Skin care regime when living an active lifestyle

I love being outdoors, literally any excuse, whether that be walking the dog, out for a hike, run (jog), getting covered in mud at an obstacle race or cycling.

This does of course mean my skin is always exposed the elements and I have noticed over recent years that it has become more and more dry.

I attended a pre launch evening with Bianchi Dama to try some of their bikes and find out more about their collaboration with CJ Skinhealth towards the end of last year, which you can read my blog post from here.  At this evening I was gifted their active cleanse and enhance & protect products, a two product skin regime ahead of their launch in November 2018.  I noted in my previous blog post that although I am a keen cyclist I was probably not the correct demographic for the skincare range as I was quite lazy with my skin routine and if I am honest whatever I had in the shower was what went on my skin (I know I know…..).

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It is now more than six months on and I said I at the time I would update with a follow up and I am pleased to say I am still using the products.  Not only that but I bloody love them!

As I said I love being outdoors but do notice the effect it has on my skin and whilst I am not even willing to consider changing spending more time outside than inside, I can look at how I look after my skin and I can honestly say that aside from day to day usage these two products are the first I pack when going anywhere.  Since I have had the products that includes:

  • over a dozen muddy obstacle runs at various locations in the UK
  • Beachy Head marathon
  • hiking in the Peak District
  • hiking at Snowdon
  • training camp in Lanzarote
  • 3 cycling events in Sweden
  • numerous cycling events in the UK and over 3,500 miles on the bike

I am due to go to Sweden again later this week and Fuerteventura in September and again know these will be right there at the top of my packing list.

So what is my skin exposed to?  Sun, wind, rain, heat, cold, mud and of course sweat!  I am lucky that I have never really suffered with breakouts but I do have very fair skin and with exposure to the sun one of the biggest factors impacting the appearance of skin, and the fact that I burn really easily (think the sort of factor you would use on a baby),  these products having SPF 30 and UVAPF 30 sunscreen in them is brilliant for me.  Protecting your skin from harmful rays is so important – according to Cancer Research there were over 15,000 cases of melanoma in the UK in 2014-2016, with over 2,000 deaths – of these 86% caused by UV and were preventable. There is nothing worst than putting on cream or sun block and when you start sweating it runs and ends up in your eyes (ouch).  Plus it smells amazing and stays on the skin.

According to Statista the retail value of the beauty and personal care market in the UK shows that for 2019, the market value for beauty and personal care has reached approximately 16 billion euros, which is showing an increasing trend and value moving forward and highlighting how large the industry is and the trends in this area that are driving growth.

According to Glamour magazine, in an article they published last year, they published the findings from a survey to see how much women are spending on beauty products and it averaged at almost £500 per year with some having anything up to a 10 or 12 step process with some using 16 products – 16?!  I am all for having good skin but that seems excessive and quite frankly I’d rather be out on my bike than doing all of that!  It is not surprising, however, especially when there is a product for every possible situation; day cream, night cream, sun scream, hand cream, foot cream, body cream, waters, cleansers, milks, oils, serums and lotions with the list seemingly being never ending!

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I was pleased to see earlier in the year that Lucy Charles is an advocate also.  Lucy is a professional triathlete who has had huge success and I am sure we will see that long continue.  She is also the most down to earth lovely person.  Lucy has an intense training program and again this means her skin is exposed to the elements constantly and I spoke to her about the products to get her opinion on them, which was as follows:

‘I have been using CJ Skinhealth for 6 months now and the products have been a game changer for me.  As someone who has struggled with dry skin and breakouts since my early teens I never thought I’d find just 2 products that could solve the problem.  I use CJ Skinhealth every day pre and post training sessions and I have noticed a huge difference, I even get complimented on my skin now which I never thought would happen!’

One of the ladies I met at the pre launch is Beth and she is part of the Bianchi Dama race team, so one of the ladies instrumental in the testing and feedback process.  I spoke with Beth about the products and she said in using the products this is her opinion that is also shared with some of her other team mates also:

‘It’s really added to my confidence.  When competing your confidence can play a big part in how your race goes and feeling more confident in myself and my skin being completely bare, with no make up, has just given me that extra boost.  I think everyone can relate that if you look good you feel good, it’s not often the thing that makes you look good is also the best thing for your skin!  These products have given that to me’

I would happily recommend these products to anyone and if you check out the CJ Skinhealth website you can see others who use them too and read their reviews.

