A good few days

We’ve had some really great weather of late  – you’d almost think it was actually summer here in the UK – so combined with some time off work I’ve been able to get out on the bike more than usual.

e82edacd-4e30-43f2-97d7-8ccdc2789bf6I’ve mixed it up with some fantastic club rides alongside my Woking CC crew, a few relaxed solo jaunts exploring the Chilterns and some faster smash-ups as well. I haven’t really focused on training or hitting numbers, just enjoying my extra time on two wheels.

Yesterday I did focus on the numbers though, getting out on the time trial bike for a tester over my local 10-mile course. With less than fresh legs I set a yearly course PB and a new 20-minute power PB in the process. Really happy with that as I haven’t put in as much specific TT training this year as I would have liked.

1f4b572a-27ff-4287-aca0-483ac41be299I even got my nephew riding his first proper bike. No stopping him now!

This weekend many of my club mates will be smashing it around the closed roads of London and Surrey for the Prudential Ride London 100 mile sportive. Good luck to anyone reading this who may be riding it. The weather looks to be perfect. A far cry from last year’s downpour. I must enter the Pru 100 one year! #keepcycling

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One hell of a man-satchel

This one’s for Big Jim at Fit Recovery, check out the size of this saddlebag! Do you think it ruins the lines of my sexy new bike? Haha!

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Don’t worry, it’s not a permanent fixture. I’m going to start cycle commuting on a regular basis soon so I was in need of a sizable bag to transport my important stuff in (read: my lunch). Neither of my road bikes have any rack mounting points so I went for an Ortlieb saddle bag, in size large! It’ll take my food, spares and everything else I may need with room to spare.

To be totally honest I probably wont use this bike for commuting anyway. That duty will fall to my dependable workhorse Ribble 7046 road bike.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NPw3WvpRL8

REVIEW: dhb Aeron Pro bib shorts and jersey

A big thanks to Wheelsuckers for providing me with the kit.

It’s 6am on a Sunday morning. Breakfast is eaten, my bottles are filled and I’m almost ready to ride down to meet a bunch of my club mates in Guildford for the AAT Surrey Sportive. Instead of my usual club kit, I’m pulling on dhb’s Aeron Pro bib shorts and matching short sleeve jersey. The Aeron Pro range, from Wiggle’s in-house brand is billed as their high performance collection offering the “perfect balance of comfort and performance at a great value price.” Today’s 65 mile sportive, plus the ride there and back should serve as a fitting test.

At 8am we’re called forward to start and from the gun the pace is higher than I was expecting. We’re soon whizzing through the undulating countryside. I feel very “pro” in the kit. The black/white colour combination with chequered detailing on the arms creates a stylish yet understated look. The cut is body-hugging. Not race-level aero cut, but it’s certainly close. Brand snobs may flinch at wearing Wiggle “own make” kit, but I am nothing short of impressed. Replace the dhb logos with ASSOS and nobody would bat an eyelid!

Full gas in the drops (through the rain) with club mate Steve H holding my wheel.

I spend a large proportion of the ride hunkered low in the drops as the Woking CC express train hurtles along at full gas. The jersey performs faultlessly, keeping me cool, comfortable and most importantly aero. The silicon arm bands remain flat against my skin and there’s minimal bunching around the front as I get low out of the wind.

Chasing the guys in front I leap out of the saddle, stomping on the pedals. The leg grippers hold firm against my smooth cyclist thighs. No amount of Cavendish-esque sprinting or powering over inclines can shift them, ideal for comfort and cultivating laser sharp tan lines. The bibs come with dhb’s top of the range “Tour Air Cyctech” chamois pad. It performs respectably, but on longer all-day rides I’d be inclined to go for a little more padding. After around 80 miles in the saddle I found myself shuffling a little to remain comfortable.

The bib shorts come with dhb’s top level chamois.

By 10am the miles are flying by and we’re covering ground at an exponential rate. The temperature continues to rise with the pace, but paired with a summer base layer I am kept cool and well ventilated. Mesh panelling in all the right areas aids this. On longer drags I find myself reaching for the zip for added air flow. There’s no fumbling, with the tab easy to locate and smooth in operation. Likewise reaching behind into any of the well-proportioned three rear pockets is a breeze.

