What has everyone been up to over the summer?

What a summer we have had across Europe, it started hot and dry, became hotter and dryer and finished off even hotter but I think everyone on two wheels would prefer that?! Now we are into October, it’s traditionally a month where everyone starts to adjust to winter approaching and take some time for a period of recovery after the long summer.

This month, while you are getting ready to think about next year, we thought write about what you’ve been up to. It’s been a very active year, with some great rides!

Lisa’s Majorca 312 Experience

Lisa and Andy,her husband, have been on several summer Polka Dot trips including  Annecy , Alpine Cols and Tuscany.  Lisa rides cyclo sportives in the UK and is an active Triathlete, although due to injuries has had to concentrate more on cycling recently.


So when Lisa emailed me about this time last year to say that she had entered the Majorca 312 sportive in April I was really excited to hear she was entering one of the big sportives in Europe. There are three routes; the 312km with over 5000m of climbing, the 225km with 4000m of climbing and the 167km.  She was unsure whether to do the 312km or 225km distance and on the day decided the 225km would be a more pleasurable day out, especially as she had travelled with several of her friends (I have to agree there!).

We talked on email a few times about training for it  and she came out and did the RAID Tenerife with us about two weeks before the event so that served as a final training preparation as well as lovely break.  I felt her fitness had come on quite a bit from the previous years and she rode very strongly and consistently on the RAID, so it was no great surprise to hear that she had completed it comfortably and in such a great time. Many of our clients have done this event and enthused about it so put this om your wish list.

Her season hasn’t quite finished though as she is now doing the charity Cyclone24 team 24hr velodrome event at the Newport Velodrome in October with Clare Ramage (who she met on the RAID Tenerife) amongst the team. Slight bonkers but we wish them all the best! If anyone is going please give them a big PD shout!

We’re also very much looking forward to seeing Lisa and Andy again on our Dolomites and Stelvio trip in 2019.

Kate and John’s Tandem Exploits

Many of you have met Kate and John over the years and it’s been amazing and inspiring to see Kate’s recovery from a very serious head injury in 2013 in Tenerife. Kate has made an outstanding physical recovery but has been left with sight problems and so now rides with John on various tandems of theirs (including the very smart TT one above).  They were both incredible time trialists individually so when they teamed up, blimey!

Kate and John TTing

Their tandems now go pretty much everywhere! They’ve been on various trips over some very large mountain passes; completing the RAID Alpine, back to Tenerife to do the RAID Tenerife and even on the white roads of Tuscany (that one was a bit of a challenge).

After the early season trip, RAID Tenerife in April this year, they headed home to start their TT season.  Their season was plagued a bit by wind and cancelled events early on so they were happy to manage their second best 10 miles time at 22.28 and did a 58.03 for a 25 mile. Great times in windy conditions.

Their main trip of the summer was the C2C2C…….yes you heard right, not content with cycling across England in one direction on the Way of the Roses, they then immediately headed back following the Whitehaven to Sunderland C2C route with a friend of theirs and even had time to meet up with Andy (Lisa’s husband, see above).

On finishing the trip they had ridden quite a few of the 100 greatest climbs in the UK and this fueled another part of their summer conquering some more on the list.  So far they have done 40 of the 100 including Rosedale Chimney, (love the sign, Kate must have been telling you constantly to slow down John!) and Shibden Wall, very aptly named and a massive feat on a normal road bike let alone a tandem.  So that only leaves 60 to go then. I reckon by this time next year they’ll be bagged!

They then even managed a trip to ride along part of the Danube, unusually flat for them, but I guess after all the climbing it was a welcome change.  As you can see they don’t stop, they challenge themselves constantly and the tandem holds no barriers to their cycling it’s just brilliant.

Jonathan’s qualification for the Worlds at Varese

Jonathan has been out to Tenerife a couple of times now, once in 2014 and then again this year.  It was brilliant to see how his cycling has transformed over this period and how good his power and climbing have improved.  He rides quite a few sportives back in the UK and one of his main goals this year was to qualify for the World UCI Gran Fondo Chamionships in Varese.  This event has been growing over the last few years.  There used to be a Masters UCI World Champsionships for road racing and Time Trialling but this event has now replaced that and it’s exploded.


You have to qualify through one of the World Series events, of which there are now 22 in most of the main cycling nations of the World and some lesser known ones too. You can enter any one to qualify and several if you want to have a few shots at it. There are 3 types of events, TT, Team Relay and the main Gran Fondo.

For the Gran Fondo, each event is divided into age categories so you race (and they are full on road races!) with those from the same category.  Usually to qualify for the World Champs you need to come in the top 25%. For those in the UK, it’s the Tour of Cambridgeshire.  A very flat and furiously fast course.

