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Cycle lock on a ride? Maybe this little Knog? Looks great with our Sommet Bidons too! (Bike Shop plug!)

You are never going to take a big chunky beast on a ride so it’s always going to be a compromise, but perhaps the key is to make it usable enough to carry in our flimsy skin tight cycle kit, yet practical enough to do a few key things;

  1. Be noticeable as a lock and make it just a little awkward for the opportunist – the one who goes out to steal a bike, will steal a bike almost regardless of the lock, but to slow down, even for a couple of seconds at a coffee stop, an opportunist parasite, can often be enough.
  2. Put your mind into vigilant mode – if you take it and use it on a ride, you might be in the mindset to keep an eye out; as long as you don’t assume this baby lock will save all. If you don’t take it, it’s small enough – and maybe cute enough – to be alongside kit you definitely will take every ride, so seeing it might pop the mind into vigilant mode anyway.
  3. Be svelte enough to use or at least consider using on almost all rides. (My coffee scales show it’s light enough and it’s ever so slight curve to shape to the back, seems to make it fit quite nice)

I am acutely aware, from recent experience, that the ‘Belgie Helmet Lock’ won’t do much good if your mindset has slightly slipped in it’s vigilance – for the first time in millennia, and if it also happens to be the time an opportunist slides by and away with your bike.

Maybe this Knog will deter a little and prevent a few losses from the thief end of this horrid transaction. Perhaps also, it will do as much for one’s own vigilance as well.

(NB: Stelvio – cat – is not a thief, he is simply testing it to his high standards. Sadly, taste testing, not anti-theft. Taste fail)

Cycling tour in Girona. I’ll keep it brief. It was a fabulous, eventful, challenging, steep roads, long, fast, exhilarating, educational, friendship re-affirming, adventurous, caffeine filled, coffee bean roasting, culture nourished, hugs laden cops and robbers trip.

A Sommet Cycling holiday!

We loved Girona before. We are now infatuated with it, is riding and it’s the people; our friends.

Until next time! Thanks friends…

Many have been influenced by Persol glasses. None have got it quite as good as Persol. Style icons on the silver screen and in cycling know.

Outstanding optics, incredible style and clever engineering details.

Made in Italy. Good enough for Steve McQueen, good enough for Fausto Coppi, more than good enough for me.

 

Magnum Photos. That in itself would be enough for me to suggest a Sommet for the Weekend. Their catalogue of work is unparalleled and I have spent many, many hours (days, months…) studying, admiring and just enjoying it’s work over the years. In all fields, including, but well beyond cycling.

A couple of days ago, they posted this blog about their work;Featured Essays. Magnum Cycling around cycling. It has been curated to be published in a new book Magnum Cycling which is winging it’s way to me as a birthday gift to myself. 

Curated by a man who loves this type of photography, former editor of Rouleur, Guy Andrews, he has put together a wonderful collection of some outstanding images, from some of the best photographers to ever cradle a camera.

It must have been an arduous task to get down to only 200 or so images. Arduous, as the body of work is so large, but joyous, as the body of work is outstanding. If you like any of or all of; cycling, photography, true photojournalism, art, history, anthropology, travel and more, you will most likely enjoy this.

It’s incredible. That’s before I get my hands on the book.

Superb work Guy and Magnum!

Five months to go until the wonderful La Resistance cycling event and our collaborating trip in Annecy in the Alps. The mixed terrain high mountains adventure we can’t wait for.

Part of our DNA is to look for rides and cycling trips that are interesting, challenging, fun, refreshing. On all terrains. So as soon as we found out about La Resistance we jumped at the chance to be involved and we are now the official travel partner. We have put together a cracking long weekend escape to encompass the event and take advantage of Annecy for an extra couple of rides on top of that.

Anyway, this week eight hardy souls galloped through the lanes, fields and bridleways of Kent getting their legs, bikes and minds ready for September. There was, perchance, a little more mud on show than there will be in the Alps. But the essence of camaraderie and adventure in the dirt and on the connecting bits of road that was ever present. A grand day out and plenty of fun.

Imagine that, way up high in the fabulous Alps…

We had a ball. There’s another taster ride on the horizon in a couple of months, for which we hope to just about have our bikes cleaned up. And before long, it will be time for our long weekend escape trip over to Annecy to do the real thing, La Resistance. The journey has just begun…

Photography by Jim Clarkson, Ross Muir and Nick Frendo.

It’s a long weekend so two Sommets for the weekend. Both deserve their own stand alone piece but, just like the cycling calendar at this time of year, good things overlap. We are in the midst of La Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and the Flandrian Classics season.

So, in La Volta Ciclista corner; Volata. A Barcelona based Spanish language, global looking cycling culture magazine. I am biased as I am friends with the people behind it and many of the contributors, but it is superb. To simplify it, think Rouleur Magazine in Spanish. Not quite true, but it gives a reference point of sorts. Road, cross..cycling; each Volata has a very strong narrative, from Dan Martin to Francesco Moser, from Wiggo and London to the cycling and the Spanish Civil War. Fabulous images, illustrations and poetic, creative, incisive – always fabulous – writing.

If you aren’t blessed with the Spanish tongue, the images and illustrations are worthy on their own. For Spanish speakers, it’s superb. If you are learning Spanish, it’s great. Learning while reading about fascinating cycling related stories. All on high quality paper, coffee table stuff. If you are Stelvio (the cat) it’s apparently nice quality paper to chew…

And the Flandrian Classics corner is represented by; Flandrien by Stephan Vanfleteren. A beautiful little hard back book all about the Flandrien cycling culture and landscape. From the old ladies to the muddied Pro’s, the urban streets to the local clubs. The cobbles to Muurs and Bergs. The images are truly stunning. Peacefully powerful, no words are needed to explain the stories they tell and none are given. Every image could be worthy of a large print on any wall, I find myself lingering for longer than I expected each time I pick it up, dreaming of Flanders and wishing I could shoot so well. And it is put together as beautifully as the images and subject deserve. A timeless book which I was very lucky to receive as a 40th birthday gift.

