Confession time. Not everything related to the TNR has gone smoothly and a recent email asking me about the SSF supporter's prints prompted me to post this, for anyone who donated back then. The prints I was going to send out are still here. Time to explain, though I realise there's no excuses. I have the prints here. They were done in time, we then got into house moves as I took a new job and the prints ended up in storage for a while. I now have the prints with me at the new place. But I also (digitally) lost the original mail list for the prints, to add to the issue. I have rebuilt most of the mail list now as I have email records. Time-wise things have got more complex than expected in the run-up to the 6th TNR and I needed to get the 6th TNR finished up to clear some time to get these prints out - I want to do all this before Christmas.
Sorry for the delay. For anyone who hasn't asked about the prints since but has wondered what was going on, I'm really sorry if you feel let down and it's not how I should be repaying the support you showed back then. Your support isn't forgotten and the record of it isn't lost.
Seems I'm later in wrapping up each year and more of the TNR communication is on email, Instagram and the facebook group than on here. That's no suprise since this page is a bit clunky like a blog from 2003.
Below is the email sent to 6th TNR riders as a way of summarising what the ride did for SSF and a thanks to our supporters for making the TNR such a significant part of Smart Shelter Foundation's funding, as well as an all round good time bike ride with hospitality in Nice, routing support and other good things.
The 7th TNR begins about now - poster and patch artwork to update and then some route revisions to manage. I noticed the 6th TNR route GPX files used the 'reduced to 500 pts' type as has been requested in past years but this put the route km markers out from the cue notes. I don't know how many riders actually use the cue notes but for me as a big Great Divide / ACA fan, they're important part of the route resources. 7th TNR route files will be fully accurate to the roads and match the cues 99.9%. There's also some revisions to make after the Storm Alex repair completions, though the new route up to the Fort de la Forca will remain. We might return to the Lost World section after the Via del Sale too. I miss that section, it's wild. It'll make the VdS a longer route but the option will be shorter, closer to the original TNR route pre-landslides and Storm Alex.
Hopefully everyone is back from Nice by now - this follow-up mail is a bit later than most years so let's hope so. Or, if you're still out there.. lucky you!
I think the riders who explored the most, took the most pictures and generally savoured it all the longest arrived in Nice around 12 days after the start, and interestingly for me there seemed to be the fewest 4-5 days finishes this year. The whole point of the rally was always that it's not a race so it's good to see.
I hope everyone had a great ride? It seemed that way, from following on social media and the rider's Whatsapp group. Some incredible photos, funny stories, riders helping each other out with tips, accommodation shares and gear fixes and some interesting bivi spots shared too. Thanks for the messages and photos since the ride too, it's great to read them and share the buzz. Slightly envious this year, haha :)
I hope I've shared some of the content that many riders were posting in the TNR Instagram stores, there was so much good stuff and it would be a shame for it to get missed. If I missed something worth sharing or you want to see your content shared to other TNR riders just DM me on there.
Most importantly, thanks to all of You for your support of Smart Shelter Foundation - all your patch and route card donations added up to a significant part of their annual budget, around 25%! That's an incredible result and something I'm very grateful for. As a community of people who make this more than just a route on a map, TNR riders have a lot to be proud of. Thank you!!
Kona and a long list of supporting brands who created that amazing blue and purple Sutra LTD dream dirt touring bike raised a total of $10,565 which is truly amazing and a huge boost for Smart Shelter Foundation! Thanks to Kona and all involved for such a generous initiative. The lucky winner was announced last week. It wasn't a TNR rider from this year unfortunately but maybe we'll see the bike on the route in future?
I'll sound like a sponsored shill saying this but really, if you are after a new bike do take a look at Kona's range. I know the guys there put some sound thinking into those bikes and a Sutra or Unit honestly would be on my shortlist for a new bike if I was in the market for a bikepacking drop bar bike or MTB.
Cafe du Cycliste welcomed riders at the finish and this year they secured a generous sponsorship of Smart Shelter Foundation via their 1% For The Planet initiative. It included getting SSF registered as a beneficiary of an initiative that's mainly about environmental protection (as I understand it), whereas SSF's work is related to protecting people from the effects of the environment. Balancing that up to get SSF formalised as a beneficiary was essential and it's a real benefit for SSF in terms of wider awareness. Thanks so much to Christophe there at CdC for his work with SSF in getting this established. Great to see so many CdC finisher's photos too!
Also in Nice, I hope the Brewdog drinks vouchers were used responsibly (haha..) and thanks to Brewdog Nice for welcoming us there again.
Komoot's ongoing support is an important part of SSF's budgeting and we're so grateful for that. The komoot women's TNR ran for the first time last year and again this year, starting a few days after the 6th TNR (but managed entirely by komoot). It has been so successful in increasing the visibility and participation of women in bikepacking and self-supported touring, the impact Lael Wilcox and Gaby Thompson at komoot have had there is amazing. Next year the komooot women's rally events will use different routes and destinations to enable access for more riders around the world including a route Lael's been developing in Slovenia that looks really good. No more women's TNR for now but I'm honoured that Lael chose the TNR route to start their women's rally series initiative. Inspiring stuff!
A few other bits and pieces,
- Admin note - I've some accounts to balance up for transparency. The 6th TNR insurance was covered by the entry fee (thanks!) and there's approx 20% of that total left over to cover some of the running costs (site hosting, merch costs etc), the rest will go to SSF as part of the non-profit commitment. That'll all be up on the TNR site asap. It's the first year there's been an entry fee and proper insurance cover for the TNR company which is a very welcome thing, essential and overdue too. I really appreciated your support of that.
- If anyone wants a patch and card as a memento and didn't order one yet .. there's some patches left and cards are always 'in stock'. More info on the TNR site 'Contact / Patches' page.
So that's about all I can think of, the dust has settled and I trust your TNR memories are good ones that will keep you going for some time. Thanks for being part of an event that celebrates just pedalling along, being out there and engaging with others who ride with us and the people we meet along the way. Thanks for simply making the TNR what it is!
Here's to the next adventure,
To everyone in Turin for the 2022 komoot Torino-Nice Rally aka the 6th TNR,
I hope your travel plans are all going smoothly and you've not forgotten your bike shoes or anything like that (there are bike shops in Turin and the Decathlon near Piazza Bodini has been useful in the past!)
Some last minute info and reminders, dinner menus etc, in no particular order...
Fire risks are now at lower levels than a few weeks ago
....but it can change
Be careful with stoves still and look out for / obey instructions.
There appear to be no restrictions on access to areas normally open to the public.
No going into any areas declared off-limits - divert around on roads / follow recommended signposted diversions.
No fires to be lit anywhere but on/at managed facilities, commercial campsites with barbecue pits for example - this is always the case. Be safe and sensible : )
From the Colle di Tenda / Col Tende
Colle di Tenda's switchback descent is now open to riders, beware of increased car traffic on this route though. I've heard that checks have been made on whether you're a local resident or not as access to the switchback road has had periods of limitations. But riders have passed through this year without any problems. For this reason and the uncertainty this descent is not mapped as part of the TNR route this year but it's a fairly obvious route from the top of the Colle di Tenda. Just check before riding, use maps / GPS / follow the road signs and beware of traffic and roadworks. The road may be subject to alternating traffic.
Both TNR mapped alternates from the Col Tende (Via del Sale or off-road route down to the Roya valley) are slower and rougher but open and unrestricted.
Note that the Via del Sale charges a Euro to enter now, keep a coin spare!
Roadworks Roya valley
There are still roadworks in this area, though less than last year. After 31st August there are no more convoy / alternating traffic rules, simply traffic lights in places where work continues. So it should be quicker here than before, but please allow a bit more time between Tende and Breil sur Roya than a normal open road.
Free camping for TNR patch holders
At Sampeyre there is free camping at Camping Val Varaita for all riders who have a TNR patch. It's halfway along the route, on route and easy to find (usually a TNR logo on the gates) and a good spot to regroup or wait out bad weather. Local supplies and facilities are good. Thanks again Davide!
Beer / drink tokens on leaving Turin
If all has gone to plan and Cyril of Evanoui got the email from me in time (it was a last minute job on my part) there are Brewdog tokens available (redacted). 1 per rider. They're valid for 2 drinks at Brewdog Nice in the evenings. Thanks for the hospitality, Brewdog! Jack from Brewdog rode the TNR a few years ago and we were talking about a place to meet up in the evening, so there we are.
Thanks to Northern Consultancy
Northern Consultancy have been behind the scenes making sure the TNR can continue by negotiating the insurance maze with me. They're an essential part of the TNR now and I'm very grateful to James Dean and Paul Errington there.
On that note - if you've not paid the entry fee or returned the entry form..
Please do : ) Some haven't yet. Thanks. If you're really short on time or battery now - a simple statement that you 'accept the previously communicated terms' and send me back the last email with the terms attached, that will do.
Thanks to everyone who has completed the forms and paid the entry cost. Sorry I've not replied to individual rider's emails returning the entry forms but I have them and I have got your details noted.
The entry fee covers my insurance costs mainly and for transparency I'll publish all the costs in and out once the event dust has settled.
Dinner - Alla Lettera, Piazza Bodoni (same place as the start)
Sunday night, 7pm onwards. The weather forecast is looking good in Turin this weekend. There's a covered area that can seat all the riders if it rains (it did one year) but it should be clear. The set menus are as below, this is the simple option for the larger numbers they'll be serving but they have a full regular menu available also. Bring snacks if you're already hungry, Italians eat late and serving a lot of riders takes time - they have it pretty dialled now though!
All menus € 16 per person
Pizza menu -
Margherita / Ham / Wustel / Eggs / Mushrooms / Sausage
Average drink + coffee
Pasta menu -
Penne with meat sauce
Average drink + coffee
Veg menu -
Salad or grilled vegetables with Pasta
Average drink + coffee
Sorry to say they don't have gluten-free pizza that some requested - they will be fine with you eating a takeout from nearby among the other riders though. Sorry this couldn't be accommodated, I'm not sure why.
Call in at Cafe du Cycliste in Nice!
Our traditional finish line photo opportunity, good coffee and a quite spot near the docks and old town. There's a supermarket behind the Cafe on the other side of the block if hungry or thirsty. Thanks to Cafe du Cycliste for supporting SSF this year too.
The guys from CdC will be in Turin documenting the start.
Kona's TNR-inspired custom bike
Kona have built a perfect rough roads tourer inspired by the TNR and can be won via a raffle in aid of Smart Shelter! Such a cool idea from Kona. More details here -
The bike is on display at Cafe du Cycliste for a couple of weeks.
Why I'm not there and who will be
Sorry to say I'm not in Turin this year. That won't make any actual difference to the TNR and I've never been one for a stand-up speech at the dinner or start. It's not that kind of event. But I will miss meeting riders who I've talked to on email and shared the excitement of the upcoming ride with. My excuse? It's not been a good year for riding for me. An ongoing back/hip issue has affected my climbing and fitness in the last year and I just wasn't confident in my ability to handle long Alpine climbs pain-free. But I went to Wales for a 6 day tour the other week and felt ok. Welsh climbs are short and sharp so you can get off and push and not be going any slower than riding. And I can go home at any point if it got bad, which it didn't. The physio seems to be helping. But I left my travel plans and holiday time for the TNR too late and now I have work commitments anyway. Sorry I won't get to say hello and ride with you. I'll be travelling vicariously via social media instead.
Who is there? Cyril from evanoui.cc who lives near Nice is there and I expect will be getting photos at the start.
Catherina (Cat) from London has got a few patches and rally cards for riders who were going to collect from me in Turin. She was down to ride the TNR for the second time this year but she injured her arm that is now in a cast (making her easy to find!). She's in Turin anyway and is heading south by trains. Sounds like a very nice way to see the area.
Thanks Cyril and Cat, I really appreciate your help. A few riders had kindly offered me a beer in Turin, please direct any goodwill to these guys this year : )
I'm on -redacted- if anything important comes up, route or safety-related. 112 is the number for actual emergencies in Europe.
OK that's it from me - have an amazing ride, enjoy the scenery and the company along the way, always make time to stop and look around... bike touring is one of life's most beautiful experiences and we're lucky to have the opportunity to do it!
Sunshine and tailwinds to all,
PS if you're interested, the rider survey results will be on (this page) later.
Something that has been bothering me and is also a topic in the Terms of Entry document due out tomorrow by email to 6th TNR riders. More important this year than before though. Fire risk is really high this summer and many of us like to use camping stoves.
The Haute-Savoie region of France has just banned outdoor cooking (detail TBC) due to fire risk - thanks to Scott Cornish for this news. I think it's safe to say that the entire area the TNR travels through is affected by this summer's drought and common sense would suggest we apply the reasons for that ban to the whole TNR route. I'm can't make any additional rules here but please consider
- Stoves are already banned in some National Parks in France and Italy in summer with fines for offenders. TNR riders pass through these parks along the way - please don't risk it.
- The whole area is facing the same threats and few of us are able to judge actual fire risk enough to say what's really safe or not.
- A spilled meths stove or dropped lit gas stove in a dry wooded area could be disastrous now - none of us will be carrying enough water to deal with how fast that situation would get out of control.
- We all think 'it'll be ok, I'll be careful..' and then realise how tired and clumsy we got over the last few days. In most situations it's nothing serious but a wildfire started is something else...
If you must use a stove, be 100% sure you're allowed to in that area and there is nothing flammable within 2-3 meters at least.
Be safe, don't be toast : )
If you've entered the 6th TNR you should have had 2 emails since early June - one to confirm your place and another with the route and timing details plus other logistics info. If you're missing either email please get in touch.
The entry terms email, I'll get that out next week. This is the bit we all need for insurance and to be a legit event. Thanks for your attention to that part. Also there's the details of the pre-ride dinner where you can let us know if you can make it, food preferences etc - just a guide for the restaurant to work with, nothing committing you.
6th TNR patches are here! A batch has been posted - if you're outside Europe your patches are on the way. I'm waiting for another batch of komoot TNR route cards to arrive to send with the rest, posting Monday next week. Envelopes are all waiting, with apologies for scrappy handwriting that comes from writing out dozens of place names in France, Germany, Netherlands and so on.. Automation is needed but hey, lo-fi methods are ok too.
If you've not bagged a patch yet, here's what to do
- If you sent in a postcard for the 2022 6th TNR, you have a place. The draw was on TNR Instagram stories last night but I realise not everyone is into IG : ) In the end the number of riders represented by the cards received was just over the number limit set but we couldn't turn away the 8-10% left at the end. All postcards got an entry and that feels good! If I have your card or I already know your card was late / missing, you're in.
- An email's due to all 6th TNR postcard entry riders due this Sunday (maybe Monday) to confirm your entry places and event details.
- If you're hoping for a reserve list spot or a last minute place, I'm sorry but it's well and truly closed now. Exceptions are under-represented rider's places already discussed with those riders where names are TBC, those places are reserved for you.
- Because we're a few riders over the start number limit at this stage I'm relying on the inevitable drop-out rate to get us to the start line numbers limit - past experience shows the % of drop-outs before the start and because of this there can't be any reserve lists or additional riders, sorry. The numbers limit is one set by the authorities in Turin so I need to be careful with that.
Adding all the cards to the IN pile means the 50% allocation of places to women is skewed a bit now, basically those last 20 or so places went to male riders who were in the draw. All women who entered had already been put through. I have also accepted a dozen or so women's last minute entries via an Instagram post and emails + messages in the last few days which helps balance that, it was a consideration before adding those last cards in. Although this means we don't have a 50-50 split, all riders who sent a card in have been put through and that includes all women who have expressed interest so far. Thanks for everyone's interest - the 6th TNR is going to be a good one!
I think all postcards are in now, the last ones in posted up on IG this morning. Next - the draw.
I expect it'll happen over the weekend and I'll aim to mail all riders who have a place on Monday or Tuesday. I'll try to film / IG live some of it somehow.
Women and NB riders - the allocated places will cover all entries received from you will amount to approx 50% of the riders at the start of the 6th TNR*. 50%! That's an amazing change since previous editions. We've had auto-entry for women before but what's clearly made the difference is Lael Wilcox and komoot's Women's Rally on the TNR route last year. Lael, Gaby and everyone involved and all the riders of the KWTNR, take a bow! Cause + effect is obvious and impressive.
* 35% of entries with 50% of the places allocated to women and NB riders. 35% of over 300 entries means about 100 riders, out of a max possible number of 200 for the TNR.
It's been a good 2 weeks or so and great to see such widespread interest in the 6th TNR. Applications are now closed but if you applied and sent a postcard, your postcard can arrive any time in May. Loads of time. Nothing about this ride is meant to be rushed!
35% of entries were from women riders which is great to see - that would work out as almost half the start line in Turin.
The 6th TNR remains open to entries from under-represented groups, there's space for you - it helps if you apply before the end of May (ie before the postcard draw) but I'll do what I can to make it work for you however.
An open invite to this year's Torino-Nice Rally for all riders from currently under-represented ethnic or religious groups and for anyone who feels under-represented and wants to build their space in cycling.
What does this mean and how does it work?
The applications for entry are likely to close next week but before the draw for places is made I wanted to extend an invite to some riders who, well, simply aren't represented among the riders of past TNR start line photos. I'd like you to be. If you feel you don't know of many (any?) riders like you in past TNRs, be assured there's places for you if you would like to enter and group entries are great, join us in numbers!
There fact a lot of riders out there aren't represented in our past start line photos raised questions of why? The points that lead to some sort of answers are as interesting as they are revealing about my own place in cycling as a white cis-gender male. The TNR grew initially from my own social network reach, an area where cycling has been for a long time. I work in the bike industry too, not a very diverse place really. So the TNR was fairly typical of bike events in the cross-section of riders who started the rally. As great as those rides were, that starting trajectory builds a picture that is seen and interpreted, like any brand image. We often aren't what we think we are, we are what other people think of us. To some, the TNR will have looked much like all the other bike events.
So the TNR is failing, currently, to be as good as it can be.
I have so much in common with any other cyclist, regardless of their background, race or religion - riding a bike can be something that can mean so much in our lives for so many different reasons. That common activity is an introduction, an ice-breaker, a way for many of us to widen or networks and influences. For the TNR to be as good as it can be it should be a place where a wider mix of people have chance to share a scenic climb or a meal after a long day.
