24 March 2015

Recommended Viewing: GCN video

Global Cycling Network (GCN) is in Calfornia

My beautiful home state where they have b-u-r-r-i-t-o-s  and  m-a-r-g-a-r-i-t-a-s.

As you may know I am a huge fan of GCN video, mostly because I really like their accents, secondly because they get to ride in the coolest places and thirdly because they have the best jobs ever.

Neal Rogers of VeloNews recently joined the GCN crew (he is a native of California) and so far his British accent is a bit lacking. Instead he appears to be influencing his co-workers speech patterns, which seems plainly odd to me, but then I remember how the Belfast City Bike Tour guides chuckled at my pronunciation of Anthony (Aahn-thun-neey) and realize California accents can be quite entertaining as well, especially when I pull out my so cal coastal surfing lingo.

This evening I was happily watching this week's GCN video, when I spotted a familiar photo - "Hey! I took that photo!"  The strange thing about being a photographer is that I can remember the angle of nearly every race shot I have taken and how the light shown on a blade of grass in the background. Sure enough it was my photo.

Some things in life bring me great joy:

1. Watching every single video that Global Cycling Network has ever made.
2. Seeing Neal Rogers' transition to blend into GCN.
3. Seeing my race photo of Neal Rogers on GCN (that would be at exactly 3:54).

GCN Video 03/24/215


Oh the joy of a new Giant Liv bicycle

I cannot contain my joy any longer - I LOVE MY NEW BIKE!

Okay, maybe I didn't need a sixth bike. Maybe I already lack sufficient space in my home to lean a bike, maybe it is only possible to pedal two wheels at a time, which leaves 10 wheels idle at home -- but I love my new bike. It has changed my life.

You know the old story of how you can never change a person, or how sometimes we cannot change ourselves until we are forced to do so? Well I give credit to my brand new bicycle for wrapping change in one big blanket of love and pleasure. Yes the bike matters, and it might not be the bike you expected.

For me, change came at a price of $575.

No I did not leave off the last zero.

This modest machine has everything I want in a bike and I happily ride it everywhere. In fact, I think of places to go, simply so that I can ride this bike. Do you want to see it.


It's a Giant Liv Alight City (2015)! It's perfect.

Advanced technical features of this bike:
  • It's blue.
  • It's super duper comfortable.
  • It has a matching bike rack and fenders included in the bargain price.
  • It has a bell, which I happily discovered while trying to shift gears. 
  • It has really nice handlebar grips.
  • It has a pie plate (not featured above). I am pretty sure I was 8-years old when I last had one of those on my bike.
  • It has a kickstand! I bet you can't even remember how convenient those are.
Actual full specs which proves it has a fork and crankset and spokes and other important stuff.

After years of focusing on $6500 bike frames and $2500 wheelsets and $250 saddles, and top of the line components, I swear this bike brings me - I dare say - more pure joy than almost any bike I own (okay I admit they ALL bring me joy, that's why I need six). There is no such thing as junk miles or intervals on this bike. I ride it how I want, where I want, when I want. I zoom, I float, I smile.

And the world around me has changed.

Since the introduction of this fine machine into my life, I have noticed tons of other people in Denver riding bikes in t-shirts and pants and sandals, riding whatever rolls on two wheels, riding no matter the weather. And - they are all smiling. Smiling on a bike! Apparently there is pleasure in cycling. It's happening out on the roads of Denver, Colorado every single day. And I am out there with 'em.

The other good thing about this bike is that I do not need to wear a $195 Rapha road jersey to pedal in public. I can be so bold as to wear a hoodie and yoga pants (on my way to yoga class, of course) and feel just fine about my identity. Also, true to my character, I researched city bikes for two years to find just the right bike. This is the one.

I did make it out for a ride on my standard road bike this past Sunday. It felt like the bike weighed about 4.5 pounds under me, light and zippy in comparison .... but I missed having a bell. And a kickstand.

Change your life - buy a bike! (no matter if it's your sixth)

Happy Giant Liv Alight City bike photos:

A plastic pie plate; I'll keep it until it cracks off.

You kick it, and the bike stands.

It's a yoga mat carrying machine.

A very friendly handlebar with a hidden bell.

Happy dog to greet me upon my return from Pilates Class (not included).

Life is good. I love my new bike!

I bought my bike at Giant Denver in the USA.

20 March 2015

Yes Milan-San Remo is a Monument!

Tradition, honor, prestige, long, sometimes epic - this is Milan-San Remo

This Sunday, March 22nd, is La classicissima di Primavera in Italy. A race, that once won, becomes a title forever inserted before a rider's name, e.g., "Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff." Every bike race varies and can be summed up by certain elements: often labeled as a sprinter's race, a climber's race, dependent on the team, all about the type of road surface, or all about the length or route. Milan-San Remo can be summed up by the word Tradition.

What makes this race so special? The future is unknown and Milan-San Remo matters.

We love to analyze, to guess and express our opinion before an event, as hours are spent discussing how many races a given rider has or has not recently won and how that affects the unknown future. We pick apart the conditions of the last 5-kilometers of the race and determine the top 10 rider's; while doubting that any given rider has it in him to win (how would you like to hear that about yourself before a race?). All this attention swells within 7-days of the race.

