It may have been said every year so far, but 2018 really has been an exceptional year. The club has grown from strength to strength, with truly brilliant people and partners joining the existing (and also brilliant) partners and members to create a supportive, welcoming and genuine community. Without trying to sound like a broken record (just read the previous 2 years reports for the same gushy intro) but the people are what make this club the lovely thing that it is. That's you. Well done you!
So sit back, stick your feet up and remind yourself of all the awesome things the club did in the first half of 2018. Feels like ages ago now, but it's well worth saying that this round up doesn't even come close to covering all the amazing achievements from Jan to June 2018. There just isn't space. If we've missed your highlights, please comment below (or troll us on Twitter ;)
Some festive periods are longer (and better) than others. For Team DW this one was particularly long and particularly good. Cycling to Bruges and back over Christmas was delightful, before heading straight up to the 'Cold Dark North' (that's the Lake District, for the uninitiated). Hiking snowy Scafell Pike and cycling up and down all the hardest hills in the area was just the ticket before returning to London to get stuck into the year. Thanks for the awesome route Toby.
However returning to London after Christmas is a doddle if you've got an awesome squad to come back to. There were group rides to be ridden, and January wasn't going to be standing still. Many of our Jan rides in 2018 came in the form of our 'Revolution Resolution Series'; four rides every Sunday through January. Whilst it was far from tropical it was amazing to see so many members, new and old, coming out for a ride. Sticking to those resolutions, the group atmosphere carried us through and it was totally worth it. Except that Windsor ride. Nothing was worth that!
As well as rides every weekend and our usual mid week fun, we also ran some trail running events with Matt from PACE LDN, with groups running through Richmond Park and out to Box Hill. Still Dirty, just a different kind of Dirty. We also started our Wednesday morning swim sessions with Threo in January to give all the triathletes and swimmers in the club a reason to get out of bed!
January ended in the now customary fashion of cycling to Brighton. Why cycle to Brighton in January, you may ask. Because we can, that's why. And despite the 4+ hours of rain and wind, rolling down the hill to Brighton Pier as the clouds eventually parted and the sun broke through, it was all worth it. Charlie, Chloe, Chris and the rest of the gang had the "best time ever". The open plan burger joint right next to the beach might not have been ideal in hindsight. Bit drafty. Great end to a strong month.
The weather in January had been positively balmy compared to what came in February. "The Beast From The East" (remember him) did his best to put a stop to all fun but we managed to get around him. Indoors can also be fun sometimes, and through good use of our partners Digme Fitness (indoor cycling) and Cycle Republic (maintenance courses) we were still able to play at bikes whilst the beast raged.
Another "fun" thing that happened in Feb was that members of the club agreed to help Young Jake with his dissertation. What a nice thing to do, you might think, helping the kid out. When you find out this meant doing 4x FTP tests in varying temperatures, you might think again. However, despite it being a tough test (which was worse, 8 degrees of 35 degrees??) Jake was true to his word and supplied everyone with loads of data. Did anyone think to ask what result Jake got for this torture experiment? Better have got a flipping first!
Whilst the Beast did blow, there was no chance he was halting our outdoor fun, and our awesome group put their big boy or girl (extra thermal) pants on and got out there and got it done. A particular 'highlight' was the Viva Velo 'Flanders Training' ride. Steep Kent climbs, muddy roads and low temperatures - everything you could want from a decent winter ride. The word 'Flandrien' got banned through overuse. Despite the tough conditions, it was testament to everyone's hardiness that they finished the ride. And no one got hyperthermia (not even Leah and Dyll). Chalk that up as a win.
February also saw the long awaited launch of Dirty Wknd Pro Cycling. The boys had been training hard all winter at the Velopark, and finally broke onto the race scene at the ELV Winter Series at Hog Hill (a very big race!) Turning up fairly mob handed, just 2 riders short of a grand tour team, they dominated the race and came away with a win. If dominate means 'ride round and round in circles in the rain until the group is so thin someone has to attack on the last lap', then dominate is what they did. Still - a win is a win, and on their first race out that was pretty good going. Celebrations were had, and plans were made. More racing was to come.