The social media post is an invite to anyone who isn't well represented in past TNRs or many other bike events. It isn't singling out individual groups who might be considered under-represented because it's not for me to say who those groups or people are - if you feel under-represented or that things like this aren't for people like you, that's it. Cycling is inclusive when you say it is, not me. I've forwarded the post onto groups on social media who are representing themselves and hopefully a wider network will bring about some change in this and future TNRs.
- The night before dinner will have space for those who don't drink plus vegan and vegetarian menus.
- The evening meeting point at the end of the ride in Nice has been a bar in past years and we're looking for an option or space that isn't focussed on alcohol.
Getting to the start?
No, this isn't about transport logistics, but on that note "flying sucks and is harmful - if you can, use trains, lift shares, ride there or look up European Bike Express... it's just a nicer way to travel"
What this is about - I thought this video was great and worth sharing with all TNR riders - komoot are running more women's rides including another one on the TNR route in 2022 and this video is of a session they ran to help riders get to the start. If you're on the fence about taking on a challenge like this it's 100% worth a watch - an encouraging and empowering talk from those involved with the komoot women's rally.
I've not done anything like this for the TNR in the past and I think the work they've put into encouraging other women to ride deserves a lot of credit. I suppose I thought the non-elite, unracer attitude of the TNR and the 'rally not a race' message from the start was an antidote to all things promoting ultra-distance athletics, when for many of us this is simply about bike touring. That in itself was meant to encourage wider participation in this thing we love doing. But as a fairly experienced male rider I hadn't appreciated some of the barriers the video addresses before.
I'm inspired by the work they're putting into facilitation here. See also the New Forest Off-Road Club and others doing great work here. I learned a lot from some insightful conversations with Nic at NORFC who was on the komoot women's ride last year.
The message I get from the work Lael, komoot and NOFORC have done is, like anything outside our comfort zones, we appreciate some support and help to see what we're capable of. I've always said these rides are challenging and can be hard. No, that doesn't mean you're not up to it. With others supporting you you'll do more than you think and you'll take others with you, it's a multiplier.
Entry applications coming in pretty fast! Likely that entry applications will be open for another week max (you have longer than that for postcards to arrive though). Positively, approx 30% of applications from women riders so far.
Time's flying. Things settling down a bit now though. Had few free weekends so far this year and less time on all this than it needs. Less time on the bike too but that's another thing. The Northern Consultancy partnership has helped get the crucial insurance aspect in place but the event won't work out as something they can run this year, event sponsorship is still a tricky area in covid-impacted times. Back to what we've done before then and this is the oputline plan:
1) 6th TNR entry process will be up here within a week. Let's see if I can do that! Postcards as before. Over 50% of places allocated to women riders - of course if not taken some of those places go into the draw (if you're a M+F couple the women's entries take priority but allocation counts for you both too, more women riding means a better space for other women riding)
2) After the draw there will be a link to an eventbrite or similar entry system where there will be an entry fee. I want to be up front about the fee and a more detailed page on here will cover it, essentially insurance and setting all that up wasn't free and I need to cover those costs. If you're offered a place on the TNR event, signing up will cost less than a couple of rolls of bartape and it'll mean the TNR as-is can continue. It's still non-profit and realistically the fee won't cover all our costs. Transparency will be made available there.
3) The patches and cards remain separate from the entry and cost-covering. If you want a patch and (full premium access) kommot enhanced rally card, it'll be sent in return for a direct donation to Smart Shelter as always. Post can take time but let me know if it's urgent before your trip and I'll do what I can.
4) You can always tour the route anytime if all that ^ sounds like faff. But please, give us the space to run the event on the 1st weekend of September. Don't just tag along. A big part of why tagging along isn't cool is the limit on numbers in Turin (Turin authority regs) and insurance liability. There's a whole summer to ride the route and the route info is always available, just email or check komoot. Thanks for understanding.
5) Lastly .. There are a number of limited edition supporter's prints still to be posted to kind supporters. I feel bad about not getting these sent yet - the mail list isn't complete and needs some work to sort. It's not forgotten and apologies that I let this slip. I figured that a less-than-ideal running of all this is better than none at all but there are times when could get to 'not good enough' stage, this is one.
3 months since I updated here - too long. A lot going on recently, all good, just busy. A lot going on behind the scenes for TNR and much of it done by the capable hands at Northern Consultancy, the guys behind some of the best gravel events out there. More on that in a mo.
The 6th TNR is going ahead. I'm very happy about that because there was a high probability that it wouldn't, simply due to ongoing personal liability risk. Northern.cc helped solve that particular puzzle and the TNR has a solid future now.
This is a quick update with more due here on the site as soon as details are fixed. The 6th TNR will be the same (traditional?) time of year. Dinner in Turin the night before the ride with provision made for those who don't drink and vegetarian options provided. Draw entry timing and whether the draw uses postcards, straws or NFTs, we're not sure yet. Obv I'm not serious about the NFTs : ) The auto-entry policy for women riders continues and extends to non-binary riders - as it always would have done and apologies that I wasn't clear on that point before. We may need a cap on auto-entry places but if we do it'll be >50%. It needs to be otherwise it's still a barrier.
We extend a warm welcome to all riders who might feel that the 'ultra distance' or trad bikepacking event scene isn't for them. The TNR is for every rider. No-one's here for 'smashing it' or going 4 days without sleep. Everyone's here for a good time and the wider the mix of riders the richer the experience for us all, since the whole point is to have time to ride with others, not to race against them. So if you would like to enter as a group of currently under-represented riders, get in touch. Perhaps we can allocate places via your online collective or network. We'll make it work for you. If you need visa support to be in Turin to ride, let me know and the network of riders will do what we can to help support you.
The 6th TNR will benefit from event management from Northern Consultancy. I've teamed up with them for the 6th TNR for a number of reasons, all of which are about keeping the TNR going and funding SSF (a bit more in the update 17th July '21, below). The TNR remains a non-commercial project on the TNR's (ie my) side with all the TNR's proceeds going to SSF as before. Northern Consultancy are a business of course and insurance doesn't come for free, so with this the TNR now has a commercial side. I'm happy that the TNR is part of how a great group of people make a living in the bike world. It's the world I've also worked in for 20+ years and it's great that the TNR can put something back in for riders as well as bike companies now. I'm also grateful to their generous attitude towards funding SSF with this initiative. The event itself isn't going to look or feel different and we won't have sponsor's flags flying on the Passo della Gardetta or anything that feels out of place.
So that's all for now - hopefully full details will be up quite soon.
Last week I was amazed by what happened with the Women's TNR. That was the most positive thing I've seen that happened so close to me. Inspiring and thought-provoking too. I did very little, just some route notes and info. Gaby at komoot did the organising and Lael Wilcox invited riders along. Rue Kaladyte, Tom Gibbs and Scott Cornish documented the ride. At first I enjoyed those great images, I love those landscapes. After a couple of days something else was coming across loud and clear - laughter and fun.
When the route isn't raced there's time for riders to get to know each other and support each other through the tough times. To share the good times too. That's been the intent of the ride since the start. When an event makes space for riders in the way the women's komoot TNR did they might feel more confident to have a go, or see that the support is there, plus the inspiration of joining such an accomplished rider as Lael Wilcox. All the data of elevation gain meters that get attached to rides can build something up to make it seem 'too hard for me'. Yes, it'll be tough at times, but with good company riders do more than they thought they could. So many great stories from them all this last week. And I got to meet Lael and Rue for a beer while they were in London. It was a pleasure - thanks for the invite!
I emailed a friend after getting the train home from London while thinking about this event and those who made it happen. I told him how I think I learned something talking to Lael and Rue, about the impact of Lael's riding and the power to inspire, especially with Rue's talent for photography and video to share it all. The impact may be because people might not expect her to be so strong on the bike. She's all smiles and encouraging positivity, no Ultra Distance stats and power data and miles ridden that week. Her rides speak for themselves. She's influential because of such a positive attitude for sure, but maybe it's also about who people might think she is contrasted to who she can be or what she can do. That element of suprise? Especially to people new to cycling and bikepacking. And while not in this case, if I'm thinking that myself about other riders at other times I'm acknowledging a bias (we used ride with Ricky Cotter when I lived in the SW so a woman out-riding me up every hill is not new!).
Those in the bike community who aren't part of the majority or who don't match the stereotype image of a strong cyclist or adventurer are the future, and the ability to do something that people who know you would be suprised and inspired by is in all of us. Those who we might not expect those achievements from have the greatest leadership and inspirational ability. They surprise us because they challenge our preconceptions and that breaks down those preconceptions. I'm in awe of them for doing that. How do we (as the bike community) find more people like them and show others what they're doing?
The Women's komoot Torino-Nice Rally did a damn good job there, and in showing how much fun they were having along the way!
That's what I thought about on the train home after meeting Lael and Rue.
Thanks for listening!
One TNR was finishing, then the Women's komoot TNR with Lael Wilcox started and what an event that was!
The 5th TNR happened, thankfully and happily. I saw a few photo of happily tired people outside Cafe du Cycliste or enjoying a beer at Brewdog Nice and many more photos of great views and those wonderful places along the way. Great to hear the support riders were receiving from the hotels and refuges too.
More than anything it's been great to hear how well the ride worked out for many of you. Tough but rewarding riding with great company and support among the riders. Give yourselves a pat on the back :) that's what it's all about.
I was impressed (surprised!) by the number of riders willing to take on the hike-a-bike sections too. Either word hasn't really got out yet or you do appreciate a bit of a walk up a hill with your bike... Rough Stuff will never die ✊
Watching from home wasn't so bad, of course I wish I was out there too but it has inspired overnighter bivi trips the last 2 weekends running. Not bad for the UK in September.
Here's a traditional TNR start photo Cyril of evanoui.cc took of some of the riders on the Sunday morning. Thanks Cyril! Without a fixed start time (covid considerations when planning earlier this year) I wasn't sure if this would happen and it's great to see it did. Does anyone have one from Saturday morning, if there was a group start?
To everyone in Turin this weekend, have a great ride.... Wishing you all a safe and inspiring journey in great company and good weather. Enjoy!
Patches sent, riders who can be in Turin have let us know, the 5th TNR is happening!
If you sent a postcard for the 5th TNR back in 2020 you should have had emails in the last couple of months. If you can attend, please fill out the survey/RSVP that was linked to in the last email.
If you ordered patches for the 5th TNR or a DIY, they're here and have been posted.
It'll be a smaller event as expected, it'll be a good one. The 1st TNR was about 1/3 of the number of riders as the last 2 rallies and that was a great experience.
At last... it's on! Hope to see you in Turin (maybe.. not easy to travel from UK but maybe..)!
The Komoot Torino-Nice Rally and 2022
2021 - ‘The Komoot 5th Torino-Nice Rally’ - TNR has teamed up with Komoot for hosting the new rally route collection and adding value to the TNR route cards. I’m very grateful for the partnership with Komoot who are a kind supporter of Smart Shelter Foundation. It’s all for the direct, 100% benefit of SSF as well as improving the route information options available to you. Thanks Komoot!
The new route collection is here and is being recce'd by Mathias and Sophie of Komoot right now, for a feature there soon. Look up @sophigato and @mathiasriquier on IG to see how their ride is going.
2022 - The TNR has grown a little since 2016. It could have grown more but I'm keen to keep the original 'run what ya brung' gathering approach to the event as far as possible. What's really clear is that there's a need to accommodate more riders as well as the opportunity for the right kind of sponsorship to bring greater benefits to Smart Shelter Foundation. More critically for me, there are also insurance and other formalities that come with running events to manage which are a challenge to time and budgets.
For 2022 I've teamed up with Northern Consultancy, an events and brand PR company run by Paul Errington who I've known and respected for a long time. He was a privateer racer with an inspiring attitude who I got to know when I worked at Genesis in its early days between 2006 and 2011. Genesis supported some of his ride ideas (racing a single-speed in both Nepal's Yak Attack and Minnesota's Arrowhead 135?). We rode the length of Israel on mountain bikes in the first HLC. Paul was racing the DK200, as it was then, 10 years ago and brought gravel racing to the UK with the original Dirty Reiver event. Northern Consultancy get these kind of rides.
The team at Northern Consultancy are great and they have some really helpful contacts in Europe to help with not just helping to manage the event but also the complexities of the UK being outside the EU now, something that even effects event insurance. They'll be helping me keep the TNR moving forward and the 2022 event will be a little different in some ways, all the same in others. I'm excited to see this all coming together - more news on our plans for the 2022 event to follow later this year.
5th TNR email -
Update email went out today, sent to those who sent a postcard in way back when. Got a few bounce-backs as usual so if you don't see it in your inbox, check junk folder and email me via TNR site if needed. Hint, there are dates and plans.
Some route updates -
Route updates and what we know so far - all the info I have on the Tende/Roya valley area and the feedback from riders DIY-TNR'ing this summer.
- The Roya valley has roadworks that can mean up to 5-6hrs delay depending on when you arrive there. The road here that the TNR route uses can be ridden with consideration of roadworks and many sections are repaired with gravel sections. Between Saint-Dalmas and Fontan is a 6 km long portion where traffic is one direction at a time. At night and on week-ends, cars can go every hour between h00 to h15 from Saint-Dalmas to Fontan, and between h30 to 0h45 in the other direction. On weekdays the road is blocked for works and only one crossing at 12h00 downwards and 12h30 upwards is allowed from 07h00 to 17h00. (thanks to Robert Charbonnier for the recent updates from this area)
- Colle di Tenda's switchback gravel descent is now open to riders, beware of car traffic on this route though. From the announcement, "it will be open during the day for residents of Limone, Tenda and La Brigue, for cross-border workers and tourists heading to the Casterino area These people, with the exception of tourists with reservations, will be authorized and equipped with a numbered pass issued by the Mayors of the respective Municipalities and the lists will be provided to the Italian police forces and the Gendarmerie for their checks. As it is a high-altitude road, narrow and winding, without signs and protections, it will be practicable from 6 to 20 and totally closed at night. The following traffic regulations were also decided, communicated in a joint note issued by the two Prefectures: prohibition of transit for campers, caravans, buses, vehicles longer than 6 meters, weighing more than 3.5 tons and taller than 2.5 meters; there will be a one-way alternating between 6 and 20 with passage for 15 minutes every hour: from Limone at 6, 8, 14, 16, 18, 20; from Tenda 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19. The connection will be available during the summer season and as long as the weather conditions allow it.". As far as I'm aware, cyclists can descent this road at any time but it's not 100% clear yet. Thanks Andrea Guidugli for the pointer towards information.
- The Casterino option - if you go east from the Col Tende / Colle di Tenda you could in the past go to Casterino and down the D91 road to the Roya valley. This road is still closed and badly damaged. There is an alternative track to the NE of the road, junction is at the Baisse de Peyrifique and it leads to the town of Tende in the Roya valley. It's got some rocky sections but is no more challenging than other sections of the route.
- The Route de Cairos (leaving the Roya valley, the road that accessed the climb to the Fort de la Forca in past TNRs) is listed as open for residents and emergency only currently. Until further notice the Route Maglia is the way to the Forca and Col Turini that the TNR recognises and it's known to be clear and rideable.
The route revisions
We're close to being able to confim what the new route will be to avoid or pass through the damaged areas. We're only a test-ride away and komoot riders are helping with that asap, following aa revised section between Col Tende and The Col Turini since the Roya valley was the area badly affected by the storm as well as an important route option area for the TNR. The good news is that the changes of route are minimal. When we know they are all safe and the route is good enough to be used I'll be posting up the new route files. I expect they will be ready in late June or early July.
For anyone thinking of a ride on the TNR route this summer you could plan by adding 1 day to the time needed for the old TNR route since the main change will be that the faster option from the Col Tende, the descent down the switchbacks, is not yet possible. Instead you need use the longer route on the Via del Sale to Pas du Tanarel and down to La Brigue to access the Roya valley for now, adding 1 day for most riders. It's worth it - it's a memorable section including perhaps my favourite spot on the whole route. There's shortcuts to Nice after this section if needed, from Breil-sur-Roya or the Col Turini.
We just don't know how this will work out yet. All riders who sent a postcard in or were named on a postcard entered by someone else have the option to ride and we aren't having a draw for places this year - travel limitations and related unknowns are enough of a lottery already. If you entered you should have had an email about all this (use the contact page here to get in touch if you didn't get the email).
DIY TNR 2021 onwards
New route files, patches and route map cards are in the works, aiming to be ready mid to late June. More info soon. Same deal as before - a donation to Smart Shelter gets you all the info, a patch and the new route card with useful info, room for Brevet stamps and a postcard included. Will include some of the Apidura-sponsored 'touring phrases in French and Italian' postcards too, while stocks last!
Needing a bit of escapism at the moment? You could try Adrian Dowie's report from the 4th TNR in Arrivee, the magazine of Audax UK. Thanks for sharing it with us Adrian.
Part of today's update sent to all who'd sent in a 5th TNR postcard application earlier this year - the storm relief fund part and a note about route review repeated here for all :
Storms - disaster relief fund links
Unfortunately the storm that hit SE France and SW Italy in October have made a spring rally idea a non-starter. It's clear that the route may need to change to some extent before we can run the rally again in the format it was before. In a year when you thought it wasn't going to get more complicated, along comes the ever-changing weather to remind us how unpredictable things can be.
On that note I hoped we could spare a moment to consider the loss and disruption felt by the people living in that area. Many people and businesses there are reliant on tourism, already hit by Covid. There's a lot of people needing support and help right now, some of us TNR riders included I'm sure.
If there's one thing the TNR was set up to do it was to aid SSF in their disaster recovery work. This all feels closer to home and worth sharing 2 months after the storm - these things are often forgotten too easily as the next news item comes along but in these affected areas it's going to be a long winter. Some of the people affected will be people who served us a coffee or a great dinner in a past TNR or rides in that area, or we will have stayed with them at a B+B or campsite.
If you can offer any help them, there are various funds supporting the area -
Valleys of the Maritime Alps Fund - https://www.leetchi.com/c/solidarite-06-tempete-alex
"By the Department of the Maritime Alps to provide emergency financial assistance to those who have lost everything, so that they can meet their living needs as the first necessity."
