Submerging a Garmin Edge 530 in water

Is The Garmin Edge 530 Waterproof?

In this post I use the distinctly unscientific approach of dropping an Edge 530 into a glass of water in order to find out if it is waterproof…

How do gears work

Bike Gears: How Do They Work?

Want to understand how bike gears work? Confused about the terminology? This post has all the information you need, explained in simple terms (by a simple man).

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT review

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT: An In-Depth Review

I’ve owned a Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT for a while now (like nearly 3½ years), so it’s about time I shared my thoughts in the form of a review. If you’re thinking about buying a new cycling computer, this post will contain all you need to know.

Pongo socks review

Pongo Cycling Socks Review

Well, this is a post (okay, mainly a video) that does exactly what it says on the tin.

I ‘review’ a couple of pairs of Pongo London cycling socks, which I bought last year and have been wearing since (not all the time – sometimes they’re in the wash).

Read morePongo Cycling Socks Review

How To Upload Routes Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

How To Upload A Route To A Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

In this blog post, along with an accompanying, short video I explain how to upload a GPS cycling route to the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT bike computer.

For the example in the video, I used RideWithGPS as the mapping software, and in fact, someone else (the organiser of the Spring Forward Sportive) had created the route.

All I did was to sync it with the Wahoo ELEMNT smartphone app and, from there, sync it with my own GPS device. Simples!

Read moreHow To Upload A Route To A Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT

Trek Domane with Campagnolo Zonda C17 wheelset

Campagnolo Zonda C17 Wheelset Review: My Quest For A New Pair Of Road Bike Wheels

I have a habit of using things until well after they’ve stopped working properly.

Partly this is my profound Yorkshireness (deep pockets/short arms), partly inertia. Unless something gets really annoying, I’m unlikely to do anything about it.

Early in 2018 (yes, this is a long term review!) my rear wheel got so annoying I finally decided to do something about it.

I needed to buy myself some new road bike wheels.

Cue the intro music.

Read moreCampagnolo Zonda C17 Wheelset Review: My Quest For A New Pair Of Road Bike Wheels

How to remove a crank from a square taper bottom bracket

How to Remove A Crank From A Square Taper Bottom Bracket Using A Crank Wrench Puller Tool

In this video I demonstrate how to remove the pedal cranks from a square taper bottom bracket.

It’s pretty straightforward, you just need a crank wrench and puller tool (which I may have referred to in the video as a crank AND wrench puller – no matter, it doesn’t make a lot of sense either way).

Watch the video to learn how to use it.

Read moreHow to Remove A Crank From A Square Taper Bottom Bracket Using A Crank Wrench Puller Tool

Wahoo ELEMNT vs ELEMNT BOLT

Wahoo ELEMNT vs ELEMNT BOLT – What Are The Differences (And Which Is Better)?

So my current bike computer is close to giving up the goat. And the ghost.

I’ve been waiting for this moment for some time. Having been in new bike GPS purchase mode almost constantly for the past 4 years (who isn’t?), it’s time to thrust my short Yorkshire arms into those deep Yorkshire pockets and ‘level up’ my electronic bike bling.

What’s that? The Garmin Edge is not the only show in town, you say? (Shurely shome mishtake.)

But it is true, we have a new(-ish) biketech contender in town in the form of Wahoo Fitness, with what finally can be described as their ELEMNT range of bike computers (until recently they just had one model). And based on my research THEY ARE GOOD!

Read moreWahoo ELEMNT vs ELEMNT BOLT – What Are The Differences (And Which Is Better)?

Merino Wool vs Lycra

Vulpine Alpine Merino Wool Cycling Jersey Review: Is Merino Better Than Lycra?

In this video I review the Vulpine Alpine merino wool cycling jersey.

I also attempt to answer the ‘age old question’ (erm…), is merino wool better than lycra (or Spandex for the American-ex) as a fabric for cycling jerseys. The review and my ruminations on this contentious philosophical debate are intertwined throughout the video.

Read moreVulpine Alpine Merino Wool Cycling Jersey Review: Is Merino Better Than Lycra?

LifeLine/X-Tools Pro Torque Wrench Review

Here is my video review of the LifeLine (or X-Tools) Pro Torque Wrench Set.

I don’t have an exemplary record when it comes to bike maintenance. In truth it makes me nervous. Whether it’s a mental block or a fact, it generally seems that when I attempt to fix or tweak a component on my bike, the issue I’m trying to solve gets worse.

Oh to be one of those patient engineering types that can calmly fettle away on their bike and get it running as smooth as a newly opened tub of chammy cream.

Read moreLifeLine/X-Tools Pro Torque Wrench Review

Strava vs MapMyRide Which Is Best

MapMyRide vs Strava: A Detailed Comparison

Imagine the blog post. Strava vs MapMyRide, in some sort of app-ocalyptic battle to establish which is best ride tracking software. A fight to the last breath gpx waypoint. Well, ideate no longer. This is that blog post.

And I can save you the trouble of reading it: Strava is better than MapMyRide. Considerably better.

It looks better. It is easier to use. It smells better*.

(*Okay, slipped that one in. They smell the same.)

For 99% of use cases, Strava provides a better experience, with the ability to record, store and then present back to you more interesting data.

The reason it is not better 100% of the time is because, yes dear reader, I am fallible, and it’s possible that I’ve missed off a crucial use case. No doubt that person will let me know in the comments.

Read moreMapMyRide vs Strava: A Detailed Comparison

Best Road Bike Pedals 2020

Best Road Bike Pedals 2020: The Sportive Cyclist’s Somewhat Ultimate Guide

Fitting the right set of pedals to my road bike has improved my enjoyment of cycling immeasurably. As they say, er, pedals maketh the man bike.

For too long it seems I used the wrong pedals. In the end I developed chronic pain in my knee, I couldn’t ride for more than an hour, and the muscles in my right thigh shrank (fact!).

When I got the right pedals (and the left ones), the pain went almost overnight.

In this post, I’m going to attempt to provide a guide to pedals in general and then sort out the best road bike pedals in 2020.

So strap clip in and lets go for a ride (with words…)

Read moreBest Road Bike Pedals 2020: The Sportive Cyclist’s Somewhat Ultimate Guide

Best Cycling Shorts For Endurance

Best Cycling Shorts For Road Cycling 2020: Protecting The Undercarriage

The cyclist’s journey towards velo mastery involves progressively replacing each item of clothing in their wardrobe with the equivalent garment made out of Lycra (Spandex to our US brethren). Cycling shorts are generally first on the list.

In this post, I’ll explore the exciting world of padded gussets and elasticated waistbands, and then give a few recommended shorts for you to check out.

Read moreBest Cycling Shorts For Road Cycling 2020: Protecting The Undercarriage

Best Chain Whip And Lockring Tool

Best Chain Whip And Cassette Lockring Tools (And What They Do)

Looking for the best chain whip and cassette lockring tool for your bike? You’ve come to the right place…  blog… cool service course with hipster cafe. Ahem.

So, you’ve decided to take the next step towards cyclo-service self sufficiency.

You need to take your cassette off the bike, either to clean it or to replace it.

It is one of your core principles that you like to avoid shredding your fingers whilst undertaking bike maintenance.

You therefore need a chain whip and a lockring tool.

And in this post we’re going to find out what they are, who sells them and which is the best (or rather, which will do the job with the minimum fuss).

Read moreBest Chain Whip And Cassette Lockring Tools (And What They Do)

SHIMANO 105 vs ULTEGRA

Shimano 105 vs Ultegra: Is It Worth It To Upgrade?

There comes a time in every road cyclist’s life when it becomes clear* that the quickest way to progress to professional standards of performance is to splash more cash on a random bike component.

