Ask yourself…is there something I’ve always wanted to do that, with a little bit of planning, I could achieve this year? We’ve all got a bucket list, things that we want to do before we die. Some will be possible, others probably not, but that’s what’s good about the list. These are amazing, once in a lifetime experiences that will make your hairs stand on end, get your heart racing and be award you memories to talk about for years to come.
Now is the time to start your planning. Pick one from your list, start talking to your family about it, plan a holiday around it, get training for it. The more it becomes part of your daily life, the more it becomes achievable and realistic. The Bikmo team did exactly that. We talked through our bucket lists and each decided on our own personal adventure. We chose ride locations, events and challenges that we honestly believe we can complete during 2017, and here are some of ours.
Challenges don’t come much more epic than the Transcontinental Race for your bucket list. 2500 miles of unsupported solo riding through Europe – mixing in some of cycling’s most iconic locations with amazing historic landmarks. The route you take is up to you, but you are guaranteed awesome scenery and brutal climbing, as you navigate your way between the control points.
Starting in Flanders, the Grandaddy of all cycling locations, you aim your bike southeast towards the first control point at Lichtenstein, Germany, where you’ll arrive approximately 400 miles later. Continuing southeasterly, next stop is Monte Grappa, Italy. The thought of endless freshly prepared pasta, will hopefully ease you through the 360 mile leg of stunning mountain passes and valleys. Suitably refuelled, and you’ll definitely need it, you head northwest for the High Tatras mountains, Slovakia…some 650 miles ahead. Not your typical cycling destination, however the landscape in this area of the world is breathtaking and is worth every pedal stroke it takes to get there. Southeast again, and 550 miles towards Transfagarasan, Romania. The winding mountain roads in this area are the stuff of cycling dreams. With just a 620 mile sprint to Meteora, Greece to finish, you will have enough stories and memories to keep the grandchildren entertained for years…now you’ve just got to get home!
Probably not on every roadie’s bucket list, this is a very unique event with a huge helping of fun, so maybe it should be. The Brompton has become a firm favourite within Bikmo HQ and, if you’ve not already ridden one, it’s well worth getting your hands on one to try. Trust us, it doesn’t ride like it looks!
As the title suggests, the Brompton World Championship is the flagship Brompton only racing event. The event has been running for 10 years, with qualifying heats held in 15 countries and a final in the UK. This is not your usual lycra-clad road event, riders must follow the strict dress code which reflects the heritage of the event. With a suit jacket, shirt and tie, usually complemented with shorts…think top half – eccentric office worker, bottom half – casual commuter. It’s a bit like the child’s puzzle where you can rotate parts of the body to match up the character, but you mix it up to create you own!
So, how do you win? Well, the event starts with a Le Mans style sprint to the folded bikes, before racing the remainder of the distance on a road circuit, aiming to be the first across the line. As you can imagine, it’s as much about your unfolding technique as it is about your legs. Whether you are victorious or not, it’s a festival-like atmosphere that you can’t help but absorb with a wide smile on your face.
We’re very lucky to live in such a beautiful country, and what better way to see it than to ride from the bottom to the top in one go! At just under 900 miles, this is a monster challenge for your bucket list, but such a well respected one in the cycling community, that it’s probably the first one that a cyclist thinks of when the word ‘challenge’ is mentioned. Usually starting at the most southerly tip of the country and finishing at the most northerly, giving it the acronym LEJOG, by which it most commonly known, makes it almost sound gentle!
Most riders plan their route to complete around 100 miles each day for 9 days. With this in mind, try to imagine how Gethin Butler felt as he turned his last pedal rev in September 2001, having completed the distance in a record-breaking 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds (although he actually carried on to break the 1000 mile record too!). This is definitely one of those challenges that your non-cycling friends can relate to but, be prepared, if you take this on, you’ll be just as tired laughing at the comments “I wouldn’t even do that in a car” as you were doing the ride!
There’s many mountain roads around the world that are, to a cyclist, iconic climbs that have many a Grand Tour story to tell, rather than just a strip of tarmac, and it’s a shame we’ll only get to see most of them via Eurosport. Whether it is Alpe d’Huez or Mont Ventoux in France or Angliru in Spain, we’ve all got our own personal favourite for our bucket list. Up there with the most iconic has to be the Passo dello Stelvio in Northern Italy. It boasts a vertical gain of 1,808m as it reaches its peak of 2,757m above sea level and has 48 hairpin bends, all of them numbered on a stone by the road.
Not to be put off by the legendary Fausto Coppi, who said after riding it that he “felt he was going to die”, the awesome feeling of counting down those hairpins as the scenery changes around you, will far outweigh the burning in your legs and lungs. Whichever climb you decide to take on this year, it will be hard not to imagine the vision of your favourite pro rider just ahead of you, your name painted on the tarmac and the sound of ringing cowbells…now if only there was the helpful push from a spectator!
The cobbled roads of Paris Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders make for such exciting racing, that they’re finding their way more and more into Grand Tour stages. Is it because of their beauty, their locations or because they’re spectator friendly?…no, it’s because they’re brutal and just one section of them can wreak havoc on the race. Rather than just jumping on the Eurostar and trying to navigate your own way around the route, to get the most from the experience, it’s probably best to enter one of the organised sportives which take place the day before the main event and, that way, you get to watch the pros too.
Whichever one you put on your bucket list, both sportives have their own characteristics. Paris Roubaix’s 172km flat route features 28 sections of pavé, with each one given a star rating to indicate difficulty, and is the exact route that the pros ride, finishing in the famous Roubaix Velodrome. The Tour of Flanders is a whole different beast, with its route being 230km, and including many cobbled climbs, with the Koppenberg maxing out at 25%. Both are guaranteed to test both you and your equipment to the extreme. Your wheels, legs, bars, hands, arms and bum will all take a beating…so hold onto your teeth, you’ll need them for when you can’t stop smiling at the end!
Planning your own bucket list mega-challenge for 2017?…we’d love to hear about it, just drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Small enough to care, large enough to cope, able to chat about bikes all day… your Bikmo team are here to help you enjoy your cycling more, give you peace of mind, the best deals, and the kind of service you and your bikes deserve.
That’s when we’re not riding the Welsh hills, anyway.