Posted by: lafugatravel | May 17, 2013

The Giro. Predictably Unpredictable.

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It’s been an interesting first week in the Giro, as ever. We at La Fuga have been keeping a very close eye on the first of the season’s grand tours. Not least Because Sir Bradley Wiggins has staked a claim on being the first Brit to bring the Maglia Rosa home, but also because the Giro has remained as unpredictable as ever.

Cav won stage 1. No big surprise there you might say, but it was without his Omega Pharma Quick Step train as the Manx Missile tacked on to Orica Green Edge. Sky win the TTT putting the little known, and totally surprised, Italian Puccio in the Pink Jersey. Garmin, TTT specialists finish 7th behind….well let’s not mention that. Last years winner Ryder Hesjedal  went a bit mad on day three and started attacking up any incline he could find. Nothing wrong in that. But on day three?

Another big surprise was the individual time trial. Practically everyone thought Brad would smash it and put 3 maybe even 5 minutes into his closest rivals. But no. As Brad tipped toed his way around the course, and changed bikes, it was his compatriot and ex Sky team mate Alex Dowsett who took the honours on the day. And so we come to Brad “I descended like a girl” Wiggins. Ignoring that sexist comment (we know a brace of girls who can descend with the best of the peloton) you don’t win the Tour de France or Olympic gold medals by lacking in mental fortitude. So what happened to Brad and where did this fear of descending in the wet come from? And what about Cadel Evans? The quiet Aussie looks in fantastic form once again even if his BMC team aren’t quite as strong as he is.

Questions, Questions, Questions. But that’s the Giro. Always posing the fan, and the rider, questions.

At the time we write Hesjedal has pretty much lost his defence. The pink jersey has changed hands four times now and sits on Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali’s shoulders. We wouldn’t say comfortably either. Sky’s Rigaberto Uran has just been let off the leash and attacked on the first day in the high mountains to take a well earned stage. Brad’s Suffered. Cadel has monstered his way up and Nibali has held the jersey for another day. But with the best part two weeks still to go what will Astana do? Protect Niabli’s slender lead or hand it over confident they will be able to claim it back? And what can Sky do to limit the loss? Can Brad attack? Will the dynamic Columbian duo of Uran and Heno inherit the mantle of Team Sky leadership? We love the unpredictability of the Giro. Its bike racing at it’s most lean. It is in a sense a purer race than Le Tour.

Think you know who’ll win? It’s almost impossible to predict but it’s sure going to be fun trying to!  Enter our competition to win a  full set of La Fuga gear – all you have to do is guess the winner of the Giro correctly and we will stick your name in a helmet, the name which is drawn will be sent the prize!

Send us a quick e-mail with ‘I know who’s going to win’ in the subject header by midday 24th May with the name of the rider you’ve got your money on.

Posted by: lafugatravel | March 20, 2013

One to Watch – Steele Von Hoff

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We just love the video of you HPV racing in the office (link below) – it makes us chuckle each time we watch it! I mean you must be the first person to jump from racing Human-Powered Vehicles (HPV’s) to racing for a WorldTour professional cycling team – how did it happen?  

Actually, I’m not! Rohan Dennis (Garmin Slipstream) and Jack Bobridge (Prior Garmin Slipstream and now with Blanco Pro Cycling) used to race them too, I’m sure there were many others who have ridden them before too! I know that Stuie Ogrady’s (on UCI ProTeam Orica-GreenEDGE) brother still races them!

My story actually started with me training for cycling for the first time ever to race trikes for school in grade 6. And it just got more competitive and followed me right through my development as a cyclist.

After a successful stagiaire opportunity at the end of last season with Garmin-Sharp, what are you most looking forward to about your first season at the sport’s top level?

I’m most looking forward to seeing how I can make my mark and progress in the world tour, at Tour Down Under I showed that I’m able to play a lot of different roles for the team and think I rode well. Overall, I would like to establish my self as one of Garmin sharps sprinters!

As you know, we have a new partnership with Cervelo and are offering our clients R5′s as rental bikes this season.  As an up-and-coming WorldTour sprinter, what are the qualities that you appreciate most about your Cervélo R5 team bike?

It’s really cool about the cervelo’s because the R5′S are such nice bikes! They have such light and stiff frames, the R5 blows all the other bikes I have ever ridden out of the water! Incredibly responsive when you stamp on the pedals, and is also the bike of choice for climbing.

The Cervélo R-Series frames also have a great reputation as comfortable bikes. Is that something that you notice while racing?

It is fantastic, at this stage I’m on the roster for Paris roubaix, and the R5 will absorb all of those cobbles and let me get through with my joints still moving. But also my descending has picked up a level while riding the R5, it handles so well, it feels like your steering on tracks.

Finally, since Ian and Jared haven’t stopped talking about how close they think they were in the town-line sprint they raced with you last July, are you worried at all about a possible rematch now that they’ll have the advantage of Cervélo R5 bikes too? 

For sure I’m worried, the only way I had my slight advantage last year was because I was riding a Cervelo already! The playing field is now level, so anything could happen. This one could make the bookies broke as the chances of winning are now doubled by you guys with your new ultra light and stiff rigs!

And finally, thanks for answering our questions! 

No worries!  I always tell people about La Fuga, and how much of a fun trip I had with you guys!

Like Steele in the video on our facebook page and share it with your friends!

Posted by: lafugatravel | March 7, 2013

Andrew Steel Etape du Tour Competition…

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‘The Etape was an amazing experience. I will never forgot the crowds cheering at the top of each climb, the kids running alongside and giving you a high five, and the ladies in the villages you cycle though passing you fresh bread to keep you going. It was truly memorable. I can however say with absolute sincerity that a great event was made even better by La Fuga. The support you receive is second to none’. 

