CS Grupetto

We are a little bit different to most clubs in that we\'re primarily a group of friends who socialise off the bike, but we happen to share a common interest in cycling and cyclesport. We are based in Putney and have regular weekend rides out to Windsor and the Surrey Hills, as well as occasional trips elsewhere.

We have a wide variety of cycling interests amongst club members, from track riding to road racing, and sportives to bike polo. Several of our members have their race licences, and we\'re represented in every category including Elite

We regularly travel further afield to enjoy some of the classic races – this year quite a few of us have ridden the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix sportives, and then watched the pros follow our tyre tracks. We also try and get to see the Ghent and Berlin six day track events.

At the core of the club ethos is a desire to enjoy good rides with good friends.



Rider Profile – Graham

Graham Lunn


Any significant others?

When did you join the club:
2007 maybe a bit earlier.

Why did you join the grupetto:
I didn’t necessarily join the Grupetto it just happened. I started riding with Wayne through meeting him at a print screening course in putney. Through riding with wayne I then met Ricky, Mark, Tom and Desi at this point there was no Grupetto . …….Then at some stage along the years Wayne started charging me yearly to ride with my friends.

What made you start cycling:
Ive always done it?

What bikes do you ride:
Mercian Professional  and a Bob jackson track bike.

Give us a brief cycling background:
I used to ride cross country mountain bikes, then progressed onto downhill mountain biking. Then i rode BMX through university . After Uni I grew up and got a proper job so I decided to make a grown up bike purchase and get my first road bike. I bought a specialzsed Allez (the cheapest one) and throughly enjoyed it.

What’s been your favourite ride:
Flanders a few years back now.

What was your worst day on the bike:
Getting caught out in the rain with no jacket on a 5hr ride.

Who’s your favourite pro or inspiration:
No real riding inspirations, but pro riders i like are  Sylvan Chavenel, philipe gilbert and possibly a few others.

Riding goals for 2012:
Flanders and to get out on the bike more than last year.

Favourite bike food:
Cliff bar peanut butter.

Favourite cycling location:

Most likely to say:
“Paris Roubaix does not sound like a good idea”.

Least likely to say:
”Thats surprising, Tom never gets a puncture?’



The venue had been set and the votes had been counted. Would there be Gwyneth Paltrow outbursts of emotions as Dave accepted his award and thanked his sponsors, his Girlfriend, the brewers of Belgium, Flames in Putney etc…

With a private room booked at Putney Pies the question was, how many pies can a cyclist eat in an evening? Nic proved his status as club champion by ordering Pies for starter, mains and dessert, it’s that level of commitment that has seen him obtain his elite racing license this year.

The club awards were a great opportunity to celebrate the individual achievements of the individuals who make the grupetto the special club it is.

It’s a bit of an old cliche I know but the club really is the members as a whole and it’s a been a privilege and a heap loads of fun riding with you all. I feel that this has been a great year for the club and we’ve managed to grow without compromising the core essence of the club.

Highlights of the year have been shouting at Matt and Nic at various races, an awesome track day where each club member played their part with grace and humour superbly organised by Rob Hoops with the essential help of Dave Mac, watching all our mountain goat nutters repping hard at the hill climbs and of course who can forget the ghent trip.

Here’s to another great year riding with great people.

Club Chanpion – Nic
A great year for Nic as he gained his Elite racing license and won the National Masters Road Race Jersey

B|A|R – Matt
If it involved two wheels, Matt was there. Riding for the grupetto on the road, on the track and on the cycloX bike. Had an amazing race at the Pete Young memorial where he took himself to the absolute limit. Having moved up to Cat 2 he also showed the pros how to spin and won a Pinarello dogma for his efforts.

Track Champion – Dave Mac
Again this year Dave Mac wore his grupetto Jersey with pride at the National Masters Track championships in Manchester.

Spirit of the CLub – Stevie P and Jaygee
One of the most important awards of the night, the votes were equally split for Jaygee and Stevie P who both do an amazing job on club rides of looking after the bunch and making sure that everyone is ok.

Most Improved Rider – John D
In his first season of racing John got his Category 3 license and is regularly training with Nic and Matt which bodes well for next season.