Then, most often, somebody totally unexpected wins under totally unexpected conditions. It is the very rare man who wins Milan-San Remo twice. (Of course you want to know who has done so: Costante Girardengo, Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Loretto Petrucci, Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck, Laurent Fignon, Erik Zabel, and Óscar Freire)

The winner stands on the podium, we forget and forgive all the incorrect and over-inflated predictions, and pick up the conversation again, with similar characteristics, 358-days later when we cannot remember who the 5th or 6th placed rider was a year prior, but we can remember who won (Alexander Kristoff). I sometimes doubt if the previews are worth a read and the predictions worth a listen - nobody knows who will win, which is all that matters - but anticipation and excitement is at least 40% of the fun of being a fan of cycling.

Will you be watching? 40%
Are you watching? 30%
Did you watch? 20%
I missed it! 10%

You don't want to miss The Monuments!

Milano-Sanremo - 22 March 2015 (Italy)
Tour des Flandres - 5 April 2015 (Belgium) (Ronde van Vlaanderen)
Paris-Roubaix -12 April 2015 (France)
Liège–Bastogne–Liège - 26 April 2015 (Belgium)
Il Lombardia - 4 October 2014 (Italy)

Is Milan-San Remo a Monument?

Yes it is and will always be! More than the route, more than the predictions - Milan-San Remo is a race worth winning. There are only five Monuments in cycling. To win any of the Monuments, boosts a rider's future tremendously through team contracts, endorsements, future jobs upon retirement, respect and a very pretty palmares.

Milan-San Remo is 293 miles that matter very much to an individual (and a team). This Sunday, there will be 200 individuals out there giving it their all. Race previews for Milan-San Remo are everywhere, which in my opinion is further evidence that people care a lot about this particular race. The first sentences of these race previews build our excitement:

"It’s time for the first Monument of the season. Milano - San Remo is one of the most unpredictable races on the calendar." ~ C-Cycling

"The biggest race of the season so far takes place this weekend in the form of Milan-San Remo..." ~ Cycling News

"The longest of cycling’s fabled one-day Monuments at 293 kilometres, La Primavera is also considered the most open with pure sprinters, rouleurs and Grand Tour contenders all queuing up to taste victory." ~ Team Sky

"The first Monument of the year and the last chance for the sprinters to win before more hills are added to the route." ~ The Inner Ring

"Spring must be here in Europe, at last, as the first big Classic of the season leaves Milan on Sunday morning to make the near 300 kilometre journey to Sanremo, but this year without the climb of La Manie. " ~ Pez Cycling

Plus there will be rain on Sunday. How awesome! How unpredictable!

Route Map of the 2015 Milan - San Remo

The route of Milan-San Remo changes every year.

Thanks to the folks who write the race previews

For most of the big races, the same race preview creators compile what we need to know about any given race. I admire the hours of time and commitment required to put the facts together for fans. I know from writing guides and previews myself that one seldom finds good information on the official race website (Milano-San Remo) until just prior to the race start. You need to know the route and have walked on the roads to predict a race. You need to know the condition of the riders on the roster (announced one-week in advance) and the relation of the riders on each team.

For those fans who travel to the race, or who like to read up in advance (to further their own opinions about who will win), these race previews are much appreciated. Although the maps may be the same, the content and opinions are original.

I personally like the Team Sky previews, and the work of Mikkel Condé of C-Cycling. Cycling-Tips now reprints his work (with credit!) and Steephill.TV always links to his work. Condé agonizes over getting the facts correct. The Inner Ring used his work awhile back, but The Inner Ring never (or very rarely) gives credit to others who write and contribute to that website, so I am happy to see Condé receiving the attention his work deserves by joining with Cycling Tips, a news source which always delivers honest excellence.

Read the Race Reviews for yourself - the titles are (very) much the same, but the information differs (just a bit):

Read up and then watch the race:

25 teams of 8 men - see the Start List
Find links to watch the race live - Steephill.TV
Enjoy a look back in history: Milan-San Remo: moments in history by Wade Wallace

What is it called?

Generally the race is represented by the Italian Milano-Sanremo, and/or the English rendition as Milan-San Remo.

Related Posts by Pedal Dancer:

13 March 2015

Dressing for the Weather in Cycling

What to wear on the bike when it is hot or cold

Today I thought I would recycle an old post I wrote back in February 2011 about how to dress for varying temperatures in road cycling. I recently had a reader ask me about cycling in the rain in Colorado, my response was - embrocation. The warming temperatures of spring, and that conversation, reminded me that it is time to sort through my own cycling drawer of gear for those key layers that keep me safe and warm during springtime riding.

Here again is my advice for dressing in layers for cycling:

You don't need that much gear for cycling but you will need a variety of cold to warm weather gear to be ready for any riding conditions. Buying smart, while collecting good gear, will allow you to get out on your bike no matter what the temperature. I admit I am a traditionalist when it comes to road apparel - I believe in sleeved jerseys with three pockets. Everything I carry either goes on me, in my jersey pockets, or in a small under saddle bag. Still quality, comfort, safety, and usability reign supreme.

