‘L of a Bike Ride

Intoart Bicycle Tour

 

 

 

 

Intoart Bicycle Tour 2013
Liverpool – Liege – Lille – London
‘L of a bike ride – Solo 1000 mile charity cycle ride across Europe

Ian Ritchie will be cycling 1000 miles solo, across Europe in June – July 2013 to raise money for Intoart artists to travel and research in Europe. Intoart is a small artist-led visual arts organisation working with adults and young people with learning disabilities.

Enthused by the cycling boom that has swept the UK in recent years, Ian will be pedaling a 1000-mile route inspired by cycling prowess and artistic achievement.

‘Intoart is such a fantastic charity, I am always struck by the quality of the artwork made in the Intoart studio and how hard the artists work; these are tough times for small charities so I wanted to show my support by doing something which reflects the endeavor and drive of the artists.

Cycling across Europe will enable me to do this as well as fulfilling some boyhood ambitions.’ Ian Ritchie

Beginning on the same day as the Tour de France, Saturday 29 June 2013, at the iconic Tate Liverpool on the banks of the Mersey, Ian will take in the Marc Chagall exhibition before making his way through Eccleston, the home of Sir Bradley Wiggins – Tour de France and Olympic Gold medal winner 2012. He will then continue on to pick up the Way of the Roses route to York before travelling by ferry from Hull to Belgium and follow the Flanders Cycle Route heading for Ghent, the cycling capital of Europe.

Intoart Bicycle TourWhilst in Belgium, Ian will visit MADmusée in Liege, a gallery Intoart has a strong relationship with. It was here in 2011 that Intoart artists exhibited internationally as a group for the first time.

In 2012, MADmusée commissioned Intoart artist, Doreen McPherson, to create a portrait of British cycling star, Mark Cavendish for an exhibition that ran alongside the Tour de France.

Other highlights of the trip include: a visit to the LaM Museum in Lille to see Madge Gill works from the L’Aracine collection; stopping off for a beer in Leuven, home of the world’s largest brewing company; and cycling the route of the Paris- Roubaix one-day classic cycle race, in reverse.

Ian will be arriving in Paris with enough time to visit Brancusi’s Studio at the Centre Pompidou before seeing the Tour de France finish on Sunday 21 July in the French capital.

From Paris, Ian will follow the Avenue Verte cycling route to Dieppe and take the ferry to Newhaven. He will then take in Box Hill, part of the Olympic Road Race route, and onwards to London.

Ian will finish his epic 1000 mile ride at the Intoart Studio in Clapham, South London on Saturday 27 of July 2013 where he will share his adventures with the Intoart artists and enjoy a well deserved cup of tea.

It seemed a good idea to ride from Liege to London as a charity event. Since Ian lives near Liverpool and is now retired, it seemed a better idea to just get on his bike and ride from Liverpool via Liege and Lille to London – ‘L of a Bike Ride.

Clifton Wright (Intoart artist) met with Ian to find out more about the ride and you can read the full interview at: www.intoart.org.uk/studio/weblogs/studio/Blog.html.

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Text: INTO13 £5 (or your amount) to 70070 (UK only)

