Lots of newspaper articles around today accusing Team Sky and British Cycling of negligence when keeping records, being bad at PR and not much else but what really have they done wrong? I explain my thoughts in this video below (excuse the lack of editing and the rambling on):
I’m a driver and a cyclist. I pay Vehicle Excise Duty and have done for years. That ‘Duty’ isn’t Road Tax before we start, that was abolished in 1937 but it was never called Road Tax. Anyway, I digress…
I cycled 5 miles yesterday with my video camera turned on and saw a driver nearly hit another vehicle trying to pass me and 2 more dangerously speeding. As I’m tootling along I just think ‘why?’.
The driver who appears first in the clip, NU60 KYE, gives me plenty of space and I applaud them for that, but in doing so on a corner where you can’t see what’s approaching due to the bridge, narrowly avoids hitting another car head on. Now what did this pass accomplish? Not much. We were heading into a 30mph zone where the driver could have easily and safely passed me. I would estimate it might have delayed them 30 seconds but that time would have been made up by the time they caught up with the other traffic. So no real gain. Madness.
I then cycle along and a group of cars passes. all give me space but the final 2 cars (DV57 NYT & Y837 HNL) appear to be racing – maybe going 70mph and having to slam their brakes on to avoid the cars in front. The final car has it’s windows down and the driver and passenger have their arms out of the window shouting. I have no idea what they said but due to the cars in front they made no time up speeding and only made me feel unsafe on the road.
So why do we do it? I have no idea. We all turn into different animals when we get behind the wheel of a car. If you are reading this thinking ‘Bloody cyclists, what do they know’ etc I beg you – get on a bike and cycle a busy main road and see how safe you feel. We don’t have a metal box keeping us safe.
Since I took up cycling I’ve slowed down when driving. I did used to break the speed limit and get frustrated. I do get it. But just think, is the few seconds that you MIGHT gain when passing a cyclist on a blind corner or at 70mph worth risking their life or even your own? Or even the lives of the children that might have been in the car you nearly hit head on at the bridge? Possibly not.
Saturday 7th November – my first proper go on a mountain bike. I was bricking it as we were taking on the Dalby Forest Red Run which is meant for experienced riders. I am not an experienced rider.
Starting at Dixons Hollow, mainly to avoid a lot of climbing as we only had a few hours we cruised round and you know what? It was brilliant. I thought mountain biking would be dull but I really enjoyed it. It will never take priority over my beloved road cycling but for a change it is most excellent.
Here is a video from the early parts of the trail:
So why the wrong way? Well I wanted to do Buttertubs and I hadn’t read 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs yet so we rode part of the 2014 Stage 1 Tour de France route – little did I know that the official 100 Climbs segment is the reverse! Oh well, just means I’ll have to do it again.
We started off from Hawes and climbed up the modest 5-6% gradients through Simonside before the ramps got steeper. As you can see from the above photo it is quite a big hill that we were attempting.
It’s a long old drag for a mile or so then it begins to ramp up quite severely up to the first cattle grid. The sign says 17% from memory but my Garmin was showing 20% at parts. There is two steep ramps on the way to the first cattle grid – the first was a struggle but doable, on the second I had to stop.
As you can see with my hands slumped over the bars I was struggling. I didn’t even stop at my max HR, I had just ran our of oxygen. I was on the limit so I admired the view for a couple of minutes and then slogged on.
It was worth it though. Once you hit the top the descent is pretty good. A couple of sharp corners and a few long, straight drags to get some good speed up on.
Overall I was expecting to stop 2-3 times so I was chuffed I only conked out once. I expected the climb to be harder though, even at my low speeds. I think climbing the ‘official’ way will be a lot harder so I’ll maybe leave it for a bit before attempting it again.
Here is my Garmin Verb video of the climb and descent – it’s long but if you skip to 33 mins you can see the descent.
I am delighted that I did it though and I would recommend others to tackle it too. The long, steady climbs like this are hard to find and you feel like a GC contender slogging up them!