Victoria Bowskill

Victoria Bowskill

Featured

10 signs that you are most definitely a cyclist

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You look at the bike before the cyclist… After all, the groupset choice tells you all you need to know about a person, right?

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You would never even consider wearing underwear with your bib shorts and, frankly, can’t understand why anyone would even think that was weird.

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Slapping on a handful of chamois cream pre-ride is second nature and not remotely gross. Until a non-cyclist points out that it’s a pretty disgusting thing to do.

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Your tan lines are a badge of honour and you don’t feel a jot of embarrassment at having a torso, half thighs and biceps which are a markedly different colour from the rest of your body.

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When a non-cyclist suggests you keep your bikes in the shed, and you look at them as though they’ve suggested that you throw your children out on the street.

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The only time your neighbours see you is returning from a weekend ride, sweaty and Lycra-clad. You’re not sure they’d recognise you in your ‘normal’ clothes with a head of tidy hair and no helmet.

You have a sneaking suspicion that they think you are much fitter than you really are.

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You think nothing of getting up at 6am for a ride because the sun’s out, and a ride on a bright morning before the traffic builds up is worth so much more than a lie in…

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Your colleagues no longer ask how you what you did at the weekend: they already know what you were doing (and don’t really care about your new route/favourite cafe stop/how your new bar tape performed)

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Your regular socks cost £10 for 5 pairs, and that’s plenty, thank you. However, you don’t bat an eyelid at blowing £15 on a single pair of cycling socks in just the right shade to match your bidon and cap…

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When you drive up hills, you find yourself feeling cheated out of a climb. And when you drive down hills…. you feel even more cheated, and ponder just how fast you could descend on your bike…

Cycle ClothingFeaturedWomen's Cycling

The 10 coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017 – because sometimes we feel stealthy, too

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We all know Matt’s favourite colour is black. But as Coco Chanel said, black has it all – and it’s not only the boys who can embrace the dark side of cycling.

I imposed black; it is still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around – Coco Chanel

Here’s the Vamper.cc round up of the chicest, coolest, stealthiest black cycling jerseys of 2017. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments section if you think we’ve missed any good ones! (And if you’re a male cyclist in search of some cool black jerseys, check out Matt’s round up of the best black cycling jerseys for men.)

Isadore Women’s Echelon Jersey, €155

Coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

The minimalist design and aggressive cut of the Isadore Apparel Echelon jersey sends this one straight to the top of the leaderboard. Yes, the cyclist in orange looks fine. But her counterpart, in stealthy jet black, looks cool AF. We’ve worn a fair bit of Isadore cyclewear, and we’ve been super impressed by the quality. The Echelon jersey features Isadore’s Sanitized® technology to make the jersey bacteria- and odour-resistant (which sounds good to this sweaty girl!) It’s designed to be super durable so it should be worth the investment.

Pedal Mafia Women’s Cycling Tech Jersey, AUD $159

coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017
Some days, you just want an easy, stylish option that requires no thought about coordination. The Pedal Mafia Black Tech Jersey with its sharp white logo has a super clean feel to it.

And while it may be stealthy in colour, it features a reflective zip and centre panel which shines when light hits it. Stylish and safe.

Tenspeed Hero Women’s Race Fit Black Sprinkles Jersey, US $150

coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

Black and white is an utterly classic combo. Bright stars against a night sky; the timelessness of black and white photos; yin and yang.

This black and white kit from Ten Speed Hero is chic and functional – everything you could want. It has a sleek race cut with features sure to appeal to serious cyclists: special mesh side panels help keep you cool on summer days and help you feel fresh over the long haul. Reflective trim along the pockets adds a touch of shine to keep you safe when you’re cycling at night.

Le Col Women’s HC Jersey, £150
coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

The Hors Categorie jersey is Le Col’s premium jersey. Constructed from a new luxury technical fabric for 2017, Carezza Soft, it’s a high performance jersey with a luxury feel and finish. And if all black isn’t *quite* your thing, it has some cool camo design on the shoulders.

Morvelo Women’s Stealth Stormshield Rain Jersey, £105

coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

Morvelo’s StormShield Rain Jerseys weigh the same as their Superlight jerseys at just 137 grams, but also provide windblocking and waterproofing, which sounds good to us as autumn rapidly approaches. With elbow length sleeves and mesh underarm panels, they offer protection and breathability with great styling.

Milltag Sector Women’s Jersey, £90

coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

Sector is the Milltag premium race collection, and every product has been designed for racing. But that doesn’t mean you can’t wear it on your weekend cafè ride to look like the coolest kid on the block.

Arenberg Epica One Women’s Jersey EJ-1, US $185

coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

The Epica One Jersey may not be all black, but it’s mostly black. And, you know, sometimes a ‘pop’ of colour (as those annoying fashiony types like to say) is all it takes to lift your spirits.

Pas Normal Studios Women’s Mechanism Race Jersey, £147.44

coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

This is an awesome-looking race fit jersey. Lightweight with breathable side and back panels for low moisture absorption and quick drying, it’s functional as well as looking madly cool with its bold white lettering.

Velocio Signature Women’s Short Sleeve Jersey, £115

coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

The Velocio Signature Women’s Short Sleeve Jersey has been reconfigured with new denier gradient fabrics that enhance breathability and moisture wicking properties. It’s a gorgeous design with that subtle band of colour on the right sleeve and super fitted shape specifically for female cyclists. Very sharp indeed.