How to buy gear:
  • Buy quality, wear quality, ride quality.
  • Take care of your gear. Pack it and wash it with care.
  • Build your own unique cycling style.
  • Mix brands to collect the best gear. Not every brand makes every item well.
  • Go for matchy-matchy - you will look so Pro.
  • Pick a color scheme - it just adds to the fun.
  • Don't buy gear unless you need the item for the temperature, and it works with your other gear.
  • Buy on sale. Yes a $200 pair of shorts is totally worth it, but even more so when you buy the item for 50% off.
  • Buy the best shorts/bibs for you. Don't go cheap! Everyone is different when it comes to what chamois or fit they like best. A bad pair of shorts will ruin your ride. Shorts are like socks - there are pairs that will be fine for 30-miles, but only a few brands that are fine for 100+ miles.
  • Socks matter, don't buy cheap socks (or seamed or patterned where you want to avoid irritation). Own a good pair of wool socks.
  • Know your clothing: practice what works best for you in different climates and stick to it.
  • I prefer a couple of good layers versus layering on a bunch of clothing.
  • Dress warm, warm muscles function better and recover better.
  • Spend your money on a very good cycling jacket that wicks moisture and fits well.  
  • Sunglasses help keep debris out of your eyes and protect from sunlight.  
  • Buy an excellent helmet.
  • Wear sunscreen! 
  • I bring a bag of extra layers in my car just in case the weather is different at my ride starting point. 
  • I have a habit of stacking everything I intend to bring with me on the ride inside my helmet: wallet, phone, sunglasses, gloves, food.
  • I wear a Road ID bracelet because I like riding alone.
  • In Colorado, a jacket is almost always in my rear pocket, just in case. The temperature at the top of the mountain is different than the temperature at the bottom. And descents can be cold.

Bundled up all warm, I can't find a reason not to get out and ride!  CX in Frisco, Colorado - Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer


Basic apparel layering guide for road cycling by temperature - what you should wear while riding your bike in temperatures from hot to cold:

Temperature 100-105°
  • Short Sleeve or Sleeveless Jersey
  • Shorts
  • Light summer Socks
  • ½ gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Helmet
Temperature 80-100°
  • Short Sleeve Jersey
  • Shorts
  • Socks
  • ½ gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Helmet
Temperature; 72-80°
  • Arm Warmers (until warmed up)
  • Vest until warmed up
  • Short Sleeve Jersey
  • Shorts / bibs
  • Socks
  • ½ gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Helmet
Temperature 65-72°
  • Vest (until warmed up then put in your back jersey pocket)
  • Arm warmers (on and off as needed)
  • Knee warmers (until warmed up)
  • Short Sleeve Jersey
  • Shorts / bibs
  • Warm Socks
  • ½ gloves to full gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Helmet
Temperature 55-65°
  • Light Jacket or Vest combo
  • Long Sleeve Jersey or SS Jersey with Lycra Arm Warmers
  • Leg Warmers or knee warmers
  • Shorts / bibs
  • Wool Socks / shoe covers optional
  • Full finger gloves
  • Sunglasses
  • Ear band (optional)
  • Helmet
Temperature 40-55°
  • Jacket or Long Sleeve wind jersey
  • Long Sleeve Jersey
  • Long Lycra tights over shorts or bibs, or Long thicker tights
  • Wool Socks / shoe covers (optional)
  • Full finger gloves (might prefer a thicker windproof glove)
  • Sunglasses
  • Ear band or skull cap
  • Helmet
Temperature 25-40°
  • Warm Thermal Winter Cycling Jacket
  • Long Sleeve Jersey
  • Thermal singlet (if below 32°)
  • Long Lycra tights over bibs / shorts, or Long thicker tights
  • Wool or thermal Socks
  • Full Winter Shoe Covers
  • Full finger thick Winter gloves (possibly 2 layers)
  • Clear lens sunglasses or rose lens sunglasses
  • Skull Cap
  • Helmet

When riding in temperatures under freezing:

Be sure to keep your toes, upper legs and hips warm. You'll need 1-2 layers of gloves, wind proof garment on your upper body, thicker full tights, a warm hat, wool socks, and full winter booties. Fenders for winter training are also helpful (yes even the pros use them).

When riding in rain:

Carry a rain jacket (rain cape) in your back jersey pocket in case of rain. Put it on before you get wet. Buy a good breathable rain jacket, one that will not allow your sweat to build up on the inside of the jacket. In cold rain, use lycra arm warmers and leg warmers for some protective warmth.

Embrocation products do a good job of creating a barrier between your skin and the wet rain. Also wear water proof gloves and shoe covers if the weather forecast is for cold rain all day. In Colorado it is best to find shelter and sit out a heavy rain storm, clear skies will most likely reappear within an hour or so.

When riding long descents:

Put your arm warmers & vest or jacket back ON at the top of the descent to stay warm in the wind while descending.

Only you know your gear:

I admit, one of my biggest pet peeves is when someone asks me what to wear. I fear the accusation being hurled back at me, "You said I didn't a long sleeve jersey, now my ride is ruined because of you!" Only you know the interaction of fabrics and layers of your gear. Knowing your own gear and coming prepared is the nicest thing you can do for your riding partners.

