LEJOG DAY 2

Well all I can say on this day was rain rain and more rain. We left Sourton Cross in rain which just got heavier all day. At times there was a stream running down the road and some of the lanes were so flooded. It didn’t dampen our spirits though even if it did dampen everything else. But then after 110 km it suddenly stopped and we had a dry patch and even a glimpse of sun. As we rolled into Weston Super Mare it stayed dry to be greeted by family on the sea front. Today was a tough day along with punctures to add to it but another day ticked off. Tomorrow for day 3 looks dry and a bit of sun thank goodness.

As always thank you for the support and donations to our charities below. Many thanks. Paul.

LEJOG Day 1

Wheely good evening and just a short update on today’s ride. Day 1 is completed and gosh that was a tough one. It was a headwind all day and a good few hours of heavy rain added to the challenge. On top of this we did 175km with 3000 metres of climbing elevation. So all in all a tough day in the saddle but day one done. Will sleep well for sure and look forward to a slightly easier one tomorrow as we roll out to Weston Super Mare.

And the best bit doing it for two amazing charities. Thanks for all support. Laters 👍

Calm before the storm LEJOG 2019

Well a wheely good day folks and it’s been a while since I have blogged but here I am sat on a train on the way to Penzance complete with my bike. Why you may ask well tomorrow myself, Kim, Jason and Andy will be setting off on our 10 day adventure.

Lands End to John O’Groats is a very popular trip undertaken by cyclists and one that is on everyone’s bucket list. This is one that I personally have wanted to do for a long time and now the time has come. But it so nearly didn’t happen…….

Six weeks ago I was involved in a nasty crash fracturing a few bones and getting many bruises and grazes in the process. At first I thought that’s it my ride will be over but I have healed and bar a few aches still I am ready to start the adventure.

Tomorrow at 7:30am we will set out on day one wildly regarded as our toughest day. Up through Cornwall and into Devon we will cover 170km with some near 3000 metres of elevation. It’s going to be a tough long challenging day in the saddle as will every day but equally going to be great fun.

We are not only doing this for a challenge but to raise money for two great charities. The Swindon Downs Syndrome Group and the British Heart Foundation. Below are the links if you would like to donate.

On the trip I will do a short updates by blog each evening on the days riding so please check back in for an update.

Until then laters and see you in John O’Groats.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-ashman2

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-ashman3

Belgium……the home of cycling, cobbles and classics

A wheely good evening to you all and as I wrote this I am sat on a rather choppy ferry heading back over the channel after a great weekend in Belgium. This country really is the home of cycling like no other and absorbs everything bikes into the life of the place. Where else in the world will a car stop on a roundabout to let a bike out or cross!!!

My trip was to witness the opening classics weekend of the season and what a cracking one it was. After a delayed journey on Friday evening we got to the hotel about midnight ready for a good sleep as we knew the next two days would be full on.

Saturday dawned and it was the day all cycling fans have been waiting for, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad the first cobbled classic race of the year. This race is like a mini Flanders but no easier and took on many cobbles and bergs. After getting to the start we milled round the coaches catching up with the riders and soaking up the atmosphere. The start was in Ghent and there was a great team presentation prior to the race in the famous Kuipe indoor velodrome. Not before long it was start time and we watched the men and women roll out one after the other to embark on 200 gruelling kilometres of racing. For me and Richard we then jumped in the car and got straight to our first stop out on the course to watch the race fly by. There was a break clear at this point but all was calm in the peleton . After a stop at the feed zone we went to watch the riders ascend their 9th climb of the day, the Wolvenberg. We walked about halfway up to the point where it is a 17% incline and it certainly felt steep. As the riders approached everyone pushed to the edge of this narrow road to allow the peleton to pass. It may be steep but the riders flew up as if they were on the flat, they sure know how to climb!! For us it was a quick jaunt back to the finish in Ninove and watch the climax. Zenek Stybar one of the Wolfpack jumped with 2km to go powering to victory. Unbeknown to us at this stage this would be the first half of a double header for Quickstep this weekend. After a look round the coaches and picking up a few bidons we grabbed dinner and headed back to the hotel for a well needed rest and nights sleep.

