Bordeaux-Paris 2014

February 19, 2013

Bordeaux-Paris 2014

First held in 1891, Bordeaux-Paris was one of the longest professional bike races, covering around 560 km (350 miles) – more than twice most one-day races. The last professional edition was held in 1988 but in May 2014, the event is being resurrected as a 600 km (370 mile) sportive.

There is next to no detail on the event’s site (yet) but I’ve been able to dig up a little info from various sources online:

  • Starts on Friday, May 30 next year, from downtown Bordeaux
  • First 15-20 km will be neutralised
  • Groups will then form as riders of similar speeds stick together
  • Around 100 motorcycles will protect the groups
  • The will be five controls (every 100-ish kms)
  • Elevation gain will be 4,000-4,500 m
  • Finish will be south of Paris
  • Entries will open May 2013
  • Cost is expected to be €100-200
  • Will need a medical certificate

Three categories

  • Less than 26 hours
  • Less than 36 hours
  • Less than 60 hours


  • 1,500 cyclists (50% foreign)
  • Live GPS tracking
  • Fixed and mobile security
  • Transport to Bordeaux
  • Accommodation packages
  • Mechanical assistance
  • Five controls

This will probably be my first 600 so I figure it will be safer to enter the 36-hour category and plan for a short pre-dawn nap. The training for a 600 is supposed to be fairly similar to that for a 200, at least according to Burke and Pavelka’s Complete Book of Long Distance Cycling, so should be perfectly manageable. I guess this event will also be a major stepping stone towards my first Paris-Brest-Paris in 2015…

The ride started at Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire, went south to Whitchurch in Hampshire, across to Alton and then back up the start via Henley-on-Thames. The route was mostly on fairly quite lanes with a few sections on main roads but they weren’t too busy. The only exception was the A321 into and the A4155 out of Henley-on-Thames where the drivers were particularly impatient. This section wasn’t originally part of the main route but had to be added due to road closures following the recent flooding.

There wasn’t much ice in the lanes but we were extra careful on downhills and shady corners. After all, it only takes one patch to ruin a ride. A couple of the lanes were a little slushy in places and the private lane to Blounce House was very muddy but nothing too troubling.

As you can see for the elevation profile above, it was a little lumpy but total elevation gain was only around 1,600 metres so not too taxing.

There were six controls in total, three “proof of passage” and three info. We spent far too long at the first two controls and, when combined with three puncture stops and numerous pee stops, it meant the last ninety-ish minutes were ridden after sunset – not ideal. We made it back the finish with only ten minutes before the hourly train back towards London so raced off rather than stay and enjoy some of the warm food and drinks provided by the organiser. This is why I love Audax rides and it was a shame to pass it up. Next year…

Full ride details on Strava here.

It was quite a chilly ride with the temperature averaging only 3° but good clothing choices meant I was perfectly comfortable. Seeing as you asked, I had a pair of lightweight merino wool glove liners under SealSkinz All Weather Cycle Gloves so my hands were fine. Perhaps what helped was that my core was kept warm by a sleeveless Under Armour synthetic base, a long sleeved Helly Hansen merino base, a Windtex winter jacket and a windproof gilet. My feet were in DeFeet Woolie Boolie socks and Northwave winter boots and I had a wool hat from Prendas on under my helmet and a buff protecting my neck. Legs were fine with regular Santini bib shorts and a pair of Pearl Izumi tights.

That’s it for organised rides for this year. I’m planning to ride the Willy Warmer on Jan 19 so it will be back to regular Saturday club rides and the infinite fun that is indoor roller and turbo sessions until then.

Upper Thames Audax

November 5, 2012

What a stunning day for a ride. Three of us from the club braved the cold and had an excellent, if exhausting, spin around the route. We saw some wonderful countryside, went past a few magnificent houses and got home in a fairly reasonable time.

Ride stats on Strava here.

Almanzo 100

August 30, 2012

The Almanzo 100 is an unsupported 100-mile cycling race held each spring on the gravel roads of southeastern Minnesota.

Great ride report on Gear Junkie here.

Dunwich Dynamo 2012

July 4, 2012

Dawn breaking as we approach the beach.


Dunwich Dynamo XX

June 21, 2012

Next weekend (June 30) sees the twentieth edition of this iconic 180km overnight ride from Hackney in London to Dunwich on the Suffolk Coast.

Most people leave London Fields between 8pm and 9pm so, with sunset at 9.21pm, a little later than in previous years, we’ll probably be past Epping Forest before its properly dark.

Here are a couple of tips if you’ve never done the ride before.

It can get quite chilly in the early hours so I’d recommend a long sleeved jersey and gilet with a rain shell in a pocket, just in case. Shorts are usually fine but you may be more comfortable adding tights and shoe covers, particularly if there’s a chance of rain. Similarly, mitts are usually fine but long fingered gloves might be handy.

The ride is unsupported so, along with a pump in your pocket, make sure your saddle pack has two tubes, two CO2, two tyre boots, six pre-glued patches, a gear wire, an emergency chain link, a multi-tool and tyre levers. You probably won’t need any of it if your bike is well maintained, but you never know…

Normal commuting lights are fine if you’re riding in a group and at a steady pace but you’ll need something with a little more punch if you’re on your own and riding at speed. A little light fixed to your helmet is handy for looking at the route sheet or your gps while on the go. Also, switch your rear light to solid on (not flashing) so you don’t drive those behind you mad. At 3am, a blinking red LED feels like it is stabbing deep into your cornea, and not in a good way.

Two bottles will be plenty to get you to the feed stop where they can be refilled. The queues for food at the stop can be quite long if you don’t get there early so I always bring a sandwich (ciabatta with ham, brie & cranberry sauce seeing as you asked) which is a nice change from energy bars. Don’t risk trying food you’re not familiar with and tested on other long rides. An upset stomach at 3am in the middle of nowhere is not as much fun as it sounds.

Sunrise is at 4.48am so we’ll need to leave the feed station by 1am to ensure we’re on the beach to see it.

Here’s a link to the route but please bring at least a £1 coin and support Southwark Cyclists by buying a route sheet.

See you at London Fields…

I’m just getting my saddle pack sorted for next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix sportive.

  • Three inner tubes
  • Two tyre levers
  • CO2 cannister (pump in jersey pocket)
  • Gear wire
  • Chain link
  • Multi-tool (with chain breaker)
  • Six pre-glued patches
  • Two tyre boots

Have I forgotten anything?


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