Planning Ahead - The 2017 Season

As the sun sets on 2016, I'm looking ahead to what next year's events and racing could bring. New adventures, new challenges, and new places to explore. There are some interesting new ideas on the horizon, so here is a provisional plan for my 2017 calendar...



January

Isle of Wight Coastal Path Challenge
The year always starts with one assured challenge: January weather. I'm planning to break up the month of base miles, with one off-the-bike cross-training challenge; myself and a group of friends are planning to run/walk the 71 mile coastal path around the Isle of Wight, over two days. There is an organised event that does this in April, but I'll be busy bike racing then; so we decided that doing it in the blissful heat of January would be ideal... our overnight wild-camp should be interesting!




February

TorTour CycloCross
February kicks off big time, with the TorTour Cyclocross Stage Race in Zürich, Switzerland. Snow, sub-zero temperatures, and a lot of mud; these are all things that are likely to make an appearance. I have yet to do a race in Switzerland, and I also am yet to do a cyclocross race; so this will be a baptism of fire (or snow!)



Wiggle High5 Mallorca
Late February will then see me hopefully warming up a bit... as I head to Mallorca again with Wiggle High5 Pro Women's Cycling Team, for our annual press and media camp. It's a good workout chasing these girls up the Sa Calobra hairpins; trying to capture the drama with the GoPro mounted to your handlebars.




March

Strade Bianche Grand Fondo
The Strade Bianche has always been one of my favourite Spring Classics. The white roads of Tuscany have just as much appeal (if not more) than the cobbles of Flanders. This year, I'm hoping to cover the Women's Strade Bianche for Wiggle High5 on the Saturday, then ride the Sportful sponsored Strade Bianche Grand Fondo on the Sunday. Fingers crossed it works out. 



Down Lane 'Everest'
The idea of 'Everesting' is pretty simple: climb the same climb, descend the same climb; repeat, until your total ride elevation is greater than the height of Everest (8,848 metres). My aim is to do it on this Strava segment, which climbs the legendary Down Lane in Ventnor, Isle of Wight. At 235 metres elevation per ascent, it will require 38 repetitions of the climb, which I estimate will be about 15 hours of climbing. I'm going to need a big breakfast...




April

OMM Bike?
This year, I ran the Original Mountain Marathon in Scotland. Yes, I ran. The adventure and orienteering part of it suited me perfectly. The running... not so much. However, the team at OMM also organise two OMM Bike events; where riders take part in a similar orienteering race format as the running marathons. I'm hoping to do next April's edition, in the Brecon Beacons.



Dirty Reiver 200km Gravel Race

This is an exciting new event in Kielder Forest, Northumberland. The 'Dirty Reiver' is an American style 'Gravel Race' along unmade tracks; 200 kilometres of gravel, grit, and (with the climbing involved) grinding. I'm taking part with the intention of testing the exciting new Alp-X kit from Gore Bike Wear.




May

Fred Whitton
I've fancied doing the Saddleback Fred Whitton for some time. A recent drive back through the Lake District reminded me of how beautiful it is there, so I'm adding it to my to-do list for 2017.



MTB Coast2Coast
If I manage to secure a place in the Fred Whitton, I'm also toying with the idea of piggy-backing a MTB Coast2Coast along this route. When you've driven that far north, you may as well make the most of it...




June

No commitments yet. Wondering about the HERO Dolomites again, or perhaps the Eroica Britannia...




July

5 Maratonas
The Maratona is one of the oldest cyclo-sportives in the cycling calendar. The first Maratona dles Dolomites was run on 12th July 1987, as a celebration of the first 10 years of the cycling club Societá Ciclistica Alta Badia-Raiffeisen This inaugural route took in seven Dolomite passes: Gardena, Sella, Fedaia, Duran, Forcella Staulanza, Falzarego and Valparola, over a 175 kilometre distance. Since that first iconic route, there have been four more variations; several with over 6,000 metres of elevation gain.

Local company 'Holimites' has mapped these iconic routes onto smart little route cards. Last year, I received a pack of these, and it sparked the idea that it would be an incredible challenge to try and ride all five routes, on five consecutive days. The 5 Maratonas will be a great challenge, in one of my favourite places to ride!



L'Etape du Tour
L'Etapé du Tour
Back in 2015, I rode L'Etape du Tour with Le Coq Sportif (read the blog post). In 2017, I'm likely to be in the Alps/Dolomites around the time of the Etapé, and really hope to ride the incredible stage up the Col d'Izoard.




August

GripGrab Hansens Cykellob Gravel Race
GripGrab Hansens Cykellob Gravel Race
This 120 kilometre 'Gravel Race' looks like a great event (check out this photo blog). Sponsored by a Danish ice cream company, it promises to provide the perfect August bike race!




September

7 Countries. 7 Passes. Bikepacking Trip
It's BIG... This is the provisional plan for my 2017 tour: 7 European countries. 7 European mountain passes. Starting in Copenhagen, Denmark (following the Hansens Cykellob Race); finishing in La Grasse, France. The passes include Hochtannbergpass (Austria), Hahntennjoch (Austria), Timmelsjoch (Austria/Italy), Stelvio Pass (Italy/Switzerland), Montgenevre (Italy/France), Ventoux (France), Port d'Envalira (Andorra). The countries are Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Andorra. The rough totals are: 2,900 kilometres; 49,000 metres elevation gain.

The tour will be split into two/three parts. The first from Copenhagen to the Fugleflugtslinjen ferry, to Germany. The second is through Germany and down to the mountains, before heading along the south coast of France, and then up to Andorra. For the final leg, I will be hopefully off-load my panniers into a support car, and then ride the gravel path from Andorra to my good friend Augustus's house, near La Grasse in the Corbieres.




October - November - December 

No commitments yet. 
We'll see where that horizon takes us... (might have a rest!)



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