(*Not all that clear)

That time occurs before you buy your bike, roughly a week after you’ve bought your bike, then on a weekly basis until you cycle off this mortal coil.

So now is the time to consider whether upgrading from Shimano 105, a perfectly functional bike groupset, to Shimano Ultegra, a perfectly functional bike groupset, will take you from dog-dog to Froome-dog.

Read moreShimano 105 vs Ultegra: Is It Worth It To Upgrade?

Torque To The Hand (Best Bicycle Torque Wrench 2020)

Summer, at least in the northern hemisphere, feels well and truly over. Perhaps you’ve decided to take a short ‘off season rest’ (it is raining after all). Perfect time then to show your bike a little TLC in the workshop/garage/propped up against a random wall. And as every beautician will tell you, performing TLC requires a serious torque wrench.

So, what exactly is a torque wrench, and which is the best one for your road bike needs? Read on McDuck.

The basis for this post is the research I did whence selecting and buying my own torque wrench. Having done the work, I thought I’d jot it all down to help other cyclists in the same pedalo.

If you have an inexplicable desire to tighten bolts with an extraordinary degree of precision, or you simply want to fix things without accidentally crushing them with your Hulk-like strength, this is the post for you. En avant me enfants

Read moreTorque To The Hand (Best Bicycle Torque Wrench 2020)

Sportive Cyclist guide to winter cycling tights

Best Winter Cycling Tights For Road Cyclists

Colder temperatures are upon us. A vital aspect of enjoying your cycling during the winter months is to ensure you’re adequately attired. Cycling tights are an important part of your adequate attire.

The aim of this post is shed a little light on the subject of winter cycling tights. I doubt that too much light is required, for this is hardly a challenging subject.

I’ll let you know the different leg warming options available to you as a road cyclists (yes, you have options) and provide some recommendations on what to buy in each category.

I’ll also throw in some inane chatter (you’re welcome). Now bring on the men in tights!

Read moreBest Winter Cycling Tights For Road Cyclists

Shimano Tiagra vs 105: Which One Should I Buy?

When it comes to choosing which make and model of gears for your first road bike (or your first ‘proper’ one), there’s a good chance you’ll be deciding between a Shimano Tiagra and a Shimano 105 groupset.

For those that already ride with Tiagra, 105 seems the natural upgrade path.

But which offers the best value, given the relative prices? Is it worth upgrading to 105?

In this post I’ll explain the key differences (and similarities) between the two ‘gruppos‘ and give some thoughts on how best to decide.

Read moreShimano Tiagra vs 105: Which One Should I Buy?

Trek Domane vs Specialized Roubaix Best Endurance Road Bike

Trek Domane vs Specialized Roubaix: Which Is The Best Endurance Road Bike?

In this post I’m going to compare the Trek Domane with the Specialized Roubaix. Which, if you’ve stumbled upon this post by accident and you’ve missed the tone of things round here, are both road bikes.

I’ll give an overview of the range of bikes available within each of these model families. I’ll also look at the particular features that are specific to the bikes, particularly in the area of comfort and ride smoothening.

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing, comparing the road bikes stables of these two large US bike manufacturers, Trek and Specialized. If you haven’t already, you should check out my introductory post on the subject.

Whilst other posts in this series (will) deal with aero bikes, lighter climbing bikes and gravel bikes, this one is really about my specialist subject (sort of): the bike for the older, more comfort-seeking gent.

Or ‘endurance road bike’, as the cycling industry seems set on calling it.

Read moreTrek Domane vs Specialized Roubaix: Which Is The Best Endurance Road Bike?

Cycling leg warmers versus tights

Leg Warmers vs Tights: Mont’s Guide For Road Cyclists With Chilly Knees

A few years ago, I had something of a revelation. It involved skin-tight black stockings. Or ‘leg warmers’ as they seem to be called in cyclo-world.

Now I feel compelled to share my epiphany in the form of a blog post comparing said leg warmers with tights, and discussing which is (are?) best for road cycling.

Like all good epiphanies, this story starts with e-commerce. Whilst perusing the Wiggle site (other online cycling retailers are available), I saw that a pair of leg warmers made by GripGrab were available in the sale. So I plunged. And I also bought a pair of leg warmers.

And now, after using leg warmers for, ooh getting on for nearly four years, I feel somewhat qualified to write about them. Please to enjoy my words. 

Read moreLeg Warmers vs Tights: Mont’s Guide For Road Cyclists With Chilly Knees

Do You Wear Cycling Tights Over Or Under Shorts

Do You Wear Cycling Tights Over Or Under Shorts?

Look, the short (ha!) answer is that you should ALWAYS wear cycling tights OVER the top of cycling shorts.

The reason being: the vast majority of cycling shorts have a foam pad (also known as a chamois or a chammy) positioned directly under your, er, ‘undercarriage’.

The pad is there to provide protection and comfort as you sit on the saddle, spin your legs, look moody in expensive sunglasses, or whatever else it is that you do on the bike.

The pad is designed to be located directly against your skin.

Read moreDo You Wear Cycling Tights Over Or Under Shorts?

Trek Domane Road Bike Rebuild

How To Overhaul A Road Bike

This post is mainly going to comprise a series of videos that I produced over the course of 2020, showing how I stripped down my Trek Domane 4.3 road bike to a bare frame and then rebuilt it.

The main issue, at least initially, was the lower headset bearing being totally shot. It turns out you shouldn’t ignore the rusty brown liquid dripping down your forks each time you give the bike a rinse off.

As I delved deeper, I realised that one of the bottom bracket bearings was seized.

And I already knew that a large part of the cabling and drivetrain would need replacing.

So here are all the videos in order.

Read moreHow To Overhaul A Road Bike

Garmin Edge 530 vs Edge 830

Garmin Edge 830 vs 530: Which Is Best (For You)?

In this superdooperpost, I’m going to compare the Garmin Edge 530 bike computer vs the Edge 830 to help you work out which is best for your needs and your pocket.

Garmin is the original OG in the bike GPS market, with many years to hone its product range. The 530 and 830 are two of the most capable bike computers on the market, used by pro cyclists and normal people alike.

But how do they compare to one another? What are the key differences?

Saddle up (pardner…?) and let’s find out.

Read moreGarmin Edge 830 vs 530: Which Is Best (For You)?

Edge 1030 Plus vs Edge 1030 with pants

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus vs Edge 1030: What Does The ‘Plus’ Mean?

Here’s a quick post to note down the main differences that you should care about between the Garmin Edge 1030 vs the Edge 1030 Plus bike computers. 

To be clear, I don’t own either of these devices (yet!). This post is intended to act as a reference point when I get around to buying one*.

(* Or, who knows, both, if this blog ever turns into a magic money tree…)

I’m publishing on the blog just in case YOU are also looking for this info and you’d like it delivered in a handy summary, all in one place.

I’ll keep my scribblings to the main differences rather than go into detail about what a bike GPS device is, etc. You can check out my other posts for that guff (like this one comparing the 1030 (non-plus) with the Edge 830).

Righty ho? Onward dear lycra-clad warriors!

Read moreGarmin Edge 1030 Plus vs Edge 1030: What Does The ‘Plus’ Mean?

fitness-training-for-road-cyclists

The Ultimate Guide To Fitness Training For Road Cyclists

In this post we’re going to talk about fitness training for road cycling. A lot.

Why?

Well, I’d posit that most you are here to improve your cycling performance in some fashion (here, as in on this website, rather than here on this earth).

If you’re just starting out, that might be achieved through upping your confidence and motivation levels simply to ‘do more cycling’.

For everyone else, whether you want to ride longer distances, to up your average speed, to improve your climbing ability, it is structured training that will help you get there.

