Four Seasons In One Day – Twice Over: 3 Daagse De Panne Day One

Kasseien EntryThe banks of rain and hail rolled across the open countryside, defying any fledgling green buds to emerge in their bid to spring Spring upon Flanders in readiness for De Ronde at the weekend. Church bells tolled under the heavy, grey skies to signal the race’s advance. From the cold, leafless branches of the trees, there it was; the eternal race-side birdsong. Meltwater trickled over and in within the cobbled track that dipped down and snaked back up into the distance as we willed the tiny, icy lumps to disperse in time.

Hail dodgingThirty minutes beforehand the entire scene had been blessed by modest sunshine under blue skies. Haaghoek is treacherous enough in the dry, more so in the wet- I was beginning to worry now that it was blanketed in a wintry white sheen…

waitingThe race convoy slipped easily by as the tell-tale thwack thwack thwack of the helicopter grew closer. The break flew around the corner and down into the dell of the secteur, smooth as silk over those jarring stones. Purposeful. Pursued.

The Break w Kristoff

And then the bunch, rounding the corner in a bar room brawl manner, a barrage of bidons erupted from within the flailing ranks and skittered their way towards our toes and shins, little marker-penned crosses denoting the sugary ones.

TSV ThighThe head of the pack displayed the same measured aggression as their quarry for ten or so wheels before the barely in control and downright fearful looking came hurtling past. The difference in expressions on the faces of those who playfully hop up and over the rain gully whilst cranking powerfully across the cobbles and those who hang onto the hoods and say a prayer whilst wishing for the smooth roads of home, say as much as any passport in this part of the world.

Boom

Onwards to the Muur.

Cycling: Driedaagse De Panne Stage 1

Cycling: Driedaagse De Panne Stage 1

The good people of Geraardsbergen, given their day gratefully by this particular race’s fathers after being shunned by their most beloved of pageant’s bankers, fill the bars and cafes of the sunny main square. Timing their drinks with expert precision, they make their pilgrimage to the most iconic chapel and crucifix in all cycling.

Cycling: Driedaagse De Panne Stage 1

Cycling: Driedaagse De Panne Stage 1

The Muur did not miss its cue and the shape of the race was sculptured on the lower reaches of this amphitheatre that has carved out many a legendary narrative as Team Sky’s Luke Rowe punctured and bowed out of the break.

Cycling: Driedaagse De Panne Stage 1

Somehow the fate of the two riders from Astana seemed strangely sealed against a quiet-so-far Kristoff, one more doomed two vs one scenario that could only find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

Cycling: Driedaagse De Panne Stage 1

Photo Credits: Martin Hogg at the Haaghoek, AP Sports Photo op de Muur, Tess Langley, sheltering in the car

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Handmade Heritage: Carradice – Ethos Of The Artisan

 

Carradice of Nelson

‘…An old, dyed-in-the-wool Clubman who came to see David at the workshop with a threadbare saddle bag… asked if it could be restored to its former glory. David, unsure it was worth it – not to mention his reservations about being able to “work succesfully with thin air”- was happy to strike favourable deal for a newer model in recognition of the old hands’ brand-loyalty.

”I’m not interested in a new one!” the visitor exclaimed “This bag belonged to Beryl Burton!” ‘

Bag

A new article I had the pleasure of being involved in, after a chat I had with Pete Harrington over at Always Riding, about the wealth of great little artisan cycling companies we are blessed with here in the UK. We decided to explore the stories and heritage behind these worthy of celebration, buckers of the modern world’s corporate domination trend in an occasional series.

Carradice of Nelson

First up, Carradice: Makers of highly durable and beautifully crafted cycling saddlebags, panniers, satchels, courier bags- the list goes on. Founded by cotton mill worker and keen cyclo-tourer Wilf Carradice in the 1930s, the ethoi of artisan quality and timeless style are still as tightly woven into the fabric of the company as the waterproof waxed Cotton Duck (Carradice’s trademark material of choice) itself is. Check out the full Carradice article here