Together for Limone GoFundMe - https://gf.me/u/y3kuk9
Limone sites at the base of the Col Tende, the gateway to the Via del Sale. It's a tourism town with a reliance on ski trade that's been destroyed not only by Covid but now the flood damage will delay any recovery.
Nice Metropole Storm Alex Emergency Fund - https://fondsurgencetempetealexmetropole.nice.fr/.../Defa...
The formal fund of the Nice Metropolitan area / City of Nice.
Croix Rouge Française - https://donner.croix-rouge.fr/tempete-alex/~mon-don?_cv=1
Personal and medical aid from the Red Cross.
About the route.
From what I can tell, the route has been affected enough that we can't go ahead using the previous route between Limone and Nice without evaluation and re-route where needed. Re-routes aren't easy in some areas (hence why the road damage is having such an effect on people living there, support logistics etc) and this will all take time to figure out. It would be negligent to distribute a potentially unsafe route. Of course riding a bike in the mountains always has some element of risk and we understand that... but this is different. We've had to deal with re-routes based on landslides and disappearing sections of road before, just not on this scale.
I hope we'll be able to enrol a list of rider-volunteers keen to report on the current route and try new sections in May-June and I hope to get out there myself.
I know some riders through the TNR who are able to advise on the route south of the Agnel / Angello down to Nice, though second opinions are always welcome or you might like to join them on a recce ride. So if you live in the area along the southern part of route and have a good standard of off-road riding ability plus some awareness of mountain safety and/or risk assessment, please get in touch (just use the contact form on the site). Thanks..
The reports and images of severe flood damage in SE France and SW Italy are shocking. The Col Tende and Roya valley area have been highlighted as badly affected with loss of life, loss and damage to homes and a lot of roads out. The Vesubie and Tinee valleys also affected. A few friends of the TNR in the general area are safe though.
From what I understand, from Limone or Col Tende to Nice is not passable along the TNR route through the Roya valley. Will update here when we know more, though I doubt any riders will be on the route now until early summer next year - and much could change before then.
At no point now or before could the TNR offer full assurance of route safety at a given time but we do keep in contact with riders to note any changes from previous years. This is all far beyond the average winter's effect on a track though and the terrain of the route in places is likely to be unstable or impassable and dangerous beyond normal, reasonably expected risks.
I don't recommend that you ride the TNR route in this area until we all know more. Certainly we'll need a from-the-saddle review before the current, formal TNR route can be considered safe, or a re-route can be established for the next rally event.
Because of this, no route information will be formally sent out from the TNR until we've had a chance to review the route and make changes or additions. Any routes used from Komoot or GPS fileshare sites need to be used with an understanding of the above, and that the TNR route may change now. Until we know more it's all on hold.
If we can all do anything to help anyone affected by this, please get in touch via the Contact / Patches page, thanks
Inclusivity, Black Lives Matter and could cycling could do more? How?
(partly copied over from an email sent recently, posted here as it should be opened up to more comments)
The TNR is an easy-going, non-race event and an inclusive event. It's suitable for most fatter-tyred bike types as a 'run what ya brung' idea. It brings mountain bikers, tourers, gravel riders and roadies together. We gave guaranteed entry to women to try to even up the gender mix and that's worked with more entries from women and couples in the last 2 years.
Recently I had to ask myself why I hadn't made the same guaranteed entry offer to non-white riders, since it suddenly became too obvious how white-European cycling events are in general. I don't know. My mistake. Then a discussion on why and acceptance that not being pro-active is helping the status quo. I expect (hope) many of us have been through similar thought processes. It's OK to be wrong and it's good to be able to change your thinking, it has to feel normal to know you don't understand every situation. I wouldn't go into the mountains arrogantly thinking I had nothing to learn and all my assumptions were correct, why would I go into a community or workplace thinking that?
A bike event makes pretty much no difference in any way that really matters on this subject, but in looking to places where we can make a direct change ourselves I feel it's OK to be using the TNR's reach to get onto this topic. Some people don't like it when a brand or event "gets all political". I don't think any of the TNR crowd feel that way. I have a lot of respect for brands who aren't afraid of the 'backlash' and use a consistent set of values to be influential, and I hope the TNR can follow those good examples.
Most bike event entrants are white European to near-exclusivity and yes a lot of cycling culture has European roots. Cycling has an appeal far wider than that now though. This whole topic has made me realise that there's reasons why a Muslim rider might see barriers to these events too. And we can't talk about inclusivity if we don't include gender identity and sexuality. All of this before the niche appeal of bikepacking/touring is considered to suggest that there will be a small number of non-'typical cyclist'* riders who this event appeals to currently. It would be great if we could make those few riders more clearly welcome though and make any changes that make a difference. Of course every rider is welcome among the riders of the rally, it's a really open event and crowd. What I'm getting at here is how we extend that welcome via the way the event and culture around it is presented.
*for want of a better term when we're talking so widely - sorry for my clunkiness here - I don't like saying 'typical cyclist' but I don't know the right term yet
An open question then: what could the TNR do to make the event appeal more widely? Guaranteed entry to Black and Asian riders is going ahead and the same offer extends to LGBTIQ riders. Perhaps research into places that serve food that meets religious needs along the route, making non-drinking tables clear at the night-before dinner? There are ideas but whether this makes a difference I'm not the one to say, or whether they're the right ones I don't know, but I do think event organisers at least learn how to show an open door.
Appreciate any requests or thoughts anyone might have on this - torinonicerally at g mail dot com or use the contact form here. Thanks.
All the best plans...
And many of the rest too, all put aside this year. Today was to be the start of the 5th TNR. But our plans are not going to waste. All there is to say is that the 2021 plans have been emailed to everyone who entered for the 5th TNR. Your postcards are still here, and while yet to be confirmed, I hope the ideas discussed for 2021 go ahead. Including the one with chances of snow!
Not a lot to report, just an update on 5th TNR plans. Thankfully Italy and France are recovering and re-opening and it's looking as if solo or small group rides in the areas the TNR passes through will be possible for some of us. I don't know what percentage of restaurants and refuges will be open but as soon as I hear anything from DIY/SS TNR riders I'll post it up here.
The 5th TNR is not going ahead this year however. That's a certain now, sorry not to have clarified that sooner after leaving the option slightly open at the point of postponement of the entry draw. The Coronavirus situation is improving but it's not going away for a while. I'm not comfortable with the rally bringing 150 or more people together from all over Europe to ride through small communities and mix in varying groups while all of us get tired, hungry and wet at times with all the lowered immune system implications that brings. All that just before the start of the colder months. But the TNR will be back in 2021, more on that soon.
The 5th TNR postcards draw Pt 2
I've spent a few evenings this week looking at a pile of postcards. The draw was about to about to happen but it's not.
The TNR draw is postponed because the event is also postponed. All entrants to the draw have been emailed to clarify this. Carrying on with plans has been feeling like the wrong thing to do for a little while. Reading the posts below says I was still hoping, but it's not happening is it. Unless the situation is understood by early July, ie both Italian and French authorities give activities like this the go-ahead, and (importantly) the will is there among riders to do it, we're looking at the 5th TNR happening sometime in 2021. Sorry. But I think we all knew this was coming. I look forward to a time when Turin is ready to invite us back.
That pile of postcards is something amazing to me, it took a while just to sift through them all to make an 'in' pile of the women's entries, the first stage of getting the draw done. I was re-reading so many of them of them, looking at places, reading about a local pro rider of the past who the entrants were really proud of, and so on. The effort that went into your entries is valuable and they'll stay valued.
Thanks for bearing with me on this. Stay well and look after each other. To our friends in Italy in particular, love and 'thought hugs' - we're thinking of you and look forward to seeing you as soon as we can.
The 5th TNR postcards draw
First things first. The Coronavirus pandemic. It's affecting all of us and thoughts are with everyone, we need to look after each other and the most vulnerable around us. Best wishes and stay well. Bike events seem like a nice luxury right now. As the post below started on, the 5th TNR is later in the year so it's all unknown currently. We need to accept that we're all working on hope rather than plans here. It's an almost-free event with no logistic support so there's nothing to lose by planning for it to happen and nearer to the time there will be some 'official' statement on the status of the group start ride. If you plan to ride and then can't make it for any reason that's really not a problem for the TNR organisation, just look after your own interests as best you can.
That said, this is where the TNR entry draw is at -
- A bit late as I spent some time on back-up plans or ideas and entry or cancellation related stuff when I wanted to be doing the draw stuff.
- I have a list of 4th TNR carry-over places (last year's entries that were valid to carry over to this year, since last year was the first year of a draw to manage demand) so I know how many places need to come from the draw. Those carry-over entry riders will get an email this weekend.
- Next I need to check the postcards from women riders who get auto-entry are all accounted for and count those up.
- Then the draw for places happens - looks like about 1 in 2.5 sort of chances.
- After that I'll create and check the entry mail lists before sending the confirmation emails out.
PS if you've not seen your postcard on the TNR instagram posts yet now's the time to shout. Email me. Ta.
With many event cancellations due to Coronavirus there should be a note/thread here.
Firstly, to anyone reading this in northern Italy at the moment, our best wishes to you. Hope you're staying safe and healthy.
September's a while away so it's too early to say whether the TNR will be affected yet but it's worth us all considering the impact. The event's Terms of Entry will need additions RE cancellation liabilities before entries are confirmed via the draw - ie if you get an entry there is a chance you then book a flight but the event is cancelled later. The TNR needs to be isolated from costs related to that, however unlikely it is that you good folk would make a claim : )
There's probably not a lot of risk in being outdoors on this route but there may be event liability concerns I have to weigh up. You may want to ride anyway but I may not be able to encourage a gathering in Italy, etc. Some refuges, hotels and restaurants we've used in previous years may not be open. There may just need to be some common sense about the pre-ride dinner. I don't know, just raising it early on. Final call may be made in July? For now, all plans going ahead as intended.
The draw for 5th TNR places will happen this weekend hopefully, seems like all cards are in. It'll take me a while to compile a mail list to get in contact with everyone after the draw so perhaps an email's due out over the weekend of the 14th-15th March. Good luck!
Entry draw application is closed, sorry.
That's a wrap for stage one of the 5th TNR. Below is some of the info about this year's event for reference -
Why the need for entry?
Because if I can't manage numbers and liabilities and keep this event under conditions set by Turin authorities (numbers, management etc), it's not fair or possible to carry on. Un-entered riders turning up on the start day to tag along could risk this whole thing so I really appreciate the way it's been respected and self-regulated so well so far. Thanks.
How will you get to Turin?
The TNR would like to discourage flying and the best things on a bike come from new journeys. A flight to and from Turin/Nice area from the UK or Berlin is around 0.25 to 0.35 Tonnes of CO2 emissions per passenger. For approximately every 25 riders who fly to the TNR from the UK, Scandinavia, Germany or the Netherlands, we create the C02 footprint of the average European resident in one year (7.5 to 8 Tonnes). And that average footprint needs to come down to only one Tonne a year fast, to avoid really f-ing things up. Big changes. Whatever you think of climate change science it won’t hurt anyone to cut back on our impact and flying is a big part of it. In this case it should be a really positive experience - ride to the start or get a train, use European Bike Express to Grenoble and ride to Turin if you’re in the UK, ride home after, it’s all great. Flying with a boxed bike is just stress anyway.
I appreciate that we don’t all have the time to use alternatives, yet that time/convenience need is part of this environmental problem. All I'm asking is that you think about it and if you can make train or bike travel work, please do.
The draw application will be closing sooner than expected, the rate of entry is a lot faster than last year and there's no point drawing from 4x the number of cards as places ... please note and let anyone know who you know may be interested in entering. Postcards will still have til end February to arrive, it's just the application stage (to apply and get the postcard address) that will close. Expect it'll be closed before the end Jan rather than mid Feb. Sorry - I underestimated it.
The 5th TNR postcard draw for entry/places is open! Head over to the Contact/Patches page for more info.
The 5th TNR Poster's up!
Dates set. The 7th September 2020 is the date for the 5th TNR start in Turin.
As ever we need to keep the numbers under the limit allowed by Turin authorities and reasonable liability / responsibility. If you had an offer of a place for the 5th TNR via your entry into the postcard draw last year, that offer of course still stands and you can start planning. I'll email you (via that mail list from last year) to confirm early in the new year.
Other places will be via postcard draw again - it was fun last time and it slows it all down a bit. The address to send to might be different this time though. Here's how it works - when the info is up on here mid Jan, you'll find an address to send a postcard to. Those postcards go into a draw for places, approx 50-50 chances if I close it all in time.
Women who bikepack/tour/rando get automatic entry (rather than the draw) as before, for all the same reasons. I'll need to get postcards in to confirm your entry and for you to follow the entry process as usual.
Have a happy Christmas and all the best for a great New Year!
The Torino-Nice Retro Rally - an unofficial sub-set of the 5th TNR
An idea for the 5th TNR - to get up a couple of peaks along the way. There's a great one directly above the Izoard that looks like 'only' an hour or so walk (ha.. probably 3 knowing my hike-a-bike estimates) and the main peak of the Little Peru area has a scrambling route up it. A TNR rider already went up it, last year.
And in honour of the Pearl Pass riders and all things 70's like 'taches and plaid shirts - maybe ride a flat-pedalled classic ATB in light hiking boots too. You could short-cut a couple of the road climbs via added hike-a-bike options, there's one that bypasses the Col Agnel that looks excellent.
I have talked about a TNR Retro-Rally, possibly as a separate event, but let's keep it all in one place - run what ya brung. Though 80s ATBs are always cool, Retro Rally is a state of mind not the age of your bike. There maybe a Torino Nice Retro Rally patch though. We like patches.. any excuse.
Will post up some more about this after the 5th TNR entry is opened. No event complexities or special entries etc, just fun to take the social / lower-pace thing a bit further. It'll mean a couple of additional GPX files for the added off-road potential but maybe we should do those bits primarily via map. A scramble up a peak and back to the refuge for dinner and a beer? Bring a head torch : )
Update ...a few hours after posting this ^, while on one of those long steady rides thinking these things over where some sense usually (hopefully) comes in, I remembered the TNR is about is being inclusive. Subsets kind of confuse things/me. We don't have any now, let's not start. So there's no need for a new patch and no need for a retro rally to be 'a thing' for anyone to bring an old ATB anyway. People keep saying that gravel bikes are just like going back to late 80s-early 90s mountain bikes. So nothing's changed here. "The Torino-Nice Rally is a bikepacking, touring or randonneur event..." ...and maybe a bit like those old ATB trips too. It's all just bikes in the mountains. Still, I like the ATB + peak bagging idea. I'm going to keep an eye on Retrobike's for sale section. Liability sense might mean that the added sections may be best figured out individually and that feels more in line with old-school ATBing too.
The Post 4th TNR stuff
Anyone who rode the 4th TNR should have recieved a follow-up email and there's been plenty of chat on the FB group about the ride. So good to catch up on that when I got back at the end of September. The follow-up email content is below as a pdf, also something I posted on the FB group since I said I'd write something up from the trip - just it wasn't a ride report in the end. Better that some pictures do the talking for that aspect of my 4th TNR + Tour -
Got back to the UK last night after an extended TNR that took in another 7 days of some of France's most incredible roads ... sorry for no updates since the start of the ride but not sorry for having 2 weeks offline, that was a part of a really rewarding trip - as was the 4th TNR! Thanks to everyone that made it to Turin, it was as good as the TNR could be and has ever been. I hope you all got to Nice in good spirits! It was great to see familiar faces and so many new riders too. Stories of epics in the rain and snow on Tuesday, riders pushing on through illness or mechanicals with positive attitudes, all just a great bunch to ride with. I had days of riding mostly solo and times with others I met along the way and it was all good. I stopped in at a few more of the refuges and camp spots who welcome us along the way and met some really cool people there. And I got another 2000m+ high bivi under clear skies, very happy. My Gardetta sunrise photos were better this year, it was warmer : )
Best thing may have been Martijn and Tes from Smart Shelter Foundation being able to see some of what we've all made of the TNR at the dinner and the start.
Will enjoy reading the posts on the FB group, the 'grams and generally catching up now I'm back online, will catch up with emails asap and gets some words and pics up on here over the weekend. 4th TNR, you've been great 👍
The old TNR route and Monesi re-routes - 'found the route on Ride with GPS ...' riders please note.
Had a few mails about the Monesi landslides from riders this summer. It's always appreciated to hear about route conditions, thank you to all who report back, this really highlights why it's useful and why the current TNR route info is of value. The Monesi slides happened 2 years ago and the section hasn't been in the TNR since 2017, and there was a recommendation for a re-rote back then.
Monesi area is potentially dangerous due to collapsed roads but (edited after new info -) there is a refuge and shop open there and if you do go that way off-route, just be careful. The route was edited for liability reasons although the residents of Monesi are getting on with life and will welcome you. The current route now goes to Pas du Tanarel (just N of Monte Saccarello) and descends to La Brigue to the W (track passing Castillon). ie, don't descend the switchbacks to the E at the end of the Via del Sale, go W up the hill to Pas du Tanarel. 3rd and 4th TNR route files already include this as the standard route.
Not long now!
Pre-ride dinner :
We have just over 60 riders signed up for the pre-ride dinner (Sunday, Piazza Bodoni, >6.30pm) so far ... looking forward to it! If you haven't done so yet please fill out the form here
as the restaurant needs to be able to plan for the numbers. It's non-committal, just a guide if you're planning to join us.
We reserve right to serve those who filled out the form before any unexpected guests, if more people arrive than we're expecting : ) Thanks...
Late post ... I kept the patches sales bit open a while longer this year then got a bit sidelined last couple of weeks - sorry. Post is almost done, I have 140+ envelopes and a pile of stamps in front of me and it'll be in a postbox tomorrow am! Watch out for a bonus postcard / tourer-helper from Apidura in there, possibly the most useful and fun piece of card you'll get in the post this year?
Route info and sponsorship news
The TNR has a cool new sponsor! We've hooked up with Komoot for the benefit of both you and Smart Shelter, it's great. Really happy with this. Komoot supports SSF and the TNR hosts all route info on Komoot - the benefit to you as a rider of the 4th TNR is you'll also get free access to Komoot's offline mapping and full-region access.
