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100 Climbs Yorkshire

A review of Simon Warren’s Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire. The book features 75 climbs from all corners of Yorkshire from the East Riding to the Yorkshire Dales and south Yorkshire climbs.

hills-yorkshireI was brought up in Yorkshire, learning to cycle amidst the dales and hills. Climbs like Park Rash and Fleet Moss were enough to create a little fear and trepidation in the average club cyclist. It was only on rare summer days, we would go ‘over the top’ to Hawes and leave the comfort of the lower Wharfedale slopes.

These days I’m fortunate to often go back to Yorkshire and I often end up searching some new hill climb challenge. There is a great variety in Yorkshire, from the big hills of the Yorkshire Dales, to the ridiculously steep 30% gradients of the North York Moors and also the short cobbled climbs of Halifax and Calderdale. It was only in recent years, I started to learn the joy of climbs around West and south Yorkshire – built up areas, but still some great hills and good for cycling.

 

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Fleet Moss

The 75 climbs offer a broad overview of the Yorkshire climbs. Of course, you could easily find another 25 or 50 climbs to add to this selection, but it is still a lot to be getting on with. Continue Reading →

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Best commuting bike under £500

For £500, you can get a pretty decent commuting bike. Personally, I wouldn’t be keen to spend much more than £500 for a commuting bike. If you lock the bike up in town, there is an increased chance of theft, so with just a £500 you get more peace of mind than you would if you had spent over a £1,000.

I bought a very nice commuting bike in 1999 for about £550 (It was a Trek) but it got stolen from the back of my house. I bought a second hand bike (Trek 1000) from a neighbour for £200 as a temporary stop gap. 17 years later, I’m still riding this temporary stop gap. It is essentially an aluminium road bike, adapted for commuting. I often check out alternative commuting bikes and have test ridden a few, partly for this blog, partly for interest in ‘upgrading’ my commuting bike.

There is a great choice of commuting bikes for under £500. I would separate the choices into:

tl

The most common bike is variations on the hybrid – cross between MTB and road bike, giving maximum functionality needed for commuting.

  1. Classic / Retro Style Bikes – Look cool, great joy to have. Slower. heavier. Bit more expensive. Not great quality at less than £500.
  2. Hybrid Bikes – best value. Most practical, most widely bought. Cheap prices due to economies of scale.
  3. Mountain Bikes – Good for rough terrain like canal paths. Wider tyres are slower. FOr under £500, you won’t get a ‘real’ mountain bike, more like a hybrid geared towards the MTB range.
  4. Road Bikes – Faster, narrower tyres, more aggressive riding position, but less stable than hybrid bikes. Useful for longer commutes and those wishing to combine commuting with training.
  5. Single Speed Bikes – Easy to maintain. Look cool. More expensive (not many under £500). Not good if you have lots of hills!
  6. Foldups – Useful for those commuting by train. Limited choice for under £500. Certainly no Bromptons come under this price range.

Continue Reading →

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Best protein bars

Recently, I’ve been taking more protein bars for during, and at the end of a training ride. When I first started cycling, I thought it was all about carbohydrates, but protein is just as important.

I’ve been taking more protein bars because:

  • I like taking food which isn’t all high sugar. This is important for training for long distance riding, improving fat burning energy capacity and not relying on the simple sugars. Then in the race situation, I will take the max Carbohydrate intake, but also will (hopefully) have good capacity to gain energy from the other fat burning source. (Even I have some fat)
  • Many studies show that a good 20grams of protein after hard exercise aids recovery of the muscles. Tde optimum delivery time is said to be within 30 minutes of the end of the exercise. Therefore, for a long session, it seems to make sense to take some during exercise as well as close to the end.
  • Also, as a vegetarian it is good to take supplementary protein, in case you don’t get enough from normal diet.

Best Protein bar

Power bar Protein Plus – Low sugar

PowerBar-Low-Sugar-Protein

These were surprisingly tasty and pleasant to eat (due to sweeteners I found out writing this post); they only having 0.8grams of carb which sugars per bar. They have a light fluffy not sweet texture, which are quite enjoyable and easy to eat mid ride. The protein comes from milk and whey protein. Continue Reading →

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DeFeet e-touch dura gloves review

I have owned several pairs of DeFeet gloves in the past years, and like to race with them on. A new version has been brought out – DeFeet e-touch dura gloves – so have bought two pairs.

de-feet-e-touch

de-feet-e-touch dura gloves. An old one underneath. White isn’t best for dealing with dirty wheels.

