Christmas Gift List Ideas

Being in a second lockdown I don’t know if you are like me but I love an excuse to shop online and not have to go out to the shops!

I think I will struggle a little this year thinking of thoughtful gifts for people as most of us have had such a jumbled year with everything that is going on. But, if you are a keen cyclist, like me, then here are some ideas for gift ideas to suit all budgets:

  1. Kettleboob resistant band for strength workouts – definite gains to be had from strength and conditioning sessions off the bike. £14.99
  2. NRG waxed chains – turn those waxed chains into extra watts! Full disclosure this company is owned by friends of mine but they know their stuff and I am a paying customer supporting their small business and have these chains not just on my road bikes but now also my MTB. Prices for chains range from £35 to £60 and other packages available too.
  3. AMWRAP fun fitness gifts – so many options from small gifts to clothing but I can personally recommend the Fuck Burpees jumper, because who likes burpees?!
  4. Spoke and Solace – cycle related clothing for men and women with the pink Giro jumper being one of my favourites, £48!
  5. Love Velo CC – more cycle clothing designed by the lovely Lucy Sturgess and a brand close to my heart promoting equality in cycling. I have many of their tshirts but I think my favourite is the Here For The Cake tee because we all love a good cake stop on a ride right!
  6. GCN Endurance book – new book from GCN by Mark Beaumont who is a long distance cyclist who currently holds the record for cycling round the world. This book gives guidance on all cycling aspects in relation to endurance riding. £16.99
  7. Jens Cycling Art – have you done an event or cycled a famous route and want some art to hang in memory of that? If so then check out the prints available from Jen that start from £25.
  8. BioRacer Winter Cycling Cap – they do say there is no such thing as bad weather just bad kit choices and with this winter cap you can’t go wrong. Thermal cap that covers not just the head but also the ears and part of the neck is a definite winner in my books. £45
  9. VeloPac – I have one of these following a recommendation from a friend and they are fab! Neat little case that is waterproof and holds phone, money/cards, keys to hold your essentials when cycling. From £20 on Velo Vixen.
  10. Dynamic Cyclist subscription – your one stop shop for classes/sessions/training available online or using the app for not just on the bike but also off the bike including stretching, mobility, yoga, strength, injury programming and more. $9.99 per month.

Different FTP Tests


Ah the dreaded FTP test! Lets start with what they are – an FTP test is a measure of your functional threshold power and can be used to determine increase/decrease in fitness but more importantly for training plans so you can be more efficient in your workouts and get the most from them. If you use an app, like Zwift, for training it will colour the intervals of a workout so you can see at a glance and they are as follows:

  • Grey – zone 1/recovery
  • Blue – zone 2/endurance
  • Green – zone 3/tempo
  • Yellow – zone 4/threshold
  • Red – zone 5/vo2 max, which is basically the maximum rate that the heart/lungs/muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise

You know those workouts with all the red are the hard ones!

But there are different versions of FTP tests out there just to add a little confusion and what one should you use? Well I use Zwift and with that you have the option of the following:

Long FTP – starts with a warm up followed by three sets of short ramp ups to 130% and in between two easier leg spins a 5 minute effort before starting your 20 minute effort before finishing with the cool down. The power is measured by the average power from your 20 minute effort and then 5% is deducted for a more realistic result.

Short FTP – starts by getting your warmed up and slowly ramping in two sets of intervals up to 130% of your FTP, the first ramp being shorter and the second slightly longer but only from seconds to minutes. This is then followed by a lower effort leg spin and then your 20 minute effort and cool down. The power is measured by the average power from your 20 minute effort and then 5% is deducted for a more realistic result.

Ramp Test – 5 minute free ride and then you pedal at 1 minute intervals, increasing effort by 20 watts per minute basically until you cannot pedal any longer. The power is measured by your best 1 minute power and then 25% is deducted for a more realistic result.

Ramp Test Lite – basically the above but for those who weight under 60kg or who are newer to riding and has a slightly different structure with a longer warm up period and each 1 minute interval increases by 10 watts. The power is measured by your best 1 minute power and then 25% is deducted for a more realistic result.

I completed the long FTP for my first test and since then always stuck to the short but more recently I was advised by many to try the ramp test. I was also seeing a lot of commentary about the ramp test online with what seemed to be two camps – those who felt it was more efficient and less stressful on the body and those who still remained keen on the 20 minute effort. Anyhow, I had just completed a 6 week FTP Builder training plan and to measure the improvement I needed to complete a test and figured I would try the ramp test. Now I know I cannot do a direct comparison as the last was in a different format but it does still give a good marker.

