Archives for posts with tag: Bike

Well, after having so much fun at the SkyRide in Southampton last month, but feeling like I wanted more of a challenge, I thought I’d take the plunge and sign up for the women-only 40km ride, Cycletta. I’ll be doing the South ride, which involves starting and ending near Whipsnade Zoo, and I’m looking forward to it. I have no idea how well I’ll do, but I’m not really interested in speed (and let’s face it, my bike’s not exactly built for it, either), just completing the distance and having a fun day out with my husband at the zoo. I’m also very much looking forward to the goody bag!

My bike: not exactly built for speed!

However, one thing I’m not looking forward to is having to get up extremely early to make the trip, nor carting my bike on the back of the car. I hate using the bike rack! I always think we’re either going to hit everyone with our bikes, or they’re going to fall off and possibly explode everywhere… So, in a couple of week’s time, please think of me, getting up at 5am to strap my bike onto my car!

If you’re taking part in Cycletta South, leave me a message, I’d love to know who else is going! Also, check out the final preparation details here.

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Another weekend, and another great Sky Ride Local! This time we cycled a sort of familiar route, although we started in a new place for me – still within cycling distance though (although we took the car as we had no idea where we were going!). This time the ride took us through Victoria Country Park and up to Hamble – we did a similar thing on our led ride from Weston Shore during the Big Bike Celebration in June.

It chucked it down for our trip to Itchen Valley Country Park, but the weather was glorious at the weekend – and even though I slathered myself in lotion, I still caught the sun a little bit. I decided to wear my ASOS cycling shorts with a skirt over the top – I love wearing skirts, but I always feel self-conscious about them being short, so whenever I cycle I get to wear cycling shorts underneath! This actually means I’m getting to wear my skirts way more than I did before, which is great news for me – shallow, I know! I also refound one of my favourite T-shirts that I bought from GAP years ago – it’s so thin and comfy, great for cycling in the sun.

I also discovered Heidi plaits are great for cycling (thanks, Minx Girl!) as they keep the hair off the back of your neck in a sweaty clump – they also look good with a helmet too.

Wearing my lovely Sawako Furuno helmet again – I wondered if the smaller ventilation holes would give me a hot head, but I’m pleased to report even in the sunshine I was fine! It’s definitely not as cool as a normal aerodynamic helmet, but it doesn’t bother me at all.

Unlike the previous two times I’ve been to a Sky Ride, I actually arrived early this time, and so I was able to laze about and watch everyone else hurriedly pull their bikes off their racks for a change!

The ride was a good mix of trails and roads – I’m still completely terrified of getting a puncture on gravel, but once I actually get one I think I’ll be fine. I really want to be able to take some kind of course in bike maintenance, but I can’t find anything nearby, which is pretty frustrating…

Anyway, I like having a mix of track and road, and the Allant manages to handle both decently. I think my favourite part is cycling down a long residential road, though, with everyone else stretched out in front. Somehow, as we all serenely glide along, it reminds me of clouds, just peacefully moving through the air.

Something about it just feels so effortless and peaceful. Until, of course, you get Omar, flipping me the bird over his shoulder.

He thought taking photos as I was cycling was hilarious. I have to admit, it’s not the safest thing you can do on a bicycle, but I wouldn’t dream of doing it if it was actually dangerous (or there was traffic on the road!). I’d love to get a camera mount for my handlebars, but I think that a set of lights is more pressing than that!

Here’s Rachel and Omar at Victoria Country Park – we stopped to watch a yacht race, but we were more interested in discussing their recent holiday to Cornwall. They got to go to the Eden Project, and a cycle ride that ended with Rick Stein’s fish and chip shop, so I’m insanely jealous!

The brief stop was great, though, and it wasn’t long before we were back on our bikes to head to the final point, which was Hamble.

There was a big group, and the leaders did a great job keeping everyone happy. Once we got to Hamble, we headed back again – it was about 75 mins of cycling all together, with about 30 mins of breaks added in.

We’ll definitely be trying out some of these routes ourselves when the Sky Rides end in August!

I mentioned before that I’d been searching Etsy for some great bike accessories and hadn’t found much. Well, I’ve been keeping up with my searches and found a lot more than I originally thought! I decided to put them all together in an Etsy treasury list here, so you can check out these extremely beautiful objects and the talented folk who produced them!

Etsy treasury

Find my Etsy treasury list here!

What are your favourites? I have to say, I’m totally loving the barrel bag and the mudflaps – seriously cool.

Another Sunday, another Sky Ride: Itchen to get to the Park. This time, it was just me and Rachel. We braved the terrible weather and wound up doing half of the trip, opting to cycle back from the highlight, Itchen Valley Country Park, to our homes, instead of all the way back to the starting point. Personally, I would have preferred to continue, but it was pouring it down and Rachel didn’t have a jacket! That’s one downside to a mountain bike with no basket or panniers…

Here she is, during a dry spell! Everyone got the Sky Ride bibs again, which helped keep a bit of the rain off…

Itchentogettothepark

Anyway, getting a bit ahead of myself here – this was our route! We were five minutes late to the start yet again, this time because we just couldn’t find the area we were supposed to meet at. We cycled around the park and stumbled across by accident in the end – although some others arrived much later than we did!

