Archives for the month of: June, 2011

Last week I got a call – my bike was ready! Hooray! I picked her up from Cycle World, my handy local bike shop – who were very friendly and helpful.

I decided to pick up a basket at the same time – although I really wanted a wicker one, I’ve got a black wire one at the moment. More waterproof! I also had a Cateye computer installed, which counts calories, carbon emissions (…okay), time, distance, etc.

As you can see, I’ve added a girly bow to my Topeak basket – I couldn’t resist…
Saffy in a basket

It matches my Liix bell!

I have to say, she rides like a dream – I couldn’t be happier.

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Well, I finally ordered my Trek Allant WSD from the bike shop – very excited! She’ll be in on Friday in time for the Big Bike Celebration on Saturday, and I’m really looking forward to it. I had a test ride yesterday and the saddle is extremely comfortable – although it did have a mark on it. I ended up getting a discount on it because of that, as I figured that the saddle is going to get marked from wear and tear anyway – I guess it gives the bike a bit of character in the meantime.

While I wait for my bike, I’m going to be looking into the somewhat complicated world of anti-theft devices. It seems to me as though there are several steps to this: registering your bike frame, tagging your bike frame, getting insurance, and getting some good locks. My frame is going to be registered at the local bike shop I’m buying the bike from, and I’m also going to register it with the manufacturers as well, but as well as that I’ll be getting it postcoded on Saturday with the local police, and registering it on sites such as Bike Shepherd. Locks and insurance are just as complicated as far as I can see, as you have to make sure your lock is approved by your insurance company, and then in case of theft, report it to the lock company, insurance company and local police, at the same time as gathering evidence of the theft too. It’s really depressing to contemplate my lovely bike being stolen before I’ve even picked it up from the shop, but being prepared is half the battle!

I was actually surprised when I started checking out Etsy for bike accessories – there’s just not a lot out there. There are scores of bike prints on cushions and T-shirts, bicycle jewellry, and even hair accessories made out of inner tubes, but not a whole lot of cycling clothing or bike equipment. However, what is there is pretty amazing, and I found these cute bike reflectors which are simple, yet really stylish (and useful)!

The reflectors come in a variety of different designs, sizes and shapes, and range in price from £9.50 for a small (in the sale) to £17.73 for an extra-large size.

Check out Ya Betta’ Supa Don’t’s bike reflectors section for more!

If you have a gorgeous vintage or Dutch style bike, I can imagine these custom headbadges looking right at home!

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Made by Laura Crawford of Tangerine Treehouse, these one of a kind badges are hand-crafted to your exact specifications, all for the very reasonable sum of $80 and up, for copper (silver is from $95).

Headbadges 1

These are so beautiful and charming, I wish I had one – but they would also make an excellent and thoughtful gift, too! (I can totally picture one based on the bird from the Zelda logo, which would be perfect for my hubby!).

If your tastes run to the more electic, you might get a kick out of this bike mustache:

Bike Mustache

The mustache comes in copper ($45) or sterling silver $55), and is also available on Etsy.

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It’s so cool to see artisan products like this are available for your bike – proof that cyclists are just inherently cool and slick people, maybe?

I love Bobbin Bicycles’ site – if I was an affluent girl about London-town, I’d pop in a pick up a Pashley Princess in black (or maybe a Pashley Sonnet Bliss Claret), a cycling mac and some leather gloves, and then cycle around Piccadilly Circus, dodging buses. Alas, I need something a bit cheaper and a bit more practical, when it comes to my bike, but I still love to browse. One of my favourite products is the Miss Bobbin Sash:

sash

Priced at a rather reasonable £20, this is a reflective sash that you can wear over your coat or clothes, and personally, I think it looks awesome! I wish I’d had something like this last year when I was jogging at night – it’s a useful item that really doesn’t need to be limited to cycling use.

sash2

It shows up quite well in the dark, and because it’s so prominent, you don’t need to be wearing light coloured or reflective clothing underneath to be seen. Also, I would imagine you could store it in your bike bag so you never get caught out on a dark night (or morning!).