What I really like about good product is being able to speak to people who really know what it is they are trying to achieve with it and are not just a sales person.  Talking to James about his studies in advanced cell cytology and work he has done with the innovation lab and Harley Street skin specialist in order to create these products, that make great skin health accessible to all, was fascinating to my inner geek.

This is a company that have taken time to leverage research, experience and advanced science to produce these products specifically for active lifestyles.  Also don’t be fooled by thinking this is a women’s product either – this is completely unisex though I won’t tell my husband that or I fear mine will run out pretty quickly!

The other thing that appealed was that they were bringing this product to market using the very people who would benefit from it.  So as a cyclist I know the team from Bianchi Dama have tried and tested this, in different weather and environments, and their feedback, as well as other athletes ranging from winter to water sports, has helped with the various iterations of the products.  They know how it works and how these products would benefit someone like me being out and about on the bike whilst also solving the challenge of eliminating complex and time consuming skincare regimes, which lets face it very few of us have time for – I know I don’t!

If you would like to try the products you can use my affiliate code FATGIRLFIT2015 for a 10% discount.

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

Kit Review – BioRacer Bib Shorts

If you follow me on social media you will see many pictures in my club kit.  This is custom kit and Romford CC get this from BioRacer UK.  So I have many years worth of experience of using kit from this supplier.  I actually handle club kit for my club and it is always great dealing with these guys especially as they themselves are cyclists and can give first hand advice and recommendations that are knowledgeable – nothing worse than being sold something by someone who doesn’t know the sport it is used for or the nuances you may encounter.

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I was contacted to review some kit and part of me thought I know the kit already but the other was intrigued as it is slightly different to the kit that I currently have.  I have also found previously that sometimes the quality of custom kit can differ somewhat to that you can purchase off the shelf and so was interested to see if this was the case with BioRacer.  Thankfully the quality was the same, which I am pleased to say as I think it should be that way.

If you cycle you will probably recognise the name BioRacer especially if you watch any social media coverage of global cycling events as many teams have kit by this manufacturer.  I was also pleased to see a BioRacer stand at a recent event I attended in Sweden, the Vatternrundan, especially as I went without a rain jacket and knew that I would not be disappointed with one from these guys – thankfully I didn’t need a rain jacket but I know in future it will be of use.  Was really good to see all the local teams out in Sweden riding and all in BioRacer kit too.

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So the new bib shorts – what are they and how are they different?  Well they are the same look but on closer inspection I noticed a zip at the back – what is this wizardry?  Well I think I am just late to the party as I have not had this on any of my kit previously but quite a few people I know had or have used similar.  My initial thoughts was that this could be an absolute nightmare as I don’t wear knickers under bib shorts (if you don’t cycle then don’t read this in alarm and think I am some sort of weird nudist, I can assure you this is very common and most people go commando with bib shorts as the chamois pad is design to sit next to the skin and additional layers can cause friction and chaffing) – what if the zip opens?  The thought is terrifying!

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On the flip side not having to almost completely undress for a convenience break is amazing!  So many times on a ride and you need a loo break but its such a hassle to almost strip completely down just to go so the zip with easy access is fabulous!

When in Sweden I had three rides I was signed up for.  They were 100km, 150km and 300km so for each I had made my choices in advance as to what kit I would be wearing.  There was never a question around the kit for the longer distance and it would always have been my club kit from BioRacer.  I love the fit, its super comfortable, doesn’t move around and I knew that 300km on I would not be disappointed with my choice and I wasn’t!  The new bibs came with me and in between events I wore these.

