(For full details of the Winter AVC GT:15 challenge, please download the 'AVC GT:15 - Winter Road Book')

A huge thank you to Martin Ward for creating and bringing the GT:15 challenge to life, with the support of James Buchanan for bonus challenges.

The Ampthill Velo Club Grand Tour 2015 (or GT:15) is a cycling challenge based on the roads around Central Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. The aim of the GT:15 is to bring a little friendly competitive zeal to the Ampthill Velo Club and to inspire participants to push a little (or a lot) harder on a regular basis. It also exists of course to allow us the opportunity of laying the misery of defeat on our club brethren. This, when coupled with the bragging rights that go with any small success, should represent all the motivation needed for competitors to increase their training immediately.

The format of the competition consists of three, fourteen-week, seasonal Editions, which combine to form the nine-month-long Overall GT:15. The important dates are...

GT:15 Overall : Monday December 15th 2014 to Saturday October 3rd 2015
Winter Edition : Monday December 15th 2014 to Saturday March 21st 2015 (Finished)
Spring Edition : Monday March 23nd 2015 to Saturday June 27th (Active)
Summer Edition : Monday June 29th to Saturday October 3rd

The GT:15 provides numerous and varied opportunities for participants to score points which count towards a range of competitions. These opportunities divide into two main categories of challenge - Stages and Bonuses.

Stages are Strava segments of differing lengths and conditions, each of which offers points for positions in a top-20 based on time. Stages can be ridden as many or as few times as participants desire. For each Edition of the GT:15 there will be seven different Stages running in parallel. Points will be awarded on the final positions at the end of each Edition.

Bonuses are challenges which reward endurance, endeavour and perseverance rather than speed, and points are scored simply for completing bonus challenges, with some offering extra points for further distance or altitude or other forms of insanity. Some Bonuses will run unchanged for the whole GT:15, whilst for some the make-up of the challenges will change from Edition to Edition and others are entirely season-specific.

Each Edition, as well as the GT:15 Overall, will have three main competition categories...

The Overall Points Competition - a combination of Stage and Bonus points
The Stage Competition - just points scored on Stages
The 'Patron de la Prime' Bonus Competition - just points scored on Bonuses

There will also be two sub-categories...

Le Grimpeur - points taken from a mixture of Stage climbs and Bonus climbing challenges.
SuperMario - points taken from flat or downhill Intermediate Sprint sections within Stages.


In order to enter the competition and for your rides to be registered, all competitors should do six things...

  1. Set up a profile on Strava
  2. Join the Ampthill Velo Club Strava group
  3. Follow Martin Ward,  James Buchanan and Rich Lovelock on Strava
  4. Email us both to make sure that you are on the email updates list
  5. If you’re on Facebook I suggest you also follow the AVC group if you haven’t already
  6. Visit the AVC website and save a link on your browser, it’s where you’ll get updates and results

The Rules

The over-arching rule of the GT is sportsmanship. If you’re in doubt about grey areas surrounding any aspect of the competition and think you’ve found some underhand way of bettering your competitors and getting ahead, STOP! You’re probably about to break this rule. The path to cycling righteousness lies through the valley of hard work and over the switch-backed mountain pass of suffering. Any other route you may have heard of is bollocks.

Riders are responsible for their own safety at all times. I have sought to avoid dangerous routes but, whilst roads are not inherently dangerous in themselves, a lot of drivers are, so keep your wits about you. The first priority should always be your personal safety. Survive today and you can always go out and ride the Stage again tomorrow, even faster. (Unless the day you just survived was the last day of the competition, in which case, sorry, loser).

Unlike Fight Club, you should feel free to talk about the GT:15. This is an AVC competition but we’re not so big that we can’t share a good thing with our friends. If you’ve got a mate who rides a bit and can handle the bitter taste of defeat, invite them to join us. If, on the other hand, you’ve got a mate who rides a lot and takes Strava KOMs into a head wind whilst removing his gilet, maybe steer the conversation onto other rewarding sports?

How hard you ride the Stages is up to you but they should be ridden SOLO. I won’t be out on the side of the road stopping you from chain-ganging the Stages but it will show up on Strava and you will, at the very least, be frowned upon most severely on your next club run (like a Bernard Hinault-type frown. Extreme Gallic shit.)

Only rides recorded during the Edition window will be eligible for points. This window begins at 00.01 on the morning of the first day and ends at midnight of the last day. Only rides ridden and logged in Strava entirely within that window will qualify. You may wonder who the hell would be out riding Stages at midnight! You’d be surprised...

Riders may ride stages in any order and as many times as they wish to improve their placing but their fastest time at the close of the Edition is the time that scores the points.

Competitors should upload rides to Strava as soon as possible after completing a ride, to keep everyone up to date with the competition and to ensure that everyone knows what they’re up against.

Where riders are tied on a Stage time they shall share the place and points. Where riders are tied on Overall points they will be separated by comparing Stage times.

Where there is a Le Grimpeur or SuperMario segment within a Stage, the segment times will only be valid for those two competitions when ridden as part of the full Stage in which they appear. You can keep your powder dry and ride the rest of the Stage super-slowly if you choose but the rest of the Stage MUST be ridden in full.

Finally, we will make mistakes occasionally. If we accidentally miss your ride or get our sums wrong, don’t take it personally, just drop us a line and we’ll correct things ASAP.