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).

These gloves are a bargain, when I first tried them on I was worried that they would not be flexible enough around the thumb and index finger. However after a few rides out on my bike they were fine. My hands aren’t sweaty inside the glove and the gloves do not feel bulky on my hands. The material is comfortable due to the gel and foam pad and provide enough grip and protection in dry and wet weather. The top part of the glove is a flannel like material which I find useful for removing sweat.
I have put the gloves through the wash several times and they have kept their shape. The gloves are also more longer lasting than my other Crane gloves which have only been out a few times and already the material is going bobbly.
If the colour red does not take your fancy, a bright yellow and pale orange pair are available and for £5.24 you cannot go wrong.
Have you got a pair of these gloves, if so what do you think? Are there any cycling gloves that you would recommend?
XXR Ultimate Gears Red Cycling Gloves
Red and Black XXR Ultimate Gears Cycling Gloves

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.

Screenshot showing Rebecca's Strava Profile

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.

Screenshot of Dani King's Strava Profile

 

Website backup
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.

 

Again a bit late but I headed down to the Birmingham Cycle Show a few weeks back.  It was a good day and I saw Joanna Roswell but I was too shy to say hello, especially because she was having her lunch.

I have taken some photos of the day so I hope you enjoy them.