I have always dreaded the FTP test so was actually keen to see how I felt after the ramp test and if it was the same. Yes it is a very intense short workout but the recovery is absolutely so much quicker! I was surprised how it started so low and so easy to getting a little tougher and then within 90 seconds I would say moving to oh no don’t think I can hold on much longer to not being able to move the pedals. It is definitely a test where cadence is key – find a good rhythm and try and stick with it – the second your cadence drops too much you will almost certainly not be able to continue! I actually laughed when I got a text box asking if I was done and I definitely was so was happy to click the ‘I’m toast’ button and it then gives your result.

The downside of an increase in FTP? All the new workouts are based on your higher FTP levels so in turn are tougher! Let’s finish on a fun fact to end on a lighter note though – my first FTP test (the long one) almost killed me and I was so ruined by the end of it I couldn’t unclip so stood up and lent forward and lost my balance and fell off my turbo. Yep I basically fell off a stationary bike!

Other top tips from me:

  • take a couple of days complete rest before completing your FTP – it is threshold after all so if you are fatigued then you will be putting your body under further unnecessary stress and this will affect the result also
  • make sure you are hydrated
  • keep up the cadence as it really does help
  • stay seated – these tests are designed to record power from a seated effort and although you will be able to get more power from standing you will also fatigue quicker and this will not help the result
  • remember it is all relative – we are all different heights, weight and have different strengths and weaknesses so don’t compare your FTP result with someone else as it is personal to you
  • lastly (and not really a tip from me but from a close friend) is that races help – I know a few people who race online and you will have a message displayed on screen if your FTP increases during the race so it is not just the tests that measure the power output and some do not test well but perform better when racing so that is also an option and helps increase the power too.

FTP Builder Training Plan

I am someone who likes/needs a bit of structure and so despite no events going ahead I wanted to continuing with my training and decided to do the Zwift FTP Builder plan. Now there are many training plans available on Zwift and you should take the time to look at what your end goal is a pick a plan to suit. I opted for the FTP Builder to focus on power and whilst it does say for those new to structured workouts, which is not me, the sessions looked to be in line with what I wanted. It is a 6 week plan and has 4 sessions a week with 2 of the weeks having an optional 5th session if you want. The sessions cover the following:

  • foundation: relatively low intensity ride with goal of spending a large proportion of the ride into endurance zone 2
  • strength: repeats of short and max efforts with the goal to increase muscle use and max strength
  • tempo: most time spent in zone 3 to help increases muscle glycogen storages that improves performance by being able to maintain the intensity
  • intermittent: includes short high intensity intervals with short recovery
  • threshold development: the toughest one that targets the increase in FTP with short intervals at intensity of zone 4
  • optional: 2 of these sessions where you can choose how hard or easy you ride

On my Zwift companion app it was very easy to see how my plan was scheduled for the week and each session says when it will be available and you can click in to each to see what is in the session.

Every session completed then gets ticked off and you work your way through the weeks. I am one of those sad people who love to get my starts in a workout and so liked seeing the green tick when I completed a session too! Here are my stats from the end of the training plan (I bloody love a bit of data):

Yes i know it shows 33/31 which makes no sense but that is because of the 2 optional sessions that I completed.

So how did I get on? Well obviously the only way to measure if it was effective is to compare my FTP result from before the plan to after and whilst the first test was the shorter FTP test and the second a ramp test so not a direct comparison there was a significant increase from 207 watts to 222 watts, that I was absolutely chuffed with!

If you are looking to work on your power I would definitely recommend this training plan – now I am taking an easy week and will start another plan next week – just need to decide now what one I do.

Rehook PLUS Product Review

You can mostly find me out and about on my bike and it doesn’t always go to plan. Like most cyclists I ride equipped in the case of minor mechanicals and punctures (the dreaded ‘p’ word) but secretly hope you don’t need anything from your saddle bag and the ride will be smooth sailing or smooth spinning.

I prefer to try and take as few items with me as possible and pack what I know is useful into my saddle bag . I wrote a blog post on what I carry in my saddle bag that you can read here.

When the lovely people at Rehook offered to send me their new Rehook PLUS product of course I said yes! So what is it? It is 11 tools in 1, which includes:

  • Rehook chain tool head – really useful gadget
  • 2x Tyre levers
  • 2x Spoke keys
  • 8mm, 9mm and 10mm wrench (I have nothing I could use these for on my road, gravel or MTB bikes so didn’t test these, but appreciate other bikes may have)
  • 5mm and 6mm Hex / Allen keys (I found that out of six bikes in our household these sized Hex tools only fit the bottle cages of two bikes. It doesn’t fit any of the brakes, cleats for SPD (MTB)/SPD SL, seat clamps, bike computer mounts or stems, which all required 4mm and I tested on road, TT, gravel and MTBs which are from three different brands. It did fit the crank arm bolts and the derailleur, however, if I had an issue with that I would be using a torque wrench and not this tool if I am being honest although I appreciate I would not be cycling carrying a torque wrench.
  • PH1 Phillips screwdriver

The first product from this company was the Rehook product, as seen on Dragons Den. This was marketed with the purpose of getting your chain back on without the mess and this product is an evolved version with additional features.

