Bioracer new Summer 2018 collection: 73 new items for men & women
New Spitfire and Vesper collections
The Belgian company Bioracer, which develops innovative & tailored sportswear, has shown the world its Summer 2018 designer collections for men (Spitfire) and women (Vesper). 73 new items across different themes mean there’s more than enough colours and styles to choose from.
The new collection revolves around 5 themes, and, apparently, ‘reflects the spirit of an optimistic future’ which Bioracer firmly believe in. Its inspiration comes from rideouts in Barcelona, Ibiza and the Canary Islands to name a few. Names like Jungle, Radient, Zebra and Rebel makes one dream about sunny rideouts. Urban fashion, Berlin, London, 80’s skate surf punk and the DIY graphic language of fanzines capture our imagination.
“Every design is a character, just like you”
Sam Ratajczak, Head Innovateer
Established in 1986 and located in Belgium, spiritual home of cycling, BIORACER has always been at the forefront of the design, development and fabrication of cycling speedwear. Our mission is clear and simple: we make you faster. It’s not only about delivering the fastest kit possible. It’s also about giving you all the tools necessary to be the fastest you can be. This philosophy goes far beyond simple clothing. For example, we developed the first modern racing shoe and the first digitized bike fitting systems. These are only some of the innovations we’ve made to improve your comfort on the bike, and therefore ultimately, your speed.
Thousands of competitive athletes choose BIORACER because they need the fastest kit available. And they know they will receive just that. Not only do we have the scientific data to prove our claims, but also the proven track record of our medal count. With more than 666 Olympic and World Championship medals, we are the fastest.
“We follow one basic principle: our athletes are the measure of all things. Innovations can only lead to a breakthrough when they benefit the athlete. We look at cycling from every angle and try to fit those pieces that make your puzzle complete. And we do this with one aim in mind: to make you faster.”
World’s Longest One Day Cycle Race Returns for 2018
Following on from the hugely successful first edition in 2017, which saw over 500 cyclists ride in teams of four to see who could complete the most laps within a 25 hour timeframe.The World’s longest one day cycle race, Red Bull Timelaps, is returning for a second year on 27th-28th October and entries are now open. 800 rider entries will be available on May 22 at 10:00 am at Redbull.com.
With only one rider from each team allowed on the course at any point, participants demonstrated a mixture of strategic nous, endurance and determination to overcome the challenge.
In 2017, Wellingborough Cycles – a group of riders from Northamptonshire won the race in an epic battle to the line after 25 hours of hard racing. They completed a staggering 138 laps and clocked a fastest lap of 9:23. They also claimed victory in the U25 category by a staggering nine laps. Full results can be viewed here.
Commenting on the victory team leader Jack Patmore said: “We were ecstatic. We ended up entering the 2017 race as a bit of fun at the end of our season, so it’s really great that we ended up winning the whole event. We didn’t really have a game plan apart from just letting one of the guys hit it really hard! We are looking forward to coming back this year to defend our title”.
This year’s Red Bull Timelaps will take place when the clocks go back on October 27th-28th, and will see riders once again push themselves to their physical and mental limits by tackling the 6.6km closed circuit for a whopping 25 hours.
As it was last year, extra emphasis will be put on the time period between 2 am and 3 am. Fittingly called the ‘Power Hour’, riders will take on a new shorter course where their laps over the following 60 minutes will count double.
This year, more surprises and elements will be included in the Power Hour, ensuring teams choose their riders carefully for this vital hour.
The race will once again be held at the beautiful Windsor Great Park, situated just outside of London. The park’s well-surfaced, undulating and traffic-free roads will provide the perfect location for the race.
Entries for Red Bull Timelaps will open at 10 am on May 22 with team entry costing £250 and £200 for under 25. There will be 800 entries available (riders will compete in 200 teams of four). To find out more information about the event please visit:www.redbull.com/gb-en/events/timelaps.
Join the conversation @RedBullUK with the hashtag #RedBullTimelaps
Red Bull Timelaps returns to Great Windsor Park on 27th-28th October, 2018
The chaps at Smith sent us pedal pushers over one of their ‘The Route’ helmets. When they did, they asked me which colour I would like, their charcoal black or bright orange. Using this for the commute I chose bright orange and I’m glad I did. I’m convinced the colour got me noticed on the road and stopped me from being hit by a car turning right and not looking. I’m not saying that is the reason you should buy this helmet, what I am saying is think what purpose you’re buying your helmet for. Be it weekend Road riding, track racing or on the commute, colour and type should always play a part.