DaKettle Award – Continental Dave
“It’s Jo on the phone” grupetto gold…


Medals of Honour were awarded to

Monkey - David Bailey Medal - Has taken some amazing pics over the years

Scarlett – ‘The Prof’ Medal - For his willingness to help and share his vast knowledge and skills

Ved – Best hallucination on a ride – Ponies, tiny ponies, I saw them…

Tom – Medal for services to the rubber industry, sponsored by continental, dunlop etc

Hoops – Best crash – Rob is now part cyborg

Hippy – HTFU medal - just for being a mad bastard and spending 24 hours on a bike

Massive thanks to the hoopster for all his mad skillz in making the trophiesand medals.




CS Grupetto Club Dinner

The annual club piss up club dinner is at Putney Pies on Saturday 12th Novenber. We will also be having the inauguration club awards. Make sure that you get your nominations in by whispering Wayne or Ricky on the forum thread.

The annual categories you can vote for are:






One Step Forwards, Two Steps Bec-wards

Grupetto on the Start list

Words by BMMF

Another hillclimb out the way. This year was a strange one for me. A totally different approach to previous efforts.

People who know me will confirm the bi-polarity with which I’m afflicted, although the swings are mercifully less pronounced these days; and it’s this instability of mood which has been a key factor in my performances over the past few years, namely, whether there have been any performances at all. Part of the reason for this is the way I’ve trained. I don’t race in any committed or regular fashion, and though some may see it as a waste of talent, I prefer to spend my time doing other things, and enjoying cycling within a less competitive and repetitive framework.

The problems start, however, when I get the itch to race. Without a well-honed set of racing legs and lungs, I’ve thrown myself into 4 to 6 week periods of painful specificity, obtaining a fragile patch of form that burns brightly, but oh so briefly. My mental state always suffers, the physiological and psychological fragility occurring in tandem. This was something I wanted to avoid at all costs this year, partly because I’m in a new customer-facing role at work that requires calmness in the face of conflict, and also because I want to be a happy daddy on my son’s 5th birthday on October 15th.

So in mid-August I decided that I’d enter, but I also decided that I basically wouldn’t train. I’d got more miles than usual done during the summer, so there was a base, and I’d been doing a weekly session of front squats and barbell hack squats which meant my core was sound, I had decent full body strength, and reasonable grip strength. With those things in mind, I thought my best bet would be to ride a big fixed gear out of the saddle. Not so much power-to-weight, as strength-to-weight. During my weekend rides, and the fortnightly Tuesday Night Ride Club outings, I started making sure I rode every hill overgeared and out of the saddle, culminating in a fantastic recce of the Ride Of The Falling Leaves route which I big ringed, even managing Sundridge Hill in 53/21 at about midnight, floating away from everyone present. And then the Sunday before the event, I hit Swains Lane in 79″ fixed, just to make sure I had the strength to cope with a steep ramp in a pre-fatigued state. The results were promising…

Grupetto waiting for BMMF at the Bec Hill Climb

There was no escaping the visualisations and palpitations the night before the race. There never is. I chewed over a few cold hard realities in my mind. I’d have to stand up all the way – the gear was a little too tall to sit and spin (and I’d not trained to do that) – but I knew that a comfortable standing cadence would see me travelling up the first half of the course too slowly. I wondered how much I’d be able to lift it out of my comfort zone without blowing up. I didn’t want to blow up. More than anything, I just wanted to smash that fucking 45×20 up the 25% section where the crowds would be. That was the thrill I was seeking; the real challenge I’d set myself. But then again, I wanted to dip under 2 minutes as well. 2m02 was my result in 2007 on 46×22, and I’d nearly ground to a halt near the top as my lungs had started to melt. I’d been under 2 minutes chasing someone up the hill in training before. I just wanted to do it on the day. And it’s a young man’s game. And…and…and…

…and nothing. Who cares? Not me. I wasn’t going to fret about shit. It’s just another day out on the bike.

BMMF climbing out of the saddle

I checked the train info before leaving the house. It was ambiguous. Engineering works. Possibly. Maybe. I didn’t need uncertainties. The weather was nice. I rode out. A nice 21 mile warm-up, spinning along in 45×20. I signed on and said hello to Garry Beckett. Considering the logistics of organising a hillclimb, he was very relaxed. Maybe that’s what the second ‘r’ in his first name stands for. Dommy came up the hill and I shouted him towards the line. Then I set off for the line at the other end of the course. They had an electronic starting device with beeps and everything.

