I love my gorgeous Trek Allant bicycle, but I’ve never been really happy with the basket. I purchased it at the same time as the bike, and the black metal basket was the only one they had in stock. It’s served me well for a few years, but I always wanted a wicker one, to fit in with the look of the bike!
Cycletta South, a set on Flickr.
Photos from Cycletta South – great ride, great atmosphere, great day!
Water Off A Duck’s Back
At the SkyRide I was excited to come across a British company selling some seriously stylish (and by all accounts, very waterproof) cycling jackets. Now, I already have a couple of waterproof jackets – one is for walking, and one is a cycling jacket – but both of them are fairly short and neither of them are particularly fashionable. Once you see the beautiful macs from Water Off a Duck’s Back, I’m sure you’ll agree that ‘fashionable’ is definitely the right word to describe them…
In fact, looking at them, you probably wouldn’t even realise that they’re cycling coats at all…
But, there are loads of really nifty touches to these that make them perfect for cycling – such as reflective bands on the wrists, back of the waist tie, and the collar.
The sleeves are extra long so that they can cope with the extension of your arms when you’re reaching for the handlebars. There’s even a special clip at the base of the coat that keeps it from flapping open as you cycle. And, there’s a detachable hood as well.
You can probably make out the gorgeous purple lining in the hood too – beautiful! You can even tuck your coat neatly into the hood to make it more portable. Best of all, the coats are waterproof – not just, as the site points out, showerproof.
The coat comes in black or stone (love it, but I’m totally scared of getting it dirty!) for £130 – not cheap, admittedly. In fact, probably more than I’d pay for any coat, but let’s just say the sun was shining, my credit card was calling me, and Antonia was offering a special discount at the event which shaved off a few pounds…
Check back later for a real review of the coat in action – I’m pleased to say I’ve not had to use it yet, but my favourite season is approaching and I’m sure there will be plenty of showers!
Well, after having so much fun at the SkyRide in Southampton last month, but feeling like I wanted more of a challenge, I thought I’d take the plunge and sign up for the women-only 40km ride, Cycletta. I’ll be doing the South ride, which involves starting and ending near Whipsnade Zoo, and I’m looking forward to it. I have no idea how well I’ll do, but I’m not really interested in speed (and let’s face it, my bike’s not exactly built for it, either), just completing the distance and having a fun day out with my husband at the zoo. I’m also very much looking forward to the goody bag!
However, one thing I’m not looking forward to is having to get up extremely early to make the trip, nor carting my bike on the back of the car. I hate using the bike rack! I always think we’re either going to hit everyone with our bikes, or they’re going to fall off and possibly explode everywhere… So, in a couple of week’s time, please think of me, getting up at 5am to strap my bike onto my car!
If you’re taking part in Cycletta South, leave me a message, I’d love to know who else is going! Also, check out the final preparation details here.
Skyride Southampton 2011
Skyride Southampton 2011, a set on Flickr.
I hope you all made it out to the Sky Ride in Southampton today! Let me know if you have any photos to share. Here are some of the highlights – as usual, I had to take most of them on the fly, but luckily I didn’t crash into anyone despite the large amount of child-sized missiles on the circuit – bless ’em!
Sea View Ride
Another weekend, and another great Sky Ride Local! This time we cycled a sort of familiar route, although we started in a new place for me – still within cycling distance though (although we took the car as we had no idea where we were going!). This time the ride took us through Victoria Country Park and up to Hamble – we did a similar thing on our led ride from Weston Shore during the Big Bike Celebration in June.
It chucked it down for our trip to Itchen Valley Country Park, but the weather was glorious at the weekend – and even though I slathered myself in lotion, I still caught the sun a little bit. I decided to wear my ASOS cycling shorts with a skirt over the top – I love wearing skirts, but I always feel self-conscious about them being short, so whenever I cycle I get to wear cycling shorts underneath! This actually means I’m getting to wear my skirts way more than I did before, which is great news for me – shallow, I know! I also refound one of my favourite T-shirts that I bought from GAP years ago – it’s so thin and comfy, great for cycling in the sun.