It was also in Feb that we partnered with Jam Cycling, the power specialists and foremost importers of 'cycling goodies'. If it makes your bike faster and more shiny, these guys probably stock it. It was great for the club to partner with some experts (Jam import the Verve Infocrank) and could tell the members about training to power and other such lofty ambitions. Plus, they gave us some sweet deals on all the goodies on their website! It was the start of a beautiful friendship and a sign of many more things to come.
The Hell of the Ashdown is a brilliant early season sportive taking on some of the best roads and hills in Kent. A couple of people took part last year, so it was great to see so many club members enter this year. Again we were really lucky with the weather, which made the tough but stunning course a bit easier. Groups formed and Oli got dropped. We all regrouped and Oli got a puncture. We made it to end and regrouped in the pub for a well deserved beer and burger. We've got 12 signed up for 2019's event already - come and join the fun.
Mid winter might not be the obvious time to start a monthly Team Time Trial challenge, but convention isn't our style and, when 20 odd riders turned up for the first one, it was confirmed as the best idea ever. The idea is simple - mixed ability teams of 4 riding 5 laps of Regent's Park before work, trying to set the fastest time on a strava segment. Maybe not simple, actually, but great fun. The fun bit is no one team member can be dropped, so team work is the key. It was the start of some lovely mornings working together, before actually going to work.
The coming of spring saw the end of the Beast from the East and a drastic improvement in the weather. We marked this joyous turn with a night of laps and pizza with our Jam friends, testing out the incredible Metier kit. Members got to test out gilets and jackets and we were having so much fun we forgot the park gates actually close and had to go into full sprint practise to get out in time. We regrouped at The Dynamo for all the pizza and bike chat and had a lovely evening.
For the past couple of years we've celebrated the coming of spring by riding out into Kent and attempting all the hills in the area. It's a big challenge and a great ride; taking on 15 hills, many at up to 20%. We call it 'The Complete Kent' because, you know, we're really funny.
The fact that we do it in March means the weather is a bit of a gamble. 2018's ride came just after a fairly large rain storm, so many of Kent's lovely lanes were underwater. Our group of 12 set off from Four Boroughs in search of 25% hills and we weren't disappointed. Everyone was awesome that day, despite getting 12 punctures (yep, 12), we smiled and laughed and helped each other and handed out inner tubes. Well, considering about 11 of the flats belonged to Lomax and his very pretty Vittoria Corsa's, we mostly watched him fix tubes. The chat about 'winter tyres' back at the cafe was real.
The first Jam Cycling + Metier night ride had been such a success we decided to do it again, but this time we turned it up to eleven. Metier Ambassador and former British champion Kristian House joined club pals Chris Hall and Francis Cade for a ride, talk and pizza fest. Kristian was incredibly lovely to all the members, answering questions and dolling out advice to everyone. Thanks to Jam Cycling for setting up this awesome evening.
The March Hare Classic is a Crit Race at Lee Valley that draws huge crowds, so it was the perfect place to introduce our new women's race team. Well, race team might be a bit strong, but it was the first time some female members raced, and we're really proud of that. Judit, Helena and Amy all did amazingly well in a tough women's field and it was the start of a great summer of racing for our little team. A couple of the boys raced too, with spectacularly average results!
The Tour Of Flanders is one of the most famous one day races in the world, and our trip to watch and ride the event was as you could expect, brilliant. Jules and David B rode over and met Rob And David L in Ghent for a weekend of cobbles, beer and steep ramps. Cycling is a religion in this part of the world so it was incredible to spend a weekend soaking in the atmosphere. Recceing the 'bergs with none other than ex Team Wiggins pro Dan Patten on Friday, we then rode the Flanders sportive on Saturday and watched the pros take on the same course on Sunday. We also drank lots of beer, ate lots of Frites and hung out with a load of drunk Flandriens! As weekends go...
April started on a sad note, as 'club hero' Wilker left us to pursue a new life of riding and living in his native Angola. You'd think having put up with the winter series and riding through Feb he'd have stuck around for the sunny bits but no, apparently Angola was too tempting. Thanks to everyone who attended all 17 of his leaving parties, wished him well and sent him on his way! Hopefully he'll be back to pay us all a visit pretty soon (right Wilker??)
As with previous years April means packing up bags and bike boxes and jetting off to sunny Mallorca for our spring training camp. This April saw groups heading out to join the Viva Velo crew in experiencing the best parts of the beautiful Island. As well as taking on the butter smooth roads, all of our riders 'slayed the snake' and took on the fearsome Sa Calobra. Perfectly looked after by the Viva Velo crew - mostly Mallorca first timers, the guys took on all the climbs and descents like total pros, gaining a huge confidence boost along the way. Another great Mallorca training camp.
