Product Review – Shapeheart Magnetic Bike Mount Phone Holder

If you’re just starting out, a phone holder makes a lot of sense. Using technology that you already own to track rides and add a bit of navigation. 

If you have a dedicated GPS cycling device like a Garmin/Wahoo then you’ll still be taking your phone, just in a pocket for emergencies and probably photos. 

The design of the Shapeheart actually suits both of these markets quite well. Housing the phone in a protective wallet means it can be used on the bike and also to protect a phone in a jersey pocket.  

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Child bike seats and trailers, which is best? A cyclist’s guide to parenting part 2

Summary

The most exciting moment as a parent has to be sharing your passions with your children. Getting a child onto your bike for even just a short slow ride is a standout moment in the relentlessness of wiping bottoms and removing crayon from your freshly painted walls. 

You will reach this monumental milestone somewhere around 9 months to a year old, on a day that it is actually warm and sunny. There is a lot of pressure on the first time going well, one bad experience may take months to forget. So cold and wet should be avoided until cycling is established.  

You have three main child seat options for getting a child on a bike, and they all have advantages and disadvantages: The trailer, the seat behind you and the seat between your legs, we’ll look at these in detail in this post, but first here are the basics. 

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Essential French Phrases for Cyclists + 10 Tips for Free Language Learning

France has an obvious appeal for cyclists

My first foreign cycling trip was also my first completely solo adventure. Cycling onto the Dover to Calais ferry early one morning and heading across France, over the Swiss alps and onwards to Venice in Italy. It was both incredibly exciting and scary as hell. Not least because I barely spoke any French or Italian. I could order a croissant or beer, say please/thank you and apologise for being English, that seemed like the absolute basics I would need – until inevitably I got a bit stuck.

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Cycling 90km at only 2 years old

If COVID lockdowns have taught me anything, it’s that you can have an adventure anywhere, even familiar places. Many people chose to run every street in their town, or camped in their garden/different rooms in their house to make the situation seem more adventurous and exciting. Many of us have been pleasantly surprised with what we have discovered. So as my daughter begins to ride her balance bike and we continue to cycle together as a family, we feel that a challenge might be the catalyst to spark a sense of adventure and exploration together.

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A cyclists guide to parenting – Part 1

The short answer is yes, the long answer is that you need to adapt to get the best of both worlds.

Will becoming a parent ( Mum / Dad ) affect my cycling?

How tired do you have to be not to notice the big shiny (literally) 700 lumen light has fallen off your handlebars? Where’s my brand new gilet? I distinctly remember putting it in my pocket this morning. Both of them lost on the 10 mile cycling commute to work that’s been keeping me sane through the first few months of parenting. It’s been an expensive morning replacing them, but lack of sleep can be brutal and right now I’m too tired to care.

When we were thinking about having a child our thought process went something like this: “We’ve got loads of energy, you’ve just run a couple of marathons, and I can cycle hundreds of miles! We’ve got stamina, we’ll find parenting easy! How hard can it be?” 

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Creative cycling – Exclusive designs by, erm… me.

Rouleur T-Shirt Designed by me, available from RedBubble

So as I write this we’re in lockdown in England. Government advice has been to exercise outside once a day, which I have saved for taking my daughter out for a walk (or roll around on the bikes) to get her to sleep as she’s only a year old. So my main cycling has been on a turbo trainer, getting sweaty in the garage in front of Youtube. So nothing interesting to write about actual cycling wise. Being a designer I have used my time to do something creative however, and as this is my blog and I make the rules I thought it appropriate to do a bit of shameless self-promotion on it.

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5 Ferries Challenge Route – Scotland

“Are you sure you want to wild camp?” I said, “because after a day in the saddle a shower and a supply of drinking water is quite a nice thing to have”. 

“I want to wild camp, this is supposed to be an adventure” said Sarah, my wife.  

Everyone has a different focus for a cycling trip. It may be distance, it may be about height gained or epic mountain passes. It may simply be about taking the time to immerse yourself in the landscape and the solitude of being out in it. Watching the sun set and rise and taking time to be out there away from all the home comforts and distractions, instead of rushing to get going all the time. I’ll admit it, I have a tendency to put big miles into my cycle touring days, and can sometimes feel pressured to get the miles in. So this was going to be a very different experience for me. 

