In January, I rode a century on a cold, wet, windy Sunday. With the right planning, clothes, and stretching, it proved even to be enjoyable. I planned a route through the rural farm fields west of Portland, Oregon and then up into the coastal range mountains along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. I stopped to stretch every thirty miles, for lunch (Jalisco-style burrito!) after 55 miles, and periodically to clear Douglas fir needles out of fender brackets. It was cold, wet, and wonderful. The fallow farm fields were peaceful and full of spotted towhees that time of year, plucking worms from the soil. A gaggle of hundreds of geese flew close overhead and landed in a soggy baseball field as I rode past. And the low clouds riding the wind and blowing rain made me appreciate stops for espresso and warm lunch even more. I stayed warm on the ride with a long sleeve Hors Categorie jersey and LC__CC Sport Gilet under a rainshell, LC’s Flander’s style winter hat under my helmet, and Overshoes to keep the cold wind and rain off my feet.
To celebrate the LC__CC global ride out on Sunday 12th June, we invited a group of our most active members on a ride in the Surrey Hills. The ride itself was led by LC__CC’s Pro Coach, Chris Opie and Le Col Founder, Yanto Barker. Groups were split according to ability and all 25 riders headed out on the same route, a 65km ride which covered two famous climbs in the South of the UK – Box Hill and Whitedown. Our club colours didn’t go unnoticed on the road, and we shared compliments with other riders who we passed We chose to partner with a venue that’s as passionate about cycling as we are. The Queens Stage in Effingham has recently opened its doors to cyclists, hikers, walkers, and general pub-goers, and is perfectly situated on the doorstep of the Surrey Hills. Once we met the team we knew this would be an ideal venue for LC__CC club rides. The food is second-to-none and left riders feeling fuelled after breakfast and lunch, the staff were so helpful and made you feel at home as soon as you walked in, and the venue itself is clearly made for cyclists, with plenty of bike storage outside and bike racing on each TV inside. The team at Bike Hero, who now have a hub at The Queen’s Stage, were fantastic in providing pre-ride bike checks for our riders and were on-hand to help with any mechanicals on the ride. It gives a rider great peace of mind when a professional has checked over your bike for you, and the Bike Hero couldn’t be more accommodating. Chris Opie says “It was great to ride on new and different roads with new faces and meet other people that are active LC__CC members in their area. The highlight for me was seeing so many people wearing the new jersey out on the road. We had one climb that was a little antisocial, with Yanto thoroughly reminding me he always could go uphill a little better than I could on the final climb heading back towards The Queens Stage.”
I ride with Kingston Wheelers and I was lucky to be able to take up the invitation to this join this really enjoyable event with Le Col. Meeting the Le Col team and ambassadors was lovely. The team was so friendly and keen for everyone to have a relaxed and enjoyable ride. I know the Surrey hills well but this was a nice new 2 hour loop taking in Box Hill, Peaselake and Whitedown and we were really lucky with the sunny weather. I joined the pacier of the two groups and as the only lady in the group, I was a little worried I had been a bit ambitious! I was a great pace, I was nicely pushed, sometimes off the back on the downs but I was relieved and impressed that there was a rider who had ridden all the way from Truro in the night and was suffering a bit more than me. I was really impressed by the dexterity of some of the riders to take pictures and selfies whilst riding at pace. My hands were firmly on the handlebars and breaks whenever we hit the downhills and gravel. Having crashed on a downhill country lane a couple of weeks before and recovering from cuts and bruises, this was a perfect chilled social ride to get my confidence back The photographer who was at the bottom of Box Hill and at the top a few minutes later…he said he ran up a short cut but still it was really impressive. Getting to ride with a big group in the really smart LeCol team kit, the yellow and blue jerseys really stand out and look great. Chatting with everyone over breakfast and pizza in a really relaxed environment. Also trying our the Queen Stage café. I will definitely head over there again, the garlic & cheese pizza was amazing. Really friendly staff, great coffee and food and well set up for bikes. Doing a an all time PB up Boxill in 6 mins 30. I was just trying not to get dropped and didn’t realise I had done a pb until later than evening.
Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a region consisting of the City of Roanoke at its heart and includes the surrounding communities of the City of Salem, Botetourt County, Franklin County, and Roanoke County. The region offers a Metro Mountain adventure nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. With over 1,000 miles of trails, and countless miles of pristine road riding, it is a premier destination for outdoor recreation. While it’s established as America's East Coast Mountain Biking Capital, it’s quickly becoming a road and gravel cycling destination. Virginia’s Blue Ridge presents a wide variety of amenities, unique attractions, and a surprising diversity of cultural and culinary experiences. Professional team Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 recently moved their base of operations to Roanoke, Virginia. Spring training camps in the area quickly identified this route as a team favorite. The route provides a mix of stunning, challenging terrain and a solid 20-minute climb for field testing. Route: Fincastle The ride begins in the historic town of Fincastle, Virginia. Incorporated in 1772 and included on the National Register of Historic Places, the entire area is a virtual museum of American architecture from the late 1770s through the 21st century. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark visited Fincastle, then on the edge of the Western frontier, before and after they were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Louisiana Purchase. The adventure commences at The Pie Shoppe on Main Street, a family business serving the community with daily freshly made sweet and savory pies and the legendary chicken salad served in a bread bowl. There is plenty of street parking if you drive to the start. The route takes us down Springwood Road, the terrain rolls through the beautiful countryside passing several farms as we make our way steadily downhill to the James River. The James River begins in the Appalachian Mountains and flows 348 miles (560 km) to Chesapeake Bay. It is the longest river in Virginia. Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia's first colonial capitals, and Richmond, Virginia's current capital, lie on the James River. We cross the James River twice and then enter the town of Buchanan. Buchanan Is nestled within the steep slopes of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Rich in history and natural beauty, Buchanan is the quintessential example of “Small Town America''. Where Main Street meets the mountains. Last stop to refuel shops and stores and Twin River Outfitters if you want to come back for a cooling water adventure. Ride out of town past the Buchanan limestone quarry and up the Highway 43-climb notorious for being one of the toughest climbs in an IronMan triathlon competition. Now the real work begins! Blue Ridge Parkway The forested canopy up highway 43 offers respite on hot summer days, under the stone bridge onto the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway which in contrast offers panoramic views in every direction. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway, which is America's longest linear park, runs for 469 miles through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, linking Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Near perfect pavement, gorgeous vistas will keep you motivated as you ride the Parkway. If you notice hikers popping out of the woods, chances are you have reached the intersection of Appalachian Trail The Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail in the Eastern United States, extending almost 2,200 miles (3,540 km) and passing through 14 states. More than three million people hike segments of the trail each year. If you are lucky as we were this day, you might meet one of the many through hikers. Frack (the trail name given to this through hiker, he was on his way to Maine, his trail mate Frick was a mile or so ahead. The route descends down the Blue Ridge parkway and for a few meters you will be on the Blue Ridge Boulevard, the busiest part of the route. A quick right turn with a punchy uphill takes you into the Knollwood and Heatherstone neighborhoods to Mountain Pass Road where you will be treated to some short steep pitches that weave through rural neighborhoods as you make your way back to Lee Highway. Lee Highway – Troutville The Town of Troutville was established in 1956 and is located in Botetourt County, Virginia. In 1881, this area had no name. The railroad came through and a station was built. There were three houses then which were occupied by John, Jim and George Trout - so the area was called Troutville. It became an important shipping center in the 1890's. In 1895, Troutville was a thriving town with a very active shipping point, good farming, busy canneries, packing houses and factories. The name of the town was later changed to Troutville. From Lee Highway we turn right onto the beautiful Nace Road that winds through pretty farmland and parallels the railroad. Nace Road is part of The TransAmerica Bicycle Trail, also known as US Bicycle Route 76, a cross-country biking trail that passes through Virginia's Blue Ridge. The 4,228-mile trail is one of two original U.S. Bicycle Routes in the nation and it's broken into 12 sections. Section 1 begins in Astoria, Oregon and Section 12 ends in Yorktown, Virginia.A portion of Section 12 winds through Virginia's Blue Ridge, beginning in Christiansburg and making its way north through Botetourt County