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The Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge inspires Vamper.cc to ‘Tri’ new things

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Sometimes, I let myself be roped into things without really thinking them through.

At the start of the year, my father suggested that Matt and I should hike the Yorkshire Three Peaks with him in aid of Macmillan Cancer Research. It’s a charity which is particularly close to our hearts – I lost my big sister to cancer five years ago, and we’ll never forget the kindness and support that Macmillan gave us. The work they do is so vitally important. It doesn’t take too much to twist my arm to fundraise on their behalf.

Yorkshire Three Peaks
I should know better than to be roped into challenges by my dad, who put us to shame with his prowess on the hills

That said, had I but realised the hike was only six days after our Prudential RideLondon 100 mile bike ride, I might have thought twice. But in my head, the Prudential was at the end of August… So, I merrily signed us up to the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

“How bad can it be?” I thought.

25 miles, walking? Fine! We’re fit. Our legs are really strong. It’ll be a breeze.

How wrong I was.

On Saturday 30th July, we woke up at the ungodly time of 04:45 to set off to the starting point in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. It was a beautiful morning; the atmosphere was wonderful; and the first peak, a doddle! Boy, oh boy, I thought – why haven’t I hiked more? My legs felt so strong, clambering to the peak of Pen-y-ghent. The sun was shining. It wasn’t yet 9am, and we’d scaled a mountain. We felt great.

Yorkshire Three Peaks
Pen-y-ghent, splendid in the early morning sun

It’s a long descent from Pen-y-ghent. My dad had told my mum, who was meeting us at the Ribblehead Viaduct with elevenses, that we might be there any time from 9am.

9am, Dad?

It was 11.30am by the time we arrived.

More than four hours of walking, and we still had two peaks ahead of us. Matt’s hope that we might complete the challenge in nine hours was clearly ridiculous. My hope that we might complete it in under 12 wasn’t looking too good, either. Matt already had sore feet. My hips were already aching badly, and, inexplicably, my ankles felt bruised despite the soft leather of my well fitting hiking boots.

Not to worry. We were enjoying ourselves, and keen to press on, even if it was going to take us longer than we’d imagined.

It was 11.30am by the time we arrived. More than four hours of walking, and we still had two peaks ahead of us.

Full of sausage rolls and cups of tea, we set off towards Whernside. A long slog to the top was rewarded with staggering views all the way to Morecambe Bay, and it was breathtaking. Tired, I still had the energy to appreciate the vistas.

A couple of miles in to the final ascent, my left knee went. Bollocks.

Yorkshire Three Peaks
Whernside, the second peak, loomed menacingly ahead of us…

That was when the enormity of the challenge began to sink in.

If you have hiked Whernside, you’ll know what a tough descent it is. The joy of cycling is that a tough uphill climb is rewarded by a glorious, exhilarating descent. Walking has none of the upside: the descents are far worse than the climbs. By the time I finally reached the bottom of the hill, my hips and legs were in a lot of pain. But, I thought – the worst is over!

The worst wasn’t over.

I didn’t really know anything about Ingleborough. I set off feeling reasonably well after another rest stop, a pint of cold orange squash, and a wonderful ham sandwich supplied by my mum. The final peak! Homeward bound!

Yorkshire Three Peaks
My precautionary knee support helped my right knee. But my left knee went, instead.

A couple of miles in to the final ascent, my left knee went. Bollocks.

Well, I wasn’t turning back. Better to hobble the final six miles and complete the challenge that to hobble two miles back to the main road to give up. But man alive, I’ve never pushed myself so far. Scrambling up the steep rockface of Ingleborough with a screwed up left knee and a sore right hip, it struck me that the other downside to walking is that, unless something has gone seriously, life-threateningly wrong, you just have to deal with it. Not like road cycling, where if you’re in pain or weary you can at least phone a friend to pick you up…

Completing a challenge which hurt comes with a particular level of satisfaction.

Finally, we reached the summit of the final peak, and began the long, downhill slog back to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. It took an hour longer than it should have done as I limped along like Hopalong Cassidy, unable to bend my leg. But limping across the finishing line to collect our medals felt like one of the greatest achievements of my life. Completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks in severe pain comes with a particular level of satisfaction.

Four days later, and we had just about stopped hobbling around like a pair of particularly decrepit 90 year olds. The pain had worn off, and all that was left was a warm glow of pride at completing a challenge which was much bigger than we ever expected.

Yorkshire Three Peaks
Limping across the finish line at 8.30pm, more than 13 hours after we had started. It was painful, but the pride we all felt was immense.

It’s made me realise that I can push my body further than I thought, and it’s made me realise that I’m stronger than I ever knew. My dad (who suffered far less than I did, despite being in his late sixties) sent me a picture for the mantelpiece which reads, life begins when you step out of your comfort zone. And it’s so true.

It’s made me realise that I can push my body further than I thought, and it’s made me realise that I’m stronger than I ever knew.

With that in mind, I’ve decided it’s time to leap right out of mine and to enter a triathlon. I can’t do front crawl and I can’t run, but less than two years ago I couldn’t ride a road bike – and I learned how to do that. It’s time for the next challenge: I’m planning to enter the Windsor Triathlon next June, in aid of Macmillan once again.

(But not before I see a sports physio about my knees…)

SportivesWomen's Cycling

Vamper reflects on Prudential RideLondon 2016: the good, the bad and the ugly

Prudential RideLondon Mexican WaveEven after a two-hour delay, stationary cyclists kept their spirits up with a Mexican Wave
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Well, Prudential RideLondon 2016 has come to an end. All those months of preparation and anticipation, and it always seems to be over in the blink of an eye.

Despite the delays and diversions, Prudential RideLondon 2016 was a cycling event to remember. We feel so lucky to have had the chance to take part twice – when the sun has been shining, no less. Given how hotly contested ballot places are, we’re planning to take a break next year to give other cyclists a chance to take part in the event – riding past such iconic sights on traffic-free roads is something all keen cyclists should have the opportunity to experience at some point.

It was an eventful day which managed to showcase the best – and, unfortunately, the worst – of human nature. Read on for our thoughts on the Prudential RideLondon 2016.

Prudential RideLondon 2016: The Good

The organisation of Prudential RideLondon really is superb. We’d like to say a huge thank you to the event organisers and the fantastic marshals along the route – particularly the ones who made a huge effort to encourage weary cyclists along the way and who made us laugh when our legs were aching. You’re wonderful.

Prudential RideLondon 2016
I continue to find it amazing that the organisers manage to start the groups precisely on time. 08:19 – BOOM!

The supporters along the route are flippin’ fantastic. The villagers in Pyrford turning out with jugs of water to refill cyclists’ bottles during the long delay? The woman in Norbiton hollering encouragement, telling us all that we looked every bit as good as elite athletes? The kids cheering us on in Wimbledon, holding their hands out for a high five? Marvellous! The supporters make the Prudential RideLondon100 an event to remember.