For sure, ‘doing more cycling’ will achieve some results. But there is a limit to how much more cycling you can do – there aren’t enough hours in the day; there is a limit to what your body can sustain before it breaks down.

At some point, if you’re following a random-walk training ‘programme’, your performance level will plateau and may start to decline (particularly if you’re an ‘elder statesman of le peloton’).

In this super-detailed post, we’re going to learn together about the theory and practice of fitness, to help you create an individualised training programme that suits you.

How do you like them apples?

Read moreThe Ultimate Guide To Fitness Training For Road Cyclists

Greased Speedplay pedals

Speedplay Zero Stainless Clipless Pedals: A Long-Term Review

Welcome to my review of the Speedplay Zero Stainless pedals.

I bought my first real six string pair in 2013. I got another set a few years later (let’s say 2018 – I just checked). Both are still in use, on my ‘trusty winter bike’ and ‘best road bike’, respectively.

I recommend them to anyone that will listen (and a few that won’t).

So, with me having summarised my conclusions in advance, let’s get into the review.

Hit it!

*Mont starts dancing*

Read moreSpeedplay Zero Stainless Clipless Pedals: A Long-Term Review

LifeLine Rear mudguard review

LifeLine Essential Clip-On Rear Mudguard (or Fender) Review

I’ve had a revelation. And it involves my arse. By way of explanation, here is my review of the LifeLine Essential Clip-On Rear mudguard (Fender).

As a result of being a bit more committed to riding when the weather is filthy (partly in order to find opportunities to test high performance outer wear), I’ve tended to return from rides with mud and ‘road juice’ sprayed up my back and my backside.

I think US readers may refer to this as the ‘buttside’, but I am not sure.

The gunk hasn’t only covered my person. It’s covered my bike.

Whilst I’ve been good (“good girl Daddy” as our youngest proclaims) at rinsing down the bike after each ride, it isn’t ideal having megatons of megacrud splatter-gunned all over the rear, whether it’s mine, or that of the bike.

Read moreLifeLine Essential Clip-On Rear Mudguard (or Fender) Review

Hybrid bike versus road bike

Hybrid vs Road Bike: What Is The Difference? (And Can I Use A Hybrid For A Sportive?!)

Some experienced cyclists might scoff at this question (though surely not you, noble reader of Sportive Cyclist). I think it’s a perfectly valid one.

I haven’t done a survey (perhaps I should), but I can’t imagine many prospective sportive cyclists wake up one day, having not ridden a bike in 20+ years, and think, ‘I must sign up for a sportive,’ and, while they’re at it, ‘I must buy a shiny, narrow-tired road steed‘.

Many people may own a bike already, perhaps for commuting or for family cycling activities, and there’s a fair chance that this is a hybrid (or perhaps a ‘roadified’ mountain bike – fitted with less knobbly tires etc).

For those that do awaken having undergone a cycling epiphany, they’ll generally seek to buy one bike to satisfy their new-found pedal-powered needs (bit of commuting, bit of child-seat lugging, bit of fitness riding). A hybrid-for-all-seasons might prove a tempting prospect.

(Of course, then they buy it and immediately the Pandora’s box is opened and they become subject to the one bike ownership formula to rule them all.)

I knew a girl at school called Pandora. Never got to see her box though – Spike, Notting Hill

Read moreHybrid vs Road Bike: What Is The Difference? (And Can I Use A Hybrid For A Sportive?!)

Welcome To My Pain Cave

Welcome To My Pain Cave: A Review Of The Elite Crono Fluid Elastogel Indoor Trainer

I’ve owned my Elite Crono Fluid Elastogel turbo trainer for over six years. Which probably qualifies me to write a little review.

I’ve used it to prepare for RideLondon, to attempt to maintain some semblance of fitness over the winter (hashtag fail) and to complete the 30 Days of Cycling Challenge in June.

In this post I’m going to attempt to give you a flavour of what it’s like to use and whether I consider it a worthwhile purchase (although, disclaimer alert, it was given to me for my birthday).

Given that it has a rather unwieldy name, from now I’ll shorten it to ‘Crono Fluid’ (which sounds disturbingly biological). Be aware that this trainer model has a variety of similarly-named (but differently-specced) siblings. Make sure you’re clear on which one you want to buy (obviously…).

Read moreWelcome To My Pain Cave: A Review Of The Elite Crono Fluid Elastogel Indoor Trainer

How to fit a Bontrager Duotrap

How To Fit A Bontrager Duotrap Speed and Cadence Sensor

So this is a nice specific post then. If you are looking for a bit of intel on how to fit a Bontrager Duotrap Speed and Cadence sensor to a Trek road bike (OMG – THERE’S A HOLE IN THE CHAINSTAY), then you’ve come to the right place. Okay, you’ve come to a place. Okay, you’re here.

On the other hand, if you’ve come for some general road cycling entertainment, then these are not the droids you’re looking for, Move along now.

So, for the roughly 0.1% of you that own a Trek bike with a hole in one of the chain stays, here’s a guide to installing a Duotrap speed and cadence sensor. Two things: (i) it’s very easy; (ii) I took loads of photos.

And now an additional THIRD thing as I update this post. I madez a video. It is, after all, 2020, and we are stuck in our houses. So, either watch this YouTube dispatch, or continue to read and look at the pictures, your choice.

Yes, you are welcome for all the value I am giving you.

Read moreHow To Fit A Bontrager Duotrap Speed and Cadence Sensor

Castelli Perfetto close

Castelli Perfetto Long Sleeve Jersey Review (The Jersey Formerly Known As Gabba)

Wilkommen to my review of the Castelli Perfetto cycling jersey. This post focuses on the long-sleeved version.

Long time readers of this blog will know that I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with the Castelli Gabba for an irrational number of years. Over that time I did precisely nothing about it (er, like buying it).

Well a few years back, I’ve finally did something about it. I bought … a different piece of cycling clothing.

In the intervening years, it seems that the long-sleeved version of the Gabba had been rebranded as the Castelli Perfetto, so this was the one I ended up buying (the Gabba is still available – I cover the differences in this post and in my video review).

And now, after having worn my Perfetto for too many rides – in all shades of [email protected] weather – here is my inexpert review.

Read moreCastelli Perfetto Long Sleeve Jersey Review (The Jersey Formerly Known As Gabba)

Where To Buy A Road Bike: Online vs Bike Shop

For most of the last two centuries, the best place to buy a bike (whether that’s road bike or a vélocipède) has not been online. Once production moved out of the LB (local blacksmith), sales activity moved to the LBS (local bike shop).

In more recent years, LBS sales have come under threat from bike chains and from direct sales on the internet. But as we stand here in 2020 (or sit), where is the best place to buy a new bike (and do we have much choice anymore…?).

Your intrepid reporter, Le Mont of the Daily Velo, attempts to make sense of it all. (And fails. The End.)

Read moreWhere To Buy A Road Bike: Online vs Bike Shop

Rouleur Classic 2019 London

Rouleur Classic 2019: My Review (With A Video!)

The Rouleur Classic is a bike show for hipsters. Based in London for two and a half days only, it is a celebration of bike-based beauty, cutting edge velo tech. And, from what I can tell, drinking.

Now, in terms of fashion, I’m firmly at the back of the peloton, if not the lanterne rouge. Nonetheless it seems that Rouleur lets anyone buy a ticket to attend. So i did. And I did.

And in this post (and video) I’m going to tell you about the cool stuff I saw at the show.

Read moreRouleur Classic 2019: My Review (With A Video!)

Garmin Edge 830 vs Edge 1030

Garmin Edge 1030 vs Edge 830: A Comparison (Which Is Right For You?)

