Showing posts from June, 2020

Good Reads – 'Really Wild Cycling' by Chris Sidwells

As someone that loves off-the-beaten-track adventures, just the title of Chris Sidwell's new book got me excited. 'Really Wild Cycling' is a pocket handbook to extraordinary 'road less travelled' cycling adventures around the United Kingdom. From Devon Tors to Yorkshire Moors; from the South Downs Way to the Pennine Way; the little book has everything from one day rides to multi-day epics, and something from almost every county across the land.

The rides each have their own collection of pages—with graded difficulty, elevation profiles, OS map references, and an annotated pocket map. Colour photography helps to show the variety of landscapes that you can expect to find on one of the adventures.

Chris has adopted a personal approach with this guidebook. Each ride narrative supplies insight into everything from tea stops to local history; giving context and knowledge to be processed and enjoyed as you ride. The photography is also clearly genuine 'first-hand' m…

Review – Altura Dryline 2 Rackpack Waterproof Rack Bag

A rack-top waterproof trunk bag is the ideal place to stash ride essentials when bicycle touring or on a cycle commute. The Altura Dryline 2 Rackpack 7L is a superb example and offers a safe and watertight carry.

Whether you a commuting, brevet event riding, or on a trans-continental bike tour; a rack top trunk bag is a great luggage solution. 
Hopefully, you have read my post 'What Is in Your Gravel Adventure Bar Bag?'—well, on my touring bike that has a pannier rack permanently fitted, I opt to carry the same selection of products (plus a lightweight windproof jacket), but in the Altura Dryline Rackpack instead of a handlebar bag.

The Altura Dryline 2.0 Rackpack is designed to be a simple but sturdy, and highly functional rack-top pannier pack.

Mounting the Altura Dryline Rackpack is easy. A base plate attaches to the pannier rack using two strong Velcro straps. The rack bag then attaches to a base plate using Velcro strips and three quick-release buckles; to allow for its qu…

Review – Chrome Industries Barrage Cargo Waterproof Cycling Backpack

Chrome Industries are an icon in the world of bicycle courier luggage. More than twenty years ago, in the city of Boulder (Colorado) the brand created the sling messenger bag out of seatbelt buckles and straps, five bar webbing, and a double-lined waterproof truck tarpaulin interior. Their tag-line reads 'Building Indestructible Gear Since 1995'—a claim they reliably hold true to.

The Chrome Barrage Cargo Backpack is a new leading light in their indestructible messenger bag waterproof backpack line-up—created to be the ultimate roll-top bike messenger rucksack. Capable of carry your daily cycle commute load or your weekend adventure kit—this backpack is as versatile and hardcore as they come.

The Barrage Cargo is made from abrasion resistant 1050D Nylon, with a welded waterproof truck tarpaulin liner, and a classic waterproof roll-top closure. The design makes it a watertight load carrier—with the cavernous main compartment safely accommodating 22 litres of gear, including a 1…

Review – BTR All-Weather Waterproof Wedge Bicycle Saddlebag

The BTR All-Weather Waterproof Wedge Style Bicycle Saddlebag can certainly go the distance—it came with me on last year's #CelticCrossTrail bikepacking adventure—a 1875-kilometre ride that featured some of the worst riding conditions I have ever experienced. The compact waterproof saddlebag kept its contents dry and secure throughout that journey and has remained on the bike to this day.

As with the earlier reviewed BTR Waterproof Handlebar Bag, this waterproof wedge saddlebag is as simple but as effective as they come. Made from 100 percent waterproof fabric with a large easy opening roll-down closure—it seals out the elements in all conditions.

The saddlebag has a universal fit design, with three hook-and-loop fastening straps attaching it to the saddle rails and seat post. It should fit any bike, and it has great adjustability while remaining securely in place. Note: I recommend knotting the saddle rail straps when you have set them to the right length, as they can slip in the qu…

Personal Care – Skincare for Cyclists and Endurance Athletes

We put our bodies through a tough time when we are out on the bike or head out into the wild. Our muscles might feel the strain, but you should also consider what the wind-burn, abrasion, UV-rays, and cold temperatures can do to your skin.
Here are some top tips for looking after your skin when you are enjoying an active outdoor lifestyle.
My featured brand in this piece is Weleda—who make by far the nicest and most effective range of natural skincare products that I have found to date. They are sustainably sourced, feature organic ingredients, and hold zero micro-plastics or petrochemicals.