I don’t yet know the gender breakdown of participants this year, but there seemed to be a lot more women taking part which is tremendously encouraging for women’s cycling. Everywhere I looked I seemed to be surrounded by fellow female cyclists of all ages which was fantastic.

Prudential RideLondon 2016: The Bad

There is always going to be a huge disparity between cyclists’ abilities and attitudes in an event of this scale. You have the novice riders challenging themselves, often for charity, who may have never ridden in a group before; and you have the arrogant, aggressive male (always male!) club riders yelling abuse at slower riders and barging through gaps where it really isn’t safe to do so. Is the number of participants too high? Running the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic event on the same day means that the push to get all the amateur riders out in three hours is tight; reducing the number of riders on the course might help reduce the crush when something invariably happens to slow things down. Is 27,000 cyclists too many? Does it need to be reviewed?

Prudential RideLondon 2016
Does the number of cyclists need to be reduced to ease congestion?

Cyclists who drop litter should be ashamed of themselves. You carried those gels when they were full – you can carry your empty wrapper home, too. Worried about it making a sticky mess in your pocket? Well, you’re going to put your jersey in the wash, aren’t you? Don’t tarnish the event and its legacy by littering.

Prudential RideLondon 2016: The Ugly

It is terribly sad that there was another fatality this year, and some very serious accidents. To all the miserable sods who were bitching and griping to @RideLondon on Twitter about the fact that they were delayed and not receiving second-by-second updates about when they could start riding again – how about reminding yourself that you’re going to complete the ride safely because the event organisers are taking participants’ safety seriously?

How about forgetting about the fact that you’re not going to beat last year’s time, and actually enjoying the atmosphere and camaraderie with fellow cyclists?

How about forgetting your massive ego?

(And, to the cyclists who tagged on to the back of the ambulance to get to the front of the queue – you really are the scum of the earth. Have a little respect.)

Prudential RideLondon 2016
Even after a two-hour delay, stationary cyclists kept their spirits up with a Mexican Wave – the best of British stoicism!

Grumbling aside, all in all, it was a fabulous day. It made me so happy that the enforced delay encouraged strangers to chat and pass the time of day. It was lovely that after two hours of waiting around, cyclists’ spirits were still high enough to do a Mexican Wave to pass the time. RideLondon organisers, we salute you. Thank you for producing a UK cycling event to be proud of.

 

FeaturedWomen's Cycling

The cycling community – and why we all need to up our game to foster one

Ready for offAn encouraging turn out at Loseley Park - women's cycling is gaining traction, in part thanks to events like the Macmillan Cycletta.
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It’s an exciting time to be involved in women’s cycling. We visited Spin London over the weekend and it was brilliant to see so many women’s cycling brands – and plenty of other brands keen to launch a women’s cycling range soon. It’s really encouraging to see so many women’s rides being organised, and to hear such a buzz about an emerging women’s cycling community.

Exciting times indeed.

So why do I feel like there’s something missing? Why does this new and vibrant women’s cycling community feel a little bit empty?

In fact – why do I feel like quite a lot of female cyclists aren’t on board with the idea of community at all?

I cycle a lot. Usually with Matt, though not always. I rode in a Macmillan women’s sportive, on my own. I thought I might be able to buddy up with someone, or find a nice group to pedal with for a few miles. But nobody seemed to be playing ball. Solo cyclists kept their heads down while groups and pairs seemed curiously closed. Don’t worry, I wasn’t planning to sit on your wheel and coast along. I was just going to pass the time of day, and maybe take the wind for a while.

Can you only ride with other women if you join a cycling club? If you’re not on a club ride, are you obliged to ride alone?

Has the sudden growth of cycling fractured friendship and community?

Beyond that – does cycling actually need to be segregated? Am I alone in wanting cycling to feel like an inclusive community, rather than disparate gendered groups? It feels increasingly like there are two camps of women’s cycling: one is fiercely Alpha and competitive while the other seems entrenched in cake and not breaking too much of a sweat. Where do I fit in? I’m happy to break a sweat. I want to ride with women, but also with men. I want to reap the rewards of a tough ride – sometimes I might want a piece of cake, but sometimes I might want a refreshing pint and a bowl of chips. I don’t want to feel like I’ve let Women’s Cycling down if I get dropped, or if I feel like I’m dying and decide to get off and push. But nor do I want to feel like my place has to be a 12mph café ride with cake stops. A true community should be supportive of everyone’s differences, shouldn’t it? A community should be understanding and encouraging – not looking down its nose if you chose not to ride when it was bitterly cold and wet. Nor should it be unapproachable for members who want to learn more and take on new challenges.

What community is that? The cliques of riders sticking firmly in their groups, determinedly not making eye contact with cyclists they don’t know?

Matt is always keen to ride around Richmond Park. I asked him why he liked it so much, and he replied that he liked being part of the community.

What community is that? The cliques of riders sticking firmly in their groups, determinedly not making eye contact with cyclists they don’t know?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ridden around Richmond Park and stopped for coffee at Roehampton Gate. But I haven’t lost count of the number of times a fellow cyclist has spoken to me there.

Once.

In all the times I’ve parked my bike up and bought a coffee, just one cyclist has spoken to me.

Am I naïve to think we should all be making more of an effort to get along with each other because we have a mutual interest?

I suppose all of this leads to a bigger question than one about women’s cycling; it’s really about the existence of a true cycling community. Has the rapid explosion of cycling in recent years damaged the notion of a cycling community? Has the popularity of cycling grown too quickly for its own good? How can we nurture cycling, and cyclists, and a cycling community? How can we all become better custodians of cycling, encouraging others and setting a good example rather than developing cliques and critiquing newcomers?

Am I naïve to think we should all be making more of an effort to get along with each other because we have a mutual interest?

Is it wrong to think that it’s perhaps not very surprising that motorists and pedestrians aren’t madly keen on us when, frankly, it feels like we’re not madly keen on each other?

So, I’m issuing a call to arms. I’m issuing a call to all cyclists, male and female, cake-eating, beer-drinking, fast, slow and everything in between: let’s show some solidarity. Let’s smile at each other. Let’s call a friendly greeting, or nod or wave. Let’s pass the time of day with all the other people who love the same thing we do.

The next time you pass a fellow cyclist, let them know you’re part of the community – and that they are, too.

Chapeau.

Cycle ClothingWomen's Cycling

The quest continues: Victoria shares her pick of cool women’s cycling kits

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Women’s cycling is going from strength to strength and it’s heartening to see more apparel designers launching expanded collections for female cyclists. I’m sure I’m not alone, though, in feeling that women’s cycling clothing is all too often still a bit of an afterthought. If you’re struggling to find kit as cool as you are, read on, because I’ve made it my mission to share all the cool women’s cycling kits I can find. You’ll find more good stuff here and here.

And don’t forget that the coolest kit of 2016, the Vamper.cc kit, is available in both men’s and women’s sizes. Register your interest here!