BMMF powers up the Bec Hill climb

Half way up the course, it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to get anywhere near 2 minutes. I didn’t have to look at my bike computer. I knew how slowly I was going. It even crossed my mind to sit down for a bit, but just after thinking this, I felt the road rear up in earnest.

Game on.

Suddenly everything felt right. I’m seldom happier on a bike than when I’m out of the saddle and my whole body engages in a tussle with gravity, sinews popping, my arms, core, and legs forming another set of stiff tubes that feel brazed to the double diamond beneath me. I feel like I can really get stuck in with every ounce of strength secreted about my person.

I lifted the tempo. Where I’d started to wilt at the end of the shallower section, now I fucking accelerated against the steeper gradient. The front wheel skipped to the left as the power was put down, and I shifted my weight to compensate. Everything felt planted again. I saw the perfidious patches of reflected light on the road ahead where I knew people had been wheel-spinning, but with a smooth application of power and a quick shove of my hips towards the rear wheel I kept traction. But I was waiting for the stall: the awful moment when something snaps inside you and invisible hands grasp at the rear of your saddle, screaming sirens of panic inside your brain as you slow, slow, slow to less than a crawl…

But it never happened. What did happen was pretty fucking magical. The 500+ watts I was putting through the pedals was suddenly absorbed by the crowd, processed, amplified a hundredfold, and spat back out at me. A great mass of black, blue, and white forms stepped forward from the tunnel walls, syncronised like some sort of awesomely powerful single entity, almost militaristic (and most definitely from the future), and made a mystical connection. They doped my bike. They flicked a small switch on my dummy brake lever, just as my spine was about to rupture, and set the motor running in my bottom bracket shell; with just enough battery to get me past the coned off section and across the line.

BMMF after the Bec Hill CLimb

I sat on a verge and dribbled into my lap for a bit. I can’t really tell you what goes on in those first 5 minutes after a hillclimb. Amnesia rules. The time is lost, and that’s probably a good thing. I won’t kick up a fuss about it. Next thing I knew, the benevolent black, blue, and white forms surrounded me once more.

Fixed or geared?

It was my slowest Bec. But not by much. There were a few people I should’ve beaten in front of me. But there were quite a few who should’ve beaten me behind me. That’s how it goes for the 2nd tier of hilllclimbers. There’s an ebb and flow from year to year, but we all have to watch the 1st tier show off their superior genes with jaw-dropping consistency.

In the grand scheme of things, however, I’d say it was my best Bec. I was there to fucking own a 25% gradient on a ~60″ gear, and I think I did it. But a feat of strength in itself is not enough to warrant the label of ‘best Bec’. What really did it was the incredible surge of energy at the top as the club members united in support. From where I was sitting (standing), it was verging on spiritual. You see that word come up quite a bit when people talk about the congregations who line those fabled mountain stages on the continent; and I think we created that kind of atmosphere today.

Grupetto didn’t win the Bec 2011. Grupetto was the Bec 2011.

Grupetto turn out to support their own

Duo Normande 2011

Strong riding by CS Grupetto at the Duo Normande 2011

CS Grupetto

words and pictures by illy

We entered the Duo Normande after a summer of road and track racing and deciding that we could do with a change.  Not having had much time trial experience it was something of an unknown, but looked like a fun event in Normandy.  The list of past riders in the Elite event reads like a cycling hall of fame, Chris Boardman, Jens Voight, Bradley Wiggins, Nicolas Hutchings – the list goes on!

We set off on the Eurotunnel early Saturday morning and met up with teammate Nic at our chateaux near Marigny in the afternoon.  The weather was inclement, wet and windy as we drove towards the course to do a practice lap.  We got changed in a car park next to the FDJ team bus and headed out into the wind and rain.

The course is 54km long, comprising of a big loop followed by a smaller out-and-back section.  The first 30km are flatish but windy, and the final 20km are pretty up-and-down.

Off we set on the practice run, and within about 10 minutes were soaked to the skin.  The wind was pretty noticeable, and at times was a full on head wind which made riding difficult and a bit miserable.

After changing we went to the sign-on tent and picked up our numbers, including most importantly the banner for our car: “Team 163, CS Grupetto”.

