Images by Gerard Brown www.gerardbrown.co.uk
Rolling the Stones!
Riding the cobbles at some point in your career is a right of passage like owing a pair of tubs or riding a time-trial. Just once you owe it to yourself. How hard can it be?
The hard facts are that everything is harder on you and your bike: cornering, braking, accelerating, climbing, riding tempo. Throw in some wind, sleet and rain and the cobbles are a battle-zone. No wonder we call the Trek Domane/Koppenberg The WarHorse!
We have a long-standing fascination with The Cobbles at Cyclefit and we have all spent punishing hours riding them. Here are our own tips for making your journey onto the Holy Stones a magical one. Good luck.
Morgan (The Morganizer) Paris-Roubaix Top-Tips:
1. Get your bike serviced and in A1 condition - Roubaix is punishing. The parcours will find out any weaknesses and faults in both body and bike so get the bike professionally serviced and consider checking saddle and pedals especially. If the saddle is fatigued or cracked then Roubaix will finish it off and same with pedals. Double tape is essential and don’t be a hero. Wear gloves.
2. Wider tyres, 85 PSI- 25’s minimum - Conti GP 4 Seasons were amazing. No punctures all day. In my opinion 1 week old new boots give you the confidence that the tyres will look after you. 28's would be best if you can fit them in!
3. Attack the road sections, survive the cobbled sectors- The sectors are a test of concentration and finding the smoothest line. Avoid the temptation to focus only on going full gas as many people advocate but be tactical, look ahead and focus to stay on best line and negotiate traffic. The road sections are where you are able to attach and make up some time. Go hard.
4. Use the gutter - There is no shame in it. Get in there and enjoy flying past people trying to gain ‘man points.’ It’s not big or clever.
5. Wrap up warm for the start but wear sunscreen - It is usually very cold in the morning at the start so layer up but be prepared to get rid of some layers as the day progresses. If you are really lucky there may be some April sun, it is a long day out on a bike so although it may seem weird on a cold, dark morning to slap on the sunscreen get it done.
6. Do not get tempted to do 100km around Flanders climbs the day before - Rest up and go into the day fresh. A shakedown spin to make sure the bike is set up ok when you arrive the day before is a good idea but no more than this. A beer or two the night before seems to work for me but maybe not for others. Duvel is the drink of choice!
Team Matrix Matrix Pro Cycling - It's All About Relationships
Three Days of Milan
Just as the weather turned spiteful in the UK last year, me and Jules headed off to Milan on a two-pronged expedition. To visit the Passoni factory to overdose on titanium craftsmanship and also work with a few Trek Factory Racing riders at their Milan holding camp as the end of term loomed large.
When you have to leave you just want to go back, to be part of the boy’s journeys through and over continents in extreme weather in sickness and in health.
I feel I can call them boys - even Fabian - as I’m old enough to have fathered them; although if they were my offspring I doubt they would have become twenty eight of the world’s very best cyclists, maybe my namesake could have been my off-spring, but there’s no way my genes would have produced such plump and full-fruited mahogany coloured Vastus Medialis. I’m not alone in how I feel at Cyclefit we all care about the riders, Uncle Phil and Morgan (who’s only twenty six) worry about their welfare, seeing or hearing about a crash is like seeing your own child fall in the playground; Matthew’s repeated crashes in the Tour de France hurt us too, we wanted to be there for him, to nurse him and put him back on his bike and make sure he was OK before he went to bed, answer his questions before he turned out his light. We gather around the TV at HQ and watch the younger riders make their suicidal attacks on the decisive climb sent out as bait but deep down inside where their dreams are they hope they can stay away and so do we, we cheer them on as the gap to the peloton inevitably closes before the big boys ride past without a sideways look of recognition.
In November I had the opportunity to attend GPM10’s Girona Training Camp, two days of riding and power tests to prepare eager riders for their winter training and also the opportunity to get some sunshine and away from the greyness of the UK’s winter. To make the weekend in to something even more special BMC asked if I would like to try one of their Team Machine SLR01 bikes. It’s not often I get the opportunity to ride a test bike as I ride a 50 cm frame so I jumped at the chance.
This One Hurts.
It is three years since I hit a pothole and spun over the bars. I have tried everything to recover.
I tell you this because I am almost entirely over not being able to ride a proper superbike up and down proper mountains. Almost over until I see a 2015 R5 pop up in the 2014 Tour being ridden 13k in the rain for a beautiful win by Ramunas Navardauskas on a bike that whose sole intention was to taunt me. Or that is how it feels.