On Saturday I went down to the see the Tour de France pass through Yorkshire. I went to Skipton and fully enjoyed the day. The residents of Skipton had really made the effort to welcome the cyclists and visitors to Yorkshire and there was a real party atmosphere to the place. I will leave you with photos I had taken of the day.
A small post from me today. A while back I was reading on twitter an article about what everyday cyclists take with them on their rides. So I thought I would share mine here.
1, Schwalbe Tyre Leavers. Amazon £3.95
These tyre leavers were brought after hearing reading the good reviews on Amazon. These tyre leavers do the job fine.
2, Inner Tube Raleigh 700×19-23c. Amazon £10.89 for three
I always carry a spare inner tube on longer rides just in case.
3, EyezOff GP96A Alloy Mini Bike Pump. Amazon £10.99
The pump is very easy to use and is easy to mount onto the bike. You can use this pump with Presta and Schrader valves.
4, Energy Gel Hi5 Brought as part of the race pack at The Cycle Show but see here
If I am cycling a longer route then I like taking one of these out with me. I really like the taste of these energy gels as the taste is not too sweet and the texture is not too sticky. Sometimes I just take a cereal bar instead.
5, Drinks Bottle. Wiggle (not available)
Essential for any ride this Wiggle bottle is one of many I own.
6, High5 Energy Bottle. Amazon £5.49
I tend to carry a larger water bottle and one smaller one. This High5 bottle is just one of many I own.
7, Puncture Repair Kit. This was a freebie from a cycling magazine but you can find similar from any cycle shop.
8, Lazer Sunglasses. From a bike jumble sale at the Manchester Velodrome.
On the Bank Holiday Holiday weekend my partner and I headed over to Cannock Chase to go mountain biking for the day. Both being quite keen road and track cyclists, mountain biking was something new to try.
Cannock Chase is situated on Staffordshire which is in the West Midlands. Easily accessible from the M6.
You can hire out bikes but we both brought our own as hiring bikes are £30 each. My bike is nothing fancy just a cheap Apollo brought second hand. At Cannock Chase there are different routes to try with the black route being the hardest and the green route being the easiest. We both decided the Blue Route (the middle of the two) would be best- 7 1/2 miles long so not too short but not long for us as we both are not used to riding on tough terrain.
The signage is excellent and we soon got going along our way (just to note you can download trail maps from the internet). The paths are wide so you can go more at your own pace as you don’t feel that you are holding anyone up. The route was easily achievable with a nice selection of uphill cycling with some fun downhill riding and plenty of puddles and dips to go through!
On the blue route there wasn’t any obstacles to overcome however I am aware there are obstacles on the red and black routes.
Physically I found the ride quite tough. I hate cycling up hills so having a hill right at the beginning of the route certainly does not motivate me! It took around an hour and a half to do the route whereas if I was on my road bike I would have cycled twice the distance in that time. This could be because of the bike that I had not being the best. However I felt that I had a good workout and Cannock Chase is lovely to look at. So I couldn’t resist stopping and taking a few photos.
At the end we wondered around a Swinnerton Cycles a shop that is situated there. The shop mainly sells mountain bikes and gear but also lots of nutritional food. There is also a pressure washer which for a £1.00 you can spray your bikes down which is extremely handy if you went in the rain like I did to get mud off.
The second time I headed back to Cannock I tried the longest of the blue route which was 12 miles. This time it was sunny therefore I managed to take some really good pictures. I had recently brought a better bike (a Carrera in case you were wondering) and sold my Apollo and it made such a difference. I found that the bike could cope better with the terrain as it was lighter. Even though the route was longer it was much easier on a better bike.
There are plenty of facilities at Cannock Chase as well as Swinnerton Cycles mentioned above there are toilets and a cafe shop as well as a go- ape course and you could hire a segway if you want.
If you would like to go mountain biking in Cannock Chase or see what else the park has to offer check the website out here
I bought these gloves back in September because I wanted a pair of fingerless gloves as the weather got warmer and came across this pair on Amazon. I had read the reviews and they seemed to be positive and were cheap (£5.24 including p&p).
Yep today I am talking about Strava one of the best cycling apps around (in my opinion).
My partner got me using Strava because he was using it and I liked the idea of being able to compare my time to other riders.
Before I was using the ibiker app but I found myself in a lull with cycling and being able to compare yourself to other riders appealed to me.
So why do I like Strava so much? Well…
Easy to use- as someone who is interested in new technology and usability. I love the orange and black interface. It is very clear and basic and cuts the rubbish out that you don’t need. I like the fact that the activity summary is displayed clearly and that you can see how many ‘trophies’ you or others have achieved. When you scroll further down you have your all time and year to date targets which are nice to look back on.
A competitive edge
I have fully enjoyed achieving personal bests and being in the top ten but also being able to collect a Queen of the Mountain (QOM) or two or three… As someone who is used to coming last and being the slowest, it is nice to be the best for once. 🙂
The need for speed
Again being increasingly interested in my progress, the speed graph has come very useful. It has made me want to improve my average speed. It wouldn’t be as good as using a proper speedo but it does the job for me. A note also that the Speed and Elevation charts are clear and easy to understand (I haven’t paid for premium so have not seen the Suffer Score, Heart Rate and Power Zone Analysis sections).
Seeing the Pro’s…
I am very nosy and I have looked up pro cyclists to see if they are on Strava. The Strava QOM on The Woman’s Tour really opened up the idea of looking to see how the pro’s performed.
The website has the same slick design that the app does and is easy to navigate. The privacy option is vitally important and to be able to map your own route is useful as well.
What I think Strava could improve on…
Again my opinion but two things I could think straight off the top of my head is that I think the challenges could be more ‘novice friendly’. With a full time job and at the level I am the challenges I feel are unrealistic. Additionally, I would love to buy Strava cycling kit but they are just too pricey (although others may think the price is reasonable for a decent set of cycling kit).
Another app which deserves a nod is mapmyride. I don’t personally use it but my partner does and he has planned many routes on the app. He brought a phone holder for his bike and it has been very useful as a Sat Nav for the route.
So this winds up why I enjoy Strava, it is certainly a fantastic little app and you get so much considering it is free. I feel it is the leader in the market in comparison to similar apps out there.
Do you like Strava? Is there any other cycling related apps you would recommend?
You can find Strava here on there website.