great cycling holidays on road or off

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The TransPortugal 2015

An epic stage race through the lands that once formed the limits of the known world.

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Acero To La Toba

The last leg of the MTB Cazorla Tour is an easy day, (at least compared to the previous day!) starting with a steady, easy gradient on broad caminos, before spilling out on to the karstic tundra of the high planes of the Sierras de Segura then descending on fine single track to La Toba.

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Great Cycling Climbs of Andalucia - El Yelmo - The Great Helm

The highest road accessible peak in the park, El Yelmo stands tall with its official summit at 1,809 m. Its final kilometres affording magnificent views across a vast swath of southern Spain.

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Great Cycling Climbs of Andalucia - Iznatoraf - The Eternal Lookout

A pleasant and picturesque little climb that seems to be mostly ignored by any form of traffic.

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Great Cycling Climbs of Andalucia - Despiernas Caballos - The Lame Horses

Despernar: "to cut or wound ones legs".  Not entirely sure my translation is sound, but its close enough! I love the colloquialisms given to local features and trails. This climb Despiernas Caballos - lame horses" is another colourful title to a beautiful and serene climb.

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Great Cycling Climbs of Andalucia - Hornos to Pontones

A wide open "alpine" climb with panoramic views its entire length, if you can take your eyes off your front wheel long enough...

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Great Cycling Climbs of Andalucia - Agua de los Perros - The Water Dogs

The "shits of death"... Not a very auspicious name to start such a great climb, but a decent enough warning of whats ahead in any event.

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A Load of Old Cobbles The RVC 2014

“Come to Calderdale, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…”  What was I thinking?  "Daz", good friend and effervescent, industrious founder member of the Kirklees Cycling Academy frothed about the young riders club fund raising event, the “Ronde Van Calderdale”.

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Sierra de Moratalla

A stunning circuit of the mountains protecting Moratalla, the fortress town in the north-west of the province of Murcia, Spain.  This circuit of the headwaters of the Rio Segura takes in the eastern foothills of the Sierras de Segura, with challenging climbs, swooping descents and grand vistas across the peaks of Murcia, Andalucia and Castilla-La Mancha.

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Mountain Biking the GR247 in Andalucia

The longest and toughest day on the GR247 MTB Tour: 70km of challenging terrain, with over 4,000m of climbing: its a doozy.

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Great Cycling Climbs of Andalucia - Sierra de la Pandera

Distance: 130k

Total Ascent: 3,684m

The urge to get another peak under my belt, and do some new route finding was getting stronger. I'd not bagged a peak since the Angliru and was aware that summer was drawing to a close, and the days getting shorter. 

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800 metres of inhumanity - Leon to Oviedo and the Angliru

"800 metres of inhumanity.  No climbs have these percentages.  Pedalling does not move you forward"*

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Great Cycling Routes in Andalucia - There and Back Again

"Daz" and "Bren" fancied a few days away from the rain and sleet of gloomy England

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Circle of Death Tour - 2013

It's bit tattered and curled at the edges, gets moved from one gentleman's reading room to another, and is well thumbed on certain pages.  No, its not a treasured bongo mag, it's the ProCycling Magazine's  "50 Greatest Climbs" edition of January 2007, and it has a lot to answer for. 

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Mountain Biking the Camino de Mozarabe Day Five - Monterrubio to Medellin

A bright and beautiful morning beckoned....it wouldnt last.

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Mountain Biking the Camino de Mozarabe Day Four - Villaharta to Monterrubio

"The best days mountain biking...ever".  It could only go downhill from here!

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Mountain Biking the Camino de Mozarabe Day Two - Alcaudete to Cordoba

A stage of two halves...olives then wheat, scorched earth then mud...

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Passo di Mortirolo

"Its a terrible climb... It´s perfect for a mountain bike.  On the hardest parts, I was riding a 39 x 27 and I was hurting, really hurting.  The Mortirolo is the hardest climb I´ve ever ridden.  My time up the climb?  It's not important...." (Lance Armstrong - 2004).