"I was so cold my bike was shaking"

My bet is most Colorado cyclists have said this at some point on an unsuspecting day when the weather turned bad. It's not good when you shiver so bad you shake the bike underneath you. No matter how well we plan, weather rules all in Colorado!

It is a pleasure having good gear I can trust outside in the elements. My Top 10 Favorite pieces of gear, totally worth the purchase (now this is a variety of brand names):
  • Giro MIPS helmet
  • Assos Evo long sleeve wind jersey
  • Specialized gloves - any and all, summer to winter!
  • Castelli Shorts (the reliable 100-mile+ shorts)
  • Sugoi RS Zero winter cycle jacket
  • Pearl Izumi rain proof/wind proof jacket
  • Mavic cool socks, and Defeet warm wool socks
  • Specialized Adaptalite sunglasses (light changing lenses, road or mountain specific), (I also like Oakley, and Maui Jim for casual wear)
  • DeFeet knit arm warmers for dry days, breathable and comfortable
  • Specialized knee and arm warmers
For anyone curious, the weather in the French Pyrenees is very similar to the weather in the Colorado Rocky Mountains: cold, dry, hot, windy, afternoon rains.

11 March 2015

Cycling Climbs of Colorado - a Fine List

The very best bike climbs in Colorado with all the facts

I just completed a very fun project - I created a brand new Pedal Dancer® Guide Page for Colorado bike climbs. A list of the most popular mountain passes to ride by bike in Colorado, with all the facts in one convenient online place. See the new Pedal Dancer Guide Page to COLORADO CLIMBS now.

I think of it as the ultimate resource list for cycling climbs in Colorado, offering ride facts and links to ride descriptions, maps and climb profiles by those who know best -- the individuals who get out and ride the rides: MyBicycleRoutes, CyclePass, ClimbbyBike, 303Cycling, SteepClimbs, ColoradoGuy, Colorado-Cycling.com, SummitBiking, Rocky Mountain Cycling Club, Trimble Outdoors, Colorado Bike Maps, 5280, Team Evergreen, STRAVA, MapMyRide, RidewithGPS, Pedal Dancer, local websites and bloggers.

I have included the climbs I have ridden and know best; there are 26 climbs highlighted on the guide page. A drop in the bucket, but a good start.  Jon Summerson wrote a fine book, worth buying, in which he details 144 climbs in Colorado, titled The Complete Guide to Climbing by Bike in Colorado. Read my 2011 book review: Recommended Reading: Guide to Climbing.


Map of 26 recommended bike climbs in Colorado: interactive map link

Best bike climbs in Colorado
Map of popular cycling climbs in Colorado by Pedal Dancer (link)


What I hope to accomplish through compiling this list, is to provide you with one place to locate and read all the resources available about a specific climb you plan to conquer; planning ahead to make your ride better and your bucket list more complete.

Presented in alphabetical order, I detail the climbs I am most familiar with, beginning with the FAQs for each of these popular rides (or ones I really think you should ride), then offer links by the experts.

26 Colorado Passes are featured:

Battle Mountain, Berthoud Pass, Colorado National Monument, Cottonwood Pass, Deer Creek / High Grade Rd., Fremont Pass, Grand Mesa, Guanella Pass, Hoosier Pass, Independence Pass, Lizard Head Pass, Lookout Mountain, Loveland Pass, Magnolia Rd, Maroon Bells, McClure Pass, Monarch Pass, Mount Evans, Rabbit Ears Pass, Red Mountain Pass, Squaw Pass, Super Flagstaff, Swan Mountain, Tennessee Pass, Trail Ridge Road, Vail Pass.

I now have two Guide Pages to cycling in Colorado: 

Path over Swan Mountain looking toward Breckenridge, Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer

Colorado Climb Records:

Most Difficult: Mt Evans is rated as the most difficult climb in Colorado at 9.0 (if the rating considered altitude and weather it should be doubled!). Grand Mesa from either side is also very difficult, but the north side is the second most difficult climb in Colorado. At third most difficult is Trail Ridge Rd - East side.

Highest: Mount Evans is the highest climb with a maximum elevation reached of 14150 ft. Trail Ridge Road is 12183 ft and Cottonwood Pass is 12126 ft. Next is Independence Pass at 12095 ft in elevation.

Longest: Of the climbs listed below, Lizard Head Pass (south side from Delores to Telluride) is the longest at 49.2 miles, although it is not very steep (1.3% average grade). The entire climb of Mt Evans from Idaho Springs is 28 miles. McClure Pass (north side) is also long at 25.4 miles . Trail Ridge Rd (east side) is another long climb at a distance of 24.3 miles.

Longest Hardest: Mount Evans, Grand Mesa (both sides). Hard hard hard.

Steepest: Magnolia Rd is thought to be the steepest paved road in Colorado with a 9.1% average grade and a maximum grade of 17%.

The Shortest Hardest: If you like your climbs intense, then you will want to ride East Portal (max 16%), Magnolia Rd (max 17%), and Flagstaff Rd (max 14%). 

Greatest Ascent: The honor of most effort goes again to Mt Evans with 6240ft gain in elevation during the climb, followed by a tough Trail Ridge Rd with 4663 ft gain, barely edging out Grand Mesa (south route from Delta) with 4620 ft elevation gain (although these figures vary by resource).

