Category Archives: Random Twaddle

Random ramblings on Skedaddle Twaddle

A Guide’s Perspective: Why We Love Climbing Mountains!

Riding a bike up a mountain, resisting gravity at every turn of the pedal, is not easy. But it is possible, for everyone, no matter how fit a cyclist you are. You might just be cutting your teeth on a gentle diet of one col a day on our Alpine Introduction. Or feasting on a five course banquet of climbing in Colombia as you pit yourself against Alto de Letras, the world’s longest climb, but whatever your level there is a mountain for every rider.

“Why do cyclists want to ride up mountains?” this is a question I am frequently asked, writes Hannah Reynolds, and there are as many answers as there are bike riders. The easiest answer is in the words of George Mallory when asked why he wanted to climb Everest “because it’s there.” When we see a sinuous thin strip of tarmac snaking its way up to a cloud shrouded peak the urge is to follow.

Everyone can climb a mountain but, regardless of fitness levels or experience, it is seldom easy. The stronger we are the harder we ride; the desire to accelerate out of every bend, to push over the top of gradient changes, to reach the next corner faster is in every rider. We are chasing sensations as we pedal toward the summit, feeling our way to the red line where hard becomes impossible, careful always to stay the right side of it. The day we become arrogant enough to believe that climbing a mountain is easy is the day we forget to drink or eat enough. A lack of care for the challenge leads to blowing-up; reaching the summit at a crawl, a spent and humbled rider.

What makes a climb special? The view, the companionship, the scenery or the challenge? I may have gently climbed a beautiful hill in spring, breathing easily, on a dry day with a light temperate wind, looking around at the view, but I don’t remember it. The days I remember are the ones where the sun was searing hot on my back, where I had to talk to each leg to keep them turning round and where every corner was a choice between stopping and carrying on. Or the days when your body sings; when you can’t hurt your legs, however hard you try, and the sweat pours down and stings your eyes and your breathing comes in deep rasping gasps but every corner you go faster and faster. Like a surfer waiting for the perfect wave, those are the climbs you dream of.

But why do it? We gain something every time we reach the summit of a col; a sense of achievement, that we have taken on a challenge and succeeded. That we heard the impulse to stop and resisted. It could be the view, to stand at the top of a pass and look down at the valley and savour the panorama of the mountain-scape around you. It could be fitness; this climb is just another training notch on our way toward a bigger goal. Whatever it is we gain from the experience, we have earned it the only way possible, through physical exertion and the mental will power to keep pedaling inexorably upwards.

This may seem hyperbolic to some, but as a guide and a rider I have seen people pass through many different emotions on a mountains trip. I have seen bikes and tantrums thrown by grown men and women. The mountain doesn’t care who you are or what you do, it doesn’t care if you get to the top or not, but we do. I listened to a rider swear at me, swear at his bike, swear at the mountain in rotation for two hours solid as we slogged our way up the Col de Madelaine. I have seen the pride in being able to purchase a simple fridge magnet with a col sign on it. We have had tears on trips, many tears. Tears of frustration at how hard it is, tears of relief when it is over and finally tears of joy when the achievement sinks in. Mountains are not every day things and our responses to them are not everyday emotions.

Mallory also had a longer answer to why he wanted to climb Everest, but the essence of it is there in every cyclist tackling their own, all be it more minor, mountain. When we climb a mountain, when we sweat and toil, and dig deep in our legs and mind the sensation at the top is euphoric, “If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live.”  And that is why cyclists climb mountains, to live.

Got your sights set high? Check out our range of Mountain Challenges and achieve your cycling dreams of conquering iconic mountains from the world of professional cycling.

Celebrating women and cycling

Looking back one hundred years to when the first women were given the vote in the UK, it is worth recalling the famous words of Susan B Anthony, the US suffragist and abolitionist:

“I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammeled womanhood.”

At the time of the women’s suffrage movement the bicycle was a relatively modern machine and it played a huge role in the developing freedom of women. Thanks to the bicycle, women were able to travel further and faster with independence.  Women got out of the heavy layers of clothing and claustrophobic stays they had been trussed up in, as female cyclists supported the ‘rational dress’ movement and the inspiration of Amelia Bloomer and her vision for ‘divided skirts’.

For female cyclists today, the bike is still a symbol of freedom and adventure. It might not be our heavy skirts we are discarding, but embracing the joy and feelings of freedom when you can escape the office, or even the home, for a few hours of pedalling. This feeling of escapism is as strong as it ever was. The number of women cyclists in the UK has been steadily increasing, from grass roots innovations like Breeze Rides from British Cycling to the work of The Adventure Syndicate encouraging women to explore by bike. It seems there is a ground swell of inspiring women looking to share their love of cycling with others and get more women on their bikes.

Empowering women at Skedaddle…
We love hearing the stories from our many female Skedaddlers, taking on the toughest Colombian climbs, putting skills into action on the biking trails, enjoying active family holidays and cycling thousands of miles on our epic iconic journeys. We also have a great team of female guides who love getting out on their bikes and sharing their passion.

So, let’s hear it for women who ride, all around the world. Long may the bike be a vehicle for freedom, independence, friendship and adventure!