Sunday arrived and we woke to typical Flandrain weather of cold, wind and rain, perfect for another classics race. Today was Kuurne Brussels Kuurne which generally ends in a sprint but would today buck the trend?? After a hearty breakfast we headed for Kuurne to the start. Again we were able to have a great look round the teams and buses and meet many riders. Another signature on my yellow jersey was good to get and of course some mandatory selfies. The race started and they went off at a blistering pace and I had this inkling it could be one for a breakaway rider to win. After the start we went across to the feed zone which even though yielded no goodies was great to see the race pass. On our way back to the finish we stopped for a quick look round the Flanders shop in Oudenaarde. This really is the home of Flanders and cycling in this area and a recommended place to visit if you’re ever in the area. We then headed off to the finish back in Kuurne and as per my earlier thoughts a 5 man group had gone clear. Excitement was building and with 15km to go the man from Luxembourg Bob Jungels jumped clear. With the group he left behind caught by the peleton he was up against it with them chasing him like a pack of lions. He dug in, gritted his teeth and found that inner strength to hold them off and win…..a breakaway rider had won. This was back to back victory’s for Quickstep and took their tally to 13 wins already in 2019. What was also so good to see was the second place by the young Team Sky rider Owain Doull, could this be the breakthrough ride he needs? I really hope so for this talented young Welshman.

For us we had to get back to catch our ferry which as I said is where I am sat writing this. Belgium is a great country and such a fabulous place to visit. I will be back in 5 weeks for the Tour of Flanders which really is the highlight of the classics season. Until then for me more riding and training getting ready for my Paris Roubaix Challenge and Mallorca 312 rides, both in April. Until then happy riding and from me……..laters.

2018 review and here is to 2019

A wheely good day to you all and I have to apologise for the lack of blog activity. No excuse just busy and other things (cycling!!!) taken over!! This year I will make sure there is more updates on whats happening in the Paul Ashman Cycling world and of course my instagram keeps all things updated on a near daily basis so please check that out and follow me if you do not already.

2018 was a tremendous year for cycling related things and its hard to pick a best one but I think moving up from a cat 4 to a cat 3 racer was a highlight. I worked really hard on my winter training last year to get the legs to a place where I was able to move up a level. Cat 3 racing was then a baptism of fire but I hope to move this on during 2019.

Below is some of the many other great trips I attended and rode throughout the 2018 year:

  • 7 days cycling in the Alps
  • first visit to Mallorca, what a cycling Mecca!
  • Tour de Yorkshire sportive
  • Exmoor Beast (doesn’t get any easier)
  • Many trips to watch racing with Paris Roubaix being one the many awesome weekends away
  • Tour of Britain
  • Once again a super night at the Rouleur Classic
  • Bike packing solo around Belgium
  • A year of successful cycling camps for PAC and the business growing further
  • Trips to many cyclocross races with a highlight the floodlit Super Prestige in Diegem

So yes quite a year but I have to say 2019 is shaking up to be a corker with some cracking things to look forward to. I will keep some under the hat but I will let on to three special rides I am doing. In April I will be taking on the cobbles in the Paris Roubaix challenge and just two weeks later riding the Mallorca 312. This is regarded as one of the toughest sportive rides out there covering 312km around the island with a 14 hour cut off time limit. If that wasn’t enough July will be the turn of Lands End to John O Groats to raise money for charity. Nearly 1000 miles in 10 consecutive days.

So as you can see a special 2019 ahead. I will keep you more updated and until next time laters one and all. Cheers Paul.

Bike Packing Adventures…..

A wheely good evening to you all and as I sit here 5 days after my debut bike packing adventure to Belgium I still cannot believe I have done my first solo trip. All I can say is if you have never tried it then do it as it is an absolute must!!! When I was planning the trip I did not really know what to expect and the packing was a key thing, too much and extra weight is incurred and too little and I would be shopping over there. As it was I got this part down to a tee and I had just what I needed.

As i boarded the ferry at Dover there was one thing I really wanted more than anything, dry weather and bar the last 500 metres 4 days later in Dunkirk I got my wish. My first day took me up to the Dunkirk beaches and then over to Ypres my first stop over point. This was an evening ride and left me with 40 miles in the dark to Ypres. I met Tom Coley on the ferry who was also doing a similar thing to me all be it a longer trip and was great to become friends with a virgin bike packer like myself. The B&B was a welcome sight that evening and although only covered 55 miles on day one it was a challenging day with the night ride.