“The Route helmet represents a movement within Smith to bring the award winning technologies found in our popular Overtake helmet to the everyday rider.” Said Graham Sours, Smith Helmet Category Manager. “We ride on the road and commute by bike and these new models exemplify all of us as cyclists in our own unique way”. So let’s see what Graham is talking about shall we?
Who are Smith?
In 1965, Dr. Bob Smith, orthodontist and original ski bum, developed the first sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam goggles so he could get a few more powder runs on days when everyone else had to go indoors. For over 50 years, SMITH has pioneered advanced products to fuel fun beyond walls, creating innovations that amplify awesome, and crafting gear where every detail makes a difference.
This Smith helmet comes with MIPS technology, this is basically a plastic layer between your head and the inside of the helmet.
This layer helps to reduce the tension which the helmet can put on your head. When you tighten your helmet it’s not just the inner band on the helmet that tightens but the whole of this layer meaning the pressure is spread all around your head and not just at the band contact points.
All added up this makes the helmet extremely comfortable for a longer ride and you don’t have that classic head strap mark across your forehead when you take it off, that’s a plus!
The MIPS® lining also reduces rotational forces that the brain is exposed to during oblique impacts to the head. When combined with MIPS®, the helmet liner is separated from the head by a low-friction slip plan that allows the head to slide during impact and may reduce instances of traumatic brain injuries.
There certainly are 18 large air vents on this helmet and the all important vents at the back to allow the air to flow over your head keeping it cool. It also includes anti-microbial X-Static performance liners with Reactive Cooling, ultra light single layer webbing, and a VaporFit™ adjustable system for increased comfort and it works!
I have to say, the times I wore this helmet I always felt nice and cool and arrived where I needed to be a little less red faced.
Another area where The Route scores well.
Would I buy one?
Yeah, I would. I think the design is good, it cools well and is very comfy to wear.
It’s much more of a commute helmet over one for a weekend road warrior, as it’s not as sleek for some. However it’s durability, comfort and the bright orange is great for the commuter in the hot summer months!
The Route is available in many colour choices, for £129.99 with MIPS technology and £109.99 without. My advice, spend the extra £20, it could save your life.
Well done Smith.
You can view The Route helmet and find dealers here
When the guys from Gtech got in touch with us here at Pusher of Pedals, asking if we were interested in riding their brand new Gtech eScent, the answer was a resounding yes. If you’ve not seen our review on their hugely impressive road bike, you can see it here, but for now – the eScent.
First off let me tell you, I’m no mountain biker and this review is purely about the ride to and from work which I’ve been doing on the eScent, you can find one of my rides on the eScent by clicking this link here. In general, on the road, I found it comfortable, easy to ride and with the battery in it’s “Max” setting an absolute breeze.
The Gtech eScent is said to be a bike for seasoned mountain bikers or beginners to the sport whether your on the trail or using it, as I did, to commute. with a 36v high torque motor governed by a built in computer, the bike knows when you’re lacking on power and gives you that extra little boost to help you either up a climb or down the road. It has Shimano gears, big old RockShox on the front, hydraulic disk brakes and huge 27.5″ tyres add to that a 36v Lithium battery for 30 miles of cycling and you’re well on your way.
So let’s take a little closer look at what the Gtech eScent is actually like on the 9 miles from Notting Hill Gate to my flat in Bow.
They’re mixed, as a road biker, the bike looks huge, feels slightly awkward and just doesn’t feel right. However, that’s a road rider, not a bike rider. It’s impressive to look at. Just look at those huge 27.5″ tyres which are 2.5″ wide for added grip off road, the monster Rockshox and the disc brakes. I’m not a huge fan of disc brakes in the pro peloton (I won’t get in to it) but on the road commuting they can be a life saver, out on the trails equally so.
Gtech seem to have looked at what makes bikes good and applied that to the eScent.
What’s it like to ride?
One of the good things about this bike is that Gtech send it to you pretty much ready to ride. You take it out the box, twist the handle bars in to the correct position, tighten them up, adjust the saddle and away you go. This pretty much allows you to show your bike off instantly and when people ask the inevitable “can I have a go?” The quick release on the saddle means you can give them a quick yes and send them on their way.
But on to ride comfort…
Comfy, as you’d expect from a bike which has front suspension along with seated suspension. The big chunky tyres also add a good bit of bounce meaning that on the road you’ll have one of the smoothest commutes, ever.
