Posts

Coffee - The Life Blood of Cyclists

Image
It seems that every cyclist I know is in love with the dark aromatic drink. Coffee. What is it that makes us love this bean-based drink so much?

Is it the caffeine kick we crave to keep our legs spinning? The warming feeling when you are getting ready to brave the elements? Or, is it just tradition, and part of a long running café culture for our sport?

In this post, I take a look at the natural stimulant that makes so many of us tick. I try to identify what it is that really makes coffee as valuable as liquid gold, for many two-wheeled enthusiasts.



Stimulate the mind We cyclists like to see ourselves as a hardy bunch, often rising at the crack of dawn to train throughout the year.

Those brisk winter mornings are often a struggle. Plucking up enough will-power and strength to pull heavy legs from beneath the duvet, and get them turning the crank-arms, can be a challenge.

A fresh coffee provides a unique source of motivation. Warming you from the inside, it stimulates the mind to be a…

Review - Grizzly's Adventure Blends Tea

Image
Winter demands tea. A good breakfast tea in the morning, a refreshing green tea in the afternoon, or a soothing peppermint tea in the evening. Tea brings warmth, comfort and refreshment; following cold and challenging winter training rides.

The world of tea is a minefield though, with so much variety in quality and taste. A bad brew will taste like a cup of dishwater, but a good one will bring a smile to your face.

Grizzly's Adventure Blends is a UK brand, founded by a good friend of mine. It was set up with the objective of making great tea, for great adventures.

The range includes Breakfast Tea, Peppermint Forest, Gunpowder Green and Campfire Cookout, as well as a special edition Christmas Tea.

I am usually a loose-leaf tea person, but I have been trying out Grizzly's tea bags in the above four flavours…

The Breakfast Tea has a strong sweet Assam flavour. However long you brew this tea, it doesn't go bitter; which makes it ideal for stream water boils, when the water m…

Cycling Cafe Review - Ventnor Botanic Gardens Plantation Room Cafe

Image
Cycling friendly cafes on the Isle of Wight are plentiful, but there are few better placed, or serving better food and drink, than the Ventnor Botanic Gardens Plantation Room Cafe.

The Undercliff Road between Ventnor and Niton was closed for many years due to a significant landslip, but it has recently been re-opened to pedestrians and cyclists. The route now provides a beautiful low-traffic alternative diversion for the Isle of Wight Randonnee route, which I would highly recommend taking, even though it does add a bit more climbing.

Ventnor Botanic Gardens is situated on the Ventnor end of the Undercliff Road. This makes it a perfect cycling cafe stop, about halfway round the Isle of Wight 'Round the Island' route if you are beginning at Ryde/Fishbourne.

Serving a selection of speciality teas, coffees, freshly made cakes, and superb light lunches. There is a selection for every taste and preference.

I stopped by at the Plantation Room Cafe mid-ride on a cold January day, and…

Weekend Watch - 'On the Road - Cycling on the Isle of Wight'

Image
A beautiful short film from local Isle of Wight videographer James Cripps. Shot last winter, it documents my #9RoadstoNowhere ride, and other Festive 500 rides on the Isle of Wight.

Review - Topo Athletic Terraventure Running Shoes

Image
Doing some off-road running as cross training is a good idea for cyclists; it helps to build a more rounded muscle profile, and it reduces the chance of osteoporosis because of its weight-bearing nature. This winter, I have been running and walking in the Topo Terraventure shoes, and wanted to share my feedback here on Life In The Saddle.

The Topo range pioneers a new style of shoe design, with a far roomier toe box than most. The design is intended to help the toes spread, which provides a more stable footing, and a more comfortable feel. The extra toe box room is certainly noticeable when running and walking, and it makes the Terraventure very comfortable for prolonged periods of wear.

To make them 'all season', the Topo Terraventure shoes use a mixture of lightweight breathable mesh, combined with strong toe and heel reinforcement areas. This design means they are comfortable in summer heat, as well as in winter conditions; whilst also being strong and durable.

For trail …

Review - Sportful RandD Strato Long Sleeve Top

Image
Sportful have always been innovators. Pioneers in new fabrics, and design concepts. The Sportful R&D Strato Long Sleeve Top demonstrates this strength perfectly.

Designed for the transition seasons, and milder winter days, the Sportful Strato top is a long sleeved thermal jersey, with an integrated windproof gilet.

The design is made to protect your core from windchill, without adding the bulk of multiple clothing layers. It is a simple concept, but Sportful have executed it brilliantly.

The jersey material is warm, yet highly breathable. The windproof material used in the gilet is super-light, but very protective. The result, is a top which feels like a long sleeved jersey in terms of fit and weight, but has noticeably more protection for your front facing core and shoulders.

For added versatility, the level of thermal retention provided by the windproof fabric can be regulated using the zipper vents on the chest. Opening these up allows for air to flow through the jacket, and d…

2017 - Life In The Saddle - Year in Review

Image
2017 has been a year of so many challenges, smiles, and adventures. It is hard to condense them all into one blog post.

This is my attempt to summarise an incredibly memorable year...



Early Beginnings TorTour Cyclocross Switzerland (February 2017) - The season began early, with the TorTour Cyclocross Stage Race in Switzerland. Mud, snow, sweat, and sub-zero temperatures.

An awesome event, which was both impeccably organised and super challenging, as well as being great fun. 4th place, in an international field containing professional riders and national champions.

Read the TorTour Cyclocross Ride Report here




Tuscany Torrents Strade Bianche Grand Fondo (March 2017) - The next event on the calendar was the Strade Bianche Grand Fondo, on the white roads of Tuscany.

The weather was not kind for this early season Spring Classic; rain turned the white Tuscan roads to sludge. Narrow tyres squirmed and skidded on the rutted roads. My Sportful Fiandre kit showed its true virtue.

Read the Strade Bian…