Coffee, chocolate Easter eggs, La Volta, E3, Gent Wevelgem and these two bits of paper goodness. Hardly time to go for a ride in the Spring sunshine. Happy Easter all.

Now, we are not a cycle race review or report site, but as this is one of our local cycle races…

I didn’t get to the stage yesterday sadly, as it headed up into the mountains of La Molina and I would have loved to. However, as you know we have good friends around here and one of the La Fabrica Race Team that we sponsor and I shoot for, is a fine photographer and he went to the stage.

Meet Jordi Carruana. The bearded one of La Fab Race Team. (Perhaps to them as Geoffrey Soupe? is to Cofidis this year – third shot in the sequence…).

He was at the start in G-Town and then up at La Molina for the finishing throws and has been gracious enough to share some images with us. Muchisimas gracias amigo, nos vemos pronto. Find him on his Instagram and maybe cross paths with him on a G-Town trip…! (Warning, he is strong on the pedals as well as on the shutter release!).

Just a very small set of shots from a single spot on a lovely climb out of Girona as La Volta passed through on Stage 2.

I was a little selfish and a little pre-occupied. Riding around beforehand, grabbing a coffee and breakfast in La Fabrica, then doing some work on the bike with our La Fabrica Race Team and doing some shots with a few of them after. Which left just a little time to choose one spot and get these.

A rather nicely balanced day.

 

Just a few quick snaps form the sign on of La Volta a Catalunya in Calella. The habitual start town of recent years is a bit of a classic down beat Spanish seaside town, but once the cycle race leaves the town it is into some of the most beautiful scenery you could wish to ride through. I squeezed in a few heavenly hours from early doors today covering a good chunk of today’s stage, before heading to the sign on to see a few old mates and spot a few of the big hitters.

The array of talent on show at this year’s La Volta is better than ever, and each year it has been more and more star studded – GC wise. It’s a cracking week of racing. No TT to ruin real racing and a parcours to really test early season legs. It’s a bit of a combination of a few days of Classics style stages, maybe a (power) sprint or two, with a couple of snow bound genuine mountain top finishes and a final day of almost criterium chaos around Barcelona’s Olympic Montjuïc park. It makes it a brilliant entertaining week for spectators and tough for the riders. Recommended!

Even better, come and ride here…just saying.

I will try and bring some more imagery and waffle during the week if I can.

Now the cycling season is really underway it’s nice for me to reflect on a very nice pre-season. In January I was shooting Orica Greenedge at their training camp down here in Spain. I was there for Craft Sportswear initially and then with Etixx Nutrition, thanks to an introduction by my mate Christian Meier.

It was great to see the pro’s in their environment from a photographic and also a cycling point of view, but also from an organisational point of view for Sommet. With my creative eye on the shots, I had a little project mind on the organisation; what they do, how they do and how we can develop and bring anything to what we do at Sommet.

In many respects we do much of what they do. The riders need to think about little but ride, supported by the DS and mechanic in the car and recover – and put up with a photographer loitering. That’s exactly what we do at Sommet (I might even loiter and shoot some shots too!). You turn up and we deal with everything else. Arguably we do it that bit more as you turn off at the airport and we arrange it from there; the Pro’s have to make it to the hotel.

Pre-season is a bit like Christmas too; they get their new kit. So do you on a Sommet trip. So we provide Christmas all year round, whenever you choose to join us.

Evening meals are a chance to debrief and prep for the next day, mechanics prepping, tweaking the bikes again for a fresh start, laundry done when needed and even separate groups for separate needs. That’s the Pro’s and Sommet. While we ride the same routes in a whole group generally, where there is a need we always have it up our sleeve to accommodate a different route if needed for parts of a group. As the Pro’s do, we make the rider – you – the priority.

Where we differ is that our trips aren’t a training camp in the strictest sense. We can tailor trips to be as hard and beneficial as needed, or as relaxing and recharging as needed. We can throw in the 5 sets of 20 minutes climbs at less than 60 rpm over a 250km 5,000m ride like they did if you want. Or we can just ride and have some nice food and coffees en route. Our focus is usually on the balance of that tough rewarding riding, with immersion in a beautiful area. The Pro’s turn up, ride, relax, eat (healthy and nutritious fuel, but not restaurants we want so share with you), have fun with each other and ride again. We do all that, but we make sure the cuisine element and the accommodation element has a certain local high quality and charm. And we seek out good coffee sadly lacking at their hotel – I was lucky to be able to pop to Christian (and roomie, Bling)’s room for a decent Aeropress while I was down there. Experimental bean blends tested over a lazy afternoon…otherwise…capsules…oh dear. The hot chocolate machine was good though.

And Bling brings me to MSR. Milan San Remo is this weekend. The real racing has just about started with Strade Bianche and now the first Monument of the season. I am not really into predictions, especially when it is wide open. But while having those Aeropress’ with my mate, there was a potential winner in the background on his X-Box. Someone who has had a yellow jersey on his back already this year, is in rich form and perhaps it is just his year. Someone who is just a nice bloke too. I don’t do flag waving of nations, I like riders (people in general) for who they are in person. There are plenty of possibles, but for obvious reasons, I wouldn’t mind seeing this Aussie pinch MSR this year. Good luck Bling!

Thanks Orica, Craft and Etixx for the time back in January. It was a joy.