Figata Ciclismo Women’s Black Cycling Jersey, £43.30 (on sale)

coolest black cycling jerseys for women 2017

Super affordable and stylish to boot, this jersey from Danish cycling brand Figata Ciclismo is a nice piece of kit. We reviewed the brand’s pink and black kit earlier this year.

FeaturedWomen's Cycling

The Vamper.cc top ten list of women’s cycling quotes

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At Vamper.cc we love a good inspirational quote: we are pretty sure it is genetic, passed down in Victoria’s DNA by her father, a great lover of a motivational phrase.

Here we bring you our top ten favourite quotes from women cyclists:

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Running would be much better if they invented a little seat to sit on and maybe some kind of platforms for your feet to push and… Oh wait.”

– Liz Hatch

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 The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.

– Ann Strong

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The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.

– Iris Murdoch

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It (cycling) really is all about believing in yourself: 80 per cent mental, 20 per cent physical.

– Victoria Pendleton

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Embrace your sweat. It is your essence and your emancipation.

– Kristin Armstrong

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I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning wheel we must all learn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair. That which made me succeed with the bicycle was precisely what had gained me a measure of success in life — it was the hardihood of spirit that led me to begin, the persistence of will that held me to my task, and the patience that was willing to begin again when the last stroke had failed. And so I found high moral uses in the bicycle and can commend it as a teacher without pulpit or creed. She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life.

– Frances E. Willard

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I’ll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.

– Susan B. Anthony

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The only thing that I can do – and the only thing that I’ve always done – is to ride my bike fast and get my head down and control the things I can control.

– Lizzie Deignan, née Armitstead

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You know, bicycling isn’t just a matter of balance,” I said. “it’s a matter of faith. You can keep upright only by moving forward. You have to have your eyes on the goal, not the ground. I’m going to call that the Bicyclist’s Philosophy of Life.

– Susan Vreeland

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(The bicycle) makes me independent in a way no other form of transport can – it needs no fuel, no documents and very little maintenance. Most importantly it goes along at the right speed for seeing everything, and as it doesn’t cut me off from my surroundings, it makes me a lot of friends.

– Bettina Selby
FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

Jasmijn Muller to attempt LEJOG solo women’s record – and 1,000 mile cycling record

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Photo credit: Le Col

LEJOG is a well known cycle touring challenge covering the length of Great Britain from Land’s End to John O’Groats. It’s a fair challenge – I daresay plenty of us would think twice before riding the standard challenge over nine days.

But we would think more than twice before riding the length of the country in a little over 2 days. Indeed, the prospect of that challenge would seem more like an impossible feat rather than an achievable challenge.

It’s a good thing there are women like Jasmijn Muller in the world, who will seize such a challenge with both hands.

We spent Bank Holiday Monday meeting Jasmijn and listening to her story. It left us awestruck.

Jasmijn Muller LEJOG

In 1954, Eileen Sheridan set a LEJOG record of 2 days, 11 hours and 7 minutes – a challenge which stood for decades. In 2013, Jasmijn heard Eileen speak about her record at an event in South West London – an encounter which inspired her tremendously.

Listen to Jasmijn talk about why she is embarking on this challenge:

Since that encounter, a signed picture of Eileen has been positioned on the wall above Jasmijn’s turbo trainer to inspire her to train hard and achieve her own long distance cycling goals.

the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It’s about what you’re made of, not the circumstances

Jasmijn hopes to break the current solo women’s record for LEJOG of 52 hours and 45 minutes, set by Lynne Biddulph in 2002. That record has stood unchallenged since 2002, but Jasmijn believes that she can break it – and while she’s at it, she intends to keep cycling for the 1,000 mile record which currently stands at 64 hours and 38 minutes. It’s safe to say that regardless of whether Jasmijn succeeds in breaking the record, it will be a phenomenal endurance feat. I can’t imagine even staying awake for 64 hours – never mind cycling for that length of time.

Jasmijn Muller LEJOG
Image courtesy of Le Col, Jasmijn’s clothing partner for her LEJOG record challenge

My biggest question for Jasmijn was about the physical implications of such a challenge – specifically, is it a case of powering through the pain, or are there steps to take to avoid it in the first place? On a 1,000 mile ride all I can think is that the saddle pain would be unbearable. You can here what Jasmijn had to say about pain and the prevention and treatment of saddle sores here:

Jasmijn’s LEJOG/1000 mile ultra endurance challenge will take place in September, though the starting date is a movable feast which is dependent on the weather. To break the LEJOG solo record, Jasmijn will have to keep going like the famous Duracell Bunny she references in her blog, duracellbunnyonabike. It is a challenge of physical and mental power and endurance, and it is also a challenge which relies on meticulous planning and execution by her whole support crew if she is to succeed.

There are a few ways to get involved if you want to support Jasmijn in this amazing challenge. One way is to buy one of the official LEJOG record caps: emblazoned on the peak is the message, ‘BE THE EGG’, Jasmijn’s mantra when the going gets tough: “the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It’s about what you’re made of, not the circumstances”. Jasmijn would be thrilled to see these caps along the LEJOG route and the proceeds from cap sales will help to finance the record attempt. All surplus will go to Cancer Research UK.

Jasmijn Muller LEJOGYou can also donate to Cancer Research through Jasmijn’s Just Giving page.

You can follow Jasmijn’s preparations through her blogFacebook page and her dedicated LEJOG Record website. During the LEJOG record attempt, you will be able to follow her progress 24 hours a day through live tracking software. Followmychallenge will be showing Jasmijn’s progress on a map, including elapsed time and distance, weather data and her performance against the existing record. Check back here, too, for our updates.

