Cycle tours with groups arranged by companies can get expensive which is great but, if you’re on a much smaller budget then there isn’t much around. This is where Simple Cycle Tours comes in. They’re offering all inclusive road cycling tours without the higher price tag.
Simple Cycle Tours takes your bags at the start of the tour, puts them in a support van and meets you at the end. Not only that, they handle all the accommodation and will be nearby should something go wrong and you need a helping hand. As you would expect.
The supported cycle tour is of course not unique, there are companies offering luxury tours in the Alps etc, but if you want something to enjoy but, save some pennies for those new wheels…
The offering from Simple Cycle Tours embraces a more sociable and light-hearted atmosphere. By upping the numbers from around a dozen to fifty and providing shared accommodation in Youth Hostels, the price of a long weekend is amazingly kept to under £200. This even includes a tour jersey provided by Svelte Cycles. With a barbecue on the Friday night, the tour gatherings allow plenty of opportunity to meet other riders.
The founder, John Wilson says, “For many road cyclists, there are two choices: travel in a loop from your start-point or carry minimal kit and endure odd looks when wearing sweaty lycra in the pub. We’re looking to bring the fun and adventure back into cycling and at the same time make road cycling more accessible”.
Simple Cycle Tours have their first tour from August 21st to 23rd, staying in York on the Friday and Whitby on the Saturday. While the organisers do the hard work, riders will be left to enjoy 199 miles of beautiful landscapes through the North York Moors and Yorkshire Wolds.
I often worry that the area I live in is relatively uninspiring. Regularly featured in “worst places to live” polls, Crap Towns etc, but, as soon as you get more than a couple of miles away from the industrial decay of Middlesbrough with it’s potentially depressing cooling towers and brown boxy factory buildings akin to those seen in revolutionary Russian films, become a heroic skyline to the towns roots. By the time you are this far outside of the town you find yourself in the farmland of the Tees Valley, primarily flat with rolling gradients akin to those of the northern european classics (all be it with slightly better road surface).
The first point of note is Great Ayton and specifically Suggitt’s; an ice-cream parlour/cafe which will regularly have piles of bikes chained to the railings outside. The decor is half greasy spoon with moulded plastic seats fixed around tables and part old fashioned sweet shop with large tubs of cola cubes and the like stacked on shelves awaiting selection. It may seem early in the route for a snack but treat yourself.
Pushing on out of Ayton the Cleveland Hills loom large over you and the task ahead becomes apparent. The route climbs and descends the face of the hills a number of times over road, gravel and dirt. This begins with a climb of Battersby Bank, a mile and a half of 7% gradient which ramps up to 16%, the climb is all on road which at the time of writing was being resurfaced. Battersby bank takes you up onto the Cleveland way, a double track moor road, followed by a fast single track descent strewn with sheep, opening up to more double track this time covered with rock slabs and rocks the size of babies heads. As you loose your hard earned altitude you will pass through a farm containing the worlds loudest cockerel who will happily serenade you on your merry way.
Gravel may well be all the rage in the industry and what follows next is the reason for it. A rapid 5 mile rip which despite being primarily uphill flies past all too quickly, the views here are truly magnificent as the wood lined track opens up allowing you to trace the line of the route just ridden.
The climb to the carpark and viewing point at Clay Bank is short but savage with a 30% then 20% section, tenderising your legs before the technical offered loop at the top. The route follows the line of an old dry stone wall which now makes up the surface of the track one wrong placed wheel and its a short trip OTB. Once you have skipped over the sandstone you are given the rest bite of almost 3 miles of descending back down into the Tees Valley and into Stokesley with various cafes to stock up on coffee before the final roll back towards the town via the rural lanes.
Watching the Tour de France 2015 I’m reminded why I so often enjoy it, it’s the scenery filmed from helicopters. Simply put it’s relaxing. Let’s face it, watching live stages on the TV when the action is low is akin to watching snooker or darts in the interval periods – boring. Year after year though, I sit there in front of the TV, admiring the scenery and most especially those aerial shots. Even with all the will in the world, one could never see this much of France, or have a birds eye view over it as the peloton rolls through. Those long shots, where the alpine gives way to high mountains, rolling fields of sunflowers, the Brittany coast, castles and chateaus – it’s all there, day after day as the race courses across the country.
All of this wouldn’t be possible without the helicopters of the Tour de France and without them filming, the lull in the stages would be just that bit less enjoyable to watch purely from the ground. I know most of us criticise the commentary at times but, often than not I learn something of the area they’re passing through and the historic landmarks, I see no reason not to be educated and entertained at the same time. Needless to say I have a lot of admiration for the pilots that fly and film the Tour from above and the video here highlights what they do and how they operate. So next time your watching the tour, take a little time to admire the scenery.
Cyclists have an affinity to coffee, it’s probably the only stimulant that would never be scorned by us. For good reason it’s so tasty! What you put your coffee in (or other tipples of repute) is as much a practical choice as it is a personal choice. I’ve still got my Transformers mug from the 1980’s but, if you’re not so lucky to have Optimus Prime on yours then I suggest you go for the Bunyan Velo x Porcelain Rocket Camp Mug. They worked together to design a 12oz mug that is fit for coffee at breakfast, in the camp or lodge. In fact it’s so good I threw my priceless Transformers mug in the bin and ordered one. Be quick though as these are limited edition.