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So what did I think?  Really easy to endorse!  Same quality as I expected like my club kit, my favourite chamois from all bib shorts I own – using BioRacer developed chamois.  As quoted on their website:

‘Our shorts use proprietary padding. It is developed in-house by us. It’s based on ideas and technologies we have researched, tried and tested. We specialize in biomechanics, millimeter perfect fit and adjustments. This is why the majority of pro-tour riders trust our padding. It’s why certain padding manufacturers study us to see what they wish to come up with next. But rest assured, we are always one step ahead.’

I would say the zip adds a little restriction in terms of the stretch but that is as expected and so minimal that once on the bike it was unnoticeable.  Easy to undo and do the zip back up and no rubbing from the zip either – flap of material at the top once the zip is back in place and it finishes above the pad.  The legs have the same BioRacer grippers I am used to which keep the shorts in place with no annoying riding up or movement as you cycle.

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I have also used on the turbo trainer at home and again they are fab.  I have said before but I often feel that a better quality bib short is the best for a turbo trainer as there is no natural movement and so comfort is key.

The shorts I had are called Vesper with the flamingo design and can be found here.  I have said before that I have kit that ranges from cheap to expensive and actually my most expensive pair of bib shorts are my least comfortable ones so I am not claiming that the more you pay the better they are as that is not the case in my experience.  However, if I can find kit that is comfortable and stops soreness downstairs then yes I am happy to pay for that luxury.  These BioRacer bib shorts retail at £99 and in my opinion worth every penny.

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They also have the matching jersey too that you can find here! and you will know I love anything that is a bit different and this design really caught my eye.  I love the detail on the jersey and the gripper at the base of the jersey to stop it from riding up the body, which can be really annoying.

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I was gifted the bib shorts and jersey, but all opinions are my own.

What is the bike week in Motala, Sweden?

I knew of the bike week held in Motala from a friend who lives there.  My husband had been out to take part in the Vatternrundan bike ride previously so I knew what it was about and at the time thought about going back to take part myself, which I did in 2017.  I wrote a blog post about it that you can read here.

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So what happens during this week?  There is really something for everyone and here was the schedule for this year:

  • 7 June – MTB Vattern for those aged 8 and over, with distances of either 25km or 50km
  • 8 June – Tjejvattern 100km ride for ladies only aged 18 and over
  • 9 June – Halvvattern 150km ride for those aged 18 and over
  • 10 June – Minivattern for the children aged 3 and over, with distances of either 1km or 3km – this is literally the cutest event and the kids are so cute getting involved with a rest stop halfway for lemonade and buns
  • 14/15 June – Vatternrundan 300km (there is also a 100km option that you can also now do on an electric bike) for those aged 18 and over

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I took part in 3 of the above this year; the Tjejvattern, Halvvattern and Vatternrundan.

  • I rode the Tjejvattern with my friend Sandra who is from Motala and who I plagued with questions as we cycled (sorry Sandra).  The weather was perfect with sun and blue skies.
  • I rode the Halvvattern with Sandra’s partner Steve and her brother in law Jonas.  The weather was vile with 30mph gusts of wind and rain, which made it hard work.
  • I rode the Vatternrundan with my husband.  This was the 54th year of this event taking place.  The ride started in great conditions then the temperature dropped pretty quickly so an earlier rest stop was needed to add layers.  We met a lovely group of six cyclists from Iceland about halfway round and rode with them for a couple of hours.  Then the sun came up and we got sunburnt – can’t complain though as some got caught in rain at about 100km in and we missed it but could tell from the wet roads we had been lucky.

The roads are perfect, scenery stunning and although the roads are open there is relatively little traffic on the course.  My husband was talking about this early on in the ride and then managed to hit possibly the only pot hole in Sweden.  We also laughed as there are signs in places to watch out for a certain animal – a moose!  My husband joked that it would be ironic to be hit by a moose whilst on a bike when our cycling club logo is a moose cycling on a bike!

Blueberry soup is served warm at the rest stops.  The first time I came across this in Sweden I was not sure if it was for me but this stuff is magic.  Warm and works a treat in the cold of the night and sweet – might try and make some of this myself now I am back in the UK.  Enervit is the main nutrition provider with energy drinks available as well as water at rest stops.  Most stops have the famous sweet buns with the last stop in Medevi having honey covered buns which are a hit for most.  Other food you will find are salty gherkins, mashed potato and meatballs at Jonkoping, lasagne at Hjo and for those that want breakfast instead you will find porridge.