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Passo di Gavia

Harbs chose the base camp for this years post Marmotte touring. Bormio. We planned to do the three classic climbs of the Giro: the Stelvio, the Gavia, and the Mortirolo.  As climbing isn't exactly his best discipline, it was a brave choice!

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Passo di Stelvio

A legendary climb.  Looming large, literally, in our grand tour the Stelvio is steeped in hyperbole.

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Marmotte 2012

Eight Hours!  Well, official time of 8:03.  Could have had that under 8 by a healthy lump if I hadn't been chicken on the decent off the Galibier, but I´m getting older, and fast descents scare me, I should work on that for next time! 

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Great Cycling Climbs of Andalucia - The Pico de Veleta

The Pico de Veleta sits at the very western tip of the Sierra Nevada, looming over the citadel of Granada. The Veleta rarely gets any credit, its the "Camilla" of mountain climbs.

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Mountain Biking the Camino de Mozarabe Across Andalucia

An opportunity to spend a weeks riding with great friends is never an opportunity to be missed.

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Camino de Santiago 2007 Part V - Pentecost - Awaiting Ascension

This route would have been glorious in the sun.  It wasn’t sunny.  The mild chain suck that had developed on the way out from Cordoba had worsened and led to several moral sapping, fawlty-esque moments of frustrated anger and futile shaking of fists at whatever Gods were plaguing us.

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Great Cycling Routes in Andalucia - The Route of the Caliphate

The back roads from Baena to Cazorla...peace and tranquility

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Camino de Santiago 2007 Part IV - Resurrection Sunday

Miracle!  A bike-hire shop, open, on a Sunday, we couldn’t believe it!  Cordoba, we love you!

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Camino de Santiago 2007 Part III - Low Saturday

We awoke to find Emu’s peering at us from a hill top compound.  We must have bivouacked near Baena’s “roundabout zoo”.  

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Camino de Santiago 2007 Part II - Good Friday - The Passion

The most venerated day in Spain.  Every town has processions of penitents carrying sculptures of Jesus.  Each “pasos” can weigh up to a tonne and they're carried through the streets with great solemnity.

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Camino de Santiago 2007 Part I - Maundy Thursday - The Washing of the Feet and the Last Supper

April in Spain and it’s snowing.  This is Granada not the Grampians! What is going on!?  Chuffin Climate Change!  Checking the forecasts we’d expected some cloud and showers, but snow!?

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Great Cycling Routes in Andalucia - The Perfect Route

I think I’ve found the perfect cycling route and I’m reluctant to tell anyone; I want to keep it mine...

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Assault on Mont Ventoux

We’d decided to assault the Ventoux as a culmination of our weeks cycling.  Staying in Carpentras we found a great little hotel, good food, decent rooms; not a bad price, but not cheap.  We settled on the place after driving through the less salubrious areas of Carpentras.

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Marmotte 2010 - Race Day - Part III

Riders stopped at the summit of the Galibier, savouring their ascent and the “top of the world ma!” panorama; donning their warmers for the descent to Col de Lauteret and beyond. 

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Marmotte 2010 - Race Day - Part II

The section from Saint- Etienne-de-Cuines is a long, slowly descending section to the foot of the Col de Telegraphe.  The section was…”industrial”.  The “A” road ran between a wide angry river to the right and a wide angry motorway to the left.  

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Marmotte 2010 - Race Summary

A great event. Perfect weather, inspiring landscapes, fantastic riding.  No idea how many riders signed-up, but race numbers were up to the mid 8000’s!  Some 5206 got official finish times.  That’s quite an attrition rate.  Winning time this year was 5hrs, 46minutes, Lanterne Rouge was 13hrs 43minutes.

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Marmotte 2010 - Race Day - Part I

We’d had an early night to make sure we’d rested and could have an unrushed start to race day without panic.  Rituals were performed: getting the race kit ready, checking the bikes over, getting energy bars and gels planned, and arranging support stops with Lucas.  Morning was bright with a chill in the air.

