Toe Clip Rally 2017

Or, to give it its proper name ‘La Pedals de Clip’. This is a rally held in Spain to celebrate classic road-racing bicycles, which I have written about before here. This year it took place over the weekend of 20th-21st May, with the ride out taking place on the 21st. As mentioned in my previous post, my husband and daughter had taken part last year and, having decided to do it again this year we bought me a vintage road-racing bicycle so that I could take part too; a French-made Motobecane, circa 1980, which I christened ‘Captain Beaky’. Bikes have to be pre-1987 and have no modern fixtures or fittings. My husband and daughter were riding much older English-made bikes from the 1950’s.

The event is hosted by the small town of Sant Marti Sarroca in the hills towards Barcelona and imagine our surprise on driving into the town to register on 20th May when we saw a banner stretched across the road to advertise the event featuring two cyclists from last years event – my husband and daughter! After the event we managed to beg the banner from the organisers and my daughter now has it in her possession.

Pedals de Clip Banner

We had opted to ride the shorter of the two routes at 47 km rather than the longer 72 km route. The weather was ideal, fine and quite warm without being too hot (unlike subsequent days during our stay in Spain!) and the route was quite challenging enough for me – plenty of hills to cope with, not least being the 1 km finishing climb to the castle on the summit of the hill on the edge of town, much of which I have to admit I walked up, though I did ride through the finish. The ride had started at the sports hall below the hill and began with a parade lap through the town with many encouraging spectators aligning the route.

We completed the ride in just under 3 hours, not including the two refreshment stops available on the route (which included local wine for those who wanted it). All participants received a medal and a ‘goodie bag’ which included an event cycling jersey and cap and a pair of sunglasses amongst other things, as well as a bottle of local wine. Here I am on the final few yards to the finish:

Coming to the finish

In all some 500+ people took part in the ride. It was a wonderful experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even the bits over rough tracks where a mountain bike might have been better suited. Several people received punctures along the way and all were advised to carry spare tubular tyres or inner tubes. Fortunately we didn’t need ours!

Would I do it again? Oh yes, in fact it would be great to get my two sons involved as well, if not next year than perhaps the year after and make a family team before hubby and I are too old. Finding matching team kit may be a problem though – I think this particular jersey is no longer available so we might need new team kit!

I’ll leave you with this picture of my husband and daughter at the finish of this year’s event – it tells it all!

Finished

 

La Pedals de Clip

That’s it, I’m committed now, signed up and paid my entry for La Pedals de Clip, a classic road racing bike rally in Spain on 20th/21st May this year. I have my matching outfit ready. This is what all my recent pre-occupation with cycling has been about.

Pushing Dad at Pedals de Clip

Pushing Dad! (picture from Pedals de Clip website)

Last year my husband did the event with our daughter (see photos) who you may remember lives in Spain. He had two classic road race bikes, a Freddie Grubb and a James Fothergill for those in the know. Both were in need of some renovation which he did in time for the event and we took them over, giving the James Fothergill to our daughter. At the time I had asked if I could do it too but was told that we hadn’t another bike of the correct era, so I had to be content to watch, wait and take photos!

After the event our daughter suggested that as they had the bikes they should do it again this year and I insisted that in that case I was going to do it too. Hence, when we returned to the UK, we began to search for a bike for me. I had hoped to find an English ‘special’ like the other two but to buy one of these was way above budget, so we settled for my Motobecane (French bike) which I have called Captain Beaky and which I have written about before. This was in excellent condition for its age, having had one previous owner, and although on the top end of what was a reasonable size for me was relatively easily modified to a better fit.

The requirements for the Pedals De Clip are that the bike should be pre-1987, should have toe-clips not modern clip-in pedals, all cabling exposed not hidden in the tubing and gear shifters on the down-tube not modern flipper-type. In other words nothing modern on the bike. Captain Beaky is circa 1980 so just squeezes in, the Grubb and the Fothergill are mid to late 1950’s so the advantage to me is that I do have slightly better gearing capacity – this should help me on the hills which are my bug-bear!

Talking bikes at the finish

Talking bikes at the finish

There is a choice of two routes for the rally. The long route is 72km, but we have opted for the short route of 47km. For our daughter this is an easy day out to spin the legs between her usual endurance races but for me this is a major excursion. My usual regular rides are only about 10-12 miles with the odd 13-16 mile ride thrown in every now and then. Over this winter I have hardly done much at all as the roads and weather have not been very inviting and now I am slightly worried that I have set myself too big a challenge, after all I’m still on the border-line between bike rider and cyclist (see my previous post on this topic here). I am assured though that plenty of participants got off and pushed up many of the hills. The route finishes with a very steep climb up to a castle and, yes, plenty of people walked much of it then mounted up to ride through the finish, but that option does not appeal to my competitive nature (though I’m sure I will probably end up doing some pushing).

As you may have read here before I did buy a winter bike, which I recently replaced with one that is a better fit, hubby having taken over the first, and I have been out as much as my ‘fair-weather cyclist’ attitude will allow but fitness has inevitably fallen off. However I am now managing to get out a bit more often again and fitness is picking up at last. The winter bike has more gear options than Captain Beaky so I will soon have to start some more serious training using the classic bike if I am to be ready for the event.

As part of our preparation we are planning to do a local charity fund-raising ride at the end of April. This  will be a 45 mile route so quite a bit longer and if I manage that hopefully I should manage the 47 km Pedals de Clip (which will no doubt have more and steeper hills). We had thought to do the 20 mile option for the charity ride but that is off-road and for MTBs and we want the road riding practice. Hubby fancies doing it on the tandem though, but I’m not 100% sure about that as part of the route is along the canal tow-path and this, I think, will be slightly challenging on the tandem – there is a risk we may end up in the canal! On the plus side the route will take us almost past our house and we have the option to make the slight detour for a quick cuppa before re-joining for the rest of the ride.

To find out more about La Pedals de Clip check out the website at www.lapedalsdeclip.cat

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

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