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Other things you will find at the rest stops are massages and mechanics on hand to help.  You have to carry all your kit, nutrition, clothes etc and if you need assistance at the rest stops you can get what you need and will receive the receipt to pay for items after the race like inner tubes etc.

It is always amazing to see the veteran participants on the course.  A veteran is someone who has completed the ride 25 times or more.  We met this man who was 84 years old and this was his 41st time doing the Vatternrundan 300km bike ride.  He was explaining to us that he believes people should try and spend as much time outside and be fit and healthy and stay active.  He also commended us on taking part in the event for the second time and said that if I were to also complete the ride 41 times like him to look him up and he will ride it with me.  I should also note that this man then set off on his very modest bike fitted with fur leopard print covered saddle.

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This is a great week and Sweden is really somewhere that has captured my heart.  I would absolutely recommend taking a look at one of these events for sure and I know for sure I will be back again!

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A lot of people say it is such a long way and it is but you break it down – ten 30km rides or rest stop to rest stop or three 100km rides – however you want to do it but it makes it a lot easier.  The only thing is the signs on the ride count you down which is fab for the Tjejvattern and Halvvattern but on the Vatternrundan when you see the sign saying 290km or 280km it can seem daunting but when you get to a milestone like 200km left you know you are a third of the way through or 150km and you are halfway there and when you see that last 10km left its an amazing feeling!

Was I nervous?  Absolutely!  Even though I had done it before – nerves are totally normal and shows you care.  This time round I would also have the miles in my legs from cycling around Sweden and also from the first two events, both of which included the climb up Omberg and I was unsure how that would affect me. Pacing is the hardest for such a distance – it’s difficult to always know how much to push early on so you won’t suffer later in the ride. I got to 270km or therabouts feeling good and found every slight incline in the final 30km a little tough and that for me was when mental toughness needed to come in in order to find some fuel in an otherwise empty tank.  It is mental strength that will help alongside physical strength in endurance events like the Vatternrundan and it could be true when they say physical strength will get you to the start line but mental strength will get you to the finish line. It was interesting though as we had decided this time to ride and enjoy the experience and looking at Strava my ride time average speed I was 0.1 mph slower but it felt so much more comfortable.

If you ride a bike and are looking for an event abroad take a moment to look at these events – registration is already open for interest and you need to complete that in order to following the next stages and get a potential place next year – you won’t regret it!

What do you eat when training?

It is 3 weeks out from my main event of 2019, the Vatternrundan and so training ramps up and as it does I need to make sure my fuelling is right.  Fuelling wrong in training and in an event can make all the difference and I have been on that bike ride before thinking I feel great and then bam I’ve bonked.

The Vatternrundan is a cycling week festival in the town of Motala in Sweden and I will be taking on three events in five days with a total mileage of 550km.  This means my training is including strength and conditioning, yoga, structured turbo sessions and longer rides on the road.  Food is key for this and that is good as I love food!

I was sent some ingredients from Buy Whole Foods Online (not just Whole Foods Online) and over the weekend it was super easy to add these to my meals in different ways.

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My go to breakfast before any event is porridge – you need to find what works for you and oats are something I have tried and tested and found to be good for me.  I also like that you can be adaptable with them with so many things you can add including nuts and seeds, fruit, dried fruit and nut butters.  Before my club ride on Sunday I added some cashew nut butter, organic cashews and a few dried cranberries – delicious!  Another breakfast option is overnight oats – again with the oats and super easy to mix oats with either milk (any type) and fruits, nuts, seeds or toppings of your choice.  I did a blog post on the recipe I use that you can see here.  In this pic I added oat milk, fresh banana, teaspoon of ceylon cinnamon, handful of macadamia nuts and dried organic cranberries.

 

I like to experiment with food for on the bike.  I love cooking and trying out new things.  I make granola bars that I cut up into bite sized pieces.  They are easy to grab on the move and portable.  These are for energy and contain a lot of sugar so I definitely wouldn’t be snacking on these on a regular basis but on the bike they were fab and I froze the leftovers in snack bags for future rides – easy to grab and go!