Carradice of Nelson

Photo Credits: Andrew Greenstreet Photography

Contact: Carradice

Introducing Ausrine Trebaite

Cycling: Planet X Team Launch - Ausrine Trebaite
Ausrine Trebaite at the launch of the Planet X cycling team at Planet X Showroom, Magna Way, Sheffield on 7 March 2016 [Photo AP Sports Photo]
With a clutch of European gold, silver and bronze medals on the track to her name, Lithuania’s 2014 National Road & Time Trial champion is setting out on a new venture in 2016. Ausrine Trebaite has been drafted into the newly launched Planet X/ Bo-Go Cycling Team and is aiming for yet more success on both asphalt and boards. The slightly unusual backstory to the new team can be found in my feature for the Always Riding website here, but for now, meet Ausrine…

Ciclissimo! When did your love of the bike begin?

Ausrine Trebaite I began cycling maybe when I was six years old, then more seriously from maybe about 13 years old- almost 15 years ago now. My cousin was a good cyclist back then, she was 6th on the road in the Verona WC’s, a member of the Lithuanian Olympic squad- she’s retired now- I saw all the trophies at her home and I wanted it too, I wanted to win! The cycling journey for me began that day with the trophies I saw..

C! What do you remember of your first race as you set out to try and claim trophies of your own?

AT My first race was in my home town: I was not so nervous as I knew I was strong! I knew all the girls who were racing- and it was good to win! After that I went to bigger races, regional, not just in my town.. there were more nerves then- ‘who will be racing?’ I didn’t know these girls from the different areas. But when you got started, one minute after starting, the nerves all disappear- you are then in the game!

C! Which races or vicories are your standout career moments so far?

AT Maybe when I on my first European Champs, my first international competition at that level, I didn’t know how strong the other girls would be. I won silver in the Individual Pursuit- you just need to go out and do what you can do and then see the times and where that leaves you once you’ve finished.To realise that I can take a silver at European Champs level I thought ‘Yup, That’s Cool!’ It was a whole new level

C! How about the other side of the coin, your hardest race?

AT The hardest race is the race were you need to be good but you are not in good shape- you have responsibility and pressure but you are not so good- form, nerves- but you still need to go good! A lot of races are like that!! *laughter*

Cycling: Planet X Team Launch
The launch of the Planet X cycling team at Planet X Showroom, Magna Way, Sheffield on 7 March 2016 [AP Sports Photo]
C! We’re here in London today, where have been your favourite places cycling has taken you?

AT I’ve been to a lot of places- not all good! I always enjoy Colombia. I have friends there it’s a great atmosphere, totally different from Europe. The South American culture and people- I like that! We stay with the family and get to live with them and experience their culture, from the children to the adults, and pick up the customs and ways of life.

C! And so to the future; the new team and chapter with the Planet X/ Bo-Go Cycling Team. What are your goals?

AT Goals- we have a lot of them with the new team and perhaps we do not yet know exactly how to reach them! First of all we need to get the bikes set up, after that we will see what we can do as a team, it’s hard to say but I am hoping for good races and good placings in races! But we are a first year team so we can’t say anything for certain just yet- we just have to try…

Cycling: Planet X Team Launch
The launch of the Planet X cycling team at Planet X Showroom, Magna Way, Sheffield on 7 March 2016 [AP Sports Photo]

Storm From The East: In Conversation With Malgorzata Wojtyra

Cycling: Planet X Team Launch
The launch of the Planet X cycling team at Planet X Showroom, Magna Way, Sheffield on 7 March 2016; Photo AP Sports Photo

“2015 was the first year I ever had a bike fit and aero testing!!… I thought I felt good before, but I didn’t! Now I know I didn’t! When I look at the photos of how I looked on the bike and compare them with now, it’s a massive difference…Before that point it was a case of you get a bike, you set it up and think “yeah… I feel ok, I kinda feel comfy” and you go!”