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Marmotte - Col du Galibier

Friday was our official rest day, nothing much planned, but I really wanted to check out the descent from the Galibier to Bourg.  Never ridden in the Alps, and certainly never with so many people, I had expectations of jostling morons on suicide missions, desperate to make up time by descending like a dazed moth in a post light bulb incident.

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Marmotte - Alpe dHuez

The Glandon climb had tested the Corvid, and an annoying "clunk" had developed in the bottom bracket with every turn of the crank.  Nothing major, but certainly too much to cope with for the main event.

 

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Marmotte - The Col du Glandon

The morning was a lazy start, for some of us.   Bikes were built and we cycled into Bourg for cafe au lait and pan au chocolate.  Browsing the cycle shops and people watching.

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Marmotte - Arrival Day

After leaving Harby in the desolate, deserted hanger that constitutes Grenoble Airport for nearly two hours, I was surprised to see that he wasn't that fed up.

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La Marmotte - 10 Days to Go!

This was the last available weekend before the Marmotte, as a works “do” on the penultimate weekend means that the last feeble attempt to shed a few pounds is lost. As a penance for losing the last weekend, two long days were spent on the Corvid. 160k with 3000m of ascent on the Saturday, with 150k and 2000m of climbing on the Sunday.

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La Marmotte - Whats That Then

The worlds toughest cyclo-sportive, so “they” say. Its 175km long, and has 5000m of ascent. That’s about 109 miles along the ground, with just over 3 miles of vertical ascent. It’s reported that of the 109 miles, half of it goes up. That’s 55 miles of climbing. 

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Great Mountain Bike Routes in Andalucia - GR7 2010 - Day Six - Los Tolmos

Friday was spent wandering around Caravaca de la Cruz, sight seeing, gift shopping and drinking coffee.

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Great Mountain Bike Routes in Andalucia - GR7 2010 - Day Five - Araceli to Los Tolmos

Another great dawn as the sun crested the mountains and cast long warm shadows through the trees and over the cabins. Waking to the fresh sun, knowing this was the last day of riding, eased some of the pain of knowing we’d be in the saddle...again. 

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Great Mountain Bike Routes in Andalucia - GR7 2010 - Day Four Banderillas to Araceli

Considering that Tony had been doing his “Captain Oates” impression every night and complaining of never sleeping, he was the first to crash out, and the last to wake up, he slept like a baby. 

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Great Mountain Bike Routes in Andalucia - GR7 2010 - Day Three Cazorla to Banderillas

Breakfast in the Hotel was “limited”.  The sparse offering of “tostado y tomate” was accompanied by a display of flying oranges as the waitress chucked enough fruit into the juicing machine for eight thirsty people. What was meant to be a long but straight forward day, with a glorious mountain-top finish, ended in calamity and torch lit parade, exhausted, cold and hungry.

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Great Mountain Bike Routes in Andalucia - GR7 2010 - Day Two Torres to Cazorla

A late departure from the hotel in Torres did not bode well. Tony had two punctures before we even set off! He must have been carrying a spare one. 10am loomed large and we still hadn't set off. 10k per hour, 80k, we needed to allow 8 hours. 10am meant a 6pm arrival in Cazorla at the earliest. I knew what was coming and how heat effects people. Today was going to be tough.

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Great Mountain Bike Routes in Andalucia - GR7 2010 - Day One - Pick Up

Getting pulled by the Guardia Civil on the way to the airport wasn't a good omen, but the cops were OK. Curious about the Manx plates no doubt. Almeria airport was tiny, there was more room in the trailer! 

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IF - Ti Deluxe

I picked the new Independent Fabrication (IF) road bike up today, a new Corvid.  Looks awesome.  But I also picked up the mountain bike after its repair from an assualt with Spanish mud.  "Bikeshop Miguel" had done another great job.

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Great Mountain Bike Routes in Andalucia - The GR7 2010 - Mountain Bike Trip

After some hardly remembered conversation with Gary (Burgers) about doing a "multi-stage" MTB trip instead of a "base" MTB holiday, I got to thinking.

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Great cycling holidays, on road or off

Journey through Spains greatest natural park.