Jasmijn’s top tips for avoiding saddle sores:

Even if you are using your favourite chamois cream, your favourite bibshorts and your favourite saddle – and even if they have all been comfortable in the past – it’s no guarantee that you’ll stay comfortable.

  1. Don’t be tempted to shave. Some people are ok waxing, but you are probably better off leaving things natural and avoiding any chance of follicles getting infected;
  2. Try using an antiperspirant roll-on in the week before a big ride to help prepare the skin;
  3. Mix it up in the saddle – don’t remain in the same position all the time. Sit up straight for a while, and pedal out of the saddle on climbs; 
  4. If you are able to do so, change your shorts. Sweat build up can be a real problem, so if you have the chance to change into fresh shorts, take it;
  5. If you do get a saddle sore, seek treatment as quickly as possible. 
Cycling TipsFeaturedWomen's Cycling

A letter to my friend, a newbie cyclist: tips for taking up cycling at 30

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Dear KC,

I’m so pleased you’re taking up cycling! I promise not to go on and on about it, but I wanted to just share a bit of advice to make it as enjoyable for you as possible. I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to have known when I started out! Are you thinking of joining a cycling club? It might be worth considering – it’s a good way to meet people, to learn routes and to pick up tips!

In case you’re wondering what to wear, here’s the Victoria Guide to Cycling Essentials 🙂

Padded shorts

I don’t know how you feel about joining the Lycra brigade – I wasn’t keen on the idea, I’ll admit. But, comfort and practicality won out for me, and I’d really recommend getting the right kit – not least a pair of decent padded shorts, because nobody wants a sore bum, and you definitely don’t want any chafing downstairs… Believe me!

There are two types of padded shorts: waist shorts and bib shorts. Personally, I much prefer bib shorts. They do make it harder to go to the loo, but if you’re out on a bike ride you’ll only spend a couple of minutes peeing compared to a few hours riding, so I’d go for the more comfortably cycling option! Bib shorts are great to wear because there’s no waist band to dig in (and no muffin top!) As you’re in the Frozen North, I realise you might not want to wear shorts for much of the year. It might be worth looking at a pair of 3/4 bib tights instead which you can wear in spring and autumn (and probably a fair bit in summer, truth be told!)

Three options that you might want to look at:

  1. Fierlan 3/4 tights – these are really rather beautiful, and they have a good chamois pad. The leg isn’t super tight, so if you’re not fully on board with looking like a Lycra warrior, they’re just a bit more… relaxed.
  2. Rivelo Tideswell bib shorts or Hazelwood 3/4 tights – I swear, Rivelo make the best chamois pads of any shorts I’ve tried. Love ‘em!
  3. Gore Bike Wear Power Lady Bib Shorts – if you’re not convinced by my loo break argument, these bib shorts are a compromise! No muffin top or digging in at the waist, but they have a zip around the middle for – erm – easy access! Definitely worth a look. (The name does make me laugh. POWER LADY.)

A bit of advice – you don’t wear knickers with cycling shorts!! You must go commando! It might feel weird at first, but it’s very comfortable!

Cycling gloves

My second essential? Gloves! I can’t stand riding without them! For one thing, my hands get sore without padded mitts. And on a hot day, my hands get sweaty – the mitts give extra grip on the handlebars and brakes. And in winter, my fingers get terribly cold, so a good pair of warm, padded gloves makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.

Specialized Body Geometry Gel cycling gloves are very good. They’re really well padded, and wear brilliantly – I’ve been washing and wearing mine for a year and they’re still looking good!

Endura make some really cool bright pink winter gloves – they’re called Endura Women’s Luminite Gloves, they’re really cosy, and they look ace.

Nothing else is essential at this point, I don’t think. It’s worth having a cycling jersey because it’s useful to have pockets in the back for snacks and your phone, but if you just want to wear a gym top and a little rucksack while you’re getting started, that’s fine. Once you do decide to go full kit, you’ll find that there are some really cool cycling jerseys around!

Trainers vs. Clipless Pedals

As you’re only just starting out, I’m guess you haven’t considered the pedal/shoe issue! A pair of trainers and regular pedals is fine for now, but you might want to think about going ‘clipless’ in the future. That means having cycling shoes with cleats on the bottom which clip into your pedals. The benefit is that, with your foot attached to the pedal, you’re getting double the power because you’re pedalling on the way up as well as the way down. It’s very energy efficient!

Clipless pedals probably sound really scary – I was pretty horrified by the idea of having my feet attached to my bike when I first started. But after an hour of practicing in a car park I felt fairly confident, and after a couple of rides it was just second nature. Don’t get me wrong – in the early days there’s a good chance you’ll forget to unclip once, and you’ll probably topple over at the traffic lights in an embarrassing fashion. But don’t worry – we’ve all been there! And in no time at all, unclipping the moment you see a red light or queue ahead will be a habit that you don’t even think about. But, like I say, you don’t need to worry about that just yet! It’s a challenge just getting back into cycling again after 20 years, I know!

Other stuff:

You should be like a boy scout when you’re cycling – be prepared! It’s a good idea to put a few habits in place. You did the right thing getting Hopey Bicycle Repairs to check the bike out for you before your first ride!

Firstly, never go out without checking your tyres. Make sure they’re at the right pressure. It’s easiest with a track pump, so think about getting one to keep one in the shed. And when you’re out riding, keep a spare inner tube, a compact pump, and a CO2 cartridge inflator with you. (Admittedly, you need to know how to change an inner tube! But if you’re struggling, a more experienced cyclist will help you get back on the road.)

