Posted by: lafugatravel | April 16, 2012

Strava

Strava Logo

The past year has seen the rapid expansion of cyclists using Garmins to record their riding. The top of the range Edge 800 is perhaps the most intuitive and useful bike computer on the market right now. The Edge 200 and 500 offer a great alternative for a lower price way to accurately measure your cycling to the nth degree.

The units come with heart rate monitor belts and are compatible with all power meters, allowing you to keep you cockpit clean with one computer that does everything you need it to. La Fuga are offering the use of an Edge 800 free of charge with each Rental Bike.

But now there’s a way of utilising the data recorded by the GPS units, not only to analyse your training, but to compare it to others. This is called Strava.

Strava started small last year and since then has become a huge social media engine for the world of bicycles, becoming something of a facebook for cycling. It takes the data recorded by your GPS computer and downloads it to its database; from here it lays your ride details on a map which allows you to view your elevation, speed, heart rate, power etc on a graph concurrently. Perhaps not so revolutionary you might think, and you’d be right. CyclingPeaks offers a much stronger analysis tool of your ride details and Garmin’s own connect tool also has strong analysis software.

elevation graph

But where Strava really comes into its own is through what is has christened as ‘segments’. On each of your rides you will find a number of green patches on your graph under the elevation line. Each of these signifies a segment and with each segment comes a ranking. Strava takes your GPS data and calculates your time, average speed, power and heart rate for the segment distance. It then compares your data with everyone else who has uploaded their ride data to Strava. From here it creates a ranking with 1st man overall given the title KOM (King of the mountain) and woman QOM (Queen of the mountain).

The titles are occasionally somewhat misleading as the segments aren’t always uphill. Strava will create segments on its own based on the elevation change and gradients of the road. Basically if it goes uphill for long enough and at a certain gradient then it will become a segment. But because Strava allows you to create your own segments on your favourite bits of road, segments are often flat and occasionally even downhill!  The La Fuga guides are proud holders of the KOM and QOM titles on many popular segments and we’ve been taking the time to create our own segments with our own ‘La Fuga Strava Club’ which any fugisti are welcome to join. But if it’s not all about being the best, Strava will alert you to every time you record a personal best on each segment and where your most recent effort ranks against past attempts.

Segment Ranking

See how you rank compared to other Strava users.

Strava offers the perfect opportunity for our guests to share their rides with each other, track each other’s progress, view their cycling getaways and plan their next big cycling challenge. You can ‘follow’ any rider on the website giving you daily or weekly updates on the riding everyone has been doing all over the world. A good example is this Strava ride of one of our guests on our Paris-Roubaix Challenge weekend. Unfortunately he punctured 4 times but his riding time would have put him in the top 20!  There are a number of professional cyclists on the site giving you an insight into the kind of training a pro-riders need to do and even detailed information on the races they’re doing. A certain Taylor Phinney became KOM on several cobbled sections of the Paris-Roubaix route last week!

We encourage all of our guests to join our Strava community, connecting and sharing your riding to attack exciting new cycling challenges with La Fuga.

Follow the La Fuga Guides:

Alastair Carr: http://app.strava.com/athletes/alastair_carr

Ian Holt: http://app.strava.com/athletes/8603

Jared Spier: http://app.strava.com/athletes/jspier

Posted by: lafugatravel | April 12, 2012

Etape du Tour – Pro Support

La Fuga Pro Support - Feed stations

This year La Fuga are once again offering pro support for all riders on both Acts of the Etape du Tour. These feed stations have proved popular for everyone attempting to tackle a stage of the Tour de France.

We understand what cyclists need when attempting something as epic as the Etape and our pro-support service is as close as a rider will get to personal support during the event.

tasty treats

Our Pro Support Package will offer two extra feed stations for each of the two Etapes which will have an array of drinks, energy bars and tasty treats to give you the nutrition and motivation to carry on.

La Fuga guides will be on hand to offer you stats and advice about the upcoming climbs. There will be a small selection of tools and a track pump on offer to fix any minor mechanical issues.

feed station

Sun tan lotion will be freely available at each stop should the day prove to be a hot one. This will be essential if you’re looking to head home sunburn free.

Each feed station will offer:

  • Cold drinks
  • Energy and electrolyte drinks
  • Energy bars and gels
  • Fresh fruit including bananas and apples and orange pieces
  • Sweets for instant energy
  • Savoury snacks
  • Sponges to cool off
  • Sun tan lotion
  • Chamois cream
  • Tools and pump for mid-race repairs

Etape Acte 1 Pro Support feed stations will be located:

  • La Chambre (60km in, before the ascent of the Croix de Fer)
  • St Jean de Maurienne (120km in, before the final climb to La Toussuire)
Etape 1

Etape Acte 2 Pro Support feed stations will be located:

  • Argeles Gazost (80km in before the ascent of the Col du Tourmalet)
  • St Marie de Campan (140km in, before the ascent of the Col d’Aspin)
Etape 2

Please be aware that we may change the location of the feedstations to offer the best possible service and to provide support where official feed stations (locations as yet unpublished) are lacking.