The bike feels well balanced too, handling feels light and easy and considering the bikes length and size, it’s sharp when it comes to steering. The extra little shove from the electrical motor makes taking your hands off of the bars easy and gives you a little bit more confidence.
Hydraulic disc brakes…
These are powerful brakes, very, very good. Being hydraulic they feel very smooth, the added bite from the disc means you can stop on a six pence from the bikes cruising electronic speed.
On the trails it means you can easily snap the back end round with one of the best skids you’ve done since you were 7 years old. It’s so much fun.
On one of my commutes home I had endless joy coming across horse guards parade, letting the electronic motor taking me up to full speed before snapping the back end round and seeing the dust cloud I created. I don’t think the guards were too pleased though…
This electronic motor?
It’s the same motor which is in the original Gtech bike, why redesign the wheel? It’s high power and torque is great for assisting you up the climbs. Let’s not get this confused. This is not a bike you turn the motor on and just go, the motor on this bike is for assistance. To make it work you must pedal! Granted, you don’t have to put much power through the pedal, in fact the less power you put in, the more assistance you’ll get from the motor.
It works by a very clever little computer chip reading the effort you put in and adjusting the motors power accorodingly. All you need to know is it works and it works very well.
Gears? On an electric bike?
Yeah! Shimano gears at that! Only on the rear though, being a mountain bike, there’s only one gear on the crank and it’s relatively small.
When on the flat road, you find yourself wanting a few extra teeth to enable you to get a bit more speed.
On the rear though the derailleur makes sure that you snap in to gear quickly and with minimal effort.
The cables are also internal, mostly, so that they don’t get covered in mud when your out on the trail. Smart thinking. I say mostly because they have to pop out somewhere and they do so, near the bottom bracket. Most Road internal gears come out on the rear fork, I understand these coming out where they do though. This is where the motors cables comes out leaving holes in your frame to a minimum and not reducing its strength.
How long do you get on that battery?
Of course, that depends on how you use it. You can ride the bike like a normal, everyday bike with the battery turned off. This just means you get not assistance from the motor. But the bike is heavy, it’s 19kg. Which ever way you cut it, that’s heavy. So maybe on the downhills you’ll have the battery off but on the uphills, you’ll probably want to turn it on!
If you’ve opted to turn your battery on, there are two modes to choose from, ‘Eco’and ‘Max’. Gtech claim you can get 30 miles out of one charge. I’d be inclined to believe them if you left it in its ‘Eco’ mode. The ‘Max’mode though will drain your battery quicker.
The battery has been redesigned from the old one. It now has a much, much more user friendly LCD screen, displaying what mode the battery is in and how much charge is left. It still has a big green on button but the charging has been changed. Instead of plugging a cable in to charge the battery the battery now has its own housing unit which it stands in charging away.
I have to say, the battery is so much more easy to use, there’s no more trying to shield the lights from the sun to see what mode your in. The bright LCD display has vastly improved userbility.
Would you buy one?
The question I would ask is, what ami buying one for? The trails or commuting?
Commuting on it I always felt a bit embarrassed, it’s like driving a Land Rover Defender through central London each day. You’ve got this amazing machine fully capable of all this off road capability and I’m cycling down the CS2 fully tarmaced and smooth… a little bit pointless really.
Looking at the £1,895 price tag, this may discourage me further form the point of buying on for the commute. There is, however, no denying that this is a wonderful machine and people do buy Land Rovers and drive them in the city… I’d be very tempted.
In 2016 ZWIFT led a very successful campaign to find the an emerging star and throwing them in to the pro peloton with a contract with the women’s world tour team, Canyon//SRAM. Guess what? They’re back at it again in 2017 and you can sign up here
For many this is a dream of a life time, the possibility of racing all over the world starting from your very own living room, or spare room, or garage, or just about wherever you could fit a tablet, phone or a laptop and hook it up to your turbo trainer and ZWIFT.
If you’ve not heard of ZWIFT before or familiar with how you can ZWIFT check out my blog here where you can read all about it and also read about the Wahoo KICKR too.
So what’s this all about and how do you win a pro contract? Well, basically, if you’re a woman and think you want to try your hand at being an elite level cyclist on one of the best cycling teams in the women’s pro peloton, you need to sign up to the ZWIFT
academy and get pushing the pedals.