Advantages of the DeFeet e-touch gloves

  • Grip is very good. A big benefit of these gloves is the rubber type grip on the inside of the gloves. This is particularly useful for riding with my Trek Speed Concept bars (without any bar tape). Other wooly gloves can be really quite slippy on these carbon bars, so it is a useful addition.
  • Warmth. I get cold hands so am quite sensitive to warmth of gloves. These are quite warm without the bulk of a big ski glove. I can wear them down to 5 or 6 degrees for racing. The temp guide by manufacturer is 6-16 degrees.
  • Long cuffs. In theory, the gloves go down to the end of your wrist helping to cover up that gap between the end of gloves and the start of arm warmers. Keeping your wrists warm definitely helps keep your hands warm too.
  • Breathable. They are quite breathable and I can wear into early summer, even in double digits temperatures (10 degrees plus) without getting too hot.
  • E-touch. I do sometimes use iPhone whilst riding, the e-tap at the end of thumb and forefingers means you can leave your gloves on to swipe away. This is a useful addition to the old version.
  • Aerodynamics. Most cyclists won’t worry too much about aerodynamics of gloves, but it is an issue for me. Better than bigger stockier gloves, but it is no aero glove. Yesterday, when racing I put a pair of large aerogloves over the top of these.

Continue Reading →

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Pashley Sovereign review

The Pashley Sovereign is a classic style bicycle for the real bicycle lover.  Based on traditional bike design it is lovingly put together; it will appeal to those wanting to ride a bike with a strong pedigree, but not looking for a super quick bike.

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You might say the Pashley is the Rollys Royce of bicycles, but that wouldn’t be really correct because a Rolls is flash, ostentatious and expensive, the Pashley isn’t. The Pashley is more of a lovingly restored vintage car you’ve picked up for a few thousand. It’s not often you get the chance to get a really great vehicle and still have change from a £700.

Design

Pashley have refined the art of bicycles, one glance at a Pashley and you feel it is the image of what a bicycle should be. I’m not enamoured of the over-engineered Brooks saddle complete with multiple springs catches. (though I feel it slightly sacrilegious for offering any criticism to a wonderful British product) Continue Reading →

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DHB Flashlight Thermal Gilet

Review by Garga Chamberlain

DHB’s flashlight series is all about high-visibility in darkness and low-light conditions, so it’s aimed more at commuters and those training solo rather than the bunch-rider.

flashlight-gilletThere are lots of high-viz gilets around so why would you choose the flashlight? Well number one reason would be that it’s very weatherproof. The windslam membrane does what it says on the tin – no icy blast is going to penetrate this fabric, so the core of your body will always be warm when you’ve got this gilet on and zipped up. As with most windproof membranes, it also keeps a fair amount of rain off. Not 100% waterproof on a long ride in the rain but certainly adequate protection on a rainy commute of up to an hour in my experience. A brushed micro-fleece inner fabric adds insulation so it’s ideal for midwinter riding.

The high visibility comes from the majority of the garment being a vivid fluoro yellow, but there are generous areas of reflective scotchlight taping as well, which will shine out when hit by car headlights. These care on the rear of the gilet and around the front/neck and shoulders too.

Comfort-wise, the fit is surprisingly sleek for a bit of commuter kit, but with lots of stretch in the fabric you shouldn’t have trouble getting into it if you’re blessed with a fuller figure. There are nice details too, like a gripper around the hem to stop it riding up and a “zip garage” at the neck to stop the zipper from chafing.

In all my rides in the Flashlight Gilet so far, I’ve been warm enough in all weathers and confident that I’m totally visible (through a commute that varies from unlit cycle paths to a busy city centre). The construction seems good with robust zips and stitching so I expect to be riding to work in this for a good few years.