The Rehook PLUS is nice and compact with the tool dimensions being: 148mm x 28mm x 14mm and is also super lightweight weighing at just 60g. The strap that comes on the tool means you have the option of putting the tool in a saddle or bar bag, a tool case in a bottle cage and also strapped to your bike frame. I wouldn’t put mine on my frame, just personal preference, as I would be worried that through vibrations in the road it could lead to paint damage, and it is too long to fit in my saddle bag so when I’ve been riding recently I have put it in my jersey pocket.

There is no flat head screw driver piece, which could be useful although limited use on most bikes. I recently got an MTB and wanted to remove reflectors and some other pieces and used the tool but did need a flat head screw driver so thought this could be something for consideration.

Would be good to have a magnet under the Hex/Allen keys storage that you find under the tyre lever. I found when testing and using this that a couple of times they didn’t clip back in properly or fell out and a magnet would be useful to keep them in place. The insert to use the pieces does have a magnet in the bottom which is a nice touch. I would note once the tyre lever is in place they cannot fall out but it would be annoying to take the tyre lever out and them fall out, which was what happened to me a few times.

Rehook PLUS costs £26.99 with free UK shipping.

I was gifted this item but all opinions are my own.

Premax Chamois and Warm Up Cream Review

As a cyclist I have been through my fair share of chamois cream and whilst I know people who do not need this, I am a fan and on the road or turbo will always see me applying a generous amount of chamois cream pre ride and sometimes mid ride too depending on the distance.

I have a few people who are friends and that I follow on social media who use Premax products and so looked into them a little more. I was particularly interested in the warm up cream and seeing if this would help me when on the bike, especially during winter months in particular.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_4628.jpg

Chris Hall yesterday finished his personal #107TDF Project, which is raising money for The Pace Centre. This challenge is following Chris Hall cycling from London to Land’s End to John O’Groats and back to London, covering at least 107 miles per day on the days the Tour de France is on. You can read more about this challenge here and during this epic ride Chris has had many questions about comfort whilst in the saddle and is using the Premax chamois cream and as I type this has suffered no issues.

The Internationelles, who are raising awareness for gender equality in cycling, are also using the Premax chamois cream and honestly whilst the Tour de France route was not possible this year they undertook the challenge on turbo trainers and followed this up with an Everesting challenge. For me products that help with challenges as noted above are always ones I am keen to try as they are tried and tested to such a high level.

I have been using the chamois cream now both on the road bike, gravel bike, MTB and the turbo so a real mix of riding and different terrain. I would always maintain that there are also other factors for saddle comfort to take into consideration such as the saddle itself and bike fit but for me chamois cream is also on that must have list. I have written a blog post about saddle soreness that you can read here and will need to update it to include reference to Premax also. I use a Mimic saddle on my road and turbo bikes but have a Brooks saddle on my gravel which is much stiffer but surprisingly comfortable. I have found a real difference in opinion on some creams with a lot of triathlete friends liking sudocream as it will not wash off in the water but I don’t personally like the consistency of cream like that for riding. I found the Premax cream to be pretty much perfect consistency, smells nice, noticeable difference when riding, easy application, doesn’t stain (this is important as some can leave some discolouration on chamois pads that no one wants!) and no chaffing experience whilst riding. The cream I used was women’s specific so was designed with a female specific PH formula too. Pretty much ticks all the boxes! What would be great would be individual sachets – an item I will often take on long rides in my saddle bag.

Now the warm up cream! Well I had been looking at another brand who offered something similar and was keen to see if this stuff worked. I always find the first 10 miles of a ride to be the hardest to warm up and get going so a cream that claims to warm up the muscles is something I was definitely interested in. I was keen to know the feel because having used magnesium sprays post ride previously I knew that using too much can pack a little bit of a sting and I had heard the same of some warm up creams too. This cream was smooth, easy to apply and smelt great! I have used it again on road, gravel, MTB and turbo and a real difference of short and endurance rides too with the shortest being one of the gravel rides at about 10 miles and the longest being just over 130 miles. Now I know I said it takes me about 10 miles to warm up but I also find off road riding much harder and will joke saying 10 miles off road feels like 20 on the road so that my comparison. I was pleasantly surprised that my legs felt that they were in fact ready to go sooner into the ride and will be keen to continue using this to test more especially in the winter months to see if it shows benefit then too. The only thing I haven’t yet done is take with me on a long ride to reapply and think that could be useful too.