Surrey Sportive 2015 by SussexSportPhotography.com 08:29:35Refuelled on chocolate brownies at the final feed station there’s talk of relaxing for the home stretch. Of course this never materialises and we’re once again bombing it. In fact as we edge closer towards the finish the pace is lifted even higher.

What was in those brownies? A smooth section sees our rolling paceline nudge 28mph! Like a moth hypnotised by a 60W bulb I’m focused solely on keeping contact with the wheel in front. Regardless, I’m effortlessly comfortable thanks to the smooth stitching and expert tailoring found in the bibs and jersey.

Crossing the finish back in Guildford I’m glad of the respite, it’s been a fast and ferocious ride. Sure it’s not a race, but I later learn I’ve finished 28th quickest overall (thanks in no small part to the faster boys driving the Woking CC road train).

I finally arrive home after a furious 95 miles, throw down a recovery shake, collapse on the couch and reflect over the ride. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the jersey. It’s sublime. Perfectly cut, professional looking, three rear pockets plus a fourth zipped one, full-length hidden zipper, arm hugging silicon grippers and ventilation in all the right places. The bib shorts are not far off perfect either, let down ever so slightly by the chamois pad (a purely personal preference).

Compared to the CAPO Pursuit kit I reviewed last year the dhb Aeron Pro range is a cut above and then some, plus it’s cheaper too. I’d have no hesitation in recommending this kit to anyone after a tight fitting summer combo. This is one set of cycling kit that is going straight to the top of my “go to” list!

The dhb Aeron Pro short sleeve jersey and dhb Aeron cycling bib shorts retail at £49.99 and £64.99 respectively and are available exclusively through Wiggle online.

Photography thanks to SussexSportPhotography.com

Almost Famous

Last Sunday a film crew from ITV’s The Cycle Show accompanied us on the regular first of the month club ride to Windsor. They were filming a piece on how accessible it is to join a club and how not all clubs are intimidating. We are a club that caters for all abilities and isn’t just full of svelte Lycra-clad racing snakes. Being very social and inclusive is an ethos at the heart of our club and one we strive to maintain.

Ex-pro cyclist and pocket rocket Rebecca Charlton accompanied the “social group” on their shorter ride to a local cafe, before shooting off to Windsor to join us faster lot for the ride home. I’d volunteered to lead a fast-ish group that morning so was chosen to be wired up and interviewed by Rebecca on the return journey! Here’s me getting mic’d up by the sound guy in Windsor:

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Rebecca and I rode on the front of the group and had a conversation about the club’s different levels and friendly attitude while the cameraman filmed from the back of a motorbike. There was also a quick interview afterwards back in Woking to finish off the piece. I’m totally not checking out her impressive track cyclist’s thighs I promise:

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It was such an enjoyable ride with her in the bunch and she was a really good sport, having a laugh alongside all of us guys. It was also a surreal experience having a proper TV camera motorbike following the club ride just like on a pro tour. I even got to fly off the front of the group and draft inches behind it at one point! I could get used to that!

Hopefully the piece will air in a couple of weeks. #almostfamous

Camp Heartbreak: Pro Women’s Cycling

Ever wondered what it takes to turn professional? Or what testing protocols are used to select the cream of the crop? Well if you’ve got a spare half hour grab yourself a coffee, sit down and watch this documentary:

It’s a behind the scenes look at the Australian Women’s Development Team selection camp. It’s a nine day cycling boot camp designed to test the women to their limits and beyond, with only the toughest and most resilient surviving the selection process. It’s a controversial method that has drawn a lot of criticism, possibly not the best way to select an elite group of female cyclists but it seems to work for the Aussies.

Would you survive?

Talking women’s pro cycling, it’s the start of the Giro Rosa tomorrow – the women’s equivalent of the Giro d’Italia grand tour. Forget the Tour de France for a moment, we’re in for ten days of tough and exciting racing from the ferocious women first!