Fastest Descent: Hold on for the ride down the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass, the south side of Wolf Creek Pass, and the south side of Hoosier Pass. 

Most Scenic: My vote would go to Independence Pass, Trail Ridge Rd, Mt Evans (on a good weather day), Red Mountain Pass or Colorado National Monument. I like open vistas!

Closed for Winter: Trail Ridge Rd, Independence Pass, and Mt Evans. 

My Top Bucket List Climbs: Cottonwood Pass, Independence Pass, Trail Ridge Rd, Mt. Evans, Loveland Pass (south side), Grand Mesa.

Climbs that cross the Continental (Great) Divide

Popular cycling climbs that cross the Continental (Great) Divide. You could do all eight in one week-long vacation to Colorado:

Classic Climbs:

According to Rocky Mountain Cycling Club (RMCC) there are 46 paved passes in the state of Colorado, 27 of those are over 10,000 ft in elevation. I need to give the fine folks at RMCC credit for compiling their list of 15 Classic Colorado Climbs listed, in alphabetical order, as:
  • Black Canyon (north rim)
  • Black Canyon (south rim)
  • Cheyenne Canyon
  • Colorado National Monument
  • Deer Creek / High Grade
  • Golden Gate Canyon
  • Grand Mesa
  • Lefthand Canyon
  • Lookout Mountain
  • Magnolia
  • Mt. Evans
  • Rist Canyon
  • St Mary's Glacier
  • Super Flagstaff
  • Trail Ridge Rd

Loveland Pass - south side, Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer

My favorites Colorado ride areas:

I am certain every cyclist has their own personal favorites, my favorite cycling areas in Colorado are:
  • Copper Triangle (Copper Mountain, Leadville, Battle Mountain, Vail Pass loop)
  • Squaw Pass/Mt Evans/Idaho Springs Loop
  • Lyons, Old St. Vrain Canyon, Peak to Peak Hwy, Ward, Lefthand Canyon, Boulder Loop
  • Lyons, Allens Park, up Trail Ridge Road / Grand Lake
  • Deer Creek, High Grade, Turkey Creek area loop, SW Denver
  • Frisco, Keystone, Montezuma, Loveland Pass, Georgetown area
  • Cottonwood Pass between Crested Butte and Buena Vista
  • Deckers Loop south of Denver
  • Colorado Monument near Grand Junction
  • Independence Pass/Aspen (both sides)
  • Maroon Bells + Castle Creek, Aspen
  • Grand Mesa and Paonia area

Once again, read more about these climbs in detail: distances, profiles, ride reports, and more FAQS by visiting the new Pedal Dancer® Guide Page >>>> COLORADO CLIMBS. It should truly inspire you to conquer a new mountain in 2015!

06 March 2015

WorldTour Race Schedule for 2015

List of the biggest baddest pro bike races in the world!

This year, the list of UCI WorldTour races is long and familiar, all races remain the same as in 2014, except the Tour of Beijing which is no longer part of the UCI WorldTour. The names are the same, but most of the routes differ year to year. For the next few months your Sundays will be busy.

This weekend Paris-Nice begins! It is promised to be big. Who will be there - all the usual main season suspects: Carlos Betancur, Romain Bardet, Tejay van Garderen, Fabio Aru, Michal Kwiatkowski, Tom Dumoulin, Richie Porte, Gerraint Thomas, Michael Matthews, John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff, and Bradley Wiggins (in a supporting role).

We can watch the Paris-Nice race Live starting at 14:00 CET (5:00am. EDT, 7:00am MDT), simply check in for links at Steephill.TV or CyclingFans. And then do the same for all the other races listed below.

Dates of 2015 UCI WorldTour Races (27)

January 17-25, 2015 - Santos Tour Down Under (Australia)
March 8-15, 2015 - Paris - Nice (France)
March 11-17, 2015 - Tirreno-Adriatico (Italy)
March 22, 2015 - Milano-Sanremo (Italy)
March 23-29, 2015 - Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (Spain)
March 27, 2015 - E3 Harelbeke (Belgium) 
March 29, 2015 - Gent - Wevelgem (Belgium)
April 5, 2015 - Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres (Belgium)
April 6 - 11, 2015 - Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco (Spain)
April 12, 2015 - Paris - Roubaix (France)
April 19, 2015 - Amstel Gold Race (The Netherlands)
April 22, 2015 - La Flèche Wallonne (Belgium) 
April 26, 2015 - Liège - Bastogne - Liège (Belgium)  
April 28-May 3, 2015 - Tour de Romandie (Switzerland)
May 9-31, 2015 - Giro d'Italia (Italy)
June 7-14, 2015 - Critérium du Dauphiné (France)
June 13-21, 2105 - Tour de Suisse (Switzerland)
July 4-26, 2015 - Tour de France (France)
August 1, 2015 - Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian (Spain)
August 2-8-2015 - Tour de Pologne (Poland)
August 10-16, 2015 - Eneco Tour (The Netherlands)
August 22-Sept 13, 2015 - Vuelta a España (Spain)
August 23, 2015 - Vattenfall Cyclassics (Germany)
August 30, 2015 - GP Ouest France - Plouay (France)
September 11, 2015 - Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec (Canada)
September 13, 2015 - Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal (Canada)
October 4, 2015 - Il Lombardia (Italy)

Let's look at the planned routes (parcours) for some of the WorldTour races:

2015 Paris - Nice route map: Sunday, March 8-15, 2015

Official website route description: The 73rd edition of Paris-Nice will set out from Maurepas in the Yvelines district on Sunday after a series of events dedicated to cycling on Saturday. The race will then begin its southbound journey towards its first ever date with the col de la Croix de Chaubouret near Saint Etienne. The action will be beamed to 170 countries across the globe.