I was gifted the items, but all opinions are my own.

Vinny’s Summer Bootcamp

I have been training with Emma for a while now and wrote a blog post about picking a personal trainer that you can read here.

Training I have done with Emma has been varied from in the gym, outdoor workouts, obstacle training and running.  Recently, however, Emma has started doing outdoor training more and this has worked well especially within the constrictions of government guidelines around COVID.  When she advertised for a 6-week summer bootcamp I was immediately interested.  My main focus is cycling right now but with all events cancelled for 2020 it has given me the opportunity to change my focus slightly and incorporating more strength work, I know from experience, would provide benefits in itself.

So what was included?  Well there were 3 packages on offer as follows:

  • Yellow – £50 – 3 x group PT sessions per week, access to online workout videos, 1 x face to face nutrition talk per week
  • Purple – £70 – unlimited group PT sessions per week, access to online workout videos, 1 x face to face nutrition talk per week
  • Black – £90 – unlimited group PT sessions per week, access to online workout videos, 1 x face to face nutrition talk per week, 2 x solo PT sessions to be used over the 6 week period

I opted for the yellow package as that fit in with my schedule the best and still allowed days for cycling.  I am currently working from home so have the benefit of being a little more flexible with time compared to if I was commuting into the city and with 17 bootcamp sessions on offer over each week it is easy to make this work with other commitments – no excuses!

All sessions are held outside, no matter the weather, on private fenced tennis courts so the space being used is purely for Emma and the participants of the sessions she is taking.

In advance of the start I was added to a private facebook group, which was good as everyone on the course is in the group and you can all interact with each other and ask questions.  Emma emailed over a booklet, which included everything about the course, link for the booking system with timetable, exercise and food tracker, nutritional detail and more.  There would also be videos shared within the facebook group from Emma with nutritional information that we could benefit from.

Emma, by her own admission, is not a personal trainer who will opt to use lots of fancy equipment and so whilst there is pretty much all the equipment you would need for a bootcamp/circuit class for these sessions, some will use purely one tyre per person for the entire session – don’t be fooled by thinking the simpler the easier as these are often the harder sessions.  And I will admit those sessions are my favourite – how much can you do with one tyre?  The answer is a lot and you will definitely feel it by the end of the session!  She won’t scream and shout at you so you will get out what you put in and you just need yourself, a mat and a bottle of water.

The hardest session?  There was one where we completed 1,000 reps within the session.  There were 10 stations, 1 exercise per station, 1,000 reps in total (it was savage) but at the end I was all check me out I just did 1,000 reps!!

I like the bootcamp type of workout as it is great for strength and conditioning and as many of the sessions are high intensity aerobic intervals you tend to burn more calories.  I also find with group training I tend to push myself harder especially if I am paired up with someone else.

I knew a number of the people signed up for the bootcamp course but even those I didn’t  were all very friendly.  As my work returns to potentially going back into the city I won’t be able to keep these sessions up and will miss it, the structure is fab although I won’t miss the midges!  There is, however, the option for pay as you go so I am sure I will still be back for some of the sessions on offer.

If you are wondering what sort of thing is done during these sessions head over to the Trained By Vinny facebook page to see some of the videos and pictures that are shared to give you an idea.  For more info you can also check out Emma’s website here.

And with regards to COVID Emma has put in a number of measures including completion of a questionnaire in advance of attending sessions, providing a register on arrival, gloves for those that want them, antibacterial gel for us, wipes for people to use and all equipment is wiped down and sanitised before and after every session – my equipment at home will seem alien not smelling of anti bac ha ha!

There are also benefits from training outdoors including getting more fresh air, some people claim that being outside raises serotonin levels that regulate anxiety, happiness and moods, it is better for your well being, boosts your immune system, more time in the sun increases vitamin D levels and when it rains it hides the sweat!

img_4030

And the results speak for themselves!  During the 6 week period I got the following results:

  • I improved in all areas on my fitness test at the end of the course compared to when I started.  This test included how many sit ups, press ups and squats I could do within a minute and how long I could hold a plank.
  • I found as the weeks progressed certain exercises like chest press, shoulder press were noticeably easier.
  • I lost 9.5lbs in weight.
  • I lost a total of 16 inches across chest, waist, hips, thighs, arms, neck and wrists.

Just look at all the smiles!