The purpose of this post is to (wait for it…) compare the Garmin Edge 1030 with the Edge 830 so you can work out which is best bike GPS choice for you.

(Essentially, is it worth you paying a bit more in order to get the extra 200?)

So we’ll be looking at (and comparing) things like size, weight, the screen, buttons (buttons!), as well as the software features, both basic and sophisticated, so you can decide which bests suits your road cycling needs (whether that’s your actual ones or your perceived, I’m-on-the-verge-of-turning-professional-at-age-45, needs).

Capiche? Alrighty. On with the show!

Read moreGarmin Edge 1030 vs Edge 830: A Comparison (Which Is Right For You?)

Cycling with prescription glasses

Wearing Prescription Glasses Whilst Cycling (And What About Varifocals?)

I was emailed a few years back by a Sportive Cyclist reader (the other one that’s not my mum), who rightly noted that I cycle whilst wearing prescription glasses. I can’t say for sure, but I have a sense that I might not be the only one…

Alan (for that ‘twas… ‘twis his name) then went on to supply some very helpful tips around cycling with varifocal lenses. I’ll share these later on in this post.

First though, since my glasses involve bog standard (albeit unusually prescriptioned) lenses, I thought I’d write more generally about cycling whilst wearing bins.

It’s at this point, I can offer the non-spectacle wearers amongst you to stand down. There’s nothing here to see (although if there was, presumably you’d see it very clearly indeed).

Read moreWearing Prescription Glasses Whilst Cycling (And What About Varifocals?)

sunset in Mougins

Road Cycling On The Côte d’Azur (The Bit Near Cannes…)

This year’s mid-season training camp took place in the south of France, specifically on the Côte d’Azur ‘behind’ (back from the coast of) Cannes.

It was a pretty intense affair. Lots of focused lounging on sun terraces and structured bombing into the swimming pool. But I did find some time to get out on the bike.

In this post I’ll share my thoughts on cycling in the area, where I rode, where I hired my bike and all that fandango.

Read moreRoad Cycling On The Côte d’Azur (The Bit Near Cannes…)

Bianchi Intenso with a nice view

Cycling The Col De L’Ecre: Length, Gradient and Difficulty (All The Usual Fandango)

In this post I am going to give you all the ‘must have’ information you need in order to ride (and enjoy) the Col de l’Ecre, a particularly beautiful (and long) climb in the south of France.

This summer I had the particular pleasure of being bestowed with a week of free accommodation in a villa on the Côte d’Azur.

Shadly this was not because I’d hit the veloblogging big leagues and been invited to a high profile bike launch. Instead it was because my parents’ wealthy friends gave us a lend of their gaff. So you don’t have to feel sorry for me.

Anyhoo, me and my brother-in-law both hired bikes (as is our wont on these multi-Monty-generational holidays) and, in amongst a bunch of shorter rides, decided to tackle a ‘Cat 1’ climb in the area. And the Col de l’Ecre was that climb.

So, having thoroughly enjoyed the ride, and the climb (yes!), I decided to share the love. Or rather my experience. You can use it (maybe be inspired by it) if you’re ever in the area.

Read moreCycling The Col De L’Ecre: Length, Gradient and Difficulty (All The Usual Fandango)

dhb merino wool socks

Best Socks For Road Cycling: A Magnificent Feet Of Research

So you’re looking for the best socks for road cycling. I don’t blame you. Who isn’t?

But, wow. This is going to test my writing chops. How I’m going to wrestle a blog post out of this subject I do not know. Better kick on.

To be honest I don’t give my feet much thought when cycling. This extends beyond sock choice.

My only real issue in the foot area actually manifested itself through knee pain and an under-developed set of right quadriceps (more under-developed…). The issue (and solution) was foot-related.

As part of my new bike and bike fit process in 2013 I bought Speedplay pedals and set the float up to pretty much maximum. This (and the well-fitting bike) sorted the knee.

Back to feet.

Read moreBest Socks For Road Cycling: A Magnificent Feet Of Research

Aftershokz Trekz Air review

Aftershokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones Review: Safest Headphones For Cycling?

I am one of those terrible people that wears headphones whilst I’m cycling along.

Before you throw me on the heap as a negligent husband and father, and a liability on the road, hear me out.

I have a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones. I ride with only one earpiece in, so I’m aware of my surroundings and can hear traffic approaching over my right shoulder.

It’s not an ideal solution though. Whilst I attempt to keep the wires in place by wendling them through the straps on my helmet, the dangling earpiece has a habit of gradually slipping down and pulling the wire tight around my neck.

And one ear of sound is not ideal, whether listening to the podcast (I tend to listen to people talking rather than singing) or listening out for other road users.

The solution, a set of headphones that don’t go in your ears, leaving your lugholes free to sense the white van rapidly approaching your rear end.

Enter the Aftershokz Trekz Air wireless bone conduction headphones (so many ‘kz’, so few ‘c’s).

I’ve been meaning to get a set of Aftershokz for ages. But like most things that involve spending some money, I conveniently forgot to take any action. Finally I thought I’d buy a pair and review them for this ‘ere blog(kz).

Read moreAftershokz Trekz Air Bone Conduction Headphones Review: Safest Headphones For Cycling?

Elite Crono Fluid trainer on patio

How To Measure Power On An Indoor Trainer

Everyone seems obsessed about power these days.

Chris Froome spends all his time looking down at the power figure on his bike computer (on his stem) so that he can measure out his effort over a ludicrous long distance time trial that results in him winning the Giro d’Italia.

Sticking with Team Sky, power meters are accused of being the main tool by which the Sky Train supposedly sucks the excitement out of life on every Alpine Tour climb*.

(* No I don’t believe that is the case).

Back in the (very much) amateur cycling world, I succumbed to the promise that having a power meter (I’ve got a ‘left only’ Stages crank-mounted one) would instantly transform my training approach and fire my fitness levels into the stratosphere (spoiler alert: it turns out you still have to do the work…).

The good thing about training indoors, if you’re interested in measuring power, is that there are many more options versus measuring power on an outdoors ride. And not all of them involve departing with vast amounts of moolah.

Let’s get into them.

Read moreHow To Measure Power On An Indoor Trainer

How To Plan A Cycling Route

How To Plan A Great Road Cycling Route

I should start this post by saying that I don’t have a definitive answer for this. I am, however, interested in exploring the question.

Until recently, the question of cycling route design, on a personal level, hadn’t really occurred to me, beyond an ill-formed notion floating somewhere at the back of my mind.

I know that organisers of, say, the Tour de France spend ages determining the specific route each year (although that’s as much about fleecing start and finish towns for cash as it is about making the route interesting for riders and spectators).

I assumed organisers of sportives must give some thought to route (after all, how would they know where to put those little yellow arrow signs).

But when it comes to planning my personal rides, whether solo, with my brother-in-law or as part of my nascent village MAMILpeloton, route tends be decided quite quickly, often on the hoof (cleat?) based on how much time I/we have, how tired we feel, whether its raining.

So, the question again, should we be giving this decision more thought and attention?

Read moreHow To Plan A Great Road Cycling Route

6-bike-tools-for-road-cycling

The (Bike) Tools That I Use Most: 6 ‘Must Have’ Implements

Gweetings. In this post I’m going to talk about the bike tools I use the most on my magical cycling adventures. Or ‘bike maintenance’, as normal people might call it.

No particular science was applied (plus ça change). I took a mental canter through my memory banks and tried to think about the implements I’d had most cause to use in recent years.

Then I wrote them down. Hopefully this will prove useful if you’re starting your own cycling tool collection, or wondering what all the cool grease gurus are tinkering with.

Or something. On with the show!