 

Hors catégorie socks – This is Cambridge

cool women's cycling kits

These glorious socks from This is Cambridge are just fah-bu-lous. I ordered a pair to coordinate with my pink Bont shoes… The socks feature Meryl Skinlife® which is a high performance yarn containing antibacterial properties which maintain the natural balance of the skin, reducing odours. What’s more, they look incredibly cool with a 15cm cuff, making them ideal for cyclists seeking a performance sock with top notch style. They’re £13.50.

 

Vision Cycling Jersey – Polaris Bikewear

cool women's cycling kits

We’ll be publishing a review of this soon, but in the meantime, I can tell you that it’s great. The Vision Jersey is a women’s specific performance jersey made from a fast wicking fabric to keep you dry. Polaris has a co-ordinating pair of waist shorts (as regular readers know, not usually my preferred choice – but so far, I’m liking them…) so the half zip on the jersey is no problem. There is plenty of storage, too, with three rear pockets including a zipped security pocket. If this aqua blue shade ain’t your bag, it also comes in fuchsia pink and regal purple. I really, really like this jersey. It’s available for £64.99.

 

Women’s Wind Cheater/Core Gilet in WaterCOLOUR – The Pedla

cool women's cycling kits

Ok, ok. Y’all know I’m a sucker for a bold floral print. What can I say – I must be the Mary Berry of the cycling world… But this women’s specific wind cheater gilet from The Pedla is gorgeous and utilises an advanced Italian WINDTEX windproof membrane for performance. It is designed with front shield-style paneling to insulate and protect you from wind and light rain while the rear panelling uses quick-drying microfibre material which is soft, breathable and moisture wicking. It’s a beautiful way to add a dash of summertime to your cycling wardrobe. It’s priced at AUD $196.

 

Women’s Bodyline SS Slipstream Jersey – Stolen Goat

cool women's cycling kits

It doesn’t always have to be floral for me to like it. This Slipstream jersey from Stolen Goat makes it into my list of cool women’s cycling kits because it’s super chic and the colours rock. I like it a lot. You can order it for £60.

 

Aloha Jersey – Babicicool women's cycling kits

We’re back to florals! But this time, tropical ones. The Aloha jersey features a beautifully designed Hawaiian tropical pattern. Illustrated with amazing detail and constructed from high performance textiles, Babici expects this to be its most popular jersey of 2016. I’m sorely tempted. It’s priced at AUD $190.

 

Body Geometry Gel Women’s Glove – Specialized

cool women's cycling kits

I know what you’re thinking. Why is this in the list of cool women’s cycling kits? It isn’t a very exciting piece of kit. Where’s the bold design? What’s so cool about it? Fine, I admit it: they’re not going to set your world on fire. But take it from a women’s cycling glove afficionado: these are excellent summer cycling mitts. The padding is second to none and the fuchsia detailing is bolder than it looks in pictures. I bought a pair in Sigma Sport a couple of weeks ago, and I’m really pleased with them. Very good gloves indeed. You can buy them for £25.00.

 

Polka Dot Blue Women’s Cycling Gloves – Stolen Goat
cool women's cycling kits

You need a bolder glove? You want more than performance – you want pizzazz? Well, these mitts from Stolen Goat have got it. Super duper polka dots (bang on trend, if you care) and aero styling so that nothing can hold you back from that Queen of the Mountain. CUTE. And yours for £29.50.

 

Women Summer Jersey Checked Yellow – La Passione

cool women's cycling kits

“Every peloton has a leader, but not every peloton has a stylish leader.” Too true, La Passione! I was torn over which colourway to show you from the new La Passione range. I finally decided that yellow jerseys for women are few and far between, and this shade is so deliciously sunny and summery that it deserves a place in the list. I also like this description from the brand: the jersey “is not only perfectly suited for any female Tour de France winner, but equally for anyone with style and a winning attitude in cycling.” Sold, to the lady in Lycra. £53.00.

 

Boels Dolmans SL Pro Women’s Short Sleeve Jersey – Specialized 

cool women's cycling kits

I saw a cyclist wearing this kit in Richmond Park last weekend and it looked cool AF. The colours are amazing and I love how unapologetically bold it is. Super modern and super cool. The VaporRize knit fabric construction is ultra-soft and breathable and, combined with Coldblack fabric, it’s a great jersey for hot days out on the road. Yours for £90 from Sigma Sport.

 

Empire Women’s Road Shoe – Giro (at Sigma Sport)

Coolest women's cycling kit

Finally – we all know how important the right shoes are, and no list of cool women’s cycling kits would be complete without some good footwear. These are not cheap. But they are pretty. Glossy black with that petrol-hued logo and vibrant turquoise laces, the carbon-soled Empire Women’s Road Shoe by Giro is hot to trot. Love them. They are priced at £229.95

 

News

Sex vs Cycling: 68% of cyclists would choose a Sunday morning ride over time in bed

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A survey of more than 600 cyclists across the UK has revealed that the cycling is so addictive, just one in 25 would prefer to spend Sunday morning with their partner to pedalling across the countryside.

If the figures are to be believed, could the survey – carried out by retailer AllTerrainCycles.co.uk – suggest that the UK cycling boom could spell the end of the road for the romantic weekend lie-in? A massive 68% of respondents said they would choose a bike ride over an extra hour in bed with their partners.

Sex vs Cycling
“All cycling enthusiasts know how addictive it is as a sport, but even we didn’t expect that so many people would prefer it to a lie in with their other half,” said Tony Booth of All Terrain Cycles.

We at Vamper.cc are concerned by the 17% of respondents who would rather do something other than cycling, spending time with the kids, their partner or friends……

It’s not all bad news for relationships, though: while cyclists do seem to be shunning romance in favour of Sunday cycling excursions, one in five said their partner would be their ideal cycling companion. (The second most popular choice, Sir Bradley Wiggins, trailed by a country mile at just 8% of the vote. Partners over Olympic champions, it seems!)
Sex vs Cycling
Lizzie Armitstead and Victoria Pendleton both made the top ten list of dream cycling companions. Bizarrely, disgraced rider Lance Armstrong was the cycling companion of choice for 3% of those polled…

“There were hundreds of individuals named as people’s favourite riding partners, from Ann Widdecombe and Boy George to Bear Grylls and Barak Obama. The top ten choices were mainly from the world of cycling; after spouses and partners, only motorcycle racer Guy Martin from outside the sport,” said Mr Booth.

“We wanted to learn more about what our customers like about the sport, their cycling habits and their views on new technology, as well as the lighter side of the survey there have been some interesting insights into customers’ behaviours and trends,” he added.

Women's Cycling

Chorizo, wet weather training and saddle comfort: tips from the pedElle 2016 riders

Club Peloton Featured Image
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Last month we brought you the first of a three-part series of exclusive interviews with three riders participating in the Club Peloton pedElle 2016 women’s cycling charity event. PedElle 2016 is a three-day, 425km ride for female professionals from the property industry.  