After a dinner of foie gras, oysters, steak and a couple bottles of red wine we were fully prepared for the race the next day so retired to bed before an early start and a breakfast of cereal, coffee and French pastries.

The weather took a turn for the worse and was absolutely bucketing down as we drove to the start line.  The clouds would break and the sun would come out for five minutes before bucketing it down again.  We got changed into our skin suits and began to warm up a bit, but it was pretty miserable and cold and our numbers were already torn and hanging off by the time we got to the start line.

Climbing onto the start ramp we got ‘talked up’ by the maître’d and then 5-4-3-2-1, we set off down the start ramp and up the climb out of town.  We were off to a strong start with our support car following behind beeping and shouting encouragement.

We settled into a good rhythm and after only 2km saw the team which had set off 2-minutes before us in the distance.  This inspired me and I began to ride hard on the front.  As we passed them the next team were only about another 100m up the road so we sailed past them also.  We were on for a flyer!

We ticked off each of the 1km markers; these were sponsored by various local companies and some were sponsored by LCL bank – it was just like riding a time trial in the Tour!

We rode pretty well as the course changed direction and were flying along pretty comfortable between 40 and 45kph.  At about 10km we saw another team which boosted our morale and we rode past to much support and beeping from the team car.

We turned into a straight side wind (the sort of thing which would inspire talk of ‘echelon racing’ on Eurosport), and suddenly realised why we’d been going so fast previously – we’d had a tail wind!

At about the 30km mark, to much cheering and applause from our support car we caught another team riding nice pink Pinarellos.  So far we’d passed five teams, no one had caught us and I began to think we could win!

It was about the 30km mark that the road began to get a bit more ‘sporting’, going up and down.  I tried to ease off on the uphill so Estelle could hold my wheel and make up time on the flats.   We passed a family having a picnic in their garden cheering on the riders which felt pretty pro.

The hills seemed to go on and on, and the downhill sections were dangerous and slippy in the wet so we didn’t push too hard on the corners.  After 40km we were back in the start town of Marigny where we rode hard out of the corner and up the hill towards the hairpin at 50km.

We seemed to be going pretty quickly up this hill and saw some of the teams in front of us who were coming back in the opposite direction in their final few kms.  I began to try and work out how far ahead of us they might be and whether we might still be able to win, despite going a bit slower on some of the hills.

Soon, we were at the hairpin and sprinted out of it into a straight headwind. Chris McNamara had got out of the car just before the hairpin to give us some more support from the roadside.  Finally we were at the ‘Arrivé 1000m’ point and I gave it my all to the line.

We came in at 1:28:21, which placed us 4th; some four minutes and two seconds behind the winner.

This was a pleasing result considering we were on road bikes, and gives us the podium to aim for next year!

We didn’t have long after finishing to get changed in the rain storm and drive the support car for our team mates who put in a blistering ride.  The crowd could hardly believe what they saw as they took a minute and a half out of FDJ and finished only seven minutes behind the winner of the Elite category – none other than Johan van Summeren.

Urban hill climb 2011 – report

Words by damo
Pictures by Monkey

I was still on paternity leave when I saw that the Urban hill climb competition was opening on the 7th July.

Thursday 7th saw a normal morning of nappies, vomit and a change of clothes. It got to 11:30 and I remembered there was something I needed to do, 11:55 saw me camped on the “other club” website pressing f5. Noon. Boom! out the gate, autocomplete was turned on in chrome, all details in, bang, boom! ouch, I mistyped CS grupetto as just Grupetto. Relax. Breathe. You can alter it later or they’ll sort it out themselves. It looked like I was in.

“Er, Alex, I think I’ve entered this competition”

I had about 2 weeks to prepare, I’ve not even seen my bike in a month. I organised a look at it with Rob, Dom and Tika. With no geared bike I was going to do it fixed.. 4 reps on a Sunday morning, saw all of us wondering what we’d said yes to.  48 x 19 wouldn’t be competitive. The cafe stop was competitive.

The Sunday before the event. I’ve dropped 4 teeth of the front and have met Steve P for a final last look. I get there early and do an effort on my own, starting and finishing where we think the course is. 2:30. Ok. I’m under 3 minutes I won’t embarrass myself. That much. A couple more nasty reps and back to the cafe.