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The Fred Whitton Challenge

30% is no joke at 90 miles in. Photo by Steve Flemming

I should have known this guy had gone too deep too soon. He was aero-tucking at 20mph on the flat and riding on his top tube like he’s Chris Froome. His ambition must have got the better of him. He seems to be looking for any aero gain he can to make it round easily, but we’re only 20ish miles in and haven’t hit a serious climb yet. I see signs for the A66 and turn to see Morgan just behind me, a guy I’ve been riding with on and off for most of the way so far. “Yes! We’ve got a group!” I say as Captain Aero, myself and Morgan set off down the A66. I take the front and do my turn. Captain Aero takes over and goes all out to impress somebody. I’m not even pedalling and I’m cruising at 40mph on Captain Aero’s wheel, awesome stuff! He pulls to the side of the road and disappears never to be seen again. I presume he’s still trying to aero-tuck his way up Honister pass?   Continue reading

Not all borders are open to tourists…

Climbing out of Risan above the bay of Kotor, Montenegro

I was up and out at sun rise, leaving the rented apartment in Dubrovnik (Croatia) and the relaxed holiday atmosphere for a slightly ambitious adventure. My wife had flow out to the start of my bike tour and rented an apartment, making this first day of cycling luggage free, before setting off for real (and fully loaded) tomorrow. We’d made dinner reservations for the evening to make the most of us both being in Croatia, all I had to do was make it back in time. Continue reading

Pearl Izumi PI DRY – First Look + Video

I’ve managed to get my hands on, or rather my “legs in” some of the Pearl Izumi PI DRY fabric. The fabric has every single strand coated with a water repellent coating before weaving into the fabric. So the theory is that the garment can be fully breathable (as breathable as standard dry weather fabrics) whilst providing water protection, avoiding that clammy feeling of waterproof clothing and keeping the rider warm and comfortable. Continue reading

Book Review – The Cyclist’s Tale – Kevin R. Haylett

I like short stories, and I like cycling, so we’re off to a good start. I’m busy, so my reading time is snatched moments of self-indulgence amongst the endless list of things I’m supposed to be doing. So to read a whole story in these moments suits me just fine. A short story should be a simple point; something funny, witty inspiring or thought provoking. I first read this book two months ago and I can honestly say I can remember every story. They’ve stayed with me and that says something really doesn’t it?  Continue reading

Turbine – Sports Breathing Technology – Review

I’ve been testing out Turbine, a breathing assistance device, over the past few months. You may have seen some bloke on the telly using it over the past few years, Froome or something. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He won a yellow jumper or something. Or perhaps like me you just though he had his nose pierced and wore a ring in it? Anyway, that’s a pretty big endorsement. So whatever I say about it you’re already intrigued right?  Continue reading

The Dragon Ride – Dragon Devil Route – 305km

The Dragon Devil route is a long and hilly day in the saddle. And when I say day, I mean all day!

For me a cycling event is not a “challenge” unless I’m unsure if I can actually finish it, that’s the point of a challenge right? It has to be personally challenging. Many sportives pick a route of similar length to a cycling club’s Sunday ride and give you a medal at the end. Now to many that is a challenge (everybody is different, lets not get elitist here) but I have enough confidence in my abilities to know that I could finish an 80 or 100mile (160km) route even if it has a lot of climbing. The Dragon Ride offered something I found truly challenging, the longest single day route; the Dragon Devil offering  189 miles (305km) with something like 4000m of climbing. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounded pretty daunting. That would be one sportive medal I would be proud to earn.

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Ventoux – The Play – Review – 2 Magpies Theatre

 It’s glorious sunshine outside, with temperatures above 20°C. It’s a beautiful evening for a ride, but I booked the tickets to this a month ago, I’d better go and sit in a dark theatre.  Ventoux by 2 Magpies Theatre, a play about stage 12 of the Tour de France in the year 2000. Where Marco Pantani comes back to cycling to challenge Armstrong after Armstrong’s first Tour de France win, a win that many thought was a fluke; a fluke because there were no previous grand tour winners to compete against. Continue reading

White Peak – Peak District – My New Favourite Cycling Route

Beautiful road descending into Glutten Bridge

This is probably my favourite ride, not just in the Peak District, but probably in England. I like to think of it as a ride through the quiet back roads of the White Peak, the mainly Limestone valleys of the South and West of the National Park. I love a single track road with grass growing out of the middle, I love the deserted lanes where Sheep and Ramblers are the main traffic problem. In one of the most visited National Parks in the UK it is still possible to feel in the middle of nowhere and do some pretty amazing riding too.  Continue reading

Is PI Dry the holy grail of cycling kit?

Even inside out the PI Dry fabric repels water

Waterproof and breathable, the holy grail of outdoor sports clothing. It’s something that’s claimed when marketing most technical clothing, but it’s always a trade off between the two. Just how breathable or how waterproof do things need to be to be classified as just that? What we really want is something that’s as waterproof as a hardshell jacket, and as breathable as a normal cycling top. But that’s just fantasy right? Well maybe not anymore… Continue reading