We have partnered with Aspire PR to bring you this series and we’re thrilled to be catching up with riders Sam McClary, Sarah Jenkinson and Yvonne Smith ahead of the event which begins in Salzburg on Monday 23rd May. Read on for their training strategies, fueling tips, secrets to comfort in the saddle and more…

 

pedElle 2016 Rider Profile: Sam McClary

pedElle 2016

 

Sam, with less than a month to go before pedElle 2016 begins in Salzburg, how do you feel?

Desperately looking forward to getting out of the office and having only to worry about turning my legs and pedalling. If I’m honest, I probably haven’t cycled enough but hoping there’s some good muscle memory left in my legs from earlier in the year and last year’s adventures.

 

What kit will you be taking? What brands/favourite items do you rely on for comfort and performance in the saddle?

I have some AMAZING kit from Betty Designs which I love. And always get comments on. And people asking if the Kick Butt on, well, my butt, is an instruction. It’s great kit though. Not only does it look cool, the fit is great and the chamois is just right – not too much, not too little.

 

What do you use in the way of training aids – for example, power meters, rollers, turbo trainers? Do you have any tips for keeping up training in poor weather?

I don’t use any kind of training aid, which is weird because I love gadgets. Because I’m not racing anymore and just exercising for adventure and challenge I tend to just use how I feel as a training aid. If you can be honest with yourself about how hard you are (or aren’t) training then I think that is a great life skill. Tips for training in poor weather? Man up! Skin is waterproof.

 

Apart from chorizo (!), how do you plan to fuel yourself on the pedElle 2016 ride? What are your top tips for maintaining energy levels – and is there anything you avoid?

Is there anything else apart from chorizo? For the sake of friendships and potentially garlicky burps, I will also use other fuels. I’m really quite anti gels and the like, however, so for me it will be dried fruits – dates and prunes are my favourites – seeds (I can’t do nuts) and some dark chocolate for those dark moments. I’ll also have a greens drink in the morning and pop a vitamin c tablet in my first bottle on my bike. Recovery – apart from wine and Aperol Spritz (a traditional PedElle tipple) – will be a protein shake or chocolate milk. Not just to rebuild muscle, but also because it is a tasty treat after a long, hard ride cycle.

 

One of the biggest challenges on long multi-day rides is saddle discomfort. As an experienced pedElle participant, what is your advice to first timers for avoiding saddle pain?

Investing in a good saddle that works for you and finding the ideal pair of shorts is the key when dealing with saddle pain. Making sure you have been fitted on your bike and using correct form will also help alleviate any discomfort. And getting out of the saddle for a little wiggle never hurts. And of course, sometimes you’ve just got to break everything (EVERYTHING) in a bit.

 

pedElle 2016 Rider Profile: Sarah Jenkinson

pedElle 2016

 

Sarah, with less than a month to go before pedElle 2016 begins in Salzburg, how do you feel?

I’m feeling excited! We had a great training ride a couple of weeks ago in Surrey where 12 PedEllers turned up. There was a fun and supportive atmosphere in the group and lots of giggles. My knees have been feeling a little sore, especially as I’ve been doing more running recently too. So I’ve (slightly grudgingly) started some strength and conditioning sessions to strengthen everything up before the ride. This is particularly important now that we’ve been informed that the first day has 4000m of climbing over 180km with a few 20% gradients…!

 

What kit will you be taking? What brands/favourite items do you rely on for comfort and performance in the saddle?

Hopefully the sun will be shining so it will just be a case of shorts, jersey, sunglasses and a cap! I’ll probably take my Velotoze shoe covers in case it rains ­ I just love these. They’re like a swimming cap for feet and come in lots of bright colours. Lightweight and look good!

 

What do you use in the way of training aids – for example, power meters, rollers, turbo trainers? Do you have any tips for keeping up training in poor weather?

I’m pretty old school; a map and a bike. I don’t really like gyms or spin classes, so tend to just get on with it good weather or bad.

 

How do you plan to fuel yourself on the ride? What are your top tips for maintaining energy levels – and is there anything you avoid?

I try to eat natural foods where possible and just keep eating and drinking every hour. I avoid gels after a bad experience in a triathlon. A few of the ladies have been exchanging flapjack recipes in the run up to the ride and I think home made energy foods are always a great shout! In terms of recovery drinks, personally, I find the best is a cold beer!

 

One of the biggest challenges on long multi-­day rides is saddle discomfort. As an experienced pedElle cyclist, what is your advice to first timers for avoiding saddle pain?

Invest in a good saddle! I have a female specific saddle -­ a Selle Italia Diva and have used it on many long distance trips including a cycle across America. This combined with a decent pair of padded shorts (I use various brands including dhb, Liv and Rapha) should be fine. Of course, sitting in any position for 8+ hours will always lead to some discomfort but I have never really had any big issues.

[This just goes to show how the only way to find the right saddle for you is to go for a saddle mapping session – the Selle Italia Diva was hellish for Vamper’s Victoria but clearly the right saddle for other cyclists. Read more here.]

 

pedElle 2016 Rider Profile: Yvonne Smith

pedElle 2016

Yvonne, with less than a month to go before pedElle 2016 begins in Salzburg, how do you feel?

I am taking the training very seriously as I want to be able to complete the event and not pick up any injuries. PedElle provided me with the programme and it is achievable if you are single-minded with a great husband (shout out to Julian!). Once a week, I go to a spin class and another day will cycle to work and back (50 miles round trip).

Over recent weekends, I have done different rides both days to get some variety. Sometimes endurance and sometimes hills and last Sunday was both! I got up Ditchling Beacon without stopping for the first time and I was thrilled. The family is still planning, accompanying me and encouraging me. Mentally very positive – need to keep pedalling!

 

What kit will you be taking? What brands/favourite items do you rely on for comfort and performance in the saddle?

I haven’t found shorts with sufficient padding yet! I have received the kit list so will go through that and borrow off my daughter Hannah or wander down to the many cycle shops in the West End. To reward my efforts I have bought a Queen of the Mountains T-shirt and one with “Girls on bikes – keep up” for relaxing in the evening. I have promised to ditch the rucksack with all the extra layers, tools, torch, whistle, food, book (in case I get a puncture and have to wait around) etc. as I become more confident.

 

What do you use in the way of training aids – for example, power meters, rollers, turbo trainers? Do you have any tips for keeping up training in poor weather?

What’s the saying – “There is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing and equipment”. I have only given up once and that was in Storm Kate. I love being outside and as I have a dog, you get used to carrying on regardless.

 

How do you plan to fuel yourself along the pedElle 2016 route? What are your top tips for maintaining energy levels – and is there anything you avoid?

I have actually started snacking on chorizo [like Sam!] when cycling and I prefer it to sweets. I don’t really have a sweet tooth. I have also bought Nuun rehydration tablets to add to my water bottle and these are not too sweet either. The usual – wine gums and Jelly Babies give you a lift and help you face the hills. I am ravenous a lot these days!

Multiple long days in the saddle can be quite uncomfortable. What is your strategy for staying comfortable on your bike over long distances?