For the TNR, Komoot's route-finding app is perfect. It lets you look at how much of a route is tarmac or gravel and see other rider's highlights along the route, as well as re-route at any time or adapt the TNR route files as you like. Since the TNR is not a race and there's no points for staying on-route - why not go explore? Well, there is a bit in the Entry Terms about that - if you explore off route and off the side of a cliff that's your risk! You have read and sent back the Entry Terms, right? If so, thank - you'll be getting the route info and Komoot access voucher via a TNR email very soon.
Thanks to Paul and Betty, the guys involved in setting this up at Komoot - it's really appreciated and will make a real difference to Smart Shelter's work.
Route Info and Terms of Entry Sign-Up
Where is this summer going .. wanted to be onto this aspect of the 4th TNR 2-3 weeks ago. So, a quick 'incoming info' note. I'll get the formal entry form out to all 4th TNR riders this week. There's not much that is 'official' in the TNR but this bit has to be as it covers our collective asses, ie it covers you and the TNR Ltd for liability, between each other as well as between you and the TNR Ltd.
You'll need to electronically sign the Terms Of Entry doc that the email will include and explain, and then return it with a paypal receipt / screen-grab for the required £1 payment (all will be explained in the email). It's a minor faff but it's easy and can be done pretty fast.
Please get onto it asap as the route info won't follow until you've formally entered... and the route info is particularly good this year thanks to our new SSF-supporting sponsor (more on that soon). It's far easier for me to send the route info to everyone in one go and that happens if everyone does the Terms Of Entry thing asap after receiving it. Thanks.
The 4th TNR patches are on order, the quantity is fixed. There should be enough as I've got more due this year than last, but we've run out each year so far. As ever this is all helping Smart Shelter Foundation's work in developing resistant building methods for parts of the world that need it most, as well as helping your bike bags or work briefcases look cooler than they did before.
Entered the Rally itself, want one? Haven't ordered yet? Pls do asap - see Contact/Patches page. Patches will be posted late July or asap after - orders after that are subject to post availability (ie if it's sunny I'm riding a lot more than posting... though I may do some 'sending'...)
Riding the route anytime? The new 'DIY TNR' patch is for you, info on how+why is in same place.
My thanks to Apidura for helping out with this aspect of the 4th TNR - the patches are paid for so that your donations all go direct to Smart Shelter Foundation. George at Apidura rode the 2nd TNR with us and we've stayed in contact since - thanks for the support George.
Rally Patches - taking orders now!
4th TNR patches and rally cards available to all 4th TNR entry-confirmed riders, as well as a new 'DIY / Self-Supported' Rally patch for anyone riding the route at any time - basically the same patch with slightly different detail. More info on the Contact/Patches page ... all donations direct to Smart Shelter Foundation as usual.
"Everybody has a plan 'til they get punched in the mouth."
- Mike Tyson
Plans, important in our day to day lives and a part of life that some of us strive to get away from when we hit the road on our bikes. While a well-executed plan brings with it a feeling of satisfaction, what happens when plans collapse? I read a good book recently, about work satisfaction and in part about how managers develop a language, a work personality even, based on maintaining an outward impression of control and good judgement, of being a person with a reliable ability to minimise risk and maximise results. Often it's just practiced talk. When things go wrong that non-committal language and methods of manipulation attempt to divert or share blame, to bob and weave around the incoming shots.
Sometimes we're wrong, no avoiding it and nothing wrong with it. How else do we learn? Insure or have a back-up, of course. But if we try to present everything as a pre-made plan, accomplished without errors, we're kidding ourselves. Equally we kid ourselves if we think a trip is likely to be all smooth sailing and comfortable. It's been said that bike travel can be largely a question of self-awareness, a know-thyself test of how aligned are a rider's ambition or ego and mental and physical abilities. The better rider is open to this and learns as well as makes fewer assumptions. Think you're a great climber on your local hills? Not aware of how altitude can take you down a few levels? There's a wake-up call and a valuable lesson coming one day. That's the sort of incoming shot that can't be avoided, however slowly or visibly it arrives.
In this respect I think of the Colle delle Colombardo, the TNR's opening climb. It raised a curse from me the first time I rode it and a curse towards me from pretty much everyone who has ridden it during the TNR so far. I love it for that. On our first trip, the first day, I thought I'd screwed up. I thought I'd misjudged the profiles or surfaces, my pack weight, fitness, something, everything. It was a struggle to keep pedalling and it just went on, and on. My planned route had plenty of options and adjustment built in, it was as loose as a plan could get and on that track I was already thinking I'd need more options or a wider re-think.
Comparing the Colombardo to a Tyson punch to the mouth is overly dramatic though, and insulting to the quiet, simple nature of this little-known stone track. In its simplicity is its difficulty - it doesn't use impressive engineering to terrace switchback on top of switchback to maintain a military-approved gradient, it was built simply and finds a way up the mountain that a herder or a jeep can follow. That makes it an anomaly on a route that follows mostly roads or military-built tracks with fairly predictable gradients. When you're expecting Alpine climbs with a fine gravel surface and you're faced with 17% of loose rocks that look like an average Lakeland bridleway, you begin to wonder how you got it so wrong. You're off and pushing before half way (it can be pedalled bottom to top but you'll need good legs and both load and gears that are lower than average), the elation of setting off on the ride is often crushed by the humbling experience of the first challenge.
The reason I love this climb is because of how this experience reset my state of mind for the rest of that 1st TNR recce ride. The mountain is always bigger than me, never something to be 'conquered'. There is no 'crushing it'. The Colombardo is no punch but it is a slap from reality at the right stage of the ride, just right to reset our egos and expectations, upset a few plans, hopefully getting us onto a more free and easy ride attitude for the rest of the journey. So curse away, in hindsight you may love it too.
Image credit : Sandro Gianella
Entry emails sent out. Either a 'Congratulations!' or a 'Sorry..' to all those who sent in a postcard to the entry draw, 'it's been emotional'.. really. If you haven't had an email but mailed a postcard, or anyone in your group (ie the people on a card entering together) didn't get an email, please get in contact.
More on the event details fairly soon - Terms of Entry to sign, patches available in support of SSF if you want them and the route details all to follow.
RE entry draw result email -
I've been away earlier this week for work and I need to get a clear/fair email out to all riders at the same time whether yay or nay on entry. One of those things that needs a quiet hour or two, something in short supply! Sorry for the wait.
More asap - rain forecast for Sat so unlikely I'll be on the bike all day and can get it done then, if not before. Thanks for your patience.
Why don't more women do bikepacking events?
(they do, in the case of some events)
The postcard entry draw is due to happen very soon, this weekend I hope. So I'll get this posted up before the draw. It's been pointed out that cycling and bikepacking is still very male-dominated. Not a new point to me but valid since how the TNR addresses this can be either part of the reasons or some help in offering some balance. Bikepacking and the associated sleeping in the hills is generally no problem for the blokes and it's often something women will do with confidence. But it's easy to understand why some women might feel less comfortable with the idea - either bivvies alone, or with guys they don't know well. As friendly a bunch as we are, we all get that, right? And the TNR is an inclusive, pro-bivvy event* so we should do what we can to make that aspect equally appealing to all.
So for the 4th TNR, some riders get advance entry success notification here -
Solo or groups of women who've already entered via sending in a postcard have a place confirmed. This also counts for a few couples who've entered, on the basis that more women riding means a more inclusive environment for other women to ride in. This is all to encourage more women to find the TNR a welcoming event to participate in fully, this year and in future. It's a bonus for a manageable (small) number of entrants so it won't affect anyone else's odds much.
If I'd thought this through more it would have been clarified earlier on, before the entry perhaps. But I'm not pretending that anything about this event is planned very far from year to year ... this just feels like the right way to go.
Thanks to Claire F for the conversation on this topic and to all for understanding what this is about. Thanks also to the Transcontinental Race for posting some good points about this and taking a lead on the topic. Perhaps the TNR can offer something here too since a point of the ride is the ability to enjoy it with others and making all riders welcome.
*Usual good bivi practice rules assumed..
Entry process / contact form for entry postcards -
Advance notice - so many applications this week already, thanks for all the interest! The contact/entry form (to get the address to send postcards to) will be closed by the evening of Saturday the 12th Jan - don't delay in filling it out! Postcards can arrive any time until 20th Feb.
Just putting a marker down here. The Torino-Nice Retro Rally. It's a spark of an idea at the moment but all those 'Bikes I'd ride the TNR on' tweets with old ATBs... the RSF posts... the idea of pushing a 1985 Ritchey ATB or a 1970s Koga tourer through the snow along the Assietta with a bunch of riders from all over Europe - building a classic bike that can be loaded up to tour the stradas on - it's too much to contain. It's happening. The usual route, only the bikes and clothing will change. More info later this summer.
First update of 2019 and it's the important one... If you're watching this page for news of how to enter the 4th TNR - head over to the Contact / Patches page now. All info is there.
Thanks Cyril @evanoui.cc - the start photo, download if you don't already have it - Happy New Year!
Quick update - I'll get the site updated with a 4th TNR poster and some 4th TNR info soon - mid/late Jan at this rate. No Photoshop/Illustrator access at the mo so that's one excuse. The date will be confirmed soon too - it'll be a week later than usual for sure, as Eurobike is later this year and I have to be there (and I like turning that whole thing into one big tour, if I can). So, 2nd week Sept looks most likely. Start day tbc. More soon. Until then, have a good New Year, whatever you're planning!
The European Hike-A-Bike World Cup, TNR round - win a copy of 'Rough Stuff Cycling in the Alps'
Celebrating Fred Wright's spirit of adventure, the re-release of his Rough Stuff Cycling in the Alps via Isola Press and the opportunity to take on a couple of (easy-graded!) routes from Fred's bible of hike-a-bike - there's one copy of the RSCA book re-print available to a rider of the 3rd TNR who took both of the rough stuff route options, the Col des Peas and the Passo Gardetta.
We have a small number of contenders for this prize via the facebook group - any others? Please use the contact form here to let me know if you did both rough stuff sections. Currently there's a better than 1-in-10 chance of winning the book. A winner will be picked very soon.
The Lanterne Rouge of the 3rd TNR.
Taking this year's 'Spirit of the TNR, 'cos it's not a race' award, the Lanterne Rouge for the last rider into Nice, the rider who took time to see the sights and enjoy all that the France-Italy border area has to offer, is Steve Rawling. Steve arrived in Nice on the evening of 13th September - a full 10.5 days on the road. Well done Steve... having that long to ride place-to-place is something not enough of us are able to do, or at least not often enough. Hope it was a great ride for you. Your copy of 'Lanterne Rouge - The Last Man in the Tour de France' by Max Leonard will be on it's way to you, eventually! : )
...a late follow up email from the 3rd TNR:
To everyone who made it to Turin, and to the few here that may not have done who wondered what they missed and we hope to see next year instead,
First, my apologies for such a late follow-up mail. I'll get the excuses in... The Torino-Nice Rally does take some of my time and attention away from those close to me and just over a week after I got back from the ride, me and my S.O. had a holiday booked. Time to leave anything riding-related to one side, 10 days without bikes in nice places by the sea, it was great. In between that and the TNR was a busy week at work. And after that wasn't any different. That and a few other things have kept me away from finding time to get this written and sent until now. Suffice to say, memories of good times on the TNR have helped to keep things in perspective recently.
And for that as well as many other things I'd like to thank everyone who came to Turin, everyone who I rode with along the way to Nice - thanks for everything that kept the TNR spirit going for a third year. And thanks to all the bloggers and instagrammers whose reports and photos have kept our memories fresh during the weeks since the ride. Some really good stuff from this year.
Everyone's got their stories and whether you'd want to hear mine here I'm not sure. I'll probably get around to a write-up of sorts on the TNR news and updates page before too long, will save it for there. I've not done a post-ride write up before though and feeling the urge to do so this year says something good about the ride. It itched an itch that few rides have done for me and I've been unpicking why in recent weeks. Good company, memorable situations and some chance good timing, seeing people I hoped to see in good places, it all added up. The root of the relaxed state of mind I came back in is a hard-to-grasp lesson of sorts and I'm happy to have even begun to be able to get to grips with it. Something that couldn't happen on a solo ride perhaps, so again, thank you. I hope the ride brought some memorable experiences or meant something unique to you also, or maybe just was just simple, good-times riding. Either way, all good.
Thanks also for being inconspicuous and low-impact. I've heard some great feedback from a few businesses along the way who enjoyed having you there and emailed me to be sure to invite more rally riders in future Seems like we all got the rue number 1, leave-no-trace ethic and also drank and ate well when we could! Cheers...
Attached is a low-res of the start photo, courtesy of a good friend and TNR-FAM, Cyril at Evanoui.cc. Will get a full-size downloadable onto the TNR site soon.
So, next year - for anyone who's interested in riding again there will 100% be a 4th TNR and the entry will be a bit less pressured. There will be a way to manage that and the clue is .. TNR's going analogue. Great things come from social media and the internet, the ride's proven that to me, but there's other ways to communicate and I like the old ways too. Watch 'The Barkley Marathons' if you're interested in underground events and interesting entry processes... I was inspired and I went back to it last year, it got me thinking.
Should you be one of the riders who travelled from outside Europe to ride and you want to return, you'll be welcomed back : ) and for any riders travelling to Turin from Asia, USA, Canada, Australia and NZ and similar distances - if you just email me before the end of January 2019 you can have a guaranteed place. Flights from that far out aren't cheap and it'll help you plan further out, it's been offered to a couple of riders so far and now extended to others here. There aren't many who'll make the journey from the USA, NZ, Aus or Canada to ride but the ride is better for all of us Euros* for riding with you (*I'll still be a Euro-Brit in Sept 2019 whatever the UK's politics and legal status says). The shared love of all-road riding, crossing borders, right?
The date isn't fixed yet though. Eurobike is early September and a load of bike industry folk will be in Germany then - the TNR may have to fit around it for me or be better all-round for fitting in with that. Maybe. TBC. Who knows where we'll be by then huh?
So until it all starts up again early next year, that's it from me aside from some image shares and ride thoughts on TNR instagram. Thanks for being part of the continuation of what has become a truly inspiring annual occurrence,
Last Rider in the Rally - who was the 3rd TNR's Lanterne Rouge?
If you rode the 2nd TNR you may remember the Lanterne Rouge competition. It wasn't really a competition, more of a celebration. 'Lanterne Rouge' is the name given to the rider who finishes last in the Tour de France each year and it has become quite a celebrated position. Author and friend of the TNR, Max Leonard, wrote a book about these riders at the other end of a race most of us think we know fairly well ('Lanterne Rouge: The Last Man in the Tour de France' - Yellow Jersey Press, 2014)
Did you take the longest to get to Nice?
If so, maybe you're this year's lanterne rouge. It's an honourable position to be in and you represent the real spirit of the TNR. Email me if you think you may have scored maximum scenery-seeing points along the way - you'll get a copy of Max's book sent out to you.
The Hike-a-Bike European Cup, France and Italy rounds
Making the most of Max Leonard's goodwill, good books and links to the TNR, there's also his most recent work from Isola Press - a republishing of Fred Wright's classic compilation of Alpine routes, 'Rough Stuff Cycling in the Alps'. It really is the bible of rough stuff, a decade or more's worth of pass-hunting trips across Europe and it sold out fast.
Two of the route options along the TNR route feature in Fred's book (he rates them both as easy). For those that took either one of them, cap off to your willingness to 'just see what it's like'. For anyone that did both this year .... you're in a small club and here's the 'competition':
Email me a couple of images, one or more of you pushing or carrying up to the Col des Peas and Passo Gardetta, both by the hike-a-bike routes of course, with any comments, and you're in with a chance of winning a copy of Rough Stuff Cycling in the Alps. I'm not sure what the conditions are for the win - probably a random draw unless anyone gives me a better idea. (RE images - my permission to potentially share on the TNR site or TNR instagram only is assumed, thanks - let me know if not)
3rd TNR patches - missing one?
Things were busy as ever at the dinner and I know a few people asked me about patches that hadn't arrived (some have arrived since.. how is Swiss post so slow for such an efficient country?) or wanted to collect at the dinner but maybe they didn't / I didn't get back to you. Apologies if it didn't work out where it should have.
- I may be able to get a small run patches made, if so I will do and I'll email to say it's happening. Will know soon.
- If I can't get them done cost-effectively for a small run then I'll make it up to you patch-less people somehow.
Please email or use the contact page here if you were due a patch but didn't get one and I'll know how many are needed.
There's a small pile of rally cards left here. They're available free of charge, a card or 2 per rider depending on demand. Send a stamped addressed envelope to me here and I'll send you a couple of cards by return. Email me here and I'll reply with the address to use.
Some last minute points before the off (inc news of free stuff)
Contact list - I have a list of all those who are entered and all good to go for the 3rd TNR. That list includes your contact info.
I will only be able to contact riders by phone for individual communications needs. Any communications that needs to go to all riders at the same time will be by email. So, keep an eye on emails on the address you used to enter.
If you need to contact me for either of the following reasons only -
- Notification of route conditions that present a danger eg landslide or unexpected road closure.
- Secondary-stage emergency notification. This means you should call an ambulance/Police/fire services first. The TNR is not the first point of contact for any emergency needing medical, police or fire response. Only once the authorities are doing their job do you need to let me know.
You will have my mobile number in the email that goes out this weekend. I can't offer emergency assistance of any kind. I can't provide any co-ordinated emergency response and there is no rider tracking. I can't tell your family or your husband/wife where you are because they're worried and you haven't called home like you said you would. Saying this here simply because we might not think clearly in a bad situation and I need to make this clear. I'll be a guy on a bike on the route somewhere with as much chance of having a good phone reception as you have - 50/50 in many places. My phone will almost always have battery and almost always be on, that's about as much as I can do. Please don't call me to ask where to buy a pizza at 12.30am in Dronero, etc : )
Coming to the dinner in Turin? If you are you filled out the invite form on teh Contact-Patches page already, thanks - see you there. If not filled out by the end of tommorow, Sun 26th, too late - sorry. The dinner invite form has been up for weeks and the restaurant need to plan for the numbers.
WTB - Supporting the riders of the 3rd TNR.