Jonathan qualified with ease at this event and headed to Varese at the end of August.  He had a good race but being fairly new to bunch riding found this part a bit tricky…in his own words “It was awesome . Very fast and furious and quiet dangerous on technical downhills which was out of my comfort zone (more practice required) but brilliant to be in company of so many great cyclists from around the world and inspiring just to be participating and representing GB . I’ve definitely  got the UCI Fondo bug.” 

He’s got the bug so much that he has already been to Poznan for the first qualifier for 2019 and where world champs will be hosted next year, which apparently is a very flat and fast course. His time was 3 hours 1 min for 120km (that’s quick) and just missed out on qualification by 7 seconds(!)  but I know he will qualify in one of the other events.  When it’s a flat course like that it’s about positioning and race tactics not just about your fitness and power on the bike.  Also being the World Champs course everyone who’s everyone will have been at this event.  He’s coming out to Tenerife in February so we are going to do some work on those aspects and then World Champs there he goes!

For anyone who’s interested in these events here’s the link; UCI GRAN FONDO WORLD SERIES


Dominic’s RAID Corsica & Italian Honeymoon Riding

Dominic has been out to Tenerife for the last 4 years and during this period his riding has gone from strength to strength.  He did the Ventoux to Alpe d’Huez trip last year and then moved onto a harder trip, the RAID Corsica this year.  Whilst the climbing is a little bit less than some of the other RAIDs it makes up for it in length.  The first day started with a bang with 200km of coastal riding.  There is not much that is flat in Corsica even on the coast.  It’s such a beautiful island with varying scenery all the way.


Dominic is a type 1 Diabetic so this brings challenges to his cycling.  He can feel brilliant one moment and terrible the next and he needs to manage overall fatigue much more closely as well as managing his blood sugar levels.  He has got incredibly good at knowing when to stop and get in the bus and when to take advantage of those good days.  Day 4 was a particularity good day, he struck out on his own (intentionally!).  The official route had two out and back sections one of which was along a busy road into the town of Ajaccio.  He decided to miss both those parts out and press on with the intention of meeting us at the top of one of the longer climbs later on in the day.  Well we never saw him again (not all trip just that day!).  He got into the hotel at least 2 hours before the next person and we definitely didn’t lose 2 hours on the extra sections.

Dominic says that “One of my reflections on riding this year was that because of my type 1 diabetes it took me some years before I dared venture out on my own. I have found a few unconscious diabetic patients in bad places: the London underground and up a mountain in Scotland. Both could have died in the situation they were in. Up until 5 years ago I was too fearful to ride alone.”

Having now done several trips he’s learnt to manage his nutrition, effort levels and recovery extremely well whilst improving his fitness all the time. That’s credit to his determination to not let his diabetes determine his life but also down to his analytical approach and research to make everything as controllable as possible. He says one of the things we have helped with, through these trips, is giving him freedom; which of course is really lovely of him to say, but I very much believe it’s also about his attitude; attitude always takes you much further than you think possible and only he has generated that!

After returning from Corsica he rode locally with his club whilst preparing for his wedding to Sarah in August.  Sarah has been on several of these trips so it was brilliant to hear that they were getting married.  Sarah understands how important 2 wheels are to Dominic, so it was not a great surprise that the Honeymoon was planned around riding some of the famous climbs in Italy!  They were off on a 3 week adventure and I’m not sure what part of Northern Italy they didn’t go to, from the opera in Vienna to Lake Iseo and every cyclists bucket list;  riding the Stelvio and Gavia.

From what I understand the Stelvio was a much more pleasant affair, great weather and great climb, whilst on the Gavia the following day the weather turned and it was raining and freezing at the top so one of those climbs to remember!  Funnily enough it can be just one of those climbs!

Their Facebook posts were incredible and we wish them both lots and lots of happiness for the future.  They are such a lovely couple.

Dominic & Sarah

Willie McColl’s packed itinerary….what event didn’t he do?!

Majorca 312, Marmotte, Haute Route Pyrenees, RAID Pyrenees, Etape Caledonia, Tour of Cambridgeshire, Worlds in Varese…the list continues of Willie’s season this year!  It’s his 60th this year and so in his own words “I want to enjoy and orgy of cycling!” and he certainly achieved that with some fabulous results along the way.


We sat down in Tenerife earlier this year to try to work through how he was going to manage all this without falling into a heap and actually it’s been very interesting to see how his season unfolded.  This got me thinking that everyone has these challenges of trying to put a summer of riding together and so next month’s blog is going to look at how best to do that, using Willie’s summer as an example, so more about Willie’s season in November.

We’ve now just got a couple of places left on our Italian Dolimites and Stelvio trip if you are thinking of coming……Learn More.

We hope everyone has been having a well earned rest or down time.

Take care and all the best

Jen & Stu

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