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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
Weight: 850 g
Volume: 20 Litres
QL2.1 mounting system for racks with max. 16 mm tube diameter
Full with shopping.
Attachment to panniers
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.
Hotpads are small disposable packets that can be slipped down a pair of socks to keep your feet warm when it’s very cold.
If you wear thermal socks and a good pair of overshoes, you might not need them. But, for many with poor circulation in the extremities, these can be the difference between being able to cycle in the cold and getting too cold.
It doesn’t matter if you buy hotpads for feet or hands, they are 100% interchangeable.
This has been one of the mildest winters so far and I haven’t needed to use too many. But, the cold spell this week (less than 5 degrees) means I definitely will be using.
I have poor circulation in both hands and feet. I feel the cold more in the feet because the toes are mostly immobile whilst cycling. When the temperature drops below 7 degrees, my feet can’t survive for more than an hour without extra heat. – (no matter what combination of socks and overshoes I try)
I have had electric socks, but last year they broke and so stick to these hot pads. (at Amazon.co.uk)
Basically, when you take them out of a plastic wrapping some chemical reaction creates heat which lasts for seven hours. I put them in my cycling shoes just above a pair of socks. They are great for long rides.
They can be expensive if bought individually, you can pay up to £2 for a pair. But, buying them in bulk means I can get them for 50p a pair. They are disposable, so its a little extravagant, but before I found these I used to really suffer. I used to wear about three pairs of socks and overshoes and go from cafe to cafe warming up my icey feet (which actually puts you at risk of chilblains)
Also, when you’re feet get very cold, the temptation is to wear several layers of socks, but when you squeeze into your cycling shoes, the socks can actually constrict your blood flow, a key factor in making you cold.
Review of Hotpads
They really do work. It’s not a gimmick. They are 100% reliable. Even after 5 hours, you can still feel the heat. I always use a thin layer of socks, then put the hotpad and then a thicker layer of socks to keep the heat. This particular brand is good because the pads are quite small, but provide just the right amount of heat to avoid feeling scorched, but also to provide a heat source.
Also, useful if you get a puncture in freezing weather and have to take off your gloves to mend a puncture.
I will use them in some early season races. I’d rather have the extra weight than toes going cold and cramping for lack of blood.
Alternatives to Hotpads.
I have tried the re-usuable hotpads. You can re-energise them in hotwater or microwave – depending on the model. However, these tend to be bigger, and much more difficult to get into a pair of cycling shoes. Also, I find they may only last for one or two hours.
My philosophy is that winter cycling is tough enough. I always try to do anything to make the ride more comfortable, enjoyable. Hot pads are my saviour for winter riding. If you have very good blood circulation, you may not need them unless it goes below freezing. But, if you do suffer from cold hands and cold feet, definitely give these a try, buy a box – forget about the cost. And then you have one less excuse for not going out in winter!
The Scicon Aerocomfort bike bag is a soft case bag for transporting a bike. It is unusually wide at one end to minimise the amount of bike dismantling required. Although it is a soft case, it is reasonably well padded.
I spent a long time trying work out the best bag to buy. In the end I went for this. I recently used on a trip to Sicily.