At the dinner there will be a draw of names from the entry list, sometime around 8.30-9pm. 40+ winners will get WTB Dollars... ie a voucher for a free pair of WTB tyres! The voucher will have the tyre type (Nanos, Byways, Exposures, etc) that you just won on and your name filled out*. If you're not at the dinner, no problem - I'll re-call out the winners at the start (be there early 8.30am or so, if you're late or you started a day or two ahead or afterwards you'll miss out, sorry, it's just how it is as I need to keep this simple). Take your WTB Dollars to Cafe du Cycliste and collect your complimentary WTB tyres there**, so you don't have to carry them to Nice. Thanks WTB! Thanks to Cafe du Cycliste for help with the logistics also.
*If you get the 'wrong tyres for your bike - 1) Try them, you might like them; 2) swap with a fellow winner or pass on the voucher to another rider, swap it for beer or pizza etc, whatever ... gift horses and all that.
** If you get to Nice late and the Cafe is closed but your flight out is that evening, sorry again. There's no postage of tyres available as this could create more logistics faff than is fair to ask of them (my rule not theirs btw).
A thanks to our supporters - these guys are a big part of why the TNR is what it is (cheap and simple, mostly)
Thanks to Apidura for the planning support and commitment for next year's planning. A great 'silent partner' who we shouldn't underestimate in their support and encouragement of small events like this.
Thanls also to Shand Cycles in Scotland, makers of some very high quality bikes indeed, both custom and off-the-peg. Hugely appreciate the support of SSF that keeps the TNR on target in this area without needing entry fees or more traditional media-heavy sponsorship to achieve it. Check out Russ of Shand Cycles's progress in the Silk Road Mountain Race right now on thier social media feed. Good luck Russ, looks incredible out there...
Cafe du Cycliste have become a regular call-in for unwashed and tired riders touring the TNR route this summer. Thanks for putting up with us, I know it's a bit different to the Pro Team riders and the road scene there. Welcome to our world ... (I know they get it really - a few of the CdC riders rode the 2nd TNR with us and there's few places that have thier knowledge of the roads and tracks of that area as well as they do) ... and thanks for the space to relax over a coffee.
And cheers to WTB. You rule. Enough TNR riders know why.
I'm a bit wary of 'sponsorship' of events but here we're really lucky to have links with companies that help maintain the TNR's course and are genuinely into and enabling this whole scene, as well as being in business in this world. It's great to know that there's businesses like this out there who aren't driven purely by sales, they do some things just because it's what they want to do or see happen. Cheers everyone - George, Steven, Russ, Ali, Renee, Heather, Jaroslav, Michal (Mike) - a pleasure working on all this with you. Thank you.
That's probably it. Looking forward to this ride so much... See you in Turin!
Last week I had time to kill in an airport, 9 hours of it. Some thoughts in mind then, an outlet here, posted now. Not news - just stuff.
The route information for the TNR this year has got me thinking. I made a few changes, added some detail and failed to check it fully enough, I missed a couple of details that needed revising between the 2017 and 2018 cues and that bugs me. But it’s also been useful experience. Proof-reading in XL isn’t easy. New methods will help. And for next year I don’t intend to change the route, although there’s always conditions and opportunities that could change that.
The other thought it raised was about the depth of information itself. Whether adding more detail (as is clearly popular) is the way to go in future, or not. The following brain dump might come across wrong so forgive me if it seems elitist or anything like that. There’s nothing about this ride that should seem that way. The intent of this post is more in support of simplicity and quality of experience, a topic I’ve got onto before elsewhere before, equally applicable here.
In climbing and mountaineering there is a strong sense of ethics and style, something I find fascinating and inspiring. I began to appreciate this topic of 'style' after reading a lot of climbing books and dabbling in enough crag and Alpine climbing to know 1) I’m not very good at it 2) it can feel very serious very quickly and the mountains will call your bluff every time. Good style there is related to volume of experience and honed techniques, though I appreciated that it’s completely possible for a novice to learn good style from the beginning (that is a compliment to Martin who I learned the ropes with, rather than my own abilities).
Skilled or not, I enjoyed it immensely. Aside from the locations, the other aspect of climbing I was hooked on was the tradition, the ethics and the sense of ‘Good Style’ that meant an appreciation of how you do things, not just what you do. I started to see cycling from this perspective and it looked a bit different. In climbing, the manner of the first ascent will always influence later repeats of a route. Climbers always aim to equal or improve on the first ascent style. A mountain climbed first in a ‘siege’ style (fixed camps, stocks carried up in stages before a summit push from the high camp) will later be climbed ‘Alpine’ style (fast, light, all supplies carried in a pack and the route climbed in a single push with bivouacs as needed). A crag climbed by fixing bolts will later be free-climbed (placing protection on the lead) and a route climbed ‘free’ at first will never later be bolted – or if it is there will be a storm of controversy.
How does this relate to cycling, bikepacking and touring? I think many of us understand Alpine style even if we’ve not heard the term before. Bikepacking when applied to long-distance racing is all about travelling light, being opportunist with weather, time and supplies and bivi’ing to enable more time moving, less time stationary. Touring trips can be done with a bikepacker’s mentality to cover more ground, push a rider further or simply because it’s a style of riding that some prefer. Riding efficiently to gain down-time when you chose to take it is a great way to mix relaxation with a challenge.
Do we consider the ‘first ascent’ equivalent when we ride a route? It’s not generally discussed in cycling where access to ever-improving (supposedly?) technology is part of bike culture. But I think we should. Some will know my thoughts on the way the Tour Divide is raced now vs the Great Divide Race rules, but that’s for a discussion over a beer rather than rambling here. And there’s no need to follow a previous rider’s style, it may just be a guide to what may be possible. Any of us riding the TNR are already appreciative of elements of this since we’re not choosing a guided, supported tour package. How much guidance we supply for ourselves is the next question. We need to be safe, primarily. After that we all tour for the experience and to step outside daily monotony, to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones in a way that brings further rewards. Maybe looking to previous rides and earlier methods can give us a lead on how we get those rewards.
Also - Patches post, update. Actual News and Update stuff.
They're on their way to you now. Thanks for supporting the cause - you are the proud owners-to-be of one time only, limited edition, coolest patches in cycling. Not all of that last sentance is true but they do have importnace, not only in signifying the ride you're about to take on but the fact that you've helped Smart Shelter Foundation with their ongoing SmartNET project. Thank you...
The rally/brevet/postcard card will be available in Turin. If you're a patch owner/signer-upper I'll have your cards there for collection at the dinner or the start. Partly as they're running a few days behind the patches and I didn't want to delay those, partly as it's a good reason to meet you in person. See you there!
The rally and non-entered riders. Rule #1. Don't be a dick.*
I'll risk being a bit blunt here. If you weren't able to enter this year but intend to turn up unannounced to start on or close to the 3rd of Sept with the rally entrants, perhaps hoping to mix in with the rest and enjoy what the rally offers with the other riders, you're not appreciating what goes into trying to keep events like this going and why you're causing a problem. This post isn't made with anyone in mind, it's just been a concern recently and I had a nudge to get it out there just 'for the record'.
Un-entered riders joining in has happened at other small, unofficial events in the past and I know I'm not saying anything here that isn't the general feeling of riders who've been part of the self-supported scene for some time. You wouldn't turn up unannounced, un-entered at the start of the Transcontinental to race, so why do it at the free events that try to manage numbers like the Highland Trail or the TNR?
Why not? Yes the roads are open to all and no I don't have any claim over them on this day or any other. But there's a reason that people want to ride this particular route, starting on this particular day (or very close to it). It's because of what the TNR now has become, something I didn't expect, am grateful for and appreciative of and now rather protective of. The images and the stories from the riders and the time and energy that goes into it are what 'the TNR' means now. If it has grabbed your attention, that's great. To me it's inspiring. It's grabbed way more attention that I expected. It's now on a tipping point of becoming a victim of its own unplanned success. Remember that I don't earn a penny from this ride either, quite the opposite - I'm into it for about £400 so far this year and there's more to go. That investment of time and money becomes something very worthwhile as a ride experience and a fund-raiser for a cause that the rally supports and it's those two benefits are what I'm being protective of.
I realise the entry process wasn't that clear this year, especially if English isn't your first language. Earlier this spring it wasn't clear to me how it would happen either ... but how it worked out was better than panicking and cancelling the ride. We need to limit the numbers so that we don't get shut down by the authorities in Turin, or have too much impact on the areas we pass through, attract too much attention or simply overcrowd the small number of places to east and sleep during the first few days. It's also about my exposure to liability risk and I'm not F-ing about at all where that's concerned. If you turn up, no entry, to roll out of Turin on the 3rd with the riders that did sign-up early, got a place and agreed to the terms that make this less of a risk for me personally, that's not on. Maybe a rider thinking of 'joining in' didn't appreciate all that - well, that's why I'm posting this.
The TNR needs to be self-policing in a few ways: respect for the environment we're in is one, the other is giving the event space to exist and appreciating that not everyone who wants to ride on the 3rd can. Maybe next year there will be a way to manage the demand better, but for the next couple of years it's likely it will be greater than the event can handle. Please, don't be part of the reason the TNR ends. If you didn't enter, just give it a few days either side if you must ride in early September. Thanks.
*With this general topic in mind, a few riders have emailed me about their start plans and it's all good. I appreciate the communications, thank you.
Posting most of them today, the remainder tomorrow. I had to go out of the country with work last week or so and got back yesterday am. Apologies for the delay over the intended post date of the 14-15th.
A reminder or a warning... I know there are a few riders planning to set off on the route a week or so after the rally itself starts. Early September is generally a period of settled weather in the Alps, cold at night and days of rain sometimes as you'd expect, but generally good. But weather patterns all over Europe seem to be less reliable these days. This could be a useful reminder to any of us, but particularly those who may be on the route past mid-September.
This was the Col Agnel on the 18th Sept 2016, taken by a local who rode the rally a week or so before. At 2000m+ there could be snow at any time and the later into Spetember it is, the greater the risk. Be prepared, take a good jacket and spare pair of gloves and socks (and 1-5 degrees with rain at altitude and a long descent coming up is more likely, and probably worse than snow in my experience).
What happens when it's sunny every weekend? I get more miles done and the site doesn't get any updates ... so, catch up time -
1st - patches. They're ordered. Will be in the post to you 14/15th August. To judge numbers needed I waited till last week to order from the supplier. Rider orders came in fits and starts so judging the quantity wasn't so easy. There will be patches available for anyone who's not ordered yet so just go to the Contact /Patches page if you want to get a patch and rally card but haven't ordered yet - order by the 14th to get one in the main post batch. Thanks for all the donations to SSF from everyone who's ordered so far, it's a great result for the time that goes into the event, thank you for supporting the cause. And don't forget - free camping is kindly offered by the owners of Camping Val Varaita in Sampeyre for all riders with a patch, the campsite there is a great spot to catch up with other riders.
2nd. Route info - it'll be going out on Sunday evening to all riders who're entered. GPS files, cue notes sheet and a route notes document that will help with planning.
3rd. Dinner in Turin? Please pop onto the Contact / Patches page here to let us know if you're planning to be at the pre-ride dinner social in the square on Sunday evening (2nd Sept). There's a quick form to fill out so we know what your meal preference is (non-committal, just a guide) since we need numbers for the restaurant. There will be a few of us around on the Saturday also, some riders are starting early so if you're around then do pop into the square and look for the bike pile, join us for a beer.
Further supporter news :
After he rode the 2nd TNR* last September with Lee Craigie and Rickie Cotter of The Adventure Syndicate, Russ of Shand Cycles in Scotland and I talked more about dirt road touring, the rally and Smart Shelter. This year Shand have become a valued sponsor of the 3rd TNR, in the form of direct support donated to Smart Shelter. For me, what the rally can do for Smart Shelter is a big part of the event so this is great news. My thanks and gratitude to Steven and Russ at Shand, it's a hugely appreciated way to support what the rally has become.
*Due to what we should call over-eagerness, or perhaps a simple date mix-up, they started a day ahead of the rest of us. Anyone who knows how Lee Craigie and Rickie Cotter can ride, holiday pace or not, could understand why few of us would have seen them on the route anyway... so there's a few pics from their ride below instead.
Bikes in the start and finish pics - 'Jimmy' aka Lee's blue Bahookie 29er, Rickie's Oykel 29er and Russ's Stoater allroad. There's been TCRs, TDRs and many other roads and trails under the wheels of those three bikes.
Shand Cycles, Scotland @shandcycles
Entry process update
If you signed up to the 3rd TNR info early you will have got the first mail out in mid April. Entry was opened 2 weeks ago to those who signed that early and the response rate was higher than expected - 1 in 2.5 entering, vs 1 in 4 or less in the last 2 years. Perhaps unwisely, I opened this entry stage then went on holiday for 2 weeks so I have a backlog to get through, hence the FAQs here that may answer a few of these Qs. This morning, I sent the second round of entry email to everyone that signed up after mid April. Here's a few FAQ / points on the entry stages, numbers etc -
- If you got an entry mail 2 weeks ago, then sent an entry form reply via this site and paid £1 via paypal, and you were on that mail list rather than a sneaky entry because you had a link forwarded onto you, to be fair to all..! Then you're in. Don't worry : ) I'll get a confirmation mail out to everyone after I've been able to check it all (update, confirmation email sent to the entered rider list on 30th June at 9.30am - if you think you should have it but you don't, please check your junk folder first and if it's not there, mail me to check).
- The second round of entry email went out 6.30am today, 26th June. Rewarding early risers perhaps, as is the way with cycle travel. If you signed up after mid April this is your entry route but you need to be quick. The event is oversubscribed and there's only around 30 places left before we're at the maximum number. In hindsight I should have closed the mail list a while ago but based on 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 ratio of sign up to entry of the last 2 years, it looked OK. Now there may be a bit of a rush and some disappointment and that's all very un-TNR, I''m sorry it's ended up that way. Not my intention at all. Learning expereince this year. (update - it closed later that morning, sooner than expected, sorry - demand is high. Some that had problems with entry have been in contact and once duplicated entries were removed a few more places were available and taken. Contrary to my pont below there is now a reserve list for those who were on the original sign-up list, though I'll not be able to offer places unless others drop out or decide to start earlier or later than the main start)
- If you don't get in this year, you have guaranteed and advance entry to any future year. The reason for limiting numbers this year (to a number higher than last year, and probably 25-40 riders higher than next year will be) is about being sure there can be future years.
- The entry number limit is based on knowing not all will make it to Turin in the end so it's set a bit higher than it could be but that also means there's no reserve list plan, sorry. Logistics of that and fairness etc would be difficult to manage (update, it is/will be difficult, but this week has proven two things - I am soft and find it hard to say no -but the event will not go over a certain limit even so-, people are being really good about all this and there isn't a fair rule to apply rigidly. I hope I'm handling it all OK for those who have asked about the there-won't-be-but-there-now-is reserve list).
I hope this process hasn't left anyone feeling stitched up. It certainly could have been managed better if I'd have known that both interest and rate of entry was going to increase this much this year. Do email via the contact site if you have any comment on this process or if the mail list hasn't worked for you somehow. I tried to re-sent to a few of the bounce-backs where the typo was obvious. In all this the number limit is fixed but as ever the event is friendly and as flexible as it can be. Thanks for understanding.
A new supporter of the TNR :
Really pleased to announce that we have a new supporter for the Torino-Nice Rally. I've been talking to Apidura for a while about this so it's an overdue post. Earlier in the year I was looking to maximise any commercial sponsorship value of the event for the benefit of Smart Shelter and Apidura got in touch. They weren't interested in sticking a logo on everything or adding their name to the event as a title sponsor, they were simply interested in supporting events that put something into our bikepacking, rando and touring world. They wanted to see the event grow in a manageable way and we had the same idea of what it could and should be. This was good ... at the time I wasn't sure what the next steps were. The event costs me a bit to manage and it's certainly time-consuming, nothing I wouldn't continue to do as what the ride has become is just so much fun, a ride in more ways than expected, however now some of the strain is being taken up by a company with great experience in events, riding and the general scene. Their support not only helps with the 3rd TNR this year, it should mean that the 2019 entry process is more simple as the site could benefit from their web/IT expertise.
Thanks Apidura - to Chris for starting the conversations, and to George there for getting it this far, it's very much appreciated.
"We in bi'niz..."
The TNR may now (as far as the records go) be known as Torino Nice Rally Ltd. A limited company has been formed for the running of the event so the important stuff can be managed properly. What you'll see as a rider, if we're doing things well, is absolutely no change aside from the entry process (due out to the early signers this weekend) becoming a bit more formal, but it's the ride that counts and that won't change. Onwards...
(In other news, my copy of Isola Press' Rough Stuff Alps book arrived today. Great job Max and all involved in artworking and layout - it's stunning.)
Calendar funds for Smart Shelter Foundation, final total
Thank you to everyone who bought a 2018 TNR calendar - we raised £778.89 for Smart Shelter Foundation! It has taken me a bit longer than intended to account for it all but after postage and stock costs that's what we have to donate to them. It's a great result so many thanks for your support.
For clarity/accounting - the XL/CSV file below is the paypal income with names protected (and my online shopping lines deleted) but you'll find your payment there if you look. PDF below has info on the total donated for the calendars less PP fees, the costs and the receipts, to give the total.
The 1st Mail-out and the entry process
The first update email went out just over a week ago. It just explained generally how the entry process will work when it opens, plus the details of the start and some recommendations and tips for places to eat, drink and relax.
The most important mail will be the 'entry is open' that those who got that 1st mail (the early-sign-ups) will get in the near-ish future, an advance notice to enter. No rush, no midnight page refreshing to get in, you will have a few weeks to sort out your entry. It'll give me an idea of numbers for this year. I can't however guarantee entry space to those signing up from now onward, though I hope to be able to - the mail list is already quite large and suggesting greater demand this year. There's a few 'needs' here that are important to the ride while we balance rising interest with an event structure that risks lagging a bit behind that curve -
1) Be sure the TNR is doing the responsible thing for you as a rider.
2) Be sure we're all doing the right thing in terms of rider numbers and any impact that may have on the areas we're riding through.
3) Be fair to those who signed up early on as well as be as flexible as possible to aim to include everyone who wants to ride.