 Andrew Steel, 2012 Etape du Tour Competition Winner  

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I entered the Garmin-Sigmasport-La Fuga competition on a whim one lunch-time, and, to my surprise, won!  It was not that surprising, given the prize, that lots of friends were able to clear their diaries and be available for the weekend.  My friend, Barry Crichton, had just completed the Maratoma in the Dolomites and was happy to accompany me to France.

I will happily admit at first to feeling nervous; my preparation had been limited due to time restrictions, and although I had ridden many sportives in the UK, this was my first in Europe. La Fuga guide Phil met us at the airport in Toulouse and transferred us to our hotel.  On our way we learned that he had been a pro-rider for a number of years on a French team and gave us advice on nutrition, tactics and how to get through the stage.  He clearly knew what he was talking about and any nerves dissipated as I instantly felt like we were going to be well looked after.

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We arrived at the Hotel Continental at Pau, the best located hotel for the start of the race, and over a delicious dinner, got to know our other guide, Jared, and the other group members.  Our introductory meeting let us know exactly what was in store for us over the next few days, including our 40k warm-up ride the next day, and we were given welcome extras like La Fuga jerseys and bags.

That evening Jared and Phil unpacked and built our bikes, one bike needed some serious work to it’s internal cabling, and the other had a very dodgy sounding bottom bracket – neither of which posed a problem for the La Fuga staff.

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After a hearty breakfast, Jared led us out of Pau and into the stunning countryside. The weather was sunny, 25 degrees and absolutely perfect for riding. We ascended some climbs of 3-4k in length at an 8% gradient, which gave me a lot of confidence in view of the test to come. We climbed steadily and then flew down the descents. That afternoon we walked to the Expo in order to get signed in, receive our starting numbers and packs and then we had the rest of the day to take in the expo village. Over dinner we were briefed about the details of the next day, and I noticed that our guides re-checked our bikes in order to ensure that they were running as well as possible. In fact, my bike has never run better.

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After a restless night, due to nerves, we had an early breakfast before the start of the 2nd Etape of 2012, from Pau to Luchon. A mere 201 km with 4 major climbs including the Col du Tormalet. Jared led us down to the start, had some final words of advice and then we were away. The weather wasn’t on our side this time and at the top of the Tourmalet, we could hardly see each other! We certainly felt the chill on the high-speed long descent on wet roads. Despite this, every second of it was both thrilling and amazing; we were cycling over roads where previous tour winners launched devastating attacks. I could faintly make out the names of cyclists written on the road, and reading “Allez Wiggo” when descending the Tourmalet put a very big smile on my face.

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Unfortunately, my smile wasn’t enough to keep me feeling cold at the bottom of the Tourmalet. After battling against two mountains, and with two still to go, I was over the moon to see La Fuga’s first feeding station. We had been advised to pack two bags the previous night; one to keep us going at the half way mark, and the other for the when we passed the finishing line. I had fortunately had the foresight to pack a gillet and some leg warmers into my half way bag – heaven sent at this point! After taking on fresh water and a plethora of food, we were ready to set off again.

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The second half of the stage was, to be frank, a bit of a grind. My legs began to get sore and the  two final ascents, whilst not as long as the first two, were steep and unforgiving. Barry and I, kept each other motivated by cycling the whole way together. There was one memorable climb where we talked about anything  and everything other than cycling to take our minds off the gradient. Our strategy worked and before we knew it (after 9 hours and 57 minutes) we’d crossed the line. We covered 201 km and almost 5000 meters of vertical ascent over 60 km. Of the 5000 starters we finished inside the top 1750. It was emotional to say the least.

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Once again, the La Fuga support came into its own, while other riders were obviously in some discomfort trying to get warm, we had our guides waiting for us with chairs, blankets, dry clothes, baguettes and beers.  Amazing.  Two glasses of red wine at our celebratory dinner and I was ready for bed!

The next day Jared packed our bikes and dropped us at the airport. Our guides had given us support when we needed it, loads of useful hints and tips – they were key to us getting through this race. I definitely have picked up the bug to cycle more and more famous mountains and I would encourage anyone who is interested in cycling in Europe to give La Fuga a try.

On the back of this experience, I have got the bug to cycle more and more famous mountains and have already secured my place on the 2013 Etape du Tour.

Thanks to Garmin, Sigmasport and La Fuga for giving me the opportunity to ride this incredible race!

Andrew Steel

This year, our Etape du Tour has sold out, although entries are still available.  If your looking for something that packs as much punch consider our Granfondo Giordana Weekend.

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Posted by: lafugatravel | February 7, 2013

Share your #LoveToRide

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Appennini - 31st August -7th September 2013

‘The route, service, support, hotels, food, attention to detail, and general back-breaking hard work done by La Fuga and the guides were second to none and, more often than not, beyond the call of duty and expectation. The fact the group were always looking out for each other, offering a wheel to shelter behind and some words of encouragement, will live long in the memory’. 

Jeremy Persad (Appennini)

La Fuga is entering Spring with an irresistible offer that is sure to keep you going during the last legs of winter. We are sharing our love of riding by offering you, and a friend, an incredible discount of £1000 on our ‘Randonnée Originals’: The PyréneesAlps and Appennini

You and a friend can take advantage of this amazing offer if you book together between 07/02/2013 and 07/03/2013, and if booking on the same qualifying trip, each will receive £500 discount. More detailed terms and conditions to be found below.

