Showing posts from 2020

Review – SOLESTAR Supportive Cycling Insoles

Supporting the arch and heel of your foot when cycling is crucial to both performance and injury prevention. Supportive insoles such as those from SOLESTAR help to hold your foot in a safe and secure position—allowing for maximum power transfer and maximum support throughout your pedal stroke.

When you push down on the pedals, it places great force through the arch and ball of your foot. You transmit power through a relatively small surface area underneath your shoe's foot bed, so cycling shoes are made to be stiff, so power transfer is not lost by flex in the shoe. However, few riders consider the lost power from the foot itself flexing during the pedal stroke; equally they do not consider the potential for injury when your foot abnormally contorts.

During work I did with Phil Burt, the lead physiotherapist at British Cycling, he highlighted how important the structure of a cycling shoe is to power transfer. For the Beijing and London Olympic Games they designed custom carbon f…

Inspiration – The Life In The Saddle Logo and Merchandise

I have long had an ambition to design a logo for Life In The Saddle—an emblem that stands for adventure, travel, freedom, and life on two wheels. During the 2020 lockdown, I found the time to work with a good friend of mine to bring this insignia to life...

The classic roundel design of the logo takes inspiration from brevet badges found on historic audax rides and endurance challenges—it alludes to my passion for long distance riding and the heritage of cycling. It is a nod to inspiring events such as Paris-Brest-Paris and The Trafalgar Way.

The central image on the logo is a silhouette of a photo taken of me, on a bikepacking ride on the Isle of Wight. I was riding my Kona Private Jake with lightweight bikepacking luggage and 40c off-road tyres; a set-up that is typical for many of my cycling adventures ridden to date. The out-of-the-saddle stance and gradient of the terrain seen in the silhouette typifies my favourite kind of riding—in search of mountains and summit viewpoints.


Kit Tips – Cycle Clothing to Climb Mountains

Riding a bike in the mountains is a bit like playing roulette with the weather gods. Sometimes you get lucky: you ride light and fast, in blue skies and sunshine. The inevitable will come though... at some point you will be struck a blow: rain, sleet, wind, and snow.

The answer is protection. More specifically, layers of protection. To stay comfortable and safe cycling in the mountains you need to build a layering system of adaptable insulation and waterproofing. This is your shield against the power of the weather.

Windproof Cycling Base Layers It begins with a base... The foundation of any cycle clothing layering system starts with a base layer. 
This basic garment plays a vital role. A base layer wicks sweat away from your body—transporting moisture to the outside air and away from your skin. It helps to cool you in the heat, and to keep you warmer in the cold.

The GripGrab Windbreaking Base Layer takes things one step further though—shielding your front-facing torso from windchil…

Endurance Nutrition – Eating for Recovery

Recovery is fundamental to progress. You can put in as much riding time as you like, but unless you recover well too, you will not see the sought-after improvements. A substantial part of effective recovery is the food that you consume—both in the hours and days after a hard training session.

This blog post considers nutritional intake immediately after exercise—in a bid to kick-start your body's recovery. For further recipe and meal ideas, and nutrition recommendations, take a look on the Advice page

Fast Protein and Glycogen On finishing a hard ride, your muscles are fatigued, and your energy stores depleted. In order to start the recovery process as quickly as possible you want to get protein and carbohydrate to them while the blood is still pumping, and your metabolism is raised.

This means taking on between 15-25 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbohydrate within 25 mins of stopping. This can be a tough ask though, as all you may want to do is have a hot bath, wash your…

Maintenance – Home Workshop Advanced Wheel-Building Tools

In my Workshop Focus series, I have so far considered Essential Workbench Tools and Intermediate Workshop Tools; in this post things get advanced—with wheel truing and building.

It took me quite a while to pluck up the courage to give wheel truing/balancing and then wheel building a go; they are certainly two tasks that take quite a bit of time and skill. As with most workshop jobs though, wheel tuning is something that is far easier with quality tools. With this in mind, I opted for the Feedback Sports Pro Truing Stand and the Master Wheel Building Kit from Unior Tools

The Feedback Sports Pro Truing Stand Wheel building is an art, yet the Feedback Sports Pro Truing Stand is almost a work of art in itself. 
I developed a bit of a lust for this anodised red stand the moment I set eyes on it. The quality, durability and performance of the products from the American brand Feedback Sports are second to none.

The Pro Truing Stand has a unique single leg design that I have not seen in a wh…

The Benefits of Cross Training – Does Running Help Your Cycling?

Over the last few years, I have restarted running. Not Forrest Gump style—with hour upon hour spent pounding pavement; but rather the occasional trail run of between 5 to 15 kilometres in length. I have noticed several benefits from building multi-sport cross-training into my routine and lifestyle; both for cycling performance and sporting enjoyment.

Does running help your cycling? I believe it does—it opens new doors, it strengthens muscles, and it increases variety.

Muscle Strength and Conditioning The first notable benefit is improved muscle strength and a more rounded muscle profile.

