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Showing posts from April, 2013

Ride Stats: April 2013

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April hasn't been a great month for me; I was off the bike for two and a half weeks at the start with a persistent throat infection and sickness. Just two races in April, and two race results that I wasn't overly satisfied with (probably related to the lack of miles and proper training that I've been able to do due to illness).Hoping that May and June will be better months. Next race is on the 9th June, got to get my Finals done first before I can start concentrating on racing again.

Race Report: Loughborough Support Road Race - Frustrating...

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I travelled to Loughborough this morning to take part in a 54 mile road race run by Loughborough Uni on the same course as the BUCS road race that I competed in last year. This was a Cat 2.3.4. race, whilst the BUCS race was an E.1.2.3. BUCS last year was only my second road race ever, and I was pleased to finish it (only 24 of the 80 starters did!), but with this race being on a circuit that suited me, with a less high-level field, and with a years extra experience, I was hoping for a half decent result. Unfortunately a few things weren't in my favour...

The course comprises of five laps of a fairly exposed and rolling circuit; finishing each lap with an ascent of Harby hill; a long climb that ramps up to a 16 percent gradient at the end. To be honest, it is a very similar circuit to the Milland Hill RR I did a month ago... Tough! Today there was a strong headwind on one side of the box shaped course as well; which further added to the attrition rate (only around 30 of the 80 st…

Hints and Tips: Maintenance: Choosing Your Chainlube

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There are a lot of different chain lubes out there; wet lube, dry lube, wax... the list goes on. In this post I look at four different lubes from Weldtite that I use on my bikes, and explain when is the best time to use each one, and what the benefits of each are.


Firstly though, a little bit of advice on how to apply chain lube...

The first step is to make sure your chain is thoroughly dry, and there is no water left on it or inside it. Pro bike mechanics often use their air compressors to dry the chain, but for most of us that is not a luxury we have to hand; a clean rag coated in some water displacer such as TF2 Aerosol Lubricant is just as effective if you wipe the chain over with it.

Chain lube should then be applied to the INSIDE of the chain, this way the centrifugal forces of the chain moving round mean the lubricant is moved through the chain to the outside as you pedal (rather than being sprayed off the chain if you put it on the outside). To apply chain lube properly you s…

Review: BaileyWorks Digital Super Pro Messenger Bag

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The tag line of the BaileyWorks Super Pro Messenger Bag is "Built for Life In The Saddle". Perfect!

BaileyWorks is a US brand, making hand-made bags with quality materials and expert knowledge for 20 years. The Super Pro comes from their Professional range; designed to deal with the rigours of intense everyday use, this is a pack built to last. The Digital Super Pro is an evolution of the Super Pro bag; with a padded laptop sleeve and a shoulder pouch for your smart phone, making it ideal for commuting to the office or university.

The Digital Super Pro feels like a quality bag the moment you pick it up; the hand-made detailing is clear, there is no stitch unchecked, and no material that isn't the highest standard.

The outer shell is made of Cordura, the same fabric found on motorbike skid wear (it's damn tough). The inner is made of Coverlight, a fully waterproof tarpaulin type fabric that ensures water doesn't get into your kit even in the torrential British down…

Review: Arkel Waterproof Saddle Bag

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When you go touring you soon realise that quality kit is a real asset. You put your bike, your apparel and your accessories through many hours and miles of continuous service, and you need them to perform well every moment. On my 2011 France and Spain tour a better saddle bag was one thing that I found myself longing for; something with a higher capacity, and more importantly waterproofing... soggy tools are never a good idea.

I started doing a bit of research into high quality touring kit and came across Arkel; a Canadian based brand who are renowned for their products the "other side of the pond". Interested to see the quality of their kit first hand I decided that their saddle bag was a great place to start.

Whoever designed the Arkel Waterproof Saddle Bag had an incredible ability to think outside the box; this really is one of the most innovative and practical products that I have come across...

Using technology that has been around for years in waterproof bags, the Arke…

Published: Issue 3 of Spin Cycle Mag - 'Wiggo's World'

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In my second article for Spin Cycle Magazine I talk about the tactics and emotions of the peloton.
The full issue can be downloaded for FREE at www.spincyclemag.com

Review: Phew Cycling Arm Warmers

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Phew CC are an interesting new UK brand producing some cool and distinctive products. A few weeks ago I reviewed their Early Winter Gloves and was thoroughly impressed by the quality and value of the long finger springtime gloves.

With the weather warming up a bit I've also been putting a pair of their classy arm warmers to the test, and they've been performing well.

These arm warmers have been designed to overcome many of the faults that people often find with warmers... They are longer to overcome the problem of 'the uncomfortable gap', they are closer fitting than most arm warmers so don't slip down, and they look pretty cool too with their classy detailing.

The warmers are slightly thinner than other warmers I have tested, however, this is no bad thing; the super-Roubaix lycra's soft lining and close fitting cut mean they seem to keep you just as warm. The thinner cut also means that they are more flexible and less bulky when you want to take them off and s…

Review: Santini 365 Transparent Jacket

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Start road racing in the UK Springtime, you soon realise that a clear race cape is a vital piece of clothing to have in your kit bag. Spring time downpours and low temperatures are a dangerous mix, and as you need to show your team colours and the race number pinned to your jersey when you race, an opaque rain jacket is not an option.