The finer details:
Patterned with icons from an old map of Oregon dug up by our friend Gabe at Limberlost.
Constructed of steel and enameled in Poland by the amazing people at Emalco.
Limited to a hand-numbered edition of 225!
The Red Hook Criterium recently took part in London for the first time and we were cycling around Edinburgh. Luckily Sean McGowan (@f.stopper) was there to capture some fantastic shots. For more photographs and more from Sean, visit his Exposure.
“The Red Hook Crit began life in 2008 as a small race to celebrate the birthday of David Trimble. No sponsors, no prizes and no sanctions. It has since grown into a huge event and seven years, 16 races and 3 venues later, the event arrived at the Greenwich Peninsula, London for the first time.”
Orontas cycling supplies might look like a products you’d wash with or even put on your beard such is their style and the recent trends of everything being handcrafted. I have no idea how you handcraft oil but it has something to do with non plants so it’s non petroleum based. The collection consists of chain oils, degreaser, lubricant, grease and a saddlebag to keep some of it in. Pretty good stuff to keep your bike running smoothly. See the range on Orontas.
Tour de France 2015 seems to be about Data Mining. Data, doping and hacking that’s what. Mountains of data being mined [read hacked] to find what? Data? Pointless. Chris Froome taking some sort of physical test? Pointless. Change Chris Froome for just about any recent winner and the same opinions occur. Search google and put any pro-cyclists name and the word doping. Endless results of opinions. It’s like the war on drugs, no matter how hard you fight it, people still take it. Cycling is no different, sport is no different, because sport is people. I’ve never felt disillusioned by the ‘cheaters’ it seems apparent that if one is others are. It also seems so easy to sit on my couch and make statements and judgements. It’s not my job to race a bicycle. I have no idea how hard it really is. Just because we can go buy a bike and some lycra and smash out a KoM on Strava, we are somehow qualified to speak out against doping? Because we would never do that! Stinks of tramps pee to me.
Let’s focus just on the history of the Tour de France for a quick moment. It’s been over a 100 years in the making, and since the beginning there has been cheating and espionage of one sort or another. By the second edition of the Tour in 1904 the winner and defending champion was disqualified for cheating. He used a train! Drugs were permitted however. As others will point out, the Tour is about these dramas. You can choose to be outraged and claim some sort of moral high-ground based on the fact that you wouldn’t cheat, or you can accept the excitement of it and enjoy the Tour for what it is. A spectacular show of wit, strength and cunning.
The Tour hits the mountains which is fantastic to watch and as soon as the favourite shows his form the critics come out, no one can please them. Do I think Chris is Clean? I don’t care. I love to watch the racing, the dramas unfolding, the sprints for the line, the all out TT efforts and the scenery. Now here is my sofa-formed opinion; probably most likely riders micro dose and keep their biological passports in the safe range (pure speculation). Now if this is the case, I say let it happen. If a rider wants to keep themselves in prime condition they should be allowed. There is no fair ground anyway, one rider might have a higher V02 max than another, one might have a better power output, it’s all down to genes. Thats just the physical, never mind the mental stamina. My argument is that racing a three week tour eats your body. A rider should have the benefit of keeping that body healthy. There isn’t a way without stopping the damage without resting (not just overnight). The Tour won’t be cut to one week and shorter stages, so something has to give. There should be a certain level of medical help there. I know this is the opposite of what nearly everyone wants and there will be very valid arguments as to why not. If you ask all of us at Headset Press, you won’t get the same answer but, it’s worth mining that data to find some answers.
We recently visited Estonia and met the friendly people that create this wonderful event. They sent us over this great video recap of the recent event.
Tallinn Bicycle Week and Tour d’ÖÖ group rides are activities brought to life by a circle of bicycle aficionados in order to bring different bike lovers together, grow ‘the pack’ of cyclists on the streets of Estonian cities and honor the bicycle as one of the greatest thought and action inspiring mechanisms ever invented. TBW is celebrating the cycling culture as a whole. This is a recap film of Tallinn Bicycle Week’s 5th birthday in June 4-7, 2015.
So the first week of the Tour de France 2015 concluded with a Team Time Trial (TTT). As far as TTT’s go, that one was riveting, BMC and Sky really brought the drama to the table. The end result was so close, BMC had everything to gain for Tejay van Garderen and Sky needed to do a sterling ride not to lose any time for Chris Froome on his quest to retain the yellow jersey. I think the data from Data Dimension really comes into play on a TTT, most surprising was 78.37 km/h – top speed on the stage by Nicolas Roche (SKY) at km 16.5. Maybe that was digging too deep?
The following rest day brought some shocking news. That Ivan Basso has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. All we can say or offer is our heartfelt sympathy and that the treatment and recovery is good.
Italian helmet brand MET recently launched the Manta. The lightest, fastest and most aerodynamic closed helmet. It was launched at the Tour de France with Team MTN Qhubeka. The MANTA’s extremely aerodynamic and low profile shape provides unsurpassed performance in the wind tunnel with a saving of 10 watts at 50km/h which translates into 5 seconds.
Whilst the number of vents are lower than the Rivale, the strategically placed frontal Airflow Converge vents and NACA vents on the crown, ensure the rider’s head is kept cool by sucking air through this sophisticated network of channels.
Weighing at only 200g, the MANTA is the lightest closed aero helmet on the market and will retail for 200€. See MET helmets for more info.