All three Randonnée Originals pack a real riding punch, and in our previous experience groups who become Randonneurs together stay lifelong buddies. So we know that our trips are perfect experiences to share, after all, how great it is to have friends there to support you 20k into a hard climb!? Share our newsletter with a friendLike and share it on Facebook and join in the conversation by Tweeting it loud and clear and take advantage of this amazing Share your #lovetoride offer.

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Pyrénees - 14th – 21st September 2013

‘Extraordinary biking, perfect weather, outstanding support from the Fuga team. I was greatly impressed by the team spirit, the cohesiveness of strangers to accomplish a common goal, and as Fuga promotes, an ethos that characterizes the spirit of the Randonnnée and the Raid du Pyrénées’.

Ted Cronin (Pyrenees)

Our Original Randonnées are tests of your adventurous spirit, determination and physical endurance.  Our carefully designed routes will take you on an exploration like no other, traversing some of the most beautiful and historic roads and mountain passes in Europe.  The La Fuga Original Randonnées are both demanding and rewarding , giving you the opportunity to experience the highs and lows commonly seen in a professional stage race.  On a good day you’ll feel like Pantani and as if you’re floating over the tarmac but, on a bad day, it’ll be a struggle to get out of bed and tackle the road ahead.  However, it’s on these bad days where the La Fuga Ethos comes into it’s own: On a strong day be generous and offer the help that you’ll so gratefully accept on a low day.  The Randonnée is not a race, there will be no individual winner, but there is a unique sense of having achieved something colossal when you work together with your fellow Randonneurs to complete these epic events. Read more about our Randonnées.

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Alpine - 14th – 21st June 2013

‘It might not have been ‘Nam but it was an intense and emotional week, a complete luxury to have been wrapped up in a mini universe comprised only of preparing to ride, riding and reflecting on the day’s ride. I didn’t think about work once. It was a real privilege to be able to ride and spend some time with a group of great people and I hope we get the chance to ride together again. I don’t believe anyone else can provide five star suffering quite like La Fuga!’ 

Dominic O’Neil (Alpine)

Please read our Terms and Conditions:
Offer valid only between the 07/02/2013 until 07/03/2013.
Offer only valid if two people book on the same trip between above dates.
Offer valid for Alpine, Appennini and Pyrenees only.
After the deposit has been paid, each person will receive £500 off their final balance.
No refund will be offered for cancellation after deposit received.
Posted by: lafugatravel | January 11, 2013

The Five Monuments

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La Fuga is celebrating the new year and are now offering trips to all five of the revered cycling monuments, adding Milan-San Remo and Liege-Bastogne-Liege to our already successful trips to the Tour of FlandersParis-Roubaix and the Tour of Lombardy.  For those who are looking for that extra challenge, we have also teamed together the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, offering a pilgrimage to the Holyland of professional cycling during our Cobbled Classics Week.   

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Milan – San Remo – 15th – 18th March 2013
Tour of Flanders – 29th – 31st March 2013
Cobbled Classics Week – 29th March – 8th April 2013
Paris – Roubaix - 5th – 7th April 2013
Liege – Bastogne – Leige – 16th – 21st April 2013
Tour of Lombardy – 4th – 7th October 2013

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All La Fuga trips offer our guests the chance to ride the same routes as the professionals, watching the professional race from the best vantage points, staying in luxury accommodation and ride support from experienced La Fuga staff – but don’t just take our word for it, take a look at the testimonial of a La Fuga guest below.

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The love and respect La Fuga has for these ancient one-day races means we have dedicated our latest newsletter to giving each Monument the individual attention it deserves.  To read more about these prestigious races and to keep up to speed with La Fuga you can subscribe to the newsletter here.

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‘It’s the riding, the struggle, the pain and the pleasure, the friends and the memories of the ups and downs of the mountains that you take with you everyday.  That’s what makes riding bikes such a special past-time for me and I hope to ride with La Fuga more in the years to come’
 
Murray Hardie

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The five monuments should be on every riders bucket list – where will you start?

Posted by: lafugatravel | May 29, 2012

Epic Ride Challenge Competition Stories

After going through a long list of rides by our La Fuga Strava Club members, we chose a select few epic rides and invited the riders to write us a short story about the experience. Now we’re bringing you their stories to read, review and decide which was THE most epic ride. The winner will receive a La Fuga casquette in recognition of their momentous effort as well as plenty of Strava ‘Kudos’.

Her Name: Gretchen Miller, London, UK (Originally Kiwi) – http://app.strava.com/athletes/124664

Her ride: http://app.strava.com/rides/8449792

Her Story
It was 4 degrees and I was standing at the bottom of Swains Lane in the middle of the April when I was offered the chance of a long weekend in the south of France. A quick calculation showed Mount Ventoux was only 27 times Swains in terms of elevation, so there was an huge economy of scale there. How hard could it be?

A few weeks later I knew exactly how hard. We set off to Bedoin via the ‘scenic’ route which involved a completely unnecessary ‘lump’ that woke everyone up and raised the heart rate straight to ‘tempo’ within minutes. After a short stop in Bedoin to refuel and we were off, making the most of the gentle gradient and stunning vista from the base of the mountain. Ten minutes later the smile was wiped off my face when we turned left into the forest and began on the climb proper. Nine km of relentless slogging, on a road that seemed to go straight up. I put my head down and tried to keep my heart rate below my ‘are you kidding me?’ level. A local father photographing his son on a mountain bike from the side of the road expressed some concern when I approached him ‘ Pas si vite, pas si vite!!’ I will never be sure whether it was the dripping sweat, the laboured breathing, or the chewing of my handlebars which made him think I might not make it, but I politely thanked him for his concern and continued on my way.