The event
Thursday started dry. 5pm and it threw it down. I left work and pottered slowly up to the start point. After a brief interaction with the start crew I tried to find the registration point. Even though I had a map and some clear instructions to guide me, I turned one street to early. And was riding around Highgate shouting internally at myself “YOU IDIOT! TYPICAL!”. After consulting a builder, “the human tom tom” his mate called him. I got straight again. I was shitting it. I know it’s fun and not a real competition, but the desire to not make a massive fool of myself is still quite strong. I saw Tom (first rider off) who I know and Doug (2nd rider off) who I don’t. We have a chat and roll over to the start point.

It’s 6 and there’s still 30 minutes to go. Tom and Doug go for a practice run, I decide to climb West Hill. I don’t want to see Swain’s. I know what I have to do. Go fast, not too fast, save some for after the boneyard, dig in and keep going. Simples.

I know almost everyone on the start gate and get a bit of banter for being the first Grupetto rider. We’re all lined up. 1 minute intervals. Tom, Doug and I joke that we’ll all be in the top 3 for a couple of minutes.

“30 seconds”

Tom goes.

“30 seconds”

Doug’s off, bit of wheelspin over the timing mat.

“Watch out for that Damo. Lots of deep breaths, keep taking lots of deep breaths” That’s the starter.

I roll up, clip in, but the combination of not being used to that and the holder’s not being super confident makes me wobble and lose more confidence in my abilities to not embarrass myself. I leave one foot in and start with one unclipped and not being held.

Relax. Just relax. Take it easy. Relax Damo” That’s the starter again.

“30 seconds”
shit shit shit

Push. clip. and clip and clip. COME ON BLOODY CLIP.
Right stay calm.
Keep calm don’t go too fast.

I’m on the hoods, nice and light, up, up, up, there’s a family, they look happy, stay focused, who’s that?  ooh that’s Wayne, keep it going, a bit faster now, oh there’s the cemetery, that feels ok, I can definitely notice I’m working

COME ON DAMO!” That’ll be Ludwig then.

I can hear the commentator saying my name, that’s weird, this is a bit spooky, it feels like I’m watching myself, everything feels ok, calm quiet, collected. OH o. It’s just kicked up. DIG IN.

OW. come on, come on, this is going to happen, you’re not going to collapse before the gate, this much is certain

“COME ON BOBBY!” That’s Dov. He’s confused. He thinks I’m Rob. This is really weird now, but hearing someone cheering me (well not me but for me) picks me up and stops me watching myself.

ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH keep going keep angry keep pushing.

Er. that’s it. I’m through the timing gate. Tom and Doug are there. Doug’s in bits. I get off my bike quickly, throw it down, lie down on the floor and ask what my time is. I have to go back down to get that. I get told off for swearing. I don’t feel as broken as I think I

“Tom. How was it?”
“I think I could have gone faster”
“Me too”


We roll back to the start line, I think I can taste blood. I’ve got that high impact aerobic cough.
Where’s my time? Here’s the timing chip, where’s my time? Where’s my time?


Two weeks and I’ve knocked almost a 50 seconds off my first time.

I think I can go faster!


Fantasy Tour de France 2011

CS Grupetto :
Pos.  Team Manager Mn. Pts.
Last Updated: 25/07/2011 14:46:34
487  girdle Graham Lunn 0 1709
542  Huevos Rancheros Dave Corrigan 0 1697
699  Autobus Ricky Sampson 0 1660
1277  Kevo Velo Kevin Needham 0 1559
2363  LEtape Pretenders Nath English 0 1439
2400  I Draghi dominic joyner 0 1436
2988  Team Lidl-Poundstretcher Patrick Church 0 1387
3436  RideAndRun Andy May 0 1354
3780  Wahoo Simon Lynch 0 1329
4227  bumfaceforyellow hippy hippy 0 1300
4621  Grumpeurs wayne peach 0 1273
5373  Autobus mother hubbard thomas williams 0 1225
5893  Paris or Bust! Laura Langstaff 0 1190
8029  Gutchos Beer Monsters Nic Hutchings 0 1028
9464  Dogmas Matthew Theobalds 0 856
10265  LeopardShrek Josh Masters 0 665

National Masters Road Race Championships

Congratulations to Nic on winning the Nationals Masters Road Race!!!!!!