Read moreThe (Bike) Tools That I Use Most: 6 ‘Must Have’ Implements

Road bike with front and rear lights

Into The Light: CatEye Volt 800 and Lezyne KTV Pro Drive Rear 75 Review

The biggest (first world) problem in my life is finding time to do the things I say I want to do.

I’m not unusual – we’ve all got demands on our time. Work stuff. Partner stuff. Kids stuff. Houses stuff.

All that stuff tends to crowd out my time to get out on the bike.

No more is this felt than during the winter months.

Work always seems to be busier. The hours available to ride are fewer and there’s more likelihood that the hours that are available are marred by inclement (at best) or thoroughly miserable weather.

Read moreInto The Light: CatEye Volt 800 and Lezyne KTV Pro Drive Rear 75 Review

Cycling training in Derbyshire

How To Train For Road Cycling

In this post I’ll have a look at the different strategies for how you might train for road cycling, whether that’s to ride long, get faster or lose weight. Or perhaps all three. 

Whilst the fundamentals of training haven’t changed a great deal in recent years (although I imagine those cunning sports scientists are beavering away in their labs), the tools available to the everyday cyclist to harness those fundamentals are becoming more diverse and interesting.

This post will try to give you an overview of the different strategies you can employ to get fitter on a road bike.

Read moreHow To Train For Road Cycling

Monty’s Road Cycling Clothing Recommendations (The M-List)

When you’re looking to drop some hard-earned cash on your next road cycling clothing purchase, it’s helpful to get a recommendation from someone you know (or even, heaven forbid, trust!?).

You don’t want to overpay for a cycling jersey created for a chiselled whippet, which makes you look like a trussed up Cumberland sausage and falls apart on its fourth wearing.

So here is my list of recommendations for cycling clothing by category (some of which I might have made up).

Read moreMonty’s Road Cycling Clothing Recommendations (The M-List)

Cycling in the twilight

New Bike Lights: Mont Discovers How To Cycle In The Dark…

I’ve written quite a bit about removing the barriers to bike riding.

Not the big barriers – the lack of a bike, say, or an injury – but the little ones. The ones that, when aggregated, and mixed in with rain pelting sideways at your window, conspire to prevent you cycling, even when you want to.

The fact that you’ve packed your (treasured) lycra battlewear in the back of your wardrobe. That your water bottle is at one end of the house, your bike computer (out of charge) is at the other. That the screws attaching cleat to shoe are starting to come loose.

Read moreNew Bike Lights: Mont Discovers How To Cycle In The Dark…

Garmin Edge 820 vs Edge 520

Garmin Edge 820 vs Edge 520: Which Is Better?

When I first wrote this post, my brother-in-law’s old bike computer had finally given up the ghost and he was in the market for a new one. For his benefit (and mine), I decided to research and compare the Garmin Edge 820 vs the Edge 520 to see which might suit him better.

I then used this research to write this post, which you can use to help make your buying decision if you’re in the same boat (or on the same bike).

I could keep you in suspenders as to which one he went for (in fact, which one the family clubbed together to buy him for his birthday) until the end of this post…. but it’s really not that exciting (whisper: we went for the Edge 520).

If you want to want to find out which is best for you (and if I’ll buy you one for *your* birthday), read on (MacDuff).

Wait, There Are NEWER Versions of Both These Bike Computers

The Edge 520 has been superseded in Garmin’s range by the Edge 530, and the newer version of the 820 is the Edge 830.

And what-do-you-know, I’ve written a similar post to this one comparing the two.

So click here to view that post: Garmin Edge 830 vs 530 – Which is Best?

Bike Computers Mentioned In This Post…

… in case you didn’t read the introduction, today I’m comparing the:

(BTW, these are affiliate links – if you click one and buy something, I get a small commission and you pay no more than normal.)

Incidentally, both devices are great. I’m sure you’d be happy with either. But if you want to know how they differ (and which would win in a fight), it’s probably time to read on…

Read moreGarmin Edge 820 vs Edge 520: Which Is Better?

Shimano Dura-Ace vs Ultegra: Clash Of The Groupset Titans

In this post I compare the key differences and, more importantly, the similarities between Shimano’s Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets.

Judging by the popularity of my other posts comparing different rungs on the Shimano road gears product ladder, I thought it high time that I looked at the tippity top of the company’s groupset range (Dura-Ace) and how it compares to the next rung down (Ultegra).

So, behold, here are my considered musings (alright, ill-considered musings).

Read moreShimano Dura-Ace vs Ultegra: Clash Of The Groupset Titans

Garmin Edge 520 vs Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT: Which Should You Buy?

Ah, the perennial question (for a sub-set of road cyclists with a penchant for data and a secret desire to be a pro rider): which bike GPS to invest in?

Garmin ‘owned the space’ for many years. In recent years, competing up-starts have parked their tanks on Garmin’s lawn (with great accuracy, if they use GPS). Leading amongst these is Wahoo with its ELEMNT series of devices.

In this post I compare the Garmin Edge 520 and the Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT, both of which I bought (last year I think) and have used extensively.

Bike GPS devices these days have lots of features. The differences across models and between manufacturers are many. I will endeavour to restrict this highly analytical report (opinion piece based on little hard evidence) to the key differences that I think are relevant to enthusiast road cyclists (such as your good self).

Read moreGarmin Edge 520 vs Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT: Which Should You Buy?

Cycling Go Box

Road Bike Hack: The Cycling ‘Go Box’

Wow. Here we go. I have a ‘bike hack’ for you.

Or perhaps a bike life hack (#BikeLifeHack…).

I doubt I invented this hack.

In fact I definitely didn’t – I heard about the concept in a more general sense on one of the podcasts I listen to. I have just tailored the hack to suit my cycling life requirement. I can’t imagine it’s trademarked though. Even if it’s not, I don’t want to be labelled the Keith Chegwin of the bike hack world*.

(*Mont – what are you going on about? Get on with it…)

You’re right – that’s enough disclaimers.

Read moreRoad Bike Hack: The Cycling ‘Go Box’

RideLondon(-Surrey…) 2018: My ‘Race’ Report

I am sitting here eating my second cake of the day.

Since the conclusion of my RideLondon ride, I’ve consumed, inter alia, an Indian takeaway, a jumbo sausage roll from the West Cornwall Pasty Company and the aforementioned dos pasteles. I need to write about my RideLondon 2018 experience so that, if nothing else, I can reach closure and stop eating junk.

So behold, my RideLondon-Surrey 100 race report.

Read moreRideLondon(-Surrey…) 2018: My ‘Race’ Report

Stolen Goat ONE bib shorts review title

Stolen Goat Bodyline ONE Bib Shorts Review: The One Where Mont Can’t Bring Himself to Buy Castelli

Expensive bib shorts are a hard sell. Particularly if you’re buying them ‘in the flesh’ – in the bike shop rather than via the interwebs.

Of all the cycling garments (let’s ignore toe caps and knee warmers), bib shorts are the most underwhelming when hung from a clothes hanger.

Indeed, the more expensive the short, the more inconsequential they tend to look on the merchandising rail. A bit of shrivelled lyrcra half-wrapped around an odd-shaped piece of foam.

I found this when I went into a high end bike shop (Prologue Cycling in Harrogate, in case you’re interested) in the dog days of summer 2017. A voucher (kindly given to me by my sister and her husband) was burning a hole in my saddlebag.

Read moreStolen Goat Bodyline ONE Bib Shorts Review: The One Where Mont Can’t Bring Himself to Buy Castelli

Is A Bike Fit Worth It

Is A Bike Fit Worth It?

Is a bike fit worth it, you ask? Short answer: yes. Next post please!

For the most part, we like to spend money on a bike. On bikes, plural.

