To be Supported or Unsupported, that is the question


Andrew Woods 1  Andrew Woods 4

Fancy doing a multi day cycle challenge in 2019? Andrew Woods managed two in 2018 that club members may be interested in.

John o'Groats to Lands End
Myself and two friends cycled unsupported the length of Britain in 14 days in May. For most of the 1100 miles we were blessed with sunny weather and not too much wind. It was a great way to see the UK scenery properly, how landscapes change from the North of Scotland through the Heart of England and into the gruelling hills of the Southwest.

We booked our accommodation for each night in advance, so we had to push on every day to get to our stops. One of our biggest problems was finding places that were still open for dinner when we finished each evening. The evolving scenery, friendly people and the changing food added to the interest as well as the 33 coffee stops we visited along the way!


Andrew Woods 3

As well as bed and breakfasts and inns we also stayed with friends which was great. The sheer exhilaration of doing such a marathon trip was unforgettable.

Some people questioned why we started in Scotland but I think we made the right choice as by far the toughest hills were the ones in Devon and Cornwall and by the time we reached these we were at our fittest and most hardened up. Altogether we climbed over 18,000 m of elevation during the fortnight, which is more than twice the height of Everest!


Andrew Woods 2

If anyone is interested in doing this ride unsupported, I'm happy to give advice as it is a great way to save money.

London to Monaco
In September I went on a supported cycle challenge from London to Monaco via 8 countries in aid of the Blue Marine Foundation charity.


Andrew Woods Monaco 2

The contrast in support and guidance versus our un-supported JOGLE trip was immense. Over 100 cyclists started from London accompanied by Mike Tindall and Zara Phillips. During the next seven days we were guided skillfully by professional leaders, shadowed by medics and mechanics, nourished by our own team of barristers and foodies and could even have a massage at our lunch stop! On top of this we did not have to carry our own gear which does make a difference.

Some 55 of us did the whole seven days and we met up with some extra people (glory hunters?!) for the last 2 days. Going through so many different countries made the trip more fascinating.


Andrew Woods Monaco 1

Some highlights for me were cycling over the cobbles of Roubaix, some circuits of the Roubaix Velodrome and cycling 125 miles on my birthday, ending up in Strasbourg via Luxembourg and Germany. The toughest day was going over the Alps from Switzerland into Italy over the Grand St Bernard Pass. The next day we reached the Mediterranean Sea which was a great relief. The climax was cycling into Monaco as a single peleton of 100 with a police escort up to the palace square to be greeted by Prince Albert himself. A superb finish to an exciting week.


Andrew Woods Monaco 3

It was a great feeling of achievement as it was by far the toughest cycling I have ever done and it was also a great way to meet like-minded people and make some good friends.


Andrew Woods Monaco 4

If anyone is interested in supporting the Blue Marine Foundation in the 2019 London to Monaco challenge (via the Pyrenees this year) then please follow this link



VCC, the largest club at the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships (we think!)

UCI Grand Fondo 2018

16 VCC members took part in the UCI Grand Fondo World Championships held on closed roads in Varese, northern Italy earlier this month (September). Last year we know that the 18 VCC who participated in Albi, France made us the largest club by far at the championships and, whilst data is not available this year, it is probable that we have repeated this amazing feat.

Around 2,500 participants from across 60 or so nations participated in this festival of long distance racing and time trialling. Males over 60 and females over 50 rode 105 km and younger riders 130 km (1,950m climbing). The course was very hilly and technical with several climbs averaging 7% over 2 to 3 miles along narrow, twisty lanes.

UCI Grand Fondo rider 3  UCI Grand Fondo rider 2

VCC participants riding for TeamGB were:

Aisling Patterson, Alan Swain, Chris Ring, Claire Sharp, Izzy Zimmerman, Karine Jones, Keith Loveman, Laura Moody, Martin Arundel, Matt Moore, Michael Wilkner, Mick Connell, Mike Edmunds (TT), Simon Miles, Tim Coulson, Tina Cockhill 

UCI Grand Fondo rider 4

Several other VCC members qualified but did not travel to the World Championships. Qualification was open to the top 25% of participants in the 20+ qualifying events spread around the world. In GB this was the Tour of Cambridgeshire. No VCC podium positions or rainbow jerseys were achieved but there was much heroic riding - well done Team VCC GB! Unfortunately one VCC rider crashed but he got up and continued racing on the replacement wheels that he'd bought at 19:10 the previous evening!

Despite having the largest representation from any country and there being 17 age groups the only podium position for TeamGB was third in the Women's 40-44 yrs group. Speeds were very high with the men's start measured at an average 32 mph and the competition throughout was fierce. GB had more podium success in the time trial races.