Wiggle Etape Cymru Hits 1000 Entrants and Welcomes New Partners Giant and Mavic

Wiggle Etape Cymru Hits 1000 Entrants and Welcomes New Partners Giant and Mavic
Following on from a stellar 2012 event, it comes as no surprise that places are being snapped up quickly for this year’s Wiggle Etape Cymru, having already passed 1000 entrants, a 145% increase against this time last year.
After taking ownership in early 2012, Human Race have worked tirelessly to ensure the Wiggle Etape Cymru is now recognised as one of the ‘must do’ events on the UK sportive calendar, with 98% of participants rating the 2012 event overall as “Good” or “Excellent”.
As well as the incredibly positive feedback received from participants the event has also been widely acclaimed within the cycling industry and as a result has attracted a range of respected cycling brands who have now partnered with the event, including the new Title Partner Wiggle.
The latest brands to partner with the event include the world’s leading bike brand Giant, who will be providing bike checks and mechanical support for participants from the venue, and Mavic who will be providing riders with a Tour de France style support experience on the route. As more respected brands look set to add their support the 2013 participant experience will continue to improve from the already extremely well received 2012 event.
The 2013 edition takes place on Sunday 8th September and once again offers participants the unparalleled experience of riding through the stunning Welsh countryside on traffic free roads.
Starting and finishing the Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse in Wrexham, the 92 mile route features some truly testing terrain. Passing through quaint Denbighshire and Wrexham villages, riders will be able to take in the spectacular views of the Clwydian range (an area of outstanding beauty), while tackling lung-busting climbs such as Panorama, The Shelf, World’s End and the iconic Horseshoe Pass.
Olympic medallist and Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas is the event ambassador and speaks of great scenes awaiting those who are lucky enough to get a place: “My home country of Wales makes me feel so lucky to be a cyclist. North Wales, in particular, is a really special area with quiet roads, tough climbs and the reward of spectacular panoramic views.”
He continued: “At nearly 100 miles, the Wiggle Etape Cymru is a grueling sportive but everyone taking part will be rewarded with a fantastic day in the saddle on stunning roads.”
Nick Rusling, CEO of Human Race said: “The Wiggle Etape Cymru is a wonderful event and it is great to hear that we have passed 1000 entrants so early on in the year. We’re delighted to welcome the new partnerships that will continue to improve the rider experience and quality of the event.”
Participants in the event will be encouraged to fundraise for the Official National Charity Partner Macmillan Cancer Support. The money raised will be used to help Macmillan support not only people affected by cancer, but everyone their cancer has an impact on, from partners, to children, to friends and carers.
Riders will also be supporting Local Charity Partner Nightingale House. The charity provides specialist palliative care services, completely free-of-charge, to patients and their families across a wide area stretching from Wrexham, Flintshire and East Denbighshire to Barmouth and the border towns including Oswestry and Whitchurch.
Entries cost £59. For more information on the Wiggle Etape Cymru, please visit:  http://www.humanrace.co.uk/cycling

The Rawlinson Bracket

Competitiveness, an urge to do your best, is within human nature, a part of all of us. But in the drive to further yourself, there are steps that you need to take – only the very few are born with a natural ability at any sport, and even for them there’s time to be spent and effort expended  in order to hone skills and enhance physical attributes. Cycling is not immune; indeed, there are not many sports where the amount of time you put in so clearly has an impact in the amount you get out. So it behoves you to spend time in the saddle if you want to improve, and part and parcel of that is that there are boundaries to cross in your long personal voyage of self-improvement.  I’ve just crossed two of them – my first sportive, and my first half-century.

The event was a new one – the Rawlinson Bracket commemorates the untimely passing of Nick Rawlinson, who passed away in his sleep at the shockingly unfair age of thirty. A keen cyclist, Nick was training for the Maratona dles Dolomites and his first season of racing – accordingly, his friends and family put together the Rawlinson Bracket to allow riders to experience some of the roads Nick knew well and loved to train on, but also to raise funds and awareness for Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. Whilst not a county particularly noted for verticality, Warwickshire nevertheless boasts some fairly beastly climbs along the Edgehill escarpment, and although the more leisurely 24 mile Bottom Bracket would give them a swerve, the 50 mile Top Bracket would utilize these and other climbs to the full.

Registered with British Cycling, online registration and entry was simplicity itself, and a couple of weeks before the event, my event number and on-the-day instructions hurled themselves through the letterbox. The day itself dawned grey and distinctly chilly, but at least it looked dry with no precipitation – parking at the Heritage Motor Centre, however, there were undeniable flakes of snow tumbling from the slate-coloured sky, although we were blessed to have nothing heavier fall during the event. Signing on was just a matter of turning up and signing your name in the appropriate place before heading out into the cold to get kitted up, and one thing was becoming very in-your-face apparent; although nothing was falling from above and the roads were dry, it was painfully, blisteringly cold. I was pretty well prepped, but in a moment of jaw-dropping stupidity, I’d left the winter gloves at home in favour of some slightly cooler* handware, cooler in both senses of the word. With Team NTG pedalling nervously to the startline, my fingers first started to protest, then yell angrily, then finally start to fall silent – and numb.

The briefing was cheerily delivered, useful and to the point, and before we knew it, we’d been set free and were off and running. From the start, the key note of interest was our fellow participants zipping past us at great pace and then disappearing into the distance – Team NTG’s scratch squad were a fairly fit bunch but they were carrying a hybrid-mounted  great pudding in the form of your correspondent, and although I had been prepared for Vince, Jon and Steve to similarly make themselves very small on the horizon in no short order, I was very grateful to them for riding at my gentle pace. For the first mile or two, we followed the B4451 towards the amusingly-monitored Bishop’s Itchington and although traffic was by no means heavy, there were a few cars about – once we turned onto Knightcote Road, however, we were into the lanes and the remainder of the ride was blissfully quiet.

It was still flat, though, and digits were definitely on the chilly side. Riding two by two, we pedaled along in amiable fashion, honking about the cold and hoping for a hill to warm us up – Vince was on a box-fresh spanking new Specialized Allez bought only the day before, settling in and reveling in the step up from his Apollo hybrid.