Route of 2015 Paris-Nice
Route of 2015 Paris-Nice

2015 Milan-San Remo route map: Sunday, March 22, 2015

CyclingNews route description: RCS Sport published the route map and profile of the 293km route on Friday, confirming that no extra climb will be added to tip the race in the favour of the climbers. RCS Sport was hit by a backlash of criticism by riders and fans who made it clear they preferred the finely balanced traditional race route. Via Roma will again host the likely sprint finish after a seven-year absence.

2015 route of Milan San Remo
Route of 2015 Milano Sanremo

2015 Ronde van Vlaanderen route map: race time table: Sunday, April 5, 2015

Official website route description: Bruges Perfect Starting decor remains ' Flanders' Most Beautiful ' . After passing through the center of Kortrijk and Zwevegem , the village of 'De Ronde ' course is being put towards the Flemish Ardennes. After 100 kilometers follows the first pass through Oudenaarde. The capital of the Flemish Ardennes, in recent years demonstrated its value as a point of arrival. (gotta love translated text)

2015 route of Tour of Flanders
2015 route of Ronde van Vlaanderen
2015 Paris - Roubaix route map: Sunday, April 12, 2015

Official website route description: With a total distance of 253 kilometres between Compiègne and the Roubaix velodrome, the 113th edition of the Queen of the Classics, which will take place on 12th April, holds 52.7 km of cobbles in store for the riders (1.6 km more than in 2014). The cobbles will be spread over 27 sections, three of which will also be on the programme for the 4th stage of the Tour de France

The cobble sections included in both Paris-Roubaix and the 4th stage of the Tour de France 2015:
Quiévy (after 107.5 km – 3,700 m)
Saint-Python (after 112.5 km – 1,500 m)
Verchain-Maugré (after 130 km – 1,600 m)

 - - - final route map not yet released - - -

2015 Giro d'Italia route map: 3-weeks, starting Saturday, May 9-31, 2015

Official website route start description: The 2015 Giro d’Italia will kick off on the 9th of May, with an 18km team time trial along the coast between San Lorenzo al Mare to San Remo. The 98th edition of the Corsa Rosa will run over 21 stages to the 31st of May and the organisers, RCS Sport/La Gazzetta dello Sport, have announced all three opening stages will take place in the picturesque region of Liguria, which sits on the Italian Riviera.

Route of 2015 Giro d'Italia
Route of 2015 Giro d'Italia
2015 Critérium du Dauphiné route map: Sunday, June 7-14, 2015

 - - - final route map not yet released - - - 

2015 Tour de France route map: 3-weeks, starting Saturday, July 4-26, 2015

Official website route description: Running from Saturday July 4th to Sunday July 26th 2015, the 102th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,344 kilometres (before ratification). This 21st Grand Départ from abroad will also be the 6th from the Netherlands which is a record. The Tour will then spend two days in Belgium before reaching France.

Read more, Pedal Dancer: Route of the 2015 Tour de France announced.

Route of 2015 Tour de France
Route of 2015 Tour de France
2015 Vuelta a España route map: 3-weeks, starting Saturday, August 22-Sept 13, 2015

Official website route description: Running from Saturday August 22nd to Sunday September 13th 2015, the Vuelta will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,374.4 kilometres.  The first four stages will take place on Malaga territory.

2015 route of Vuelta a Espana
2015 route of Vuelta a España

Who won the WorldTour Races in 2014?

Looking at who won the key races last year, will quickly tell you the type of rider that will likely win in 2015. It is clear the same riders do not always win, but Gerrans, Valverde, Contador, and Kristoff were all in the news a lot in 2015. Alejandro Valverde easily won the most overall points for the 2014 WorldTour.

The winners:

