August 4th, 2012

Etape du Tour 2012 Act 2 – monster of a stage


Etape 2012

That was a very tough day out on the the saddle even without the cold and the rain. The start was in the Place de Verdun in Pau and when we arrived at six thirty am there were already thousands of cyclists milling around in the square. Riders were allocated to one of nine start pens by their bib number. The weather was dry and warmish but luckily I chose to take arm warmers and a very light rain cape as there was a chance of rain later on.

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January 1st, 2012

Etape du Tour 2012 Act 2 – Pau to Bagnères de Luchon

(For my report of riding the stage see Etape Act II monster stage)

The second of the two Etapes that are planned for 2012 is in the Pyrenees. There is a good description of the route in Cycling Weekly at Etape du Tour 2012: Pau to Bagneres de Luchon.

There is also an interesting and well informed article on Le Domestique Tours   which is based on local knowledge as they are located on the route of the Etape.

And Paddy from Velopeloton has published a page crammed with some great photos of the climbs and useful info  including a GPX of the route, see

This looks to be a tough route with plenty of climbing involved, the estimates vary but looking at the table below which includes the ascent of the categorised climbs and also adds in the altitude difference between the start and finish locations then the minimum ascent will be in the region of 4,500 metres.

After mapping the route on Google maps the total climb was reported as just over 5,400 metres, this includes all the minor hills and gradients and the climbs up the valley floors that are not part of the categorised climbs.

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November 27th, 2011

Google Maps to charge?

First saw this story on this blog and checked it out on Google (where else) and it appears to be true, here is an extract from the story on the BBC website:

From 1 January 2012, Google will charge for the Google Maps API service when more than the limit of 25,000 map “hits” are made in a day.

Websites, especially travel firms, use Google Maps to link customers to a view of the destinations they inquire about.

Google is rumoured to be charging $4 per 1,000 views in excess of the limit.

Google maintains the high limit of 25,000 free hits before charging “will only affect 0.35% of users”.

Garmin Connect shows choice of map providerI guess that is why some websites have begun offering Microsoft’s Bing maps as an alternative, for example Garmin Connect now offers a choice between Google and Bing and seems to default to Bing.

While Garmin can probably afford the charges it will be bad news for websites such as BikeRouteToaster that do not charge and are maintained by donations and a small amount of advertising, in fact it is not responding so may already have problems. This is a real shame as it was a really useful resource.

I wonder whether this is Google shooting themselves in the foot in their desire to monetize their products. If Bing and others remain free then people will change over and Google will lose the business.




November 24th, 2011

Zappi Cycling Club membership NOT required for club runs

The approach below has been modified, everyone is welcome to ride with the club so long as they sign a disclaimer form. If you like the rides and the club and would like to continue riding then you can become a member.

Flavio Zappi has issued the following on the Team Zappi facebook page:


Unfortunately we live in a litigious world and the club officials cannot afford to be sued if someone comes to grief during a club run.

To join the club you can arrive a little early on Saturday for the 9am club run and fill in a membership form, the cost is £25.

October 5th, 2011

Cat and Fiddle Challenge 2011

Cat and Fiddle climb

Last Sunday was the Brian Rourke Cat and Fiddle challenge starting and ending in Stoke on Trent in Staffordshire.  This event is run to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust which is a very worthy cause raising cash to fund the search for a cure to this disease . It is also a great occasion, with Sean Kelly and other cycling celebrities riding the course alongside us mere mortals.

From Stoke-on-Trent, this 55-mile circular route takes you through Staffordshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and the beautiful Peak District National Park, including the infamous 7-mile Cat and Fiddle climb which will leave you breathless not only from the cycling, but from the stunning scenery that surrounds you.

The HQ for the event is in the Cobridge Community Centre just a few yards from Brian Rourke Cycles, early on Sunday it was busy with a thousand plus cyclists converging on the start from near and far.