“I enjoyed a rather fortuitous day today at the National Masters RR champs. I got my wish for a windy day and after countless attacks and counter attacks the race finally split up into small groups around lap 14 or so. I lucked out big time and found myself as the only ‘A’ category rider (ages 30-34) in the lead group of 7. Obvious tactics were to ride myself into the ground making sure the group stayed away which I duly did. Going into the last 500m totally grovelling meant I didn’t contest the sprint but who cares, I’ve got a nice National Champ’s jersey now!!

As if more evidence was needed in favour of the beer fueled training regime, I’ve spent the weekend at a wedding out until the early hours both nights and the last half of the week helping a close friend through a personal crisis down the pub. If it doesn’t make you a better rider it definitely makes you a luckier one!”

Official Report from British Cycling

National Masters Titles Secured in Hampshire

Thruxton Motor Circuit, near Andover, Hampshire
Event: 17th July 2011
Report: Snowdon Sports
Related: Report and Images from Eamonn Deane

HEAVY rain and strong winds blighted the National Masters Road Race Championships in Hampshire on Sunday, but for the strong riders there was no stopping them in the hunt for a national title.
But roadworks on the scheduled Southwick course forced the event to be moved to the Thruxton circuit.
Nick Hutchings (GS Gruppetto) won the Men’s Maters A (30-34) title with a strong sprint finish, leading home a large group which had hit the front after about two-thirds distance.

GB Fire Service rider Graeme Sumner took second in the Masters A category, while Team Corley’s Richard Cartland was third.

Also in with the same group was Jason White (Cycle Premier-Metaltek) who was crowned Masters B (35-39) champion, just holding off the challenge of Wilier’s Grant Bayton at the end of the 80-mile race.
And VC St Raphael rider Marianne Britten won the women’s Masters (30-39) title, the 32-year-old from Bristol crossing the line four seconds clear of rival Cara Chesworth (For Viored Racing) at the end of their 40-mile race.

Men 30-34 (80 miles):
1 Nick Hutchings (CS Grupetto) 3-40-00
2 Graeme Sumner (GB Fire Service)
3 Richard Cartland (Team Corley Cycles)
4 Richard Mardle (Felt Colbornes)
5 Robert King (AW Cycles)
6 Dean Shannon (Twenty 3C-Orbea)

Men 35-39 (80 miles):
1 Jason White (Cycle Premier-Metaltek) 3-40-00
2 Grant Bayton (Wiler)
3 Ian Knight (Team Corley Cycles)
4 Richard Wood (Team Milton Keynes)
5 John Wager (Felt Colbornes)
6 James Smith (Primal Europe)

Women 30-39 (40 miles):
1 Marianne Britten (VC St Raphael)
2 Cara Chesworth (For Viored Racing) @ 4sec
3 Lisa Wood (South Perth CC)
4 Helen McKay (Look Mum No Hands)
5 Adele Tyson-Bloor (VC St Raphael)

Simon does the Marmotte

Flew out on Saturday eve, but didn’t get to my dingy hotel on the motorway in (what Google images tells me is beautiful) Aux-en-Provence until about midnight due to flight delays.

Wasn’t going to see it in the morning either as i had designs on being halfway up Ventoux early doors. An excellent night’s sleep put paid to that and i didn’t set off from Vaison-La-Romaine till about 3pm. The heat was in the 30s already and wearing all black might have been a bit daft, but thought better represent the CSG (in the absence of Summer Jersey till caught up with Desi).

Was reading the Tom Simpson book and discovered (at least i think i did…) why their TDF hats have 49 on the side – because it was his number in the TDF. Have i made this up? Well, a photo either way..


Also met a bloke at the top who had done all the Marmotte rides over the course of a few days and he said they were all easier than Ventoux. While doing them one at a time isn’t much of a comparison, it did mean another Ventoux wasn’t part of the route.
Next up was the Col d’Izoard. Essentially i don’t know many famous climbs and a bloke i was staying with for the Marmotte said this was a good one to do, and sure enough, a pretty beautiful climb. Starts fairly easy, then ramps up quickly on some hairpins. Kept passing signs that said ‘PAIN’, and it did take me a while to realise that this was just for bread… Pretty quickly you pop out into another exposed landscape a bit like Ventoux and it levels off, even a bit of downhill. There’s a memorial to Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet and a pretty decent view.