To make them I used:

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Super easy to make too – literally put the milk, sugar and oil in a pan and melt.  Remove from the heat and add in the nut butter, oats and hemp seeds.  This is the point where I normally go off tangent and add whatever nuts, seeds and fruit I have.  Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, add the mix to the pan and simply leave in the fridge overnight to set.  Cut up and put in portion bags – and add some to the freezer as they freeze well too!

I have joked that I will cycle for cake and I will – lots of people do!  For longer rides it is often nice to have a coffee or cake break on route.  Also gives the opportunity to fill up water bottles too.  I made the honey cake in the pic below with sunflower seeds as a little treat for post ride.

To make this I used:

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Again another easy recipe where you put the honey, butter, water and sugar in pan until melted.  Take off the heat and add the eggs and flour.  Add to a cake tin, top with sunflower seeds and bake at 180C for 40 minutes.

After 86 miles on the bike on Monday a slice of this cake was perfect!

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I look forward to using these ingredients in more cooking – loads of options with salads, stir fry and smoothies too!

 

 

Mental Health Awareness and Body Image

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for this year is Body Image asking us how we think and feel about our bodies using the hashtag #bebodykind.

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The Mental Health Foundation have many resources on their website and for the theme this year they quote:

‘Having body image concerns is a relatively common experience and is not a mental health problem in and of itself; however, it can be a risk factor for mental health problems.’

They have included some statistics around the topic also that note:

  • 1 in 5 adults have felt shame because of their body image in the last year
  • Over a third of adults in the UK have felt anxious or depressed because of concerns over their body image
  • 1 in 5 UK adults have said images on social media have caused them to worry about their body image

First of all I want to say I love any initiative to increase awareness around mental health but lets remember that for those that suffer from any form of mental illness this is life for them that they live with that struggle every day.  So lets open the door for discussion but ensure we continue the momentum after this week.

I would also like to note that I do not personally suffer from mental health issues and so will not claim to be an expert in any way, however, some of the closest people to me in my life do and I can see first hand on a daily basis how different areas of mental health affect people.  I wrote a blog last year on this very subject that you can read here.

So my blog is called Fat Girl Fit and it is not intended as an offensive name but yes I am aware I am not the same size as the models in the magazine and yes I have cried about my body and the parts I hate but that no that does not stop me from doing my thing with a smile on my face.

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My blog started when I was on a fitness and weight loss journey and I will admit I was in a routine where I would post on a weekly basis as an update with what weight I had lost on my ‘weigh in Monday’.  This soon turned into something that was quite toxic and left me feeling terrible about myself.  I also soon realised that was not what my blog was about and instead I turned my focus to being a healthier and happier me.  I wrote a blog post on that change that you can read here.

I can’t claim that I don’t still get people look me up and down when I say what crazy event I have planned next but you know what that says more about them than it does about me.  It has taken me a long time not to let those glances upset me.

And also lets be real here I do still want to lose more weight and that doesn’t make me a terrible person either.  There is so much ‘be body positive’ talk and I am completely on board with that but there is also nothing wrong if you want to lose some weight either.  There is nothing wrong with having a moan about that god awful event photo, because lets face it they are mostly unflattering, but then take a step back and think wow my body helped me achieve that goal.

Yes you have a bikini body now – you have a body put it in a bikini and voila!  But you want to be fitter and healthier then so be it – don’t apologise for that either but just do it because you want it and not because of what you believe you should do because you are told so from society.

My new strapline to my blog at the end of last year changed to read ‘be fearlously unapologetically you’ and I have learned that my body is fierce and strong.  So a shout out to all those who have been on the same journey and are learning that after a lifetime of believing that losing weight was all they had to offer the world that they were so wrong and they are worth more than that number on the scales, because your weight is not your worth!