As usual, there wasn’t any time to take photos during the ride itself, but I managed to take a few at Itchen Valley Country Park. Here, you can see how much it was raining on the day!

Brr!

We stopped at the cafe and filled up the bike racks…

Rachel and I somehow missed the fact that there was an offroad cycle at the park itself, because we were busy getting ourselves coffee at the time… Still, it gave me a chance to show off my new helmet! More on that in another post…

Neither of us had our locks with us, so we brought our bikes around the back of the cafe and left them in plain sight by the door…

Here’s our friendly cycle group, still sheltering from the rain at the front of the barn!

As usual, the leaders were very friendly and helpful, and made sure everyone was safe and working to a pace they were comfortable with.

As we missed the off-road ride, when the group cycled off, we spent some more time at Itchen Valley exploring. Unfortunately, it turns out that the usual cycle track used at the site had been ruined by some vehicles which had left huge ruts down the centre, so we had to make do with cycling in the fields.

It was quite hilly and bumpy, and the wet grass was pretty challenging to cycle on, but I did all right! Unfortunately, cyclists aren’t allowed on the nature trails at the park – which is fine by me, as I also love walking too.

However, I did think it a bit strange that cycling was considered to be too stressful for the wildlife in the area, but that it was okay to have a brand new Go Ape adventure park installed in the same place!

That’s fine too – because I also love Go Ape and it’s great that there’s one now so close to where I live. Mind you, it’s still expensive – £30 per person.

What would Go Ape be without the obligatory ape statue to pose around?

To the left of the centre of this picture, you can see the zip line for the finale of the Go Ape experience – puts the one that’s already there to shame…

After checking out the Go Ape course, we decided to head on home, but not before one final photo to show off my new helmet!

In my first wet weather cycle, I learned the following things:

  1. My trainers do not have a good grip on the pedals when they’re wet.
  2. It doesn’t take long for your saddle to get soaked.
  3. My waterproof jacket is not all that waterproof.
  4. Brakes make scary noises in the rain.
  5. Wearing a helmet makes you forget how wet you’re getting.
  6. And most importantly, cycling in the rain is still good fun!

I’m pretty lucky – I don’t need to commute, because I work from home. (Or, it sometimes seems more accurate to say, I live at my work). My husband refuses to cycle to work because a) the route back is one mega hill, b) his bike is more unreliable than our car, and more importantly, c) he always has boxes of paperwork and a laptop to transport. So neither of us have much experience of commuting by bike. But, I know for some people it’s a tipping point for buying a bike, and in many cases, it can actually be faster to get to where you’re going by bike. But, is it cheaper?

Cycletowork

There’s a handy website at http://www.cycletoworkcalculator.com/ which could help you work out how much money you can save by travelling to work by bike. It’s not perfect (and requires you to do some of the maths yourself in order work out how much your present commute costs per day), but it’s a good start to incentivizing people to cycle to work. With petrol prices going up all the time, it certainly something to consider.

I wonder, though, how many people cycle to work because they just like cycling? Shouldn’t that be your main reason? All of the cost and health benefits are really a bonus – and sort of pointless if you actually don’t enjoy the commute. Cycling is something you should do because it’s awesome, not because it’s ‘cheaper’. And, I really do wonder how much cheaper it really is – honestly, starting cycling from scratch, with a brand new bike and all the equipment, is not cheap. Yes, it pays off over time, but a bike isn’t a financial investment – it’s freedom on two wheels. Can I get a hells yeah?

But, of course, as the Cycle to Work Calculator site itself is the first to point out, sites like these are great for making you feel smug about your bike-bound commute. Saving the planet… yeah, cool. Looking stylish… great. Sailing past traffic… ha. SAVING THE MONEYS… AWESOME! May I get another hells yeah?

Yesterday, I took part in my first Sky Ride Local led ride, which was awesome. What wasn’t so awesome was the stress involved in buying a bike rack for the car, finding out how to install and use the bike rack, and tracking down a false cross bar for my Trek Allant WSD to get it onto the bike rack. We ended up spending a lot more on it than we intended, and then spent the entire journey watching the bikes bounce perilously up and down in the window. And we wound up late (thanks to having to take a last minute trip to town to get said crossbar when my local cycle shop’s offering turned out to be totally unsuitable), which stresses me out more than anything…

Winsor by Compass

This is the route we took, and the ride was called ‘Winsor by Compass’. It was a 14.3 mile course called ‘Ride Steady’, which is a long, yet relaxed, trip.

This was our leader, explaining a bit about the journey and giving us some basic safety rules. Basically, it boiled down to: pay attention!