At the launch of the event on Monday the 12th of July, Leah Thorvilson, winner of the 2016 GoZwift academy, spoke about how she won and what life was and what life had become. It may surprise you that Leah doesn’t come from a cycling background but a running one. After four surgeries in three years and recurring pains and more injuries, Leah turned to cycling, more specifically ZWIFTing.
What followed was months of reality checks and surprise as she found herself progressing through the rounds and all the way to he final training camp where she won her pro contract. If this shows you anything, if you’re thinking you would never win, a runner who when on her Time Trial bike for the first time didn’t know where the brakes were won and is now about to enter her first National Championships. Still think yo’ve got no chance?
In 2016 each of the three rounds of competition, a panel of judges narrowed riders down by carefully analyzing data gathered during online rides and workouts. CANYON//SRAM Sports Director Beth Duryea, Professional Pursuit World Champion Mike McCarthy, and TrainSharp Founder Jon Sharples were part of the selection committee who chose twelve semi-finalists before narrowing it down to the final three.
“Finding talent in cycling is a numbers game, in terms of casting the net wide and drawing performance data back in. That’s what excited us about the Zwift Academy concept. Indoor training provides the accessibility for participants, a safe environment to train and a controlled environment to analyse data, then Zwift adds the social element build a community of riders and spur them on. It doesn’t surprise us that Leah is our winner. We’re looking forward to seeing how she can develop into a bike racer,” commented Jon Sharples, TrainSharp Founder.
“When you see an idea really become something, it’s an amazing feeling,” noted Ronny Lauke, CANYON//SRAM Racing team manager. “We took a chance with the Zwift Academy and we’re very pleased with the potential we saw not only in Leah, but in the other finalists as well. Watching and seeing all these women dedicate themselves to the sport, it makes one wonder how many more are overlooked.”
The 2017 academy is already up and running and you can sign up by clicking here. Who knows you may even end up like 2016 winner Leah.
You may be aware of the lighting brand Blaze, they have been ‘blazing’ a trail now for a couple of years in the world of bike lights. They’ve got a bit of a range, the rear burner, the front burner and the one I’ll be reviewing in this write up, the Lazerlight.
Keeping safe on the roads morning and evening, on your commute is very important. The Blaze team are different in what they do to help improve bike safety with this Laserlight.
If you’re a London liver, like me, you may have noticed them on the Boris Bikes (or to give them their unofficial name, Santander Cycles) lately. In short, it is a light for the front of your bike which also projects, via laser, a green bicycle on the floor up to six meters in front of you as you ride. What’s the point of it and is it any good? Well for £125 you would ruddy well hope so, if I’m spending that much I want it to last forever and for it to shoot frickin’ laser beams out of it… Let’s see if it can do both of those things! Here’s what I found.
First impressions were good, the Blaze comes packed in a nice looking high end box and as you open it, you’re presented with just the light. It’s got some weight to it but it feels smooth and high end, which you’d expect for the whopping £125. As you get it out the box the first thing you want to do is start firing the laser, which you can’t do until the light is attached to its bike mount, you can however turn the light on. It comes with enough charge to at least test the light with, I didn’t ride it straight out the box but you might be able to get away with it if your ride is short. I would not advise this though, if you’re going to ride with your bike light in the dark, please make sure your light is fully charged, that’s just common sense.
Charing is easy, it’s a USB charger so will plug in to your computer/laptop or even a USB plug charger like that of your phone. The charger attaches via magnet to the top of the Laserlight. The Laserlight its self tells you how charged it is by LED lights, which change colour and flash or stay solid to let you know how charged the Laserlight is. Charing is as simple as charging your phone.
Attaching it to your bike is easy too, the only thing you should know is you need the supplied Allen Key to fully tighten the light mount to your bike. The light then just slots in to the mount, attaching and detaching easy. So, I guess, unless you’re constantly changing bikes, fully tightening the mount to the bike with an Allen Key should only be a one-time thing. If the light goes on the mount easy enough, which it does, it’s not that much of an issue for me. If you are going to be constantly swapping bikes and lights, keep a hold of that key!
Turning the light on confused me a bit, being a bloke I obviously tried to do things without reading the instructions. I didn’t realise there was a lock feature on the light which is turned on/off by holding down both the light and laser button at the same time. The advantage being that the light wont switch on and run down it’s battery life if you’ve dumped it in your backpack/bag – I’ll come back to battery life later it’s a claimed 13 hours… There is a couple of different settings for the LED light, 100 lumens, 300 lumens and flashing. For the laser – on, off or flashing. They’re super easy to toggle through just by pressing the respective buttons. You can have whichever combination of the lights going at any one time.