Santos Tour Down Under - Simon Gerrans (AUS)
Paris-Nice - Carlos Betancur (COL)
Tirreno-Adriatico - Alberto Contador (ESP)
Milano-Sanremo - Alexander Kristoff (NOR)
Volta Ciclista a Catalunya - Joaquim Rodriquez (ESP)
E3 Harelbeke - Peter Sagan (SVK)
Gent - Wevelgem - John Degenkolb (GER)
Ronde van Vlaanderen / Tour des Flandres - Fabian Cancellara (SUI)
Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco - Alberto Contador (ESP)
Paris - Roubaix - Niki Terpstra (NED)
Amstel Gold Race - Philippe Gilbert (BEG)
La Flèche Wallonne - Alejandro Valverde (ESP)
ALiège-Bastogne-Liège - Simon Gerrans (AUS)
Tour de Romandie - Chris Froome (GBR)
Giro d'Italia - Nairo Quintana (COL)
Critérium du Dauphiné - Andrew Talansky (USA)
Tour de Suisse - Rui Costa (POR)
Tour de France - Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian - Alejandro Valverde (ESP)
Tour de Pologne - Rafal Majka (POL)
Eneco Tour - Tim Wellens (BEL)
Vuelta a España - Alberto Contador (ESP)
Vattenfall Cyclassics - Alexander Kristoff (NOR)
GP Ouest France-Plouay - Sylvain Chavanel (FRA)
Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec - Simon Gerrans (AUS)
Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal - Simon Gerrans (AUS)
Il Lombardia - Dan Martin (IRL)
Tour of Beijing - Philippe Gilbert (BEL)  *no longer in the WorldTour

Team Time Trial at the 2014 World Championships: BMC Racing Team

See also: Pedal Dancer Spring Classics Schedule for 2015
More race dates at: Pedal Dancer CALENDAR OF RACES AND EVENTS Guide Page

02 March 2015

The Creperie on the Col

One of the best landmarks of cycling

There is the Giant of the Tourmalet, the Henri Desgrange stone pillar on the Col du Galibier, the pointed white observatory on Mont Ventoux, but without a doubt one of the most beloved landmarks for visiting cyclists to France, is a tiny creperie on the crest of the Col de Peyresourde in the Pyrenees.

Why, because cyclists can linger at a table at this creperie and watch fellow cyclists come and go with a sense that they have not been the first, nor will they be the last. It's also a gem exactly because it is not. It's a shack.

As I sit at home in the United States, I often think of that small brown wooden building on a grassy pass in France. I remember the characters who work inside, who take the time to ask where cyclists have traveled from. They ask knowing the answers will most often vary greatly, for this creperie is not located at a peak, but along a passage. A passage that hosts cyclists from around the world often on their way to other magnificent mountain passes.

It is a place to say "I have been there!"

So when I read today, that this special creperie, on the Col de Peyresourde, had been damaged by a recent avalanche at the end of February, my heart sunk. Oh no! Not the creperie!

Read (and see the images): Café on Col de Peyresourde damaged, by Velo Peloton.

I have cycled to the creperie three times and driven past it a few more. It is a fantastic place and I hope it is rebuilt in all its shack-like glory. I have stood next to this landmark with family, friends and by myself. It is a place I like to imagine still exists.

©All photos by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®

The wonderful Creperie on the Col de Peyresourde, Pyrenees, France

On the Col de Peyresourde on Tour de France day 2012:

Everyone here - rode their bike to the top
A landmark for cyclists
A great place to people watch
The scene at the top of the col with riders coming and going
The creperie set up for max capacity on Tour de France day
Camping out before the stage start
We visited Peter Thomson of Thomson Bike Tours at their perfectly placed perch on the Col in 2012
Typical scene on Tour de France day with campers, cars, hikers and cyclists
Camping all along the west side of the road to the Col de Peyresourde
This is what is feels like to camp out in advance of the Tour de France (this is a choice location). We rode up from Arreau on this day.
The simple beauty of cycling up the Col de Peyresourde on a non-Tour de France day in 2010 - pure peace and quiet.
My first visit to the creperie in 2008 with my brother Mike, and friend Dash.

Learn more about the climb to the Col de Peyresourde  on VeloPeloton's informative page: Col de Peyresourde

The road up and over the Col de Peyresourde travels along the bottom of that valley floor (left (west) to right (east)) between these mountains. The ridge in the background unleashed it's snow on the small wooden structure of the creperie below (view from the top of nearby Peyragudes Ski Resort)
Location of the smooshed creperie


My favorite climbs scattered across the Pyrenees are: Col de Agnes, Col du Portillon, Col de Peyresourde, Hourquette d'Ancizan, Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, Hatuacam, Col du Soulor, Col d'Aubisque, Col de Marie Blanque, Col d'Ichere.

Map of my favorite climbs in France https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zF3Mdi_RS4EA.khPsCpthHhgk

Also read an earlier post by Pedal Dancer - a travel series : Guess Where? #2

01 March 2015

Classics Schedule for 2015

The race has begun

When I am asked what or where my favorite bike races are held, I smile with great sentiment and excitement and always respond, "Oh, the Classics, the cobbles!". Without a doubt, the Classics are the most grueling test of man and bike against the elements. Sure cycling is a team sport, but the classics are the hardest races to predict ahead of time because they most often come down to one day and the will of one man on that day.

The Classics demonstrate the true beauty of bike racing - they are hard, unknown, and glory at its very best.

Today I updated the Pedal Dancer Guide Page to the SPRING CLASSICS.