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September 26th, 2011

Zappi’s Bike Café

Every Saturday and Sunday at 9pm large groups of cyclists congregate on the Bike Zone shop in St Michaels Street in the center of Oxford.  On Saturday mornings those who arrive in good time carry their bikes into the shop and up the stairs to the cycling café upstairs where you can have some of the best coffee in Oxford and chat with fellow cyclists.  Everyone is welcome to these rides, on Saturday there are several groups to choose from while Sunday generally has a more dedicated but smaller following. After the ride there is the opportunity to gather upstairs in Oxford’s splendid Bike Café and enjoy great coffee and cakes and the company of lots of like minded people, so why not give it a try?


Zappi’s Bike Café is a recently opened independent café in the centre of Oxford. We offer handcrafted artisan coffee, fantastic loose-leaf teas, homemade cakes and light snacks.

About Us

The café is an evolution from a previous café, run by ex-pro cyclist Flavio Zappi, on Walton Street in Jericho. In late 2010 Bike Zone moved premises from an old shop in Market Street to its new site in St Michaels Street, at this time an idea arose to combine the two and create a bike shop Café. The new café was opened in May2011 is now run by two local young men, both called Dan, who have previously managed other cafes in Oxford. Zappi’s Cycling Club uses the café as its headquarters and run rides from the café three times a week, which gives the café a good vibrancy and energy.

We both believe there are a number of key ingredients needed in order to have a great café. Fantastic products, a good space and friendly atmosphere are key components in order to achieve this.

We are both self-taught baristas and have a passion for creating high quality coffee. We give every coffee the care a respect a good cup should have and we believe it’s the best in town!

Dan & Dan


August 24th, 2011

David Millar interview on the BBC

David Millar is interviewed on the BBC’s Hardtalk program, see:

The interviews are being shown in full on the BBC News Channel.

He admits that if the French police had not found the EPO syringes hidden in his bookshelf he might never have confessed to doping.

August 21st, 2011

Blenheim Sportive – harder than it looks

Rode the Blenheim Sportive 100 mile route today, that was quite tough,  lots of climbs up and down the Cotswold escarpment plus a “rolling” course which had few places you could call flat.

August 19th, 2011

Blenheim Sportive

Blenheim Breast Cancer Care sportiveRiding the Blenheim 100 mile sportive route this weekend.  This is part of the Bike Blenheim Festival of Cycling on the 21 of August 2011.

There is also a time trial held in the Palace Grounds as well as the Brompton World Championship.

For details see the Blenheim website

August 18th, 2011

Garmin Vector power meter pedals

At last Garmin have announced details of their power meter pedals, see the details at Garmin brings power to the people with vector

Garmin Vector power meter

Could be the ideal power meter solution as you can change your pedals easier than cranks and it doesn’t involve having to swap a wheel across bikes (which can be a faff with brakes, cassette etc.) so this can be portable between several bikes.

The Garmin website says it is ANT + compatible but to get the best data set you need a Garmin 500 or Garmin 800.  That means that to get the most data such as left and right power balance and other metrics you will need one of these units, but presumably those of us with older models such as the Edge 705 will still get the basic power data if we purchased a pair of vector pedals. These are not exactly cheap at a suggested retail price of $1,499.99 US dollars, how that will translate into sterling or euros remains to be seen.

The blurb on the Garmin website says:

Quick and easy: For many cycling enthusiasts, purchasing a power meter is an intimidating and  potentially complicated process, often involving mechanical tradeoffs for their bikes. Vector simplifies the decisions and the process. Cyclists can now walk into their local bike shop, walk out with a Vector power meter in hand, and install it themselves in minutes.
There’s no need for a custom order process, no need for a mechanic, and no downtime while their bike is in the shop. With integrated cadence measurement, there are no external sensors to install, and all calibration is performed before the Vector power meter hits the store shelves. Vector’s easy-to-install design makes it easy to swap between bikes, and easy to take to out-of-town events when renting or borrowing a bike. Vector’s light weight and durable injected carbon fiber pedals are LOOK Keo compatible, and its ANT+ wireless pedal pod transmitters fit most major cranksets. Vector has also been designed to be easy to update as software enhancements are made, thanks to its ANT+ wireless technology.