My Favourite Cycling Jerseys

When I first started cycling I was adamant I would not be one of those people who were head to toe in colour matching lycra kit.  I am probably not the only person who has done this and now looks at their cycling kit and thinks well I couldn’t have been more wrong – I mean matchy matchy is everything!

But on a serious note cycling specific kit serves a purpose honestly.  I wrote a blog post about my top 5 bib short for cycling that you can read here.  So that was the bottom half and now I am talking about the top half.

You don’t want jerseys too big so they are flapping around, but you want them to be breathable and comfortable.  I mentioned kit having a purpose and you will find different jerseys have different designs but most with back pockets to store food, spares, phone etc and these are much more easily accessible than having to stop to get items from saddle bags as an example.

Now I find jerseys and more specifically the fit is personal preference.  For example, my husband prefers a more fitted jersey and I want to feel like I can breathe!  You will find a lot of brands will offer different designs such as casual fit, close fit, aero, light and heavier weight fabrics and much more including some with material that help protect from the sun too.  Being larger chested I often find sizing can be awkward and have experienced kit in the past that will fit around the bust and be too big elsewhere.  So here are my favourite cycling jerseys:

Foher – in addition to my ambassador kit from last year and this year my favourite is the Pegasus kit.  This will be no shock if you follow me – just take a look at the design, its gorgeous!  For my UK friends I would note that the size comes up smaller than ours so I would advise whatever you take here, you may want to consider sizing up.  Washes great and what I love most of all from the kit from Foher is that it is so different from the kit available elsewhere in the UK and really stands out!

img_2621

BioRacer – I have a lot of kit from BioRacer and all fab but hands down is my custom kit.  This kit never fails!  Good for all rides – short or long, washes fab and lasts for years!  I mean literally years – I have not had the custom kit for that long yet but other same cut/fit I do and it’s literally as good as new.  You can see here another style similar as an example.

img_4192

Fat Lad At the Back – as I mentioned I am larger chested and so find sizing for jerseys can sometimes be an issue.  This brand has a female arm called Fat Lass At The Back and the female jerseys don’t come in standard sizing.  Instead they go by bust size so you literally select the same inch measurement as you would for the bra you wear and the result is such a comfortable fit.  I have a number but my favourite would have to be the ride for cake jersey.

3ad130e5-643d-407f-b235-415a9a75b1f1

Stomp The Pedal – I have the signature jersey in guess what colour?  Neon pink of course!  Tarsh (the founder of this brand) most definitely lets her personality shine through her collections and I love how bright and different they are.  The pink is very me and as such matches a lot of my other kit and bikes too.  Similar to the Foher kit I would perhaps size up in this fit.

img_0166

Specialized – I have a couple of jerseys from Specialized and can’t fault it one bit both in terms of design and comfort.  I am actually looking at some of their off road jerseys for my gravel bike so will be checking out what they have on offer for that cycling discipline too.  Here is another jersey I have which is similar and again fab – also need this one in grey as my friend has it and I have kit envy!

img_2528

Liv – this jersey was a gift from a friend and is more of a classic design but the fit is fab and very comfortable when cycling.  It also goes with all the black bib shorts I have so win win!  However, sadly not available on their website any longer.

img_2791

DHB – this is Wiggle own brand and again like I mentioned for some of the above I really like some of their brighter kits.  A lot of their kit is also much cheaper compared to some other brands but the quality is still fab.  They have a number of items in their current sale at the moment too, which is where I got the jersey in the below photo from!

img_3990

All of the above jerseys are comfortable, wash fantastic and very importantly for me don’t move around whilst riding!  I cannot stand wearing jerseys that move up and down whilst riding as I spend too much time trying to pull them back down again and well lets face it that is just annoying!

Some of the items mentioned above were gifted, however, all opinions are my own.

Numb Hands Whilst Cycling?

When you ride do you find you ever get numbness in the fingers or hands?  I know I do, especially on longer rides and it is actually very common!

When I first started cycling I was on a group ride and it had been explained to me the various hand signals that I may see being used and what they meant.  Obviously it takes a while to get to grips with these but most are self explanatory.  However, the kind gentleman who I was following during the ride had pointed out holes, parked cars to indicate he was moving out into the road, and indicated slowing but when he started shaking his right hand I went into panic mode and was frantically searching the road surface for some kind of debris or obstacle and there was nothing.  Shortly after we stopped and I asked what he was indicating to and he said nothing his hand was numb ha ha (yeah I felt a bit stupid).  But I find myself doing the same thing when I get numb hands by shaking them out.

img_7012

So what causes this when cycling?  There are a number of things that can cause this but the two most common being handlebar palsy (otherwise known as cyclists palsy) and sometimes carpel tunnel syndrome though this is more rare.  Sounds a bit medical right?  So if we take it back to basics a little both are effectively caused by compression of nerves (radial, medial and ulnar) and this is largely because when riding you may (mostly unknowingly or unintentionally) find you are putting pressure on your wrists/hands when cycling.

