HOWLER CANCELLED

Due to the continued worsening of this weekend’s weather forecast, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel The Howler this Sunday.

The Met Office has issued a Yellow Weather Warning for strong winds and heavy rain in the area during the hours of the event as more storms cross the UK this weekend.

We will automatically roll any online entries into next spring’s Sharpener event and contact those riders impacted later in the year once dates/venue have been secured.

Whilst it’s a disappointing decision to have to make, rider safety makes it an necessary one to take.

Thanks for your support – see you in the new year.

Colesy & Damien

Crank Up The Value

Next Saturday you could pay £40 to ride the Chiltern Classic and pick up a free Tshirt….OR you could pay £20 and ride the Howler on Sunday and pick up a water bottle.

So if you really want to pay us £40 (and we still have you size left) you can always pick up an Allez long sleeve jersey to layer up this Autumn.

You’ll still get to ride the Chilterns, South Oxfordshire and the Aylesbury Vale #CrankItUp

The Virgin of Sa Calobra – Memories of 2013

“If you like the ride to the Lighthouse, you should try Sa Calobra like your Bradley Weegins no?” smiled the assistant as she wheeled out my Planet X Pro Carbon.

Early morning rides on smooth Mallorcan roads before breakfast, surely it doesn’t get any better that this.  Pollenca northern Mallorca September 2013, winter training camp to many and as luck would have it our holiday destination – funny that.

Next morning, up early and off to ride the length of the Formentor peninsula to the Lighthouse.  No traffic other than fellow cyclists as the sun slowly rises, the ride is a challenge but stunning.

The first climb is compensated by an exhilarating descent which winds its way through pine woods to the bay.  Unusually the road then deteriorates from the usual Mallorcan quality to more of the Buckingham standard that I’m used to, but what a final 10k to the most northerly point of the island.  If you’re an everyday cyclist who doesn’t mind climbing, it’s doable and rude not to hire a bike and do it!

The next few days fall into a pattern.  Up early and out on the Planet X which I’m beginning to love even with its alien SRAM double tap levers.  Pick up breakfast at the bakery on the way back before recovering in the late morning sun.  Then off to the beach and back later for Tapas in the square – this is THE holiday!

Day three and it’s got to be time to give this Sa Calobra thing a crack.  Plenty of stories on the web to start making my palms sweat in the Mallorcan heat…

The ribbon of tarmac dropping down the side of Coll de Cals Reis into Sa Calobra was built in the 1930’s by an engineer who later became the president of Real Mallorca Football Club.  His strapline – “making the end of the world accessible”.  Hmmm

Next morning I’m up earlier than usual and thinking my lack of Assos cream might be a problem for this one.  Hell, moisten the chamois with a little Aussie hair conditioner that should do the trick let’s hope.

Sa Calobra is some 30k from our base in Pollenca and there is a long climb ahead towards Puig Major before the Pro Carbon and I get to drop to the world’s end, so we’d better get cracking.  The published wisdom is to get to the bottom before 9am and make your way back up before the road opens for tourist coaches an hour later.

And a nice steady warm up it was.  Roads beautifully quiet bereft of traffic and the sun – which would be the second enemy if I arrived late.  The climb from the bay at Sa Calobra up Coll de Cals is described as ‘exposed’ after the first couple of pleasantly pine clad kilometres.

Eventually we arrive at the sign for Sa Calobra, one more short climb and we should be staring into the abyss if my mapping’s right.

And there it was, we had arrived.  Not sure how to describe what I was thinking other than perhaps mild terror given that I don’t do heights that well.  There are plenty of photographs online, and my hurried effort does not do it justice.  But let’s just say the retaining walls are low and the drops buttock clenching.  Thank god for that hair conditioner.

My descent is therefore best described as nervous.  Some of the 40 + changes of direction drop sharply and then there’s the 270 degree swirl half a kilometre from the summit nicknamed the ‘Tie Knot’.  That football manager was some engineer, no wonder it took them 6 years to build the road.