This went a bit under the radar, but in April 2018 we started working with the charity British Heart Foundation to help their riders take on the London to Brighton Bike Ride. We organised two rides for about 180 fairly new cyclists, all gearing up for the big event. With some on mountain bikes, single speeds and even a Brompton or two, it was a huge mix of people and made for really eclectic rides. The willingness to learn and hunger for the challenge (and no small amount of apprehension) was beautiful to behold. Hopefully the training rides helped everyone to complete and enjoy the big day. Official announcement to come, but we're looking forward to working with BHF a lot more in 2019.
Kit is pretty important when it comes to bike riding; comfort, performance and, most importantly, looking cool is pretty much the reason most riders get out of the door. So partnering with our friends Attacus, giving members 10% off their sweet kit, was a great moment in April. There will be loads more to come in 2019 with these guys as they promote their 'no rules, just ride' mantra and encourage more and more people to get out on the road. Looking cool, obvs.
Audaxing is something that a lot of people have heard of, but never done. The traditional imagine of an Audax is a load of old people standing around a tea urn, but luckily that's changing with more and more long distance events popping up. So we thought we'd have a go at our own. We could think of no better route than that of our London to Brighton and back epic, so with the help of our Friends Wahoo, that's what we did. With members being able to borrow a Wahoo ELEMNT to navigate themselves for the day, they set off in groups from Putney on the 180km route.
Needing to post a picture on Instagram at 4 different checkpoints along the way to prove progress (the 21st century brevet card) the first riders raced back to the Dynamo just before 6pm, with everyone else following behind. Whatever speed they rode at, covering 180km and over 2000 metres of climbing is pretty special. Huge efforts from everyone, and thanks to Wahoo & N+1 cycling for helping. Special mention to Sophie Radcliffe and her L2P24 crew for joining us in training for their big event.
The end of March saw another epic ride take place; the famous Mallorca 312! Over 300 kilometres of glorious Mallorcan roads and hills is no mean feat. Our very own pocket rocket Jules went out to join the All Things Ride team taking on this huge ride, and the pictures looked immense. Brilliant sunshine, 15,000 riders and one biiig Strava entry! All Things Ride are taking on the 312 again in 2019, and you can join them.
Love was very much in the air at the start of May, as the first bank holiday brought with it the nuptials of Oli and Ella, two wonderful members. It would be nice to say that they met during a ride, but that would be a lie. Still, all those hours riding together definitely helped them to realise they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, so we're taking at least 50% of the credit. David and Lomax agreed to cycle the 450km to Cornwall 'just for a laugh'. Lomax decided against it, David did it anyway. A beautiful route that gets lumpier as you go - anyone planning to ride to Cornwall definitely should.
The Tour de Yorkshire was the other big event happening on the May Bank Holiday, with a group of members heading up to the hills of God's Own County to be shown around by Yorkshire Velo Tours. The biggest and best TDY yet, over 4 days for the men and 2 for the women. Not only that but the 1st stage concluded with a summit finish in our 'hometown' of Ilkley. What followed was 3 days of beautiful riding and watching some of the best pros in the world. Bring on the 2019 TDY trip - with the World Champs in the area in September we're expecting a stacked field!
Last April Emma, David & Patrick were very pleased to be asked to help with Sophie Radcliffe's London 2 Paris 24 hour Sportive. This year we weren't as involved, but a handful of members still took part in what was another excellent event. Vic and Ted (signing up at the very last minute) took on the epic 300km ride, lifting their bikes over their heads under the Eiffel Tower in style! Great work gang - here's to next year's event.
Another epic 300km event that took place in May was the London Revolution. If you got asked to cycle the length of the M25, you'd probably turn it down right? But when you realise it's not actually on the motorway, but rather on a lovely route with a night's camping near windsor, it sounds a bit more appealing. A gang of our members took on the ride - Jess, Rosie, Lucy, Lily Mae, Candice et al. Given the conditions, it turned into a tough day at the office, with wind and rain lashing on both days. Huge kudos team - that must campsite must have been a fun place to be!