Malgorzata Wojtyra, Gosia Wojtyra, Revolution Series, track cycling
Malgorzata Wojtyra is pictured during omnium competition at the 52nd Revolution Series in Derby, United Kingdom, on 14/15/16 August 2015. [AP Sports Photo]
Full interview over here at Always Riding featuring 6 Day Queen Malgorzata Wojtyra, fresh from claiming silver at the London Track World Championships earlier this month. Features also Kris Sordyl, altruistic Polish business entrepreneur -cum- new team founder, on his vision for the newly launched Planet X/ Bo-Go Cycling Team squad

Cycling: Planet X Team Launch
The launch of the Planet X cycling team at Planet X Showroom, Magna Way, Sheffield on 7 March 2016 [AP Sports Photo]

Hannah Walker -Team WNT Cross Country Ski Winter Training Camp

Hannah Group

Here at Ciclissimo!, the cycling season is fondly viewed as a pleasing summer diversion until it’s time to apply the winter season’s first wax to the skinny skis and look forward to days on the cross country ski trails: As every true Euro-Cyclist knows, winter sports are the only serious option when it comes to filling the time between cycling off-season espressi stops; Adam Hansen and Edvald Boasson Hagen are no strangers to the ‘langlauf loipen’ in the off-season and even Maître Jacques himself was never far from the sun-dazzled pistes as soon as the juant around Lombardy had been taken care of. It was high time a piece dedicated to my passion for Nordic sports graced these pages, so when I heard that Team WNT were headed off to Austria’s Tirol region for a winter cross country skiing camp the necessary arrangements were made… Multiple National Champ jersey winner, Hannah Walker, was drafted in as special guest writer to tell the tale and take some snaps.

H Walker

“I always used to say to myself I’d never go skiing; if I was to have one holiday a year (I don’t normally even have one) it’d have to be something relaxing on a beach in hot weather, to make up for England’s lack of sun and nice beaches. Plus, whilst still racing bikes, I didn’t want to risk putting myself into unknown territory and end up causing myself some serious damage like breaking a leg! However when a trip to Austria was mentioned as part of a team-building exercise with my Team WNT team mates and the WNT sponsor, I just could not miss it for the world- and boy, am I glad we got the opportunity to do it!

Let me set the scene…

We’re cross country skiing in Reutte, Tyrol in Austria, doing ‘classic style skiing’, in which you’re in two prepared, parallel tracks. Once you get the hang of it, it’s relatively easy (I say relatively) as compared to skiing ‘freestyle’ on the snow without the tracks. It’s a sunny blue sky yet the ground and mountains are covered in thick layers of snow. There are picturesque buildings with restaurants where people stop for mid ski lunch, also known as a café stop to us cyclists, but you don’t just have a coffee and maybe a piece of cake if you’re feeling generous to yourself, you have a full blown meal with options such as Wiener Schnitzel, Currywurst or Leberkase with a good glass of Apfelsaft mit gas (apple juice with fizzy water). All around there are little kids as young as 4 years old skiing better than us girls and our team manager: Slightly embarrassing. But we’re athletes, right? We’re strong, fit and competitive (too much sometimes), right? Wrong! Skiing was a whole new level of fitness and strength, we all woke up not being able to get out of bed or walk, having to physically lift our legs with our hands when walking up stairs or to get out of the car!

groupII

So you might ask why XC skiing as opposed to a weekend riding our bikes together or a hike in the Peak District? Well, Claude Sun, the Global MD of WNT, knew the majority of us had never skied before and with four new girls joining the team for 2016 he thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to help us integrate and get to know each other better off of the bike in a somewhat less cycling environment. Claude wanted us to have a great experience whilst on this fantastic journey with Team WNT, staying in the Tannenhof, a family run small hotel, eating local traditional food with most of the food produce sourced locally to Reutte. One night whilst we were in Austria we hiked up a mountain with head torches and ski sticks for an hour to a small family run restaurant, which only seated around 25 people. We had a traditional meal which was pasta with a medieval cheese, using the exact same recipe from the medieval era to make the cheese!

View

For a few years now I’ve watched cross country skiing & biathlon on Eurosport during the winter months, and it always astonishes me how deep in effort the skiers can make themselves go: Every single one of them collapse at the finish line, showing you just how tough a sport it is. I was recently told that amongst athletes, cross country skiers typically have one of the highest VO2 max (the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise/fitness testing). Whilst doing some research, within the top 10 highest ever recordings of a VO2 max an 18 year old male cyclist came out top, with two other cyclists in the top ten (Greg LeMond and Kurt Asle Arvesen), accompanied by five cross country skiers and two ultra-endurance runners. Well I was totally sold; I think I’ll go cross country skiing every winter as you use similar muscle groups and the fitness gains are huge…clearly. And everyone loves GAINZ!