There will be instances that are unavoidable such as poor road surface or roads that are cobbled as they will inevitably cause vibrations that will travel up the bike frame to the bars and ultimately your hands and this can also cause tingling and numbness over a period of time.

There are many things that can help with this, such as:

  • Bike fit – I am a huge advocate of a proper bike fit!  The smallest of changes can make such a positive difference to your riding experience, prevent injuries and give more enjoyment whilst riding.  I won’t go into detail here but I do have a separate blog posts that goes into the importance of a bike fit in more detail that you can read here.  With regards to numbness you could find you may benefit from checking brake and handlebar position, which could play a part especially if they are too high/low or close/far from you.  It could also be related to seat height.
  • Strong core – the better your core, the less you will be leaning heavily and applying pressure on the handlebars when cycling so there is work that can be done off the bike to see benefits whilst on it too.  A good strong core should be able to see you able to ride using just fingertips or even hands free – though maybe practice on a turbo and keep safe on the road!
  • Gloves – I do believe this is personal preference.  I always wear gloves when riding but I know others who don’t like or feel the need for them and neither is right or wrong but could protect you in the case of an accident.  However, if you do suffer from numbness in the hands or fingers then the padding in some gloves may be of a benefit to you.  The padding in the gloves are normally placed exactly where you will have more pressure in the riding position and done so in order to stop compression of the nerves that cause this. My glove of choice is from BioRacer and you can find them here.
  • Arm position – you may have cycled before and heard the term chicken wings?  You should not be in a position where your arms are fully out stretched and rigid.  You should have relaxed shoulders and a slight bend in the elbow and be able to hold the bars and move your arms a bit like a chicken wing.  This is a result of a relaxed upper body position.
  • Hand/Handlebar position/movement – when I ride I ride on my hoods but when climbing I shift my hand position to the tops so you naturally have pressure on different areas.  I rarely (if ever) use my drops but that would be another position also.  You would be less likely to experience this if riding in a time trial position or using TT bars because of the position on the bike being so different and having different pressure points.
  • Handlebars – the bike I currently ride has aerobars and I find these to be the most comfortable I have used whilst cycling as there is more surface area to navigate and use for different riding positions.
  • Bar tape – not just to look good but also for comfort and you will notice a difference if using super thing tape on your bars.  I am currently riding with Specialized bar tape but I am also a fan of Lizard Skin too, both of which have a cushion that I find comfortable.

Happy cycling!

Why Do Cyclists Do That?

I was cycling recently and one stretch of road had some truly awful road surface with so many holes, wide cracks and uneven surface on the left hand side where I would normally be positioned when riding.  I had to indicate several times to move out to the right and thankfully the driver behind me was very patient and this was not an issue.  Shortly after we came to a set of traffic lights and it was red so I stopped and the driver pulled up beside me.  They politely asked why I kept moving out and so I explained that the holes and cracks that he could drive over in a car could have terrible consequences for a cyclist.  He said that made sense and when the lights changed we both set off on our way.

Now don’t get me wrong there are some terrible cyclists out there, but there are also some terrible drivers so lets not tar everyone with the same brush as there could be a very plausible reason.  There are so many things like what I outlined above, that I am sure are unknown to those who do not cycle and so I thought I would list a few and share why cyclists may behave differently on the road to a car user.