There was finally a break at Chalet Reynard, the relief of the wide sweeping corner tempered only by the fact that I was now out in a strong swirling head wind. Again, giving up all hope of style points I got down on my drops and continued to dig in, making the most of the alternating head/tail wind as I zigzagged to the summit. Passing the Tommy Simpson memorial was a brief distraction, although by this stage the roadside barriers were making so much of a creaking noise in the wind I was more worried they would be blown over. The sign for 1km to go was a huge relief to see, as was the random crowd cheering everyone as we rolled in. Nothing like standing on the rooftop of the world (or at least Provence) with just your bike.

Only two of us set off down towards Malaucene while the rest of the group bizarrely chose the ‘lounge beside the hotel pool’ option. Its difficult to enjoy a 12% descent when you know an hour later you will be coming straight back up. A quick espresso at the bottom and we turned around, wind starting off at our backs, and enjoying the far more civilised 7-8% initial gradient. Obviously that wasn’t to last and the ’12% next km’ sign coincided with a return of the headwind. Back down on my drops and all I could see was distance counter on my Garmin, as it ticked off every 100m. And at 8km/hr it doesn’t tick very often. My mate John was suffering as well and offering all sorts in exchange for my 28 ring on the back. Eventually with much relief we made it back to the top, at which point the hotel pool was calling. Needless to say the descent was relatively quick!

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His Name: Kenneth Trueman, Quebec, Canada http://app.strava.com/athletes/8259

His Ride: http://app.strava.com/rides/8399429

His Story
I and 3 of my buddies in the Macadam Cycling Club (www.clubmacadam.com) on the South Shore of Montreal are signed up for the 2nd edition of GranFondo New York to be held on May 20th.

While I had previously ridden a 160km and a 180km outing in the previous weeks to prepare for the event, none of my colleagues had. So 2 of them, plus 2 other clubmates, decided to tack on some extra miles to the club ride this past Saturday (May 12).

Instead of 110km, we would ride 170km, which we did all the way out to the St-Lawrence Seaway on a sunny day with little wind at all. With 30km remaining, I had pretty much worn through all of my chamois creme and was starting to get a seriously irritated backside. Nonetheless, I tacked on another 30km solo following the group ride in order to break through the 200km marker, ending at 208 and change. Upon removing my bibshorts, I saw a solid line of rash that followed the round back of my saddle. I swiftly and generously poured Johnson’s Baby Powder to take away the pain and dry it out. 48 hours and many applications of my wife’s hand creme later, there is still a very noticeable rash/tattoo/halo on my hind quarters.

My training for this epic ride was running the Toronto Marathon just 6 days before on May 6th with a bad ankle (in 3 hours 23 minutes; 8 minutes off of Boston Marathon qualification for my age group). I then followed with a 114km outing in the cold rain on May 10th and another 102km on May 11th. (A total of 424km in 3 days!) I rode those two days because it was still actually easier than walking; I still have not regained all of my usual form from the marathon, particularly for hills, so please think of my Strava suffer score (203) for that epic ride as just getting warmed up. :-)

His Name: Jitesh Sodha, London, UK  http://app.strava.com/athletes/115913

His Ride: http://app.strava.com/rides/8455852

His Story
The Context

A novice rider training for the Etape du Tour under the expert guidance of La Fuga coach Huw Williams (‘I coach every ability – from you up to national champions’–which puts my ability in context – at the low end). Travelling to the Etape with La Fuga.

The History

One previous Century (with a shocking tale of bonking and near hypothermia) and one Etape du Tour (2011) just dodging the Broom wagon with a 1 hr 45 min slog up Alpe d’Huez in 37C heat.

The Route

Surrey Audax route with ride to and from start. Combined approx. 175km and 2700m of climbing. Last attempted 12 months ago in pouring rain that resulted in one significant fall, 2 punctures, giving up and taking the train back from Dorking and having to peel bib shorts off from the congealed blood.

The Riders

Jitesh – The Novice. Attempting the ride with trepidation and author of this piece
Julian – ‘Lance’ The Veteran. Been there, seen it and ridden it. Cancer survivor like Lance, truly nice guy but prone to accidents
Alex – The Super Novice. Started riding with Jitesh. The only difference – he is a good rider.

The Ride

The Veteran and The Novice set off from Clapham on a fresh early morning. ‘First dry day in weeks’, said I ‘Hope my eyelashes don’t freeze like they did on our last ride together’ replied The Veteran (this is true)

The aim was to reach Shere at a very easy pace in 2 hrs and meet up with Super Novice Alex. I kept pulling the Veteran back as he tried to race ahead. The voice of my coach was shouting in my head ‘Pace yourself. Hold back. Hold back. Hold back. It will pay back later’. Other than a short controlled burst up Olympic Route climb Staple Lane, there was little drama in the first section.

The Veteran threw up in the public toilets at Shere (he blames it on the chemo) where right on cue Super Novice Alex turned up with stories of wrong turnings and a monster climb just to get to the starting point. A short break to eat an energy bar and we headed off on the 32 km ‘Shere loop’. Every time there was a choice of two roads between a ‘Lane’ and a ‘Hill’ the GPS navigation pointed to the ‘Hill’. Minor drama after about 20km on a fast descent down a narrow single track lane as we turned a corner to see the typical pot holed tarmac surface replaced with gravel. Gingerly riding along this section we came across a couple of horse riders who had to dismount because their horses did not like the surface. A quick check of the tyres and we were off again. At this point The Veteran was gasping for a detour coffee break into Cranleigh. I dismissed the suggestion with complete disdain, offending The Veteran, then feeling guilty, promised him a sausage roll on the top of Box Hill.

Best part of this section was as we approached ‘Winterfold’. The Veteran saw the 21% Gradient sign and nearly threw up again. Super Novice Alex saw the sign and the opportunity to notch another PB Strava segment and rode off into the distance. I played it safe and pushed through each false summit.