Read La Fuga Guide Alastair Carr’s account of a day on a La Fuga Pro Support feed station during the 2011 Etape from Modane to Alpe d’Huez

To book your Pro Support package for the big day visit the La Fuga site for Act 1 and Act 2.

Price: £40

bottles

Posted by: lafugatravel | April 5, 2012

Italian Cycling Getaways

Italian Cycling Getaways

As the Sun starts to break through the clouds, the days become longer, the trees blossom and the daffodils bloom, everyone starts to look forwards to the Northern Hemisphere warming up and the beginning of summer. This is especially true of cyclists, who can put away their bibtights and leg warmers, hide their winter overshoes and tentatively leave the full finger gloves at home.

Where better to enjoy this weather on your bike than Italy? Whether it’s the challenge of the Italian Alps, the spectacular beauty of the Dolomites Mountains or the history of the ‘strada bianca’ (white roads) of Tuscany, Italy has so much to offer for every cycling tourist.

As our name suggests, La Fuga began its life in Italy. The escape from the pressures of the city led us to travel in search of the best roads, the nicest hotels and some great food and drink. We now have a superb line up for the 2012 season with options for all levels of cycling enthusiasts. From our Rapha Randonnee Appeninni which takes in the best of the central Italian hills whilst tracing a meandering route from Lucca to Ascoli, to the Granfondo Girodana which pits thousands of cyclists against each other over the legendary climbs of the Passo Gavia and Mortirolo.

Here we give you the low down on where to go this season to enjoy the sun and enjoy your cycling in Italy.

Granfondo Weekends

The Granfondo (known in French and English as the Sportive) is a true test of the cyclists’ will power. These events are run over very challenging courses for thousands of cyclists at a time, often on closed roads. This gives every participant the chance to experience cycling in its purest form, with other cyclists, over the most spectacular and mythical cycling roads in the world.

Granfondo Nove Colli 18-21 May

The Nove Colli, or nine climbs, is the biggest mass start sportive in Europe attracting 12,000 participants each year. We’re based in the beautiful coastal town of Cesenatico on the border of the Marche and Emilia Romagna regions where the event starts and finishes. Close to where legendary cyclist Marco Pantani grew up and cut his teeth, Cesenatico offers that special feeling of being close to the sea, whilst giving you a challenging cycling event. The long route is 200km in length and whilst the climbs aren’t long, with 3,840m total of climbing they are tough enough to make you appreciate the effort you have made at the end of the day over dinner and a glass of wine.

The event is great for couples and families as the none-cyclists can take part in the festivities in town and on the beach whilst the cycling enthusiast wears themselves out on the day. The event is extremely well organised, with enthusiastic tifosi lining the toughest climbs. On the top of the ‘Barbotto’ climb the crowd can get up to three-deep with a commentator encouraging the riders to the top.

Granfondo Giordana 22-25 June

This event was known as the Granfondo Marco Pantani until sponsorship and branding by the cycle clothing manufacturer took hold. This friendly lower-key event is an extremely tough cycling challenge and definitely one that should be on the bucket list of any serious sportive aficionado. La Fuga make camp in the events start and finish town, the ski resort of Aprica so you have no worries about transferring to the event start or finish. This makes for a relaxing experience, letting you focus solely on preparing yourself for the event.

The granfondo was originally named after the legendary climber because of its legendary climbs. The Passo Gavia is one of the most beautiful and spectacular climbs in Europe, and at 2,621m is the highest pass in the Italian Alps. It is perhaps most famous for the day that Andy Hampsten, climbed and descended the mountain in the snow to become the first none-European to win the Giro d’Italia in 1988. The Mortirolo was once said by Lance Armstrong to be the hardest climb he had ever ridden. At 12.8km and long steep sections up to 18%, you’ll want to make sure you have the right gearing before attacking this monster. The ‘Cima Pantani’ is the prize for the first rider to the top whenever this climb is featured in the Giro d’Italia and the Mortirolo is certainly a road the warrants the recognition.

Check out the photos from last years event on flickr.

Maratona dles Dolomites 28 June – 2 July

The Maratona has been a popular event with La Fuga guests over the years and 2012 is no different. We run a weeklong tour which offers rides exploring the dolomites in the run up to the event and a weekend tour which focusses on giving you the best support for the Granfondo. Both of these sold out before we were even able to advertise them giving you an idea of their popularity.

The Maratona is a festival of cycling for the region and is the only weekend that every hotel room will be sold out in the valley. The 138km route offers impressive and challenging scenery equal and above to anything else on offer in the world. The Granfondo is organised to perfection with huge attention to detail, the feed stations are a sight to behold offering an array of treats to get you round. The route itself is tough with approximately zero flat over the full 138km, but the satisfaction of completing the event will far outweigh that sore legs feeling afterwards. The atmosphere in the valley is one not to be missed as everyone embraces the sport of cycling in all its forms.

