Tag Archives: Clothing

Tips learned this winter #cycling

I’ve been a bit lazy recently with writing anything down, but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been cycling or indeed discovering new tricks and tips.

Tip 1

This winter I loved my toe covers, cheap, easy to fit and I just leave them on my shoes with minimal hassle compared with overshoes. I own two pairs now. They keep my feet warm enough and even some water out too, enough to keep my toes dry on a wet commute. £9.50 at time of writing… http://www.wiggle.co.uk/dhb-toe-cover-overshoe/

Tip 2

Base layers are expensive, but don’t necessarily need to be bought from a cycle shop, you can save money by looking around. I recently bought four from a DIY shop at £8.49 each, unfortunately they are £9.99 at time of writing… http://www.screwfix.com/p/helly-hansen-kastrup-baselayer-crewneck-black-large-42-chest/55368

Tip 3

Disposable gloves for bike maintenance. I like nitrile ones at just under 8p per glove… http://www.screwfix.com/p/skytec-utah-nitrile-powder-free-disposable-gloves-blue-large-100-pack/1705g

Tip 4

Never give up, just because your gloves don’t keep your fingers warm, you just haven’t found the right ones yet… I like the look of lobster neoprene gloves… maybe I’ll try them next year.

Tip 5

For every rubbish tool you have there’s a good one that cost just a few pounds more, not every tool is worth the extra, but I’m definitely glad I spent the extra on decent wire cutters, chain whip, floor pump and tyre levers to name but a few. Last weekend I used my wire cutters again and I remembered how much I appreciate them every time I use them.

Tip 6

Muc Off or similar top brand of degreaser and bike cleaner. Degreaser is so good, I don’t use a lot over the course of a year, but every time I clean my chain and bike I’m glad I have it and can’t imagine how I ever cleaned it without it.

Tip 7

Ignore and pity the fools with mega expensive road bikes that don’t ride all year round, they may go fast in summer, but fast is expensive and a whole load more maintenance and hassle. Buy yourself a cheap and really awful road bike, try riding it to put yourself off the idea of wasting a lot of money on one.

Tip 8

Rags and old socks, don’t throw them in the bin, they are perfect for bike maintenance and cleaning, as are old scrubbing and tooth brushes.

Tip 9

On a slightly icy Monday morning, do be careful in the office car park, they won’t have gritted it…

Tip 10

Check brakes frequently in winter, a sticking caliper can be enough to help you loose traction on that office car park…

Happy cycling, spring is on its way!

Winter gloves #cycling

I tried (and failed) to buy winter gloves, the reviews were either very positive of very negative. What works for one person doesn’t for another. They are expensive and without knowing which are good and which are bad there is no way I can buy them verses my normal winter solution.

Normally I wear full finger cycling gloves from autumn to spring, when the weather drops below (5 – 8C) I reach for a cheap pair of (thinsulate style) gloves to wear over the top. The full fingers gloves have cost £13 – £24 in the past, but currently I tend to be paying around £16 per pair. The cheap gloves I wear over the top cost between £5 and £10 per pair.

I prefer to pay £5 – £10 for gloves that sort of work vs taking a risk on £25+ gloves, given the fact that I already own the long finger gloves.

I fully expect I’d be more than happy with any of the winter gloves, maybe I need to go shopping to a real cycle shop and get my hands on them in person. What works for you?

Blown it all #cycling

Though it is windy outside, I am not talking about the weather this time.

2015 was a controlled year so far, very little spending (buying my wife a cheap bike in the summer does not count), then… Black Friday happened.

Wiggle.co.uk had (still have at time of writing) £40 off when you spend £200 on clothing and helmets. I had no intention of buying:

  • 2 long sleeve jerseys
  • 2 pairs of long fingered gloves
  • 2 pairs of mitts
  • 2 summer jerseys
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • cycle shoes and cleats

I did intend on buying

  • 1 long sleeve jersey (only if the price was right)
  • 1 pair of long fingered gloves
  • 1 pair of winter gloves

The long sleeve jerseys were half the price of my original, which I paid £45 for in January 2011. Sure I never bought a second because it wasn’t worth that money, I’ve been using a gilet and arm warmers when the jersey is in the wash. But at half the price I bought two and the gilet and arm warmer faff will be over.

The summer jerseys and shorts were cheap, my shorts are a bit hole-ridden (LOL) so I couldn’t turn them down.