Anyway I’m sure you’re intrigued to know who the best and worst skiers were. The best was probably Corrine Clark. For natural technique it had to be Natalie Grinczer; she looked like a seasoned pro. On the flip side, hands down worst of them all was our team manager, Marcus. I think he’ll agree with me and the rest of the team though, from being stood still not moving to flat on his derrière without knowing how he got there, certainly made for good entertainment for the weekend! Crash

OK- we all crashed, just some a little more than others! All in all, if you were ever debating a cross country skiing trip, even though you’re an athlete from a different discipline, I totally recommend it.

Top 3 reasons:

* The lifestyle: Ski, food, drink, ski some more, eat a bit more food, drink a bit more apfelsaft, SLEEP!

* Unlimited fun and laughs giving you rock hard abs (no need to go to the gym and do boring sit ups!)

* The scenery is incredible; it WILL take your breath away.

To finish our jam packed three days we had a quick dash to the Guinness World Record longest ‘Tibet-style’ footbridge located close to where we were staying in Reutte. It’s called the ‘Highline 179’: It’s 406m long and 114.60m high! It was one of those moments which sent your legs like jelly and your stomach upside down… your instincts knew it wasn’t right and, despite it being a solidly made structure, something in the back of your mind kept telling you you needed to hold on! I’m not really selling it to you, however if you’re ever near this area it’s definitely worth the experience to walk the bridge!Bridge

Anyway I’ll leave you with some pictures to paint a picture of everything I’ve been waffling on about, it was truly an amazing weekend, thank you WNT and Claude Sun for such a great experience!

skiing

Hannah x”

Follow Hannah through the 2016 season on twitter @spannawalker  or over at her website, www.hannahwalkercycling.co.uk 

(All images courtesy of Hannah Walker)

Luc.

LC4

This is Luc. He’s a family friend of the Devenyns. He’d made his way to the quiet meadow lane that leads onto the Oude Kwaremont, just down the road from his home, when my friend, Pieter, came upon him on the morning of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

I always eye the rickety barbed wire fence that sways rustily along at the side of the single slab farm track whenever I ride past this spot; all those guys, full gas – fighting like crazy for position before the cobbles start & the lane pitches up- and that rusty barbed wire fence…

LC5

Pieter was on his way to the bar half way up the Oude Kwaremont to find some nice shots from the day: The bar is alive with character and cheer on race day. But it was only the two of them on the lane through the meadow at that time in the morning, so Pieter stopped to say good morning and share a word. Dries Devenyns would be racing through here in a couple of hours time and Luc wanted to greet him with a message of support on his way to the foot of the climb. Luc is fond of the lad, proud of him.

LC1I don’t know if Luc has ever been to Marseilles. Dries won his first race since 2009 there in February. It’s a nice race to win, the European season curtain call. Maybe Luc has been, I don’t know- perhaps he hasn’t and never will. Dries races on these roads too, pretty much outside Luc’s front door, and that’s good enough for Luc. He knows these lanes: Has seen races run through them all of his life. That’s fine for Luc. He’ll carry on with preparing the road for when Dries comes by. Same as he does each year.

LC3

Images courtesy of Pieter Van Hoorebeke

The Season That Came Into The Cold: An End To The Desert Phoney War

IMGL7917The season has arrived with a bang, a rattling of chains and the clatter of carbon on cobblestones in the Flemish heartlands. Pieter Van Hoorebeke was out with his lens on the kasseien for the opening weekend.The Always Riding website’s journal distils the typical race watching experience down via his work; the wait… the people watching…the waiting some more…waiting- flashing lights…whisltes… The Race Flashes By! Don’t blink! Click here for the feature.

Pieter, along with Jason Joyce Ghijs, captured many truly beautiful racing images from the roadside over the course of the two days, too good to remain unseen. I have popped this photo journal together to ensure remaining unseen, for at least some of the images, is not their ultimate fate. Enjoy.

pelo

bar

joyce HH

totnT

IMGL7957

sagan

tractor