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Showing posts from 2021

Review – Rapha Men's Core Rain Jacket II Waterproof Cycling Jacket

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The Rapha Men's Core Rain Jacket II is an affordable and lightweight waterproof cycling jacket, designed to set the standard for everyday weather protection. Riding in wet and inclement weather does not have to be miserable; with the right kit, you can still enjoy your weekend ride even if the weather doesn't play ball. The original Rapha Core Rain Jacket was a staple outer layer for many cyclists—offering lightweight but fully waterproof protection. The new Version 2 is an evolved and adapted take on the award-winning original. Made from a lightweight (129 grams for size small) fully-waterproof fabric with taped seams, and featuring a YKK AquaGuard® zipper; this outer shell will hold off downpours that develop during your ride, but without causing you to overheat in mild but wet conditions. Packability is at the heart of the Core Rain Jacket, and the layer is designed to be stowable in a jersey pocket—so that it can be easily whipped out and donned to protect yourself from the

Review – BTR Waterproof Bicycle Handlebar Bike Bag

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Keep it simple. That would be a good strapline for the BTR Waterproof Bicycle Handlebar Bag. This compact handlebar bag is designed to be a completely waterproof capsule that easily attaches to the handlebars of any road or mountain bike — to safely house your valuables and ride essentials. For bikepacking trips, gravel adventures, and long road rides a small waterproof handlebar bag is a great idea — read my post ' What Is in Your Gravel Adventure Handlebar Bag? ' to see what comes in mine. The BTR Waterproof Handlebar Bag is as simple, but as effective as they come; with an exceptionally fair price tag too. The design is straightforward. The bag is 20 centimetres wide and made from durable waterproof fabric, with a classic roll-top closure to ensure that even the worst weather conditions cannot infiltrate the interior. The bag attaches to the handlebars with three hook-and-loop (Velcro style) straps; two over the handlebars, and an extra strap that can go around the headtube

Review – Chrome 5 Panel 360-Degree Reflective Hat

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Caps and hats are back… I seem to be wearing some sort of headwear year-round these days: snapbacks and baseball caps to shield from the sun in the summer; beanies and wide brims to keep the chill and downpours off in the winter months. The Chrome 5 Panel Cap is a smart baseball style cap, with a 360-degree reflective profile—making it the perfect choice for darker days. I got the Chrome 5 Panel Cap thinking it would be perfect for night-time running; with its well-ventilated design and reflective profile, it looked to be the ideal solution to keep winter downpours off my head while also increasing my road presence in low light conditions. It definitely ticks that box, while also acting as an absorbent headband—keeping sweat out of your eyes. As well as acting like a beacon on top of your head when you are running, the Chrome 5 Panel Cap has also proven to be a great accessory for cycling; it can be worn underneath a helmet to keep rain and windchill off your head. A great piece of mu

Book Review – The Great North Road by Steve Silk

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What is Britain's most famous highway? What is our Route 66? The road that springs to mind for many is the Great North Road. Stretching from London to Edinburgh, this 400-mile route holds a long and interesting history as a fundamental trading and touring route. The Great North Road by Steve Silk looks to tell that story, from the saddle of a bicycle. In 1921, the Great North Road ceased to exist, at least on paper; the old road was replaced by the A1 motorway that is now the backbone of traffic traversing the length of the UK from London to Scotland. One hundred years later, journalist and cyclist Steve Silk takes on the challenge of riding the length of the archaic route over the course of 11 days. Travelling by bicycle, he heads north from London at a casual 14 miles per hour; searching out milestones, coaching inns of a by-gone era, and of course coffee shops… The 'Slow Travel' journey provides some interesting and humorous discoveries along the route, with a pedal-by-

