I'm looking ahead to my big rides for 2017, and there's no better place to aim for than Italy. I've always loved the Ligurian Coast, and its mix of hills flats, sea-salt air and palm trees, and have logged many a top ride here - including this hilly jaunt over the Passo del Termine from Levanto.
Best of 2016: Inside the last 3km to the summit of the 21.5km Col du Glandon, the air gets thin as we approach 1924m elevation, the road tilts to 11% grades, and each meter seems longer than the last one. There's a reason they call this one 'Hors Category'.
TOP RIDE: I'm still basking in the afterglow of the 2016 RBC Gran Fondo Whistler - a big goal accomplished in better form than I'd expected. And after weeks of prep, and all the logistics of coordinating the family for the weekend, and over 5 hours on my bike, it all went by a little too fast.
One of the best reasons for choosing a good bike hotel is their skill to show me the best their region has to offer - like routes, rides, food & drink that I simply could not find on my own. This ride (and subsequent wine tasting) never would have have happened without my guide from Garda Bike Hotel leading me on a relaxed ride through the hills of valpolicella and an even more relaxed stop at the Santa Maria Valverde winery.
The Carpegna climb is best known as Marco Pantani's favorite training ground - and at 11%+ grades for 7km - it was a perfect place for the late climbing sensation to hone his legendary skills. I'd long wanted to ride it for myself, and got the chance this year while visiting the bike Hotel Lungomare in Cesenatico.
Stage Preview: Stage 18 from Muggio to Pinerolo features two very tough little climbs right at the end - the Par'Martino, and the San Maurizio.
I rode these when the Giro finished here in 2009. The difference this time is they're being taken in reverse, turning what was a tough climb followed a very dangerous descent into an even tougher climb with a still challenging drop through narrow, twisty wooded roads, and a 20% kicker to finish it off.
The 2016 Giro d'Italia will start properly at the weekend as it launches into the final week of continuous mountain climbing. First on the menu are the Dolomites and who better to give us some background on cycling the 'Stone Cathedrals' than Peter Easton of VeloClassic Tours.
Windmills, flat countryside and Amstel beer are all typically Dutch, but the Amstel Gold Race is far from flat with 34 classified climbs. Peter Easton runs through the background to this Sunday's race and its untypical Dutch profile in the South-East region of Holland.
Going further and bringing less stuff is the goal of this inaugural Portland Brevet - not an easy task for most cyclists. But riding self-supported can be an adventure unto itself, that frees the mind and body to fully immerse in the pleasures of going somewhere on your bike.
Top Ride: The culmination of my visit to Holy Week was the long anticipated, much feared, and never completed ride across the parcours of Paris-Roubaix. Finally I learned what it was like to battle the toughest roads in northern France and earn my own lap of honour at the Roubaix velodrome.
La Resistance is a brand new one-day, gravel and tarmac cycling challenge in the French Alps which pays tribute to the heroic men and women of the French Resistance who battled for freedom in the Second World War. Ross Muir was lucky enough to be invited on the inaugural Pioneers Ride in October of last year.
Great scenery, a spectacular climb and a twice as long descent, the Col de la Madone climb along France’s cote d’Azur is must do for any fan of great rides. The capper was meeting up with a PEZ-Fan who lives nearby for a great day on the bike.
Grand Fondos aren't just sweeping the nation, they're sweeping the world, as Dan Carruthers saw first-hand riding the recent 5-stage Grand Fondo China. It's a whole new world riding in the Middle Kingdom.
The Oregon Gran Fondo Triple Crown series showed off some great rides in spectacular settings this summer. Event #2 was the Willamette Gran Fondo, and Josh Liberles discovered that regardless of pre-race declarations, sometimes you just gotta race it...
The 2015 World Cycling Championships in Richmond goes up, down, and around on a technical mix of cobbled streets, 90-degree turns, and fast straights. PEZ took an on-bike look at what riders from around the world will face at this September's World's road races.
The Giro has saved the best for last as the race tackles the truly epic Colle della Finestre as the final stage for glory for this year's GC battle. Contador has the race sewn up but a lot can happen on a massive climb of 18km that throws in 8km of dirt road and steep pitches. I first rode this climb in 2005, and it's been on my list of Top Rides ever since.
It's one of the hardest climbs in pro cycling, and is iconic to what makes the Giro d'Italia the world's 'most beautiful' race. Il Mortirolo is the centrepiece of tomorrow's Stage 16 and at almost 13km long and 11% average grade - this one's a killer, but a must -ride for any self-respecting fan. Here's how it looks on the bike.
The queen stage of the 2015 Tour of California will be a ball buster of epic proportions, climbing 11,600 feet over just 80 miles from Ontario to the top of Mt. Baldy. I rode the stage a couple years back as part of the L'Etape du California sportif ride, and can assure you this would be at home in any Grand Tour. Here's a closer look at the stage that could decide the 2015 race.
As part of our stay with Garda Bike Hotel for the Pez 10th Anniversary, we signed up to ride the GF Damiano Cunego in nearby Verona. Our hosts Nicola & Alberto know the region, the people, and handled all the details for our stay in Lake Garda, which left nothing for us to do except enjoy the ride.