However, this leads me back to the battery life… If you have it on full 300 lumens and bike laser staying on constantly, expect it to run flat in 40 minutes. not 13 hours. Blaze claim on their website that you can get 4 hours at 95% depletion but this is a get me home measure. It seems a bit of a cop out to me, no one takes four whole hours to cycle home, I’d hate to forever be charging my Laserlight each time I get to the office and home from work, as fun as the magnetic charger is. Which brings me back to the price, if I’m paying £125 on a front light only, I want it to work all day long. Not some dim 100 lumens which I worry will get me seen as I’m on my 20-minute commute home.
So, with the battery life and cost in mind, is this light just a gimmick? Well, Blaze have released some numbers on the light apparently tests by TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) when a Blaze Laserlight is fitted and the laser is turned on, visibility to a bus driver went up from 72% to 96% compared to an LED light alone. That’s very impressive. Very, very impressive. And TFL (Transport for London) wouldn’t have put 12,000 on them on their Santander Cycles if they didn’t believe in the light.
The safety is there for all to see, six meters in front of you. It’s cool and when I was cycling around with it on, it’s not only bus drivers who notice you, pedestrians, car drivers, scooters and other cyclists all knew you were coming. It did make me feel a lot safer on the road and can you really put a price on your own safety? If you’re Blaze yes you can, it’s £125.
You can buy a Blaze Lazerlight and check out their range here
I think we could all agree, the only thing us British people seem to be good at is cycling. Since the Wiggo inspired revolution of 2012, we’ve seen British Cycling grow and grow. Boris Johnson introduced major cycle lanes in to the heart of London and Saqid Kahn looks to extend the cycle route with the new plans of CS11. Each morning I cycle to work, there seems to be more and more cyclists enjoying the commute in to the office.
Over the last 12 months, British Cycling have been able to draw up the following stats:
2,069,200 adults in England now cycling at least once every week
3,628,400 adults in England now cycling at least monthly
Over half a million regular cyclists are women, an increase of 2% in the last 12 months.
385,600 young people now ride bikes frequently
Frequent cycling among people with an impairment is now at 184,000
Considering such a boom, certainly in the male market, it would be natural that the female market would follow suit. However, it seems to be that, even though there is a large proportion of female riders and enthusiasts, the help, bikes and tech may not be there for women as it is for men.
My wife – she wouldn’t of even cared for a bike race or event before she met me, in the years I’ve been with her, she has now; been to see three stages of the Tour de France, watch Wiggo go around a track for an hour and attends regular spin classes to keep fit. I know I’ve done a wonderful job. On the sofa the other night though I caught something in her eye, it was a reflection on from the iPad… She was looking at bikes and she admitted it. She wanted to take on the open road, feel the wind through her helmet on the country lanes and experience cycling on the roads. I was made up. Obviously, I started with all the questions to which I got a blank expression, talking about groupsets got me no where and when I mentioned the length of the handlebar stem I got a roll of the eyes as if I was putting in some sort of sorry cycling innuendo.
So it was a bit of a challenge as to which manufacturer to choose. However, the guys over at Ribble stepped up to the plate. They got in touch, as they too are keen to get involved with the cycling boom. One of the biggest online bike dealers in the UK, Ribble specialises in using quality, thoroughly road-tested frames from the far east as the basis of their customer-specced bike packages. They offer exceptional value, with fully built carbon bikes available for under £800. As an entry level bike, they offered up the Ribble Spotiva, an introduction to the Sportive range of Ribble bikes. With a 7005 frame, an aluminium alloy with amazing strength to weight ratio. It’s the same alloy used on the men’s frame, the only difference is this is set up for female geometry. Meaning it has a lower stand over height and a shorter top tube.
The guys at Ribble were really good, what they didn’t know, you don’t need to know. They chatted my wife through all the selection options and even the length of her pedal arm. Of course when someone else starts talking to you about it, it’s then interesting isn’t it?! I could have sworn I’ve bored her to tears over cycling subjects for years…
Pedal stem chosen and handle bar tape changed to Celeste colour, the bike arrived in super quick time.
After ordering, my wife is a lover of reviews so we both did some digging to see if this outlay really meant this was the bike for her. However, the only review we could find of the bike was in The Good Housekeeping Institute. I find this slightly off, so here we go, here’s my attempt!
