Category Archives: Competitions

Skedaddle Twaddle about competitions

Customer Story: Cycling Colombia, So You Think You Can Climb?

Congratulations to Jan and Chris who are our February Customer Competition winners! One of our favourite things to do is to read stories from our Skedaddlers and we were in for a treat when this pair shared with us an overview of their time in Colombia. Featuring the challenges of the Alto de Letras (that is reputed to be the longest climb in the world), friendly locals and amazing scenery, they sure had the time of their lives. Keep reading to hear more about their cycling experience…

‘Chris and I have recently finished an organised 12 day cycling trip in Colombia with Saddle Skedaddle and, if you like climbing, take a look at this trip.

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We started in Bogota, which is at an altitude of 2,625m and finished on the Caribean coast at Cartagena. As the Andes enter Colombia they split into three cordilleras (mountain ranges) and we spent the next 10 days crossing over them – up and down.   Perhaps the highlight, if you can call it that, was climbing the Alto de Letras which climbs continuously for 82km starting at just under 500m above sea level and rising to an altitude of 3,692m and is reputed to be the longest climb in the world with a total ascent of 4,200m. We were told this was a climb of more than four vertical kilometres and wonder if this could be the climb Lucho Herrara was thinking of when he said that European mountains, such as Alpe d’Huez, were far too short for Colombians.

Apart from the cycling being first class, the scenery was wonderful. We cycled through the Zona Cafetera, stunning scenery in one of the world’s primary coffee growing regions and our rest day was in Medellin, famous for its culture and nightlife. And we cannot write this article without mentioning the Colombian people, we are now half way through our two month trip and everybody has been so friendly and helpful – we really wish we spoke more Spanish so we could fully engage with them.

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So if you are interested – here’s some more facts.

12 days cycling with one rest day. Total mileage 673 miles. Total climbed 17,716 meters. It is possible to take your own bike but we hired bikes; Argon 18 all carbon with Shimano 105 11 speed compact chain set with 11/28 cassette (not always low enough for Jan, she missed her bike).

Skedaddle have been running this trip for quite a few years now and they have certainly smoothed out all the problems that can occur in running an overseas trip. We had a well organised sleek tour from start to finish, where everything was thought of and organised. If you fancy it, have a look at their website or talk to David Hall at Skedaddle as we did on a number of occasions before we left home.’

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Huge thanks again and congratulations to Jan and Chris who have now won £250 worth of Skedaddle vouchers and are in with a chance to compete for a further £1000 in our annual end of the year draw! Have something to share yourself? Find out more about our Customer Competition.

Customer Story: A Photo Diary From Chile And Argentina

We are very excited to announce John as our first Customer Competition winner of 2017. That’s right folks, our monthly Customer Competition is back and we can’t wait to see what you get up to this year! Read on to hear all about our latest winner…

A picture speaks a thousand words, so the saying goes. Having set his sights on South America, John Hayes joined us in Chile and Argentina and came back with some amazing snaps of his cycling holiday. It turns out John is quite a traveler, spending most of his time either walking or cycling somewhere in the world, or planning his next trip. He is an author of his own blog ‘John Hayes Walks (and Cycles)’ on which he features his fascinating travel tales, including a write up of our cycling adventure too. So, without further ado, check out John’s beautiful photo diary from Chile and Argentina, a journey through the regions impressive Lake District:

‘Getting away to the sun and cycling in January is a brilliant way to escape cold grey Britain and it’s now established as a regular feature in our calendar. After three excellent trips in south-east Asia, we wanted a change from the traffic and the endless Buddha statues and decided to go to Chile and Argentina.’

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‘Apart from the cycling (I’ll cycle anywhere) and the good company, this trip was all about the landscape.’

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‘The scenery is spectacular and surprisingly varied. While huge lakes are a common theme, the landscape is lush, forested and green on the Chilean side of the Andies and like a desert in Argentina. Particularly spectacular were the snow-capped volcanoes and, on a smaller scale, the monkey puzzle forests.’

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‘The accommodation was generally speaking excellent, nice hotels in great locations. As is usual the people attracted to these trips are easy going, good fun and everyone got on very well.’

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‘The trip ended on a high with some great cycling along lovely tarmac roads with a long undulating descent.’

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Make sure to read John’s full story on his blog!

From St Malo to Nice – France en Velo

A few years ago, two of our wonderful guides, Hannah Reynolds and John Walsh,  helped create a journey through France, with one goal in mind: to give roadies the best possible experience! Today this is now our epic 1000-mile cycling holiday from St Malo to Nice in France, a route incredibly popular with many Skedaddlers. If that wasn’t enough, they’ve also created a beautiful guide to read more about the route, known simply as France en Velo. Here, Hannah gives us a little taste of the 1,000 mile-experience, a fantastic chance to hear from the author and pioneering guide herself…

The journey in a nutshell
Starting in the fortified town of St Malo, on the rocky coastline of Brittany, and finishing in Nice by the sparkling blue of the Cote d’Azur, this iconic journey of nearly 1000 miles takes you through France from the Channel to the Med. The longest journey starts with a single step, and an entire country can be covered just one pedal stroke at a time. It doesn’t matter if it takes you ten days, two or three weeks. Every time I arrive in Nice having guided a group all the way from St Malo, there is a sense of euphoria and satisfaction that we have covered such a long distance. Taking time to re-wind the route in my mind and trace a finger along the map, it is amazing to think back to the changes in landscape, the food we have eaten and wine we have drunk.