Review – Vulpine Mens Opus Cycling Jeans

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We all have a favourite pair of jeans; denim that gets worn day-in-day-out, whether you are heading down to the pub or into the office. For me, the Opus jeans from Vulpine have become that pair. These are cycling jeans that are smart enough for almost every occasion, but practical and comfortable enough to be worn all day, on and off the bike. Let's start with the basics, the fabric… the Vulpine Opus jeans are made from a soft and stretchy cotton elastane blend, utilising Repreve TruTemp365® recycled fibres—which offer moisture wicking and high breathability performance. The fabric is soft against the skin and flexible enough to allow you to move and stretch as you ride. Old school jeans would be stiff and abrasive when pedalling a bike, but the Vulpine Opus Jeans allow you to spin the pedals with ease and extraordinarily little restriction. Next up, seams… or rather, seam placement. Seams are irritating, and when you are sat on a bicycle saddle the seam that runs through the seat

Personal Care – Skincare for Cyclists and Endurance Athletes

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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 Edelweis

Review – Smith Persist Helmet and Shift Mag Cycling Sunglasses

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I have become an avid fan of the Smith brand over the last five years; their products are exceptional in quality level and comfort, as well as being some of the best value cycling helmets and sunglasses on the market today. Review ­– Smith Persist Cycling Helmet The new Smith Persist Cycling Helmet is a fitting example of the innovation and development that the Smith brand puts into its products. Despite it being one of the lower priced helmets within the Smith helmets range, it holds some of the most developed comfort and protection technologies seen in the world, as well as some of the best styling. The classically shaped and smoothly contoured helmet features a multitude of vents that suck air through the helmet and deliver an impressive cooling effect for those sweltering summer days. A comfortable adjustable chin strap keeps the helmet in place, and inside the antibacterial padding offers good comfort and moisture wicking capabilities. The outstanding thing with the Smith Persist

Recipe – The Ultimate High Energy Flapjacks

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This traditional flapjack recipe is packed full of energy for long days on the bike. The oats supply a great low-GI fuel source, while the dried fruit offers instant energy and sweetness. Whether on or off the bike, these flapjack bars are a great high-energy snack for cycling. You can adapt the recipe by adding in other dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and spices to make these even more varied and flavoursome. I particularly like pumpkin seeds and chopped crystallised ginger added to the mix. Ingredients 200g butter 100g brown sugar 1 tbsp golden syrup ½ tbsp black treacle 300g porridge oats 100g raisins 75g soft-dried figs 50g soft-dried apricots Method Set the oven to 150°C or 140°C for fan-assisted oven. Place the shelf in the middle Stick a big pan on the scales and measure in the butter and brown sugar Heat the pan on the hob until the butter and sugar are all melted Add a tablespoon of golden syrup and half a tablespoon of treacle to the mix Add the porridge oats and y

Review – StickerMarket Branded Outdoor / Indoor Stickers

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Who doesn't like stickers?! They might be old school branding, but they undoubtedly still work; allowing you to badge-up anything from a bar bag to a bottle, wallet or phone case. I have had lots of stickers made up over the course of writing Life In The Saddle, but the best by far have come from a UK based company called Sticker Market. The company is one of the biggest suppliers of custom stickers in the world, and they do great vinyl stickers, glossy paper stickers, and craft paper stickers—so you can brand up anything and everything. In my most recent batch I had some stickers made up for the Wight Prestige, The Expedition Journals, and craft paper stickers using the Life In The Saddle Logo. I also had the lightbulb idea of getting some wipe-clean 'Bumper Stickers' made up for my sea kayak to write 'Deck Notes' on—something that could also be the perfect solution for top-tube notes on a bike. Sticker it up! Let me know with a comment below if you are keen to ha

Review – Ortlieb Waterproof Bikepacking Seat Pack 11L

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When Ortlieb released the Back Roller Classic Rear Pannier they set the standard for waterproof bike bags; it has always seemed like other brands are playing catch-up in their wake. With the phenomenal growth of bikepacking in recent years, the German brand has turned their attention to the rack-less (not reckless) world of adventure cycling. The Ortlieb Seat Pack brings to bikepacking what the Back Roller Classic did for cycle touring; it is a faultlessly designed, fully waterproof, yet beautifully simple product. Over the last year I have been testing the Ortlieb Seat Pack on everything from shopping errand runs to multi-day bikepacking adventures. It has performed superbly, time and time again. While other brands have integrated metal frames and complex strap systems into their bikepacking seat packs, Ortlieb have adopted the KISS (Keep It Simply Stupid) approach to the Seat Pack. Rugged webbing strap and clamp-close buckles do not slip or break, but hold the bag securely under