Buy

Continue Reading →

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DHB Aeron Roubaix Long Sleeve Jersey – Review

Review by Garga Chamberlain
With this jersey priced at £60 I was expecting something functional but basic – in fact it’s a really versatile and well-designed piece of kit that I am already wearing day in and day out.

dhb-aeron-roubaix

The thermal, moisture-wicking fabric is tightly woven with a brushed texture on the inside for warmth on the front, sides and front-of-sleeves but the underarm panels and middle of the back are a lighter and more porous mesh that lets your body breathe without allowing the chill to penetrate where it shouldn’t. I’ve found this top just right in cool to cold conditions, but the stretchy fit allows you to slip a thermal or windproof baselayer underneath for days when the temperature is right down around freezing point.
The stretchy fabric and sleek cut are what makes this jersey so comfortable to ride in – close fitting and flexible with long sleeves that leave no chance of a gap between cuff and glove, the Aeron also has an excellent gripper around the tail of the jersey to prevent it riding up when you lean down on to your drop bars or tri bars – it’s equally good whether you’re in that aero position or sitting up to recover after a
hard effort.

Continue Reading →

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Warmest socks – heat holders

Cycling at this time of the year is dominated by how to keep warm, especially fingers and toes. The warmest socks I’ve found are these heat holders – a thick pair of tubular type socks.

  • They have a thick layer of fibres to keep wthe armth in.
  • The length of sock means heat rises up the foot and ankle, keeping whole foot area warm.
  • There is no elastic to constrict the blood supply.

They are pretty chunky and in terms of aerodynamics, pretty useless, but for keeping feet warm, they are as good as they get.
heat-holders

Left sock (outside of sock) Right sock (inside turned inside out)

Overall Review of Heat Holders

They are the warmest sock I’ve found.

Don’t worry about sizing they are very elastic.

If you wear them around the house, they don’t last forever, and bits of fibre do start to come off. I have worn holes in the heels of some socks I’ve had for two years. But, I bought a new pair recently because they are still excellent value. If you want to keep feet warm, these are very good. As the weather warms up, they can become too hot, but they don’t get too sweaty, there is room to breath too.

As mentioned in recent post on  hotpads, I get very cold feet, so I use an inner pair of socks, a pair of hotpads and then these heatholders on top. Cold feet will never be an excuse to stop cycling.

Cycling in the 2 degrees

Yesterday, the mercury was edging just above freezing. It was just about tolerable to cycle for a couple of hours. I had several thermal layers, 3 pairs of gloves and the hot pad / heat holder combination on the feet. The feet were amongst the warmest part of the body. Continue Reading →

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Assos LS. Skinfoil baselayer review

The Assos LS Skinfoil longsleeve base layer is a top of the range base layer, designed to offer comfort and temperature control. In summary – expensive, but very good.

assos-climar-ange-2

My other career modelling for skinny cycling clothes

I bought the Climarange 4/7 Fall version, as that seemed to offer the biggest range of temperatures for the base layer to be useful. I have used it over the winter (mostly wet and mild). But, also used it this weekend, cycling in pretty chilly temperatures of 2 degrees.

Fit

I took size L, (waist 30-32) which was a good fit, allowing for my lanky body shape. I would have liked arms to be a little longer, but it felt close to the skin without being tight in any particular parts. Assos say that it is manufactured like a tubular design (rather than flat bed). This seems to mean it has better contours to the shape of the body.

They say it is important to get the right fit because if it doesn’t fit close to skin it doesn’t work as it should. Continue Reading →

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Ortlieb Back Urban Pannier Review

The Ortlieb urban pannier is a sturdy construction of waterproof materials. It has a 20 litre capacity and even can be adapted into using as a rucksack.

ortlieb-panniersThe bag is well made and looks quite good. As commuting bags go, the coffee linen material is quite stylish.

Ortlieb panniers come with quite a high price tag – £65, but as a compensation it is well made, although I’ve only had a few weeks, it gives the impression of being long-lasting.

With 20 litres capacity, you can fit quite a lot of shopping in there. The above photo was taken with just a laptop inside. It looks a little floppy.

I use a pannier back for commuting into town. I often fill it up with shopping so am looking for a robust pannier bag, that you can also sling over your shoulder.

Specifications
Height: 42cm
Width: 23cm
Depth: 17cm
Weight: 850 g
Volume: 20 Litres
QL2.1 mounting system for racks with max. 16 mm tube diameter
ortlieb-full1
Full with shopping.

Attachment to panniers

ortlieb-fixing

To attach to the panniers there are fixing hooks which slide onto the top of the pannier. When you lift up the bag, it automatically unlocks these hooks. That is quite ingenious and useful for a quick getaway. The downside is that sometimes these locks stop the bag sliding onto the pannier in the first place, and you have to make a quick adjustment. Continue Reading →

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