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F*ck perfection!  Embrace the body you have and all its imperfections and remember that fit isn’t a size, its a feeling so continue to do you and smile whilst you do it, giving a big cheery middle finger to all those that think you don’t fit the mould, the stereotype, the people we see in the glossy magazines.  Because I am sure they are air brushed to hell!  I am also sure they have their own insecurities too that they are also dealing with.  That old saying about being kind because you don’t know what battles others are fighting.

Think about what impression you are leaving on future generations as they grow up influenced by those around them.  They should grow up with a healthy relationship to food and their bodies.

There was actually a song last year by Little Mix and I love the lyrics:

Take off all my make-up ’cause I love what’s under it
Rub off all your words, don’t give a, “uh”, I’m over it
Jiggle all this weight, yeah, you know I love all of this
Finally love me naked, sexiest when I’m confident
You say I ain’t pretty
Well, I say, “I’m beautiful”, it’s my committee
If you got little boobs, love it
If you got a big ass, grab it
If you got nothing big, rock it
It’s your life, go get it, if you want it

So repeat after me – I am an absolute f*cking babe and projections from others will not define me!

And if you want the cake then bloody well eat it – life is too short!

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#bebodykind

 

Kit Review – Stomp The Pedal Bib shorts

Have you heard of Stomp The Pedal?  It is a company run by the lovely Natarsha Tremayne, known to everyone as Tarsh.  The brand was born as Tarsh loved cycling but was fed up of boring kit.  So she started her own brand and that is where STP started.

Tarsh is colourful, always smiling, super positive and just all round lovely.  I am bias as she is a friend and during Ironman Italy, where I was with over 20 members of my triathlon club Havering Tri, we adopted her as part of our little group as she was there alone.  Only she is never alone as everyone knows and loves her.  I recall her coming down the red carpet at the end and Paul Kaye recognising her from a distance and cheering her through the Ironman archway.

Tarsh also sits on her turbo for hours!  Literally hours!  At the recent London Bike Show I was chatting to her as we were at the Casquette stand listening to the talk on saddlesore (I wrote a blog post on this subject that you can read here).  Anyway I ended up saying to Tarsh that I didn’t know how she sat on her turbo for so long and she very confidently said it is down to her bibs.  Tell me more……

I have kit that ranges from cheap to expensive and actually my most expensive pair of bib shorts are my least comfortable ones so I am not claiming that the more you pay the better they are as that is not the case in my experience.  However, if I can find kit that is comfortable and stops soreness downstairs then yes I am happy to pay for that luxury.

If you follow Tarsh or Stomp The Pedal you will know that she truly believes in her brand and any product she brings to market has been tested by herself both in training and in events.  For example she has spent a long time trying to perfect a tri suit and recently debuted this at Ironman Marbella 70.3 and shared what needed to be changed noting that ‘by the time this suit comes to market I will have done everything I can to make sure it looks good, performs well, is comfortable and the cut is flattering.’  I love that she shares this on her social media so her followers, customers and friends know what lengths she goes to in order to get that perfect product that she puts her name to.

So when Tarsh said to me she was going to send me some bib shorts to review I was excited.  If honest, I couldn’t wait to try them to see if they were as good as she said but also quite a bit nervous – reviewing kit from a friend?  What if I didn’t like them?  True to her word she sent me the bibs and added a note saying she would really appreciate an honest review pros and cons.

So be it!

That evening I had a session on my plan on Zwift so the shorts were first tested on my Wahoo Kickr turbo trainer.  A lot of people will know that as there is no natural movement on a turbo it can cause discomfort and this is definitely something I suffer with.  Was trying them on a turbo to start with harsh?  I figured that was how this conversation started so why not?  They were fab! No soreness or the need to fidget which is my tendency to try and alleviate any sore or numb parts.

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Let’s rewind a little.  The bibs come in a kit bag, with a little handwritten note from Tarsh herself and a bag or haribo – everyone loves a freebie little bag of sweets right?  These were eaten before I got on the turbo I am not ashamed to admit.  The bag is also super handy and came with me last weekend on a trip for a cycling sportive.  The material on the bibs is great, laser cut leg finish with the branding on the band.  The chamois was at first glance thinner than I thought it would be and I will admit I was worried this meant I was going to be more uncomfortable if anything, but I was totally wrong.

