As most of you know, I now live in South West France, where for most of the year the weather is perfect for cycling. However during the deepest parts of winter it is still part of Europe and whilst it is still perfectly possible to ride and train there (especially if you have the right clothing – eg take a look at my review on the excellent Castelli CW.3.0 Gloves), it is nowhere near as nice as training in warm and sunny weather.
Over December 2015 and through January, I decided to combine a visit with my family in Zimbabwe with some serious winter training to ensure that I would be as best prepared as possible for the season ahead.
Unfortunately as I was training with my family, I could not take my current bike or 3T wheels with me, however I still keep a fairly old aluminium framed bike in Zimbabwe. Compared to my current carbon bike, it is really very heavy, but is still in good condition and most importantly it has the same basic dimensions and so I can get the same setup on it. I also figured that the extra weight would help me build some more strength and when I returned to my current bike would appreciate it’s lightness even more!
Cycling in Zimbabwe
There is a very active and quite large cycling community in the capital city of Harare and I joined them on many occasions for training rides. Most of which take place around the hilly and quieter suburbs of Borrowdale.
On the weekends they often go out on much loger rides into the countryside, which is really enjoyable and for my winter training was ideal. In particular we went on a ride of 200km in length that took us down to the Mazowe valley, around the Glendale Concession loop and then onto Bindura and back through Domboshawa. 7 hours in the saddle.
Most of the road surfaces along here is pretty good, however there is one section where you drop down to cross a river, right before a long climb that is completely dirt rad (pictured above) that I thought some of you may find interesting! However this all adds to the adventure.
Not so good with #cyclingselfie's and even though the pic does not do the view of the mountains in #inyanga any justice, I thought it was worth posting as it was taken about half way down the 19km descent when I was still feeling good …. for comparison I will post another one later… after I had climbed back up it! #3TCycling #wymtm #zimbabwe #cycling @3tcycling
I often get asked if there are any mountains in Zimbabwe. The answer is most certainly yes! Whilst not quite the Alps, I went out and road in the Inyanga area where there are many very hard and long climbs to tackle. In particular I took on a 19km climb from the Nyamapanda road towards Troutbeck in Inyanga. It is truly brutal.
You climb over 1000 meters and takes most people over an hour of really hard riding. I managed to complete the main segment of the climb in 1:11:32 (see above), which considering it was during my winter season and I was using a very heavy aluminium bike, I am pretty happy with. I would just love to get a chance to tackle it at full fitness and with my race bike and 3T wheels on :-)
As I meantioned earlier, there is a really active community of cyclists in Zimbabwe and I really enjoyed meeting them as well as catching up with some old friends. This included Alan Harrison an old team mate of mine from the days when we competed together at the 1991 Junior World Cycling Championships in Colorado.
Another highlight was riding with Dave Martin and his Swift Carbon bike (see below), the Zimbabwean member of the world record breaking Carocaprace team that recently rode down the entire length of Africa in the fastest time ever.
If you are considering visiting Zimbabwe and wish to cycle, I would highly recommend of getting hold of some of the members of this community that includes all levels of cyclists (take a look at the Paceliners community on Strava), which is very open and welcoming and will most certainly enjoy showing you some of the best rides available.
For me it was perfect as I got in many warm and sunny hours of quality training on the bike and so can now look forward to what I hope will be a successful season in France with CYCLO 4 Haut Agenais and our sponsors.