Showing posts from May, 2017

Review - Vee Tire Co Rail Tyres

I fitted the Vee Tire Co. Rail Tyres to my Kona Private Jake CX bike for testing a few weeks ago, and they have quite honestly revolutionised the ride. That bike has always been fast and capable, but this set of new treads has made it an off-road speed demon.

The Vee Rail tyres mounted up easily on tubeless-specific Novatec rims, using the Lezyne Digital Pressure Overdrive Charger Pump. I used CaffeLatex sealant for both tyres, and both were inflated to 36 PSI (2.5bar) for testing (my standard cyclocross tubeless test pressure).

The first thing that surprised me with the Rail tyres, was how fast they roll on tarmac. The tread pattern suggests that they should roll well, but they honestly feel as fast as a 32c semi slick tyre. Given their added volume and weight compared to skinnier treads, this is impressive.

Head off-road though, and the Rail tyres really excel. On gravel they absorb the vibration and shock, thanks to their added volume and tubeless low pressures. On sand they float…

The Down Lane #EquinoxEveresting Challenge

Everest stands at 8,848 metres above sea level. The highest mountain peak, and one of the greatest climbing challenges on earth.

'Everesting' is a concept dreamed up by an Australian club Hells 500, and the rules are pretty simple: climb the same route, descend the same route; until your cumulative elevation gain is equivalent to the height of Everest.

The idea of a riding an 'Everesting' found its way onto my Bucket List a while back. As someone that uses the #insearchofup hashtag a lot, it seemed a fitting masochistic challenge.

This year, I've decided to tick it off.

For a good cause - The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust The date chosen for my Everesting actually sits almost exactly mid-way between the two equinoxes, close to the summer solstice. The 'Equinox' side of the challenge has a deeper meaning though; my hope is that through raising sponsorship, the challenge will help to support an Isle of Wight based charity, which tries to provide a more equal …

#7Countries7Passes - Planning Stage 2

"The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry". Planning provides you with reassurance though; purpose, and some element of comfort, when a challenge lies ahead.

My plans for the #7Countries7Passes Tour are progressing well, so I though I would fill you in on the route, the schedule and the finer details.

The Route The route has remained largely unchanged since my first plans were laid in this blog post: 'Introducing the 7Countries7Passes Tour'.

The only development is that I have added another day going down through Germany, to make the mileage a bit more manageable, and to take in a more scenic route through the Black Forest.

Start location - Copenhagen, Denmark
I love travel. I don't really like planes, trains and automobiles. With that in mind, I always try to combine my trips abroad, to make the most of the airport/travel time.

This August, I'm racing the Hansen's Cykellob with the GripGrab team, so starting my tour from the beautiful Danish cit…

Review - Thule Subterra Macbook Sleeve

Taking your laptop with you on your adventures is increasingly becoming a necessity, especially when you are a social media and content marketer by trade.

Luckily, laptops are significantly lighter and more compact than when I had my first IBM ThinkPad (it weighed a tonne). However, with the slim-lining of technology, there has also been an inevitable increase in its vulnerability to knocks and drops. That is where a good laptop case comes in…

I previously reviewed the Thule Vectros MacBook Case on Life In The Saddle. That bumper case continues to do a great job of protecting my personal laptop from everyday use and abuse; however my new slim-line work MacBook required some protection too. I decided the Thule Subterra Sleeve was the perfect solution.

Like all other Thule products that I have tested for the blog, the Thule Subterra Macbook Sleeve has been carefully and thoughtfully designed; then produced using the best quality materials available.

Your MacBook is housed in a padded …

Review - Chia Charge Energy Bars

Chia seeds warrant their status as a super-food. These tiny little seeds pack a serious punch: delivering magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, anti-oxidants and protein, in each serving. The range of products from Chia Charge makes the most of these tasty little nutritional winners.

Chia Charge Flapjacks These are proper flapjacks; made with butter and oats (and of course chia seeds). They have a lovely cake-like texture, and they are a real pleasure to eat. Available in plain (slightly salted), banana and cranberry flavours, I have had them as morning coffee-time snacks and as on-the-bike fuel.

Packing a good energy punch of 370kcals each, they should keep you pedalling for a good while.

Chia Charge Karma Raw Fruit and Nut Bars Cold pressed fruit and nut bars are very much on-trend at the moment, with brands like Nak'd and Rude Health also having some tasty offerings. These Chia Charge ones are some of the nicest I have tried. 
The Cocoa Karma and Koffee Karma are my two favouri…

Review - Hiplok Z-Lok Zip-Tie Bike Lock

Ever left a bike on a bike rack for five minutes, and wondered if it is safe from opportunist theft? Ever left your bag in the luggage area on the train, and wondered if it will still be there when you come to collect it? Hiplok have come up with a great little solution, for peace of mind in these situations. Meet the Hiplok Z-Lok.

Taking inspiration from the classic zip-tie, which has long been a favourite with cyclists, the Hiplok Z-Lok is a reusable heavy-duty zip-tie, with a neat little key to unlock it.

It is pretty self-explanatory how it functions, but the applications are endless.