L’Eroica 5 – 8 October

This end of season event offers something completely different to your regular Italian Granfondo experience. The event is for the real vintage cycling enthusiasts taking place on the Strada Bianca of the Tuscany region. Every competitor must embrace the heritage of cycling in the region and strict rules are placed on the bikes that are allowed to be used. The bike must date from before 1987, it must have downtube shifters and the brake cables must run out the top of the brake levers.

Many competitors go the whole nine yards and dress in vintage cycling apparel for the occasion. Instead of energy drink and gels, the feed stations distribute a glass of Chianti wine to each participant. The white roads are an added challenge and give the event a fantastically original feel. If you’re looking for the perfect taste of Tuscany, then this is the event for you.

You can see photos from the 2011 Eroica event on Flickr.

Rapha Randonnees

These offer the spectacular scenery of Italy whilst building camaraderie amongst the small group as you make your way across large swaths of Italian terrain. The routes take in some of the toughest climbs whilst experiencing the best the region has to offer in the way of food drink and accommodation. You can rest assured that on a Rapha Randonnee you will finish with a lot of new friends and memories that will last a life time. You may even want to come on another one…

Rapha Randonnee Dolomiti 2-9 June

Starting from the famous waterways of Venice before heading deep into the Dolomites this 6 day adventure finishes on the shores of the incredible Lake Como. With each days ride averaging about 130km and all the time in the world you can really make the most of what the country has to offer in the company of some like-minded people. It would take a book to describe the incredible experiences offered on this trip so we’ll leave the imagination up to you.

Rapha Randonnee Appeninni 1-8 September

Starting in the gorgeous town of Lucca, known for its population of professional cyclists that choose to make it their home, and finishing in Ascoli, this Randonnee traverses the Apennine mountain range of central Italy. Perhaps less well known, these hills offer a superb tranquil setting to do some great rides and enjoy the terrain whilst making the most of your down time with some of the best hotels of any of our trips. This hidden gem of a trip will leave you wanting more.

Check out the photos from last years Rapha Randonnee Appeninni on flickr.

Giro di Lombardia Ride and Watch 28 September – 1 October

This weekend tour is a great way to end your season of cycling whilst enjoying the Lombardy region of Italy. We base ourselves in Bellagio on La Como, a great spot to climb to the top of the famous Madonna del Ghisallo climb where a chapel dedicated to cycling is found. You’ll also find the amazing cycling museum, with pieces that trace the history of the sport from its origins to the present day.

We offer supported rides taking in the sights and sounds of the lake and climbing up into the hills of the area. We then head over to Milan on the day of the pro race before riding around the course to watch it in various locations before finishing on the top of the Ghisallo climb as the race nears its conclusion. From there we’ll jump into the café on top of the climb to see how the finale pans out as the tension mounts amongst the Italian fans.

See some photos from last years Lombardia tour on Flickr.

So make the most of your cycling this season and consider Italy.

Pordoi

Posted by: alastaircarr | March 27, 2012

La Fuga Rental Bikes

Rental Bikes

La Fuga is proud to launch it’s new fleet of Rental Bikes for the 2012 season. These fantastic Specialized Tarmacs will be available for all of our trips and offer a high spec, high quality alternative to using your own bike.

For the past several seasons, professional cycling’s top teams have chosen to race and win on the Specialized Tarmac. No other bike can claim the level and rate of success of the Tarmac. The Specialized bikes have always been renowned for delivering incredible efficiency and comfort at once. Our 2012 frames continue to push that balance ever further.

Café Stop

Frame

We spent a lot of time deciding which bike to use for our rental fleet and believe we have made the ideal choice. We’re confident that the full carbon monocoque Expert SL3 frameset represents a very high quality frame, which may well be an upgrade to many rider’s bikes.

The FACT IS 10r carbon provides both front and rear-end stiffness, giving the bike instant responsiveness out of the saddle and, thanks to the oversized headtube superb responsive handling downhill and when cornering. While the Tour de France-winning S-Works version is slightly lighter, our ‘Pro’ version of the frame matches nearly identical strength, with far less fragility… a funny thing to say of a frame that only weighs 1kg.

The stealthy matt black finish provides a great look for the bike, making it that bit more photogenic.

Riding

Groupset

The bikes are fitted with full Shimano Ultegra groupset whilst using FSA SLK Light BB30 full carbon cranks. The BB30 standard offers lighter, stronger, stiffer cranks that provide better overall performance. This concept has become a popular standard with good reason and, when matched to the efficient Tarmac frame, helps ensure that every watt you put through the pedals is transferred to the road.

Ultegra has been proven time and again as a sleek, reliable and smooth shifting groupset. Our fleet will be expertly maintained throughout the season by our professional mechanic, so you never have to worry about your gears being wrongly indexed for a big sportive or a weeklong randonnée.

Shimano callipers front & rear, matched to alloy brake tracks provide trustworthy, secure braking no matter what the weather or terrain. This is something we will not leave to chance.