Hope that's understandable and doesn't seem too much like a bad juggling act - it is a juggle though, but for fair reasons. If I can do those 3 things first then all's OK.
2 books - 'Roughstuff Cycling in the Alps' and 'Lanterne Rouge'
Isola Press's project to reprint Fred Wright's classic self-published work, Roughstuff Cycling in the Alps, is well underway. There were only 100 or so copies of Fred's book printed (in his local library, a true labour of love) and I was lucky to get one of the last few. It was something I browsed over the years and when I started linking up some points of interest on a map, RsCitA really showed it's value. Some of the TNR route is in Fred's book - a pass here and a strada there - and it would be difficult to create a good route in the Alps that doesn't use something that he hasn't explored. For that reason I can't recommend buying a copy enough. Seems many agree - the Kickstarter fund has hit it's stretch target already and has 15 days to go. Get a copy here - there's a discount pledge option for anyone who's already ridden the TNR.
Also on books, and also by the same author - for the Second Torino-Nice Rally there was a reward for the rider who took the most time enjoying the route. The rally isn't a race and we celebrate the unracer. Max Leonard's book 'Lanterne Rouge' introduces us to the riders of the Tour de France who either competed to be last, or ended up last through a lack of luck or legs. Max sent a copy to the TNR rider who qualified for our lanterne rouge honour, rewarding quite different aims and motivations to any Tour racer!
The Second Torino-Nice Rally's Lanterne Rouge was Gerhard Wolf from Germany. Here he is arriving in Nice on a wet final day, still smiling and with his DIY brevet card intact, showing a full route ridden. Congratulations Gerhard!
Sign-ups, Entry and Mail Lists
There's a contact form on the Contact page - if you're interested in coming along the September, do send us your info. This is to build up a mail list of interested riders. When the actual entry format is finalised you'll be advised by email and can then 'enter'.
This is a bit different to last year where people were sent the info then simply rolled up and rode. That was great and there's no intent to make this a pay to ride event, but it's clear that with the potential numbers riding out of Turin in September the TNR has a duty of care that needs to be clarified. The entry format's not an easy thing to clarify without making this a more standard event format (which isn't happening, to be clear) so it may take a bit longer. So for now, fire over your email address and you'll stay in the loop. Thanks for understanding and bearing with us while this gets figured out with the support of a supportive bikepacking kit company who get all this stuff - more on that another time.
If there's nothing to report in the coming weeks at least you'll get some info on planning your ride, where to get good pizza on day one after *that* climb, and so on.
Also - Calendars - sold a few more, ~£750 raised - great result and thanks for the support (and photos)!
First update of 2018 and it's good news - all calendars ordered have been sent, raising £639.40 for Smart Shelter Foundation*. The second batch were posted today so I could tot up the total raised. Thanks for the images and your support. It was a great idea of Cyril's and it made almost as much for SSF as the 1st TNR patches did, so thanks again to everyone that ordered, it was well worth it. More than a few orders went to riders planning to be in Turin this September for the first time and I'm not the only one counting the days even more accurately now...
- Thanks to the bonus of over-run copies sent by the printers I have a few calendars left, 5 or 6 - mail via the contact page if you'd still like one.
* Non-profit transparency policy since calendar payments were made to my own paypal, not direct to SSF = accounts to be uploaded here soon.
The second part of the update is about the sign-up process, just to clarify what's holding that up. The event date is fixed as 3rd September but the entry format needs OK'ing by an insurer before it can be opened - increased personal liability on my part as the event grows, something I can't take a gamble on really. Just details though, there won't be added costs or limits etc due to this. Keep an eye on the site in the coming weeks to sign up and info will go out between March and July, info inc routes, cue notes, some tips on places to eat or sleep, as previous years. Route revisions include a more rural and direct route out of Turin and a less brutal finish to the descent to La Brigue, one shortcut route becoming the main route, that kind of thing. Refinements rather than re-routes. More soon.
Another year over, and what have we done ... (with apologies to JL for mixing that line up). I know for many people I've met along this particular path, we rode our bikes, made new friends in amazing places and helped some very good people do really valuable work. If that's representative of our year then all's pretty good. Health, good vibes and positive deeds - here's to 2018 bringing more of that for everyone.
Download a reminder of the start of some of 2017's good times here, and thanks to everyone involved for making the 2nd TNR such a good thing!
(photo : @evanoui.cc)
An update from SSF in Nepal. Part way through his time in Japan working with researchers and universities there, Martijn has gone to Nepal with partners in the SMARTnet research project, to inspect SSF's earlier work and the effects of the 2015 earthquakes.
"Hello to All, here’s an update from Nepal. I am (finally) doing a round of inspection to see how our schools really behaved in the 2015 earthquakes. So far I have seen 10 villages where we have built. The most important aim was to avoid collapse, and the secondary aim was to reduce damage as much as possible.
Six of our buildings have some minor cracks, nothing to worry about. It is almost impossible to avoid this. However, having said this… In 4 villages there is absolutely zero damage in our schools. Not even a tiny crack, and believe me, I have checked!
See the example of Dargauntar. On the school ground there are 5 older buildings, of which 4 are cracked, and one partially collapsed. In the village itself there are 90 houses, all cracked and 10 completely collapsed. Overall, in the total region, several thousands of houses have damage, and around 400 to 500 houses fully collapsed. Conclusion: all our effort to make the schools earthquake resistant have paid off.
I am very proud of what we have achieved in Nepal, and I take off my hat and make a deep bow to our local partner Damodar Bhakta Thapa, and to the local masons and carpenters. I also thank everyone who has contributed to Smart Shelter Foundation, or more recently to SMARTnet. We could not have done this without you!!
About SMARTnet. The research on improvement and reducing costs of non-engineered is going very well, and I expect to make some big steps in the coming year.
Just keep an eye on us, and for now happy holidays!
Martijn (from Nepal) and Tes (from Japan)."
2nd TNR x Evanoui.cc Photo Calendars
UPDATE 23rd Dec - 1st batch sold out! Thanks for the support from everyone who ordered. But do mail below if you still want one - if there's demand I'll order more with an ETA to you of 20th Jan.
Update 30th Dec - had a few more orders so there will be a second batch - order before 3rd Jan and you'll get one.
Update 20th Jan - Thanks to the bonus of over-run copies sent by the printers I have a few calendars left - mail via the contact page if you'd still like one.
Taken a bit longer to get this sorted than expected but they're done. Full A4 landscape image per page format.
£12 per calendar plus post - UK post is £2.50, International Standard post (3-5 days) within EU is £6.60, worldwide £10.15.
All profits go to Smart Shelter Foundation - around £8 per calendar.
Orders closed now sorry. Update with final total for SSF due soon.
Merchandise #1 - Photo competition calendars -
All the images are with us now, credits clarified, ready to create the calendars and order. They'll be good quality A4 size and full landscape image per page as the example page below. A sign-up form will be up here as soon as the payment methods are confirmed (likely that it goes direct to SSF, like the patches). Price per calendar TBC with all proceeds after cost-covering going to Smart Shelter Foundation, aiming at 60-70% of the proceeds going to them. Post within EU is 6 Euros, in the UK £2.50, worldwide 9 Euros. Numbers limited and we're aiming to get these done asap!
Merchandise #2 - The 2nd Torino-Nice Rally cards -
Some made it to Nice with their card intact, some had little more than a damp cardboard mess left. Hopefully a few of those tear-off postcards got sent home. Thanks to @username_b_e_n and @captainuncertain for help in pulling these together in time. There's a few left so if you want a card just shout via the contact page here. 4 £/euro posted? (it'll help me recoup some of the print costs that's all).
Right, end of merchandising, back to mapping that new route detail for the start of the #3rdTNR.
The 3rd Torino-Nice Rally date is fixed - rolling out on the 3rd September 2018. The 3rd on the 3rd. Meet the night before in Turin for dinner as usual. More info about sign-ups due in a month or so, just a few things to work out first.
If you want to ride the route another time the route will be available from June onwards, just sign up when the sign-ups are open.
A copy of the mail-out from this morning that went to the mail list as it was in late July - some will have signed up for the 2nd rally since then so it's repeated here (also, I had a few reply emails pointing out that for a few email providers/accounts, the images didn't display - sorry - here they are). For anyone getting updates still after signing up for the 1st rally, apologies, hope it's no bother - for better order and efficiency the mail list will be started afresh for the 3rd TNR.
The Second Torino-Nice Rally ... a follow-up
To all who made it to Turin and all who then (as far as we know) made it to Nice along one route or another -
Congratulations! It wasn't an easy ride at all but you were part of something that for two years running has suprised and amazed me, a wonderful ride with great people.
Thank you for making the event what it was, for your support of Smart Shelter Foundation and for being great representatives of the event at the businesses along the way, many of whom have expressed a real interest in the rally and extended a warm welcome to the riders again next year.
This is how it started, with around 135 of us in the Piazza -
There was plenty of this along the way –
And this is how it ended for many of us -
Cheers .. All went pretty welI think!
Who was our lanterne rouge this year?
If you may have been the rider who took the most time to savour every mile of the route and arrived to Nice after everyone else, well done! And do let me know - Max Leonard (a Café du Cycliste regular who spends plenty of time based in Nice) will kindly send you a signed copy of his excellent book 'Lanterne Rouge', a look into the culture and history of the last finishers in the Tour de France.
Thanks to our supporters
Thanks to Café du Cycliste for being our unofficial finish line gathering area, cheers Ali. I hope everyone who was able to get to Café du Cycliste got a set of WTB tyres when they visited. Thanks WTB! I picked up another set of 650B Byways, they were great on the ride, reliable too and only just started to get out of depth on ‘that’ section of the Strada Cannoni.
Sergio, thanks for all your help in Turin, and for a place to stay and a great welcome there.
Ben Mills (design) and Jonathan Bacon aka Biff (print and general helping hand) – thanks for helping sort the rally cards in time!
Cyril, thanks for the great photos - plus a ‘Spirit of the TNR’ award to you, to be shared with Jack who travelled on your forks and lasted a little longer than we think is right : )
Thanks to Restaurant Alla Lettera who kept a booking for ‘somewhere between 80 and 120’ open and got food and drink to us all the night before the ride.
Staffan and AssSavers, thanks for the guard handouts at dinner!
2nd TNR photo comp
Cyril at evanoui.cc has set up a photo competition on facebook, just go to the Torino-Nice Rally Rider’s Page or Evanoui.cc’s FB page. The best 12 images you vote for will go into a 2018 / 2nd TNR calendar, non-profit and all proceeds going to SSF. You’ll be able to order the end result in time for Christmas.
Smart Shelter Foundation, an update
This year the TNR raised a few Euros short of 3,000 Euro for SSF, all from generous donations in return for a 2nd TNR patch. Thank you .. a huge success and something that Martijn’s very grateful for. There are so many worthy causes out there that need our support so we're really grateful for your support of SSF's work.
I’ll get an update from Martijn and post it up on the News + Updates page of the site.
The 3rd Torino-Nice Rally
All TBC but probably starting same place, first Monday in September. Route for the 3rd rally will be basically the same but will be tweaked again based on more experience and the new short cuts included this year. I’ve now ridden all sections and alternates, most of them twice, many in quite different conditions (the Strada Cannoni, damn.. that was different second time around!). If you have any feedback on any aspect of the ride, good or bad, do let me know so it can help shape future editions.
The site will get an update soon (this one!) and the mail list will open later this year. We just need a bit of time to think about the possibility of the number of riders doubling again and what is sustainable before confirming some details, as well as how the event running cost is covered if it’s an annual event. A headline sponsor covering the basic running costs of a few hundred £ and a majority remainder going to SSF, would be my preferred way forward. If anyone has links with a business that has any interest in that please get in touch.
Whatever we do will keep the original spirit of the ride – open and inclusive as well as being sure as a collective group of riders we stick to Rule #1 in the eyes of everyone we pass along the way.
Thanks ... It was memorable. Looking forward to next year already.
Back to reality. That was the 2nd TNR and it was a blast - thanks to everyone who turned up and rode, you made the event what it is - another year of riding with a great mix of people on a real mix of terrain. The weather was just on the right side of mixed also! I've been away over the last week, relaxing in France for a few days after the ride, hence the lack of update on here. A 2nd TNR follow-up post due soon ...
Planning on train back to Turin from Nice? Ventimiglia/Vintimille-Cuneo train line closures for reworks - link
Recent news but no real disruption for most planning to use the trains to get back to Turin. Translated, the important info is as follows :
Between Nice and Breil: NO MODIFICATION All trains will normally run (- so from after the Col Tende descent / end of Via del Sale, trains will run normally between Breil Sur Roya and Nice).
Between Breil and Tende: The Regional Council will use line 905 to ensure road substitution. Buses on line 905 will be accessible to passengers with a SNCF ticket or a bus ticket from CARF.
Poster Works MR09 Nice Breil Tende TER and CAR from 04 September to 09 December 2017
Italian trains will also be substituted for Italian bus buses 1 Italian bus 2017
... the issue is busses may not / probably won't take bikes. It shouldn't spoil any plans though as there are other options and routes :
Ride between Breil and Limone Piemonte - Limone Piemonte>Cuneo line is open and from there go from Cuneo>Turin. Trains are running from Cuneo to Turin as usual.
Nice-Tende via the Train des Mervielles - link
To get back from Nice / the south coast to Turin without riding any closed sections - trains run from Ventimiglia>Geona then Genoa>Turin, around 6.5hrs / 2 changes.
Trainline.eu is a useful place to search for options and times.
IMPORTANT ROUTE INFO - Monesi di Triora area landslips
Thanks to Cornelius Struck who rode part of the Rally route this summer, some more info and images from the Monesi di Triora landslide area. In his words,
"I would not consider it to be dangerous in good weather conditions. But with rain I would rather not pass there.
The attached map shows our GPS track. We first did not enter the blocked road but went to the opposite village Briga Alta from where we had a look on the largest landslip in Monesi village. Then we decided to take the road anyway and entered Monesi from below. That's where we had to cross the river with the destroyed bridge. At the fork our route joins with the upper route that one would normally take coming down from Monte Saccarello.
We were pushing/carrying our bikes through the upper part of the village Monesi. We even met the local mayor with a TV team there and he said the soil was generally safe and he was fine with bicycles pushing through the village which is blocked for access."
Below is their GPS track - they went into Brig Alta on the SP1 to pass Monesi, though it sounds like Monesi itself (ie on-route) is passable by bike. The landslip points are shown and the 'SCR Monesi Cut-Off' GPS file takes the shaded/highlight yellow area. Images below show the damaged areas.
The route GPS has an info flag in this area and the cues highlight this and the cut-off option. The cut-off uses a section I've ridden before. If it's raining or you're not fully confident in passing the damaged sections it may be better avoid them by back-tracking to the cut-off.
3rd mail-out and some additional info for Turin -
That's the 3rd mail-out sent. If you haven't had it it, check your junk mail folder and let me know if it's not there either. Let me know via a message using the 'I'm in!' Contact form as that also adds the email address you enter to the mail list.
The 3rd mail-out has all the route files, a GPS file to help you get to the meeting area in Turin from the airport, confirmation of the start time, an annoying minor typo or two (but not the routes, only in the email text ... too long in front of a screen some days!), some more tips on places eat or to stay -Camping Val Varaita- and an update on the patches. Also please do to go back to mail-out #2 and read these sections - the route bullet points and 'A Reminder'. Most of it may be obvious but it's important.
Please note the 'Dinner?' poll on the Contact page also - if you're joining us all for dinner it really helps us plan if you can give us that info.
To add to the start / meeting area info, here's some useful stuff for Turin below, to go out in a seperate mail also perhaps. It's also here for reference if you need it when in Turin -
2 bike shops in Turin near to the Piazza Giambattista Bodoni will be open later than usual the evening of the 4th - thanks Tripibike and Cilcloofficina Artigiana 👍
Via Saluzzo, 19
011 1992 3832
LA CICLOFFICINA ARTIGIANA
Via Ormea, 19
380 157 0879
There are a few other shops in the area, usual opening times - map image below. Also see GPS download below that incluudes the shops as POI.
Turin is a beautiful city with a rich history. If you have some spare time before dinner or are staying there an extra day or two at either end of the ride, here's a short sight-seeing trip to cnsider. This 7km tour starts and finishes at our central meet/start point, the Piazza Giambattista Bodoni. It takes you past some of the beautiful buildings and churches of Turin including the dramatic Roman gate, the chapel of the famous Shroud of Turin, the cathedral and an old bridge over the Po river. Piazzas recommended for cafes, restaurants and bars are also listed. It's a route that would be of interest both at night or during the day time.
Bike shops and a supermarket not far from the start/meet point area are also listed.
With thanks to Sergio Aghemo in Turin for the recommendations and direction outline.
Route files / 3rd mail-out -
Last min reworks ... when the cues and GPS files are all done, email was ready to go, then you hear that there were landslides on part of the route over the winter! Hopefully nothing major but needs noting and a route-around if needed. All route info and the final update email due to go out over the weekend, or before if I can get it all done sooner. Apologies for the delay.
Patches arrived the other day, will get those posted asap also. It's all happening this week... see our Instagram for pics of the patches!
Handbuilt bikes ridden by the builder on the TNR route this summer >
Philippe builds his own bikes and put together 2 lovely 650B gravel bikes with WTB Byway tyres for a trip along the TNR route over the last couple of weeks - check out @masterpiou on Instagram here. Nice bike Philippe - black and stainless with WTBs .. class.
Patches - incoming
Order's placed, qty fixed. ETA here 31st July-1st Aug. I'll send them all out ASAP after they arrive so if you'd like one it's helpful if you get the order in before then, thanks (orders won't be refused after that date of course, just means I can post most of them in one go).
3rd mail out inc route files due quite soon - end of the month I expect, or before if I can get the cues done sooner. Not so long now .. !
Patches - limited editions
Just a call out for anyone wanting a Torino Nice Rally patch.
I need to place the order asap and the costs are met by the TNR (ie me). I can get 100 or 200 and right now it's looking possible that we'll need more than 100, maybe. But not sure. Some people want more than one and patch sign-up numbers are really encouraging this year. If you'd like one please sign up and/or donate soon as it'll help me make the call of whether 200 is worth going for by the time I need to place the order (asap really), or if by getting that many it'll not actually gain anything for Smart Shelter but will cost me more plus I'll have enough spare patches left to cover my frame bag, my jacket and my cap ... Thanks.
