Showing posts from 2019

Explore – 5 Best Mountain Bike Routes on the Isle of Wight

The Lonely Planet rated the Isle of Wight as one of the best places in the world to explore by mountain bike; it might not have mountains, but it has hundreds of miles of fantastic natural trails with a wide variety of terrain, and spectacular views.

I have been riding a mountain bike on the Isle of Wight trails for as long as I have been walking, and I can safely say I have explored every bridleway and bike path the Island has to offer. These five routes link up my personal favourite sections and paths; with a range of lengths and intensities to cater to different rider abilities.

For routes for Gravel Bikes and Road Cycling, check out my other Explore-IOW posts.

Wight Mountain Bike Route #1 — Red Squirrel TrailDifficulty – EasyDistance – 22.5 kilometres (14 miles)Elevation Profile – Flat (170 metres elevation gain)
The Red Squirrel Trail is a signposted family friendly mountain biking route on the Isle of Wight. The below selection of the route is a circular loop starting and fini…

Review – Smith Optics Ruckus Cycling Sunglasses

As the darkness creeps in, a pair of cycling glasses with photochromic or light enhancing lenses is a real must; providing valuable protection from grit and spray, but not darkening or impairing your vision. The Smith Optics Ruckus glasses are an exceptional quality option from the Italian brand, featuring both lens options — for all riding conditions.

Cycling glasses do a lot more than just shield your eyes from the sun's glare — they also protect your eyes from wind, dirt, insects, and road/trail debris; making them an invaluable year-round accessory. For mountain biking in shaded forests, and when road cycling in low light conditions, you want either photochromic reactive lenses or amber tinted light-enhancing lenses.

The Smith Optics Ruckus Sunglasses are pitched as mountain biking sunglasses, but I have also found them to be a fantastic choice for road and gravel riding in all light conditions. They come with a photochromic reactive ChromoPop lens, and a high clarity amber t…

Review – NiteRider Lumina Micro 850 Front Bike Light

A good quality high-power compact front bike light is a real asset — it can stay on your handlebars throughout the year; providing 'Be Seen' visibility as a running light, as well as helping light the way when the visibility falls. The NiteRider Lumina Micro 850 bike light is a superb example of a miniature front light that packs an impressive punch.

The Lumina Micro 850 weighs only 130 grams, yet it will put out 850 lumens on maximum output for 1.5 hours. On the most economical fixed light mode it will deliver 200 lumens for 9 hours.

I am a great fan of the simplicity of the NiteRider lights. The mount for example is just one single clamp design, which fits all sizes of handlebars and is fast and secure to attach. The light unit itself is robust, weatherproof, and has just one button that also doubles as a charge level indicator. Bike lights do not need to be super stylish — they need to work; that is the focus that NiteRider has maintained with their mount and unit designs…

Review – Pro Bike Tool Shock Pump

A shock pump is an essential accessory for any modern mountain biker; allowing you to adjust the pressure in air-based suspension forks and rear shocks. The Pro Bike Tool Shock Pump is a smart, well-made, and affordable option.

I have been impressed by the quality of value of all the previous Pro Bike Tool products that I have tested to date: including their mini pumps, torque wrench, and Y-wrench workshop tool. Therefore, when I was on the lookout for a new shock pump to fine-tune the pressures on my Kona Hei Hei, the Pro Bike Tool offering looked like a great bet. I have not been disappointed.

The pump has a simple design; with a large analogue pressure dial, a flip-out T handle to allow for comfortable pumping, and a strong steel barrel that is capable of pumping up to 300 PSI.

The shock pump securely screws onto the Schrader valve core on a suspension fork or suspension shock, and then you simply pump to the recommended pressure for your weight. If you need to let pressure out …

Review – Giro Code Techlace Mountain Bike Cycling Shoes

Giro have always been pioneers of interesting cycling shoe designs. Giro Empire road shoes rekindled a passion for lace-up cycling shoes, and now the Giro Code Techlace MTB shoes take things one step further; with a tri-closure system of laces, Velcro, and a BOA dial. These off-road shoes were my choice for the #CelticCrossTrail tour because of their superb comfort and performance.