Secondly, have a think about the light and weather conditions. It might be light when you set off, but if it will be fading when you head home, make sure you have fully charged front and rear lights.

Thirdly, TAKE SNACKS. I know you. You need fuelling, regularly. There’s nothing worse than running out of energy 20 miles from home! Keep cereal bars, or a banana, or a mini Soreen – anything! – in your pocket 🙂

Don’t get stressed about hills! Make sure you practice changing gear on the flat so that when you find yourself going uphill you know how to change. Don’t be afraid to go into the easiest possible gear – it’s not about speed, it’s about getting to the top and not killing yourself doing it 🙂

I really wouldn’t recommend looking too closely at the arguments for and against cycling helmets. It’s such a polarising issue with loads of antagonism on both sides. Look, it’s up to you, and of course, if you were involved in a terrible accident with an HGV or a double decker bus, a helmet isn’t going to save your life. But I’ve fallen off my bike twice, and both times, hit my head – the second time I hit it hard, and damaged my helmet. Had I not been wearing it on that second occasion, I honestly think I would have ended up in hospital.

Finally, ENJOY YOURSELF! I can’t convey just how much I’ve enjoyed taking up cycling as an adult. I really wish I’d started earlier! There’s no better feeling than soaring down a hill – it’s just so flippin’ exhilarating! I can’t wait for us to go for a ride together next time I come to visit.

Happy cycling 🙂

Much love,

V xxx

Cycle ClothingCycling AccessoriesReviews

Testing, testing, 123: what we’re currently reviewing at Vamper.cc

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We love trying out new kit! It’s always interesting to see what brands are creating, whether it’s weatherproof gear to ease the pain of cycling in the UK or super stylish offerings that make the whole experience more beautiful.

This month we have an interesting selection, starting with super technical Gore Shakedry jackets for wet weather cycling. We’re also putting Gore bib shorts and jerseys through their paces, so watch this space if you’re all about practicality and braving the elements.

Gore Shakedry review
Victoria is testing the Gore Shakedry women’s cycling jacket plus other items from the brand’s range. It’s unusual to be wishing for rain, but this jacket is so cool, a downpour becomes almost enjoyable…

At the more decorative end of the scale, Matt has been testing the beautiful Vélobici René cycling jersey. In a departure from his usual palette of black, he’s been enjoying the rich red wine tone of this heritage-inspired jersey.

Velobici Rene Jersey review
It’s unusual for Matt to like a jersey that isn’t black. Maybe the reason he likes it so much is because this colourway is called wine?

On the accessories side, we’re trying out the nifty Portland Reflector – a magnetic reflector that cyclists can clip on to a backpack, jacket or pannier for added visibility when cycling at night. Sometimes, it’s the small things that make all the difference.

Portland Reflector review
The Portland Reflector is magnetic, and you can attach it to bags, jackets, panniers – wherever you think extra visibility would be useful.

And finally, we’re limbering up and getting athletic with CEP Ultralight Short Socks and Recovery Socks.

CEP Recovery Socks review

Watch this space!

FeaturedNews

Revolve24 returns to Brands Hatch bigger and better, with time trials and crits

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Image courtesy of Joolze Dymond

Revolve24, the 24-hour cycling endurance event taking place on the world-class Brands Hatch motor circuit in Kent on 16-17 September 2017, has expanded both on and off the track. The event is attracting interest from both seasoned and novice road riders and time trial competitors.

Revolve24 was a definite challenge – both off the track, while trying to look after yourself throughout the weekend, as well as getting stuck in on the track. It has a great atmosphere here and it was good fun – Jason Kenny

Revolve24, which last year hosted 635 riders, offers the unique experience of riding on the famous motor circuit’s smooth asphalt set in scenic Kent countryside. Tough climbs accompany exhilarating descents, while the designated Brand Hatch pit garages offer warmth, electricity and camaraderie through the long night. Each 3.8km (2.4 miles) lap of GP circuit includes 64m (210 feet) of climbing.

2017 solo female winner Gina Cleere is returning to qualify for the Race Across America while beating her PB of 497km (308 miles)

Established events such as the 24 hour, the 12 hour and 6 hour challenges are once again attracting high numbers of riders.

Revolve24 2017
Jason Kenny at last year’s Revolve24 – photograph courtesy of Edward Thomas

Previous solo winners are returning this year to beat their personal bests;  2015 solo winner Julian Rider rode 684 km (425 miles), climbing the equivalent of Everest AND Kilimanjaro during his solo effort. 2017 solo female winner Gina Cleere is returning to qualify for the Race Across America while beating her PB of 497km (308 miles). Other notable riders taking part include two-time cancer survivor James Golding and six-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny, who is riding with Adrian Trott, father of fellow Olympic champion Laura Trott.

Riders keep coming back year after year: for the cycling, the prestige of riding 24 hours and for the charities they support. We try to provide a friendly, relaxed experience whoever you are and whatever your reason for taking part – Revolve24 co-founder Huw Bunn

Last year Jason Kenny earned his place as King of the Mountain; climbing the 9% gradient Hailwoods Hill that bends into the famous Druids Corner in just 10.1 seconds.

Over the weekend, the free Revolve24 App (iOS/Android) will provide team captains and spectators with real-time tracking of riders. There is a host of other competitions too: King and Queen of the Mountains, fastest lap, sprints and rider categories.