Back through Shere and up Combe Bottom, if you pardon the phrase, and onto the ‘Dorking Loop’. A quick check for text messages to see if anyone was missing us (not), then another climb at Crocknorth, riding under the arched bridge onto Cycle Superhighway Ranmore Common. By this stage we had already climbed 1500m and the legs were starting to twinge and belly asking for lunch. Plan was to head down Ranmore Common Road and up Box Hill for a well earned break. However, Ranmore Common Road was closed due to a motorbike accident, so we headed straight down into Dorking. The Veteran nearly crashed at 50km/h into a line of cars queuing for the tip and had to break suddenly. At this point he decided to quit whilst he was ahead, still fed up at not having had his coffee break and now realising that I will not fulfil my promise of a sausage roll, whilst the two Novices soldiered on.

Coldhabour Lane was a slog, then down and back up Leith Hill avoiding Tanhurst Lane, not because of the 14% gradient, but because of the debris, poor road condition and stream flowing down it. At this point I was starting to feel a little light headed and v. v. hungry. Was my fuelling strategy of one energy bar or gel an hour enough? I had already polished off two large bottles of electrolyte and still had at least 60km to go. The pain had begun. Leith Hill was a slow grind, and the additional climbing at Holmbury St Mary was taking its toll. I was no longer noticing the bluebells and scenery. The sun had disappeared, the wind had picked up and life was grey again. The descent on Radnor Road down into Peaslake was welcome relief.

At Peaslake we parked our bikes at the bus shelter amongst the throng of mountainbikers. The coffee shop knew its market – I have never seen so many varieties of isotonic drinks in a general store. Lucozade and sausage roll replenished the parts energy bars cannot reach (ie. the taste buds) and we were ready to face Whitedown, 18% monster of Surrey and the Queen climb of many a sportive. Super Novice Alex saw the opportunity to hit another PB Strava segment, while I was in survival mode. After Whitedown, Alex headed back to Sussex while I still had another 2 hours riding to head home, alone. I was unsure whether it was mental tiredness or physical tiredness. Maybe it was both.

My choice was either to take the easy route home, through Effingham Junction and back via Cobham, a downhill run which would improve my average speed, or check to see if Ranmore Common Road was open and one more climb up Box Hill. Would my legs take another climb? I understand that cycling is about suffering, so decided to go for the climb.

The newly re-surfaced Box Hill track was like a carpet, making my steady progress easier. No Strava beating time today. It was clearly lunchtime and I hardly saw another cyclist on the climb, which is very unusual for the ‘Alpe d’Huez of South England’. I started imaging the Olympic road race making their 9 circuits on route to a Cav gold medal. I promised myself a cup of tea at the top, but one look at the queue and I decided I would rather reach home half an hour earlier. I had left home at 7am.

I wanted to be back to watch the second half of the footy and see if my team,QPR, could stay up in the Premiership. So, another gel downed on the move and I chugged on.

I know the route home from here well and have pushed back at pace to Kingston in the past, so despite the light headedness I targeted a low tempo pace and move things a little quicker. My legs were having non of it. The best I could manage was aerobic endurance pace. The wattage was low, but I had given up on the numbers. I just wanted to be home in one piece and avoid bonking or cramping.

This is the time when I wanted a Star Trek Transporter with Scotty to ‘beam me up’. I was fantasising so tried to come up with a mantra. ‘I can do it. I will do it’. Pathetic I know. Then, embarrassingly John Denver, ‘Take me Home, Country Roads’. No! get out of my head. That is soooo uncool. I listen to XFM not John Denver. Your mind plays odd tricks on you when you are tired.

The Sunday morning riders were gone and the roads were light on traffic too. I trudged past the BP garage at Epsom where I bonked last year on another ride and downed Lucozade and Snickers. Through the Horton roundabouts. No Kingston Wheelers sprint today. Onto Chessington and then Kingston and Richmond Park.

One more climb in Richmond Park. Step down onto my 29 cog and whirl away. I felt my left leg starting to cramp. It always happens on this climb on my way home. No, I will not allow it to cramp. I’m imaging it, I said to myself. ‘I can will it not to cramp’. Thankfully, the climb is short and sharp. I was soon through it and then able to coast on the flat. A look at the ‘fresh’ riders as the overtake me at pace. ‘Do they know I have already completed 160km?’.

I stumbled in through the front door to be greeted by my son. ‘It’s half-time, QPR are losing, Bolton are winning, we are going to be relegated. Lets play ping pong to take your mind off it!’.

Posted by: lafugatravel | May 3, 2012

Strava Competition – Epic Ride Challenge

 

 

La Fuga Strava Competition – Epic Ride Challenge

We’re running a fun new competition for our La Fuga Strava Club members online to get our fugisti sharing stories about their riding.

For one week each month we will review our Strava Club member’s rides and choose a short-list of the most impressive rides during the 7 previous days based on comments, kudos and our own general impression of how tough the ride was.

We will then invite these members to write a short story about what they remember from that particular ride, epic stories are encouraged, photos score extra points.

We will post these stories for all to see, with the Strava stats from the day and based on the general opinion and our own thoughts, we will award the prize to the most epic ride of the week. La Fuga decision is final!

Not a member of our Strava club yet? It’s easy and simple to join and will connect you with many of our current, previous and future guests.

‘What is the prize?’ I hear you ask. Well for the forthcoming week we’ll be giving away a stylish La Fuga casquette to wear on your upcoming epic rides. Special prizes may be considered for particular efforts of epic-ness and prizes will evolve as the week’s progress.