It wasn’t long before we were passing Northend Manor, which meant Burton Dassett and the first serious climb of the day wasn’t far off. Burton Dassett is a lovely piece of parkland that normally calls on you to be shoo’ing sheep out of the way between heavily-gasped breaths – this time there were no sheep in the road as we passed, although my companions made like mountain goats and quickly dropped me. I wasn’t bothered; although tactics hadn’t been discussed, I’d half had it in mind that they might scoot off and ride at their own pace, which wouldn’t have bothered me – I knew that 50 miles would be quite a test for me, and that I couldn’t afford to try and match an unachievable pace, but if they wanted to test themselves, I certainly wouldn’t begrudge them. I also knew from riding with Jon that my modest climbing pace was uncomfortable on his steeper-geared Genesis Croix De Fer, so I was unsurprised that the others would ride away from me when it got steep. What was pleasing, however, was that the others took it steady on the ride away from the top, and it wasn’t long before I was back amongst them.

In companionable fashion, therefore, we proceeded along the way chatting as we went, the next challenge being a climb up through the village of Shotteswell. This led us to the B4100 which runs from Banbury to Gaydon and forms a part of my regular commute, so I was overjoyed to launch myself down the familiar Warmington Hill in spite of the biting wind – by this time, even my trendily-attired fingers were adequately warm…

Turning west before the military camp, I gulped down a gel before we hit the B4086, turning south to aim at Knowle Hill. Knowle Hill is a proper climb, not too long (little more than half a mile), and the guys again worked their way ahead of me as we hit 14% – I’d done a recce a couple of weeks before, as I knew it to be an awesome piece of downhill tarmac, so I knew I was capable of riding up it in the middle ring, but it was still a bit of a shock to see dismounted riders pushing up the hill. My sense of inferiority born of taking a lowly hybrid to the start line against a sea of proper road kit diminished with every revolution of the granny ring.

Our ascent of Edgehill marked an approach on the halfway mark, and the rest stop at the top of the hill gave me time to assess – I felt ok, pretty good after a banana, and in my head there was only one more serious climb left. I’d had a bit of a play along Edgehill prior to the event, and thought I had things covered, but although I felt strong on the restart, once we’d descended into the picturesque village of Tysoe (there’s a great downhill on the way in – I unclipped the inside foot into a hairpin left just to be on the safe side, and my team members were asking if I was worried about impacting the scenery on the outside of the turn. Pff – bunch of old women). Tysoe led us onto Lady Elizabeth Hill which was a comparative long grind, at the top of which I struggled to make the time back up to the rest of the squad – I was definitely starting to lose strength. Just to make things more tricky, I managed to pull out an energy bar on a flat section shortly afterwards, but struggled to open the beast – as a result, I ended up trying to chomp on chocolate and orange as the road swooped up and down, turning the simple act of eating into a tricky prospect.

As we got to Compton Winyates Hill, passing the 35 mile mark, my legs had definitely got it into their collective head that they’d more or less had enough of this pedaling lark. Vince had to stop right at the foot of the climb to locate an errant gel, but came past me at a blistering pace on his way back to joining Jon and Steve – I was indifferent; by now it was all about trying to make the finish, and my legs felt like mush. Trying to generate extra power was like pushing water uphill.

The route then rejoined at the top of Lady Elizabeth Hill, and I sped gleefully down back into Tysoe before rejoining the lads just a couple of miles before Sunrising. I knew Sunrising of old – as a family we’d been driving up it on the way to Silverstone since the Seventies, and since I’d worked in Banbury, Sunrising had been a frequent part of the commute if I couldn’t face the motorway. I’d only cycled up it once, but it was and is the steepest hill I’ve cycled up so far. That was the end of January, and I’d managed to hold the middle ring, but on the day, little more than three weeks later, I had to drop to the granny ring almost as soon as the climb started; it seemed almost endless, but my bloody-minded spinning eventually had me round the top corner and at the apogee of the hill. From there I knew the route home – we’d cleared all the serious climbs. It was an overwhelming experience.

Once atop the escarpment, I put in some effort in aero mode to try and catch the rest of Team NTG, but we were through Edgehill before I rejoined with them. By then we were poised over Edgehill, a hill I’d ridden down a couple of times before and with my gravitational potential energy advantage, I managed to open a small gap on the rest of the team before we started to span the plain to Kineton. Putting in a turn to try and catch a couple of riders ahead of us, I gave it a dig before Vince took over, dragging us past them but also separating the team, the new Allez giving free expression to his prodigious ability. Steve gave vain chase as Jon and I worked our way more steadily home, but there was no doubting who finished with the most ammo in their legs.