I have always liked Giro shoes. Look back on my previous long distance trans-continental tours, and you will spot that I wore Giro Privateer MTB Shoes for both the #CoastsandCols tour and the #7Countries7Passes. The Giro designs always seem to fit well, and most importantly they go the distance; providing comfort and durability. The new Giro Code Techlace MTB Shoes follow the trend.

The Giro Code Techlace is a mountain biking evolution of the Giro Techlace shoe, which was launched by Giro in 2018. The Techlace concept uses laces attached to a Velcro tab for the two front closures on the shoe; this system p…

Review – Zilfer Cycling Phone Wallet

Carrying your phone, cards, ID, and spare change with you when you cycle is essential; but storing them unprotected in your jersey pocket is asking for trouble. The Zilfer Cycling Phone Wallet is a neat solution from the Australian brand; a means to keep your valuables together and safe, both on and off the bike.

The design of the wallet is simple enough – the phone slides into one side, and on the other half there are four slots for cards, and a larger sleeve for things like receipts or paper money. The phone wallet then folds in two, and on the back panel there is a zipper compartment for coins and a house key.

The Zilfer Cycling Phone Wallet is made from a water resistant and durable material, to help protect the contents. This material is smart enough in appearance that you could use it every day, and Zilfer have consciously only implemented subtle branding to further promote this versatility. The phone wallet does also come with a protective pouch, which can be used to slip the…

The #CelticCrossTrail – A Rollercoaster Ride Across Britain and Ireland

The idea for the Celtic CrossTrail tour evolved from a desire to see unexplored areas of the British Isles. An aspiration to draw lines and make tracks: through the Scottish Highlands and North West Coast; down Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way, and through the great Welsh mountain parks.

Ideas became lines on a map, and those lines evolved into a route plan and a rough itinerary. Before long, a 2000 kilometre tour took shape; a journey that for me would pioneer a passage through unchartered territory.

In late spring, whilst having lunch with a good friend, he listened to the idea and became equally enthralled and captivated. So, we set dates, booked flights, organised kit, and upped the mileage in anticipation of an 11 day tour covering the length and breadth of the British Isles — the #CelticCrossTrail was born.

A mid-August departure date was set, and we were prepared with kit, bikes, and equipment from some of the world's leading brands (take a look at my kit set-up here: The…

Gearing Up – The Celtic CrossTrail Bikepacking Kit Selection

The #CelticCrossTrail will be a 2000 kilometre journey from Inverness to the Isle of Wight; encompassing many parts of the Highland 550 Trail in Scotland, the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland, and the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

The route will offer up a diverse and incredible mix of scenery and terrain. From the rugged Highlands and North Coast of Scotland, down the Mull of Kintyre, then across to Ireland by ferry. On Irish soil the route heads out to the Atlantic coast to see the iconic cliffs and harbours of the exposed western shoreline. Then, turning south and east, the path goes across the Irish Sea from Rosslare to Fishguard, and the journey continues through Wales, down to Bristol, and back to the Isle of Wight. See the route map here.

12 days of riding, through some of the most remote regions of the British Isles. This is the kit that I have personally selected for the tour...

Luggage and Camp KitPrototype Waterproof PanniersPrototype Waterproof Frame BagPrototype Waterproof Saddle…

Review – Chrome Industries Storm 415 Workboots

When I reviewed the Chrome Industries Summoner Backpack earlier this year I was impressed by the quality, durability, and attention to detail in the Boulder brand's product — it has since become my go-to travel bag. With this in mind, their range of workboots also got me interested… could the Chrome Storm 415 Workboot be the ideal waterproof and comfortable casual boot for cycling errands and adventures? This is my review…

Chrome Industries were the pioneers behind the original sling bike messenger bag. More than 20 years ago in the city of Boulder – Colorado the brand created the now famous bag out of seatbelt buckles and straps, five-bar webbing, and double-lined bombproof interiors. Their strapline now reads 'Building Indestructible Gear Since 1995' — a claim that they reliably hold true to.

Work boots need to be indestructible, and the Chrome Workboots were designed for the factory workers in the Chrome headquarters; demanding constant daily use, for those often on t…