Eventually we drop through the pine trees to the small bay dominated by the obligatory tourist restaurant and coach park.

There are two guys at the bottom who have been availing themselves of the toilets in anticipation of their 10k of uphill fun.  Their expressions focussed as they turn on their mobile phone apps, say a brief ‘Ola’ and depart.

Funny that.  Never had myself down as looking Spanish and judging from their club kit these guys were from Preston.  Tan must be coming on a bit and I am quite short I guess…

Anyhow, quite enough procrastination.  Caffeine gel quickly ingested and time to get moving.

Riche Port’s 23 minutes 59 second record set at the 2012 Sky training camp is quite safe today.  My challenge is more one of completing the climb before the coaches and hire cars start flying around those hairpins and it’s nine already.

The first two kilometres are fresh in my mind as we climb out through the pine trees.  I’m feeling good, but conscious that I need to keep focussed as I’m on my own and the Pro Carbon doesn’t say much.

Five kilometres in and it’s getting tough.  Out of the saddle on the bends, and back in the seat on the straights.  The sun is warming up with me and the side of a cliff is facing it.  I was well hydrated earlier but I’m losing moisture fast.

Eight Kilometres and a ramp hits 13%.  I’m feeling it now.  Back aches, and my Aussie hair conditioner is let’s just say, not up to the mark.  Must be nearly there but looking ahead the road just seems to climb and climb.

And then it comes into sight, the Tie Knot.  I AM nearly there with just half a kilometre to go.

I round the loop to the last straight and am met by a middle aged German woman walking down to the viewing platform in the Knot.  ‘Morgan’ she mouths, with one of those looks which mixes compassion with pity.  I’ve morphed from Spanish to German in just ten Kilometres.

Finally the summit.  Is there anyone taking photos, selling certificates or t-shirts?  It wouldn’t be like the Mallorcans to miss such a trick.

No.  There was only what I presume was the German lady’s better half relieving himself against the back wheel of their hire car.  And a good ‘Morgan’ to you too sir!

My time?  Ah yes my time….just shy of the hour at 58 minutes.  No challenge for Ritchie Port, but one great challenge for me.

Howler 2017 Routes

The 2017 Howler is coming for you on the 24th September and if you’re watching the Tour of Britain this Saturday you’ll have a flavour of what to expect…

The Short Route takes in some ‘lumps’ between Cubblington and Upper Winchendon, whilst the Long Route takes in the Cat 3 KOM after 69 miles – ouch!

Take a closer look below:

Short Route

Long Route

Come join us – you’ll get a free Howler water bottle, free coffee/tea on arrival (ok without bone china..) plus free BBQ protein when you get back!

What’s not to like

 

Numbers – What Numbers?

Continuing on our ‘keeping it green’ theme we were talking about rider numbers whilst out riding this weekend.

Personally I hate ‘cable tying’ them to my nicely cleaned bike. So we got to thinking what we really need them for.

Emergency number? Well no…we have one of the best timing solutions available with adhesive helmet chips on which we can print the contact number.

Event photos? Well no….we’re not interested in charging you for photos. As always we take photos and post them on our website. They might  not be professional and you might not always find one, but if you do just download it for free. There have been some pretty decent free snaps over the years.

Food stations ? Well no…..whilst we don’t want to dish out free malt-loaf to every cyclist in Buckinghamshire we trust people….and heck if they come and ride our next event they’re welcome. As is any cyclist looking for water.

So there it is. Hundreds of plastic cable ties (as ephemeral as a mayfly) plus unnecessary toner ink and laminating plastic saved.

Your number and our emergency number will be printed into the timing chip this year. Just bring your helmet with you when signing in and you and we’ll stick it straight on!

Now we’re really going green. Numbers – who needs em?

Keeping it Green and Clear

So, we’re busy planning for our 2017 events and clear signage is always at the top of the list.

Thanks to our friends at Lightfoots Solicitors our corex signs are super durable and reusable. We’ve been using them for 3 years now and this year we’re adding colour coding for each route split to give an added level of clarity. 