We can fantasise over magazines (bike ones) beforehand, we can enjoy the buying process, we have something afterwards that we can sit and gaze at in the garage.

But when it comes to complying with a core part of my bike buying dogma, intakes of breath are sharply delivered. Penury is claimed. Exits are sharply made.

That all stops now. In this post I’m going to try to persuade you to pay for a decent bike fit.

Read moreIs A Bike Fit Worth It?

Training volume versus intensity

Go Hard Or Go Home // Volume Versus Training Intensity For Road Cyclists

If you’re a ‘time-starved’ cyclist and you want to improve your performance on the bike, it’s pretty important (dare I say it, vital) to understand the difference between training volume and intensity.

You are naturally limited in the former; you can make up for some of this limitation by manipulating the latter. Training intensity is really important for the sportive cyclist that wants to do more with less.

In this blog post we look at why and how.

How’s that for a brief introduction?

Read moreGo Hard Or Go Home // Volume Versus Training Intensity For Road Cyclists

What is a MAMIL

What Is A MAMIL (And Are You One)?

Do you like being called a MAMIL?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering lately, partly following the results of my subscriber survey and partly because I see that a new documentary on MAMILs is coming out. More on both topics later in the post.

But is the term MAMIL perjorative? (Good word…)

Offensive even?

Or something to be proud of? A tribe to identity with. A flag (stretchy, in garish colours) to rally around.

The modern MAMIL is a complex beast. And he needs analysing.

So, if you’d like to muse on the MAMIL (or perhaps find out what one is…), read on MAMIL-duff.

Read moreWhat Is A MAMIL (And Are You One)?

Periodised cycling training

Using Periodisation To Build Road Cycling Fitness

It’s pretty straightforward to find a cycling training programme on t’internet.

(You might have heard of this thing called ‘Google’?)

The thing is, whilst they’re helpful to a point, these training plans are generally designed to apply (and appeal) to a broad swathe of the Googling public. And they all seem to be 12 weeks long (I know, I generalise… some are 16 weeks long…).

Pick from ‘Beginner’, ‘Improver’ or ‘Expert’ and follow the programme (or not, as the case may be). I’m sure progress will follow.

But there’s a better way. A way of building your own training programme. One that lasts longer than 12 weeks.

Let’s talk periodisation.

And let’s try not to fall asleep.

Read moreUsing Periodisation To Build Road Cycling Fitness

build good cycling habits

How To Build Good Cycling Habits (By Doing Little Easy Things)

In this post I’m going to help you build good habits, which you can apply to improving your cycling. And your life. You’re welcome.

Often when you want to achieve great things, you just need to repeat a series of simple actions many times. And repeat.

The trick is working out how to encourage (force? trick?) yourself into performing those simple actions until… one day you suddenly realise you’ve achieved your great thing.

It’s at this point that generally someone will say to you something like:

  • Wow I don’t know where you found the time to achieve so much
  • I could never do that
  • You’ve been so productive

They see the ‘afterwards’ and immediately think about the size of the elephant that you’ve consumed (not literally).

You, of course, remember that each mouthful was just a mouthful (not literally).

🐘

Read moreHow To Build Good Cycling Habits (By Doing Little Easy Things)

Dealing With An Injury

Dealing With A Painful Knee (Or Any Injury That Keeps You Off The Bike)

There is a certain sinking feeling when a familiar injury returns. The twinge in my left knee as I get off the bike. The tightness above the knee. That feeling of dread as it starts to seize over the course of the afternoon. The jolt of pain as I walk down the stairs in the evening.

Then weeks of ‘is it getting better?’, ‘I’m sure it’s improving’, and ‘damn it, that hurts’.

I’m in that place right now with my knee.

I’ve tried resting it (sort of). I’ve tried light training rides. And, so far, the pain doesn’t seem to be going away.

Now I’m getting worried. I’ve got PLANS for this year. I’ve made some commitments to do rides with people and I don’t want to let them down. I need to get my training started.

What am I going to do?

Read moreDealing With A Painful Knee (Or Any Injury That Keeps You Off The Bike)

Do You Always Wear A Helmet When Cycling (And Should You)?

I’ve been writing the Sportive Cyclist blog for nearly 5 years now, so I guess it’s time to hit the big red self destruct button.

It’s time to get political.

It’s time to enter The Great Helmet Debate*.

(* which is I think the name of the new BBC show commissioned after they lost the rights to GBBO…).

In essence, will wearing a helmet make me more aero (#moreAero)?

Oh wait, the other helmet debate. Should we be forced to wear helmets when riding a bike?

Read moreDo You Always Wear A Helmet When Cycling (And Should You)?

How To Maintain Cycling Habit

How To Maintain A Cycling Habit Into Winter (Or How I’m Going To Try…)

In the past, when I’ve managed to build something resembling a cycling habit over the summer, I’ve tended to lose impetus around October. The rides dry up as the weather wets up (and colds up). Excuses are made and other ‘priorities’ take over.

Sometimes the rot sets in in September.

Of course I don’t always realise that my ride consistency is slipping. I fool myself into thinking that I’m keeping the habit up with the odd autumnal excursion.

In reality, if I looked at my Strava history objectively, I’d note a paltry couple of rides recorded over the course of October, perhaps in November, and then declare it done for the year.

Read moreHow To Maintain A Cycling Habit Into Winter (Or How I’m Going To Try…)

How To Clean Your Road Bike Drivetrain (or Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance)

I feel like I’ve never properly cleaned my bike. Actually it’s more than a feeling. Its a truthing.

Partly (mainly) this is because I’ve never had the confidence to take the dirty bits apart in order to give them a proper deep clean.

The last time I took my bike to my friendly local bike mechanic, I got a friendly rebuke. As he replaced my broken front derailleur, he noted that the teeth on both the cassette and chain rings were worn. The chain was stretched. The rear hub was on the verge of knackery. The cause: infrequent (and ineffective) cleaning.

After returning from our holiday in Cornwall, where both long motorway journeys saw the roof-mounted bike being doused with finest English summertime rain and road muck, I decided to rectify past transgressions. I would give the bike, and specifically the drivetrain, a really good clean. And this would mean that an incompetent would be taking apart his bike (and hoping he could put it back together again).

I thought I would record my ‘journey’ to share on this here blog, perhaps to share some useful information, but more to provide fellow mechanically challenged people with the confidence that they too can destroy a bike and then half put it back together again.

Read moreHow To Clean Your Road Bike Drivetrain (or Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance)

Bike hacks for your next sportive

Confessions Of A Drivetrain Cleaner (How To Prep Your Bike For Your Next Sportive)

Everyone will tell you a sportive is not ‘really’ a race, and then visualize leaving you behind in a proverbial ball of smoke. No matter how you approach it, everyone wants to maximize their bike’s performance and do what they can to gain an edge on the road.

So as a race-loving mechanic, here’s the down-low on my various last-minute hacks that can help you prepare for your next sportive.

Note from Monty: Today’s post comes from Simon Laumet, an experienced bike mechanic based in London. Simon’s post has already inspired me to give my drivetrain a proper clean (the drivetrain on my bike…), which will be the subject of a future post (ooh, can you contain your excitement…). If you find the post useful, please do let me know in the comments below (along with any tips you have).

Read moreConfessions Of A Drivetrain Cleaner (How To Prep Your Bike For Your Next Sportive)

What Are The Different Types of Indoor Cycling?

In an ideal cycling world, every day would be pleasantly warm, with little or no breeze to slow you down. The day would stretch out before you, with no work or family responsibilities to intrude upon your ride time.

But this isn’t an ideal cycling world.