Patches will be sent out in late July - for more info see the Contact page
Plus there's added incentives now - having a patch during the rally includes the benefit of free camping at Camping Val Varaita, at the base of the Coille di Sampeyre (many thanks to 2nd TNR rider Davide whose family run the site). Maybe more benefits by September, but still including the benefit of raising money for Smart Shelter and making your bike bags look better than ever.
The second mail out
.. was sent out today. A bit more about the plan, the start, tips on places to eat etc. Also some important stuff - rally patches in aid of SSF and the rider support from WTB (some gentle but no-pressure persuasion if we may - bear WTBs generosity in mind if you're wavering over getting a patch or a donation to SSF? 👍 ).
If you're looking at booking accommodation en-route, scroll down this page to July 2016 updates for a useful map or look up the Torino-Nice Rally on Komoot.de. The 2016 route sections are there and it might help with early route planning. The route for 2017 is 98% (approx) the same. The 2017 route files will be sent with the next mail-out in July.
If you don't have the mail-out - check your email junk folder and/or add TNR email address to safe senders list etc. If it's not there, re-send us a mail via the contact form on the Contact page here. That'll make sure I have a current email for you and I'll resend the 2nd mail out asap.
The mail out includes some useful info about train travel between Turin and Nice from Sergio, our main man in Turin, repeated here for reference :
"This is the official page of Trenitalia for bike transport (english version) - trenitalia.com/tcom-en/Services/Travelling-with-your-bike
The Italian page explain better - trenitalia.com/tcom/Offerte-e-servizi/FAQ-Bici - but in few words:
- any train “Regionale” have a bike section near head or tail of the train; to store you bike here you must buy, over your personal ticket, a daily ticket of 3,50€ for each bike (I do this habitually on my one-way trip)
- in others train you must wheel off your bikes and packing them
I haven’t experience of the French side (Nice-Ventimiglia). In Italian side you can travel from Ventimiglia to Cuneo via Valle Roya - Limone with a very nice (and slow) train “Regionale” and then from Cuneo to Torino with another Regionale. So, no problems to transport the bike.
Other way is Ventimiglia - Savona and then Savona - Torino via train Regionale (about 4.30h) and here also no problem.
Faster solution via Intercity or international train could need to transport the bike as extra luggage and this could be expensive and complicated.
My personal suggestion is to reach Ventimiglia in some way (by bike?) and then take the Valle Roya train. Otherwise you can get the Train des Merveilles
until the Col Tende and then continue to Limone - Cuneo - Torino via treni Regionali.
It seems a bit complicated but it could be done in a day…"
And some follow-up train tips from rider replies to the mail out -
RE getting a train from Ventimigila (near Nice) to Turin,
"Trains between Nice and Ventimiglia are frequent and accept bikes free of charge (in TER), so no use going to Ventimiglia by bike (unless for the pleasure of wandering along the coast).
The Nice - Breil line is another option to reach Breil where the two lines (the one from Ventimiglia and the one from Nice) connect."
- Robert C
RE booking 'inter city' trains to/from Turin (possibly Nice also),
"..my recent experience has been that to formally book a bike on a fast train eg Geneva to Milan, or Milan to Turin then it isn't possible to do online via any of the major websites. I have had to call Trenitalia (v good service in English) and book seat and bike. cost £6.00 from the UK but cheapest way to do it to guarantee a seat and accompanying bike.
Info on bikes see link http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en/Services/Travelling-with-your-bike"
- Neal H
2nd TNR rally patches - similar to the 1st TNR version shown below yet in 2017 they'll be thicker, more luxurious and more rando than ever before. To get this year's must-have item just read the info below, they're sent out in return for donations to Smart Shelter Foundation. TNR covers the badge costs so all of your dontations go to SSF - the cost of the badges is our way of supporting this. Suggested minimum donation a tenner / 12 Euros plus £1.50 equivalent for post in Europe / £1 for UK post? (your call). They will be sent out in late July so get the order in soon and you'll have it in time to add some brovet style to any bike bag. You can also collect at the dinner the night before the ride, but past experience says this may be less reliable than the post!
If you want a patch or two here's what to do -
1) Sign up for a patch using the form on the 'Contact' page between now and mid July. Non-committal, just this way I get an idea of demand before fixing the order size. You'll get a confirmation reply from the TNR email address.
2) Donate directly via paypal or bank to Smart Shelter's SMARTnet project here. Read more about it on the Smart Shelter page of this site, or better still, on their site. If you want 2, or 6, etc - just donate what you think is fair for the number of patches you want and let me know how many you need.
3) Once you've donated you'll get a reply mail from Smart Shelter+Paypal (eg a Paypal email titled 'Receipt for your donation to Smart Shelter Foundation'). Forward that on to the TNR email address that replies to your patch sign-up (ie torinoniceetc@ gmail.com). Include your address for postage, or a 'pick up in Turin' note.
4) Once the Smart Shelter Paypal mail is received here you're on the send list and I'll send your rally patch(es) out when they're here in July.
There are about a dozen 1st TNR patches left if you want one of those also/instead. Future classics maybe.. Maybe not.
With thanks for supporting a worthy cause.
Yes, we have a couple of them on the site now. Proper event aren't we? Actually, no. It's just as thanks, recognising the support from Cafe du Cycliste who welcome us there in Nice as an unofficial finish line meeting point, also to WTB who have got more involved this year (WTB's road products guy Will Ritchie rode with us last year). As an incentive to come along to the dinner the night before as well as to get to the cafe in Nice during opening times, at the dinner you can pick up a small info pack. 'A note from our sponsors' of sorts plus some useful route info - carry part of that all the way to Cafe du Cycliste and WTB will supply something there in return. Just because they're nice like that. No catch, no money made by the TNR for promotion etc - but if a complimentary set of tyres has value to you, maybe bear that in mind if or when you buy a TNR rally patch and help the cause. Thanks WTB. More info in the next mail-out due in a week or two.
Ride in peace, Mike.
Been away recently. Two weeks with the bike in a place where wifi was intermitent, often didn't work and I generally didn't care for it much. One morning in a guesthouse, a lull between the two trips we made, I opened up my emails and saw an obituary email for Mike Hall, a few days after the tragic incident that took him. I'm not sure what this post is for, maybe just to express something I struggled with while I was there, or simply to say Mike - you were an inspiration. For me, one of a small number of truly inspiring cyclists who made me rethink what I might be able to do with a bike. I rode in your tracks in 2013 after we spoke at the start of an event where you showed what you were capable of and humbled the rest of us. You gave me a couple of tips when we spoke that I kept in mind as I rode, one that may have kept me going where others dropped out. I'm not a racer though. That was my one foray into a world that you mastered and it gave me an insight into what a top level endurance rider goes through and what it takes to go back for more, to step up a second or third time - respect is not enough of a word and stunned does not describe how I felt reading that email. Perhaps some of us elevated you to superhero status and superheroes never die, but that's not really it. You're a legend in this world because you were anything but the superhero, you were a regular guy with the focus and ability to simply get it done. We can all 'be more Mike' because Mike Hall was like the rest of us, just a rider, only one with a drive and motivation that few ever find let alone harness and a way of going about his rides that enabled any of us able to take inspiration from it. Thanks Mike.
Smart Shelter Foundation and SMARTnet -
If your interest in the rally has got you as far as this page, please take a moment to read this also. Click for a clearer pdf, download and share if you can. Thanks.
Smart Shelter has been on a long, productive journey over the last decade or so. From one man's aim to use his knowledge to research and develop resistant building techniques -basically buildings that can withstand natural disaster, mainly earthquakes- to a realisation of how little-known these techniques are and how much they may vary when the aim is to use locally-available materials, has come SMARTnet.
Imagine rebuilding after a major earthquake. People need shelter and donations may pour in in the short term but may also dry up fast, many pledges never even arriving. There's a pressure to work fast, but is the work storing up more risk in the future? Are home and schools being build with basic flaws that make them unsafe in quake-risk areas? If Smart Shelter's SmartNet project can bring together the research and experience they have so far it could be as simple as an app supported by a website, identifying the risk of the area, the local materials and the best practices for building simple, cheap and resistant buildings that are safer the next time an earthquake hits.
The downloadable pdf below is from Martijn, the founder of Smart Shelter. The SMARTnet work is focussing on rebuilding work in Nepal as an early test-case for the project that can be rolled out to any area of the world with enough research to support it. Nepal is where I met Martijn in 2008 so I'm really pleased that the rally is able to help support this vital work.
™ and © - Credibility and IP.
A week or so back I posted on twitter about basic Intellectual Property advice, something I've had some experience of through work but not in a direct sense. ‘INAL’. Thought it worth a post on here though, if anyone’s interested in why I was asking - probably not, but anyway … It's interesting to me, IP’s an interesting subject for anyone with a creative mind and this event is proving to be a learning experience for me as well as a bike ride.
An interesting mail received a little while ago started a discussion among a few friends about commercial events and related things. Things that the Torino-Nice isn't involved with for simplicity's sake (I have nothing against pay-to-enter events, the TNR approach is more a nod to how inspired I was by the ethos of a free, open event I participated in a few years ago). One point made while discussing the mail - a point not directly raised by the mail I should add - was that there may come a time where there would be a desire to protect an open event. Could there be a situation where hindsight would suggest doing things differently, having a protectable aspect of the event perhaps? After all, the ride wasn't expected to go the way it's going now.
If that was a concern early on I'd not have chosen a name that has no trade mark potential and a logo that’s an obvious homage to the Monte Carlo Rally car badges. I have little to protect or own there. The ride is all about influences, a tip of the hat to classic events in the area and a love of the era when grand tours climbed dirt tracks into the mountains, just an event expressing some of my own take on riding. Among cycling events I do believe the Torino-Nice Rally has some originality, that was part of the motivation to try it out last year in the first place. It offers something a little different, not in intellectual property value but in the type of ride, a way of getting riders together that breaks away from genres and type-casting and aims to help keep them together more on the route (if they wish). And racing, breaking away from that for those that want to while still providing interest, challenge and a sense of achievement.
The outcome of some conversations about IP was largely as expected (thanks to those who got in touch, it’s very much appreciated). Firstly, the general idea that there’s no point protecting IP that you can’t afford or have no appetite to use litigation to enforce. Secondly, there’s not much here to protect beyond the usual assumed copyright.
I like that outcome. I had hoped that there might be some clause I didn’t know about that might be on the side of people doing stuff for no reward beyond the experience but perhaps it’s not needed. Cycling is a world full of people who love what they do and enjoy sharing it with others. Goodwill, credibility and mutual respect - or ‘Go nice places, do good things™’* - is a lot simpler than the law. The only question any of us need to answer is whether we or anyone else are doing the right thing.
*That wonderful tagline from the guys at Alpkit isn’t really trademarked, I added the ™ bit to make some sort of point. Perhaps they don't need a ™ since it would be a bad thing to rip it off to help sell or promote good things or nice places. Irony and credibility vs the Law? In this small world of bikes and rides it's a nice idea that credibility may be the strongest influence.
The Torino-Nice Rally hasn't got a Facebook page, it probably should have as the social aspect of the event was so good last year, just a time-draw that I've not got into so far. There's now an open group TNR page that's been set up by David Chirnside from NZ who's riding this September so you can catch up with other riders there. It's independently run ie not my page but I'll make sure he has any vital updates nearer the start time so they can be posted up. Thanks David! Open-source bike events, perfect. Click on icon/link below -
The 1st mail out for the 2nd Rally went out yesterday. If you haven't had the mail out but you've had an email (from a torino-nice@ email address) confirming your sign up -
1) check your junk folder - there's no links in the mail out but some mail systems don't like email with multiple recipients.
2) mail me via the torino-nice email address and it'll be re-sent. This is preferable to using the contact form as it means there's not duplicate emails in the mail list, but that's no real problem. Just helps me manage a relatively large mail list and folder.
3) use the contact form if needed.
The first mail has a bit of useful info, the main thing being covered by the Turin entry on the POI page - the meeting and starting points. The rest may just help with planning and rider hook-ups where needed. Easy!
E-Biking Is Not A Crime.
Just an attention-grabber attempt there.. The Torino-Nice is a very hilly ride and getting you and your bike to each end has a few logistical challenges. There's a company that may be able to help with one or both of those points - Bcyclet Alps Bike Rental have offered a package of hire bikes with options for delivery to Turin and collection from Nice. You can hire a gravel-style bike, a trekking bike or an e-bike and it can have bikepacking luggage supplied if needed. More details here.
Charging points for an e-bike might work OK - I can't think of any stretches of more than 50-60km where there is no plug available. You might need to look for the odd diversion and have to ask cafes nicely to charge up while buying something there, but my own experience of riding with e-bikers is that the added coffee or food stops are no bad thing.
For clarity, the TNR isn't commercially linked to this service. We're just mentioning the availability after the staff there signed up to ride the 2nd rally this September and said they offer hire packages based around events in the Alps. The company offers other tour support packages as well so if bike hire for the rally or elsewhere in the Alps is of use to you, have a look.
They know how to keep some of us in suspense - now OSM Films and Bombtrack Bikes film of Joachim Rosenlund's ride in the 1st TNR is now up on Vimeo - here
Brilliant work OSM. And thanks to Joachim and Bombtrack for making it happen. You got the old 'what tyres' question about right, I think..
damn, we missed those mountains! but release of the @torinonicerally short documentary is getting closer and closer and we're so excited to finally show it to you! stay tuned ➡ @bombtrackbicycleco // □□ . . #torinonicerally #tnr #bombtrack #bombtrackbicycleco #mountains #behindthescenes #filming #production #1stTNR #bikepacking #bike #cycling #cyclist #bicyclelove #productionlife #bikelife #onset #setlife #mountains #mountainview #nature #naturelover #roadslikethese #rideon #outsideisfree #gravel #gravelbike #alps #italia #italy #gravelroad
A photo posted by OSM films (@osmfilms) on
Odinavatar-TNRfilmstar .. Excited to see this, just what's needed during a dreary January. Thanks Bombtrack and OSMfilms!
More here on Bikepacking.com
Note - Date change, now on the 18th -
Amsterdam area? Interested in the Torino-Nice 2017 and other rides like it? Bas Rotgans and his brother Michiel (check out Michiel's photography site here) rode the 1st Torino-Nice Rally. He's talking at the Rapha Clubhouse in Amsterdam on the 18th Dec, about bikepacking and where road bikes off-road can take you. @basrotgans
PCR Gravier's film of their TNR ride is up on Vimeo - Here
The 2nd Torino-Nice Rally. "Here we go again..". New event poster's up on the landing page. Download a jpg file of it below. There's a new site due at some point, was just time to update the current one as a few 'I'm in!' mails came through for 2017. Mail-outs from ~Feb onwards, same pattern as this year, just confirming mail list then the route, meeting and start info.
Patch sales/donations in support of Smart Shelter Foundation - £604.32 raised in total. More than I expected, thank you. And a little later in totaling up than I aimed for. There were a few late, welcome takers of the remaining patches around the time of the ride but I expect that's about it now (a few left if anyone still wants one - think of the future ebay value!). The donation will be made partly in Euro and partly in £ since early Euro donations were converted to £ but then taken in Euros when the £ rate looked like it'd drop by the time it was totalled up. I've used 1.2 for the exchanges either way and will make up the small shortfall there to the 1.2 rate when £ are sent over. Account summary below, you'll see your name there if you know what you're looking for. Any queries -or tips from currency traders or accountants!- to the usual address or via the Contact page.
Thanks to everyone who donated to a worthy cause, one that we might begin to relate to while camped out on rides like this. Smart Shelter
A Torino-Nice video today from Fraser, Simon and Steven / VC Moulin (no they're not a French bike club) - Youtube
They were riding for fun but also to support the workers helping those affected by the recent earthquake in Italy - Just Giving page here.
Another film here from Wayne 'GFY' Horsey. 'Some pushing expected' ; ) The 'Death Road' section @14.32 ... '.. put your helmet on' indeed -
1st Torino-Nice Rally, done. I thought I'd posted a 'We're Off Riding' update before setting off for Eurobike at the end of August but it seems not. Ah well. Things got busy. Time away from the laptop was good. 10 days on the bike in total was as good as it's ever been, better perhaps. Got back yesterday after some further time off in France.
The main point here is to say thank you! to everyone who helped make the 1st Torino-Nice Rally way more than I ever thought it would be. An idea for a slightly larger than usual group ride with a different route format turned out to be a really memorable trip. You all gambled on this event being either a joke of poor routing or event management, a damp wash-out or a daft type of wacky race and you may have got some or all of it at some point! Overwhelmingly good feedback says it was tough but rewarding and some have asked if there's a 2nd Rally planned, or over beers in Nice may have talked some big talk of riding again next year! There will be a next year - with a proper domain name and a new site. So thank you, again - you all helped start something that I enjoyed (almost) every minute of. I hope you did too.
57 people were in Bodoni Square for dinner the night before - that was a suprise when our bunch of 8 or so riders arrived at around 7pm having survived an alleycat ride between the airport and the square. The ride-out route didn't reverse quite as well as planned! Over 60 riders set off from Turin, more than I thought, a brilliant turn-out. Rally patches are still being taken (got a few left) and the total for Smart Shelter is really appreciated, thanks for all the support there.
The ride - well that really was more than I expected.. Harder than I remember it (dunno about everyone else but my prep / fitness wasn't up to scratch - hey, it's not racing is it..) and also hugely rewarding - great weather, plenty of time spent up high at dawn and dusk, good bivis in both the hills and 'urban' spots .. plenty of pizza, pasta, beers and coffees .. a good time.
Not entirely sure what's next. Not a lot on this site but if there are responses to the group mail due late next week there will be a new page up on here soon that'll be worth a read (update Jan '17, seems that instagram is working out for all that instead). There'll be a few weeks of occasionally looking through everyone's flickr pages, Instagrams and blogs and wishing I was still on the Assietta at dusk with good friends. Some planning for the new site that is due. Following up a couple of tracking / image-linking ideas for next year, maybe. Taking out or revising some bits of the route that could be improved after I was able to ride the options and alternates this year (if you cursed me or anyone else as you pushed amd carried up to Col des Peas or Little Peru this year, your sense of adventure is admired and you got to experience what Andy and I did last year in the name of seeing if the main route/road could be bettered - after this year's ride I'm not sure if they can, but at least we both know that now!).
