reality check

where to begin? the climbs, the food, the brutality of the last two days has been a bit of an eye opener as far as the type of riding that people have out their back doors in these tiny french villages. yesterday was a tough with 8 cols right out of the gate. we rolled out at 8 am and it was pretty jovial group of 40+ riders riding mostly carbon race bikes with compact cranks and lots of fancy gadgets like garmins gps computers that everyone also seemed to be unable to make work. hehehe. i can’t seem to remember all the details of all the climbs but i can tell you that the colombiere was massive and desending down the back side of the col de joux plane was off the hook. the climbs are brutal with a 39 x 26 but i have managed to finish in the top 6 both days along with a the other rapha boys.

for photos of the cent cols challenge, check out the rapha blog

today was the big day with the col de telegraphe, the col de la madeleine, glandon leading up to col croix de fer before we finish off our day with brief but painful slug up and over the galibier. the madeleine was a mellowish climb compared to the rest as the sun rose in the valley and the fog was lifting over the mountain tops around us. we joked about dancing on the pedals and how our style probably seemed more like a barn dance on the pedals compared to the fluidity of the pros who’s names were have been riding over everyday. the glandon struck fear into us as we attacked the “gentle” slopes near the bottom for 18k before the pitch picked up to 15+% for the last 4k to the top. it had been raining on us for the bulk of the climb and the temp dropped so everyone had on the rainjackets and plenty of embrocation. (shameless plug: i have been working my way through my jar of embrocation gentlemen’s blend in the cold wet rides and to top it off, my embro team socks are a perfect match for my blue rapha jersey)

the decent down the other side was super dicey and full of potholes, patched pavement and wet to top it off. for every truly grueling climb there is a fantastic decent down the other side. while i admit that i will never be able to out decend matt hall, to be able to rally 7-8 10 minute downhill is great practice. it makes the climbs almost worth it. 

the group quickly settles into groups of similar riding pace and style and for some the level of competition is very good with group and individuals pushing each other but also being encouraging and helpful. 

sadly (but too sadly as it rain most of the day) by the time we made it to the galibier, it had been snowing at the top for 4 hours and they had closed it to all traffic. we figured out an alternate option for getting over the mountain and waited for a bus to drive us to our hotel. the snow was visible from our stopping point and it looked heavy in places. as everyone was very wet and cold riding in rain and 35*F temps without proper gear, no one really complained about a warm vehicle to the overnight. 

so far i haven’t sold any bikes to anyone on the ride but i can claim to be one of 4 steel bikes on the ride and the only one that is lugged. i can’t help but feel like i have to represent for all the steel bikes in the world of carbon and ti bikes.

and while i am at it i have to also say that back in portland, rachel killed it on the rapha gentlemen’s race with the royal family team also on a steel bike. the next day she loaded into a 1972 checker cab headed to durango for the single speed world championships where she will continue to ride her ira ryan mountain bike setup as a single speed in the race this weekend. good luck baby!

all i can say is steel IS real. 

REAL cool.

9 Responses to “reality check”

  1. jl.clark Says:

    Thanks for the updates Ira. DWP, Aaron and I saw Rachel at the grocery store post gentleman’s race (stocking up for her trip sswc) and she was very excited with her performance. It was wonderful to see. Unfortunately, the Sparrow jersey you sent me did not have a good ride. It seems Nestucca is not kind to all things Sparrow (i.e., Conti ride Nestucca). Continue the effort | Travel safe

  2. 30thcentury Says:


  3. graz Says:


  4. Catastrophysicist Says:

    We hosted a couple from the other day, and I was tooling around checking out the other hosts. You and your wife sound pretty awesome! I’ll have to keep tabs on ya’ll. Best, and good luck selling some wares!

  5. bikeiowa Says:

    Awww hosebeast, didja go n’git-jaself married now Ira?

    Yer toaster is in the mail, old friend…

  6. Catastrophysicist Says:

    Sorry–didn’t mean to marry you, but it must be true love, yeah?

  7. iraryanbicycles Says:

    true love indeed!

  8. blu cig Says:

    You?ll also get, have never tried?Buy an alarm, Extra Weil Babys.The US dollar, incomes Housing benefit.They need the blu cig, to ezines and/or you wont really.Your teeth and, decisions for the.,

  9. Smoke Assassin Says:

    Is there a store nearby that would also sell the product so I didnt need to have it shupped?

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