wiggins look no further as he won the 2012 Tour de France in a pair of these!
What about a cheap as chips trip to the World Cyclocross Champs in 2014. The £250 would bring fantastic memories and start lots of conversations off for years to come.
This is on my list. Do a bit of track? Do a bit of testing? Do a bit of Road? Just like being a tart and don’t care what the club bore calls you?
You need The Casco Speed Airo helmet. First all round helmet for TT,Track and road. Comes with a visor too. Should knock out at around £240 so still under budget, but currently available at Amazon for £199.99.
A long weekend of vintage steel, cobbled climbs and fantastic Flandrian festivities – the Retro Ronde van Vlaanderen is calling you! One of the most magical events there is. Beer and racing Friday, several cobbled Crit’s on Saturday and the Ronde on Sunday. Be quick, as registration is open and numbers are limited to one thousand.
Book your pedaling pal a full cycle fit at, er, www.cyclefit.co.uk. Two hours spent one-to-one with a fully qualified technician should see them riding in blissful comfort. It changed my cycling experience completely.
I think a good gift is always some fresh cycling clothing as a great mid priced gift. A new Castelli jacket or a fantastic lined pair of ladies (or men’s bibs) something you’d love to have but really “don’t need”
Leigh Marshall: Woodguards – £150 per set. These super stylish mudguards are handmade in Edinburgh from re-claimed timber and brightly coloured formica. A piece of lovingly crafted art
Dream Gift… The sky’s the limit!
David James: Similar to last year – I would love to give some bikes to those children who miss out over Christmas. Can you imagine their faces if they received a new Isla Bike or one of the new Frog children’s bikes. To see that would be a memory to last for ever. I borrowed a Brompton from my work this year as they have a couple for staff to use, but if they weren’t available, if I was having something myself I would be very happy with one of those.
I would buy/own a Scottish women’s UCI registered cycle team. The team would race road, track, mtb & cyclocross.
Unless you’re millionaire, I can’t imagine there are many cyclists with the Vis Vires Factor Bike on their list… wonder if it comes in my size. Although, for that price, you’d hope it was made to fit!
Dreams may come true… Nico and his team at www.go4cycling.com offer a sublime and unrivaled week in Flanders during which you will be waited on hand and foot, ride with legends like Johann Museeuw and Team BMC, participate – with your own support and feed stations – at the Amateur Tour of Flanders, wander the service course and meet the teams as they set up, play Belgium hopscotch as a VIP as you track the pro’s during not just the Ronde but also the Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix (unless Specialized have forced the town to change its name!) it doesn’t end there. Check out their website and then check you bank account. They do offer an amazing weekend too, along with almost every major event you can think of.
My personal ‘best bike’ as test ridden at Eurobike 2013 was the Airstreeem Race Air (Triple E) with Di2. It was fast, very fast, and agile, balanced, smooth and fun. In fact any Airstreeem bike would make me grin.
Here’s my final suggestion: the new Kinetic Rock & Roll indoor trainer – A fantastic bit of kit. I would recommend mashing it up with a few of the excellent, often hilarious, but always leg crushing, training vids from www.thesufferfest.com, a Garmin ANT stick and speed/cadence sensor, and a subscription to www.trainerroad.com. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of this set up soon. A revolution in indoor training is born!
Simply a Team Sky bus with all the mod cons, gadgets and extra fittings to make a long transfer as comfy as possible! Imagine rocking up to a womens tour series or national series in one of them or even your local club run (you could have your cafe stop in it at the end of the ride with your club/team mates), instead of it being wrapped in Team Sky change it to Epic-Scott colours! It’d certainly turn some heads and be very cool! Maybe Team Sky will be selling it soon as surely they’ll want a new one in the not so distant future??
First up we have Stages power cranks, for people who want to have a go at power but might not be able to afford the SRM version. From £599 at most bike retailers – there is a Shimano version and SRAM version too – here is the link to the ones that Evans are selling.
At the other end of the spectrum is a Van Hool tailor made coach for your trips to races and events – imagine the envy when you rock up to your local circuit race in one of these bad boys!!!
Incidentally, Lotto Belisol were selling their team bus (admittedly with 817,000 km on the clock), so if you are interested: www.lottobelisol.be
An inspiring book to read and then to ride… if you dare!
This inspiring hardback book presents a selection of the most challenging and rewarding routes for road and racing cyclists. From the South Downs Epic and Tour of the Peak in the UK, to Paris-Roubaix in France and Tour of Flanders in Belgium, from Gruyere Cycling Tour in Switzerland and Tour of Lombardy in Italy to the San Sebastian Classic in Spain, this book is the ultimate motivation for cyclists who want to push themselves to the next level.
The fifty-two classic European cycling routes – one ride for each week of the year – selected to appear in this weighty A4 hard backed tome of well over two-hundred pages cater for the aspiring and experienced cyclist as well as those more romantically inclined, inspired as they are by the epic routes raced by the legends of the sport.
Experience an example… The Retro Ronde.The routes have derived their inspiration from the many professional races as well as the ever growing mass-participation events, the cyclosportives. Indeed the twenty-four routes that cover the UK and Ireland are exclusively ‘sportive in scope. I’m ashamed to report that I have ridden only one … but can vouch for the books accuracy; I was indeed Flat Out in the Fens! Several of the European events feature in the World Cycling Tour: an age group series in which participants have the chance to qualify for and compete in an age-group final. You, yes you, could become a World Champion!
Route 34, pp148-150, covers the outstanding Retro Ronde*
I rode this in 2013 and am happy to state without hyperbole that it is my absolute favourite cycling experience, second to none – full review coming soon to Cycling Shorts (Ed. I promise!)