In fact it’s piddling it down outside, the temperature is close to zero and you have just 30 minutes for a cycle session, or serious relationship repercussions are heading your way.

Cycling indoors is your only option. (“Turbo Wan, you’re my only hope”).

But what do we mean when we talk about indoor cycling?

Not all indoor cycles were born equal. Or something like that.

In this post, we’re going to look at the options for a cyclist that doesn’t want to go outside….

Read moreWhat Are The Different Types of Indoor Cycling?

Cycling and coffee

Cycling And Coffee: A Stimulating Study

I love cycling, me. And I love coffee.

Coffee and cycling go together like monkeys and tennis rackets (“monkey tennis!”). Like Ginger Biscuits and Fred Astaire. Like Bert and Ernie. Like salt and caramel (or so they’ll have us believe).

As a committed coffee drinker and a somewhat less committed cyclist, at least right now (based on my Strava records) I thought I’d look into the mighty bean and the drink it produces, with a cycling bent.

And then write a post about it. Please to enjoy.

Read moreCycling And Coffee: A Stimulating Study

The Climbs of Velo Birmingham

Perhaps surprisingly, until recently there were just three closed road sportives in the UK: one in England (RideLondon) and one each in Scotland (Etape Caledonia) and Wales (Velothon Wales).

The RideLondon event is probably the best known and this race report will give you an idea of what it is like to cycle with thousands of other cyclists on closed roads.

Later this year, Velo Birmingham will become the fourth closed road sportive and having sold out within 4 days, it looks like there will be 15,000 happy cyclists on Sept 24.

Note from Monty: This is a guest post written by Mark from bikes.org.uk, a UK-based blog for cyclists of all disciplines.

Read moreThe Climbs of Velo Birmingham

how-do-pro-cyclists-train

How Do Pro Cyclists Train?

Ooh, it’s very technical. I’m not sure you’d understand. I’m certain that I don’t.

But lack of knowledge, competence and intelligence has not tended to stop me writing about a subject here on Sportive Cyclist. So I’m going to give it a crack.

As an esteemed (not to mention gloriously-handsome) Sportive Cyclist reader, I’m sure you’ll have the wherewithall to draw out the relevant lessons for your own training and performance (hint: plan it out in advance; follow the plan; adapt the plan as your circumstances change).

Let’s go!

Read moreHow Do Pro Cyclists Train?

The Ultimate Guide To Road Cycling Around Puerto Pollensa (That’s In Mallorca…)

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed mention on this ‘ere blog of an upcoming family holiday (training camp) in Mallorca. That holiday has come and gone. Thankfully I am pleased to report that quite a bit of road cycling took place.

Since I’ve road bike holidayed in Mallorca twice now, I feel (semi-)qualified to present my “ultimate” guide on the subject. My aim is help you get the most road cycling goodness out of your holiday to the island, particularly if you have to work around other non-cycling family members who apparently just went there for a bit of sun…

My report will be structured largely as a report on my own holiday because i) it worked quite well; and ii) I haven’t done an exhaustive study of all the road cycling opportunities on the island. So put that in your inner tube and pump it.

Read moreThe Ultimate Guide To Road Cycling Around Puerto Pollensa (That’s In Mallorca…)

Best Power Meter For Road Cycling: The Sportive Cyclist Guide

Want to know the best power meter for road cycling? Of course you do. Specifically, you want to know the best one one for you.

Well rejoice and look no further. In this post I’m going to discuss all your power meter options. Between us we’ll work this out. Trust me.

Oh right, you only just met me? No need to trust me then. Just read the article and make your own mind up.

So, I give you the Sportive Cyclist Guide to Cycling Power Meters. Let’s get powerful.

[Fanfare. Mont exits with a flourish]

Read moreBest Power Meter For Road Cycling: The Sportive Cyclist Guide

How To Improve Your Pedalling Technique

In this post we will explore pedalling (‘pedaling’ if you are American) technique for road cyclists. This is an important area.

The meeting of foot and pedal is the primary interface between human and bicycle (well, primary moving interface – you wouldn’t get padded cycling shorts if there wasn’t a pretty significant ‘interface’ in that area as well).

Good technique increases the efficiency with which the power that we generate is turned into forward movement. It also helps avoid injury, both by avoiding unnecessary strain on joints and ligaments and by promoting an even strengthening across the leg and core muscles.

This post is, in fact, in response to a reader request. The Lanterne Rouge wrote,

“… I’ve been struggling with my pedalling technique for some time. Books and the internet give all sorts of advice. Perhaps you might blog on the subject of perfecting ones pedalling technique and when and what variation might be appropriate?…”

Let’s start at the beginning.

Read moreHow To Improve Your Pedalling Technique

What Should I Wear On RideLondon (And Other Questions)?

The RideLondon 100 (and its new 46 sibling) is an unusual sportive. Due to its size and location, it presents logistical challenges for riders and organisers alike. On the participant side, it’s not just a case of rocking up with a car boot (trunk) full of kit and a few gels in your pocket and knocking out a cheeky century.

It’s therefore entirely reasonable that first-time participants have questions, not all of which are answered in the organiser’s bumf.

Here are some questions sent in by reader, Ian, which I will attempt to answer. Can I also ask the Sportive Cyclist hive mind (particularly those of you that have RiddenLondon already), to chime in with your views. Every little helps….

So, those questions….

Read moreWhat Should I Wear On RideLondon (And Other Questions)?

Polar M450 vs Garmin Edge 520: Bike GPS Comparison

Choosing a cycle computer can be a difficult task. There are just so many on the market. It’s like trying to pick the best white sock out of a drawer full of white socks. If you need a solid breakdown of the features of the Polar M450 and the Garmin Edge 520, you’re in the right place.

This post will summarize the similarities and differences between these two cycle computers so you can spend more time doing what you want (riding and breaking your personal records) and less time doing what you don’t want (shopping.)

Read morePolar M450 vs Garmin Edge 520: Bike GPS Comparison

First Impressions Of TrainerRoad: Upgrading The Paincave

I have this sense that there is a secret to training that, if I crack it, will result in my becoming a stronger/faster/more stylish cyclist. If not instantly, then at least overnight.

It is this inner inkling that prompts my fascination with power meters (“If only I had a power meter then a programme of effective training would be within my grasp…”).

My innate Yorkshireness (long arms/deep pockets) means I haven’t quite pulled the trigger and bought one. Perhaps my other inner inkling is saying, “Don’t be ridiculous. Spending £500 on a Stages power meter just because Team Sky uses it is clearly not going to turn you into Luke Rowe.”

And yet, and yet… Those crank-based power meters do look awful shiny…

Thankfully, before I splurged half a monkey (or a couple of stoats) on a cheeky power meter, I remembered an email I received from a company called TrainerRoad, way back in the mists of time 2014…

Read moreFirst Impressions Of TrainerRoad: Upgrading The Paincave

What Bike Do I Need For RideLondon 100

What Bike Do I Need For The RideLondon 100?

… Or indeed any other 100-mile sportive or gran fondo?

This post has been prompted by a reader question over on the Sportive Cyclist Facebook page.

Yes, there is a Sportive Cyclist Facebook page. And yes, this blog has the occasional reader.

So, to repeat, what bike would be suitable for the RideLondon 100 sportive?

This question wasn’t sent in to me by a recently-retired pro, looking to record the course record. There’s no need to discuss the relative merits of a five grand Pinarello versus a top-of-the-range Trek.

Read moreWhat Bike Do I Need For The RideLondon 100?

What Is The Best Garmin Edge For Cycling?

Updated February 2017.

Great question. And one I’m going to attempt to answer.

The purpose of this post is to give you an overview of the Garmin Edge range of cycling GPS devices as we stand (ride?) here in the first months of 2018.