Shoes? Yeah! I will be a proper cyclist now, no more tramp shoes for me baby! Sure, I used to look at tramps (who always wore better shoes than my cycling shoes) and wondered if they cycled.

So anyway, I easily spent over £200 and I never did get the winter gloves.

It has still been a free hobby (offset by commuting), cheaper than running a second car, cheaper than any other way of getting to work and good for my health. No, I won’t mention the dog poo fiasco of last week, I’m only going to blog about the good things, not about getting covered in it.


Altura Mayhem Full Finger Gloves

Altura Mayhem Full Finger Gloves

These are a bargain at £13.01 at time of posting, I own a pair and I have to say they are my favourite autumn gloves (which I still wear under warmer gloves in winter)… OK, I’m trying to resist filling my drawer with them, my other gloves have cost a lot more and aren’t any better.

A nasty surprise in my cycling shorts #cycling

How and where it came from nobody knows (not that I have asked anyone):

And to compare this piece of metal with something I know the size of:

It was perfectly weaved into the hip of the shorts, so no injury was sustained, but I’ve no idea where it could have come from.

Are you ready for winter?

Yesterday I cleaned the bike, chainset, sprocket and fitted a new chain. Here’s a picture taken at work on my lunch break (because it was dark when I finished and so I’ve dirtied it a little getting it here, but it still looks clean compared with normal):

The observant amongst you will have noticed the winter tyres too. Yes, as it’s also going to get more and more icy this week I’ve also fitted my winter tyres:

As you can see, the front rim is narrow and it is a bit of a pain to fit the tyre:

Everyone should ride winter tyres when the frosty season starts, I ride Schwalbe Marathon Winter tyres, I’m not sure if many other brands are widely available elsewhere, but in the UK there’s not much choice.

Availability of winter tyres is a bit random at times, they sell out pretty quickly when the slippy weather starts, but for comfort and safety I fit mine fairly early on and ride them until the weather is good again. Some people will get a season out of them, others will get several, I’m hoping to get three, but this will be number two, so let’s see how much harsh braking I do – this morning’s test doesn’t count 🙂

Currently I’m using KMC X8-93 as my chain of choice – for no particular reason other than it is supplied with a missing link and KMC have served me well thus far (definition = only breaking through neglect, I’m trying to avoid neglect now, so no more breakages since):

Chains really suffer in winter, the rain, filth and salt really eat through them, so do remember to look after your chain. I regularly check chain wear using a chain wear indicator, but generally ignoring 1% wear, only changing when the indicator won’t fit anymore (probably meaning 2% wear or more). Those with deraileurs need to replace at 1% wear 🙂

Clothing, everybody knows how important it is in winter. Everybody likes different things though, I don’t mind rain, but hate boil in the bag waterproof clothing – which is never waterproof anyway. So for me, waterproofs are an expensive waste of time. I do like windproof fabric though, my Gilet and winter jersey (which both have windproof fronts) are brilliant before the peak of winter. Once winter peak hits, it’s more about covering the legs and arms too. Until the freezing temperatures I still wear shorts and only have my arms covered by a base layer or jersey. Once it is freezing I wear warm unpadded tights with padded shorts underneath, that way I don’t need to change the tights everyday, but can change the shorts, hence I don’t need so many pairs of tights (which are expensive). I also wear a warm base layer and a windproof jacket, I carry my gilet and arm and leg warms in my bag as emergency clothing just incase. If it is -10 celsius like last year then I’ll wear an extra jersey or base layer under the jacket too. When I mention warm here I am specifically referring to Roubaix or Merino fabrics.
More on winter and clothing to follow I’m sure.

Underdressed but unwilling to give in

Last night the temperature on the ride home ranged from 6 degrees celsius down to 5 degrees celsius, now starting off in shorts and t-shirt with mitts it felt cold, but I thought, no probs, I’ll warm up.
Two miles from home (16 miles in) the cold eat into me with the temperature at 5 degrees celsius by this point, I was tired and the wind felt icy cold. I pulled over for a snack to give me a little energy, but I didn’t give much thought to the cold being the reason I was feeling tired.
I had a jersey in my bag, a gilet, a shirt, trousers, socks, the kitchen sink, everything I need to keep warm. Next time I’ll throw the jersey on when I feel like that even if I over heat afterwards.

This morning I was prepared for the near freezing temperature, I had finger gloves, gilet and a baselayer on – not cold enough for tights yet, so still in shorts. I was much more comfortable to say the least.

So don’t go underdressed for the weather and for goodness sake wrap up if you feel cold and tired.