Revolve24 offers a team-matching service to put individuals and smaller groups together into bigger squads. Camping and campervan space is available for riders and spectators the whole weekend.

Entry fee includes track time, professional timing system with live race tracking, British Cycling Insurance, shared use of a pit garage, two nights’ camping and parking, 24hr access to tea, coffee, water and snacks, access to shower facilities, WiFi and charging points for lights and devices.

Revolve24 encourages charity rides and has linked up with several charities to offer official places at £75 (24hr Challenge) £50 (12hr Challenge) and £25 (6hr Challenge). These charities are: Cancer Research UK, Stick n’ Step, Blind Veterans and Operation Smile.

Join Revolve24 this year at revolve24.com, on Twitter @Revolve24 or on Facebook.

Cover image courtesy of Joolze Dymond.

FeaturedRecipes for cyclists

The Vamper.cc Recipe Series: super-charge your pre-ride breakfast with our Super Seeded Maple Oat Granola

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At Vamper.cc, we’re big on food: we love good food, and good food for us is both delicious and highly nutritious. Food needs to nourish your heart – literally – and your soul, and we’re forever in the kitchen trying out new recipes to ensure we eat a really well balanced diet that tastes amazing.

Before we got together (and for some time after) Matt didn’t eat breakfast. Once upon a time he wouldn’t eat a thing until gone lunch time; now we enjoy a nutritious breakfast before work every day. (To be fair, cycling 14 miles to work makes it impossible to wait until lunch time for food!)

These days we love sharing breakfast together. It’s a chance to chat about the day ahead, enjoy each other’s company before work takes over, and a way to boost our intake of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

Our favourite weekday breakfast this year has been good ol’ Weetabix, loaded with Greek yoghurt, organic honey, flaxseed/linseed, fresh fruit and organic whole milk. It’s a great start to the day, and we’ve just discovered a way to make it even better: by adding a scoop of homemade seeded maple oat granola to finish it off.

Best breakfast for cyclists
This seeded maple oat granola is a nutritious and delicious breakfast or snack – and it’s super easy to make!

This granola is easy to make, really tasty, and full of vitamins and minerals: the oats are full of fibre and can lower cholesterol, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are good for heart health and the immune system, and flaxseed/linseed is rich in plant-based Omega-3 essential fatty acids. A good way to boost your breakfast and power your ride!

Ingredients

  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 300g porridge oats
  • 100g pumpkin seeds
  • 100g sunflower seeds
  • 75g milled linseed/flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tspn flaky sea salt
  • 1 tspn  ground cinnamon
  • ½ tspn  grated nutmeg
  • 1 tspn  ground ginger
  • 120ml unrefined coconut oil, melted

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment, or a non-stick liner.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Stir thoroughly, and add the melted coconut oil and maple syrup. Stir thoroughly.
  3. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to turn golden. Remove the baking tray from the over and, using a fork, gently rake the mixture. You want to bring the golden edges to the centre, and the centre to the edges. Return the tray to the oven and bake for a further 10-12 minutes. Repeat raking process. Return the tray to the oven once more for another 10-12 minutes.
  4. Remove the tray from the oven, rake once more, and allow the mixture to cool completely. You can store it in an airtight container at room temperature for a fortnight. Best enjoyed sprinkled over Greek yoghurt with a handful of fresh, juicy grapes or blackberries – excellent ride fuel!

 

Best breakfast for cyclists
Weetabix, topped with homemade seeded maple oat granola, Greek yoghurt and juicy red grapes – a great start to the day!
Cycle ClothingNews

Mon dieu! Café du Cycliste launches a men’s capsule cycling collection for Mr Porter

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If there were any lingering doubts that road cycling has not yet become a fully fashionable pursuit, the new capsule collection from chic French cycling brand Café du Cycliste for renowned online menswear retailer Mr Porter will surely lay them to rest.

The capsule collection features a concise and impeccably stylish wardrobe for the discerning road cyclist: three monochrome jerseys, a pair of bib shorts, a cycling cap and a bidon. Les essentiels, you might say.

Café du Cycliste Mr Porter

The Francine jersey, pictured above, is a chic black and white striped affair for those looking to indulge their Rive Gauche side on the bike. A versatile midweight performance jersey for road cycling, the Francine is a race fit which is suited to spring and summer riding. The super soft proprietary fabric is high wicking and fast drying to keep you cool and dry on hot days while open mesh panels on the back and under the arms work together to increase air flow. Ventilation is further improved by the unique use of netting on the rear pocket backs to alleviate the need for two layers of fabric.

In cooler climes the midweight construction provides additional protection against the wind and Francine can be worn as a base, mid or top layer depending on the conditions.

The monochrome design includes a full zip with guard, three back cargo pockets and a zipped key pocket, an audio cable system and reflective elements to improve safety when light conditions are less than ideal. It costs £120.

Café du Cycliste Mr Porter

Not into stripes? Maybe the zigzags of the Micheline jersey, above, will be more your bag.

The Micheline jersey has been designed to provide performance and comfort on hot days. The high wicking fabric is fast drying and the dual mesh combination maximises airflow, providing moisture transfer to allow evaporation as you perspire and ventilation to aid core temperature control.

The jersey features a reinforced pocket structure and three cargo pockets, one of which is zipped. Weighing in at less than 120g, Micheline is a super lightweight jersey to wear in the heat. (Perhaps not in the UK.) It costs £115.

