Showing posts from September, 2017

Review - Union Coffee Equinox and Yaya Forest Blends

There are few things that go better together than cycling and coffee. The dark rich drink provides a boost, refreshment, a break from the pedalling, and a warming comforter. Whether enjoyed pre-ride with your porridge, mid-ride at the café stop, or during post-ride chill-out time; coffee is fuel for the ride, and fuel for the passion. The range of coffee beans from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee is sustainably and ethically sourced. Union Coffee works with its union of farmers directly, to provide them with the resources they need, a fair price for their coffee, and a reliable income for their families. Union is also special because it small batch hand-roasts its beans. This allows for greater quality control, and overall a richer and better coffee. The new Equinox coffee is a refreshing and fruity blend. Made as an espresso, it provides a good hit, without being overpowering. With hints of orange and dark chocolate, it smells and tastes fantastic on a chilly autumn morning. The Y

Review - Smoove Chain Lube

What lube would you choose for a 3,000 kilometre bike tour? You're not sure what conditions you will encounter, and you definitely won't be able to wash and clean your bike regularly… I chose the South African brand Smoove Lube for the #7Countries7Passes trip. Smoove is a dry chain lube: best applied a few hours before riding, to give it time to dry. However, unlike many dry lubes, which say they should specifically be used in "dry conditions" (suggesting they are inadequate for wet conditions), the Smoove Lube is a 'Universal Chain Lube' - suitable for all weather riding. The lube is easy to apply, and doesn't create a 'gooey' feeling chain like some wet lubes. I applied a layer before heading out to Denmark for the start of the #7Countries7Passes, so it had plenty of time to dry. Through the gravel of the Hansen's Cykelløb Race , the sunshine of northern Germany, and the rain and snow of Switzerland; the Smoove lube performed well. I

#7Countries7Passes Day 14 - The Final Climbs to The Finish Line

The final day of a challenge often seems to be either a jubilant parade, or a fight of fortitude to reach the finish line. The final day of the #7Countries7Passes tour was very much the latter. Starting out from the Corbieres, the route would take me deep into the Pyrenees; to the finish line at the top of the Port d'Envilara, at the Andorra border. The day started out damp, and it wasn't five minutes before I had pulled on my waterproof. The first few climbs in the Corbieres were nothing compared with what was to come; but they served as a warm up for the legs; as well as a reminder that those legs have done close to 3,000 kilometres in the last two weeks. Today I had Gus following me in the Land Rover, to capture the spirit of the trip, on the final day of the challenge. I was super grateful to have a friendly face accompanying me. A café stop, a puncture, and road works all slowed progress a bit, and it was 14:00 before we hit the long dragging ascent to the foo

#7Countries7Passes Day 13 - Into The Corbieres

This morning, I awoke from my final wild camp of the tour; a spot high on the hillside, overlooking the Corbieres. Just 75 kilometres to ride today, to take me to a warm shower, hot lunch, and the great company of my good friends the Farmers. I made one last Jetboil coffee, ate a baguette stuffed with honey roasted peanuts (basically peanut butter with honey, right?!); then packed down camp and got on the road. I met Gus 15 kilometres out from their house, and we went for coffee at the local café. After six solid days on the road without a friendly face, it was extra special to see his. We then rode back over the hill, and I enjoyed a long warm shower, and a hot meal. So good to see Gus and Sarah again. This afternoon was spent prepping kit for tomorrow's final assault. 175 kilometres with 5,000 metres ascent: it will take me into the Pyrenees, over two major mountain passes, to the finish line in Andorra. What an incredible journey this has been.

#7Countries7Passes Day 12 - Southern France Crossing

 Today was largely uneventful for the first part; a quick look at Avignon, was followed by hour upon hour of Provence vineyards and impressively long straight roads. The highlight of the day in fact came towards the end, once I had passed my target stopping point, and was eating into Day 13's route. I had grabbed a quick coffee and pastry at a local boulangerie, and then headed out into the national park north east of Beziers. The climbing was hard, but some of the singletrack roads the route took me on where spectacular. I should have grabbed some overnight provisions when I stopped before the park, because by the time I had descended out of it, all of the shops in the towns were closed. Luckily, I managed to get a takeaway pizza. I then had to hunt down a wild camping spot in the dark; that took a while. I finally set up camp - the last on of the trip. Tomorrow, I meet up with my good friend Gus, and will stay with him overnight, before we head into the Pyrenees o