  • Potholes – as mentioned earlier a hole that a vehicle could easily drive over could cause an accident with horrible consequences for a cyclist.  This could cause punctures, bent wheels or cause a flip off the bike.  You may see a cyclist move further out into the road, after indicating and when safe, to avoid such obstacles.
  • Manhole covers – particularly dangerous when wet, especially on slick road tyres, as they can cause wheels the slide but also can be sunk into the ground and have the same effect as potholes so similar behaviour may be observed as mentioned above.
  • Speed bumps – the same as a car driver, a cyclist needs to anticipate the obstacle whilst also checking the road surface on the other side so you may notice a cyclist lower their speed before going over speed bumps.
  • Cycle paths – I commute on the CS3 and it is great to have a safe space to cycle that separates the car users and cyclists, however, if there are roadworks the signs are very often put in the cycle path.  These paths are not cleaned that often either and more often than not end up with debris that can cause accidents and punctures.  The surface can (as is the case on the CS3) be savage in winter when the wet and the result of cold weather such as icy surfaces can make bike handling particularly difficult.  As per rule no 63 of the Highway Code it is not a legal requirement to use a cycle path so cyclists may choose not to do so, so you may see cyclists opt to ride in the road if it is the safer option to do so.  The design speed on these paths is 12mph as per London Cycle Design Standards and a lot of cyclists will exceed this.  cycle paths are also intermittent and will very rarely, if at all, take a cyclist from their start to end destination and this could be another reason they opt not to use them and instead use a different route.
  • Railway crossings – same principle for cyclists as car users in that if barriers are down they must stop and wait and when riding across maintaining your line is key so wheels do not get caught and wedged on the tracks so you may find a cyclist may move out slightly to ensure they go over at the right angle.  Cyclists may even need to dismount and walk across depending on the angle of the tracks for safety.
  • Cattle grids – these are more common when cycling off road but I have had to cross these on a number of events and if I am honest they terrify me!  Mostly the same principle as railway crossings apply, however, on some the gaps can be way too wide for a road bike and so you may see people choose to get off their bike and walk over to be safe.
  • Cobbles – again super slippery when wet and depending on the gap between the cobbles, cyclists need to ensure they maintain momentum to avoid having an accident or fall.  If a wheel were to jam between the gap the momentum you had up until that point would more than likely see you going over your handlebars.  They may also increase the gear, which can slow the speed slightly but this is to ensure the chain does not slip.
  • Traffic lights – same rules for all road users so if it is red then you stop and wait!! It is key for cyclists to be aware of vehicles on the road with them and vice versa especially when you may be travelling forward and a vehicle next to you may turn left across your path.  Rule no 69 and 71 of the Highway Code cements that all traffic signals and signs are to be obeyed.
  • Puddles – never trust them as a cyclist as you can’t see what is underneath!  Much the same principle as potholes so you may see a cyclist indicate to move out to avoid it in the road and that is the reason why.
  • Riding two abreast – in line with the Highway Code it is suggested to ride two abreast so there is a shorter distance for vehicles to overtake.  This of course should be exercised with common sense and changed to single file especially in more urban areas, narrow roads and around corners.
  • Road tax – that old favourite that cyclists don’t pay road tax, well neither do cars.  It was abolished in the 1930’s and now emissions tax is paid and bikes have no emissions hence no fee required.
  • It’s illegal to ride on the road – I have been told this by drivers a number of times and it is just incorrect.  Rule no 64 of the Highway Code states that cyclists must not cycle on a pavement.  Very often car users would prefer for cyclists to ride on the pavements and cyclists will wonder why other cyclists are riding on the pavements and not the road?!
  • Hand signals – cyclists use a number of hand signals when riding with others.  If you are not a cyclist you may drive behind one thinking what on earth are they doing.  Mostly this is to indicate the direction they are going so other road users are aware, but it could also be to point out holes or obstacles, indicate if there is a car parked and they need to move out in the road, hold their hand up or pushing down gesture to signal stopping or slowing down, or gesture to vehicles behind that it is safe to overtake.
  • Horses – cyclists should slow down if approaching a horse rider on the road and this should be done regardless of what direction you are approaching it.  Cyclists should keep pedalling but slow down and not freewheel as the sound can scare the horse.  They will pass carefully and wide.
  • Parked cars – cyclists may allow ample space between them and a parked car just in case of opening car doors so you may notice cyclists move out further into the road as they pass parked cars and this is the reason why.
  • Riding out of the gutter – it is believed that cyclists should be positioned right next to the gutter/pavement when on the road and most cyclists will position themselves to the left.  However, cyclists are within their right to cycle on the road and the gutter is where debris collects and so it is often the safer choice to position yourself just outside of that so that is why you may see a cyclist choose to ride slightly further out in the road.
  • Wind – the effect of wind on a cyclist can cause your position to shift especially if you are passing a gap in a hedge, for example, and a crosswind appears suddenly.  As a cyclist I can honestly say my last wish is to be a hazard to other road users and involuntary movement is often scary but out of our control.
  • Being visible – as a cyclist I prefer to be safe and seen and will always use adequate lights and reflective clothing when necessary.  I do not want to assume another road user has seen me and this assists with that.  Rule no 60 of the Highway Code states cyclist must have a white front light and red rear light lit.
  • Bus lanes – if road signs indicate it is permitted then cyclists may use the bus lane.  On my commute there is a busy road in London that I always opt to use the bike lane as it is safer and I ensure I pass any parked buses with care in case a pedestrian is walking in front.

As a cyclist I can honestly say I do not wish to hold up other road users at all.  There is nothing worse than being on your bike knowing you are holding people up, especially if there is no obvious passing place or safe place to stop.

There are a number of resources available online on this matter as follows:

Happy cycling, and driving!  Let’s all share the road in a positive way.