I mentioned this earlier. I have bought chamois cream but when you are tender it stings like heck! Still looking for a solution and it’s one of my favourite topics of conversation with female cyclists at the moment. During the ride I move back onto the saddle going downhill and forward going up and this helps the balance and also gives a little relief to the under area!

 

 

In addition to paying an entry fee, the riders commit to raising a minimum amount for a number of children’s charities including Coram. To date, Coram has received £500,000 from Club Peloton events, making it Coram’s largest corporate partner. The funds raised by pedElle 2016 will go towards Coram’s adoption services, helping vulnerable children find stable, loving families.

Featured

Cycling the Silk Road: we chat to the teens about to embark on a 10,000km ride

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Two teenagers from the UK are about to embark on a 10,000km cycling challenge completed by fewer people than have climbed Mount Everest.The Silk Road route, which stretches from Beijing to Tehran, is considered to be the longest, hardest, hottest and coldest in the world.

We caught up with Charles Stevens and Will Hsu before they boarded their flight to China to find out how they have prepared for the expedition and how they’re feeling about the epic journey.

The pair are cycling to raise funds for A Child Unheard. Donations are being collected via the pair’s official JustGiving page and 100% of funds raised will go directly to the charity. So far, they have raised more than £12,000 towards their goal of £25,000.

Cycling the Silk Road
The route commences in Beijing and ends in Tehran, via Mongolia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

What prompted you to choose the Silk Road route out of all the courses you could have taken?

There are so many places I want to travel but Silk Road is definitely one of the most fascinating. Not only is it steeped in history and culture but it has become so foreign and unknown to all of us in Europe. We rarely hear about Central Asia and visit these countries even less. So it will be a chance to visit, places, cultures and peoples which are so detached from our own.

We also both share interests in history and economics, and this route will be fascinating with regards to the history of the Silk Road, previously the centre of civilisation up until the 16th Century, as well as its recent economic development through China’s New Silk Road Policy where they are investing in connecting Central Asia with Europe and China. The cultural atavism of the region will not survive forever and we want to see it before it disappears.

How have you been training for the expedition? When did you start training?

We started serious training at the beginning of the year and it has gradually increased in intensity. Training has consisted of a mixture of indoors gym-based work – spin sessions, core and strength training – along with plenty of hours in the saddle on long cycles and interval training rides. But also nutrition has been important, making sure we’re eating lower fat and higher carb diets to get us in good shape for the challenge. We have also been taking amino acid based energy drinks and zinc, magnesium and potassium supplements to help with muscle fatigue.

What bikes will you be riding along the Silk Road? Tell us about them.

Charles has chosen a Condor Disc Heritage, a real classic for British tourers, whereas Will has chosen the Surly Disc Trucker from America, an equally respected brand amongst cycle tourists, and there has been much debate between the two of us on who has made the better choice, the jury is still out on this one.

Cycling the Silk Road
Charles and his classic custom-built Condor Disc Heritage.

We both had our bike’s custom built for the ride and we’ve tried to use the same parts as each other where possible so we can share parts. For example, we’ve both gone for 27C rims, and a set of 28″ tyres for roads and 35″ for off road sections. We also both chose disc brakes as we think they’re more durable than rim brakes and also perform better.

Cycling the Silk Road
Will has opted for the Disc Trucker from American cycle brand Surly for the ride.

What support will you have along the Silk Road route, if any? Have you been brushing up your bike maintenance knowledge?

We do have basic support, where we are met every evening and have the luxury of a hot meal provided and things like that. It’s quite similar to the way the Marathon Des Sables works, where you’re self-reliant during the day with regards to navigation and any minor problems, but you have the safety net of knowing you won’t be left stranded in the Gobi Desert if you end up passing out (but hopefully nothing worse). So we do have to have some bike maintenance knowledge, which I was severely lacking in before this trip. But we’ve been brushing up, so we know how to change tyres, fix punctures, clean and change chains and brake pads.

What kit will you be taking on the Silk Road challenge? What brands/favourite items do you rely on for comfort and performance in the saddle?

Space is at premium on a trip like this, so the kit list is quite minimalist. My favourite kit that I’ve used are my Assos bib and leg warmers. Although Assos kit is pricey, I’ve been glad to have really good cycle shorts (lots of padding). The best shorts I’ve used at a more sensible price are from First Ascent, which is actually a South African brand I would also recommend.

The saddle is so important when your sitting on it for the amount of time we will be and I can’t speak highly enough of my Brooks leather saddle for comfort. However, when I have had any chafing Lucas’ Papaw ointment has saved me more than once!

One of the biggest challenges on long multi-day rides is saddle discomfort. What is your strategy for staying comfortable on your bike over the course of the Silk Road?

People always say prevention is better than cure. So investing in a good pair of cycling shorts and using chamois cream will hopefully do the trick. But having a good saddle really helps reduce my concerns about discomfort.

What speed are you aiming for? Will you be taking it easy, or do you have a schedule you plan to stick to?

We do have a schedule but we’re not trying to kill ourselves by racing from Beijing to Tehran; we really want to be able to enjoy the experience and have time to interact with our surroundings. So our average daily distance is between 100-130km but we do have longer days, as well as rest days. Our longest day is over 200km. Our speed will be really dependent on roads and climb for the day. For instance, when we’re climbing the Pamir Mountains up to 4,600m it will be slow going but as long as we finish the day’s riding before dark we’ll be happy.

With only a week to go before embarking on the Silk Road adventure, how do you feel?

It’s really a mixture of nerves and excitement. I can’t wait to set off and start exploring but I don’t think it has completely sunk in: the idea of being on a bike for the next 4 months. It’s still quite surreal to find something that we’ve been planning and dreaming about for so long finally becoming reality. But we definitely feel ready and we’ve had the time to deal with any minor setbacks and injuries. Our concern now is staying motivated and focused during the trip as we know it isn’t going to be easy to adapt to our newly chosen lifestyle of cycling, wild camping, and living more basically.

You can learn more about Charles and Will’s challenge at www.beijingtotehran.com. You can also follow their progress on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Cycle ClothingFeaturedNews

POC unveils international co-lab collections with Pavé and The Eleven

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Super cool Swedish cycling brand POC has announced collaborations with two of the world’s coolest bike shops, Pavé in Barcelona and The Eleven in Toronto. POC describe the collections “as a means of celebrating the beauty of road biking and the diversity of bike shops around the world”.

Our team represents more than just racing, it is about experiences, friendships, bikes, people and culture – Javier Maya

Stefan Ytterborn, POC CEO and founder said: “Anyone who walks into Pavé or The Eleven will immediately realize that they are more than a bike shop. Most often bikes stores like these are the center of a keen and energetic cycling community. To be able to support the very best in cycling culture and our own mission, ‘to do the best we can to possibly save lives and to reduce the consequences of accidents for gravity sports athletes and cyclists,’ is truly fantastic.”

POC Co-lab Collections

According to Ytterborn, this is the first time POC has developed specific collections with collaborating bike stores. The project has been undertaken with the intention of supporting cycling culture, the POC safety mission and bike communities around the globe. The brand is hopeful that this will be the first of many collaborations with different shops in different countries in the future.