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The best way is by bike
Travelling by bike is a perfect way to fully understand a country and what I love about St Malo to Nice is that your bike provides the perfect speed of transport. It allows you to cover significant distance each day, but at a pace that allows you to fully absorb the changes in the sights, smells and sounds around you.

You learn the terrain and geography through your legs and your senses in a way you can’t by train or car. This is most apparent on the day we climb up to the summit of the Col du Mas. The morning starts as we leave Mende, the highest overnight stop of the trip and begin following the course of the Lot River to its source. Here the air is cool as we climb very gently to just over 1000m. Around us there are pine forests and alpine style cattle grazing, even a ski station, which gets occasional winter use.

After coffee we descend, then climb again from Villefort, this time a much smaller col. The Col du Mas de l’Ayre is shaded by dense chestnut woods with only occasional breaks in the trees. Beginning the descent from the top of the Col du Mas de l’Ayre you can occasionally glimpse Mont Ventoux and Provence laid out beneath you.

As you descend the cool mountain air does battle with the warm air of the Ardeche until suddenly as you near the bottom the wafts of warm air becomes waves and it feels that someone has turned the heating on. That is the moment you know you have arrived in the south. Not all changes in terrain and temperature are as dramatic. Sometimes the changes are subtle and it is only in looking back at the end of the day that you realise how gradually the landscape has shifted.

Food, glorious food!
One good indicator of the changing terrain is the food. When on the St Malo to Nice route you can gauge where you are in the ride based on the food we eat at picnic stops. On the first day I always try to find a Far Breton, a custardy cake with large sticky prunes in it that you can only find in Brittany. In Fougeres on the second day we will look out for the creamy patisserie called a Paris-Brest-Paris after the 600km cycle race.

As we head further south we pass through areas famed for their meat, for their cheese and of course in the Rhone valley for their wines. The crops of the fields and vineyards that have been our scenery for the day are reflected back to us on our plates each evening. If you pick the Menu du Jour each day you can trace your journey as clearly in the meals you have eaten as the miles you have ridden.

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Why France?
France is the spiritual home of cycling. From the invention of pneumatic tyres to the first and greatest professional race in the world, Le Tour de France, cycling is deeply imbedded in French culture. Cyclists are treated with huge respect.

Your bicycle and your journey will open up many conversations, often in surprising quarters, the surly bar tender can suddenly erupt into smiles and questions once you reveal you have cycled to his bar all the way from St Malo! Your bike will be treated as an honored guest. In Chateauneuf-du-Pape we have even been invited to store our bikes in a wine cellar amongst the finest vintages!

Criss-crossing with routes of many pro races, including Le Tour de France, you are literally riding in the wheel tracks of the pros. In many places the graffiti and names of riders are still clear on the tarmac. If you wish (and weather conditions permit) you can ride Le Geant de Provence, Mont Ventoux, from our overnight stop in Salut. A mountain that is iconic in its own right and has been the site of many legendry battles, such as Froome’s triumphant finish on the summit in the 2013 Tour de France.

Mont Ventoux is also a place of pilgrimage for British bike riders as it is here that the legendry Tom Simpson died. Simpson was World Champion in 1965 and hugely popular with the public. He became British Sports Personality of the Year, a feat yet to be repeated by a bike rider.  This year is the 50th anniversary of his death, his memorial part way up the ascent, is always covered with cycling caps, water bottles and other memorabilia as cyclists pay their respects. Mont Ventoux is also dramatic when admired from a distance, may be with a Pastis or Rose in hand as you watch the locals play boules on the terrace that overlooks the mountain.

And then do it all over again
Some people ask us as guides if we still enjoy doing a route that we have ridden many times before. With St-Malo to Nice the answer is a resounding yes! While some parts become familiar and looked forward to, the obligatory evening swim under Pont d’arc in the Ardeche for example, there are new experiences and insights every time. For us, as guides, it is also fun to keep back some of the surprises of the days ride so that we can see the excitement and enthusiasm from the group as they discover it for themselves. With so much variety it is a fresh experience every time.

Conquer St Malo to Nice for yourself…
Our iconic journey through France can be cycled in a number of ways to give you the best possible road cycling experience in France. Each tour comes complete with our expert guides to help you along the way, as well as our world famous picnics too! Learn more about our guided cycling holiday ‘St-Malo to Nice’ by clicking here.

Get a copy of France en Velo
The Ultimate Cycle Journey from Channel to Med – St-Malo to Nice by Hannah Reynolds and John Walsh is available from www.franceenvelo.cc. To get your copy for a special price of £13.59, saving 20% off the RRP, enter code SKED at the checkout. NB there is free postage and packaging to UK destinations.

Or…

You can WIN a copy of France en Velo signed by both authors! Go to our Facebook page for more details.

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