Lip Balms and Barrier Creams  Throughout the year I apply Weleda Skin Food Lip Balm before a ride. This natural balm helps to avoid painful chapped lips caused by windburn and sunshine.
In the wintertime, I use Weleda's Weather Protection Cream—it creates a unique natural protective barrier from the drying effects of the winter elements. In the summer, I compliment this with the Edelweiss Sunsc…

Endurance Nutrition – A Sweet Switch to Raw Plant-Based Sugars

Endurance athletes need carbohydrates, and they need sugar for energy. There are many kinds of sugar in the world though, and choosing the right ones makes a substantial difference to how well sugar can act as fuel.

I have been testing out a range of natural plant-based sugars from Bonraw Foods; interested to see why their Panela, Silverbirch, and Coconut Blossom sugars could be sensible substitutes for refined sugar.

Coconut Sugar Coconut sugar is made from the fresh sap of coconut blossom. It is heated to turn it into syrup, which then crystalizes into small granules. It is neither refined nor bleached and it is recognised as the most sustainable sweetener in the world. Coconut sugar tastes like sweet molasses with intense caramel undertones, and it is perfect for baking sponges, biscuits, and desserts. 
Crucially for sportspeople and others looking for a more stable blood sugar level—such as diabetics, Coconut Blossom Sugar has a far lower GI index than refined cane sugar. It is r…

How to Protect a Carbon Fibre or Painted Bike Frame

Bike frames, whether made from carbon fibre or steel are surprisingly robust—they can withstand big drops, heavy loads, and the constant pounding of rough terrain. What they do not deal so well with are the stone chips, cable rub, and pinpoint impacts that can occur during everyday use. These are a few simple tricks to help protect your bike frame from damage—helping to prolong its strength and life.

Chips and cracks on bike frames and paintwork are most likely to occur in a few select areas. The chainstays and downtube are prime subjects; where chain slap and pebble dash bombard the frame. Luckily, there are a few inexpensive and neat tricks that you can do to protect your bike frame.

Chainstay Protection Most people know that the drive-side chainstay on a bike is vulnerable to chain slap—that annoying clacking as you ride over rough surfaces and the chain bounces on the stay. At best it will chip the paint—at worst it could cause more serious frame damage.

On any frame it is worth…

Review – Reynolds ATR 2 700C Gravel Bike Carbon Wheelset

A set of wide-profile carbon wheels is the biggest single upgrade you will likely make to your gravel bike; saving weight, adding comfort, and improving handling. The Reynolds ATR 700C Wheels are a market-leading and pioneering product in the carbon gravel wheelset market—highlighting the notable advantages of wide carbon rims, high-quality hubs, and a wheelset composition designed specifically for gravel and off-road use.

I fitted a set of Reynolds ATR 700C Wheels to my Kona Private Jake for testing—they replaced a set of reliable alloy hoops from Stan's NoTubes (Stan's ZTR Crest Wheelset). I was eager to see what the reduced weight, improved vibration absorption, and wider rim profile could add to my gravel riding set-up.

The answer, was a lot…

Reynolds pioneered the 'super-wide' carbon rim with the original ATR wheelset. They were well ahead of their time introducing a carbon rim with a 23 mm internal width and a 32 mm external profile; add in the 40 mm aero teardrop p…

Good Reads – 'Eat Race Win' by Hannah Grant

Hannah Grant has fast become one of my idol chefs. I love good simple food and I also love bike riding—riding far and riding fast. Hannah's recipes combine the two adorations perfectly: great simple food, made to be the perfect fuel for endurance sport. 'Eat Race Win' is her latest book release.

'The Grand Tour Cookbook' was the first cycling-orientated recipe book released by Hannah Grant. I reviewed it, and it would be accurate to say that it has become an almost biblical reference whenever we are looking for tasty and wholesome dishes in our household.

'Eat. Race. Win.' is the sequel to 'The Grand Tour Cookbook'—supplying a new bank of superb recipes to try.

The book is beautifully illustrated and holds some interesting and inspiring insights on both cycling and cookery. This is a cookbook worthy of being placed on your coffee table.

The recipes themselves are the real talking point though... whether it is the ride-fuelling breakfasts, the reco…