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A detailed guide to the reality of cycling Europe's greatest 50 mountains

 

The plan was 50 by 50: that is, the greatest climbs of Europe – all 50 of them – before I turned 50. And I did it!

 

 

Stubble and Steel on Mountains High is about the practical experiences of a regular cyclist climbing these European mountains. In need of a challenge, I took on and completed a bucket list of the greatest mountains in Europe; the climbs featured in Daniel Frebe and Pete Goding's bestselling book Mountain High. While I cycled, I took lots of realistic photographs, which show what you are actually able to see from the road rather than being taken in by the best-looking perspectives. I researched the history of the routes and their towns. Taking note of the varying physical demands made at different points in the climbs, I also recorded the places where you can find water fountains, places to eat, drink and rest. Alongside all this, my own testimony and photographs, the book will feature maps and inspiration from professional cyclists.

Cyclists have a thirst for new experiences and are always interested in personal accounts of what riding certain countries and routes is actually like. A cycling community has supported and even accompanied me on parts of my adventure. This has always been a personal project, following a dream and, I hope, inspiring others. As a new cyclist, in only 3.5 years I have lost weight, become much healthier and made friends around the world. Stubble and Steel on Mountains High is about bringing those experiences together to share with other like-minded cyclists and fans of the sport and everyone involved in making it so insanely addictive, absorbing and enjoyable.

Antony Blake is an Anglo-Italian, ex-professional photographer who now works in IT. He has been a cycling fanatic for less than four years. He is passionate about people, travel and Italy.

1. KOPPENBERG

Starting Town: Oudenaarde

Elevation: 65 m

Length: 600 m

Av gradient: 10.8%

Max gradient: 22%

Date Ridden: March 2015

Comment: Ride it in the wet or at the time of The Classics to feel complete.


Martin Velits, Etixx Quickstep, 2016: "Koppenberg - Steep. Steeper than it looks on TV. You have to ride it to be able to experience the gradient. I love the classics, Belgium and the cycling culture. This Climb is like a temple for them. You can feel the vibe there even when riding it up on regular day with no race or spectators in sight."

Antony Blake: "Turning right from Melton onto the climb, I could see the apex of the hill. How on earth am I getting up there? 22% gradient, damp, wet cobbles, I must stay in the seat otherwise I would be off."

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