Praxis Works Chainrings and Cassette – Gearing

This season La Fuga has partnered with Praxis Works to bring you the perfect gearing set-up to tackle your event. Each bike will be fitted with full compact gearing using 50 and 34 forged Praxis Works chainrings up front.

These forged chainrings offer an extremely high overall shifting quality, great durability and are ultra stiff meaning your chain gets from chainring A to chainring B in the fastest possible time. With a 11-28 10-speed cassette at the rear, we believe this set-up provides the best and fullest range of gears to tackle anything from an arduous Alpine climb to a furious Pyrenean descent.

Praxis Works

Check out why praxis forge their chanrings.

Wheels

Our bikes use Fulcrum Racing 4’s, which are exclusive to the Specialized range. The wheels are built using the Fulcrums incredibly light, sealed rim, with proper steel spokes to offer a quick, comfy, reliable ride. While there may be some extra weight on these wheels versus the lightest clinchers, most of that difference is found in the incredibly smooth and durable loose ball- bearing hubs. Together, this great combination means you get a fantastic performing, all round wheelset.

no hands

Finishing kit

We have a range of finishing kit that will allow you to make sure that the bike is to your preferred size and shape. Specialized provide a range of Pro Fit four-position adjustable stems giving you the correct reach and stack height where necessary.

The bikes come with Specialized body geometry Romin saddles but can be fitted with your own saddle if this is something you would prefer. You are also welcome to supply your own pedals, but we do also have a range of Speedplay, Shimano and Look pedals available on a first come first serve basis, so that all you need to remember is your shoes, helmet and kit.

Each bike will come with a Specialized mini-pump along with saddlebag that will contain a tube, multi-tool, tyre levers and puncture repair patch to help get you out of any sticky situations.

Garmin Edge 800

La Fuga has continued its strong partnership with Garmin this year and we will be providing the superb Edge 800 unit on all of our hire bikes. Each sleek looking unit will come with full
European maps loaded onto it, including any routes that could be useful during your event.

The Edge 800 lets you see more real time data than you could possibly need, allowing you to customize the various display screens, so you can choose what data you can see and when.

Screens options include: Map with route, speed, distance, cadence, heart rate, power (with power meter), temperature, current gradient, altitude, total ascent, total descent, virtual partner and calories burned.

Afterwards you or we can download your data and invite you to become part of our La Fuga Club in the Strava community. This will let you keep track of your fellow fugisti riding throughout the year and review your efforts, comparing yours to that of others using the fun but competitive Strava segments.

Garmin Barracuda rider Christophe Le Mevel shows off all of the Garmin 800’s capabilities.

Sizing and Customization

As already mentioned we provide a range of ways to make the bike fit as closely as possible to your own. We have a full range of sizes and using different stem lengths, angles, stack heights, saddle height and saddle fore-aft position we can replicate very closely your current bikes position using some simple measurements provided by you.

Due to the international nature of our clients, we are also able to switch which brake lever operates which brake. Our British and Australian clients will be used to pulling the right hand
brake for the front, whilst our American and Continental guests will be the other way round. Believe us, this is a very important factor when descending a mountain!

So take the hassle out of travelling with a bike and let us provide the perfect ready to go set-up for your chosen event.

mallorca

Benefits of using a La Fuga Rental bike

  • Super Light, super stiff and great looking frame
  • Reliable sleek groupset and finishing kit.
  • Ideal gearing for the whole range of events we offer
  • Expertly maintained throughout the season
  • Customized sizing
  • Worry-free travel, without the hassle of packing or travelling with your bike
Pricing
  • 1 – 3 days:    £100 (flat rate)
  • 4 – 5 days:    £30
  • 6 – 10 days:  £25
  • 11+ days:     £20
Posted by: lafugatravel | March 9, 2012

Race To The Sun and Race Of The Two Seas

The World’s top riders are currently battling it out out in the first important stage races of the year. In France riders tackle the classic Paris – Nice route, taking them across the rolling countryside of the Rhone valley, the hills of the Massif Central and the coastal mountains bordering the Mediterranean. Over in Italy Tirreno – Adriatico is the traditional form builder for Milan – San Remo a few days later. The route varies each year but takes in the huge variety of riding that central Italy has to offer; Tuscany, Emilia Romagna and Umbria.

Tirreno – Adriatico Custom Tour

One of our most popular routes for a custom tour is our take on the classic Tirreno – Adriatico route. Comprising three days of riding, the ride combines stunning scenery with the best of Italian hospitality. The route commences with a gentle roll through the famous Chianti region of Tuscany before traversing the Appennini mountains crossing the Tiber valley and a stop in the renaissance town of Urbino. Our final day leaves us to cherry pick some challenging climbs from the Nove Colli sportive before catching a glimpse of the Adriatic sea and a drop down off the Appennini range for a fast run into Cesenatico to toast a great route with some Prosecco whilst dipping your feet into the sea.