As pat of our fairly recent partnership with the All Things Ride team, David and some other members would be heading out to The Alps in July for L'Etape du Tour. With 170km and 4000 metres of climbing ahead, Jen quite rightly thought it would be a good idea to train a little bit, and led some long and hilly rides out of London. Combined with the ATR training rides, these hard sunny days in the saddle helped to get everyone ready to smash L'Etape. Thanks Jen - find out how the gang got on in part 2.
Around this time we also caught wind of a cool new coffee shop that had opened up in Crystal Palace. Run by two Brixton Cycles members we quickly partnered up with Four Boroughs (10% off for members) and we've been running all of our south east rides to and from there ever since. Amazing coffee, great food and a genuine love of cyclists and cycling make it a great clubhouse. If you've not been there you need to check it out.
What can we ay about the Almeria Granfonodo? Joining Velohols at their beautiful beachside villa just outside Mojocar, we spent a week riding empty climbs with beautiful scenery - seriously, where was everyone?! Our group of David, Jess, Rosie, Nic, Rob and Nina were joined by Ben from Velohols and Dan from Sigma Sport. As well as 6 days riding this deserted cycling paradise, we took on the 210km Granfondo Almeria - a full day out in the Spanish hills. it was a brutal and beautiful ride, which Dan actually went and won. Everyone else aced the big ride, and the post event Paella party was great fun too (above). Dancing to Euro pop with Belgians and doing shots is always fun! Here's to next year's return so Dan can defend his crown. Read Rosie's 'My First Cycling Holiday' report and some and join the fun in 2019.
As with pervious years the beginning of June brings with it the start of our Ride London Series. Great fun and great training, it was awesome to welcome a new batch of Ride London trainees (as well as plenty of old hands too). Our series consists of 12 rides, increasing in length each weekend leading up to 'nearly' riding the whole course two weeks before the event. It's the best Ride London training you can do, and watching the improvements the riders make each week is really rewarding. So thanks to everyone who comes along and gives it their all - you're all wonderful. Ride London Training 2019 start in June - get it in your diary.
Fixed gear bike racing is another level of skill, technique and bravery, one that we usually experience watching pros bomb it round with no brakes at things like Red Hook Crit. So it was very cool to watch our own Young Jake taking part in Thundercrit in June. Held at Lee Valley, this event draws some of the best fixie racers from all over Europe (the world even?) and sets them to battle in heats and then a final. We were not at all surprised when Jake came 10th in his heat and qualified for the main final with the big boys. With Rocket Specialized dominating the race it was incredibly fast, but Jake hung in for well over half the race and did himself proud (not many people actually finish these things). Well done Jake.
On the back of Thundercrit came another prestigious race that we managed to squeeze one rider into. London Nocturne is a crit race through the streets of Bank and St Paul's. The main event boasts professional teams from JLT Condor and Team Wiggins, but the real action was in the 2nd/3rd/4th cat race at 5pm! David had managed to beg an entry and turned up well underprepared and out of his depth. Getting dropped off the line, and being lapped on the final lap was a tough introduction to the world of prestigious bike racing, but lessons were learned. The pro race at 9pm was a real spectacle and a reminder that we're lucky to have these types of races on the streets of London. Thanks to all those who came to watch the racing (and drink) with us. Read the race report here and watch the video below.
With many of our Ride London training rides ticked off, the end of June awards us the longest day of the year and what better way to celebrate than by cramming in as much bike riding as possible. Our Summer Solstice Box Hill ride, the brain child of Helena, has been running for a couple of years now, and this addition was another huge success. In association with Attacus, 50 odd riders rode up to Box Hill to watch the sun go down and via the pub on the way home. However that's just half the story - massive shout out to the group who got up for sunrise laps of Richmond too. Serious commitment to the solstice!
The cherry on the top of June (and the end of part one of our yearly review) was Brad 'Sir Brad' Wiggins joining us for a ride our to G!RO one sunny Saturday. Ok, he may not have joined for the whole ride... or possibly anyone of it, but he definitely joined us for coffee and, although we promised we wouldn't say anything, he actually asked us for a photo. Apparently he'd heard about all the amazing things the members were doing and wanted a snap for his album. Nice of him.
So that's it for part one. Check back in a few days for part 2 and find out how we got on at L'Etape, who sang their way through all of Red Bull Time Laps and who won the prestigious rider of the year award!
All will be revealed in part two...