UCI Grand Fondo rider 1

Next year the Tour of Cambridgeshire is again the 'local' qualifying event although entries are already full as the participants in the qualifier is being limited to 25% of a maximum of 200 participants within each age group. However there are waiting lists and it is also possible to qualify via any of the qualifying events around the world, for more information go here. Next year the finals are in Poland and the 2020 championship is in Canada.

Courtesy of Graeme Bird

I have just got back from a 900km Charity Bike Ride in October from Bangkok (Thailand) to Siem Reap (Cambodia) which took 5 days.

The purpose of this was to raise money for HOPE for Cambodian Children Foundation and to build a pre-school at the site of an orphanage we support in Battambang, Cambodia.

A group of 29 riders took part and we raised over $175,000 which as a group far exceeded what we originally hoped for.
The highlight was clearly meeting the kids at the orphanage and the reception we were given on arrival into Battambang, but to be honest I loved every minute of it. Attached are a couple of photos of me and the group which I have been sent and the fundraising link.

Kind Regards




Courtesy of Martin Arundel

Fancying a challenge and having 24 hours spare Martin Arundel rode round Brands Hatch 121 times (300 miles), climbed 7865 meters and ate about 12 energy bars, yet for some reason never got bored of powering down Brabham Straight!

I like a challenge so when Revolve24 offered a 24 hour race around Brands Hatch I thought it would be worth a go.

The rules were simple, ride as many laps as you could in 24 hours; Teams were only allowed one member on the track at a time. Most participants were teams, typically 4, 6 or 8, there were 15 ‘solo’ riders.

‘Installation’ laps started at 11am on the short ‘Indy’ circuit to help judge the start being down Paddocks Hill Bend (60 kph) followed by the Hailwoods Hill which is 9.4% at the steepest point to Druids (at my best 19 kph) and down to ‘Graham Hill Bend’, typically taken at 55 kph during the race but some teams took it at 80 kph. The full GP circuit was opened at 1pm to show you the delights of the long drag up ‘Hawthorn Hill’ hitting 8.1% at its steepest followed by the great (read mostly downhill) Stirlings through Clearways, Clark Curve and Brabham Straight.

We assembled in a line at 3pm for a ‘Le Mans’ start which was seeded to allow the faster teams to get away. As usual the red mist descended and my second lap averaged 37 kph, 34.5 kph for the first 10 laps! My first stint was 3.5 hours, averaging around 31 kph.

At my first stop I came in for isotonic refills and leg/arm warmers and restock of bars. I also put on my lights which was handy as just as I got back on the track they asked everyone to turn on their lights.

Two hours later I came in for my evening meal. Being unsupported I had to cycle up to the Kentagon, I think it was pasta, I do remember it was difficult to eat as it had been cut short so you couldn’t spin it round the fork!

In each stint I carried two 500ml bottles and tried to consume 3 ‘bars’, one protein and two carbohydrate types where possible.

Looking at the data I generally managed 2 hours before coming in for fluids/food. My really bad patch was at 2:30am. The slower solo and group teams I had been passing reasonably regularly seemed to have disappeared. I had been up since 8am, it was very dark and 10 degrees C. I felt I was beginning to fall asleep so decided to find my tent, set the alarm for one hour. When I awoke I just realised that I wasn’t mentally ready so went back to sleep. I woke up at 5:10am and had a stern word  with myself, putting on cold wet kit in the world's smallest tent is something I won’t forget! Once on the track it was fine, still pitch black apart from the pit area but the sunrise was welcome as I only had 9 hours to go :-)

The first 128 miles had averaged around 28kph, after that it fell to 25kph, in part because I couldn’t take Graham Hill Bend at full whack as my lights didn’t extend to hit the apex at 50kph and in part I lacked the motivation. The teams could often get on trains of 3 and 4 but I rarely had the opportunity, too fast for the slower teams/solo, too slow for the fast teams to hold on to sensibly.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, I couldn’t catch the person in front and was easily clear of the person behind so there was no point in really pushing it. After a break at 2pm I went back on the track for the end. I floored it through the start/finish, hit 835 watts up Druids (pb up the climb), my 7th fastest lap at 33kph, crossing the line at 58 kph and realised I could fit in another lap only to unship my chain up Hawthorn Hill, quickly fixing it I finished the 121st lap with a minute or so to spare!

Some data:

Hours in the saddle 17:45, sleeping 2:45, refueling 2:30, average riding pace 26.7 kph, 16.6 mph, 7865 meters climbed. One last thing, the new Garmin 520 can be charged without ‘saving’ the current journey unlike the old 500.