Meet our Guests – James Ridley
How long have you been riding for?
For about 25 years. I got into mountain biking initially, enjoyed racing the circuits and mtb touring. Its only been the last 3-4 years that I have taken up road riding, and almost regretfully, the mountain biking has become something of a winter past time now.
How many bikes do you own?
I currently have 3 bikes, sounds excessive I know (to my wife anyway), but they all have their place. I have my mountain bike, a winter road bike and a summer road bike.
Which is your preferred one and why?
Now thats?a tricky question, in terms of value and the amount of TLC it receives, I would have to say my Summer road bike, I love it, but out of overall pleasurabbility factor, my mountain bike still stays close to my heart. Why, well I guess I owe it, more times than I care to remember. My Orange 5 has got me out of more close shaves and butt clenching situations than I’m sure I deserve. The number of times I have reached the bottom of a white knuckle downhill section, grinning all over my face thinking how glad I wasn’t on any other bike.! Its a kind of unrequited bike love.!
Why did you start Cycling? Fitness, injury, midlife crisis?
Like I said, mountain biking was all quite new when I started, there was a real buzz around the sport. Cross Country events attracted hundreds of riders, many of which you saw on a regular basis, so it was really sociable. I’m a naturally competitive person and loved the racing, even today i still enjoy that adrenaline rush of standing on the start line. I don’t think I started cycling particularly to get fit, that was something that came almost as a by product of doing an activity I really enjoyed.
Favourite region to ride in Europe?
Oisans Region of the French Alps Why? Endless climbs, spectacular views, superb coffee and tarmac so smooth you want to lick it.!
What?s your ideal cycling ride fuel?
Kendal Mint Cake, it is superb.
Dream place to ride in the world and why?
Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, Canada-United States?Known as the longest off-road bike route in the world, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is also probably the most challenging bike trail in the world.?Many also consider it the Holy Grail?of the mountain bike world.Extending from Banff to the Mexican border, the complete route is 4,418 kilometers long with altitude topping at 3,600 meters.Why-I think?the ride is one of the best endurance tests you could ever hope for.
Have you ridden Alpe D?Huez? If yes: what did you think of it?
Yes I have ridden Alpe D’Huez, a few times. Its an iconic climb for sure, and you can’t help getting absorbed into the whole ethos of the place. There is always someone to chase, in your own little TDF battle, there is always someone?laden?with panniers, wearing flip flops and cut off jeans that can still overtake you, its just that kind of?hill. Of climbs in the Alps, I wouldn’t say it is my outright?favorite, but definitely one that needs doing.
Favourite local climb near home?
Chapel Fell, St Johns Chapel,Co Durham. What is unique about it? Well, it is the highest paved pass in England, that in itself is quite unique I guess. The views from the top are stunning, behind you lies Weardale.Hexhamshire in the distance, in front of you the beautiful Teesdale valley. Off to your right there is a great view of the golfball radar station on top of Gt Dunn fell, Cross fell and the outskirts of the lake District just beyond, it really dosn’t get much better.
Best region to ride at home?
The North Pennines, known locally as ‘The Roof of England’ arguably offers some of the best road and mountain biking in the UK. From the heart of Weardale I can ride into the Yorkshire Dales, The Lake District, the Northumberland coast or cross the border into Scotland. If thats not enough I can stay local and bike some of the best hill climbs in Britain, miles of quiet country roads or superb forest trails. It really is cycling paradise.
Favourite Coffee stop?
Chatterbox Cafe, St Johns Chapel.
What?s your order?
Usually a pot of tea and a large slab of Carrot Cake
Favourite pro peloton rider past or present?
Probably ‘The cannibal’, Mr Eddy Merckx, an absolutely phenomenal athelete and a true legend.
Most memorable moment on an LDT tour you?ve been on?
Wow, thats a hard question, I’ve only been on one LDT, the Pyrenean Raid and it was packed full of memorable moments every day. I really don’t know how I could choose one.! Perhaps the horse at the Col d’Aubisque eating all of our packed lunch while we took photos,or the octagenarian with the biggest panniers in the world breaking down in tears of joy and relief at the top of Tourmolet, or being checked in at our overnight accommadation by women in white coats and a strong smell of disinfectant(I think a lot of people never checked out of there!!), or maybe crossing the border into Spain for paella, in a restaurant made of mirrored walls and mirrored doors that led to other mirrored rooms, across the road from a Marajuana DIY store…..there really are too many!
Recovery shake or beer after a long day in the saddle?
Ha ha trick question, they are both the same thing aren’t they.
What event / tour are you planning for 2016 and why?
La Marmotte has been on the bucket list for quite a while, or another trip to the Alps, there are still a few of those big hills I’d like to see the top of.
Funniest cycling story?
you’ve got me there, if I think of one i’ll let you know.
If you are a past, present or future LDT guest and would like to be featured in our Meet our Guests series, please get in touch with Riley by emailing email@example.com