and on to Lexington before connecting with the Blue Ridge Parkway and heading east toward the Virginia coast. The Virginia section features more elevation gain than any other state on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail. Section 12 is 368 miles in length. The route then turns left and climbs the Blue Ridge Turnpike riding 2 miles through a small community, passing horses, cows and vintage tractors until you reach Lee Highway where you will cross and reconnect Blue Ridge Turnpike. The final miles wind gradually upwards back to the start town of Fincastle. You will likely complete the route with an appetite! Finish up with a slice of savory or sweet pie or the famous chicken salad served in a warm bread bowl back at the Pie Shoppe or enjoy a meal at Rooftop on Main (in the same building) as the name suggests you can enjoy a meal and a beverage in the quaint space or weather permitting on the roof top deck overlooking Botetourt County. Rooftop dining is open from March through November. If a cool float on the river is in order while in the area, head to Buchanan and visit the Twin River Outfitters where you can book James River day trips on canoes, kayaks, rafts or tubes. Twin River Outfitters is the oldest and most experienced outfitter on the Upper James River and has been safely running paddle trips since 1978. Their paddling experiences range from floating on a lazy river to thrilling whitewater rafting. Are you looking for a traditional homestyle southern post ride meal? Head to Greenwood Family Restaurant, a casual cash only American restaurant in Troutville providing breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is a community hub for locals. You will find Southern staples like green beans, fried Okra, meatloaf and turkey sandwiches and country fried steak. You can also purchase local jellies and jams. The Pie Shoppe 1 E. Main Street Fincastle, VA 24090 https://pieshoppefincastle.com 1772 Rooftop on Main 18 S. Roanoke St Fincastle, VA 24090 https://1772rooftop.com Greenwood Family Restaurant 8176 Lee Hwy #7538, Troutville, VA 24175 https://greenwoodrestaurant.business.site Twin River Outfitters 640 Lowe Street Buchanan, VA 24066 https://canoevirginia.net Virginia’s Blue Ridge Visitors Center 101 Shenandoah Ave NE Roanoke, VA 24016 Phone: +1 (540) 342-6025 https://www.bikevbr.com
So, I just had the crazy idea to ride up the Alpe Du Zwift during one of the Le Col Zwift group rides. It hurt, but it was fun! When the pandemic struc and everyone stopped exercising, there was one bloke who picked up the bike and started cycling. This guy! And when winter came I moved to an indoor trainer and soon discovered the Le Col social rides on Monday evening. These rides made me feel very welcome within the cycling community in general, and the Le Col community in particular. There is a lively chat with good fun. But also with room to ask all cycling related questions. I soon became a regular on the Monday rides. On Wednesday evening (for me evening; 7:10PM CET) there is a work out session, which I soon joined as well. These sessions are hurtful fitness builders. But great fun with the community. But, during the summer these sessions come to a halt. So to end on a high (virtual literally) I came up with the idea to ride up the Alpe as a group. We can encourage each other to make this epic climb, and so we did. The Alpe Du Zwift is a virtual replica with all the 21 epic hairpin bends along the way. We took the route “Road To Sky”, which is the shortest Zwift route including the Alpe. It’s about 17 kilometers long, with the Alpe being around 12 you’ll have a nice 5k warm up. And so the bunch set off to this epice Tour de France climb. The first bit is downhill, straight into the jungle area with some gravel. Which is not nice on the legs, I can tell you. After a while you’’ make a right turn onto the tarmac and from there on the only way is up. The first few slopes are the hardest, for me. I always start way too fast and burn all my matches. This time I tried to find a nice rhythm for the first half of the climb. Encoring the ones around me to enjoy this stupid idea of me. Next to the start I find the two longer stretches between corners the hardest. Once they are over it’s just some quicks and turns, one little surge to the top and you made it! I know this sounds hard, but let me tell you that it was my nicest effort yet on the Alpe. The Le Col group with all the chatting (and even chatting about how you could type on such a climb) made this ride fly by. Come join us someday on Zwift, we will be a welcoming gang of cyclists waiting!
If you’ve ever ridden in Cornwall, you’ll know that it’s pretty lumpy and with the UK Hill climb season kicking off I thought that’s quite a good thing. This was a fun little route out of Truro, along some quiet back lanes with 3-5min short sharp climbs to get the lungs burning and the legs aching. Hornick Hill being the ‘hero’ climb of the route, at just 111m elevation gain it’s not massive but it’s steep, averaging approximately 13% ramping up to 20% in places and the road surfaces are rough. The top of the climb greets you with open views across the industrial clay pit landscape and Cornwall’s rugged rolling hills, before descending through the old mining villages and onto the return leg of the local 10mi Time Trial route back into Truro. Alternatively, turn right at the end of the flat section after Hornick Hill and go further into the Claylands. Enjoy!
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