If you are a dedicated cyclist, you will have built up your cycling specific muscle groups; the problem is you may have neglected the other muscle groups in your body in the process.

Secondary 'non-cycling' muscle groups play a key supporting role—they stabilise movement. If you neglect building up these muscles, then you increase the risk of injury. By cross-training through other sports such …

Maintenance – Home Workshop Intermediate Bike Mechanic's Tool Kit

In my first Home Workshop blog piece, I wrote about Essential Workbench Tools that every bike mechanic should have; whether you are new to cycling or an experienced home workshop enthusiast.

In this second piece, I look at the next set of tools in the spectrum—those required to perform 'intermediate' level maintenance on your bike; such as fitting new cables, cassettes, chains, and bottom brackets.

These are recommendations for products that I would add to your wish list as you become more confident at servicing your own bicycle.

Workstand – Feedback Sports Sprint Workstand A workstand is a vital investment as you increase your volume of home bike maintenance; it makes jobs far easier and will save your back from constant stooping. 
I reviewed the Feedback Sports Sprint Workstand in 2013, and it has remained in my workshop to this day. It folds up super small, it is made of lightweight non-rusting aluminium, and I am a great fan of the stable 'spin-on-a-sixpence' desi…

Kit Care – Re-Waterproofing and Restoring Waterproof Cycling Jackets

In the 'Kit Care' series I look at how to rejuvenate and re-use well worn kit; saving you valuable money compared to replacing favourite pieces of cycling apparel. In this post, I consider the frequent question of how to re-waterproof and restore a waterproof cycling jacket.

Waterproof shell jackets using fabrics such as GORE-TEX, Polartec NeoShell, and eVent are designed to last. With proper care and attention there is no reason the waterproofing and performance of a jacket cannot last for many seasons. The key is how to wash and treat these waterproof jackets.

GORE-TEX and other similar waterproof fabrics such as Polartec NeoShell, eVent and Conduit use an advanced waterproof membrane to provide a waterproof and breathable layer within a garment. This fabric is often coated on the outside with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish—to provide the 'beading' of water that you see on the surface of a jacket.

Two problems occur when using a waterproof jacket in challe…

Review – Moon Meteor Storm Dual Front Bicycle Light

The Moon Meteor Storm Dual Bike Light is one of the most technically advanced and versatile front LED bicycle lights on the market in 2020. Featuring two different tone LEDs for enhanced daylight and night-time visibility; a powerful output to illuminate the road or trail; and a highly impressive battery life—the Meteor Storm Dual could be the only front light that you need for year-round bike riding.

Straight out of the box, the Moon Meteor Storm Dual feels and looks like a well-made lighting unit. The CNC aluminium case is a compact size to fit on your handlebars; it is fully waterproof and sealed; and it comes with a secure quick release handlebar mount, a helmet mount, and a remote function control button.

The light features 2 CREE XM-L high brightness LEDs—one of which is a warmer yellow colour to help with visibility in foggy, misty, or wet weather conditions—by reducing glare. This neat development works very well indeed, and it is simple to change between the 'warm white&#…

Review – MET Trenta 3K Carbon Bicycle Helmet

The MET Trenta 3K Carbon is a performance road cycling helmet, designed to keep you cool and save you valuable energy because of its aerodynamic profile. Its ventilation and ascetics are exceptional too, as is its comfort. It has fast become my favourite road cycling helmet of the 2020 summer season.

MET claim the MET Trenta 3K Carbon is the most advanced road cycling helmet they have ever made; the MET development team discovered that carbon's elastic modulus allowed them to reduce the density of the EPS foam in the helmet by 20 percent, without reducing the capacity the foam has to absorb impact energy and force. The result is they could create a helmet that sets a new standard in terms of weight, performance, and ventilation.

The Trenta features a low-profile shell design, and a minimalist weight of just 229 grams (size Medium). It fits securely and comfortably on your head thanks to the 360 degrees retention system and a simple but effective chin strap.

MET have opted to use …

Review – Selle Italia SLR Boost Gravel Superflow Saddle S3

The Selle Italia SLR Boost Gravel Superflow Saddle is designed for gravel bike riding. Featuring gel inserts to reduce vibration, titanium saddle rails to absorb trail buzz, and a sleek low-profile design to offer style and performance—this is a saddle made for adventure.

The SLR Boost Gravel is Selle Italia's latest offering for the growing Gravel segment of the market; engineered specifically to enhance riding comfort on difficult terrain and during endurance gravel events. Available in two sizes, I opted for the smaller version (S3), and have been testing it out over the last month…

I have become a great advocate of the cut-away design for saddles—it offers greater flexibility in the centre of the saddle and reduces pressure on the sensitive perineum region. The SLR Boost Gravel Superflow is a superb example of this kind of saddle design; with a cutaway section, short nose, and flared sides to effectively support your seat bones.

To improve comfort on rough terrain, Selle Ital…