In the interests of keeping the non-cycling fraternity happy we’re always quick to remove our signage after each event – in most cases on the same day.

So if you ever see a sign which we’ve missed still out there please drop us an email and we’ll come and take it down asap.

Clear signage, cleared away – quickly.

Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Source

Lutine Assurance – Ride4Life for Cancer Research UK

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We’re pleased to be working with Lutine Assurance, and their parent Ryan Direct Group raising funds for Cancer Research UK.

Providing Life Assurance cover to business and private customers for over 25 years, Lutine are very aware of the considerable gains made in cancer recovery rates and the vitally important role which charitable organisations like Cancer Research UK play in research, education and prevention.

This year we have planned a fundraising challenge which links their servicing center in Doncaster with Lloyd’s of London who provide the security behind their policies.

The event takes place on the 1st July 2016, when a team of three will be looking to ride the 180 miles in a day finishing at the Lamb Tavern in Leadenhall Market for a Friday afternoon drink.

For more information visit, their fundraising pages at www.lutineride4life.co.uk and donate towards beating cancer sooner.

Five mums form cycling team to take on mountain stage of Le Tour de France for autism charity

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The Puzzle5Etape is a women’s cycling team made up of five Buckinghamshire mothers, whose ambition is to complete L’Etape du Tour, road cycling’s toughest sportive, to promote autism awareness and fundraise for ground-breaking early years autism charity ThePuzzle Centre. Each of the riders either has a child on the autism spectrum or works at the charity’s early intervention centre.

Just days before the peloton passes by, these five amateur female cyclists – none of whom had ever ridden a road bike until a few months ago – will tackle a tough mountain stage of Le Tour de France covering 142km, climbing around 60km over four mountains at an average gradient of 6.5%. 

With the support of the cycling industry and autism community, the rookie team has received donations of bikes, kit, nutrition and training support and has learnt the skills of road biking in readiness for this gruelling endurance event.

‘When I first visited Puzzle Centre, all I could think was that I wish a place like this had existed when our son was young so that the whole family could have accessed their support and knowledge during those difficult early years and diagnosis process. Ordinary families deserve access to ground-breaking services like Puzzle – that’s why we decided to form Puzzle5 and take on the L’Etape challenge. By the time we complete the race on 19 July 2015, we hope to have made more people aware of the needs of very young children with autism and raised funds to help extend the vital services provided by Puzzle Centre.’

Rachael Barnard, Puzzle5 Rider

Puzzle Centre is a place of hope and joy for these very young children and their families. If you are interested in learning more about the Puzzle5Etape and the work at Puzzle Centre, please contact rider Rachael Barnard on 07792 635192

Help them realise their ambition and make autism more widely understood and the Puzzle Centre’s service more easily accessible by following them on Facebook and on twitter @Puzzle5Etape or visit their website

Getting Clarity

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The last thing anyone wants to happen on any event is to take a wrong turn and take an unplanned diversion.

We’ve always used A4 size signage, published GPX mapping and loaded to the latest smart phone application (for 2015 RidewithGPS) but there is always potential to improve.

Last year we introduced blue temporary road paint to the more remote areas which simply washed away after the event, and this year we’ll be able to give further ‘clarity’ thanks to new corex signage courtesy of local solicitors and estate agents Lightfoots.

Commercial partner, triathlete and cross channel swimmer Joe Middleton is no stranger to negotiating courses when he’s not negotiating for clients. “It’s tough maintaining concentration when you’re pushing hard and fatigue begins to sets in” said Joe. “Lightfoots have a longstanding history in the local community so we’re happy to be supporting the guys at Allezsportives and the cyclists riding their events”.

One things for sure – This year the route ahead will have greater clarity thanks to the generosity of Joe and the team at Lightfoots. If you haven’t used their services in person, you may just meet him on one of our rides antidepressant bupropion. He’ll be one of the riders on the front!

Read Joe’s inspirational blog detailing his channel swim to promote awareness for male cancer here: