Active Magazine's Cycling Hero: Jason Skinner cycles to Spain!

Words by Aaron Scott

on 23/06/2017 13:21:10

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Last summer Rutland Cycling teamed up with Active Magazine to award one Cycling Hero with a new bike and bike fit with which to take on a big challenge! After being picked from a shortlist of 12 riders, and with more than 2,000 Active readers voting, the lucky winner was Jason Skinner, who planned to cycle from Lincolnshire to Southern Spain to raise money for Cancer Research. As his prize, Jason chose a 2016 Genesis Croix de Fer 20.

Earlier this summer, Jason set off on his ride - here's how he got on:

We completed our charity cycle ride from Bourne in Lincolnshire to Almeria, Spain, in 15 days!

Cycling in temperatures as hot as 40 degrees Celsius, we even managed to climb up to 2000 meters in one climb. We got soaked on some days and some stages were well over 130 miles. Amazingly, I did not get even one puncture - my Genesis was amazing and I am deeply in love with it now! Not only did the "green machine" carry me and all my clothes and kit, it tackled fields, mountains & dried up river beds, it just kept on rolling.

We got a great send off in Bourne with several members of the Baston Cycle Club joining us for 30 miles, friends and members of the public joining in too for as long as they wanted, and we even had a Penny Farthing come along for 15 miles.

The first few stages to Portsmouth were pretty smooth, and we met some fellow cyclists on the ferry crossing who were also doing charity rides and tours with family and friends - it was lovely to have a bit of bike chat. Cycling the first few miles in France was when it started to kick in, as we passed bits of history from the war it soon became clear that we were a long way from home. French fields and climbs soon turned into cute villages and we quickly embraced French cheese and pastry - food & fueling up was not going to be a problem!

We swapped fields and villages to iconic rivers and then later, larger towns. Everything was going smoothly but we knew we had the mountains to climb over to get into Pamplona and Spain. We hit these on a damp and wet day and in the end this was a god send as it kept us cool. The bikes needed a wash and oil from time to time but they purred like a cat almost all the way. The first climb into Spain was the smaller one at 602 meters while the second, its big brother, was 984 meters. To our surprise and amazement we made these and then were speeding downhill into Spain and the home of the famous bull run.

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The heat, which had been one of our biggest worries, really kicked in once in Spain, and on the first day we set off at 6am to make headway while it was cooler. Unfortunately, Tim suffered a puncture about 20 minutes into the ride, setting us back about 30 minutes and we were soon feeling the heat. The roads were fast and not as smooth as in France too so it made each ride just a little more taxing. Onwards we cycled as we knew the coast was only a few days away, and we found out that we both enjoyed cycling by water whether it be a river or lake or coast. We were not disappointed with the Spanish coast, especially Calpe - it was stunning - and we even managed to ride on some of the old F1 Street section and pit lanes in Valencia. The temperature was now in the mid-30s and getting warmer by the day. Staying hydrated and keeping cool was our main focus alongside grinding out the miles. We had one ride to Teruel which was over 100 miles with constant climbing all day, and on an old frontage road to a new main road, everything was closed and run down and with shade hard to find it reminded us of Route 66 with ghost town villages and smashed up gas stations. This was the toughest day by a mile.

Once we turned inland towards Murcia the weather got hotter still and was high 30s. We were now skipping breakfast and stopping 30 miles into the ride so we could get on the road as quickly as possible, and this helped us finish most days before the afternoon sun kicked in. We had one stage left to complete - 94 miles from Murica to Arboles where my mum lives - but we thought we had done all the work the day before, as we both had heavy legs and struggled to get any speed of momentum going! The 40 degree heat really hit us hard, and this last stage ended up taking us almost the longest amount of time to complete. We finally hit the town centre to which we were welcomed by a crowd of local people, Smooth FM Spain and also the town Mayor and his team. We were very surprised, and pleased to get a cold drink.

It was an amazing ride, we loved every minute of it, and we were amazed at the performance of our bikes and even more surprised by our bodies - we are already talking about the next challenge, maybe biking it in reverse!

Related: Active Magazine's Cycling Hero Winner: Jason Skinner

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The Bike: 2016 Genesis Croix Der Fer 20

One bike. Come rain or shine, the Genesis Croix de Fer 20 Olive Green will take you almost anywhere thanks to its excellent blend of Tiagra components, TRP Hy/Rd-C Brakes and Reynolds 725 steel frame.

Fast and responsive on the road, yet stable and perfectly balanced, the Croix de Fer 20 is a real pleasure to ride on both smooth tarmac and on terrain you'd normally reach for a MTB.

The wider gear range and great trickle down tech in the new 2016 Tiagra creates a premium riding feel for a more affordable price. TRP Hy/Rd-C Brakes offer all the benefits of hydraulic disc brakes with standard cables.

  • Reynolds 725 Frame is Tough, and Fully Fitted With all the Mounts you can think of
  • TRP Hy/Rd-C Brakes Provide Hydraulic Performance With Standard Cable Shifters
  • Shimano's new Tiagra Groupset Looks Slick and Performs Just as Well as 105
Inspiringly determined steel ride with well-chosen exploring equipment. Buy if: You want a tough retro-styled bike to open up a new world of off-beaten-track and gravel riding.
Bike Radar

View the 2017 Croix De Fer 20 Read the Full Bike Radar Review