You know what? I've totally lost my bike mojo. And what's more I'm getting tired of being ashamed to admit it. The papers, the blogs, the audio the blah blah blah, people everywhere on bikes looking horrendous and trying to be the most committed cyclist. 'Did you cycle in today?' Erm no because it's four feet of snow and I don't like getting salt gravel up my ass. 'Oh well ha, you know I did, do you want to hear about my merino base layer? And I went cyclocross racing at the weekend and then ate my own face.' Not even a trip to Aston Hill at the weekend helped. Gone, the bike love has gone.
So in its wake I have done a round up of interesting bike travelly stuff. It may or may not go up on the big G's website but some of the nuggets are quite useful so I figured I'd post here as well, just in case. Here goes, knock yourself out:
It is by no means obligatory to set yourself a goal simply because it is January. But if you spend the vast majority of your cycling life breathing in car exhaust and rolling over shattered glass in gutters, it is nice to have something to look forward to. And if you're a moderately enthusiastic cyclist, it's got to be a pretty impressive challenge. So why not try your hand at the Alpine Epic 2010 (http://www.alpineepic.co.nz/), registration for which has just recently opened? It's a multi-stage, four-day mountain bike race held from Mount Somers to Lake Tekapo in New Zealand, 24 to 27 February. This is the race's second year seeing 100 teams charging 243km of untamed singletrack in New Zealand's spectacular South Island high country.
Not based Down Under? Never fear. 2010 seems to be the year of the endurance race, a sector of mountain biking which has gained a huge following recently. And if you're not a fan of teams, then the inaugural '24 Hours of Exposure' (http://www.24hoursolo.co.uk/) race – the UK's first solo 24 hour MTB championships - could be just for you. Whipping around a 10 mile loop in the Newcastleton section of the 7Stanes in Scotland on 22 May, novices and more experienced riders can all pit their physical and mental strength against some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK. Until it gets dark. Then you won't see much at all.
As for you roadies, well I've got my challenge sorted: I'm off to Cesenatico on the Italian coast in May to tackle the 40th Nove Colli (http://www.novecolli.it/) on 23 May, called such because there are 'nine hills' within its 200km loop. But those of weaker thigh are also provided for with a 130km option which cuts out quite a few climbs. In true Italian style the race is almost completely overshadowed by the pasta party at the finish. The terrain is gorgeous and in May the temperatures are high – around 27 – 30 degrees. If you fancy joining me, check out the packages offered by participants in the Italy Bike Hotels consortium. The Belvedere Hotel in buzzing seaside Riccione has excellent facilities for cyclists.
A bit closer to home and if you've got Christmas money saved up or are looking for a bike bargain then get yourself up to Manchester Velodrome (http://www.manchestervelodrome.com/) for the 14th annual Cycle Jumble on 24 January. Vendors will be selling everything from new to pre-owned frames, equipment, accessories and memorabilia, so it's a great place to check out kit and pick up stuff you wouldn't normally find in your average high street cycle store. While you're there, check out GBH Bikes (http://www.gbhbikes.co.uk) in the Northern Quarter – custom build and fixed gear Heaven.
If your idea of Heaven differs slightly and figures gold of the liquid variety, Highlands and Islands Adventures (http://www.handiadventures.co.uk/) based in Inverness have just added a whiskey tour to their 2010 itinerary. Coinciding with the Spirit of Speyside Whiskey Festival, the six day tour from 26 April to 3 May, takes in five different distilleries as well as the fantastic mountain bike trails in and around the Caingorms. Hopefully the snow will have melted by then. Full cost for the week including all accommodation, breakfast, lunch and guiding is £725pp.
And finally, if you're into cyclocross chances are you've heard of this site already and perhaps bought the book. But for those who are new to it and in need of inspiration on those frost Sunday mornings, check out pdxcross.com (http://www.pdxcross.com/) based out in Portland, Oregon (and if you read this blog often enough, you'll know how much I rate the cycling there.) The website pays visual homage to all those hardy 'cross types and the collective have just released their first book: Dirty Pictures. Well worth gracing any respectable cyclists coffee table (or tool bench.)
No didn't work. WHERE'S MY MOJO?!