We’re looking forward to seeing how future collaborations unfold; The Eleven and Pavé kits are looking as sharp as we would expect from POC.

The collections which form part of the collaborations include apparel, eye wear and helmets, which will feature the stores’ trademark colours and logos.

Javier Maya of Barcelona’s Pavé said: “We have been working closely with POC for a number of years and we are really excited to build this collaboration together as our riders want the very best in performance and protection.”

“We believe that our team represents more than just racing, it is about experiences, friendships, bikes, people and culture and it is wonderful to create a bespoke collection which represents all these elements together with POC.”

Heath Cockburn from The Eleven, continued: “Bike shops are often hives of activity with deep discussions ranging from the latest electronic shifting technology or disk brakes to the more traditional lengthy discussions on tire compound, chamois preference and training regime.”

“What remains constant, however, is the importance of bike shops like ours, which make a point of supporting the local bike community and culture. Having POC help us and support our vision and ideas is fantastic and we are really proud to collaborate.”

The collections will be available to buy in Pavé and The Eleven, with some limited pieces also available online at pocsports.com shortly.

FeaturedNews

Cycling the Silk Road: teens set to ride Beijing to Tehran in aid of A Child Unheard

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Fewer people have cycled the Silk Road from Beijing to Tehran than have climbed Mount Everest – but next month, that is what two teenagers from the UK are going to attempt. The Silk Road route is considered to be the longest, hardest, hottest and coldest in the world.

Charles Stevens and Will Hsu, two of the youngest people to ever undertake such an endeavour, intend to cycle the Silk Road this year in support of A Child Unheard. Donations are being collected via the pair’s official JustGiving page and 100% of funds raised will go directly to the charity. A week before they set off to begin the acclimatisation process, they have already raised more than £7,000 towards their goal of £25,000.

Cycling the Silk Road
The route commences in Beijing and ends in Tehran, via Mongolia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

The expedition Charles and Will are undertaking will be a serious test of their endurance. At over 10,000km, the Silk Road route passes through nine countries with temperatures ranging from minus 10-degrees Celsius to above 45.

“I’m looking at this excursion as a method of ridding myself of life’s excesses as I cycle from Beijing to Tehran along the historic Silk Road.”

Having lived in the UK all his life, Will Hsu wanted to take a “gap year” to see the world and do something exciting before going to university to study Economics. Signing up for a 10,000km cycle across some of the least-travelled areas of the world definitely falls into the exciting category…

Cycling the Silk Road
Will is looking at the expedition as a method of “ridding himself of life’s excesses”

Speaking about the challenge, Will said: “I’m looking at this excursion as a method of ridding myself of life’s excesses as I cycle from Beijing to Tehran along the historic Silk Road. While to some this may seem like a not-so-good idea, I am looking forward to experiencing new and unfamiliar countries and cultures, while also achieving worthwhile satisfaction through the funds raised for our chosen charity.”

Like Will, Charles Stevens was also eager to accomplish something out of the ordinary during his gap year before heading off to study History at Saint Andrews. As a youngster, he says, he was fortunate to have traveled extensively and to have completed some exciting challenges for charities, something he is very passionate about.

Cycling the Silk Road
Charles wanted to accomplish something out of the ordinary before he goes to university. We think this is as out-of-the-ordinary as it gets.

Charles said, “I feel cycling from Beijing to Tehran will prove to be the most rewarding and, ultimately, the hardest challenge yet.”

“It should provide authentic insight into a route of great historical significance; I believe that the slower one travels through a country, the better one comes to understanding it… at a time of such unilateral change in the cultural traditions of these regions, I hope to have the privilege of seeing them before they disappear entirely.”

“the slower one travels through a country, the better one comes to understanding it…”

The goal of the boys’ trek is to raise £25,000 in support of A Child Unheard, a charity working to improve the lives of children in Africa through education, sports and arts. Will and Charles’ parents have generously funded the entire trip for them, which means that all donations will go directly to A Child Unheard via the boys’ JustGiving charity page.

The 10,000km route across nine countries is expected to take the duo four months to complete, from May to September. Over the course of the journey the boys will climb to over 4,000 metres and descend below sea level. Everyone can keep in touch with the Beijing-to-Tehran duo and monitor their progress via their blog on www.BeijingToTehran.com, where they will be sharing photos and stories during their journey.

For more information about the endeavour and to donate to A Child Unheard, visit Beijing To Tehran or Just Giving.

Featured

What do I like about road cycling? Where on earth do I begin?

Cycling MedalsThere's something really nice about following in my father's footsteps - or, rather, cycle tracks...
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When people ask me what I like about road cycling, it can be hard to know where to start.

There is the wonderful feeling of freedom, to be powering your own journey – that feeling that you are the master (or mistress) of your own destiny. Provided your legs are strong enough, you can get to wherever you want to be under your own steam. That feeling of independence is priceless; how wonderful, to not be worried about the cost of petrol. How liberating, to be travelling by a mode of transport that you yourself can repair. Short of something going catastrophically wrong, with a well stocked saddlebag there is a good chance you can get yourself back on the road.

There is the exhilaration of what feels like flying as you soar down hills, grinning like a dog with its head stuck out of the window of a fast car, the exhilaration heightened by the effort it took to reach the top of the hill in the first place.

There is the strength your body develops: the honed muscles in your legs and the happiness you feel when you lie in bed, tensing your thighs, flexing your calves and seeing that definition. The satisfaction when you swing your bike over your shoulder without batting an eyelid to jog up a flight of steps. The lift that cycling gives to your derrière – no Spanx required here, thank you very much!

There is that incredible appetite you develop, and the insatiable hunger after a 100 mile ride, and the sweet satisfaction that you feel, knowing you have earned every mouthful of that post-adventure feast: never has a pizza tasted so good as when you have already burned 2,000 calories doing what you love.

And then there is the timelessness of it all. The agelessness. The lovely feeling of being out on your bike and seeing families riding together. Fathers teaching their small daughters to pedal solo. Old men, still out cycling together at the weekend, the way they’ve been doing for 50 years. Riding out with a cycling club whose members span generations, your cohorts on your Sunday morning ride ranging from 16 to 70. What a wonderful, inclusive activity cycling is. And, no matter how much lighter bottle cages may get or how much more sophisticated GPS devices and power meters become, the knowledge that really, very little has changed in the world of cycling.

After we completed our first century last year, the Prudential RideLondon event, my dad sent me his cycling medals. He earned them on the tough hills of Lancashire with the Clitheroe Clarion Cycling Club in the 1960s. Of course, his steel-framed steed was heavier than my carbon bike. He didn’t have a Garmin to track his speed and elevation. He didn’t have a cadence tracker, and he didn’t have the moisture-wicking, advanced sports apparel that cyclists have in 2016. But he experienced everything we did: the excitement, the camaraderie, the exhaustion, the aches and pains, the exhilaration – and the deep, deep satisfaction of completing that 100 mile challenge under his own steam.

