A review of Velotoze tall shoe covers – an aeroshoe cover designed to keep feet dry and aerodynamic.
I have had a pair of velotoze shoe covers for a long time, but have not worn them very often. They take a little longer to put on, and have a reputation for easily tearing. So I save for ‘special occasions’ Where I really need dry feet.
Last Friday, I was still in Yorkshire. It was one of those days where the rain was forecast to clear up at 2pm and by 5pm it would allegedly be sunny. I took a chance and headed off in the rain, hoping it would stop soon, but also fearing the worst.
They are not put on like ordinary shoe covers. You put them on over your sock first. Pull them up, put on shoes, and then squeeze back over shoes. It’s a little longer, but not much. When you know how – putting them on is quite quick.
The idea for Velotoze is that:
They provide excellent waterproofing. It seems to be made out of the same latex as swimming caps.
Aerodynamic aid like lycra overshoes – except a bit more waterproof and durable.
I reviewed this last year, but I’m updating review after using it for a year, including a couple of 100 mile TT’s. It’s only when you’ve done a few hundred mile TT’s that you can really give a proper review to long-distance TT products.
Essentially, I’m very happy with product. In Nat 100, I hardly got out of aero tuck, but there was little pineal discomfort, until perhaps last 10 miles. The cut out in front of saddle avoids numbing pain in that area you would prefer to avoid. It is very comfortable, very aero, and lightweight. Also it avoids the chaffing I used to get on the Adamo (because Adamo is too wide at the front).
The only drawback is that it is expensive (and not so readily available); it’s difficult to choose which model to get – but overall it has been a good investment. I will be selling an Adamo on ebay soon.
Dash saddles are an expensive alternative to Adamo saddles. It is a good option for those looking for the anatomic shape of a Adamo, but want something which is lighter and more aerodynamic.
Earlier this year I wrote an enthusiastic review of Adamo saddles – Essentially the shape of Adamo – with the cut out insert – makes cycling much more comfortable – especially when you are in a flat time trial position. The Adamo really made a big difference to time trial comfort. A 100 mile or even 50 mile TT used to be tortuous for squashing of the crotch area. The Adamo relieved this discomfort making long hours in the saddle much more palatable. However, as enthusiastic as I was about Adamo, I was dissappointed when putting it on the scales and seeing it go to over 275 grams. It’s also a bit of a block, creating an aero drag. For many timetrialists and triathletes this weight and shape is not such a big deal, but for a hilly time trial specialist, you don’t want to be wasting 200 grams on a saddle. Also, I didn’t like the rear lip, which is used to hang up a bike in triathlons.
Another drawback of the Adamo that I noticed after a season of riding – was that you got superficial chaffing on the inside of the thighs, perhaps because the front of the saddle is quite wide. This isn’t really a problem when riding, but after there was a persistent irritation for quite a long time. I could live with it, but still quite annoying. However, the amazing thing about spending a year on an Adamo was not a single saddle sore all year!
To overcome ‘lip’ of the Adamo TT, I decided to buy an Adamo Podium because it looked a bit more aero. However, when I went into UBYK in Oxford, they suggested having a look at the Dash saddles – twice as expensive, but more than half the weight, and they did look a thing of beauty. Sleek, aero and slim.
I don’t like spending money on new equipment, but this did look like an expense that could be justified. Lighter and more aero and looks beautiful – the only doubt was could it replicate the comfort of the Adamo?
Giro Selector is an aerodynamic time trial helmet, which like most other helmets on the market makes strong claims to be very aero.
I bought the Giro Selector because the old version – the Giro Advantage has performed well for me in both wind tunnel tests (2011) and Aero Coach sessions. I also like the Advantage because it is relatively light at 375 grams. However, the Giro Advantage has a couple of disadvantages
Gap between underneath tail
The helmet is faster if you tape up vents.
I did buy a visor for the Giro Advantage and stuck it on. But over time, it came off, so I taped up with electrical tape. But, it always had an impression of being a bit scruffy and never really secure. Perhaps for aesthetic reasons, I stopped using, which is a shame because it would probably have been faster than other helmets I bought. Taping on a visor isn’t great because it could start to come loose and it’s harder to rip off in misty conditions.
Sport and meditation is a book by Sri Chinmoy on how meditation, concentration and other techniques can be useful for sport. The book also examines aspects of the spiritual side of sport – for example, the quest for self-transcendence rather than competition. As well as writings by Sri Chinmoy, there are also perspectives from other top athletes, such as Carl Lewis, Tatyana Lebedeva, Tegla Loroupe, Bill Pearl and Paul Tergat.