Safety Whilst Cycling

I often bang on about being safe and seen on the bike as I believe it is important, but what else can you do to help with safety on the bike?  Thinking of accidents, injuries and even so far as worst case scenarios it is important to forward think of what can help in these sorts of situations both for riding solo and as part of a group to enable others to help you should the need arise.

img_3409

A good friend of mine gave me an ID band as a gift one year – I have the pink because well, pink, and she has the yellow and the idea behind that is because we are both part of the same cycling club and the colours are yellow and pink (see what we did there).  The bands are from a company called OneLife iD and they offer many items that hold personal information including medical conditions, emergency contacts and more.

A great image on the website from OneLife iD is their vital signs information sheet, which shows some of the ways you can benefit from their products with a little more information, below:

OneLifeiD-VitalSigns

I have personally ended up post accident on the bike in the back of an ambulance and luckily I was riding with two very good friends, with my husband and one of their partners not too far from us in a car.  Obviously I was not alone and they knew my husbands number to phone him as my emergency contact but if I were riding alone and without ID it could be slightly different.  In this instance (you cannot make this up) the road was closed as I was out on the floor and the traffic was stopped in both directions.  On one side of the stopped traffic there was a driver who was an off duty fireman and on the other side an off duty paramedic so I could not have been in better hands all round but that is obviously not always the case.

I had a friend who found someone at the side of the road and had the unfortunate experience of having to phone his wife to explain to her what was happening.

The items I have from OneLife iD include the following:

  • Sports ID band – £18.99 – this is one of the newer products and strap is similar to a silicone apple watch style strap and totally adjustable.  I have it in red as pink was not an option (ha ha).
  • Sticker pack – £9.99 – this is a packet of 7 stickers that you can use as you wish whether you put them on your bike, helmet, phone or other kit or a mix of all as you have enough to cover all options really.  Very discreet and waterproof so if you were putting on the outside of something it will withstand the weather.
  • Mini tag – £6.99 – super small and can attach to a key ring or be put inside a wallet.
  • Lumo ID – £22.99 – obviously I had to go for the pink option but this is one style of the bands they offer.  Super comfortable and I don’t event realise I have it on.  Comes with a strap that is easy to cut down so the fit is right just for you.
  • Medical card – £5.49 – same size as a credit card so could go in a bag, wallet or the back of your phone case and includes all emergency info needed including medical details.  There is also the option for the same sort of card but for allergies specifically.  This information is crucial for a medical responder to ensure you receive the appropriate care/treatment that you need.
  • Adventure ID wristband – £16.99 – this was my first OneLifeiD band that I mentioned earlier was a gift and I have had it now for over 3 years and it is still going strong!

Carrying emergency ID is such a small, easy and inexpensive thing to do and OneLife iD offer so many options including, but not limited to stickers, tags and bands.  When you purchase an item you set up an ID and this acts as your account and includes all relevant information that would be needed in case of an emergency and this can be set as read only and emergency details that can be accessed via your personal profile and pin given on your ID.  You can read more and view a demo page here.  You can also see in further detail the concept behind OneLife iD here.

You can really add as much or as little as you wish to your profile depending on your needs and there are tips on the website giving examples of information you may wish to include.  I, for example, have no allergies or medical conditions but if I did I could include documents and detail that could be accessed should it need to be, including insurance documents, social media details if you want to add, photos and more.  You can also update the online profile whenever needed and as the information is stored on your profile there is no need to purchase more items, unless of course you want to!

When you receive the items there is an easy to follow activation link you receive via email to activate the products and you are good to go.  I was also impressed when I tested the QR codes and I received an email to tell me that my profile was accessed using the secure pin with date, time and approximate location.  The purpose of this is to identify if it was unauthorised access should you be concerned your pin has been compromised.  For me this was ok as it was me testing it but it does give instruction to contact OneLife iD to de-activate the pin if it was a security breach, which is good to know.

The cons?  There are not many but a couple of things I would note:

  • For the Sports ID band and Lumo ID band the pin needed to access information is on the underside of the metal tag, which means if someone was going to use it to get your details to assist they would need to know to take it off and turn it the other way round.  In the case of a real emergency would this be obvious?
  • For the items with details available via a QR code you are reliant on good mobile signal, which may not always be the case wherever you are.

I use for cycling but actually you can use for any sport and even outside of sport can use as an ID.  This includes options for a social ID to share information with others both from a personal and business perspective, and IDs for other things such as luggage, kit, equipment and even the dog!

If you are part of a sports club these are great to have as something members can use whilst participating in whatever sporting discipline.  They can be customised and start from as little as £4.99.

I was gifted these items but as mentioned I had a band beforehand and all opinions are my own.