Not on Strava yet and want your ride to be considered? Well if you can send us enough proof that your ride was particularly epic along with a great story, we’ll automatically put your ride into the shortlist!

Want to start sharing your rides with friends and competitors? Garmins new Edge 200 GPS cycle computer offers the easiest most affordable way of entering this new exciting world of online ride tracking and sharing.

Get riding!

Posted by: lafugatravel | May 3, 2012

Meet the Staff – Alastair Carr

meet the staff

Name: Alastair Carr

DOB: 27/9/88

Languages: French, English

Philosophy: Go Fast, Take Risks

Favourite Food: Lasagne with a nice salad and some garlic bread

LF: What is your cycling background?

AC: I started cycling when I was 15 after watching the Sydney Olympics on a rainy day in a caravan whilst on holiday with my family. I made the impulsive decision that, one day, I wanted to be at the Olympics. I decided that cycling looked pretty easy, so the next day I jumped on my dads mountain bike and rode 4km to the shops. It nearly killed me. I persevered and rode my 1st season as a junior in 2005 seeing progression in leaps and bounds as I did more and more races. After racing in Belgium and riding the Junior Tour of Ireland I decided that I wanted to race abroad. I rode one season as senior in the UK to finish my A-levels and then heading to France. Here I proceeded to get battered into the ground week in week out riding Elite Nationale and UCI 1.2 races. After a tough first season in Alsace I moved west to Brittany where I enjoyed a much better year. My French language progressed with my racing and I began to settle in to the racing scene. After a great 2009 I moved to a big team in 2010 in the hope of really moving up to the top level of racing. Unfortunately a skiing accident at a training camp in January meant I only began racing in July, but I still had a great end of season getting on the podium several times. After this I scaled back my racing and started university in France before joining La Fuga. I’ve visited and ridden or raced in practically every region of France and enjoy it immensely.

pailheres

LF: When did you start working for La Fuga?

AC: I started with La Fuga in June 2011, I had known Ian (creator of La Fuga) for a while having raced with his brother, Simon, at junior level and raced on the same team as him (Felt Racing) in 2007. He began La Fuga the year I started racing in France and the growth of the company ran concurrently with my education in French racing and culture. I had always been too busy with racing to offer my services until I did, but once I did I enjoyed it so much I carried on!

LF: What bike are you riding this year?

AC: This year my bike is the same as our Rental Fleet, that being a Specialized Tarmac SL3 Expert. I’ve ridden Specialized for 4 out of my 8 cycling seasons now and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. I especially like the stealthy matt black paint job this year. I wouldn’t say I’m the best of cycling mechanics, I’ve learnt my fair share and know more than your average Joe, but as long as the bike works I care more about how it looks!

LF: What’s your favourite aspect of working for La Fuga?

AC: Whilst obviously I love the riding, the great hotels and amazing food, my favourite part about working for La Fuga is the variety of people I get to meet and talk to. A La Fuga guest is generally a successful person and for me it’s always interesting to get an insight in to how they arrived where they are, when and why they started cycling, where they’re going next. I’ve spent many an hour chatting to fugisti on mountains and valley roads around Europe and with such an array of backgrounds, nationalities, professions and personalities there’s always something to talk about.

LF: What’s your favourite climb on a La Fuga tour?

AC: Here I’m not going to go with favourite, I’m actually going to go with least favourite and this has to be the ‘Muro di Sormano’ on our Giro di Lombardia Ride and Watch Weekend in October. This is quite literally the hardest climb I have ever ridden and climbs up at about 20% for about 4km. Every vertical meter climbed is marked on the road as you go up. It seems as though some of these numbers are only a meter apart themselves, although I’m pretty sure my Garmin never read 45%….This road though really does have to be ridden to be believed  and once you make it to the top you’re rewarded with spectacular views of the Lombardia region in amazing autumn bloom and fantastic parma ham sandwiches in the café. The descents not too bad either…

LF: And your favourite (or least favourite) descent?

AC: A tricky one. I’ve ridden so many great descents on so many La Fuga tours that it’s difficult to pick one out. One of my favourite descending experiences though was during our Rapha Randonnée Alpine in September last year. We met Andy Hampsten (first non-european winner of the Giro d’Italia and winner of a Tour de France stage to Alpe d’Huez, our destination that day) at the top of the Col du Glandon after I’d inadvertently blasted past him, not knowing who he was, as we reached the top. We chatted for a while before he left with what must be his tag line (and my new philosophy)…’Go Fast, Take Risks’. Whilst usually I’m a very responsible guide, the opportunity to descend with a legend of cycling doesn’t come around all that often. So as my group came up to his I eased past him on a corner with a manoeuvre clearly designed to goad him into following me. I knew his racing brain wouldn’t be able to resist the offer and he took the bait. Once I turned around and saw him on my wheel it was full throttle from there on. We both duly forgot about our guiding duties (hey, there was only one road to go down?!) and blasted down the mountain. Once we eventually decided that enough was perhaps enough, it was a nice moment as he rode along side and said ‘That was a lot of fun’.

LF: What’s your favourite hotel experience on a La Fuga tour and why?

AC: Obviously the fantastic hotels are the big bonus after a long day in the saddle or drivers seat. Whilst I enjoy the majesty of the big 5* hotels, there’s a lot to be said about the smaller hotels along some of our routes. My personal favourite is the Chateau de Beauregard on our Rapha Randonnée Pyrenean. This small, renovated chateau is set in a very quiet location on the outskirts of St Girons. The rooms have kept their quaintness whilst still being comfortable and the Spa is incredible. The restaurant is also a fantastic experience with a huge log-burning fireplace that gives the renovated barn an incredible atmosphere. The service is always great and the breakfast superb with a selection of warm breads, jams and cereals. Top Notch!

LF: What are your interests outside of cycling (if any)?

AC: As anyone who’s been a full time cyclist will know, there’s a lot of downtime…a hell of a lot. I used to fill mine with playing a few instruments, reading rubbish books and Wikipedia pages and the occasional piece of art. The university I went to in France was actually L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, or school of fine art so it’s always been a general interest of mine (although the fact I only managed one year is telling of the fact it isn’t all I want to do). Now though I barely have time to think, so organisation is the name of the game and my artistic needs have to be satisfied through the quick and easy medium of photography!

LF: What are you most looking forwards to in 2012?

AC: I think this year is lining up to be a great one. Last year I came in with no idea about what went on behind a La Fuga tour and was just there to make sure we didn’t forget anything and that the trip went smoothly. This year I’ll be seeing trips through from conception, to organization, to execution and I think that is the most exciting thing for me. Something I’ve been working on more personally has been a custom tour across the Pyrenees for a group of guys coming from Australia. Over 12 days in August with two rest days and more mountains than you could shake a stick at, it’s a really exciting trip that I’m hoping will run as smoothly as possible!

Posted by: lafugatravel | April 19, 2012

Meet the Staff – Jared Spier

Meet the Staff

Name: Jared Spier
Nationality: Canadian
Birthday: December 31st, but it’s actually January 1st GMT
Place of Birth: Winnipeg, Canada
Philosophy: Make every experience a positive one
Languages: English Canadian & French
Favourite Food: A well-done steak, barbequed to perfection by my sister
Location: Caddy Lake, Whiteshell Provincial Park, Canada
Most Surprising Food: Aubergine, wrapped in an anchovie, wrapped in smoked salmon – on paper, surely this is the recipe for horror, yet it was absolutely incredible.
Location of Most Surprising Food: La Balette, Collioure, France (Michelin star restaurant – Rapha Randonnée Pyrenean)

LF: What’s your cycling background, when/how did you start?
JS: I started playing on bikes as a recreational mountain biker, but gave triathlon a shot in 2000. I was very fortunate that Winnipeg had an incredible triathlon scene (not true for cycling in general there) and my best friends & training partners were multiple-time national champions who pushed me to achieve a level that I never would have thought possible. After quickly realizing that long-course didn’t suit my strengths, I focused on Olympic distance tri, despite never being a particularly good runner, I earned some pleasing results – including the very odd achievement of going sub-2hr at one race, without going under 40-min on the run.

LF: How long have you been working for La Fuga?
JS: My first trips were in the 2010 season, but I quickly realized that this was a company and experience that I wanted to be involved with. In April of 2011, I came on as a full-time member of staff and since passing my first winter with La Fuga, putting all of the plans in place for the upcoming season, I am truly looking forward to seeing what we can deliver in 2012!

LF: What bike are you riding this year?
JS: I’m on a 2012 Specialized Tarmac SL4 S-Works frame… just like Tom Boonen! We both run SRAM drivetrains too, but as someone who’s always been a bit obsessed with getting all of the little things right, I took a pass on his Zipps and picked each part for my perfect handbuilt wheelset.

Jared and bike

JS: What’s your favourite trip to have worked on so far?
LF: Thus far I’ve actually worked relatively few of our Sportive trips (in fact, I have yet to see either the Maratona or the Marmotte!), so I’ll keep those off my list for now. While I absolutely love the Randonnée routes and the experiences that we get to share in, as each group unites to cross what would normally seem like an insurmountable feat, I think it’s the addition of the coaching aspect, which allows just that much more connection to our guests for each week, which keeps our Majorca Cycling Academy at the top of this list for me. Each week I’ve spent in Majorca has been so incredibly rewarding that I can’t think of a better way to start our season.

LF: Describe your typical week working for La Fuga in the winter?
JS: In an ideal world, there would be an off-season, so it’s a bit odd to think that the winter months can often feel busier than summer. Long hours are spent putting together the best routes with the perfect hotels in the ideal locations, and it’s incredible how rewarding it can be when you see it all come together (I can’t wait to see how our custom Paris-Nice Tour goes!). Winter is also the only time that we get a chance to actually train on our bikes too, so the weekend miles rack up quickly and the Tuesday night chaingang is a must… even in the dark!

LF: And in the summer?
JS: It’s hard to say where I’ll be at any given point of the season, but chances are it’s somewhere I would have dreamt about in wonder when I was stuck on the turbo-trainer in the middle of a Canadian winter. Certainly the days are long and the work can be tiring, but the reward of sharing such amazing experiences with each guest or just having those ‘this is my office’ moments out on the road more then make up for the effort.

jared sweatingLF: What is the craziest thing that’s happened to you on a bike while working for La Fuga?
JS: Our Rapha Randonnée Alpine this past June was an incredibly hot trip – it seemed we hit 40deg at least once a day on the whole trip. On day one, as we rode up the first proper mountain of the route (Col du Columbiere), one of our guests was experiencing some terrible cramping. I didn’t want him to have to give up on achieving the full Randonnée ride, so I ‘brought out the turbo’ and we rode together up the final 4k of the climb. Anyone who’s seen the Columbiere knows how tough that last 3k stretch is, especially as you can see every inch of it. Now imagine it in 40deg heat, with nowhere to hide from the sun. Unfortunately, as I pushed up the mountain, I wasn’t really thinking of the effort I was putting out… until we reached the top. I was completely knackered and we still had ~50k to ride, including the Col d’Aravis. I believe I went through 10-12 bottles that day and still have no idea how I managed to just keep pedalling for the last hours, but I sure am glad that no one felt the need to test their legs on the Aravis!!