Day 2 I woke to gorgeous blue skies and sun streaming through the window and today was going to be a great day. First off I rode north to Tynecot cemetery. This is the largest one place that commonwealth soldiers are buried and was a moving experience to say the least. Having served in the Army myself it really brought home to me just what all those men went through serving our country those 100 years ago. After spending some time here I headed south to watch the Great Centenary War Race. The line up for the inaugural edition was good and a chance to see the pros racing on foreign soil. After watching the race in various point including race past Christmas point memorial I got back to the centre of Ypres for the finish. That evening I stayed for the incredible last post ceremony under the Menin gate before another late night ride to get to my next stopover in Avelgem. Arriving at 11pm I was met by Andy my host who I had met through warmshowers.com bike packing website. That day I had put nearly 100 miles in the legs with a fully loaded bike and was ready to sleep and that I did very well in the caravan accommodation in his back garden.

Day 3 again I woke to blue skies and bright sun, just what I needed for this days ride. Today allowed me to ditch all the bags and ride the bike in its naked state, this was needed as 105 miles of Belgian lanes, bergs and cobbles awaited me. Andy had put a great route together for me for this day and it encompassed all the famous areas of this part of Belgium. First up the Koppenberg, followed closely by the Kruisberg, Muur, Taienberg, Kwaremont and finally after 99 miles the 19 percent slopes of the Paterberg. All these climbs are steep brutal narrow cobbled climbs and the cobbles make it a challenge beyond any words one can describe. The one thing that was going for me was it was dry, I really would not want to do this in the wet!!! This ride was just superb and gave me the chance to fulfil my ambition of riding these immense roads. On getting back to base after some 8 hours in the saddle there was only one thing for it…….a piping hot bath and a couple of chilled blonde beers. Bring on day 4!!!!

So day 4 arrived and this was my final day of my mini adventure and the journey home awaited. I had 8 miles ahead to get me and my bike back to Dunkirk and today was dry but windy!!!!! The wind was battering me from all ways and the last 45 miles down the coast was a block headwind. Of course I would rather have had it behind me but it actually served as a really good training tool and allowed me to work on concentrated continuous power output. As I went through the likes of Middlekierk, Nieuwport, De Panne and Dunkirk all I could do was hope the rain stayed away. I knew from social media the UK was battered by storms all day and these were due to come across the channel to Europe so I kept pedalling and as I said earlier beat the rain by the skin of my teeth. All that was left was a ferry and drive from Dover back home to Swindon.

So my bike packing adventure was over and wow it was superb. I have already started to plan the next one and I seriously am considering the Trans Continental in 2020. If you have never done this try it as you will not look back. And all it leaves me to say is ride safe, stay safe and keep those pedals turning. Laters!!!!

Hold your line, sock doping, sand bagging and more…..

Good Morning and a wheely good welcome back here at the home of Paul Ashman Cycling. I am writing this about 40,000 feet up in the air en route to Majorca where the Sa Calobra and co awaits. Life here has been busy as ever with school work, club rides, holiday workshops and racing (more on this in a later blog).

 

As the title of this blog suggests cycling conjures up many words and phrases that to non cyclists is like a foreign language. However it is these that make our sport so special and unique and what brings that bond between all lycra lovers. My first time I heard ‘hold your line” with maybe an extra expletive in as well was when I started racing. It can be heard ringing out through the peloton making sure riders don’t deviate across someone else’s path and cause a crash. And there is another word, peloton, probably the most famous word in cycling. Simply meaning the group of riders grouped together riding a race or even a club ride. Riding in a peloton is the first many of us will get to ride in a group and feel that slip stream effect being in someone else’s wheel.

 

So sock doping, what is this I hear you ask? Well socks are fast becoming a very important fashion accessory of any cyclist. A stylish and sometimes loud pair of sock compliments a black outfit and gives it that oooozing of class. A collector of socks or one who loves to show off their socks can be classed as one of these sock dopers. I myself and am partial to a nice pair of socks and only this week will be displaying a couple of new pairs out in the sunnier climates of Majorca.

 

Allez allez allez can often be heard ringing out from fans high up in the mountains on a grand tour. This phrase is simply a shouting of encouragement to the riders as they climb some of cycling races great climbs. These riders encounter mountains that we only see on postcards. We cannot imagine the pain they go through but that vocal shout of belief from the fans must go a long way to help ease the suffering.

And then of course there is sand bagging. Literally sitting in the wheel and not working and then making that break for victory on the last lap. I guess you could call it tactics or just playing the game. Whatever it’s the final result that matters and being on that top step of the podium.

So as I sit here on the plane it gives me chance to think about what’s happening in the PAC world. All is good as I approach the first anniversary of the business. More kids on bikes, moved up to cat 3 racing and developing myself and the business within cycling. All it leaves me to say until the next time is happy riding one and all and of course stay safe. I’ll be back soon with that race update and maybe a few cheeky Majorca pics.

Until then…….laters!!!