I also discovered Heidi plaits are great for cycling (thanks, Minx Girl!) as they keep the hair off the back of your neck in a sweaty clump – they also look good with a helmet too.
Wearing my lovely Sawako Furuno helmet again – I wondered if the smaller ventilation holes would give me a hot head, but I’m pleased to report even in the sunshine I was fine! It’s definitely not as cool as a normal aerodynamic helmet, but it doesn’t bother me at all.
Unlike the previous two times I’ve been to a Sky Ride, I actually arrived early this time, and so I was able to laze about and watch everyone else hurriedly pull their bikes off their racks for a change!
The ride was a good mix of trails and roads – I’m still completely terrified of getting a puncture on gravel, but once I actually get one I think I’ll be fine. I really want to be able to take some kind of course in bike maintenance, but I can’t find anything nearby, which is pretty frustrating…
Anyway, I like having a mix of track and road, and the Allant manages to handle both decently. I think my favourite part is cycling down a long residential road, though, with everyone else stretched out in front. Somehow, as we all serenely glide along, it reminds me of clouds, just peacefully moving through the air.
Something about it just feels so effortless and peaceful. Until, of course, you get Omar, flipping me the bird over his shoulder.
He thought taking photos as I was cycling was hilarious. I have to admit, it’s not the safest thing you can do on a bicycle, but I wouldn’t dream of doing it if it was actually dangerous (or there was traffic on the road!). I’d love to get a camera mount for my handlebars, but I think that a set of lights is more pressing than that!
Here’s Rachel and Omar at Victoria Country Park – we stopped to watch a yacht race, but we were more interested in discussing their recent holiday to Cornwall. They got to go to the Eden Project, and a cycle ride that ended with Rick Stein’s fish and chip shop, so I’m insanely jealous!
The brief stop was great, though, and it wasn’t long before we were back on our bikes to head to the final point, which was Hamble.
There was a big group, and the leaders did a great job keeping everyone happy. Once we got to Hamble, we headed back again – it was about 75 mins of cycling all together, with about 30 mins of breaks added in.
We’ll definitely be trying out some of these routes ourselves when the Sky Rides end in August!
Lady in red: Maloja cycle jerseys have style
Although I’ve yet to buy any special cycling clothing, except for headwear, that doesn’t stop me from looking… Whilst a lot of cycling jerseys for women are… uninspiring, to say the least, there’s an excellent selection at Minx-Girl. The site is right up my alley – cycle gear for women who aren’t going to put up with flourescent pink monstrosities…
You might remember me saying that red is my thing at the moment, so I was instantly drawn to this amazing red jersey from Maloja. Check out that gorgeous embroidery style detailing around the neck – love it! You can find it here: currently available in large for £44.25. (It’s also available in blue here.)
Keeping with the theme, this sleeveless number is cute beyond belief:
Check out the pretty alpine scene – and the gingham, and the stag…
And, check out this amazingly roomy back pocket! The Maloja Sunrose sleeveless jersey is available here for £44.25 in large and extra small.
This is a short sleeved version of the tunic above, with a snazzy dark blue colour added into the mix. I love this one, it’s sporty and cute at the same time, and I’m totally a sucker for the stag. This jersey is £48.00 and is available in extra small here.
I’m totally loving Minx’s range, and Maloja’s designs are amazing. I’ll have to keep a look out for designs like these in my size! Check out Minx’s huge range of great cycle tops here.
Save money: cycle
I’m pretty lucky – I don’t need to commute, because I work from home. (Or, it sometimes seems more accurate to say, I live at my work). My husband refuses to cycle to work because a) the route back is one mega hill, b) his bike is more unreliable than our car, and more importantly, c) he always has boxes of paperwork and a laptop to transport. So neither of us have much experience of commuting by bike. But, I know for some people it’s a tipping point for buying a bike, and in many cases, it can actually be faster to get to where you’re going by bike. But, is it cheaper?