The start and finish towns are also very significant in professional cycling. Mario Cipollini the playboy of Italian cycling is a resident of Lucca and is often seen posing around the town and looking cool out on the roads. As we cycle through cycling mad Tuscany we will inevitably see whole teams out training with the team director shouting from the car. As we ride closer to our final destination Marco Pantani’s influence will be obvious. You’ll get the chance to scale his favourite mountain and in his home town of Cesenatico you can even visit the museum dedicated to this much loved son of Italian cycling.

Day One: Lucca to Raddi in Chianti (120km)

Day Two: Radda in Chianti to Urbino (160km)

Day Three: Urbino to Cesenatico (140km)

Paris – Nice Custom Tour

This summer we’re also helping a group of lucky riders trace their own Race To The Sun. Starting on the outskirts of Paris, the group spend 10 days traversing France’s wine country, tackling the great climbs of the Alps and arriving in style in Nice. Taking inspiration from the Paris-Nice professional race first run in 1933, this tour is designed to allow riders to experience the best of France. While the professional race is held in the spring and limits the route from traversing the high mountains, the mid-summer timing of this tour allows passes of the most magnificent alpine passes.

If either of these great tours sounds appealing then don’t hesitate in contacting us.

View photos from the Tirreno – Adriatico Ride 2011 below

Posted by: lafugatravel | March 8, 2012

Classics Fever

The 2012 season is well underway with the international peloton having already contested races on six Continents. Whilst the likes of the Tour of Oman and the Tour de Langkawi act as leg looseners for the top riders and important stepping stones in the UCIs globalisation of cycling, it’s the traditional Spring classics that get our juices flowing at La Fuga. The top riders converge from all corners of the globe to contest these races that underpin the heritage and history of cycling. The top one day riders such as Cavendish, Gilbert, Cancellara, Boonen and Hushovd will all be eyeing the pinnacles of the one-day sport which take place in a few short weeks in March and April. It all kicks off with Milan – San Remo Il Classicissima or the Classic of the Classics if you non parli Italiano. From there we head north to the Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race and Liege – Bastogne  – Liege. Each race plays to the strengths of a slightly different type of rider. San Remo is one for the sprinters. Flanders and Roubaix are for the hard, strong men of the peloton and Liege and Amstel favour the lighter weight riders who might also fancy their chances come July.

The races run so far this season provide a valuable form guide for predicting who will add their name to the prestigious rolls of honour. Cavendish is already off the mark this year, with an impressive sprint win at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne demonstrating that Team Sky have picked up where HTC left off in the lead out train stakes. Tom Boonen is perhaps the surprise rider in form this year after being somewhere from his best for the last couple of years. Having taken his 100th career victory recently, could Tom be the one to give Fabian Cancellara a run for this money in Flanders and Roubaix this year? Cancellara has already demonstrated sparkling form this year with a dominating win at the Strada Biance event held over the gravel roads of Tuscany. A Boonen – Cancellara tete-a-tete is a mouthwatering prospect.

The form book for the Ardennes Classics of Liege and Amstel is a lot more open. Philippe Gilbert dominated in these races last year and proved almost impossible to beat. His start to this season has been a bit more mixed, leaving the way open for other challengers. Alejandro Valverde is back from a drugs ban after being implicated in Operation Puerto and back to his previous top form. Many of the Ardennes Classics challengers are building their form at traditional season openers Paris – Nice and Tirreno – Adriatico which both come to a conclusion this weekend, and the form book will be more defined once these races have been run.

La Fuga will be at the Classics again this year. We’ll be returning for the fourth year to the Tour of Flanders, a fantastic weekend trip that allows you to ride the route of the event on the Saturday, enjoy some local beverages in beautiful Ghent on Saturday night and then watch the pros do battle on Sunday. If you fancy taking on the Hell of the North then the Paris Roubaix Challenge gives you a chance to tackle the infamous cobbles before finishing in the famous Roubaix Velodrome. And if watching Paris – Nice or Tirreno – Adriatico over the weekend whets your appetite to explore these great cycling regions in more detail, you may be interested to know that we’ve run various custom trips over the very same roads.

