Friday 22 April 2011

Nice New Mitts from AnaNichoola

I have never really been one to hunt out and buy cycling mitts that were of a particular style or design. The ones I have accumulated over the years are mainly out of functional need - for example thick padded ones for the cobbles of the Paris-Roubaix cyclosportive last year - or just giveaways as part of an event goodie bag.

In any case women-specific gloves have tended to be much of a muchness and they have never really excited me, so I am quite neutral about what to wear on my hands when cycling.

The good news is designers are thinking more about producing aesthetically pleasing women's cycle wear.
One designer who has thought alot about this is AnaNichoola who recently launched a line of women-specific fingerless gloves.
The Kestral is designed for the woman who'll be out riding for a few hours, while Bow-Peep is more for the commuter lady cyclist.

I had the priviledge of trying out the Bow-Peep mitts during the 10-mile Tweed Run bike ride through London.

What I liked:
The cotton crocheted upper side of the glove provided some warmth while allowing my skin to breathe and not letting my hands get too hot on that warm day.

There was ample padding for when cycling around town.

The loops between the fingers meant I could remove the gloves quickly and easily.

The Velcro is good quality so mitts could be fastened securely.

The grey crocheted design coupled with the pink bow and the grid design on the palm side gives an overall stylish look that does not look out of place even when in smart clothes.

It's good that there is a range of sizes that fit my big hands!

What I need to bear in mind:
The Bow Peep gloves have been designed as commuter gloves, so the padding is not suitable for long rides. If I plan to be out on a 3hour+ club run I'd probably be better off using the harder wearing Kestral gloves.

I am not so dainty with my sportswear and sometimes I do tear around a little without too much care for what I'm doing with my garments. I would have to take care not to scuff the bow or catch it in the velcro!

Overall, I would recommend the Bow-Peep as a great glove to wear when commuting around. Whether you are going for the cycle chic image, the casual look or even wearing your tweeds this glove will fit the bill nicely.

P.S. I hope to try out the Kestral mitts in the near future.

Tweed Run photo by Wig Worland

Thursday 21 April 2011

London Women Back on the Circuit

So after a great first year of the London Women's Cycle Racing League we are glad to see the London women are back again contesting league on the local circuits and aiming for glory and even the admiration of their peers.
The format's pretty much the same as last year, save a couple of tweaks.
This year Olivier from Bean About Town mobile coffee bars has very kindly supplied us with coffee so we award a Rider of the Day prize to the woman who has shown the most application in a race. It's a bit of a subjective prize, but it also means that anyone can win it - whether you finish first or last. So then even people who aren't that strong can have something to race for when they turn up, rather than feeling despondent at the thought that these races are just about the fast girls.
And that sort of climate would not be good for local women's racing, nor would it have achieved the goals of the London Women's Cycle Racing League.

We want this to be inclusive and feel that all levels of rider can take part.

So the first round got underway a couple of weeks ago at Redbridge Cycle Circuit (aka Hog Hill). There were glorious conditions for the women and we had a field of over 30 starters.
Anna Grundy, now racing for Look Mum No Hands became league leader, while Emma Grant who raced for Rapha Condor was awarded the Bean About Town Rider of the Day.

What has been good has been the number of new faces that have come along and are having a go, as well as seeing the established racers still hanging in there and trying to fend off the new competition.
Last year, in the early season it looked like the team to beat would be Pearson CC, but then Rapha Condor came along and grabbed the top spot. This year it looks like it's all about the Look Mum No Hands RT ladies. But who knows, things may still change though if other racers get more tactical.
I guess that's the beauty of cycle racing - and it's great to see that we have the luxury of healthy local competition among female racers in London. Long may it continue!

Top Photo: Dave Hayward
Bottom Two Photos: London CycleSport

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Spring in My Manor

The current issue of Cycling Active magazine has a ride story about cycling around Crystal Palace, Dulwich and the surrounding areas. I am very proud to say that I am the author of the said piece.

What gets me excited about this is because it's in my neighbourhood. There's something quite flattering about seeing the area in which you live mentioned in the media (for the right reasons of course!). Whether it's featured in the property pages of the London Evening Standard or it's the area visited for episodes of Come Dine with Me, that sort of mention gives me a buzz.

So it was great to be given the chance to write about a bike ride around Dulwich, Crystal Palace, Herne Hill and even a bit of Peckham and Brockley. We managed to include one of the nearby pubs, which actually comes out looking good in the final pictures.  In fact it looks so quaint I feel guilty continuing to refer to it by its local nickname - The Dog and Vomit!

I realise alot of people get excited about going off and doing photo shoots in spectacularly scenic places like Southern Spain or Utah. I do too. However, as much as I like the idea of going to these places I don't think I can ever get a greater sense of pleasure than when I see in the media the places for which I have an emotional attachment - the places where I feel at home.

Thanks to Andy Waterman for taking the pics and to Sarah Strong for being a model for the day!

Catching Up

This blog has been on my guilt pile for a while so here I am back with a few instalments. It's not even as if I have the excuse that I've had nothing to write about. On the contrary! I guess a point comes where you get so many things happening one after the other that it becomes difficult to find the time to write about stuff in between events!

It would be easier if fewer things happened to me, so that I could have more time to write on this blog. But then I'd have no events to write about, just aimless ramblings that wouldn't actually be worth writing about at all.....! OK enough.
In early March Ryan from Brands 2 Life kindly invite me to the Futures Gallery near Covent Garden for the launch of the latest Boardman Elite and Performance Series range of bikes.
At the event, which had Chris Boardman himself in attendance, was a presentation of a range of the usual range of suspects - road bikes, triathlon bikes, mountain bikes etc. What really caught my eye though was the CX Comp cyclo cross bike, which has the new UCI approved disc brakes.

Purists will probably still trying to get their heads around this, but it looks like manufacturers have quickly caught on to the UCI lifting of the disc brakes ban and have raced to have these modiications incorporatd into their models in time for the 2011/2012 season.
It remains to be seen what difference exactly this will make when I do a cyclo cross race, but I know there will be a difference for me when I take the cyclo cross bike on a cycle touring trip. Descending an alpine climb with 10kg of panniers, sometimes in the wet, with just my cantilever brakes has always been a bit of a bugbear for me. Knowing that I can have a bike with more powerful brakes will give me much more piece of mind.

The equivalent versions of their fi (female informed) range of women-specific bikes had not been launched at the time of the presentation, but I was reliably informed by Mr Boardman that these would follow in a few months. I look forward to trying those out.

All in all, a good evening.