I have made use of the two little ties in situations like both those outlined above; as well as in roles like securing your helmet to your bike at events; or locking your empty pannier bag to your rack, as you run into the shops.

It is a simple design, but very effective; and made to the usual high Hiplok quality standard.

View the Hiplok Z-Lok at (Link)View the Hiplok range at Wiggle (Lin…

Review - Vaude Yara TR Cycling Shoes

The Vaude Yara TR Bike Shoes are the most non-bike shoe looking cycling shoes that I have owned to date, and that is why they are great.

For a long time, I've worn a pair of mountain bike SPD shoes to ride into town, but then had to take some plimsoles or flipflops to walk around in off the bike. Mountain bike shoes shoes look (and sound) a bit clunky as you walk down supermarket aisles...

The Vaude Yara TR Bike Shoes are a dedicated pair of cycling shoes, and they perform well on the bike. Yet, they look and feel more like a pair of walking trainers, which also makes them perfect for off the bike wear. I have been testing them out on my weekly shopping trips and commutes...

On the bike The Yara TR shoes don't have to be used with clip-in pedals. Out of the box they have a rubber cover glued over the two-bolt SPD plate, so you could just use them like normal trainers. However, it is super easy to remove this cover, and to then bolt on some SPD cleats; these sit neatly recesse…

Review – Panaracer Gravel King SK TLC Tubeless Gravel Tyres

I have always been a bit of a tyre geek. Tread pattern, width, pressure and grip—they are all things that make a massive difference to the performance of a set of wheels and ultimately to the performance of your bike.

At the Dirty Reiver 200km Gravel Race, the chat about tyres was abnormally strong: the challenging mix of terrain meant that there was a diverse mix of rubber on display. I admit that the chat (and some pre-race course riding) got to me, and I made a last minute switch from a set of Schwalbe G-One tyres to these Panaracer Gravel King SK Tubeless Tyres. Damn, it was a good decision.

Mounting The Panaracer Gravel King Tyres are available in a wide spectrum of widths, and a few different tread patterns. I tested the 38/40c Gravel King SK TLC version, mounted up on a set of Campagnolo Zonda C17 Disc Wheels.

The tyres mounted up easily using a Lezyne Digital Pressure Overdrive Pump (it has a charger chamber, so acts like a compressor). I used Orange Seal tubeless sealant.


Bike Profile - Kona Rove Ti

I'll admit that I wasn't quite sure how the Kona Rove Ti would turn out, when I first started building it. Would it be a 'Gravel Bike', a touring bike, or just another cyclocross bike? 
The answer has been a satisfying yes, to all of the above. This bike is incredibly versatile, and incredibly capable. From the Dirty Reiver, to bikepacking expeditions; it is a bike is built for adventure.
I haven't quite got the set-up dialled to how I want it yet, so there is quite a mix of components in the below specifications. I'll post an updated profile once the set-up is nailed. 
Bike Specifications:Frame:Kona Rove Ti 56cm (Large)Fork:Lauf Grit CarbonHeadset: Chris King InsetStem:fi'zi:k Cyrano R1 Road StemHandlebar:USE Summit Carbon 44cmFront brake: SRAM Force HydroR 160mm rotorRear brake: SRAM Force HydroR 160mm rotorRear derailleur:SRAM Rival Clutch Mech 11spdShift levers:SRAM Force 1X HydroRCassette: SRAM PG1130 11-42 11spdChain:SRAM 11spdCrankset:SRAM Force X-S…

Book Review - 'The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold'

The Cold War has always fascinated me. As a historian, and a behavioural economist, it presents one of the most turbulent and captivating case studies of human interaction, economic systems, and cultural polarisation.

Last year, I read and reviewed Herbie Skyes' 'The Race Against The Stasi' - it was a great read, and a real insight into the cultural and sporting differences imposed under communist control.

Tim Moore's 'The Cyclist Who Went Out In The Cold' provides a post-communism view of the countries on the 'Iron Curtain' divide; all from the seat of a communist produced shopping bicycle. His 10,000 kilometre journey along the Iron Curtain Trail (EuroVelo Route 13) is a humorous, yet also historically interesting tale of discovery.

From his start at the most northern tip of Finland, Tim Moore rides south; through endless snow-covered pine forests, battling with hypothermia, and becoming an expert in the art of sauna meditation.

From Finland to Russi…

Riding The Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride

If Maserati made bikes, they would be exquisite, stylish, high-performance machines.

The Italian firm hasn't (yet) diversified into the two-wheeled world; yet they have created a bicycle ride experience that reflects the passion, heart and values of the brand.

The Maserati Tour of Yorkshire ride was a beautiful day on the bike...

'The Heart of Cycling'At the Press Conference for Le Tour de Yorkshire, Christian Prudhomme said that for him, 'God's County' is the "heart of cycling". When the Tour visited here in 2014, the region's reputation for its incredible passion for the sport shone bright and strong, and that has continued to this day.

Despite having ridden all over Europe, I have previously never visited the Yorkshire Moors or Dales on a bike. This year, I decided that needed to change; I wanted to see and experience the legendary climbs and crowds.

Welcome to YorkshireMy Yorkshire experience began the day before the Maserati Tour of Yorkshire …