The 365 Transparent Rain Jacket from Santini is a great race cape; comfortable, close fitting and made to a high standard. With the inclement weather that has been hitting the UK over the last few weeks I've been putting it through its paces...

The jacket is made of the breathable, wind-proof and water-resistant Windtex fabric that is often found on winter jackets. Compared to cheaper race capes that feel rather like a plastic bag, the Windtex fabric makes the 365 jacket feel like a quality and far nicer piece of kit.

The fabric performs admirably out on the road as well; when you start to put the effort in the jacket gives an impressive amount of b…

Review: Café du Cycliste Yolande Long Sleeve Jersey

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Café du Cycliste is a French brand based in the Côte d'Azur; their performance range comprises an extremely high quality selection of cycling apparel with a unique and classic style.

The Yolande is the long sleeve jersey in the performance range; made of merino Tecnowool, it is designed to keep you in comfort through the autumn, winter and spring months of riding.


Attention to detail in design The thing that strikes you about the Cafe du Cycliste Yolande is the attention to detail; this has to be one of the most carefully thought-out pieces of clothing around.

Let's start at the top...

The collar has a classy button-up tab, for added warmth; it also has reflective detailing on the back of the neck, and even a headphone clip for those that ride with music.The shoulders of the jersey have quilted padding; for extra protection and durability. The full-length front zipper has a suede baffle, for keeping out the chill. This latter feature is complemented by the classic suede elbow p…

Race Report: Mountbatten DNF

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If you live in the South of England and looked out the window yesterday evening, you'd probably think that that you would be mad to get on a bike and race. Thinking of getting on a bike and racing in that weather when you didn't feel 100% was another kind of mad... idiotic might be a better word.

Anyway that's what I did last night at Portsmouth Mountbatten Track. I rode to the ferry, not feeling great. I got on the ferry soaked. I got even more soaked cycling to the track, then I sat around in the track room wondering what I was doing and thinking that I probably shouldn't race as I didn't feel great.

But I did... and unsurprisingly felt like a bag of spanners. There was nothing there. No power. No strength. Just a high heart rate and a disturbing amount of vomit in my mouth. My legs were like blocks of lead. I haven't been feeling great for a few days; with an eye infection and a sore chest, I didn't feel particularly ill, just drained like my body was tr…

Weekend Watch: Milan-San Remo Tribute by Vittoria

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Review: Bagaboo Custom Workhorse Messenger Bag

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To say that my Bagaboo Messenger Bag makes me smile whenever I wear it, is probably a good place to start this review...

Bagaboo is a Hungarian brand, which can be bought direct from the manufacturer at Bagaboo.hu or from select UK distributors. It makes both fully prepared off-the-shelf bags; including messenger bags, rucksacks and shoulder bags; but more excitingly it also makes fully customizable bags which can be tailored in almost every aspect to your desired specification.

Firstly, the looks... I chose the internal tarpaulin, Cordura outer and trim to match my team colours; dark blue and yellow. I reckon it is a pretty damn good looking pack; fitting in well when I go to events, whilst also being a practical and classy colour scheme.

Second I customized a few other features; I had additional reflective strips added (see the large photo below), Airflow back padding for added comfort and I had an internal zippered pocket added for valuables.
You can take the customisation even fu…

Review: OKO Tyre Sealant and Tubes

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Tyre sealant always brings an interesting debate among cyclists; some love it, some not so much. In my mind, if it helps to overcome punctures, it is a welcome addition to any tyre on a training or commuting bike, where a bit of weight addition is no bad thing. 
In addition, for mountain bikers, tubeless tyres are making a real impact. I run tubeless on my Whippet and it is such a great set-up; eliminating pinch flats, and pretty much eliminating normal punctures too. One of the keys to a good tubeless set-up is the sealant. 
OKO know a thing or two about tyre sealant; in fact they were the inventors of tyre sealant way back in 1978. In the last couple of years they have made a push into the bicycle segment and with some great new products. Most people that run sealant in their tyres have heard of Stan's or Slime; OKO has advantages over both of these that I discuss below. I've had the OKO Puncture-Free and X-treme Sealants on test on all four of my bikes over the last month,…

Review: Torm Cycling B1 Base Layer and Arm Warmers

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Torm Cycling is a small Kent based company that produces some very high quality garments using SmartWool technology. Their products adopt a classic look and style, much like (dare I say it) Rapha; yet Torm Cycling has retained the much needed focus on making their products affordable, as well as comfortable and high-performing. As a result their range stands out as a great value, British-made offering, with some stunning pieces of apparel for all seasons.

With Spring upon us, a good base layer and a set of arm-warmers are two vital pieces of kit to add to your arsenal. They will provide you with comfort, warmth and adaptability to the changing seasons and temperatures. Over the last month I have been testing out the B1 Base Layer and Arm Warmers from Torm Cycling, and have been incredibly pleased with the products.