That’s what I like about road cycling.

road cycling
There is nothing to rival the feeling of exhilaration, satisfaction and physical exhaustion at the end of a 100 mile ride. Apart from maybe the ice cold beer you are about to drink…
Cycle ClothingWomen's Cycling

Urban cycle wear brand As Bold As launches debut women’s collection

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Regular readers will know that it’s not so long ago that I was a dedicated urban cyclist, riding the streets of London in whatever I wanted to wear that day. I may be something of a Lycra warrior these days – but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the need for clothing you can enjoy wearing both on and off the bike. Bib tights and cycling jerseys are fantastic when you’re riding but look less good behind a desk. And don’t even get me started on the trials of changing out of bibs and jersey in a very small toilet cubicle…

Urban cyclist to Road cyclist
Victoria the urban cyclist, and Victoria the Lycra warrior…

I’m increasingly tempted to look to a more hybrid style of cycle clothing that would cut down the amount of changing time and the amount of stuff I carry to work. I do rather miss the days of turning up to work on my bike in something I could wear all day, but that convenience needs to be balanced with the desire to be comfortable and safe in the saddle.

As Bold As

As Bold As makes contemporary cycling clothing to wear on the journey and at the destination. Founder Joyce Brereton has worked to incorporate the technical design elements of dedicated cycling wear with a dose of urban chic: waterproof, windproof, breathable fabrics with sealed seams and high-visibility detailing are combined with street styling to keep you looking the part when you’re not pedalling. 

I’m particularly taken with the As Bold As Drench Coat, pictured below. It’s been designed to keep you warm and dry on the bike, with a dropped back to keep your bum clean and underarm vents for breathability. It’s not so urban that you couldn’t wear it with bib tights and cleats; but it would look great off the bike with jeans and boots, too.

As Bold As Drench Coat

The first collection is female focussed, but plans are hatching to expand. We’re looking forward to seeing what else is in the pipeline for As Bold As. 

Launched in February, the range is available now through asboldas.com, VelovixenVelorution and Skulpt.

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Cycling TipsWomen's Cycling

Rediscovering your cycling mojo: how Victoria got her groove back

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I’ve been feeling tremendously weighed down lately. I lost my cycling mojo.

You know how it is: we’re in the depths of winter, and the days are woefully short. The only daylight hours are spent in an office, thinking about how nice it would be to spend some daylight hours outdoors instead… You arrive home from work later than you’d like every day, in the dark, and it’s time to start cooking dinner. While dinner’s cooking, you’re doing the washing; catching up with parents on the phone (who are in danger of thinking you’ve dropped off the face of the earth); dealing with all the paperwork that came through the letterbox that day; tidying up and cleaning the house. And before you know it, you’re eating dinner at nearly 9pm, and can’t wait to collapse on the sofa for an hour in front of the TV. And winter weekends? You spend the whole working week thinking, this weekend, we’ll get out for a good ride.

while you don’t want to call yourself a fair weather cyclist, you realise you’d rather be inside stripping walls and painting ceilings than battling the elements.

Saturday comes.

The weather is atrocious. The wind is howling, it’s pouring with rain… and while you don’t want to call yourself a fair weather cyclist, you look at all the work that needs doing in your new house, and realise you’d rather be inside stripping walls and painting ceilings than battling the elements.

Tomorrow, you think. Sunday will be better.

Sunday comes, and the weather’s still a bit crap. But you know you have to get on your bike. So, you bundle up, and you drag yourself out, to be buffeted by the wind. It’s grey, and a bit dreary, but you flog yourself on. Your nose runs. Your eyes run. Your ears start to ache. And finally you arrive home with a sigh of relief, knowing that you had to do it but thoroughly glad it’s over.

Then, suddenly, the days begin to lengthen. Not much, but enough that you wake up and it’s daylight. And if you can get away from the office at a reasonable time, it’s not quite dark… And your energy levels just start to rise. You wake up a bit earlier, and finally, you look out of the window in the morning and think – I can’t wait to get on my bike today. And you do it. And it’s fabulous. And your cycling mojo has returned.

You’ve got your groove back.

FeaturedWomen's Cycling

I’m tired, I’m stressed and my knee hurts… It’s time to get back on the bike

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It should be easy to find time for things that are important to us, but it’s amazing how life can get in the way of things.

I want to be cycling every day again, like I did for most of last year. I want to be cycling to work every day, and spending my weekends in the saddle.

So why am I not doing it?

That’s a good question.

I’m tired.

(And I know very well that you’ll be thinking to yourself, exercise will help with that! – You don’t need to tell me. I know that exercising more gives me more energy.)

My right knee is causing me problems.

(And I know that the only way around that is to start cycling regularly again – not pushing it hard, just getting it moving and building up strength. I know.)

My new office isn’t half so conducive to cycling.

There’s nowhere to keep my bikes, apart from by my desk. There’s nowhere to change, apart from in tiny toilet cubicles.

We’re madly busy settling into our new house. We’re still unpacking boxes, and we have renovations and decorating waiting for us.

(Of course, we could still fit in a couple of hours of cycling on Saturday morning before we get stuck into all of those house things…)

But, do you know what?

It mostly comes down to the fact that I’m tired. Tired of short days, high winds, long days in the office and too little time outdoors, tired of the to-do list on my desk at work and bewildered by the to-do list in my personal life.

I feel like I’ve lost my cycling mojo and I need to get it back. Not least because my first time trial event is edging ever nearer… (And I’ll be damned if I’m not going to give it my best).

There are always so many excuses that we make for not doing things – even things that we love, like cycling. But I know the answer to all of this. It’s to stop feeling tired and overwhelmed. And the only way I know how to deal with that?

It’s time to get back on the bike, and to get those addictive, energising endorphins pumping again.

 

My plans for this evening?

I’m going on my bike.

No. More. Excuses.

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Rivelo winter jackets prove a great fit: style and performance in perfect harmony

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We met the wonderfully talented and energetic Tara, who heads up the Rivelo team, back in November. Over a pint in one of Surbiton’s most welcoming hostelries we heard all about this new British brand’s origins, aims and design direction and cast our eyes over the new Rivelo winter cycling jackets.

Fast-forward one action-packed Christmas period spent travelling 1000 miles around the country, Northern floods, a house purchase and subsequent move… A couple of months later and we are finally ready to commit to paper our thoughts on the Rivelo kit.

We have put the Rivelo winter cycling jackets through their paces several times over the past two months: they have been dealt a fair array of weather (most of it wet). It has been with us on our final commutes from our old flat, and it’s now being worn on recces of our new cycling ‘hood’ in Ashford (Surrey, not Kent). The bib tights even managed an outing on the turbo trainer, though it’s safe to say indoor training does not require thermoroubaix protection for the legs.

So with all that in mind, it’s high time we shared our thoughts on Rivelo’s latest offering.

