Review - POC Ventral SPIN AVIP Bicycle Helmet

POC has become my go-to option for helmets; their weight, comfort and safety ratings are second to none. The POC Ventral SPIN helmet is the brand's latest release, and an incredible piece of technological development.

The Ventral was designed in collaboration with POC's sponsored professionals, including the Cannondale-Drapac Cycling Team, as well as with feedback from POC specialists in the WATTS performance lab and aerodynamic testing labs. The result is a helmet that POC claim is the most comfortable, safest, and most aerodynamic yet. I can vouch that they are pretty on-point with that claim.

The Ventral uses a unique approach to aerodynamics. Rather than pushing the air around the outside of the helmet, the Ventral's design leads air through it, and in doing so significantly reduces the aerodynamic wake behind the helmet.

The Ventral's name comes from reference to the Venturi effect, which relates to how the helmet has been designed with specific airflow zones to…

The Trafalgar Way 2018 - 'A Ride of History and Heat'

It begins with an orange mist. Orange jerseys assemble at the ancient naval fort of Pendennis Point Falmouth, as the dawn sunshine creates a complementing haze over the Atlantic Ocean behind.

This platoon of riders is here for a cycling event like no other. The Trafalgar Way Ride is a sportive event; running point-to-point from the western tip of England to the nation's Capital. The route follows a path that holds historic significance; it was the passage taken by a horse messenger in 1805 to alert the Admiralty of the British victory over the French, as well as the tragic death of Admiral Lord Nelson. This is not your average Saturday Sportive: 500 kilometres, across 8 British counties makes this a mammoth undertaking, and historic both in its theme and as an achievement.

I first rode the Trafalgar Way in 2014, over 24 hours on a stormy October day. Returning to Falmouth for a second time, I want to experience the route in the summer sunshine, and see if a sub-20 finish is accomp…

Review - Motorex Bike Cleaners and Lubricants

I first used Motorex bike cleaning products at the TorTour Cyclocross Stage Race in Switzerland, and they instantly impressed. Even in an almost comatose state of tiredness, I was able to get my bike sparkling clean and running smoothly again after a tough day in the Swiss Mountains. Back in the UK, I was keen to test and trial the complete range from the Swiss brand...

The cleaning process always starts with the chain, and the Motorex Easy Clean X-Treme Degreaser makes it about as easy as possible. The high-powered aerosol blasts the strong detergent into the chain-links, and drives out baked-on dirt and oil. A quick scrub with a brush and a thorough rinse, and it leaves your drivetrain sparkling clean.

When it comes to cleaning the frame, Motorex offers two options: Quick Cleaner and Bike Clean. Quick Clean doesn't actually require water, but instead uses a loosening agent that allows you to simply spray it onto dried-on dirt, then wipe the surface clean; making it ideal if you…

Review - Honey Stinger Energy Bars, Waffles and Chews

Organic energy food that tastes heavenly. The range of bars, waffles and energy chews from American brand Honey Stinger are so scrumptious, you might end up eating them all as snacks...

I have always been a fan of organic products; not because of the status that they hold, but simply because I believe eating natural whole-foods in their purist state is the best thing for taste, your body, and the environment. Honey Stinger pride themselves on using organic produce wherever possible, and have produced some fantastic tasting energy food as a result.

Some will look at stroop wafels and peanut butter cereal bars and question if this is real 'energy food'. Of course it is. It is just that it hasn't been processed, refined, homogenised or treated like a lot of the product on the market. Instead, Honey Stinger use classic recipes like the stroop wafel, and recognise that their composition of carbohydrates, protein, and fats are actually optimal for fuelling your body, and also t…

Review - Chapeau Etape Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey and Chapeau Club Bib Shorts

Earlier in the season I reviewed the Club Jersey from UK brand Chapeau; it was an impressive introduction to the cycle clothing brand. The Club Bib Shorts and Etape SS Jersey are the range-topping offering from the brand, and they are exceptional in more ways than one…

Race Specification Fit The race fit is the thing you will immediately recognise when pulling on the Etape Jersey and Club Bib Shorts for the first time. These are some of the best fitting and most comfortable pieces of cycling kit that I have tried to date.

I selected the same size in the Etape kit as I had in the Club jersey (Small), but it is far more form fitting and race-orientated in its cut and design. The jersey has a close cut profile, with a deeper rear hem and longer sleeves to accommodate a more aggressive position on the bike. The bib shorts are a great length in the thigh, but still have a good compression feel, and the bib straps are comfortable and stretchy enough to accommodate different rider heights.

Review - Cannonball Coffee Co. Small Batch Coffee

Smooth Bore, Cannonball Blend and Maximum Charge. These are names that bring to mind naval battles and gunfire, so it seems fitting that the Cannonball Coffee Company is sponsoring this year's Trafalgar Way Ride. I was keen to try out the small batch coffee blends, and review them ahead of the big ride next month.

The Trafalgar Way is a historic route running from Falmouth in the west of England to London. It was the route ridden by a horse messenger to take news to the capital's Admiralty of Lord Nelson's death, and also of the successful defeat of the French in the Battle of Trafalgar. It is a historic path, and now the 'Ride The Trafalgar Way' cycle event commemorates the great naval victory.

Cannonball Coffee isn't intrinsically tied to the naval battles of old, but it does celebrate being British, 'ballsy', and it promises to give you a serious blast of energy. The founder of the company - Duncan, was in the Royal Artillery for 8 years, and has al…

7 Tips for Lightweight Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking

With my 'Big Ride' of 2018 now announced - the #RoadsFromRome tour - it seems timely to give some insight into planning and executing a lightweight unsupported bikepacking or bicycle touring trip. How should you plan? What kit do you take? Where do you camp? What are the pitfalls to avoid?

These are my '7 Tips' for Bikepacking and Bicycle Touring...

1 - Use Modern Mapping Technology I love maps. The contour lines, roads, paths and rivers paint a picture on paper. When it comes to route planning for a bicycle tour though, make use of the incredible resources from online mapping tools.
Strava and Komoot are my two preferred services, as both use crowd-sourced data of the most ridden roads and trails to optimise a route between two pin points. It makes route planning a doddle because you know that the roads the software is taking you on are the best of the bunch in the area.
Online software will also tell you the elevation profile, and Komoot will even give you a breakdo…