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I love the colour schemes of these as well – and check out those cute little buttons!

Find the Miss Bobbin Sash at www.bobbinbicycles.co.uk.

Even though it’s not something that gets given much thought in the summer months, making sure you’re visible at night is one of your most important jobs as a cyclist. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been in the car and I’ve only just managed to see a pedestrian or a cyclist on a dark street – but when it’s you, it’s easy to forget how invisible the darkness makes you.

There are loads of great products you can buy, but the one that’s struck my fancy the most at the moment are Fun Reflectors, which are small stickers in various shapes which you can add to your bicycle to help you show up in the dark. Obviously these are only novelty items, not actual safety equipment, but I think they make a pretty neat addition to your night-time arsenal! Mine arrived today (do I need to remind everyone, embarrassingly, that I still don’t have a BIKE yet?) and they look fab – the packaging is nicer than I expected, and the stickers look really sweet. I ordered flower shapes in silver, because I didn’t want them to show up a lot on my bike (I’m going to place them on the rims) and also because silver seems to show up the brightest in the light.

Fun Reflectors

Check out www.funreflector.com for the shop (free worldwide delivery) and a whole range of different stickers. Don’t forget you’ll also need to have lights and reflective clothing as well! Meanwhile, I’m working on the latter and just got in some grosgrain ribbon with a reflective stripe down the middle – no idea what I’m doing with it yet! Any suggestions?!

It seems as though when you start a new hobby, it’s easy to stumble upon never before realised controversies that were lurking all along, under the surface of everyday life, completely unobserved by everyone else. For fans of foreign TV programmes or movies, there’s the dub versus sub debate. For bento box lunch enthusiasts, there’s some snideyness amongst people who only use ‘proper’ Japanese boxes, versus those who use western lunchware like Tupperware or Laptop Lunches. With vintage dressing, I know there’s some debate about repro clothing versus authentic, really from the era vintage clothing. To be honest, a lot of these are more to do with perceived elitism and snobbery than anything else, which I guess you get in the cycling world too. I was expecting a similar debate around lycra/safety clothing versus streetwear to crop up quite early on in my enthusiastic web surfing, but I must be dodging those sites completely. The one thing that keeps jumping out is helmets versus no helmets, and I’ll explain why that’s a bit of a shock for me.

As a child, the school laid on cycling proficiency lessons for us, which mostly seemed to involve dodging between traffic cones and being able to hold your hand out to signal right and left. The one thing that was totally gospel was helmet-wearing, and I guess, due to a lack of real cycling between then and now, as an adult, the idea that helmets were an essential part of cycling has always stayed with me. I see a lot of cyclists on the roads now, especially as I’m looking out for them, and I rarely see anyone without a helmet. Those that do are generally quite obviously making smaller, neighbourhood journeys. In order to get to the next shopping area from me, you have to travel down and up a rather large hill, and all the cyclists I’ve seen tackling this are wearing helmets.

For me, personally, as a new cyclist, I feel compelled to buy and wear a helmet. I don’t feel confident enough in my ability to cycle, in the roads, or in the traffic flow, to go without one. That could change,but in the meantime, I’ve been researching the most stylish options available for cyclists, and I’ve found some pretty neat ones!

Perhaps the most traditional looking helmet on my lust-list is the Nutcase, a cool-looking solid type of helmet from the US which resembles a BMX biker or skateboarders helmet.

Love the cool Union Jack design – and although it doesn’t have as much ventilation as the average aerodynamic helmet does, it still has some airholes there to keep your head cool. Priced around £45.

I also really like Sawako Furuno helmets, which you can buy at cyclechic.co.uk.

They’re quite pricey (from £60 up to £73) and I haven’t seen one that I’ve fallen in love with – yet. The colours are very pastel, so if that’s your style, you’ll love these! They’re very subtle and girly.

My favourite find so far has to be the cool Yakkay helmets, which come with interchangeable soft covers!