Our Top 10 Cycling Cafés In The UK

With the nation’s love for cycling growing every day, today there’s plenty of brilliant cycling cafés around! But we wanted to highlight some of the stops we think go above and beyond and offer something extra for cyclists and cycling community. It can be a handy workshop, or a great location with loads of cycling routes around or regular events that bring the local cycling community together. In no particular order, here’s our top picks you should check out and why…

Dales Bike Centre

Best known for: Dales Bike Centre in Swaledale (Yorkshire Dales) with its ‘Café and Cakery’ has to be up there on your cycling café radar…  En route of the 2014 Tour de France Yorkshire Grand Depart, it certainly takes its coffee and cake seriously!  Nestled in the tiny village of Fremington, a ride in the stunning Yorkshire Dales isn’t complete without a coffee stop at Dales Bike Centre. Decked out in Tour de Yorkshire colours, the cafe is warm and relaxing and when the sun’s shining there’s plenty of outside seating in stunning landscape.

Dales Bike Centre, Fremington, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6AW
01748 884 908


Best known for: Great service, charm and custom made vintage bikes! Here the moto is “not only cycle, recycle”. Auguste offer a personalised service to all customers, from general services, to a complete custom built, or bespoke bicycles, letting you choose the parts from the ground up. They have vintage frames, parts and tools, but it doesn’t mean you cannot have the latest technologies on your bike. Mixing the best of both worlds (old and new) is the way they go here. Word on the street is they do the best coffee in the area too!

Auguste Handmade, 187 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6RA
02034 895 490

The Hub Portreath

Best known for: Electric bike hire, great coffee, locally made cake and amazing trails in the area! The menu boasts ‘healthy eating’ that also includes gluten free and vegan options, all made from locally sourced fresh ingredients. It is located right at the beginning of the fabulous Coast to Coast Trail, which runs 12 miles one way to Devoran on the far side of the coast. And this is only one of the trails you can take, as the entire Mineral Tramway Network is designated for cyclists and walkers, and all trails can be accessed from The Hub’s location here in Portreath.

The Hub Portreath, The Seafront, Portreath, Cornwall, TR16 4NN
01209 844 666

Escape Route

Photo by Escape Route

Bets known for: Established 17 years ago, Escape Route’s workshop offers a professional and friendly bike repair services. And just like in any great bike shop, it is essential to not only have a professional workshop, but also good coffee! And this place excels in both. It is also located very close to the start of a range of trails that will take you along the rivers and amongst the hills and forests of Highland Perthshire.

Escape Route, 3 Atholl Road, Pitlochry, Perthshire, PH16 5BX
Phone: 0179 647 3859

Ronde Bicycle Outfitters

Photo by Ronde Bicycle Outfitters

Best known for:  Ronde is not just a workshop, shop and a cafe. Ronde is also a community of enthusiastic riders who share their love for the sport! The unique Ronde philosophy was inspired by the desire to combine the camaraderie of a cycling club with a first class workshop and outfitters – and this is really what the place is all about.

Ronde Bicycle Outfitters, 66-68 Hamilton Place, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AZ
Phone: 0131 260 9888


Photo by Machine

Best known for: Machine is an independent family business established in 2011 and the first of its kind in the SE1 area in London. They describe themselves as ‘a place for cyclists to catch up, talk about their small and big achievements in sportives, worldwide trips, weekend plans while drinking their favourite Monmouth coffee and nibbling that lovely piece of cake’. All bread and coffee is locally sourced and is even delivered to the kitchen by bike. Also, if you need advice on which bike to get or in need of a fully equipped workshop, this  is your one stop shop in London!

Machine, 97 Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 4TW
Phone: 020 7407 4287

Photo by Machine

Prologue Cycling

Photo by Prologue Cycling

Best known for: High-performance road bike shop, workshop, café, treatment room and bike-fit centre! There’s literally nothing these guys can’t help you with to meet all your road cycling needs. In-store, Prologue regularly hosts workshops, talks and social evenings for cyclists.  They also organise rides that bring together riders for weekly tours of the stunning cycling routes around North Yorkshire. And they don’t stop there. There’s also a treatment room for cycle-specific therapies, as well as bespoke coaching and scientific fitness testing from professionals currently working with Olympic gold medallists!

Prologue Cycling, 3/4 Wellington House, Cold Bath Road, Harrogate, HG2 0NA
 01423 503 000

Photo by Prologue Cycling

Velo Domestique

Photo by Velo Domestique

Best known for: Great coffee, regular cycling events and Breakfast Burritos! Think of Velo Domestique as a huge family, made up of everyone who has ever come and joined them for a coffee, had them take care of their bike or enjoyed one of their legendary specials. Their mission here is to ‘engage more members of their local community into cycling so they too can see the many benefits of a bike filled lifestyle‘.

Velo Domestique, 176-180 Seabourne Road, Southbourne, Bournemouth, BH5 2JB
01202 432 265

Photo by Velo Domestique

The Handle Bar

Best known for: Exceptional coffee and a delicious all-day menu! Located right above a bike shop, this hidden gem is a lovely place for a meal  at any time of the day, with friendly staff and great atmosphere. Here you can have a range of dishes and smaller plates to choose from, which are varied from menu to menu and specials, all plated as only the wonderful cooks at The Handle Bar can do – it is as good to eat as it looks!

The Handle Bar, 28-32 St Michael Street, Oxford, OX1 2EB
Phone: 01865 251 315

The Cycle Hub

Best known for: With arguably the best view in Toon and located slap bang on the Sustrans Coast to Coast (C2C) and Hadrian’s Cycleway route, this is the perfect pit stop for those in need of re-fuelling before the last few miles. The Cycle Hub is a bike friendly café offering bike hire with a fully equipped workshop for bike services and repairs. It also is the home of Saddle Skedaddle, so pop in for a lovingly crafted cuppa and some delicious homemade food when you are around and don’t forget to say hi!

The Cycle Hub, Quayside, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE6 1BU
01912 767 250