LF: What is the craziest thing that’s happened to you off the bike while working for La Fuga?
JS: On the pick-up day of one of those few sportives that I’ve managed to work, there were plenty of bikes to build and check over after dinner, to ensure they would be in perfect shape for the trips up and down the mountains that weekend. The hotel’s doors officially closed at midnight, so as I worked away into the night, the head of reception came past to let me know that they had officially locked up, but gave me the code for the front door. Despite my fluency in French and repeating several times what I understood the code to be, it was all rather horribly miscommunicated – I won’t get right into it, but if Manuel had been French, it could have been a Fawlty Towers episode.
So there I am, it’s 2:30am, and I have finished the prep on each bike and am feeling quite satisfied that a good job had been done. I returned to the hotel to find I was locked out and a bit annoyed… but still resourceful. So, dressed in my black Rapha top and black Rapha shorts, with my black toque (edit – for those that don’t speak Canadian this is in fact a beanie hat) and the right tunes going on my iPod to accompany me, I proceeded to case the joint. After confirming that there were no secondary entrances that were acceptable, I remembered that I did at least have a room with direct access to the inner courtyard, so just had to get there… and so I summoned my inner-Romeo, climbed a balconies or two and made it over the hotel!

LF: What is the best climb you have ever ridden whilst working for La Fuga?
JS: I’ve ridden so many great climbs that it’s incredibly difficult to pick just one. The Cime de la Bonette might get the honour, simply because there is just so much to enjoy, including the conversations on the way up – the climb has so many different looks to it that it seems every corner unveils something spectacular and new. That said, while it is by no means the largest climb we include on our tours, I love the abandoned beauty and scale of the Col de Sarenne. It helps me to remember how important this world is to my life (that sounds ridiculous now that I’ve typed it, but maybe you know what I mean), as the phrase ‘broadening your horizons’ could never be more relevant.

LF: And descent?
JS: It’s a tough pick, but it’s definitely down to one of three – the Col de Marie-Blanque was the first descent I fell in love with, which is a special thing to say given that I was driving a Berlingo at the time. Once I finally rode it, I couldn’t have been happier, as the corners simply flowed from each other… but watch-out for that one right-hander as you approach Bilheres. The second great descent is the little-known Col du Castillon, which again has incredible flowing corners, allowing you to maintain magnificent speed as you connect the twists and work your way down to the Med. Finally, no list would be complete without that descent into Sa Calobra out in Majorca. I don’t have the best history with this one, but did manage to exorcise a few demons during my 2012 visit and that road is simply magnificent.

Jared face

LF: Which has been the nicest hotel you have stayed in whilst working for La Fuga and why?
AC: As a general rule, I find that the biggest difference between hotels often comes down to their staff. Working for La Fuga, I have the great fortune to stay at incredible hotels, night after night, but often only for a day at a time. As such, the ease in dealing with the staff and their ability to understand our often unique requirements often makes the difference. With that in mind, The Hotel du Palais (5* start hotel for Rapha Randonnée Pyrenean) is simply incredible as there isn’t a request that the staff can’t assist with, as they truly understand our commitment to providing whatever we can to assist our guests. As an added bonus, I always make sure to get up a half-hour earlier then needed, so I can enjoy some relaxed time at breakfast, watching the waves crash on the Atlantic coast and sipping the best orange juice I’ve ever had!

LF: What are you looking forwards to most during the 2012 season?
JS: The new tours that we’ve put together, both scheduled and custom, for the upcoming season are going to be a great interest to me this year, but I think the one aspect that I’m most excited about are the new staff members who we’re bringing in. As mentioned above, it can be pretty tough work to ensure that all of our Tours run to the level we aim to achieve, so finding the right people with the shared knowledge, experience and passion has been paramount. You’ll certainly see some familiar faces on your La Fuga trips this year, but I’m really excited for you to meet our newest recruits too. After all, two seasons ago, that was me!

jared descending

Posted by: lafugatravel | April 18, 2012

La Fuga T-Shirts

La Fuga are offering our popular T-shirts for sale for the 2012 season. The T-shirts are made by American Apparel and their premium weight, maximum comfort and longevity makes them the perfect garment for post-ride relaxation. The Fine Jersey T is made from 100% cotton and coupled with our iconic logo and brand new ‘Ammiraglia’ design for 2012, you can guarantee a piece of clothing worth adding to your cycling collection.

Prices include UK delivery, for overseas delivery please contact info@lafuga.cc for more information.

LA FUGA AMMIRAGLIA T-SHIRT £22

Ammiraglia

The ‘Ammiraglia’ (or the flag bearing team car in Italian) design pays homage to the VW campervan surfer T-shirts with a cycling spin. With the silhouette of the Dolomites in the background and the La Fuga team car on the road, we think this new design will prove popular in 2012.

LA FUGA CLASSICO T-SHIRT BLACK OR LA FUGA RED £22

Classico

Classico Red

The classico La Fuga logo t-shirt as worn by our intrepid guides througout Europe is now available to buy. Featuring the distinctive wings of steel motif emblazoned across the chest on a natural coloured premium weight, 100% cotton t-shirt, the classic t-shirt is perfect for post-bike relaxation of comfortable, stylish travel.

SIZING

All the t-shirts are available in both men’s and womens size’s

Men

  • Small
  • Medium
  • Large

Women

  • Small
  • Medium

They are designed for a relaxed, comfortable fit.

HOW TO BUY

The t-shirts are available to buy whilst on your La Fuga tour and via our online order from.

Payment will be made via our secure payment page.

Postage and packaging within the UK will be at a cost of £2. Please contact info@lafuga.cc for postage costs outside of the UK.

Fuga T's

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