Suddenly the tarmac ends. Gravel pings from beneath tyres. The white limestone paste is kicked up by wheels; hitting shins, feet and back-side. Your grip tightens on the hoods; riders swerve around potholes and large stones in front.
Benvenuto a Strade Bianche…
In the weeks before an event I often find myself scanning the local weather forecast; trying to decide on kit, and crossing my fingers for good weather.
The forecast for the historic Italian city of Siena seemed to deteriorate every time I checked it though; starting with 'occasional rain showers', it evolved into 'thunderstorms and heavy rain' by the day before the event.
Welcome to Flanders, in Tuscany. This was going to be a true 'Spring Classic'.
After watching Elisa Longo Borghini solo to victory for Wiggle High5 on the Saturday, and then standing on the finish line for the men's race a few hours later, I gained an idea of what was to come… there would be no dust on…
The Isle of Wight offers a lot for a road cyclist. Not only is it blessed with being the sunniest place in Britain (always a good start), it also holds one of the most varied and versatile mixture of roads of perhaps anywhere in the UK. Whether you're looking for a challenging hilly route, with 25% gradients and swooping descents; or you're planning a gentle spin on traffic-free riverside cycle paths - you'll find both in these 235 square miles.
I have been riding a road bike on the Island (amongst many other places) for the last ten years, and in that time I reckon I've covered pretty much every road on offer. I can't say that I've ever once grown tired of the area though - there really are a huge variety of routes to choose from; whilst the constantly changing coastal landscape offers a superb backdrop to any ride.
In the last five years or so, road cycling has really taken off on the Isle of Wight. The Island now hosts several sportive events, as well as th…
Flapjacks are a staple of many cyclists' diets. The fact that my High Energy Flapjack Recipe is one of the most viewed blog posts every month without fail, confirms that.
How can you create variations of the oat-based favourite though; to add in greater variety and interest?
This recipe is for a different kind of oat bar - held together with banana, eggs and coconut oil; rather than the traditional flapjack honey/syrup and butter.
I'm not going to claim that it's 'healthier' or 'better'; but it is a great alternative. The less 'crumbly' nature of the bars also means they are ideal for jersey pockets.
Ingredients2 medium bananas1 large egg1 cup rolled oats½ cup wholemeal flour¼ cup coconut oil¼ cup dark brown sugar1 tbsp peanut butter (I'm a big fan of Pip and Nut at the moment)1 tsp vanilla essence½ tsp baking powder¼ tsp salt1 cup of your flavouring of choice: choc chips, chopped dates, raisins, etc.
Your choice of tent for bikepacking or bike touring makes a notable difference to comfort and speed, both on and off the bike. Go too big, and you'll be carrying extra weight. Go too small, and you might struggle to get a good night's sleep.
The Vaude Power Lizard SUL 1-2P Tent looks to be the perfect size for the solo cycle tourer.
A spacious one-man tent
The Vaude Power Lizard SUL 1-2P is branded (as the name suggests) as a large one-man tent, or a small two-man tent. I have heard of people using it for both, and the footprint of the internal area is similar to other super-light 2 person tents from brands like Nordisk and Telemark.
For me though, the tent is the ideal size for comfortable solo bike touring or hiking; and that is what I have used it for to date. Weighing in at 1,100 grams (including pegs), it is minimal in weight; and it has a tiny pack size (34 x 12 centimetres).
Small enough and light enough not to be a burden to a solo explorer, it has enough room inside…
London based Spoke is a brand that has, and deserves, a great following. Despite their name resonating very strongly with the cycling world, it relates in truth to the "bespoke" nature of their products. That said, their beautifully tailored trousers are something that any cyclist will appreciate, and the new "Flex" model in particular, due to the subtle stretch in the fabric and the contoured fit.
Cyclists often have "difficult" physiques. We're an odd bunch anyway, but due to the nature of our sport, we can have everything from the bulging legs of a sprinter, to the thin and spindly legs of a climber. In short, it's often difficult to find clothes (particularly trousers) that fit well.
Perhaps I'm getting fussier, perhaps having tested a lot of well-fitted cycling kit, I'm just learning that a great fit can exist. Either way, the idea of a smart, reasonably priced pair of trousers, which actually fitted well, sounded like a pipe-dream. …