Find out more about our Tour of Flander trip here

Find out more about our Paris Roubaix Challenge trip here

Posted by: lafugatravel | February 10, 2012

Catalonia – The Pros Home From Home

It is safe to say that the modern professional peloton has ridden everywhere.  There likely isn’t a mile of the road-cycling world that hasn’t been covered by one of the 500 riders in cycling’s top tier, yet year after year, more and more pros are choosing to make Girona, Spain their home.  Girona isn’t mearly a convenient place for professionals to ride, it is an inspiration, offering perfect riding experiences.
“With each passing kilometer ridden, my love for Catalonia grows. Like being in love with a beautiful woman, the faults are overlooked while, with time, there is an awareness of a greater beauty.”
Michael Barry
Among all these roads, one climb stands out as an emerging legend – Rocacorba. It might not be name you currently recognize, but the same would have been said about the Col de la Madone back in the late 1990’s.  Rocacorba is a 13.8km climb, averaging a reasonable 6% gradient, but with a few 10-15% sections to challenge your strength.  It is the type of climb that can’t be faked, you will know exactly how well you’re riding, but your reward is an incredible panoramic view – showing both the snow-capped Pyrenees and the still blue of the Mediterranean. Rocacorba has become the test for top pros to measure their form.  There are many stories of cyclists testing their form here – David Millar rushing to find form ahead of the 2009 Vuelta; GreenEDGE hardman Svein Tuft recording five hours of intervals work on the climb or Ryder Hesjedal offering the first glimpses of the form that would see him finish 7th overall in the 2010 Tour de France.
We offer you the Rapha Randonnée Weekend Catalonia as a way to experience this perfect cycling experience.  Join us for a long weekend, experience the beauty of Catalonia, test yourself against the Rocacorba.
Further reading / watching about Catalonia / Rocacorba
Posted by: lafugatravel | February 8, 2012

A Few Days In Catalonia

Just before Christmas I spent a few days on the road reccying the route for the new Rapha Randonnée Weekend Catalonia – a three day riding trip taking in many of the roads and climbs used by the several pro riders who make their home in Girona. Our idea behind the Randonnée Weekends is to offer three days of great riding close to good transport links for easy travel and slightly less demanding riding than a big sportive or full Randonnée so prospective riders weren’t so worried about fitness levels.

Day One – Girona to Vic (90km)

We landed in Barcelona and after picking up the hire car, we’re soon on the motorway north towards Girona. The last time I had visited Girona was at the end of a challenging Pyreneen Raid where I had been carrying all my own gear and saw us ride the last couple of days into Girona in 35C+ August heat. Needless to say my memories were slightly tarnished by this experience. More positive memories were of Girona’s charming old town and numerous plazas, perfect for tapas and a glass of vino tinto.

The route for the first day’s riding would see us head west out of Girona and into the undulating hills that slowly rise up to meet the Southern extent of the Catalonian Pyrenees. The traffic of downtown Girona melts away as the route heads for the hill towns of Osor and Sant Hilari Sacalm. As we climbed away from Girona the late Autumn sunshine was diffused and filtered through the bare trees as the road wound its way up a narrow valley.

Once in this hill country, the bustle of Girona is long gone and the pace of life seems to slow down a couple of notches.  We enjoyed a brief stop in Viladrau, a charming, sleepy village with a couple of welcoming cafes. Seemed like a good lunch stop for the riders. Descending out of Viladrau, an amazing view of the mountains of the Montseny National Park opens up on our right hand side. Soon enough the road is climbing for the final time as we meander through evergreen forest on the way to the final destination in Sant Julia de Vilatorta. One final descent takes us through an avenue of plain trees and into the town.

Day Two – Vic to Llanars (125km)

It was a cold, grey start to our reccy of the second stage.  The freezing fog pervaded the valley and seemed to chill to the bone. As we climbed up and away from Vic, the fog suddenly began to clear and we were rewarded with an amazing view back from where we’d come and shafts of warm Autumn sunshine on the back of the neck. Day Two is the toughest of the three. It starts with undulations through rolling farmland before some tougher climbing after lunch. Most of the route takes in tiny roads with virtually no traffic – no wonder the pros love this place. We’re back to civilisation briefly as we navigate the narrow streets of Ripoll and straight onto the twin climbs of Coll de Canes and Coll de Coubet. In typical Spanish Pyreneen style, the climbs are well surfaced and nicely graded; no steep pitches here to shock the legs (that comes later!). The descent to Sant Joan is a treat, the perfect combination of tight hairpins, flowing corners and exhilarating straights. A first glimpse of the Southern Pyrenees towering above Sant Joan provides an amazing backdrop.

After a quick snack in Sant Joan, I was keen to reccy my chosen route north into the mountains. Marked on my maps as little more than a single black line, I was slightly apprehensive whether it could be traversed on a road bike. A quick chat with our barman reassured me that this fitting finale to the ride was possible.  After crossing the El Ter river via a beautiful single span bridge, we immediately started climbing. This was tough – my Garmin was reading 15% in places as we quickly climbed high above Sant Joan. The gradient eased slightly but we continued to climb as an amazing view back towards Barcelona opened up to our right. We were truly in the wilds now as birds of prey soared on afternoon thermals overhead and chamois scurried for cover. It was a real treat to discover the road and I can’t wait for guests to experience it as well in May. Upon reaching the end of the range, a rapid decent brought us down into Camprodon, leaving just a few kilometres to the overnight stay in Llanars. Despite the descent we were still at 1000m with the temperature gauge close to freezing as the sun began to set. Luckily we were soon in the warmth of Hotel Grevol in Llanars, a traditional ski lodge with cosy wood panelling and a welcoming log fire in the bar. We treated ourselves in the spa (something I’m sure the riders will enjoy) and enjoyed a great meal in the hotel restaurant.