This is Rachel, kitted out with her Sky Ride tabbard. Her mountain bike had the distinction of having the fattest tyres in the group. There was a real mix of bikes there, from Dutch style bikes (complete with a pink wire basket, which I think you can see above in the group shot!) to racing and mountain bikes.

This is Omar – he bought his bike through the Cycle to Work scheme – something I’d love to do but is not really happening when you work from home!

We travelled on the Test Way for part of the trip. Coming to this from a bit of a walking background I always find it amazing how much ground you can cover on a bike compared to walking. Obvious, I know, but the pace is so much faster and you just get to see so much more! On the other hand, on a trip like this, you don’t get much of a chance to take photos or stop and look at the scenery. Mind you, considering these organised rides are completely free, I’m more than happy to forgo taking endless snaps on my phone!

Most of the ride was along pavement or roads, but we did have a section that was pretty rocky and covered in sharp stones. Someone ended up getting a puncture, which was pretty scary, to be honest! Luckily they had equipment to fix it with them, but I didn’t have anything, so I spent the rest of the stretch worrying about what would happen if I got a puncture too… I really need to get a repair kit!

This was far more typical of the sort of road surface we were traveling on – my bike likes this better, and so do I!

As you can see, I’m still wearing my blue helmet – I haven’t got a replacement for it yet (news on that later, I hope!). The good thing about it is that it is very breezy and doesn’t make my head get all sweaty!

Also, my bike computer decided to stop working yesterday too, which is pretty irritating considering how new it is. I’ll have to take it back to the shop and see if there’s something that can be done about it… In other news, I have a new bag (which you can still buy in the sale here, if you’re interested!). I totally wouldn’t have had a new bag if the bike rack purchase had happened first…

So. my first led Sky Ride Local was a blast, and I can’t wait for Sunday for the next one, which is in Itchen!

You might remember me mentioning before that I was interested in looking for alternative cycling helmets. I have an aerodynamic helmet from a cycling shop at the moment in a light electric blue – and it’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with it at all, but there are plenty of really cool helmets out there that I’d much prefer to wear.

After discussing the Ribcap, I thought I’d do a bit of investigation and actually purchase one. They’re quite difficult to find in the UK, as although they’re a European company, their official UK site seems to be a reseller rather than the company itself.

Given the rather limited range, I went with a Marley beanie, because red is sorta my thing at the moment:


The original RRP of this hat was £60 ($95), but this was on sale for the more reasonable sum of £27.95 ($44.59). I think I would have been incredibly disappointed if I’d paid full price for this.

So, first of all, the safety claims. Ribcaps have a material sewn into them in rib shapes which is slightly soft under normal contact, but which hardens when knocked. So, it’s malleable to mould to the shape of your head when wearing, but in theory, if you knock your head against something, the material will harden to protect you. Because there are gaps due to the way the material is sewn in, the Ribcap can’t protect you from a pointed surface, as there’s a possibility the impact could fall between these ribs and into the fabric. However, on a smooth surface, the ribs will absorb some of the impact. The greatest protection Ribcap claims to offer is against ‘mild concussion’.

The reactions of my friends to this have been mildly negative. All of them wear helmets and I don’t think any of them would consider wearing this instead of a helmet. My husband certainly wasn’t keen on it being used as safety equipment, and another friend was quite incredulous at the idea of me wearing it cycling.

But forget that, let’s just be a bit shallow about this for a minute… what does it look like on?

Tah dah!

I have to say, I don’t usually wear beanies, and I think they look sorta dorky on me, but I’ll make an exception to avoid ‘mild concussion’.

The unfortunate thing about this cap is its tendency to make you look a little bit like a pixie… Because of the stiff ribs, the top doesn’t really mould itself to your head, so you end up with a bit of a peak at the top. Also, there’s a large gap of protection at the top where the ribs don’t meet, which is a bit worrying. But I suppose if you’re going to be landing upside down on your head, a Ribcap isn’t going to help you…

In summary: the Ribcap is an excellent idea and I can definitely see it would be useful in sports or activities where it’s not traditional to wear headgear, but where head protection might be a good idea (ice skating, even walking on icy pavements). However, the claims floating around about the kind of protection it offers are not backed up by the company itself, and I think that third-party claims about the protection it does offer has been somewhat over exaggerated. It will only protect you from bumps and bruises and maybe offer some mild protection if you knock your head, but it’s certainly not going to offer you the same protection as a helmet. If you have a choice between this and a helmet, the best advice would be to wear the helmet every time. But if your choice is more likely to be between this or nothing, this is obviously the better choice than a naked head… And, it’s warm too!

…when I have such an awesome bike basket…

That’s right, folks – I pimped my basket with a garland of fake roses that I picked up on eBay. It’s not exactly the best way to prove yourself as a serious cyclist, but frankly, I don’t care. Maybe I’ll make someone happy with my silly flowers – who knows?

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.

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

Headbadges 2

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.

Bike Mustache 2

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?