I’ve heard they can make your head sweaty, but it seems like a small price to pay for such stylish and protective headwear!

They come in three different sizes, so I’d have to purchase them in person to be sure I was getting the right size for me. They’re a bit pricey to buy sight-unseen, and I’m sure they’re not really waterproof either. But, they look great! They range from about £30 for a cover to £104 for a cover and helmet, depending on the style.

By far the most intriguing of my finds is the Ribcap.

Made from an amazing material which hardens when struck with a hefty force, the Ribcap looks like a soft beanie type wooly hat, but the manufacturers claim prevents head trauma. Sounds good to me! They look a little hefty for the summer, but I can imagine them being really good for the winter.

The Jackson may not look much on the mannequin, but it looks great on the model!

Again, they’re quite pricey (£50-60), but they do look good, and seem like a less restrictive choice if you don’t like the feeling of a traditional helmet. If you’d like to see the Ribcap being put through its paces, and want to find out more about what it’s made of, check out the Youtube video below of the Gadget Show.

If you’d like to see some more amazing helmets, I found this excellent site which has some really cool examples: Helmets Rock Hard.

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It’s a very exciting time to be into cycling in the south – even if you didn’t decide to get your knickers off for the Naked Bike Ride today, you can still join in the fun on Saturday 25 June at Weston Shore for an amazing variety of bike-related events. And, you not only get to wear your clothes, but I’m pretty sure everyone else will be wearing theirs, too.

I spoke to Thea Bjaaland, active travel project co-ordinator in Southampton, about the event, and she helpfully gave me these flyers to share with you. She also told me that last year, this event attracted 2000 people – amazing! There are some great activities planned, including some led bike rides which look like fun – I hope to get a place on one of these (they’re first come, first served – and you don’t even need to have your own bike, as bike and helmet hire for these are free!).There will be food stalls as well, and Thea promised ice-cream, which should be enough to entice anyone to attend. A variety of organisations will be present, including Sustrans, Southampton City Council, Solent NHS Trust, Southampton Cycling Campaign, Transition Southampton, Active Nation and the Veteran Cycle Club. We’re pretty lucky to have so many organisations working together on an event like this.

The event takes place between 11 and 4 on the Saturday, near the Pitch and Putt. There’s parking available, but I reckon you should come on your bikes – right?

My thanks go to Thea for her help in gathering this information!

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If you know me – which, I’ll forgive you if you don’t, as we’ve only just met – you’ll know that I consider accessories to be the most exciting part of any venture. Buying a new games console? Better make sure you have those extra controllers and some blimming good games to play on it! Planning a party? Theme your decorations and tableware! Packing a lunch? Bento it up!

So, when it comes to bikes, I am seriously excited about this new opportunity to accessorise. And how! From baskets to panniers, gloves to helmets, there’s a whole world of stuff with which to pimp your ride, and I’m going to be covering some of the cutest things I can find, as well as documenting my search for the perfect accessories for me.

Riders assemble for a ride organised by the Lo...

Image via Wikipedia

Although I pretty much missed most of it, it was fun to take part, even in a limited fashion, in the Southampton Cycle Challenge – a month long celebration of cycling in my home town. The idea was that you log your journeys made by bike and are then automatically entered into a prize draw to win all kinds of goodies. Thanks to my trip to Hythe, which I logged, I won a cinema ticket, and a friend of mine won a snazzy red cycling jacket, which was pretty good! You could also compete as companies, and the companies that cycled the most in the month long period got some prizes as well.

Just because the cycle challenge is over for the time being, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing going on for cyclists around these parts. Obviously we have the Naked Cycle Ride on Friday, but the Southampton Cycle Challenge also has a handy list of events here which form part of a ‘Cycling Festival 2011’. I know that in the US, May is National Bike Month, but in the UK, we have National Bike Week, from June 18-26.

There are loads of biking community workshops, events and fundraisers listed on the page, so hopefully you’ll be able to find something that interests you!