Day Three – Llanars to Girona (125km)

After a wintry start we were soon on familiar roads from my previous cycling trip to Catalonia. The road between Castell de Rocabruna and Castelfollit de la Roca is one of my favourites. You start by losing some of that 1000m altitude in a series of sinuous hairpins heading for the bottom of a steep sided, wooded valley, past the charming village of Beget with its stunning Roman church and narrow cobbled streets. A couple of stiff climbs stand in the way of some flatter roads around Olot. There’s some busier roads through Olot to negotiate before we enter the beautiful Garrotxa National Park which features 40 volcanic cones and 28 lava flows apparently. Luckily for us, this volcanic activity ceased a while ago so our passage to Girona is unaffected.

The general trend for day three is descending, heading from the highlands at Llanars back to Girona. The exception to this trend is encountered as we leave the Garrotxa Volcanic Park and head to Banyoles. Rocacorba. A name that crops up with regularity in the blogs of Girona based pros such as David Millar and Michael Barry, Rocacorba is a 14km climb rising to almost 1000m above Banyoles and commanding impressive views towards Girona and beyond. It’s a tough but fitting way to end the trip. The climb starts unremarkably with a nice, steady 5% gradient to get you in the groove. Don’t get complacent though, this climb gets incredibly tough in places notably the 10%+ sections around half way and the savage final pitches to the summit. Unfortunately there’s nothing much more than a radio mast and hang gliding launch point at the summit so it’s back the way we came for a final blast back in Girona.

The Rapha Randonnée Weekend Catalonia takes place from 24 to 28 May. Read more information here

Posted by: cameronlafuga | February 8, 2012

Get Out and Ride in 2012

With the Olympics coming to London and more and more people than ever keen to take to the roads, 2012 looks like it could be the biggest year for cycling to date. That’s why we teamed up with our bicycle and navigation partners Specialized UK and Garmin UK to offer the ultimate prize to get one lucky winner kitted up and out riding on some of Europe’s fantastic cycling roads.

The competition ran throughout November and December and we are pleased to announce the lucky winner is Danny Whiteside. Danny was selected at random from thousands of online entrants who successfully answered the question “On which bike did Mark Cavendish win the 2011 World Road Race Championships?“. The answer, of course, was the Specialized flagship road bike, The Venge.

The fantastic prize offered was a Specialized Secteur Elite 2012 road bike, a Garmin Edge 500 cycling computer and a week at La Fuga’s Cycling Academy in Mallorca in mid-March. The aim of the prize was to give the winner the essential equipment and the opportunity to put it to great use on the beautiful and challenging cycling roads in Mallorca.

The Secteur Elite is an entry level, affordable road bike but still offers design features, comfort and quality equipment found on models higher up the in the range. The Secteur Elite is a great bike for those who are keen to get a bit more into road cycling.

Add to this the Garmin Edge 500, an all round lightweight cycling computer recording everything from altitude to GPS location plus the ability to share your workouts online via Garmin Connect. The Edge 500 will give the enthusiastic cyclist who is keen to improve the right tools and information.

With the essential kit in place the next step it to get out and use it and what better way that on the La Fuga Cycling Academy. The Cycling Academy is a completely new approach to Spring riding. Specially conceived for new cyclists and riders looking to improve, our residential Cycling Academy is the perfect place to hone your fitness and riding skills. Over the week the focus is on high quality coaching and fully supported rides to take your cycling to a new level. Features of the Cycling Academy include fully supported group rides catering for all abilities, skills sessions focussing on areas such as descending and group riding, and seminars on key subjects such as nutrition, to really boost your all-round cycling skills and fitness.

Danny visited Specialized UK headquarters in Chessington, south west of London to collect his prize and was met by Emily Hamilton of Specialized and Cameron Fraser of La Fuga. Emily and Cameron also presented the fantastic prize offered by Garmin in their absence. Sadly, Danny had ran out of annual leave at work but he has generously gifted the Cycling Academy trip to a fellow colleague at BSkyB, Nick Dodds. Nick has been riding for a few years but a recent knee operation has meant that he has had to learn to cycling and train all over again. And what better place to be able to do that.

Thanks to everyone who entered the competition and stay tuned for a post-Mallorca write up.

Posted by: alastaircarr | February 2, 2012

Dan Lloyd on the Tour of Flanders

 

With the racing season now underway (yes we know it’s still early February), everyone is looking forward to the Spring Classics, the first big races of the season. Will Fabian Cancellara be the marked man again? Will Thor Hushovd finally take a Spring Classic win? Can Tom Boonen reproduce his past form and become a Belgian hero once more or will Philippe Gilbert step up to become overlord of the cycling monuments?

A good friend of La Fugas, Dan Lloyd, rode for three seasons with the Cervélo Test team, which then became Garmin-Cervélo. He competed in some of the biggest classics in the cycling world, riding with Thor Hushovd, Carlos Sastre and Heinrich Haussler. La Fuga are running an exciting tour to see one of the biggest cobbled Spring Classics, the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. You can ride the cobbles on the sportive event, be part of the fever-pitch atmosphere on the road side on race day and sample the delights of the array of Belgian beers and frites with mayonnaise.

