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Showing posts from July, 2015

Review: POC Octal Raceday Helmet and Octal Aero Helmet

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Last week, I reviewed the POC Do Blade AVIP Sunglasses, and was pretty taken with them. They might have outlandish looks, but their performance proved to be second to none. The unique style really grew on me too. This week, I'm turning my attention to the Swedish brand's road helmet line-up, having been testing out the Octal Raceday and Octal Aero helmets.

The POC helmets made a slightly delayed entry into the World Tour peloton ranks, compared to the POC eyewear range. Ryder Hesjedal was wearing POC glasses in 2013; then by 2014, the whole of his Team Garmin-Sharp squad had donned the distinctive helmet design; now, most are sporting the full POC combo within the team.

POC turned the drawing board upside down with the Octal helmet, much as they did with the Do Blade sunglasses. They decided that they would make a helmet which had a superb safety rating, whilst still being incredibly light and well vented. To do this, they threw normal styles aside; creating a helmet that loo…

L'Etapé du Tour 2015 - The Mountains Were Calling...

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My eyes flit open from a light nap/food-induced coma, to the sight of three things that make me incredibly happy: mountains, smooth tarmac roads and a fast flowing glacial river valley… and more mountains!

Having spent the last 24 hours in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Annecy, including a brief spin around the picturesque lake, we’re now heading deep into the Alps on our transfer vehicle. I'm with Team Le Coq Sportif, and we are making our way to La Toussuire and the start of the 2015 L'Etapé du Tour.

It's been too long since I've been in the Alps. I'm not sure exactly, but I think the last time I rode a bike here was during our mammoth 2011 France and Spain Tour. I've missed it. I hadn't realised how much I've missed it. When Le Coq Sportif asked if I'd like to join them for this year's Etapé, I jumped at the chance; not only would it involve a trip to the Alps, it would also tick an event off my ever growing Bucket List. Let’s get climb…

Alpine Adventure - L'Etapé du Tour 2015

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This time next week, I should be kicking back with a chilled drink; taking in the Alpine air and preparing myself for a big day in the saddle. It's time for L'Etapé du Tour 2015!

So far this year, my big rides have consisted of riding around the perimeter of Mallorca, during the Mallorca312 challenge; as well as riding around the island of Jersey, during the Natwest Island Games. So, I figure now it's about time to ride over (not around) some mountains. I reckon the route of this year's Etapé should accomplish that...

The Route This year, the L'Etapé du Tour follows the route of Stage 19 of the Tour de France. Set deep in the Alps, it has afforded itself the label of "The Queen's Stage" of this year's Tour, and there is little doubt that it will be instrumental in deciding who arrives in Paris in the Maillot Jaune.

The route might only be 138km long, but packed into that distance is more climbing than any other stage during Le Tour. The ascents o…

Review: POC Do Blade AVIP Sunglasses

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Often it is the most outlandish products that turn out to be the best. It's the wacky, innovative and interesting ideas that set new standards. You only have to consider products like the iPod, to prove the point; or of those that I've reviewed on the blog, perhaps the Aftershokz Bone Conduction Headphones.

POC is somewhat of an outlandish brand. An innovative Swedish company, which wants to improve the comfort, safety and performance of sports people, in equal measure. In making those steps, they haven't been afraid to push fashion trends as well; coming up with some alternative new looks and designs.

POC sunglasses made their first appearance in the pro cycling ranks, when Canadian Ryder Hesjedal donned a pair in the 2013 season. They got a bit of a 'Marmite' reception from most onlookers, but the foundations of their fan base were firmly laid.

The big lens profiles and strong bloc colours have expanded into a range of POC casual and sports sunglasses, and the A…

Jersey 2015 - Island Games Part 2 - Road Crit and Wrap Up

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After a scorching road race on Tuesday morning, we had a chilled day on Wednesday and spent the time cleaning bikes, having lunch out, and trying to rest the legs before the town centre criterium on Wednesday evening.

I decided to sit out of the mountain bike criterium on Tuesday night, in a bid to try and get some feeling back into my shredded legs and core. It was a good call for me, to be honest; because watching Adam, Stu and Sean take part in the incredibly testing obstacle course didn’t leave me yearning to be racing in it. As mentioned in the previous post, my MTB bike handling skills are still in need of some work!

Road Town Centre Criterium  Thursday rolled around quickly, and despite a pulled hamstring, I was feeling in decent shape for the criterium. The lapped circuit around St. Helier was set to be an incredible spectacle, and the crowd support was superb.

We lined up in the 50 deep field, and waited for the flag to drop…

The race went from the gun. Neither Sam, James on…

Jersey 2015 - Island Games Part 1 - XC and Road Race

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Life In The Saddle is always more exciting when it is composed of a series of challenges.

Challenge yourself, and you’re able to push yourself further, ride faster and reach new boundaries in the process.

The Jersey 2015 Natwest Island Games was always set to be a challenge. I knew it would be hard to cross-discipline between the mountain bike and road. I knew the standard would be incredibly high: including national and commonwealth champions in both fields. I also suspected that the terrain and courses, for both the mountain biking and road riding, would be pretty brutal.

Now, half-way through The Games, I can pretty definitely say that my predictions were correct. It’s been a tough (but very enjoyable) week so far, and it’s not over yet…


XC Cross Country Race  Cross country racing demands a unique blend of technical skill, fitness and bike handling. I have a huge amount of respect for XC racers as a result,  and they really are a special breed. Back in 2011, at my last Island Game…