The bike arrived in almost one piece, all it needed was the handlebars fitting on, the saddle height adjusted and the pedals screwing on. All of which we did together, not even an issue – we were ready to ride.
While she uses SPD cleats in her spin class and is used to them, using them out on the road is another thing! They’re really good pedals to get used to a new bike and also riding on the road in cleats in. I picked them up on Wiggle for £28.99. With a couple of up charges – Tiagra Groupset, R501 wheels, Continental Ultra Sport tyres, a white handlebar steam and the all important Celeste handlebar tape – the total cost of the bike: £678.89
Even a bike which was ordered online and got delivered in a box to me, the gears didn’t need and fiddling with, changing down and through them wasn’t an issue, each gear changed was met with a satisfying ‘thunk’ in to gear.
First off, the transition from spin class to road brings in different factors; road surface, wind, weather conditions and other road users. The perfect place for us to start the full test and transition was down at the Olympic Velodrome where they have an outdoor mile long circuit, for cyclists only. For £6 you can cycle around pretty much all day, there’s toilet and water facilities on a circuit which has everything but a mega long climb (it is only a mile after all) but it does have a couple of short upward kicks.
Back to the bike – well, in short, it performs fantastically. Not only does it have fantastic weight for it’s price but upgraded the Groupset from the 105 to Tiagra gives miles better performance for only £39.99 on Ribble, it’s well worth it.
For a first time rider who is wanting to tackle road cycling head on I think its a great introductory bike. The balance of the bike is something which is very noticeable, it really gives you the confidence to ride the bike.
Gone are the days of a women’s bike just having a Top Tube which is easier to step over, Ribble have changed the geometry slightly so rather than just shifting the saddle forwards and fitting a much shorter stem, all of which could make for a twitchy, uncomfortable ride. Ribble have made the overall reach so that handling is not compromised. This is super noticeable because on the mile long circuit there are some tight twisty bits which the Sportiva glides through, with ease. Theres no mid corner twitch or worry, you can really get in to the corner at speed with confidence. To this improved handling setup the addition of a carbon front fork and you have a smoother ride that (slightly) reduces bumps and stones which may make you worry on the corners.
On this short and punchy circuit the bike performed admirably, it seemed to eat up the sprint, feeling stiff and ridged and that every pedal stoke had a purpose, to put as much power through the chain as possible. Flat out sprints were strong and sharp rising out the saddle to hammer down the power isn’t an issue and neither is negating a small bump in the road, up and out the saddle the pedals feel light enough underneath you to tap through your cadence with confidence of tackling the climb.
To a slightly longer ride – as the frame shares its build with the mens 7005 Sportive, you get the same sort of no messing from this frame. It’s great for a Sportive or leisure ride. Longer days in the saddle are comfortable and I’m pleased to say that uphill climbs are almost a joy. Almost. Having the bladed forked Shimano R501 wheels also helped here, while they’re not super light and the raciest of wheels, they are solid and they bring the weight down a bit. They’re durable and replacement spoke are easy enough to come by, they’re a welcome addition.
To sum up, its a great first time bike, it brings together many elements; looks, durability, set up and low weight. it’s perfect for an entry level bike which will help you to decide whether you want to start taking things a little more seriously in a year or so. Easily enough to add stuff on to like better wheels, pedals or even electronic gears, we couldn’t be happier with it. Well done Ribble!
So there we have it, my first RideLondon and I’m pretty chuffed with myself to be honest.
100 miles completed in 5 hour 43 minutes. Rode the whole way with my brother alongside me – no cramping up and feeling like I was going to explode, until the last 50 metres when I realised I couldn’t sprint for the line!
I have to say, it was a really enjoyable ride, once it got going – it was a bit of a stop start morning for me, I didn’t think I’d make it to the start line! Here is why, my brother had come down from Birmingham with his partner on the Saturday, they had endless delays and didn’t get down here until late. We made a dash to the Excel, to register, missed Poplar tube stop where we had to change for the next tube to the Excel but got there with half an hour to spare to have a quick look around after registering. Here was me hoping that that, was it. No more bad luck please, Nice easy ride to the start and a safe ride around in sub six hours, please! However, my brother had other plans.
Not only did he struggle to get himself up in the morning for the ride but as we were carrying our bikes down the stairs (I live in flats, it’s only one flight, what could go wrong? Done it a hundred times) he somehow manages to slip and find his middle finger pointing in the wrong direction.