Café du Cycliste Mr Porter

If you’ve spent the summer working on your tan and you’re looking to show it off, then you could do worse than the Fleurette jersey in snowy white with black edging. Like the Micheline, this is a jersey designed for hot weather riding. Cut slightly longer than usual for when you need extra protection from the sun, the sleeves can be worn down or rolled up. We’re big on sun safety at Vamper, so please, if you’re rolling up, get the SPF on… At 130g, the Fleurette is another super lightweight option for summer riding.

Café du Cycliste Mr Porter

We haven’t tested Café du Cycliste bib shorts, but we have heard good things. If you splash out, let us know in the comments how you rate them. The Marinette bib shorts for Mr Porter apparently feature a top-of-the-range Cytech chamois pad with premium fabrics for a short which strikes the right balance between stretch and support. The bib section is constructed from two types of mesh, open and closed, to provide a stable fit and exceptional comfort. Laser cut leg grippers feature silicon beads to keep things firmly in place, at any speed. Reflective elements add visibility in low light conditions. The Marinette bib shorts are priced at £161.

Café du Cycliste Mr Porter

No kit is complete without a cycling cap. It’s the icing on the cake (if your head is the cake). It will keep the sweat from trickling into your eyes, it will help stop you being blinded by the sun – and, of course, it will hide a multitude of hair sins. Plus, they just look cool. This one’s £25.

Café du Cycliste Mr Porter

The final flourish? New bidons, obvs. These have a dash of Gallic charm and they’re bound to make your energy drinks taste better, non? Or, you could fill them with du vin. Wine not. They cost £12 each.

View the full Café du Cycliste for Mr Porter capsule collection here.

 

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Dodging summer showers? We review the As Bold As Drench Coat, Roadster Jacket & Elemental Rain Trousers

As Bold As Featured
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Do not be angry with the rain; it simply does not know how to fall upwards – Vladimir Nabokov

Yes, it is August; yes; we should be basking in sunshine. And no, we should not be turning on the heating in the evening.

But let’s get real: we live in the United Kingdom. And what would summer be without endless, torrential rain?

The heatwave may have ended, but there’s no need to be glum because there’s no such thing as bad weather when one is dressed appropriately. Or something. And while we’d all rather ride in the sunshine with bare legs, sometimes it’s just not practical. That’s where As Bold As comes in, with bright and cheerful waterproof cycling jackets to lift your spirits when it’s raining cats and dogs. You might remember As Bold As from our interview with the brand’s founder, Joyce Brereton.

We’ve had a particularly miserable fortnight of weather in London and it’s been the perfect opportunity to put the Drench Coat, the Roadster Jacket and the Elemental Rain Trousers through their paces.

As Bold As

As Bold As Drench Coat

As Bold As Drench Coat
The Drench Coat in Warm Grey. It’s cosy, will protect you from the elements, and looks great off bike, too.

I adore this coat. It’s a lovely blueish shade of grey and it’s generously proportioned, with amply long sleeves to give you full coverage when you’re on the bike – even in the drops. It’s quite a long jacket which dips lower at the back to keep your bum dry, and it has a high funnel neck to keep draughts out. Best of all, the styling is chic enough that you won’t feel like you’re wearing a cycling jacket once your commute has ended; this coat looks great with jeans. The longer length makes it a generally useful rain jacket whether or not you’re cycling – I know that my friends with babies would be all over this for pushing prams in the rain, and it’s a great waterproof for weekend walks, too.

As Bold As Drench Coat
With its super long sleeves and plenty of length in the body, the Drench Coat provides few opportunities for rogue raindrops to reach the skin.

The Drench Coat has a soft, fleecy lining which, unusually for a waterproof jacket, feels really nice against the skin – distinctly snuggly. Although the sleeves are very long, they have Velcro wrist straps so you can cinch them above your hands to keep moisture out and offer plenty of movement in the shoulder and elbow.

As Bold As Drench Coat
The sleeves can be cinched at the wrist with the Velcro straps to keep water out

It’s a coat designed for short to medium distances with waterproofness of 20,000mm H2O and breathability of 3,500 gm/㎡/24hrs making it an ideal commuter jacket. Its features include reflective detailing for visibility at night, a stow-away storm hood with adjustable toggles, and underarm vents for a more comfortable ride.

A note on sizing: I’m wearing the Drench Coat in size Large, which fits size 12-14. As Bold As recommend sizing up if you’re broad of shoulder or top heavy. I’m both of those things and the Large fits perfectly. It retails at €178.

As Bold As Drench Coat

 

As Bold As Elemental Rain Trousers

It’s safe to say the Elemental Rain Trousers will be coming on our upcoming camping trip unless the weather improves dramatically. I have not owned a pair of waterproof trousers since my miserable Duke of Edinburgh expedition in my teens, an experience so wretched and wet I feared I would develop trench foot… The thought of damp waterproof trousers with a whiff of campsite mud was not a fond recollection.

As Bold As Elemental Rain Trousers

It’s safe to say the Elemental Rain Trousers from As Bold As are something of an upgrade on the pair I had as a teenager. They are super comfy, amazingly well tailored for overtrews, and really effective, too.

What is there to say, except that they are very comfortable, very waterproof, and really well fitting? They can be cinched around the ankle with Velcro straps so that nothing flaps about while you’re peddling, you can take them off without having to remove your shoes by unzipping the lower section of the legs, and they have reflective detailing for night time visibility. Eminently practical. If you commute in a rainy country, I highly recommend them.