A great descent off this one into Briancon. Sadly the ride back to the start along an A road was awful and into the wind. While i felt great on the climb, pushing at about 12mph through the wind did knock my confidence a bit for the big day.

The next few days were spent doing as little as possible in Bourg. I was pretty keen to have a spin up the Alpe, but thought my legs really needed a rest, so after a flat ride to the base of Glandon and back i did the first hairpin (the worst bit) just so i would know what to expect at the end.

The day before the Marmotte the guys i was staying with went through unbelievable amounts of pasta. Just bowls all day. That certainly wasn’t my plan, but decided to go along with it and i think it paid off despite feeling so full it was a bit uncomfortable. Pasta and egg was also on the menu for breakfast the next day, eurgh.

Cyclists were streaming through the town ahead of the start time and there was little chance of finding Desi so i just stuck with the guys i was staying with. Once we were off, despite all i’d read, it was a pretty conservative pace along the valley to Glandon and we certainly weren’t going to push it. As soon as we hit the base of Glandon, the spread quickly bunched again and we were a good few cyclists wide across the road. I’m still not great in a bunch, so sat on the edge for a bit of space and just slowly crept passed people all the way up.Still even enough energy for showboating at the top. Big ring, check. On the drops, check. Race face, check.

The descent off Glandon was awful. Everyone knew it was neutralised and i guess as such just sat on the brakes all the way down. I didn’t want to go fast, but was pretty worried about all the horror stories i’d heard about exploding tyres due to heating rims, so was just bricking it all the way. Were a handful of crashes i saw the aftermath of en route to the bottom.

The ride along the valley was good. I’m really not great on the flats and find it hard to keep up with Grupetto sometimes so was worried about wasting a lot of energy on this bit. But a fairly big group of about 30+ riders slowly formed so i was happily dragged along to the base of Telegraphe.

I’d kind of written off Telegraph as a little warm up. Sadly, it was no joke and you really had to settle into the hairpins, which just remained constant. Quick feed stop then it was on to what i’d set as the big challenge of the day, Galibier (just assumed / hoped that if i got to the Alpe i’d get up somehow). It’s not hugely steep, but it opens right up and you can see cyclists snaking miles into the distance ahead of you and behind just slowly grinding their way up. You keep thinking you’ve spotted the top, but then you see another glint off someone’s wheels a bit higher and a bit further off and you realise there’s still a good bit to go. I did manage to attempt a bit of showboating for the camera man again, but if you look close, this one never got out the small chain ring..

Now for the descent off Galibier. Awesome!!!! Again, from Grupetto rides i know i take downhills pretty gingerly and don’t really enjoy them, but this was just amazing. Wide enough roads, sweeping turns and i was putting in a bit of effort to catch Rich who i was staying with. I quickly discovered that if you get into a real tight tuck (occasionally doing that potentially stupid hands in the middle on top of bars thing), you fly past everyone with no effort at all. Also means to get less buffeted by the wind. I was worried i was using up too much energy doing it, but it was just brilliant. If this was the only real ‘fun’ bit of the ride, i was going to enjoy it. It was brilliant and i caught Rich up taking his jacket off on the flat at the bottom. I’d do Galibier again just for that descent.

Cycled with Rich and a bunch of others to the base of the Alpe. Stuffed my face with their bizarre mix of food and drink for fear of bonking on the way up. Also stuffed in some caffeine sweets and gels and headed off. Rich quickly pulled away as his pace is about .5mph faster than me and it was time to dig in. The profile shows a good few bits where the gradient slackens off, but with all the miles in my legs i didn’t really feel them, it just hurt for a long time. My girlfriend was near one of the top turns and started cheering me as i got closer. She then cut the switchback to see me again at the next one. She was walking along next to me shouting encouragement. That’s right – walking. Which really put the speed into perspective. As much as i wanted to, i was just too nervous about blowing up to get out the saddle too early, so was fantastic to give a little dig at the end to ‘speed’ to the finish line.

Really was a great ride. Perfect weather and delighted with my time of 10 hours 7 minutes all in which placed me just on the slower side of the halfway point of finishers.

Urban Hill Climb 2011

Urban Hill Climb

Rollapuluza have just announced our Urban Hill Climb set for 21st July on London’s notorious Swains Lane. Last year’s event sold out, so to give everbody an equal oppportunity to enter (FREE) we will release entries this Thursday at Noon.