Spiritual marginal gains
One aspect of this book is the spiritual approach to sport. For example, how to compete with full commitment, but detachment to the result. The other aspect of the book is some practical aspects of how an athlete can seek to get more out of himself. Not so much the well known nutrition or training techniques, but the inner dimension of going faster, such as: meditation to clear the mind, remove mental distraction and seeking to tap into that inner source of energy.
Even practical tips, like smiling to yourself, trying to feel grateful – keeping in a better consciousness, where you can get the best from yourself.
Does meditation make you go faster? I don’t know and it would be very hard to prove, but I think it can help you to enjoy sport more. If you feel 100% in the moment, which can come from meditation, it is easier to get into that sense of ‘flow’ and rhythm where everything goes well.
“In sports we need energy, strength and dynamism. When we meditate, we make our mind calm and quiet. If inside us there is peace, then we will derive tremendous strength from our inner life. That is to say, if I have a peaceful moment, even for one second, that peace will come to me as solid strength in my sports, whether I am running or jumping or throwing. That strength is almost indomitable strength, whereas if we are restless, we do not have strength like that.”
There is also a brief overview of Sri Chinmoy’s own sporting endeavours which range from being a sprinter in India, to ultra running, 24 hour cycle races and then taking up weightlifting aged 54. A practical example of how meditation can help sporting endeavours later into life.
I have written before about the National hill climb championship. In particular eight attempts which led to just missing the podium. In these years, meditation and a detached mindset where helpful for shaking off the disappointment of missing off. It also made it easier to come back the next year and keep trying. If at first you don’t succeed… and all that.
However, in 2013, I really wanted a different experience to just being detached at missing out. I felt somehow, I hadn’t realised the potential at hill climbing, so I approached that year a little different. There was certainly more training and taking every precaution with equipment, but also I wanted to be more careful about other aspects of preparation. In the middle of summer I read a talk Sri Chinmoy gave about swimming the English channel. He addressed it to members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team who have successful swam or just missed out. For me the interesting thing is Sri Chinmoy was saying to those who missed out, you should have more faith in yourself, have a good preparation, concentrate more on speed, but in the event itself, feel a grace coming from within. It wasn’t what I expected – just detachment from failure, but really having faith and determination you can do it. In my case, it was not a motivation to swim the English channel (too cold!) but to aim for the top spot in national hill climb championship. This 100% focus was perhaps something which hadn’t always been there in the past, taking short cuts in preparation and things like trying something different in the race. Read ‘A Corinthian Endeavour’ if you want the more humorous explanation of failed attempts.
Also, in the few weeks leading up to the big race, I read “Sport and Meditation” quite often. Certain sections seemed very pertinent and reading helped to qualm any nerves and anticipation of the big event. It also helped give a good focus to training and preparation. I made a single page of notes I took to the race, where I had about 10 bullet points from the book.
The race went well, I’d like to be able to say I had some transcendental experience during race, but my main recollection was that it was just really hard, cold and wet, but I managed to keep it going all the way to the top. But, looking back I do feel the meditation, concentration and awareness of the inner dimension of sport was integral to the whole experience.
The book will give an insight into a spiritual perspective of sport. You don’t need any particular belief system to get some benefit from it. But, a broad sympathy to the inner aspect of life would be helpful. If nothing else, it will be quite thought provoking on a different way we can view sport and our approach to it.
On Sunday, I used a new single chain ring. The Aerocoach Arc single chainring.
I explained in ‘converting to single chainring‘ the advantages of removing front derailleur, and inner chainring. For most time trials you only need one chainring, and it looks smoother.
This is specifically used for single ring use and the teeth are longer than normal to prevent chain slip. I don’t know if it is possible to slip the chain, but from my experience this year, I’ve had more chain slips using front derailleur and 39/56 chainring combination than with just single chainring without any front derailleur.
The shape of the Aerocoach Arc single chainring is not completely round, but is designed to provide more power at the start of the stroke when you need it most, before gradually decreasing down to a minimum gearing at bottom dead centre. See Aerocoach Arc for full explanation. Aerocoach claim “The unique time trial specific design will help increase power output by 3-5w, and allow a smoother pedal stroke than normal.”
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.
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
I was sent this Fizik overshoe in November, and have been using it almost every ride over winter.
It’s been quite a wet winter, with roads covered in surface water so it has had a lot of testing.
It is designed to be waterproof and windproof, and compared to other overshoes, it has performed very well in terms of keeping feet dry. When the roads are constantly wet – even on long rides, it keeps feet dry.
It is thinner than many of the other overshoes that I have, so a little less heat insulation. However, for me that is not a problem because I put hotpads down my socks anyway! Also, the thinner overshoe is beneficial because on my time trial bike, I have speedplay X1 which is quite a short spindle it means your foot is very close to the crank and other overshoes get stuck between pedal and crank.
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.
There 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.