Again, I’m wearing size large and they fit my 5’8″, size 12-14 frame perfectly. They retail at €88.As Bold As Elemental Trousers

As Bold As Roadster Jacket

As Bold As Roadster Jacket

The Roadster jacket is designed for daily commutes and longer adventures. It’s a much more compact jacket than the Drench Coat but still includes a wealth of useful design features. It’s waterproof, breathable and windproof, with sealed seams to keep the rain out. Zippers are waterproof, and an inner pocket fits most smartphones for easy access. The rear of the jacket is dropped to give you extra coverage when you’re riding in the drops, there is a 360 reflective trim for night time visibility, and the neck is lined with a soft micro fleece for comfort.

As Bold As Roadster Jacket
The neck is lined with a soft micro fleece for comfort, and reflective detailing helps with visibility on night time rides

It’s a comfortable and cheerful jacket which certainly keeps the rain out. It doesn’t have the off-bike versatility as the Drench Coat – it’s definitely a jacket designed for cycling – but it’s a well designed commuter jacket. For my body type, it’s a little on the boxy side – but with a 32G chest I’m not a very standard shape and it’s generally hard to find garments which are sufficiently fitted at the waist, so that isn’t really a criticism.

As Bold As Roadster Jacket
The Roadster jacket features Velcro wrist straps which allow you to cinch the sleeves at the wrist to keep the rain – and draughts – out

As Bold As Roadster Jacket

Again, I’m wearing the size Large which fits a 12-14. It’s roomy enough to allow plenty of movement in the arms. It retails at €138.

As Bold As Roadster Jacket

The As Bold As range is available to purchase from As Bold As and from Velovixen.

Cycle ClothingCycling AccessoriesFeatured

Best of British: Barbour and Brompton create a heritage-inspired collection for stylish urban cycling

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Heritage and lifestyle brand Barbour has collaborated for the first time with Brompton Bicycles, the makers of the iconic folding bicycle, to create a capsule collection for men and women that focuses on the best outerwear for urban cycling along with a limited edition Barbour Brompton bike. Both British brands are renowned for their style, innovation and practicality and this is a partnership that is bound to attract attention the attention of discerning cyclists.

this is a gorgeous collaboration which perfectly marries urban practicality with heritage styling and British craftsmanship

I was invited to test ride the limited edition Barbour Brompton bike at London’s Freecycle event in one of the partnership’s lightweight waterproof jackets. I’ll admit, on Saturday morning when the sun was blazing in Central London I was a little concerned that I might melt in a waterproof jacket on the bike; but, as luck would have it, the heavens opened as I pedalled away from the Brompton Junction store in Covent Garden and the weather remained cool and damp for the rest of the day – fate, perhaps?

Barbour Brompton
Riding a Brompton is an utterly joyful experience. They’re super cute, comfortable, and attract compliments left, right and centre. What can I say? I’m in love!

I’ve been wanting to ride a Brompton for ages. I see people out and about on them all the time and I’m always intrigued: what is a Brompton like to ride? Do you have to pedal extra hard because the wheels are so small? Are they difficult to fold? Well, now I know! They’re an absolute joy to ride, you don’t have to pedal extra hard, and the folding mechanism is, frankly, genius. My only regret is that I don’t have a commute which would make owning one useful, more’s the pity: I live 30 seconds from the railway station so there really isn’t any need to hop on a Brompton to get there. Bummer. I want one so much I almost feel like we should move house to accommodate a new commute…

The new range combines the best of Brompton and Barbour and the pieces will provide years of dependable service with an inimitable British style

The Barbour Brompton bike is a heritage green affair with gold lettering and I’m not sure a bike can get much more British. It’s a thing of beauty and, if you’re lucky enough to be able to use one for your commute, it’s a thoroughly stylish way to get around town.

The Barbour Brompton jackets and accessories compliment the bike beautifully in a range of olive green and navy. If you’re keen to avoid hi-vis and glaringly bright hues, these jackets definitely offer a more subdued, classic cycling look. They don’t look bike-y, either, so if you’re looking for a jacket you can wear on and off bike, one of these could be the answer.

Barbour Brompton
Top row: the waxed Merton and Bromley jackets; Bottom row: the lightweight waterproof Newham and Brent jackets

The men’s Merton jacket in navy and sage and the women’s Bromley jacket take Barbour’s new innovative Dry Wax, a hard wearing waxed cotton in a pure hydrocarbon which feels crunchy to the touch and is extremely water repellent, whatever the weather. Functionality is key – with four storage pockets, mesh tartan linings to remove excess heat, two way zips and reflector strips, these jackets are vented for breathability and have a longer back length to protect the wearer. Articulated sleeves allow for ease of movement on the bike. They are especially designed for rainy days when protection is essential against the elements, particularly on the office commute!

The jackets are designed to be worn on and off the bike and will appeal to urban bike riders who love Barbour style

The waterproof breathable men’s Newham jacket and women’s Brent jacket (the style I’m wearing) come in a choice of colours and offer a safe haven from wind and showers. They’re ideal to wear on warmer days or to add over layers. The jackets in simple uncomplicated silhouettes with left breast diagonal chest pockets take a Barbour signature zip, inner windcuffs and reflector strip across the longer length back. These jackets are versatile and ultra lightweight, keeping you thoroughly dry in a downpour but folding neatly into a Barbour x Brompton shoulder bag in navy or sage once the weather improves.

If you need extra storage for your commute, the Barbour x Brompton Tarras bag (pictured below, bottom) fits neatly onto the bike and offers plenty of space for files, lunch, water and other essentials.

Barbour Brompton

The Barbour Brompton bike comes with a Tarras bag and is available as an M6L model, with a brown Brooks B17 saddle with the main frame and extremities finished in Gloss Barbour Green. The Special Edition bike, including Barbour Tarras Bag, retails at £1350.