Here he talks to us about the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), and more specifically the 2009 edition. A rider who had matured his racing career in the Flanders region of Belgium made it into the dangerous break of the day with riders such as Sylvain Chavanel, Leife Hoste and Manuel Quinziato, all known for their classics pedigree. You can see here the difficulty as Dan and the rest of the days move hit the incredibly steep Koppenburg. Lloyd relives his experience with La Fuga and tells us why the Flanders bergs are so important to him and why he thinks you shouldn’t miss out on our Tour of Flanders weekend.

LF: The Ronde Van Vlaanderen 2009, you made the vital break putting pressure on the other teams to chase. Tell us about this race that is very special to the people of the Flanders region of Belgium.

DL: Flanders was THE race that I always wanted to do, ever since I started cycling, there was always something special about it and I always admired and looked up to the hard men that did well there.  I had goose bumps all over from the moment I rode into the big square in Brugge to sign on, the atmosphere was electric, I had to pinch myself as it didn’t seem quite real that I was in amongst it.

“They are just so passionate about their cycling, and that is really their world championships…”

LF: How did the move come about? Who started the move and where?

DL: It wasn’t really an ‘early’ move – I made the attack after the Paterberg which was at 180km, I was right up there mixing it with the big names and I was told to attack if I could.  Leif Hoste, Sylvain Chavanel, Quinziato and a couple of others came with me, and we were away, racing towards the Kemmelberg.

LF: What did it feel like to be in a break like that and what were the tactics being employed by the teams/riders?

DL: I cannot begin to describe the feeling, just starting the race was a dream come true, so to be off the front with riders of that quality was incredible, and there was so much support from English fans on the side.  Of course, that break wasn’t part of the final shake down, but for my team (Cervelo), Quick Step and Lotto, it meant that they didn’t have to force the chase from behind, which means that you can save a few riders until later.

LF: What is the atmosphere like with the Flanders fans?

DL: They are just so passionate about their cycling, and that is really their world championships.  It’s not just the day itself, it’s the whole build up, the week before the race is a huge build up and the big riders are on the TV and front pages of the newspapers talking themselves up and others down!  It just seems that everybody from Flanders is knowledgeable about the race, and most of them come out to support from the roadside.  These days, there are so many more international spectators; I don’t think the event has ever been as big as it is now.

“The Kemmelberg is the one that everyone fears…”

LF: What do you remember most from that day?

DL: Being in the break is obviously always going to be the standout memory – I ran out of legs towards the end when Chavanel attacked before the Muur, but I was still able to help my team mates a little and in the end Haussler came 2nd, which, considering how dominating Devolder was that day, was about the best we could have done.

LF: Which is the toughest climb on the route?

DL: The Kemmelberg is the one that everyone fears, it’s a dead stop into it at the bottom and notoriously steep, often even the pro’s have to get off and walk.  The Muur is the final big one and often where the action happens, it’s not that hard if you go into it fresh, but after 230km it really hurts.

“..get an experience for the cobbled climbs so that you can appreciate how hard it is.”

LF: They’ve changed the route this year slightly, what do you think of this?

DL:The parcours looks harder to me, the final does laps up the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, both very hard cobbled climbs.  I think it is really favouring Gilbert, and he will be as motivated as ever to win his home race.  I hope the fact that the end is harder won’t make the racing more negative – it’s sure to be a race of attrition anyway, particularly if the weather is bad.

LF:Where do you think the race will be won and lost this year?

DL: Those final laps will decide things, whoever has the legs will come to the fore at that point.

LF: As someone that’s lived in Belgium, what things shouldn’t people miss on out during a visit to the Flanders region?

DL: The local bars and choice of Belgian beers shouldn’t be missed; it’s a real part of the culture over there.  Of course there are the Frituurs as well (chip shops), and the Tour of Flanders museum in Oudenaarde, but the main experience is the race and the chance to ride over the same roads yourself, get an experience for the cobbled climbs so that you can appreciate how hard it is.

LF: Talk to us about this year with IG Markets – Sigma Sport riding on Specialized S-Works SL4 Framesets; will you have a full racing program and what are your goals for the season?

DL: My racing program won’t be quite as full on as it has been the last few years, but the quality of the racing in the UK is getting better every year.  My main goals will be the National Championships and the Tour of Britain, both important races for myself and the team.

Thanks a lot to Dan for taking the time to answer our questions and we’re all looking forwards to seeing him make his mark on the British domestic racing scene as well as abroad.

If you’d like to ride the same roads as Dan Lloyd and the pro peloton during the Tour of Flanders, sign up for our Tour of Flanders weekend. The weekend will feature riding the sportive event on the Saturday before recuperating with some beer beers and frites. On Sunday we’ll head out to see how its really done when the pro’s battle it out to become the ‘Lion of Flanders‘.

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