A sharp pull and with a satisfying click, it was back in place. Both looking at each other and thinking, ‘you are fine to ride. We are not going back, or to the hospital. You are doing this.’
The stream of cyclists on the way to the start was enough to get anyone ready to ride. It was exciting to see that many people in the cycle lanes of London and finally, the dream come true cycling London on closed roads. I have to interject myself here and say, well done to the organisers for getting everyone going pretty much bang on time! Amazing achievement.
I’ve never been from East to West London so fast, the combination of the closed roads, excitement and an ever changing peloton made sure we whipped through. Finally through Richmond Park and on to Kingston I was happy to leave London behind and get out towards the dreaded climbs…
One thing I did find is that there wasn’t that much chatter between riders, in sportives I’ve competed in of old, there is a good nitter natter, passing the time. The only thing I heard people do in this one in generally bitch and moan about other riders on the road. It’s the biggest sportive in the country, there’s going to be other riders on the road and yes, some of a different ability to you. So shouting “LEFT! LEFT!” at someone who is already riding in the gutter when there’s loads of room on the right just makes you look silly.
I did get slightly disgruntled at how seriously some people took this, everyone has their own agenda and that’s fine. Everyone wants to get around as quickly as possible, but please, give those going slower than you a break and enjoy yourself! It’s a sportive, not a race. At the bottom of Leith Hill, we pretty much came to a stand still, the bleep off Garmin’s going in to Autopause almost managed to drown out the amount of people complaining. Two chaps to my left summed it up, one was just getting really angry and almost started doing a Froome by running (this time with his bike) up Leith Hill, the other just started laughing and thought it was brilliant. I’m in the latter camp, however, starting Leith Hill from pretty much a standing start was not a laughing matter!
Then, came the descent, two completely separate incidents – and again a bit chapeau to the marshals here – ended with two people who were both being put in a neck brace and both of which needed the fantastic medical attention that such a sportive brings. Again though, people were getting annoyed that they were being told to slow down and stop. Bigger picture guys.
On a less moaning note though, the support! Wow, riding through Dorking, I sat up and had a look around at everyone lining the streets, cheering, getting excited at a load of completely unknown cyclists pedalling through their village. It was fantastic, I wanted to pull over and buy a burger and have a beer! My brother wouldn’t let me though, said it would slow us down for going up Box… Pft. The beautiful Surrey Countryside ahead of you and a wonderful looking town, thank you so much to every single supporter. Your support was greatly appreciated and helped, a lot! Not just in Dorking but along the whole course!
It’s amazing how your mind finds the smallest things funny when you’re out on a long ride. Short of my brother dislocating his finger, the thing that really tickled me was a conversation I overhead while going up Box Hill. A very short conversation between what I think was a couple. He wasn’t getting up as easily as her, the conversation went like this:
Her: “Just put it in a lower gear and spin it out.”
Him: “Yeah. Thanks, love.”
Just the advice you need as you’re struggling to get along.
The ride back in to London was so very enjoyable, I even enjoyed Wimbledon Hill! It’s true, I knew that after that, it’s plain sailing straight to The Mall. However, I think I was praying for it too quick as every time I glanced down at my Wahoo ELEMNT (blog coming on this shortly) the distance rarely seemed get closer to the magical 100!
A really enjoyable day, and then as I type this out, there is also the very sad news of Robin Chard suffering cardiac arrest around the 25 mile mark. My thoughts go out to his family and friends, such a tragedy. The money which Robin raised and continues to raise on his Just Giving page is fast approaching the £30,000 mark. Chapeau Robin.
When you cycle in to the office, if you’re a gentleman who is proud of the hair on top of his head, the choice of helmet can be tough. Not only does wearing a helmet squash your tidy hair do, it also traps in the heat, making your head sweaty, further endangering what you’ve just spent a good half hour preening.
For a lady who has longer hair, the challenge can be doubled, more hair equals more heat. That’s a mathematical equation which will have you scratching your follicles over which helmet to buy and why.
The answer, of course, isn’t not to wear one, if you’re on a bike you need a helmet. The answer is getting the right one. It needs to look good, be light weight, breathable and if possible be able to enhance your hair do – side note, no helmet will enhance your hair style.
I’ve been very lucky, because the chaps at Bern sent me over their best-selling commuter helmet,the Bern Watts. So over the next few paragraphs I’m going to proceed to tell you about it.