Here I am… climbing ‘The Wall’ Retro Ronde 2013
In the book the route distance is correctly stated as 100 km (I managed 112 km but did get myself lost taking in a few extra Heligen!) but the total climbing was very different to my experience. The book states 525 m however I managed 1200 m. To be fair to the author the organisers fine tune their route each year – and I did do the extra cobbled climbs! All the other information is accurate and succeeds in conveying the flavour of the experience. For experience the Retro Ronde certainly is! I shall be back every year – or as long as the old bike, and even older legs will allow. If you do plan on riding try to make a long weekend of it. The ‘Crit’, ahem, racing on the Saturday is wholly authentic yet rather tongue in cheek, and well worth the entry fee of €5!
Posing for the official photo at the start… the atmosphere was the best I have experienced.
So how does this fine book present the information?
The book in a nutshell …
52 European cyclosportive and Grand Tour routes
Full-colour route maps with directions and elevation profiles
Advice on ride strategies and techniques
Tips on training, appropriate clothing, nutrition and fitness
All routes are available to download for your GPS cycling computer
Routes cover the UK & Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.
The author suggests the reader takes two possible approaches, both of which allow them to make full use of the route information. The first, and Sidwells strongly suggests this as the most preferable avenue, is to take part in the official event for each route (if there is one) as, and I can only concur with him in this respect, …
“…the atmosphere and camaraderie of these events, where thousands of like-minded souls take part, all enjoying doing something they love, is incredible.”
Additionally, there is also more than enough information within the book to allow you to ride each route, or your own variation of it, independently of the official event and at any time of year. Words to the wise… check before you leave that roads are open!
Each route is clearly described and supported with often fascinating background information along with tantalising titbits of history; and who amongst us hasn’t unleashed the inner child and ridden a classic imagining the spectres of the greats; Coppi, Bobbet, Garin, et al, riding alongside?
There are maps and directions for each route, including profiles that clearly indicate where each hill is located along with rather useful yet often unsettling detail on how long and steep they are! The ever useful height gain is also presented.
In the words of the author, Chris Sidwells, “Enjoy the book, use it for planning and setting objectives, but above all get out and ride these routes. They represent some of the finest cycling experiences you could ever have.”
Classic Cycling Routes in a little more detail …
The introduction is extensive and covers three very important pre-ride requisites: Basic equipment – your bike, creating a training plan, and challenge-ride nutrition. There is a lot of very useful information here ranging from how to best use a GPS device (by Garmin) to the basics of creating a training plan.
The two-hundred pages devoted to the fifty two Race Routes traverse Europe through seven countries but with the majority set in the UK and Ireland.
The UK & Ireland section contains twenty-four routes, as listed below:
The Fred Whitton Challenge
The Ryedale Rumble
Etape du Dales
The Cheshire Cat
Tour of the Peak
The Shropshire Mynd
Flat Out in the Fens
Hell of the North Cotswolds
The Ups and Downs
The New Forest Epic
The South Downs Epic
The Tour of Wessex
The Exmoor Beast
The Dartmore Classic
The Dragon Ride
The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive
Tour of Sligo
Malin to Mizen
Megève Mont Blanc
Cinglés du Ventoux
Etape du Tour 2010
Tour of Flanders
Grand Fondo Eddy Merckx
The Amstell Gold Race
Gruyére Cycling Tour
Alpenbrevet Platinum Tour
Tour of Lombardy
A Stage of the Tour of Italy
La Leggendaria Charly Gaul
Maratona dles Dolomites
La Pinarello Cycling Marathon
San Sebastian Classic
Val d’Aran Cycling Tour
A Stage of the Vuelta
La Pico del Veleta
Don’t forget… all routes in this book can be downloaded to your Garmin (the Edge 800 in my case) from the AA website.
As the book itself says, ‘the classic race routes selected here are not for the faint-hearted. Based on the best cyclosportive events in Europe and on stages of Grand Tours, they are much more than just pretty rides in the country. The fifty-two routes are serious mental and physical challenges (in the case of the Retro Ronde… the liver is called upon to do its bit too!) that require training and preparation. Yet each is accessible and achieved by many thousands of amateur cyclists each year.
Classic Cycling Race Routes allows you to cycle these rides at any time, either as preparation for the race events, or for the sheer joy and exhilaration of the challenge. For those rides that don’t have a dedicated cyclosportive route, the author has designed a ride a ride to reflect the demands and history of the race.
Each route contains a map with directions and an elevations and an elevation profile, and Chris Sidwells provides an overview combining ride strategy and techniques with the history of the race.
Practical and aspirational, Classic Cycling Race Routes will inspire a new generation of cyclists to push themselves to the extreme. You never know, the next Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish or Sir Bradley Wiggins may well be among them!
One for the rider as well as the reader + GPS routes = 100% Awarded our Star Buy Rating!
Reviewed by: Nichiless ‘Nicky’ Dey.
About the author
Chris Sidwells is an internationally-respected British cycling journalist and author, with nine books on cycling, ranging from biography through fitness and training to bike repair. His Complete Bike Book has been translated into twenty-four languages, and his Bike Repair Manual is about to reach its fifth edition. Tour Climbs and Race for Madmen were best sellers in their genre. His ‘The Official Tour de France Records’ has the backing of Le Tour Itself. Most recently he has published The Long Race for Glory: How the British Came to Rule the Cycling World… the next book to be reviewed on Cycling Shorts. Chris’s words and photographs have graced the pages of Britain’s best-selling cycling magazine Cycling Weekly (indeed he seems to appear in every issue,) and in all issues of Cycle Sport and Cycling Active, along with Cycling Fitness. He has also been published in Men’s Fitness, Cycling Plus, GQ, Running Fitness and the Sunday Times. Phew!