Matt: the Rivelo Garsdale Jacket

I’ve been riding in the Rivelo Garsdale Jacket for a good few weeks in a range of conditions and with a combination of bibs and jerseys from other manufacturers. It has quickly become a staple in my cycling wardrobe: when the temperature drops or if it threatens rain, it’s off the hanger and on my back.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

Performance

At its heart the Rivelo Garsdale cycling jacket is a warm yet breathable, waterproof and windproof winter jacket that should keep you in the saddle no matter what the British weather throws at you.

It is constructed from Schoeller C-Change softshell fabric that delivers a garment that helps keep your core at a comfortable temperature whatever the barometer says. It maintains a good level of air circulation without draughts.

It repels water magnificently, to 10,000mm (I do like to keep those of you waterproof fetishists happy); beading rain simply runs off the jacket – or flies off, depending on how quickly you are riding.

It is also oil and dirt repellent, features that have been thoroughly tested over the weeks we have been riding the Rivelo kit. There has been little that hasn’t just wiped off rather than submitting the Garsdale to another wash cycle.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

Appearance

What if cycling jackets could look good off the bike… but not in that “urban cycling” kind of way?

What if cycling wear had edgier design that didn’t compromise its performance?

Well, it can: the Rivelo Garsdale jacket delivers both of those things.

Think stealth…

Leaving performance out the equation for a second, on a purely aesthetic level the Garsdale is a thing of beauty. On the body the fit is exemplary. The detailing, especially in the arms, is superb. The asymmetric finish to the cuffs is an especially neat touch and one that I feel I wouldn’t want to be without on any future jacket – it allows a glove to fit perfectly underneath.

The race fit of the Garsdale jacket is just right for me: not too roomy, but not overly restrictive. I have been wearing a medium: at 6ft and 165lbs, I have a full range of movement across the chest and arms.

 

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

There are two small changes I would make to the jacket: one, the front of the jacket could stand to be an inch longer. That would (for me) make it nigh on perfect and would increase its off-bike wearability, although when we are discussing performance cycling apparel, it’s something of a moot point. And two, I would prefer the neck to be a little higher; for a winter jacket, it doesn’t offer a great deal of protection around the neck and an extra half inch would be nice.

Design Features

The Garsdale features under arm venting, which maintains a good level of airflow around the jacket. The seams are fully taped increasing its water resistant capabilities. The arms feature a double cuff system, an elasticated inner cuff, to prevent drafts and water ingress and then a second asymmetric cuff that extends over the wrists.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

The back of the jacket houses three deep pockets, one of which has a zipped outer area. There is a beaded reflective vertical stripe to improve visibility from the rear. There is also a front chest zip pocket that provides easy-access storage for keys and cards etc.

All the zips are high quality and thus far have proved snag free. They hold up well in bad weather conditions, too.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Garsdale

Would I buy it?

Without a doubt.

This is quality performance bike wear with an edge. Its points of difference may seem subtle to some, but when you wear this out on actual rides they become glaringly obvious.

Those minor niggles you might have about your other jackets have all been dealt with here. It is cycling apparel that just works and, more to the point, looks damn good doing it. It is well crafted, well designed and the Rivelo winter cycling jackets are really well priced right now – the Garsdale jacket is currently available for £99 at Sport Pursuit.

 

Victoria: Rivelo Larkstone Women’s Jacket

I’ve been testing the Rivelo Women’s Larkstone Jacket, a sleek wind and rain-resistant layer.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone

Performance

Made from British Porelle Dry membrane fabric, this jacket is high performance. Its fully taped seams contribute to the garment’s 15,000mm waterproof rating – and as any British cyclist knows, this winter has made waterproofing oneself vital.

Despite its highly technical credentials, the Larkstone jacket folds down to a super compact state which could, at a push, be stored in a back pocket if the weather took a turn for the better.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone

 

Appearance

I may be serious about cycling, but I’m also serious about wanting to look like myself: I don’t want to sacrifice style for performance.

And this jacket doesn’t force you to make that choice: it is such a flattering piece of kit. The cut of Rivelo cycle clothing is true to standard British High Street sizing, unlike continental brands such as Castelli which are notoriously small. Rivelo’s size Medium fits my 5’8”, size 12 build very well. It is clearly designed by someone who understands women’s bodies, and it’s a pleasure to zip this jacket up: it feels really surprisingly elegant for a piece of sportswear.

I love this lustrous shade of navy blue and the red accents are a lovely, classic match. It’s an understated jacket which, while feminine in cut, is not girly or twee in design.

Tara has really managed to combine aesthetics with high performance in the Rivelo Women’s Larkstone Jacket.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone

 

Design features

There are some clever design features in the Rivelo Women’s Larkstone Jacket. There are no unwelcome breast pockets, which are just awkward on a women’s jacket. I don’t want to fumble about with my boobs to reach my credit card. Instead, there is a neat front pocket by the hipbone to hold a credit card, change, or keys.

My problem with a lot of rain jackets is that their hard shell construction means they are rather baggy to allow movement. This is a rain jacket, but the fabric stretches. Protection from the elements without sacrificing either silhouette or aerodynamics? Perfect.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone

The sleeves are brilliant. They are long, well fitted without being restrictive, and have a lovely stretchy, soft inner cuff which stops draughts and moisture at the wrist.

I’ve mentioned the top notch fit: the sleek look is helped along by the impeccable flat, fully taped seams which serve the fairly integral function of waterproofing as well as contributing to a streamlined profile.

The jacket only has one back pocket. This puzzled me a bit at first: I’d normally expect at least two, and maybe three. However, it’s actually another nifty feature: the back vent, which is positioned directly above the pocket, allows easy access to your jersey pockets. So, if you take off your jacket, there’s no need to empty all your pockets. Clever! What’s more, the rear pocket has a reflective strip which is convenient positioning: it wasn’t obscured by my rucksack.

Rivelo winter cycling jackets Larkstone
The reflective panel on the rear pocket shines really brightly – and is still visible when I’m wearing my small commuter rucksack.

Any cons?

Now, this is a rain jacket, so of course, it will make you sweat when you’re working hard. There’s no escaping the fact that keeping water out will also keep some moisture in. For that reason, I wouldn’t wear it without a wicking, long sleeved layer underneath because otherwise there is a slightly clammy feeling. (Particularly as I’m an especially sweaty sort). It certainly doesn’t make me feel like a boil in the bag kipper, though, unlike some other lightweight waterproofs I’ve tried. And the areas that typically do come into contact with bare skin have been considered: the neck has been lined with soft fleece for comfort while the double layered cuffs are soft and warm, not cold and damp.

 

Would I buy it?

Yes, absolutely. It’s a smart, well cut jacket which performs brilliantly in wet, windy weather. It’s been particularly good this winter, which has been particularly wet and windy… What’s more, I love the colour. I’ll happily carry it around in my rucksack in case the weather takes a turn for the worse, too – I’m impressed by how lightweight it is.

I’d recommend snapping up one of the Rivelo winter cycling jackets while they’re on offer at £59.99 – I seriously don’t think you’ll find a better jacket for the price, and even at the full RRP of £130 I think it represents great value for money. The Larkstone women’s jacket has won me over.

 

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