Barbour Brompton

Ian Bergin, Director of Menswear and Accessories, Barbour said “Barbour and Brompton are two brands renowned for their innovation – Barbour with their iconic jackets and Brompton with their personal transport solutions. This collaboration is all about practicality and fitness for purpose and fits the ethos of both brands. The jackets are designed to be worn on and off the bike and will appeal to urban bike riders who love the Barbour style combined with technical features, all engineered for performance.”

Will Carleysmith, Chief Design and Engineering Officer at Brompton said “At Brompton we are all about meticulous attention to detail, both when designing our bikes and when manufacturing them in London. Spending time with Barbour at South Shields it was immediately clear our two companies share the same attitude. It’s been great to work with a UK brand that combines deep manufacturing craft with clever design and such an iconic look. The new range combines the best of Brompton and Barbour and the pieces will provide years of dependable service with an inimitable British style.”

We say: this is a gorgeous collaboration which perfectly marries urban practicality with heritage styling and British craftsmanship.

See the full range at Brompton.

Cycling AccessoriesNews

Victory Chimp launches Reflective City Socks with cycling technology company See.Sense

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Victory Chimp has launched Reflective City Socks in collaboration with cycling technology company See.Sense.

Victory Chimp Reflective City Sock

Retaining the much-loved fit and performance features of Victory Chimp’s core sock range (which we reviewed last year), the brand has added an innovative, highly reflective yarn, woven seamlessly into the city stripes design. 

The subtle design is paired with super soft, breathable fabric for all-day comfort on the bike, or wearing about the office before the ride home.

Victory Chimp Reflective City Socks

 

The socks are available in navy or charcoal grey and are designed to help keep you safe and visible on commutes, training spins or longer rides without looking garish or out of place with your work trews.

Victory Chimp Reflective City Sock

Featuring a 6″ cuff, the Reflective City Socks are designed in Northern Ireland and manufactured in Italy. Made from Meryl Skinlife® high performance yarn
 – a super soft, high-wicking fabric 
- the socks are antibacterial & odour eliminating with a breathable mesh upper. They have a padded footbed for comfort, a reinforced heel and toe for durability 
and a strong upper cuff to make sure they stay in position. Nobody wants a sock which slides down their ankle, wrinkling at the foot… The elasticated arch adds support 
and the flat seam toe ensures comfort.

The socks cost £13 from Victory Chimp.

Victory Chimp creates cycling-inspired art and apparel, dreamed up on the roadside and worked out in the studio. It’s also the alter-ego of Ryan O’Reilly, a Northern Irish bike-riding designer and illustrator.

Cycle ClothingNews

What does an Olympic champion cyclist wear? Fabian Cancellara shares his favourite GORE Bike Wear kit

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“For time trials, everything has to be right: the wind, the weather, the timing, your state of mind on the day and the right material for the different requirements on the route. When a lot is right, a lot has already been won.”

GORE Bikewear Fabian Cancellara

Over his 16 year career, the Swiss former professional cyclist, multiple world champion and two-time Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara has been regarded as the undisputed specialist in individual time trials and difficult one-day races, in particular the prestigious Spring Classics.

“I am an absolute perfectionist. As well as optimum preparation, the material also always plays a large part in difficult races. Even in my professional career, I was always the first person wanting to test new prototypes in order to develop products further and to get the most out of them.”

As a global brand ambassador for GORE Bike Wear, Fabian will bring his experience to the product development of highly functional bike wear. As with time trials, the details in product development are the key to functionality, innovation and perfect features.

GORE Bikewear Fabian Cancellara

Fabian has shared his favourite items from the current GORE Bike Wear collection, starting with The ONE Gore-Tex Active Bike jacket (pictured below). Weighing just 107 grams (in size L), the wind and waterproof road cycling jacket is extremely lightweight and more breathable than ever. The revolutionary Shakedry product technology repels water and keeps you comfortably dry under maximum strain and in every weather. We’ll be bringing you an in depth review of the Shakedry bike jackets soon.

GORE Bike Wear Fabian Cancellara

Fabian has been enthusiastic about the jacket: “The fit is perfect. The ergonomically designed stand-up collar adapts to every cycling position and is so light that you can hardly feel it. It fits in every jersey pocket.”

Fabian has a clear idea of what he needs when he’s choosing an outfit. In temperatures of 20°C and above, he cycles in the Oxygen 2.0 Bibtights short which is made with performance-oriented cyclists in mind. It has a supporting structure, flat hems which will not dig in, and a seat insert to ensure comfort and wind protection on long rides. He also wears a short sleeve jersey with high breathability. His current favourite garment is the Power Windstopper SO jersey.

GORE Bike Wear Fabian Cancellara

“The details are well thought out. The 3-compartment back pocket is slightly tapered on the side for easy access. It works perfectly. You also have no friction thanks to the minimised seams.”

GORE Bike Wear products drawing on Fabian’s expertise and experience in multiple cycling disciplines will be coming soon, so watch this space… You can see more of his favourite products here.

We’ll also be reviewing the GORE Bike Wear Shakedry jackets very soon, so keep your eyes on Vamper.cc and our Instagram feed for all the details.

You can read Matt’s review of the GORE Power Windstopper Soft Shell Short Sleeve Jersey here.

Gore Bike Wear Shakedry jacket
Victoria will be reviewing the GORE Bike Wear Women’s Shakedry bike jacket