They stayed put too and didn’t rise up on the leg, which some bibs can do. The straps are also made of a mesh material and comfort wise is always my preference as I find those with solid straps can dig in and especially on longer rides this can be uncomfortable and the last thing you need is to be stopping and having to adjust. But as I said these stayed in place and were extremely comfortable.

They washed up great – no hand wash either, which I find really annoying with kit.  I wash my bibs after every single use and training most days I don’t have time for hand wash (who does?!).

So the next test?  I was heading to Great Yarmouth with friends (who also know Tarsh and are STP fans) to do the Tour de Broads event.  Again was the second test being a 100 mile ride harsh?  My training is gearing up for an endurance event and I need longer mileage so seemed the perfect opportunity.  The ride ended up being 108 miles in total.  In the freezing cold, rain and savage wind.  How were the bibs?  Again they were fab!  I actually had no soreness down below at all. I can’t stress how much this is a positive for me!

So far so good.

I did find after the ride that I had a loose thread.  Not anywhere that will create a hole but on one of the legs where there is some double stitching on my front thigh (not sure I am explaining this right).  Anyway message sent to Tarsh who was super appreciative of the feedback and offered immediately to return so she could send back to the supplier and replace with a new pair.  So great customer service too!

The bib shorts I have are these STP signature black bibs, they are £100 and would I buy them?  Hell yes!

Now the main question is what jersey do I get? I have my eye on the new jersey inspired by Audrey Hepburn that is simply stunning and my bibs need a matching jersey right? Would be rude not to!

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

Finding the right cycling club for you!

Started cycling and want to find a club that suits your needs?  Not sure where to start?  I received a message earlier this week on instagram from someone saying I always looked so happy (and so did the others) in the pics I shared from my club rides with Romford CC.  And I genuinely am!  But I am also aware that it can all be a bit confusing and a bit of a mind boggling experience finding a club in the first place.  But it doesn’t need to be!

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It is important to remember that not all clubs are the same and some have different objectives, which can be anything from social riding to racing.  So as they say one size does not fit all, and that’s ok!

Everyone may have a different purpose when they get on a bike including:

  • social riding
  • touring
  • commuting
  • duathlon
  • triathlon
  • racing
  • endurance
  • time trialling

To be fair the list could probably go on and on.  But no one is right or wrong and you just have to identify what you want out of it and find a group of like minded people, and you will probably find in that a suitable club to join.

A good starting point is British Cycling, who have a club finder on their website.  It does what it says on the tin and you can enter the details of where you live and how far you are willing to travel and these will apply a filter and provide you with a list of registered clubs in the area.  It will also provide you information on the clubs, within the results, including what activities they take part in and who it is suitable for.  From this you can determine one you feel most suitable for you.

A lot of clubs will offer the option to try a certain number of rides with them so you can test them out so to speak and see if it is a suitable fit.

Some things to ask when contacting a club could include:

  • the pace of the rides
  • do they apply a no drop policy ie no one is left behind
  • when and where they ride
  • the distance of their rides
  • membership prices and any benefits that may be included
  • what you need to bring with you ie repair kit, lights

Cyclists are generally a social bunch and within a club you will find those with the same interests (bikes, bikes and more bikes) and more often life long friends.

For many the thought of a club is daunting but it really needn’t be.  You will be surrounded by like minded people.

I remember first going on a club ride and being worried about:

  • being too slow – there is always someone faster and always someone slower but you all get from a to b at the end of the day and those that are less than gracious in this area I often call them dick swingers (yes I really just said that)
  • looking stupid in lycra – not many people look good in lycra so just go with it
  • looking like a mushroom in my helmet – everyone does and it serves a purpose so I would rather look like a mushroom that is in tact rather than not
  • is my bike good enough – ignore those that say you have to have a certain make or spec of bike, of course that can make a difference but you can’t throw money at something and get instant results, that takes training (I refer to my earlier dick swinger comment)

There will always be exceptions of course but most people I know who found a club they like have never looked back so take the plunge and who knows where it may take you – literally somewhere far flung on your bike maybe!