Still, 50 miles, done; my first half century, and first sportive. It was a brilliant feeling just to finish the event, and it ranks high amongst my thus far meager athletic achievements. But complete it we did; cheerily run, the event was fun from start to finish and with over £4000 raised for SADS, there was a clear correlation between the fun had and the funds raised. No-one I spoke to had anything but praise for the event, and there was a pleasing finale when Steve and Jon looked to donate. When they went unsatisfied in their hunt for charity buckets, they asked a SADS-t shirted lady who advised them that there were no buckets, but they could leave contributions with her. In jest, Steve asked if they could be sure that contributions left with her would be safe and she smiled as she said that yes, they would be safe, as she is Nick’s mum. I thought it symbolic of the quality of the event that Nick’s family were there to pitch in, a year to the day after his untimely passing.

Nothing that I saw or heard leads me to conclude that the event was anything other than a complete success. I’ve no idea if there are plans to make it an annual event, but if there are, sign me up now!

 

 

*Coolness, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but for me, the gloves I wore were as cool a pair as I own.

For more information SADS (Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome) visit: www.sadsuk.org.uk

To learn more about Nick and details on The Rawlinson Bracket event visit: www.the-rawlinson-bracket.co.uk

 

 

 

Bike Travels: California – Levi’s GranFondo October 2011

 

GranFondo - View Of The Coast - ©Image Copyright Randy Ruhlman


 
Imagine a ride over the rolling hills of California, nestled between the vineyards of Sonoma County and along steep cliffs, as you ride your way towards the waves of the Pacific Ocean. On the first weekend of October, avid cyclists did just that, as over 7,500 riders descended on the town of Santa Rosa, California (just north of that mythic city of San Francisco) for the third annual Levi’s GranFondo Ride. Along with Levi Leipheimer and these thousands of cyclists, many other professional cyclists and celebrities gathered to ride and have a great time with all the proceeds going to charity.

Levi's GranFondo 2011 - Image ©Copyright Randy Ruhlman

The charity is Forget Me Not Farm, promoted by Levi’s wife, former Timex/Cannondale rider Odessa Gunn. Her involvement with animal rescue and rehabilitation has been instrumental in getting awareness and funding for the ranch & foster programs, but it is more than a shelter for abandon critters. The facility acts as a therapeutic refuge for at-risk children, pairing them with animals around the farm and charging the children with their care.

The ride itself incorporates three varied routes, a bit of “something for everyone”, each with a different profile, degree of difficulty and length. All three traverse incredibly scenic terrain, down the Russian River Valley toward the town of Jenner at the Pacific Ocean. The Kings Ridge route takes the GranFondo riders over the hills toward Ritchey Ranch (yes, that Ritchey) where the bike legend himself was reported to be serving sandwiches at the lunch stop.

A very organized ride, the mass start–all the groups at once and at the sensible hour of 8AM–was well managed and the numbers of volunteers and CHPs officers (California Highway Patrol) controlling intersections along the route was impressive. Rest stops were plentiful and well stocked, as were comfort stations. Of course, the scenery was beautiful, as if one had expected anything less. And in typical California coastal fashion, there was some fog along the ocean. Some of the vistas and hill tops were cool and obscured, and a few areas along the ride were reported to have some visibility issues, but aside from that, the ride and post ride weather was excellent.

GranFondo Post Ride Celebrations - Image ©Copyright Randy Ruhlman

Naturally, one of the rewards of a great ride is in the post-ride lunch and festival. The post-ride food offerings ran the gamut from specialities like the very popular Paella stand,  to Mexican and Indian food to BBQ beef and plenty of regular post ride cuisine. And, of course, providing the much needed post ride refreshment: an assortment of New Belgium beers to quench the thirst. Along with food and a continuous array of entertainment, there were dozens of Exhibitors at the finish line festivities, including Camelbak, Chris King, HED, Nissan & SRAM, just to name a very few.
All in all, it was a great event.

The pre-ride organization was just that, organised, as was the smooth start with its 7,500 cyclists. The course was well policed and marked and the post ride entertainment and

GranFondo Exhibitors - Images ©Copyright Randy Ruhlman

festival was fun and entertaining.

So what makes a great ride–just that!  Levi’s GranFondo 2011 was a ride where you could challenge yourself, have fun, and know that it is all was going to run smoothly. And it is definitely a ride we won’t hesitate to sign up for when entries open for next year’s event.

 

 

—Cristi

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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