The B1 Base Layer
The B1 Base Layer uses Torm's signature SmartWool technology; a 60:40 mix of merino wool and polyester. The material is designed to offer warmth, whil…

Review: Solo Cycle Clothing

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Solo is a New Zealand based brand, available in the UK direct from Solocc.com or from select retailers. Their range of high quality jerseys, shorts, jackets and accessories is beautifully designed and made; over the last month I've been testing out a few of their products in the UK "Spring" weather, and have been very taken with the designs and quality.

The Solo Retro-Tech Winter Jersey The Winter Jersey from Solo is designed to be a versatile, warm and luxurious top. It certainly fits those criteria well; made of a close fitting, fleece backed thermal fabric it is beautifully warm, and has been my top of choice on many occasions this spring.
The jersey's 'Retro' label alludes to the subtle classy touches on the jersey; the striped track-top style collar and cuffs, and the red zip baffle. The close fitting silhouette is perfectly tailored to a cyclist's physique, and the stretchy fabric means it is comfortable even when pushing it hard.
The design details…

Review: BikeParka Bicycle Cover

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A bike cover is a useful piece of kit for commuters and tourers; keeping your bike dry and clean will avoid component damage, keep your saddle dry and hide your bike away from prying eyes.

On my touring trip to France and Spain a bike cover would have been a useful addition to my pannier bags. Although we were lucky with avoiding rain showers for the majority of the trip, early morning mountain dew and even the slightest bit of rain during the night soon ingresses into components and encourages rust and damage.

This lightweight bike cover from BikeParka is an ideal solution. It comes in a neat stuff sack that has Velcro straps so you can secure it to the frame for easy transportation. Fitting it over the bike is simple and quick; with an elasticated bottom and a drawstring on the top ensuring a secure fit.

The model I have been testing is the Urban model; which has a neat Velcro opening near the bottom bracket, allowing you to put a lock through the bike cover; a great idea for commu…

Review: Weldtite TF2 Lithium Grease and PURE Grease

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How much can you say about grease? If it works it stays put in your bearings, it continues to lubricate moving parts even when blasted with water and grit, and it keeps water out of vital components to ensure that your machine carries on running smoothly.
I've had these two grease products on review from Weldtite: The TF2 Lithium Grease and the PURE Grease. Both seem to be very effective and tick all the categories listed above.
The Pure Grease is made from sustainable ingredients from natural and renewable sources - Eco-friendly! Cyclists of all people should know the importance of protecting the environment that we ride in, so making that little effort with the maintenance products you buy is a good step.
Putting them to use... I've serviced various parts in my winter training bike with both these greases over the last month, and I've been very satisfied with how they've performed. The PURE Grease is a bit more liquid, ideal for smearing on threads and to use as a w…

Review: CherryActive, BlueberryActive & BeetActive Juices

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CherryActive is a UK based brand, which started in 2005 to provide both sports people and the general public with the natural benefits of cherry juice. The anti-oxidant properties, melatonin content and anthocyanins found in cherries have been shown to benefit recovery for sports people; as well as being beneficial for joint care, sleep and protection from 'free radicals' which may contribute to cancer and heart disease.

The product comes in a concentrated juice, that can be added to water, yoghurt or smoothies. It provides a convenient and tasty way to get some natural goodness.

In the last year the company has grown their range to include BlueberryActive and BeetActive, two juices that are also renowned for their anti-oxidant properties and beneficial effects for athletes. I've sampled each of the three concentrates and they are a convenient and pretty yummy way to get your antioxidants.


The Benefits:
These are just a few of the natural benefits of these juice concentrates…

Review: Colomba Italian Tricolor Jersey

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Colomba is a small UK firm producing a select range of Sportwool products; a clever blend of 52% merino wool coupled with polyester fabrics to increase durability.

The short sleeved Italian Tricolor jersey is a beautifully made, heavy weight, short sleeve jersey; ideal to be coupled with arm warmers and a base layer for spring time riding.

The Tricolor jersey has a classic quality about it; the embroidered logo, heavy stitching and relatively relaxed cut make it look and feel like a jersey from a by-gone age. Yet its Sportwool construction gives you great comfort and climate control.

There are three deep rear pockets, and one smaller zipped pocket, with a classy hooped zip. These little touches make it something a bit different from the norm. The jersey really does have a retro feel to it, almost like you are back in the 1950s with Fausto Coppi riding alongside you; it's certainly a different class to the thin lycra jerseys that are found in the peloton today.

The Colomba Tricolo…

Ride Stats: March 2013

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Pretty happy with the numbers for March, worth explaining a few things:

The number of hours is lower than January and February as I have now started to move away from base mile training, towards shorter more specific sessions working on power and hill climbing.This also means that the number of miles is lower than January or FebruaryBecause I'm back on the Isle of Wight I've also been doing several off-road rides a week, which are lower mileage and have a lower average speed. This brings the average speed down compared to previous months when I have been using the mountain bike less.The thing that has made March a satisfying month more than these stats however, is the race results which can be seen in the tab at the top of the blog. I've got 31 points on my BC licence in the three races that I have done so far this year. This secures my second category licence and bodes well for a good summer of racing. Looking forward to it.