Archives for posts with tag: Cycling



Cycletta South, a set on Flickr.

Photos from Cycletta South – great ride, great atmosphere, great day!

I had a brilliant day yesterday completing the (nearly) 40k course at Cycletta South, and thought I would share some of my observations and great wisdom with you. See, now I’ve done my first 40k RACE I am now a proper athlete and such, and I even have a tiny medal to prove it.

  1. Say what you like about safety, but the number one use of a bicycle bell is to ping at small children who are waving at you. They LOVE it.
  2. When event organisers say ’40k ride’ along with the words ‘you can even do it on a Pashley’, bear in mind that if you DO cycle on a sit up and beg, everyone will be surprised you didn’t die on the way round.
  3. Hills are a bitch.
  4. Headwinds are a bitch.
  5. Headwinds and hills will make you think you are about to die – you probably won’t, but it will be close.
  6. You burn calories doing long cycle rides, but you can’t count them all if you hit the flapjacks at the feed station.
  7. Do not greet male cyclists in a friendly way by dinging your bell at them, whilst sticking your tongue out in concentration so you don’t fall off your bike. It looks a little like you’re trying to sexually harass them.
  8. Bison Hill should be renamed Bitching Hill, because that’s all I did on the way up.
  9. Wet wipes are your friend when you’ve finished.
  10. Once you’ve got past that finish line, you’ll feel like the Queen of the Universe!

Stay tuned for a proper write up of the day later!

Now, this isn’t so much related to cycling, but I thought I’d post it here nevertheless – and it’s also being posted on my food blog, Distracted Gourmet (check it out if you haven’t already!).

Autumn is my favourite of all the seasons – and I love all of them already! But there’s so much great stuff you can do in autumn that I can’t help but love it. In order to help me get the maximum out of the season, I’ve created a check list for myself. I’ll be heading back every now and then to check my progress, too!

New Forest Autumn 3

The beautiful autumn colours of New Forest - by stevestreet

Autumn to do list

  • Have Halloween party
  • Have Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make pinecone decorations
  • Make a leaf wreath
  • Make jam
  • Walk through the leaves
  • Gather chestnuts
  • Make Christmas pudding
  • Celebrate Bonfire Night
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Cycle down a hill with my scarf flying behind me
  • Make the best hot chocolate
  • Make pickles

What’s on your to-do list this autumn?

At the SkyRide I was excited to come across a British company selling some seriously stylish (and by all accounts, very waterproof) cycling jackets. Now, I already have a couple of waterproof jackets – one is for walking, and one is a cycling jacket – but both of them are fairly short and neither of them are particularly fashionable. Once you see the beautiful macs from Water Off a Duck’s Back, I’m sure you’ll agree that ‘fashionable’ is definitely the right word to describe them…

WOABD-Ladies-and-Bike

In fact, looking at them, you probably wouldn’t even realise that they’re cycling coats at all…

WOABD-Ladies-3

But, there are loads of really nifty touches to these that make them perfect for cycling – such as reflective bands on the wrists, back of the waist tie, and the collar.

WOADB-Ladies-on-Bike

The sleeves are extra long so that they can cope with the extension of your arms when you’re reaching for the handlebars. There’s even a special clip at the base of the coat that keeps it from flapping open as you cycle. And, there’s a detachable hood as well.

WOADB Ladies 1

You can probably make out the gorgeous purple lining in the hood too – beautiful! You can even tuck your coat neatly into the hood to make it more portable. Best of all, the coats are waterproof – not just, as the site points out, showerproof.

The coat comes in black or stone (love it, but I’m totally scared of getting it dirty!) for £130 – not cheap, admittedly. In fact, probably more than I’d pay for any coat, but let’s just say the sun was shining, my credit card was calling me, and Antonia was offering a special discount at the event which shaved off a few pounds…

Check back later for a real review of the coat in action – I’m pleased to say I’ve not had to use it yet, but my favourite season is approaching and I’m sure there will be plenty of showers!

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.




Skyride Southampton 2011, a set on Flickr.

I hope you all made it out to the Sky Ride in Southampton today! Let me know if you have any photos to share. Here are some of the highlights – as usual, I had to take most of them on the fly, but luckily I didn’t crash into anyone despite the large amount of child-sized missiles on the circuit – bless ’em!

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?