There’s a handy website at http://www.cycletoworkcalculator.com/ which could help you work out how much money you can save by travelling to work by bike. It’s not perfect (and requires you to do some of the maths yourself in order work out how much your present commute costs per day), but it’s a good start to incentivizing people to cycle to work. With petrol prices going up all the time, it certainly something to consider.
I wonder, though, how many people cycle to work because they just like cycling? Shouldn’t that be your main reason? All of the cost and health benefits are really a bonus – and sort of pointless if you actually don’t enjoy the commute. Cycling is something you should do because it’s awesome, not because it’s ‘cheaper’. And, I really do wonder how much cheaper it really is – honestly, starting cycling from scratch, with a brand new bike and all the equipment, is not cheap. Yes, it pays off over time, but a bike isn’t a financial investment – it’s freedom on two wheels. Can I get a hells yeah?
But, of course, as the Cycle to Work Calculator site itself is the first to point out, sites like these are great for making you feel smug about your bike-bound commute. Saving the planet… yeah, cool. Looking stylish… great. Sailing past traffic… ha. SAVING THE MONEYS… AWESOME! May I get another hells yeah?
Winsor by Compass
Yesterday, I took part in my first Sky Ride Local led ride, which was awesome. What wasn’t so awesome was the stress involved in buying a bike rack for the car, finding out how to install and use the bike rack, and tracking down a false cross bar for my Trek Allant WSD to get it onto the bike rack. We ended up spending a lot more on it than we intended, and then spent the entire journey watching the bikes bounce perilously up and down in the window. And we wound up late (thanks to having to take a last minute trip to town to get said crossbar when my local cycle shop’s offering turned out to be totally unsuitable), which stresses me out more than anything…
This is the route we took, and the ride was called ‘Winsor by Compass’. It was a 14.3 mile course called ‘Ride Steady’, which is a long, yet relaxed, trip.
This was our leader, explaining a bit about the journey and giving us some basic safety rules. Basically, it boiled down to: pay attention!
This is Rachel, kitted out with her Sky Ride tabbard. Her mountain bike had the distinction of having the fattest tyres in the group. There was a real mix of bikes there, from Dutch style bikes (complete with a pink wire basket, which I think you can see above in the group shot!) to racing and mountain bikes.
This is Omar – he bought his bike through the Cycle to Work scheme – something I’d love to do but is not really happening when you work from home!
We travelled on the Test Way for part of the trip. Coming to this from a bit of a walking background I always find it amazing how much ground you can cover on a bike compared to walking. Obvious, I know, but the pace is so much faster and you just get to see so much more! On the other hand, on a trip like this, you don’t get much of a chance to take photos or stop and look at the scenery. Mind you, considering these organised rides are completely free, I’m more than happy to forgo taking endless snaps on my phone!
Most of the ride was along pavement or roads, but we did have a section that was pretty rocky and covered in sharp stones. Someone ended up getting a puncture, which was pretty scary, to be honest! Luckily they had equipment to fix it with them, but I didn’t have anything, so I spent the rest of the stretch worrying about what would happen if I got a puncture too… I really need to get a repair kit!
This was far more typical of the sort of road surface we were traveling on – my bike likes this better, and so do I!
As you can see, I’m still wearing my blue helmet – I haven’t got a replacement for it yet (news on that later, I hope!). The good thing about it is that it is very breezy and doesn’t make my head get all sweaty!
Also, my bike computer decided to stop working yesterday too, which is pretty irritating considering how new it is. I’ll have to take it back to the shop and see if there’s something that can be done about it… In other news, I have a new bag (which you can still buy in the sale here, if you’re interested!). I totally wouldn’t have had a new bag if the bike rack purchase had happened first…
So. my first led Sky Ride Local was a blast, and I can’t wait for Sunday for the next one, which is in Itchen!