Overall, no plans to change what the ride was this year - a simple event with a challenging and beautiful route, ridden by people who had little to no intention to 'smash it' and all the time in the world to chat, soak up the views or take time out for coffee or a good dinner and a beer. It was a pleasure. Looking forward to the Second Rally already.
Fitting the Patches - for reference in case you've not fixed yours onto a bag or jersey yet - I was going to experiment on an old bag but thought that was being a chicken so straight in with my Revelate bar bag and a hot iron. I found X-Pac / VX21 isn't easily melted - not at all in this case with the iron on the hottest setting. So be sure whatever you're fixing the patch to can stand an iron at at least the temp you'd use for cotton.
The patches need plenty of heat to fix properly. Use the hot setting, I had the iron on 'silk' (never used that one before). Just go for it - hot and fast. Get the iron up to temp, place a thin cloth in areas where the iron will contact the bag or use a well-sized support underneath the bag and commit. Push fairly hard and flat, 5-6, maybe 10 seconds max. Done. Let it cool off, check and repeat if needed.
I tried warming the patch on the iron first at a lower setting then warming further onto the bag but it didn't stick so it seems the hotter settings and less time work best.
Sew-on if less committed maybe. White thread round the border line should look neat enough.
Cues - ready-formatted versions - Stuart at Bearbones Bikepacking sent over this set of cues with the distance to next supply point added (thinking of your stomach is always good planning eh?) to be shared - if anyone would like to use Stu's Cues just download them below. Cue details are the same as before, easy to use PDF format.
(note that 'Col' points or 'C' in XL cues are at the start of the climbs not the summits - the cue intent is 'you're climbing this much in height, starting now')
Cue abbreviations / key as below,
Earthquake in Italy - supporting those helping the people most affected, this from Fraser at The Happy Cog in Midlothian, Scotland (he's been signed-up since up since pretty much the start and helping out with tips for the Torino-Nice for a while) -
"As many of you know we - Fraser Waters, Simon Muir and Steven Turbitt - are riding from Turin to Nice unsupported. This is an organised event which we have chosen to do for fun. Given the tragic earthquake which struck Italy this week we thought rather then just taking in the beauty of this country we would like to give something back. If you would like to join us and show your support for this spectacular part of the world and the people who make it wonderful then please feel free to donate below and we will make sure you money goes to those who are in need and are making a difference on the ground.
Thank you for your support!"
Well put and worth supporting if you can - Just Giving page
Mail-Out #5, the start/finish info and last mail-out, has been sent.
First, many thanks to people I'm very grateful to for their help in getting the ride to this stage - Sergio Aghemo for help with places in Turin and the translation of the cue notes into Italian - Francesco Cerchio for the route tips around Turin - Simon Delacroix for the translation of the cue notes into French - Stefan Eberle for the translation of the cue notes into German - Matteo Eula, the patron of the Refugio Don Barbera on the Via del Sale for welcoming riders there - Cyril Polito for the offer of help with bag logistics and the hunt for a finish line bar in Nice - and Café Du Cyclist in Nice for offering their hospitality to riders who may be less clean and well-presented than their usual clientele! Thanks to Max Leonard for the intro there.
Mail/contact as usual if you haven't received the email. 5 bounce-backs from a list with almost 300 names on isn't bad.
Links and info mentioned in the mail-out -
Café Du Cycliste as a place to catch up at the end, about 100m off-route to the left as you arrive at Nice Port. Open 8.30-6 Mon-Sat, 8-2 Sun.
Turin transport -
If you'd rather get a train towards Turin from the airport, there's a train station right by the airport, Caselle Aeroporto, which goes to Stazione Dora at the end of that line. It has bike transport and is just 3.5€ for a ticket. From Stazione Dora to the piazza and the hostel it's about 3.5km mainly on a bike path. GPX file for that in the mail-out.
Until the 6th, that's about it.
I've been sent a set of route GPS files converted to <500 points, for use with older GPS, to be shared if anyone would like them. Usual address/contact method if you'd like them in that format. Thanks Yoakim.
A last mail-out update is due out very soon - just a confirmation of plans for the start and some ideas for where to be in Nice if you'd like to catch up with other riders, something like an unofficial finish-line bar for the 7-day club (see you there!).
Rally patches just arrived. Will begin to post them out early next week to everyone who's supported the Smart Shelter Foundation so far and applied for a patch, with a follow-up of how the donation has gone to SSF. Thanks for all your support, it's really appreciated. If you want one just look up the 27th March update below for all the info.
PCR in Nice yesterday. TNR done. Good ride, enjoyed watching via Instagram!
Following PCR's ride here also ... They were at the Colle Sampeyre yesterday, a post this morning from the Strada Cannoni says maybe a night out high up, now onto the road option (OPT_2 gps file) up to Little Peru. Great images .. thanks!
From the Colle dell'Assietta this morning, an inspiring image by the ParisChillRacing Gravier crew who are riding the route right now -
Rally Patches. Delayed but back on track, ETA week after next! The update below, 27th March, has all the info for ordering. If you'd like a patch but haven't mailed to register interest yet please send a mail via the box there (just helps keep mail lists separate and organised). They'll be either posted out or brought to the start, your call - more info in the mail going out later today to all that have signed up for one, with thanks for supporting Smart Shelter.
Cue sheet in Italian - thanks again to Sergio in Turin. XL file below. The cue sheet is locked but can be copy+pasted to create your own cues in any format.
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Useful map - courtesy of the guys over at ParisChillRacing, a google maps overview of the route including refuges, B+Bs, campsites and other useful info. Not 100% proofed from riding yet, they're doing that next week - see ParisChillRacing for ride reports when they return.
Routes on Komoot - they're up here. Browse the route files in a different format, use the app for offline mapping, 'plan similar' feature allows you to drag+drop to adapt the routes and check the amount of tarmac and dirt in a section .. a useful site.
Route page? There was a new page up on the site yesterday, made live briefly but offline for now. No confusion intended sorry, just the route files will be mail-list distribution until closer to the event. For Komoot app users the files will be available there before the ride.
While I'm here, at the risk of turning this into a blog, ---- I'm really looking forward to this ride now. Plenty of 'I'M IN!!' email sign-up responses from keen riders, we'll be riding with some great people from the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and France. No idea how many riders will be there, that'll be an unknown 'til the day. A few dozen signed up for rally patches so assuming you'd not want one unless you were riding that's a good start.
Looking through some images the other day I thought of how cloudy it was at times during our 2015 recce ride, the sort of cloud that opens up views only briefly and casts light in a way you can only watch and appreciate or maybe just wait with a camera. The clouds kept enough hidden to give another reason to return and I'm looking forward to seeing it all differently this time - new sections, some sections ridden the other way, different views or times of day at the same places we remember from last year. Andy, who I rode with in 2015, is setting off on another major tour this weekend, Europe, the Caucasus perhaps, towards India this time. He's joining us on the rally route at some point as a minor diversion while he heads east. Will be sure to catch up and hear some stories from the road at a bivi or a pizza stop along the way.
Route files. Done, sent ('Mail #4 - Route Files'). If you're on the mail list and haven't received the files this afternoon, check your junk folder then mail via the site and I'll re-send to that address. The route is in GPS Route format with XL cue notes to support, for supplies and planning info on-route. Add your own notes as needed.
Audax turn-by-turn cues - available on request, ready apart from two of the shorter optional/cut-off sections, if you can ride on cues-only you could probably find those without notes anyway.
Happy route planning ..
Rally Patches - ordering soon. To get a sew-on patch and stickers use the form below (27th March update) so I have your email. I'll mail everyone when I need to fix the quantity with details of how to send a donation to Smart Shelter in return for a patch. 100% of your donations will go to Smart Shelter, there's no cost-covering margins etc.
Patch design as below, 85mm wide, woven.
Hills... This is a full route profile, for planning or prep. Added up, the approximate gain of the main climbs visible here (the 15 'spikes') is 15,000m. The total is ~30,000m when every bit of ascent is included - including signal bounce and errors etc. How it feels to ride is closer to somewhere between the two figures. The cut-offs can reduce distance on dirt and some of the climbing as you go. (Update from after the 2016 ride - 16-20,000m is a fair estimate, depending on the route or options taken.)
Alternates and options - with reference to the update below, if you're interested in route planning for road bikes or any other reason they're all now listed in a more organised fashion at the bottom of the POI page.
Road bikes and the Rally route. New Alternate Section.
A few emails about tyre or bike suitability suggest that there's interest in the Rally route from riders with bikes only taking 28c tyres max. Blame Rapha.. ha. An aim of this ride was to ride a mix of terrain that made bike choice less important as long as your tyres could handle some off-roading but also it's about having route options and being inclusive. So 28c, why not. While checking the route with road bikes in mind there was one quite rough section of stony strada - could call it 'gravel' but some would feel stitched up - that didn't have a way out apart from a simple road descent to the valley floor, a shortcut for bad weather or other needs rather than an alternate of value.
Some time on google earth and looking up the location of a stunning image paid off. The alternate to the Varaita-Maria ridge track looks like one of the most interesting roads in the area, possibly on the route. Pics below (via google images). It will be possible to ride it as an out-back bonus section for anyone with time and energy to spare. It means that apart from the first strada and the Finestre/Assietta, then Little Peru and the climb to Fort de la Forca, the other sections of strada are optional and the whole route looks manageable for riders with 28c tyres (plus a sense of humour and a few spare tubes). It'll be a shorter, faster route for you if you take all the alternates - say hi as you ride past the rest of us!
For reference, the 2015 TransContinental race used the Assietta road. There are reports from the TCR available online as a guide to riding road tyres on this kind of terrain.
Update Mail-Out #3 was sent out yesterday / the 12th, mid-day. A bit of repetition of updates below as a catch-up so only the start time info and Andy's images are repeated here. Photo-stoke (sorry) is good, repetitive details aren't. If you didn't get a mail on the 12th May from Jamfirstname.lastname@example.org check your folders and let me know if it's not there, will check the mail list for your details.
In the update a start time here at Bodoni Square was suggested as 8am. Plan on that, any revisions will be made really clear in the route info mail-out due next. That would mean the secondary start point in San Maurizio Canavese, near the airport, would be arrived at by the Turin centre starters around 8.45-9.30am. It's approx 20km between the two points. More info on the start points, meeting points, suggested local hostel etc, all below in various updates.
Until the next update with the route files, more of what it's all about -
Mail-Outs and Updates - Just to reassure anyone that reads updates here and thinks that they've fallen off a mail list as they've not had emails with similar content, don't worry, there's been no group mail sent for some time now, only the first 2 in Feb. All updates since have been minor details listed here rather than sending a lot of emails out. Everyone who's sent us a contact form mail is on the list and the next mail-out will be the route files, cues etc, start times, locations and other details - though start locations won't change from what's already mentioned below (Turin centre start time around 8.00am tbc but locations are listed here, Turin section.). When the route info mail goes out it'll be notified here also so there's plenty of time to make sure you get re-sent the info if you don't get it first time. If you get missed out first time you get a beer* on me in Turin the night before : )
*over-active spam filters don't count in earning free beer
Translations .. Can anyone offer a reliable translation of the route cues into French or Italian? Pleased to see so much interest in the rally from French and Italian riders and would like to be able to offer translated cue sheets to them. Other languages would be good too. It shouldn't be a big job, the cues are shorthand directions in XL format currently so some find+replace would do a good chunk of it. Mail via the contact form here if you can help? Thanks.
Update, early May, had an offer for the French cues.
Cue notes. The cues and route GPS files are done. Been a stop-start job that's taken a long time but it's been an aim for some time to record a route of this scale on paper. There's a set of notes for supporting the GPS files, all they're for is to back up the route options, give some guidance to location of taps, supplies and points of note (climbs, towns, historic interest, etc). The full cue notes are a tribute to the good work of the ACA who map long-distance routes with turn-by-turn directions as well as maps. Riding GPS-free isn't a better way to ride as such, it just that it suits the lo-fi aims of the rally and is a nice option to have. The cues won't be sent out for a while, they need proofing and re-checking. If you choose to ride cues-only you'll need a computer to track miles/kms plus a sense of adventure and the understanding that this route hasn't been ridden cues-only yet. You'll be pioneering it.
Got some really nice cloth rally patches due, similar to the tribute design below, based on all those classic car rally badges (call in at the Col Turini cafe and see all the rally artwork there, it's an amazing place). The 'skyline' detail is the actual elevation profile from the first part of the route. They didn't cost a lot each to have made but I've paid for the minimum run quantity. If you want a badge, (read the Mailout #5 sent 29th July or) see below and use the contact form there to order. They can be sent out in advance of the ride or brought along to the start in Turin.
Donations in return for patches and stickers would be really appreciated for the Smart Shelter Foundation. Any of us who have set up a basic camp in poor weather should be able to begin to imagine the harsh life under plastic and corrugated iron that is a long-term reality for so many people after earthquake or flood devastation, not just a few nights while touring on holiday. The SSF is a charity that builds and develops methods to construct environment-resistant facilities such as homes and schools out of local, sustainable materials with local community involvement then transfers this knowledge and experience via workshops.
I met founder Martijn Schildkamp in 2008 on the edge of a glacier when I was making a basic bivi site among the snow and rocks. He asked about my shelter and we got talking. He was there taking some well-earned time off from work in the area, having started the charity not long before that after a sucessful architecture career, using his knowledge to help improve the lives of people in places such as Nepal, India and South East Asia. The foundation's work is not only the end result in the buildings themselves but also the value of empowering people in those areas to learn building techniques with local materials that help to rebuild their lives, plus working to widen the understanding of their techniques so that they can be used and developed as widely as possible.
More about the work of Martijn and his team here - Smart Shelter Foundation
To get a patch use the form below so I have your email (or look up the emailed Mailout #5 from 29th July). If using the form below (removed now, see Contact page for 2017 patches info) you'll get a mail back with details of how+where to send a donation. Suggested donation £10/12 Euros? Any donation is welcome though. TNR will cover the patch costs so 100% of your donations will go to Smart Shelter and I'll mail you the donation recipts individually. If you want them sent out before the ride (expected to be in the post 12th-13th August) please add a bit to your donation to cover postage - estimated £1.50 to EU / 64p for UK average.
Twitter page added. Might be useful for planning or during the ride. Also a fan of the phone staying in the bag on rides, 'your call' there .. Between now and the ride it's just an outlet for posts or links related to the route, share your kit ideas, usual stuff.
Here's the general route. Not 100% final, this is an upload with one or other of the optional sections chosen. A couple of details have been corrected or revised since this full route was linked up. Created with GPSVisualiser.
Route files for the main route uploaded to check evelation profiles. The GPS data for total elevation gain could be off-putting and having ridden the route it's not really representative as it adds up every slight undulation rather than the combined height gain of the sections that do feel like real climbs. Still, it's a hilly ride. Pack light.
Start point and night-before pasta/pizza/beers spot is confirmed, it's all at a square a short walk from the Tomato Backpacker's Hotel mentioned below. If you're looking for accommodation this area of Turin would be convenient. The straggler's start point (see POI, Turin) closer to the airport is here.
Also I've heard from the proprietor of the Rifugio Don Barbera on the Via Del Sale, they're confirmed as open in the first weeks of September. Call ahead about accommodation, or if you're hungry and in a big group! They have 60 beds including the winter shelter and are generally only full on a Saturday night so chances are you'll have a place to stay there if you want it.
A recommendation for a hotel in Turin - The Tomato Backpacker's Hotel comes recommended by an entrant to the TNR living nearby. It has rooms as well as a dorm and they offer bag storage and other facilities that could be useful. "From Caselle Airport to Turin there is a train with bike transport (3,5€ ticket cost). From stazione Dora (the train end stop) and the hostel there are 3,5 km mainly in bicycle path" - thanks for the tip Sergio. Map from station to hotel.
RE Coach travel mentioned in the email below
Although National Express coaches in the UK will take bikes it seems that Eurolines who are the 'partner' coach service for the London to Turin route, won't. From the company enquiries address - "Unfortunately not all Eurolines service allow you to take bicycles. The coach that travel to Italy would not allow you to do so. I do apologise for this".
"The first group mail to everyone who's expressed interest in riding the Torino-Nice Rally so far -
Getting there and back seems like a good place to start. Thanks to some kind offers of help that might make the non-bike travel part of the trip more enjoyable, the aim here is to get people who may be able to help in touch with those who would appreciate it. Use the contact form here initially if any of this is of interest or something you have can help with, have knowledge of etc -
Nice area riders. Any potential lift shares up to Turin? If anyone is driving from the Nice area and can offer a lift to riders arriving at Nice airport, or you would like a lift yourself - get in contact and you can be put in contact via a group mail, assuming you're all happy for email addresses to be shared.
To anyone else near Turin, Nice or an airport in the general area, if you're brave enough to have random riders arrive at your house, sleep on your sofa and raid your fridge, offers of places to stay are welcomed. Even just places leave bike bags and kit for storage, anything.
The Bearbones Bikepacking website is a good place to arrange all this, there's a thread about the ride here or just mail any offers or requests via the contact form.
A road-ride from Nice to the start - 3-4-5th Sept. Any interest in co-ordinating a group ride on a pre-planned route? It looks like 160-180 miles miles would do it. Anyone who would like to ride with others, get in touch. Same goes for riding from anywhere else that works for you.
Coach class? (edited - see note above, 28th Jan) Possibly useful info for some travelling from the UK is that Eurolines coaches go from London Victoria coach station to Turin, around £70 one-way and they take boxed or bagged bikes if booked in advance. National Express go to Victoria from many places in the UK. Currently the timetable for Sept isn't up yet, due on the 1st March. Could be a more relaxing experience than flying with more time to eat on the way there.
Also a new page due up on the site before long, about the actual route since the GPXs are pretty much done and it's looking good with more hairpinned roads and dirt tracks than our 2015 ride."