Review – SunGod Airas Cycling Sunglasses

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The Isle of Wight is sometimes hyped for being the sunniest place in Britain; that seems like a good excuse for a new pair of cycling sunglasses… The Airas sunglasses from UK brand SunGod caught my eye a while back and I have been lusting after a pair ever since. This month, I ordered a pair of the Airas ZF (frameless) glasses in a classy mirror blue lens and white frame combination. They have not failed to impress. SunGod made their name in the casual sunglasses market, but after moving into the performance eyewear marketplace in the last few years they have been quick to make their mark. The Airas are one of three models within the Pace Series by SunGod; the Pace models share the same ultramodern lens technology, as well as a super adjustable fit, 100 percent UV protection, and a lifetime guarantee. The SunGod Airas begin with the robust and comfortable 'frame' – consisting of the arms and nosepiece only (hence the frameless name). The impact resistant polycarbonate frame com

The Best Alcohol Free and Low Alcohol Beers

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Alcohol free and low alcohol beers are finally catching on in the UK. I have been enjoying low alcohol or zero alcohol beers for many years now, and thought it would be nice to share three of my favourites. Alcohol free and low alcohol beers allow you to have a guilt-free drink—enjoying the taste and pleasure of having a beer, without the repercussions of a hangover or dehydration. Low alcohol beers also tend to be lower calorie, and some beers even claim to be isotonic to help you rehydrate. Small Beer Company Dark Larger The Small Beer Company are specialists in brewing classic styles of beer, below 2.8 percent ABV. The Small Beer Co. Dark Larger is just 1.0 percent ABV, but still delivers a beautiful taste and texture. Smooth and dark, with hints of coffee and dark chocolate; the Original Small Beer Dark Lager drinks like a stout lager and leaves a roasted toasted finish. At just 60 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrate per 350ml bottle, this beer is dark in colour and strong on tas

Review – Qaou Adventure Beluga Modular Tent, Hammock & Shelter

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I have been searching for the perfect bikepacking shelter. Is it a tent, a tarp, a hammock, or a shelter? The truth is that any one of these could be the ideal bikepacking shelter choice, depending on the conditions that you are camping in. In sweltering summer heat, a hammock or inner tent only might be the best solution. For a fast pitch, a shelter or tarp may suffice as protection from the elements. Then, in more severe conditions, a fully clad two-layer tent (ideally with a porch to stow your kit) would be the best solution. The Adventure Beluga is a new style of modular shelter from the French brand Qaou Outdoor, which offers an incredibly versatile and adaptable tent—capable of being all the above named variations, without compromise. In the package you receive an inner tent, plus two outer material layers, pegs, poles, and a hammock hanging system. Here is what it can create: 1) All-weather tent with porch: zip the two outer layers together, use the inner tent and poles, an

Review – Santini Polartec Delta Pietra Cycling Jersey

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The Santini Delta Pietra Short Sleeve Jersey wins my personal award for being my favourite summer cycling jersey of summer 2021. Designed for extreme heat and utilising some of the most advanced fabric technologies in the world, from Polartec; this jersey boasts exceptional style, fit, and performance whether road cycling or gravel riding. The Delta Pietra features Polartec© Power Stretch – an extremely breathable textile with four-way stretch. The back panel (aside from the pockets) uses Polartec© Delta, which acts as a unique cooling system—facilitating the transfer of heat from the body through sweat moisture wicking performance. The Delta Pietra jersey is designed for hot weather cycling, but I have found it performs exceptionally well in all summer conditions. Its raw-cut sleeves hug the arms without restricting movement and it is held gently but firmly in position by a coloured elastic gripper at the hem. The jersey has an exceptionally good slim fitting cut, and is avai