Here is a list of the 2015 Cycling Classics by date with links to the official race website or to Steephill.TV: offering news, rosters, video, live viewing and results for each race. For more links and news about the Classics also visit Cycling Fans. You can expect websites to be updated closer to race date:

Feb 19, 2015 Trofeo-Laigueglia - Winner: Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida)
Feb 28, 2015 Omloop Het Nieuw - Winner: Ian Stannard (SKY)
Mar 1, 2015 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne - Winner: Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick Step)
Mar 4, 2015 Le Samyn - Winner: Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal)
Mar 7, 2015 Strade Bianche - Winner:  Zdenek Stybar (Etixx - Quick Step) 
Mar 22, 2015 Milan-San Remo - Winner: John Degenkolb (Giant - Alpecin)
Mar 25, 2015 Dwars d Vlaanderen - Winner: Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise)
Mar 27, 2015 E3 - Harelbeke - Winner: Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Mar 29, 2015 Gent-Wevelgem - Winner: Luca Paolini (Katusha) 
Apr 5, 2015 Tour of Flanders - Winner: Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
Apr 8, 2015 Scheldeprijs - Winner: Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) 
Apr 12, 2015 Paris-Roubaix - Winner: John Degenkolb (Giant - Alpecin)
Apr 15, 2015 De Brabantse Pijl - Winner: Ben Hermans (BMC) 
Apr 19, 2015 Amstel Gold - Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-Quick Step)
Apr 22, 2015 La Flèche Wallonne - Winner: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
Apr 26, 2015 Liège-Bastogne-Liège - Winner: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
Aug 1, 2015 San Sebastian
Sep 11, 2015 GP Cycliste Québec
Sep 13, 2015 GP Cycliste Montreal
Oct 4, 2015 Il Lombardia

News: 03/09/15 : Tom Boonen Injury Update: Out of Northern Classics


Spring Classics = Milan-San Remo + Cobbled Classics + Ardennes Classics

La Primavera

Milano-Sanremo - 22 March 2015 (Italy)

Cobbled Classics

E3 Harelbeke - 27 March 2015 (Belgium)
Gent-Wevelgem - 29 March 2015 (Belgium)
Tour des Flandres - 5 April 2015 (Belgium) (Ronde van Vlaanderen)
Paris-Roubaix -12 April 2015 (France)

Ardennes Classics

Amstel Gold - 19 April 2015 (The Netherlands)
La Flèche Wallonne - 22 April 2015 (Belgium)
Liège–Bastogne–Liège - 26 April 2015 (Belgium)

The biggest races of them all:

The Monuments:

Milano-Sanremo - 22 March 2015 (Italy)
Tour des Flandres - 5 April 2015 (Belgium) (Ronde van Vlaanderen)
Paris-Roubaix -12 April 2015 (France)
Liège–Bastogne–Liège - 26 April 2015 (Belgium)
Il Lombardia - 4 October 2014 (Italy)

It's not all about the Spring:

Fall Classics:

Clásica Ciclista San Sabastian - 1 August 2015, Spain
Paris-Tours - 10 November 2015
Trittico de Atunno made up of 3 races:
Milano Torino - 1 October 2015 
Giro del Piemonte - 3 October 2015
Il Lombardia - 4 October 2015


UCI Worlds - 19-27 September 2014, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Nicknames for the Classics

Paris-Roubaix = Queen of the Classics (La Reine), The Hell of the North, La Pascale
Amstel Gold = [no nickname]
La Fleche-Wallonne = The Walloon Arrow
Liege-Bastogne-Liege = La Doyenne (the oldest/old lady)
Milan-San Remo = La Primavera (the spring), Sprinters' Classic, La Classicissima
Ronde van Vlaanderen = Flanders' most beautiful (Vlaanderens mooiste)
Paris-Nice = Race to the Sun
Tirreno-Adriatico = Race of the two Seas
Il Lombardia = Race of the Falling Leaves

Ian Stannard.  Photo by Karen Rakestraw of Pedal Dancer®
Steephill video clip of Ian Stannard's win of Omloop Het Nieuw on February 28th: Race Recap of the last 40 km (04:53 English)cycling.tv. Or read: Ian Stannard wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for second year in a row, Sky Sports.

Video of Mark Cvendish's sprint to win Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on March 1st: Last Km (1:08 English)eurosport

Pedal Dancer Classics Guide Page Updated Today! Read more at the Pedal Dancer Guide Page: SPRING CLASSICS

Who won last year (2014)?
2014 Trofeo-Laigueglia - Winner: José Serpa
2014 Omloop Het Nieuw - Winner: Ian Stannard (SKY)
2015 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne - Winner:Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) 
2015 Le Samyn - Winner:Maxime Vanttomme(Roubaix Lille Metropole)
2015 Strade Bianche - Winner: Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) 
2014 Milan-San Remo - Winner: Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
2014 E3 - Harelbeke - Winner: Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
2014 Gent-Wevelgem - Winner: John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano)
2014 Tour of Flanders - Winner: Fabian Cancellara (Trek)
2014 Scheldeprijs - Winner: Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)
2014 Paris-Roubaix - Winner: Nikki Terpstra (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step)
2014 De Brabantse Pijl - Winner:  Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
2014 Amstel Gold - Winner:  Philippe Gilbert (BMC)
2014 La Flèche Wallonne - Winner: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
2014 Liege-Bastogne-Liege - Winner: Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) 
2014 San Sebastian - Winner: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
2014 GP Cycliste Québec - Winner: Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge)
2014 GP Cycliste Montreal - Winner: Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge)
2014 Il Lombardia - Winner: Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp)