Another Paris Roubaix ticked off….

A wheely good evening from Paul Ashman cycling aboard a P&O ferry heading back from France. The last three days have seen me taken in arguably the greatest one day classic there is, the cobbled Paris Roubaix race.

It all started early hours Friday morning when we were picked up at 2:30am as we had a 6:00am crossing across the channel. We left the white cliffs behind us bathed in sunshine and this was the shape of things to come as for the whole trip it didn’t drop below 18 degrees and we had wall to wall sun.

Friday we decided to head to the Ardennes and take in the first day of the Circuit of Ardennes classic race. This is a second tier race but still had a good field of riders. The Ardennes is a truly beautiful part of Belgium and a new area for me to visit. The race itself had a gruelling first stage with no less than seven categorised climbs and a classic sprint finish in the small town of Bazeilles. We got to see the race three times in the mountains and still got back to the finish for a well earned beer in the sun as the riders entered the finishing circuit. This day was a cracking start to the weekend which only got better.

So Saturday we woke to more sun streaming through the windows and what a day in store ahead of us. It was team presentation day of the 2018 Paris Roubaix and the setting the glorious square of the beautiful town of Compiegne just north of Paris. As the teams arrived aboard the stunning team buses the fans were buzzing to see the classics specialists who 24 hours later would be embarking on the 254 km ride to Roubaix. As well as the team presentation there was a quirky little bike jumble which gave ample opportunities to pick up some cycling bargains and memorabilia, just the two pairs of mitts and a book for me this year. Oh and of course the mandatory bottles and road signs that have become a customary part of the trips abroad. The highlight for me was getting some more signatures on my yellow and pink jerseys as well as meeting some new riders I have never met before. Before long the presentation came to an end and it seemed fitting to find a cafe and sit outside in the early evening sun with a Belgian fruit beer. All in all a fabulous day and still race day to come.

Sunday came and yes more sunshine so we knew we were in for a hot dusty day out on the pave sectors of the race. We spent some time at the arrival of the teams and it is always special to see their bikes all cleaned and gleaming aboard the cars, including Peter Sagan’s limited edition gold S-Works Tarmac. This was just the start of our day on the cobbles. We had a plan to hit three sections but would it come off? Well with Clewes at the wheel and Ashman with the map how could this fail?!? First up was sector one and the pave at Inchy. This was a challenging opening start for the riders with a tight ninety degree turn and a fast exit. Like any of these roads it brings it’s danger and this was no different with a pile up bringing down Geraint Thomas of Team Sky amongst others. This is my first time out on the cobbles and I was amazed in the flesh just how demanding and rough this surface really is.

Onwards for us and we hit the famous Arenberg forest and this is probably the most well known sector. There were literally 1000’s of fans four deep either side of the barrier once we got there awaiting the riders and there was only one place to view the race……….ten feet up a tree in the branches. Now I am no monkey but when there is a bike race to be seen I can scale a tree like any creature. Watching the riders take on this fabled cobbled sector was an experience that I’ll long remember knowing they followed the footsteps of many legends before them. The break passed us and one by one the chasers battled by. This was leaving us one more place to visit, the legendary Carrefore L’Arbre five start sector. We parked up and were faced with a one and a half mile walk to the sector but boy was it worth it. When we arrived it was packed and buzzing for the arrival of the race. We had heard on race radio Sagan was in the break so the anticipation to see the rainbow bands pass by on the dust and cobbles was almost too much to take. If the give away from the helicopter above wasn’t enough as the riders approached the noise from the crowd steadily increased to a volume almost unbearable. Sure enough Sagan was out front with Dillier and the Swiss National champ was literally hanging onto his wheel. These two had over a minute on the chasing group and with only 15 km remaining who’d bet against them taking the top two steps of the podium. We ventured over to the big screen to see the last part of the race unfold.

The gap grew out to a minute and before long the two of them entered the outdoor velodrome to a barrage of noise. The game of cat and mouse began, who would pounce first. The tension was building, the line getting closer. As the metres counted down 400, 350, 300 come on who would jump. And then with 200 metres to go the man himself went and the three time current world champion Peter Sagan came over the line arms aloft. He was the 2018 Paris Roubaix champion and a deserved one at that taking his second monument.

So as we leave the ferry for the journey back to Swindon all I can say is you have not witnessed this race in the flesh do it.  That’s two years in succession now and I’ll be back next year and I am going to try the sportive myself next year. For now all I can say is happy riding and I’ll be back soon with more news from Paul Ashman Cycling including some recent race reports I have been involved in. Laters!!!

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More kids on bikes…..

A wheely good evening from Paul Ashman Cycling. I hope you’re all enjoying the increase in temperature and getting out on your bikes more, I certainly am and even nicer to be a bit warmer on the playgrounds of Swindon schools. Apologies for the lack of blogging recently, I blame it on bikes, cycling and out training too much!

This blog is an update on the current schools work and also about the inaugural Paul Ashman Cycling Easter holiday camp. The Swindon schools that I am working in are taking on the cycling at an alarming rate and more and more children are on bikes and enjoying the sense of two wheels and the fresh air more and more. Recently I have been busy expanding into new areas and in particular within the White Horse Federation including soon to be visiting schools across the county. Things are certainly expanding at a phenomenal rate and it is great to have Jennifer Purcell on board to help deliver the projects. Currently we see nearly 700 children a week and this will only increase. As I always say get more kids on bikes and let’s see more riders out on the roads. Only too often I see adults not riding or out enjoying cycling and I firmly believe this stems from grass roots level so my mission is get that sorted and we will have so many more out cycling the Swindon cycle paths and roads. Let’s aim for less car use and more bike use. If you have any questions or enquiries around Cycling in schools please get in touch.

As you can see from the poster we have the first Paul Ashman Cycling holiday camp coming up in a few weeks time. There are just a few places left so please get in touch if you want to sign your child up. The aim of the day is to have fun with challenges, games and competitions, learn more about cycling skills and maintenance and take the children on to local bike paths and trails. It promises to be a fun filled action packed day.

Until next time cycle safely and most of all enjoy it. Laters!!!

2017 review and 2018 preview……….

A wheely good evening to you all. So here we are in the January of a new year and it is a very exciting one ahead with lots planned for Paul Ashman cycling. Firstly though let’s look back at 2017 and what a year it was.

The year started with an unexpected 5 week stay in hospital due to a collapse brought on by a blocked artery in my brain. After many tests and appointments as well as five months off work I had surgery in Oxford at the superb John Radcliffe hospital which was a huge success and I have had no relapses of the condition since. Even the non stop headaches I was getting have gone. So even though this was a time that meant I could not do much including cycling and gigging with my band it did give me time to plan Paul Ashman Cycling which was officially born later in the year.

Once out of hospital I set about regaining fitness and putting the plans of the business into place. The summer brought many exciting cycling adventures none more so than mine and Neil’s London to Paris and back by bike in four days. All 600 miles through wind, rain and sun but knowing we had raised nearly £5000 for the Royal Marsden charity. And we got to see the final day of the tour on the champs Ellysee. After returning to the UK it was a brief few days of rest before a week long trip to the alps with Recycles RCC. This was a great week away including climbing the Galibier, Telegraph, Ornon, Ventoux, Alpe D’Huez and more. This was my fifth trip to the alps but one of the best I think down to my base fitness level being much better. This in turn made the climbs easier and allowed me to take in the scenery a lot more.

Once home it was back to the business as Paul Ashman Cycling officially went live on September 1st 2017. The main aim is to bring cycling, news, education and events to the people and in particular young people of Swindon. The work came in much quicker than I imagined and very quickly I was seeing children all across the borough teaching them all manner of cycling related things. The main basis to my work is a thirty week bespoke plan I have written to deliver to students of all ages. This involves practical on bike lessons looking at bike handling, safety and maintenance as well as classroom activities around history of the sport, diet, fitness, nutrition, route planning and much more. As we speak I am seeing upwards of 800 children a week and it is a pleasure to be able to bring cycling to the people.

2017 closed with more riding, the club going from strength to strength and the business growing at an alarming rate of knots. So then onto the new year……..

2018 is going to be a packed fun year with lots going in the world of Paul Ashman Cycling. Here is some of the things I have planned with the business, the club and my own cycling activities and trips.

• Paul Ashman Cycling expanding into more schools with more after school provision taking place

• Sportives I am riding include White Horse Challenge, Tour de Yorkshire, Etape Caledonia in Scotland, Crudwell 24 hour and I’m sure one or two more along the way

• Trips to the cyclocross World Cup in Holland, Paris – Roubaix, Majorca, The Alps and the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in the Vendee

• Racing more extensively starting with the Odd Down winter series

• Continue to expand the Recyles RCC

• An exciting charity endurance ride to raise money, more on this will follow in future weeks

As ever there will be lots more fun things happening and I will continue to develop, promote, encourage and get more people into this wonderful sport we all love. Until next time get out on those bikes and enjoy riding.

Laters!!!

Alps done and dusted 👌🚴🏻

A wheely good evening to you all on this chilly Sunday evening, well it is to me after 7 days of continuous 30 degrees plus!! This was my fifth trip out and the rides on this surpassed all before. After the early part of the week I have written about there were still more col’s to enjoy/enjure/persevere!!

Wednesday was a rest day but a short spin of the legs is what we told Jason, like a club run to flush the legs through. Haha this turned into a 1000 metre climb of the Col D’Ornon. The road wound its way up through the valley as the morning sun sprinkled the tarmac with golden rays. Once at the top it was the fast sharp descent back to the chalet before heading off to Grenoble sight seeing. 


So that took us to Thursday and what a day. In any Grand Tour they have the Queen stage, regarded the most brutal day of the race. Well this day was our Queen stage day as we took on the Croix de Fer, Col du Telegraph and Col du Galibier. Over 15,000 feet of elevation, nearly 10 hours in the saddle and some brutal leg burning riding, Yes this was a cycling holiday!!! But boy so glad we took it on and even though fell short of getting back to camp before dark (massive thanks to Andy Caton Curdlér for picking us up in the van) had an epic day in the saddle. This was almost the same route as stage 17 of this years tour and to follow the greats a couple of weeks later just amazing. 


So Friday was our last day riding and we left a true gem for this day………the Col D’Izoard. This mountain held its first summit finish of Le Tour back in July and what a climb. For me this was the gem of the week with gorgeous scenery, sweeping bends, sharp hairpins, magnificent views and of course the Coppi monument near the top. A truly great day in the saddle and in my five years of riding probably one of if not the best day cycling ever. To add to this day while we were on this climb Dennis who came out with us rode the Alpe D’Huez climb, all 21 switchbacks at 84 years old, what an absolute legend, totally brillaint. If that doesn’t give you inspiration to get on your bike nothing will!! 



So that was this years trip to the Alps with Paul Ashman Cycling and Recycles RCC and we all had a blast. So much so we have already booked the chalet for next year and not just one but two chalets as 11 of us going across.

As for this week I am off to Bournemouth for some chill time with my girls, kim and my parents.  Will the bike go with me……well you never know haha. Until next time bye for now and happy riding all of you 😊🚴🏻

Alps Day 1 and 2

A wheely good evening to you all from the sunny Alps. Paul Ashman Cycling and the Recycles Road Cycling Club are enjoying a week out here cycling the iconic mountains of the Alps. It has been an awesome two days already with many more beautiful rides still to do. 
Yesterday we took on the most famous of them all, Alpe D’Huez and it’s iconic 21 stages. We all set off together from the start as a group but clearly weren’t gonna stay together. Andy, Matt and Jason laying down the hammer from the off!!

Having already done this climb three times before I wanted to savour the switchbacks and the famous plaques of riders who have won on this mountain along with taking in the magical views. Switchback 3 is honour to The Pirate, one of Cycling great losses. 

Once at the top we all reconvened for coffee before heading out to go up further over the Col de Serenne, some 2300 metres up this was new territory for myself and allowed me the chance to explore new terrain. Road surface wasn’t great but this added to the challenge and what it did present to us was the most amazing views and cracking descent back down to the valley. Quick Coca Cola stop and we had the final push back to base. Day 1 over and a well earned BBQ enjoyed by all. 

So this took us to today and our trip south to Mont Ventoux. Otherwise known as The Giant of Provence and one look tells you how it got its name towering in the distance from 30 miles away. This was going to be a challenging day with temperatures reaching 40 degrees. The first part of the climb is up through the trees to Chalet Reynard and here a welcomed cold drink awaited.  

From here we were left with the final 6 km’s to the summit and took us past the Tom Simpson memorial. Here 50 years ago the legend Tom Simpson collapsed during the Tour de France and lost his life. The memorial is a fitting tribute to a hero and legend in the cycling world. From here we were left with the final kilometre to the summit where a well earned cold drink awaited. The wind was getting up and this was going to make the descent interesting however didn’t stop me touching 55 mph!! From the bottom after a light lunch we had the final climb over the Col de la Madeleine before getting back to the van and setting off back to our chalet. 

Apologies for no pics as poor internet here in the Alps but please check out some on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Tomorrow is just a flush of the legs and day off the saddle. Until Thursday happy riding one and all. 

Only one day to go….

Evening and hope you are all wheely well. So this morning we set off from Paris on the penultimate leg of our journey. It was a chilly but dry start so at that point all looked favourable for a showed days riding. 


Anyway we set off from Paris and made great time getting to Amiens at lunch for a refuel at subway, not as French as we would have liked but it did the job. Setting off for the final 90 miles to Montreuil is where it all changed!! The wind turned to a head on, the rain came along and it made a grim journey. Legs were burning, wind was howling and and rain was cold but we kept in great spirits to land at the hotel by 6pm. And even better the hosts had a chilled beer waitin for us 👍😊


After a quick shower it was time to get dinner and that was a well earned meal. After over 9 hours in the saddle today I could have ate a horse but settled on omelette. It’s now bedtime and tomorrow we have the final 140 miles back to London. 

This trip has been epic and thank you so much for all the support along the way. All the tweets, texts and messages mean loads. It’s time for zzzzzzz’s now here in Montreuil. As always check out all the Paul Ashman Cycling social media streams and will be back tomorrow with a day 4 update. Cheers.