I’ve heard (or not heard) of Bern, why are they so popular?
It’s easy to see why so many people like the Bern helmet, its got simple style, it’s very functional and it doesn’t empty your bank balance or compromise on function over form.
They appear to be the commuters helmet of choice and over the next few paragraphs in going to try to explain if that is the case…
What’s so good about this helmet then?
Well, kind of, everything, really…
What’s more, it’s lightweight because it’s a thinSHELL, meaning protection is not compromised as weight it dropped. 460 grams this helmet weights, just a shade over a pound in weight, or a bag of sugar.
It also means that the helmet is no bigger than it needs to be, so you don’t look like you have a huge eight ball on top of your head as you cycle down the street.
But weight is not all, the helmet is also well ventilated, reducing heat under your lid, reducing sweating and hopefully meaning you haven’t wasted that half an hour in front of the mirror this morning.
The ventilation on this helmet makes it the perfect summer commuter helmet.
The peak at the front of the helmet is not only stylish but helps keep the sun out your eyes and also the rain if the weather were to change.
So it’s good for the summer, what about the winter?
Well, funny you should ask that question, it’s almost as if I teed it up in the closing sentence of my previous paragraph.
The good thing about the Bern helmet is that you can add a winter lining. No need to wear a wooly hat under your helmet as you can fix one securely in place on this helmet.
So not only do you get a helmet for all four seasons but you can just pop the lining in and out when you feel it’s too cold on your top two inches.
How much does it cost and is it worth it?
Whether or not you’re willing to part with the cash depends on how much you value your life, or hair do.
The Bern Watts costs £54.99 and for a helmet which you can wear for four seasons, that’s a right steal!
Personally, I think it’s a right good price. I’d much rather spend the money on this than wear a £20 Bell helmet from five years ago.
Why should I choose this one over the rest?
As if I haven’t gushed over this helmet enough, jeeze.
In short, the colour combinations are great, it’s functional, lightweight, not overly pricey and it suits the commuting style.
The ventilation is enough to keep you cool but not too much that if it were to rain you’d need an umbrella, not that they’re much use when you’re cycling anyway.
I really do think it’s the perfect commuter helmet, from the moment you put it on, it just feels right.
If you live and work in London you’ve a few options of how to get in to work, you can sit in your car for hours not moving and getting irate at everyone, by driving to work. If you don’t fancy that you’ve got some other options. There’s getting your face stuck in someone’s sweaty armpit on the tube. Or getting on the bus… Then, oh if you’re lucky you can get the clipper, which is a boat down the Thames, with half the bankers from the city, who are recovering from last nights BNO (regardless if it’s a Tuesday). Or, if you’re really lucky, you can cycle, like me.
Of course, you don’t just have to live in London and you don’t just have to be cycling to work to get on your bike but if you’ve a daily commute it’s possibly something you’ve considered or even do now.
Cycling to work and back poses more issues than just getting there safely. If your commute (like mine) is around six miles, maybe you’ve questioned getting donned fully in Lycra, cycling shoes on, it would need to be 10+ miles before I start slipping in to the silky smooth Lycra. I want to arrive to work safely and in relative style but most of all comfort.
Imagine, a cycling world where you can cycle to work in the clothes you fully intend to work in all day, be comfortable for both and not look like you’re an extra in W1A, but most of all, not stink the office out. That’s the worst. Stinky, sweaty, ill-fitting, uncool clothes in the office. You don’t want to be that guy, you don’t want to be that guy, at all. “Yup twenty miles in these clothes today and still looking fresh.” No, no you’re not, my friend, the showers are that way.
A few fashion brands have hopped on the cycling bandwagon, Levi‘s and Ted Baker have recently updated their commuter range, while brand like Huez* and Vulpine have made the step towards fashionable clothing which is comfortable on the bike, too.
It’s not only the cycling clothing though which can help, there’s the bikes too. With more commuter friendly bikes out there if your commute is like mine, just a short hop, then maybe there’s a case for electric bikes, could help to reduce sweat, no? A foldable bike to help with storage issues? Or maybe just a more street friendly bike which doesn’t make you look like a street racer and deals with pot holes and city streets better.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be challenging brands to send me their best commuter busting clothes.
The main things I want are:
Fashionable / stylish
So look out over the next few weeks where I’ll be testing many different kinds of products and letting you all know exactly what I think about them.