My aim is to give you an idea of what each Garmin Edge model can do, what features each one has, so that you can go down the list and identify the model that is most appropriate to your own requirements.

(Then you can persuade yourself that you do need the latest pedal stroke analysis feature, even though you don’t have a power meter, and buy the shiny top-of-the-range model.)

Fantasy Cycling (Purchases)

Long-time readers (and maybe some short-time ones) will recall that I own a Garmin Edge 510. It is entirely functional and does everything I need from a bike computer (and quite a lot more).

And yet […wistful music starts to play…] I can’t help fantasising* over a new shiny piece of Edge-bling attached to my handlebars.

(*Too strong a word?)

So I find myself keeping up to date with bike tech (not least via the stupendous DC Rainmaker blog).

And from time to time I share some of this ‘research’ with you (you lucky people). Let’s begin!

Read moreWhat Is The Best Garmin Edge For Cycling?

Kask Vertigo 2.0 Road Helmet Review: Putting A Lid On It

I am thinking about helmets.

Specifically the Kask Vertigo 2.0 which is my new piece of head protection de jour.

I’ve been using it for about a couple of months now (since Christmas) and here are my initial thoughts (for what they’re worth…).

A helmet is a very personal thing (ne’er a truer word spoke). On the basis that all established manufacturers adhere to the required safety standards, I reckon most people’s selection criteria is weighted heavily towards how they think they look whilst wearing it*. Which only you can decide.

(*Unless you’re a time trialist, looking to eke out every last aerodynamic benefit, and thus buy one of those daft tear drop shaped affairs.)

Still, in this post I’ll give a brief overview of how I am finding the Kask Vertigo helmet and summarise its features, in the hope that this might be helpful as you make any helmet-buying decisions in the future.

Read moreKask Vertigo 2.0 Road Helmet Review: Putting A Lid On It

How To Cycle Every Day (Or 10 Things I Learned Cycle Training For 35 Days In A Row)

So i did it. Let the mini trumpets toot.

I successfully achieved my objective of riding every single day for 35 days, from 28th December (last year!) until 31st January 2016.

(Why 35 days? Cos I wanted 16.67% more challenge over last time).

Rather than focus on the stats (which are… epic!), I thought I’d outline some advice that might be helpful if you’re looking to get into into the swing of cycling on a regular basis, as well as some of the benefits I encountered.

Whether you’re new to the sport, or coming back after a winter layoff, setting yourself a challenge can be the perfect way to build a cycling habit and kickstart an improvement in your fitness.

My aim in writing this blog is to help and inspire you to ‘do more cycling’. After all, this website is all about you, dear reader (said the narcissist who publishes photos of himself in Lycra…).

So why should you undertake your own ride-every-day challenge? Because there are benefits (with friends). Begin!

Read moreHow To Cycle Every Day (Or 10 Things I Learned Cycle Training For 35 Days In A Row)

What Should You Wear When Road Cycling In The Winter

I’ll try to answer this without simply presenting a bland list of clothing items…. fully expecting that it will turn into a bland list of clothing items.

Cycling outside in the winter is difficult for all manner of reasons.

It’s cold. It’s more likely to be wet. It’s more likely to be windy.

‘Nice’ winter weather presents its own challenges. A beautiful clear morning tends to go hand in hand with frost and ice. Ah, the frustration of wanting to enjoy the early morning light over a white-crusted country landscape, but knowing that you’re one false pedal stroke away from an ignominious pratfall and a broken collarbone.

And then we have snow.

(Not this type of Snow. Or this one.)

The window of cycling opportunity therefore tends to be a small one. A small one with a broken latch.

So you want to have a tried and tested winter wardrobe, ready and waiting for when the opportunity presents itself.

And so I’m going to share what I wore on a recent winter’s ride, to help illuminate the issue at hand (and to present you with a bland list of clothing items).

Onward!

Read moreWhat Should You Wear When Road Cycling In The Winter

How To Build A Cycling Habit (Even When You Have A Full-time Job)

Which is an aspirational title for a blog post, if ever there was one.

And I should probably be clear. This post will not contain the solution to all your time vs cycling vs motivation challenges (well, it might but I can’t guarantee it…).

Essentially, as I’ve done before, I’m committing publicly on this blog to (re)build a cycling habit, with a view to kickstarting my cycling fitness for 2016.

Last time, I successfully completed a (self-imposed) challenge to ride my bike every day for 30 days. This time, things are going to be bigger and better.

I’m going to ride every day for…. (wait for it) 35 days!

(Which is…. *wrangles calculator* …16.66% (recurring) more challenge).

Read moreHow To Build A Cycling Habit (Even When You Have A Full-time Job)

How To Create A Structured Cycling Training Programme

In this post, we’re going to get into the meat of producing your personalised cycling training programme.

I’m going to set out a step-by-step methodology for building a structured training programme, with the aim of peaking your fitness for one or two target cycling events.

By the end of the lesson (for want of a better word), you’ll have a 9 – 12 month overview (in a spreadsheet or on paper) of the series of training blocks that will take you to your target cycling event.

Read moreHow To Create A Structured Cycling Training Programme

How To Make More Time For Cycling

Way back in the mists of time, I conducted a survey of Sportive Cyclist email subscribers, asking them for their biggest frustration with cycling. 

There were complaints about the state of British roads (and those of Azerbaijan) and the standard of cycling when riding as a group, but the main frustration was the lack of time to go cycling.

This is understandable. We live busy lives. We have time-consuming jobs, family commitments, the new series of Strictly Come Dancing. Cycling can sometimes be pushed to the periphery. With worsening weather and shortening days, the periphery can sometimes disappear entirely.

The purpose of this post is to explore the theme of lack of time for cycling, and some of the strategies that we can employ to address it.

Read moreHow To Make More Time For Cycling

Garmin Edge 520

Garmin Edge 520 vs Edge 510: Another “10” – What Gives?

So you’re in the market for a mid-range Garmin cycling GPS device and are considering whether to go for the Edge 520 or the 510?

Good, well you’ve come to the right place.

The Garmin Edge 520 is, as the ‘520’ number-clature suggests, similar to the 510 (and with an extra ’10’, a little bit of a step up).

The purpose of this post is to summarise the main similarities and differences between the 510 and 520, for your delectation. Prepare to delect.

Read moreGarmin Edge 520 vs Edge 510: Another “10” – What Gives?

RideLondon 100: Food, Drink, Toilets and Tackle (Some Logistical And Equipment Thoughts)

The RideLondon 100 is just around the corner, a fact that is no doubt occupying the minds of many a Sportive Cyclist reader.

If you’re not doing RideLondon (hell, you’ve maybe not even heard of it), perhaps you have another long distance sportive on your target list.

I’ll assume your training is going to plan (c’mon, as the advert said, “P M A”).

So let’s talk logistics. Specifically, what are you going to eat and drink on the ride, what are you going to wear, and what are you going to carry on the bike (for mechanicals and some such).

There is no right answer to this. Much is about personal preference. The clearest way to present this post (and the easiest way for me to write it) is to assume I’m doing RideLondon at the start of August (sadly I’m not – damn ballot…) and simply to tell you what I’d be wearing, eating and tool-carrying.

Feel free to disagree, add to, ridicule or comment in the, er, comments section below the post.

On with le show.

Read moreRideLondon 100: Food, Drink, Toilets and Tackle (Some Logistical And Equipment Thoughts)

A Grease Gun For Your Bike (Or How To Lubricate Speedplay Pedals On The Cheap)

This post is not going to interest everyone, but if you have a strong desire to make precision insertions of oil into certain parts of your bike, then I’m about to blow your mind.

(Sort of).

I have found (and used) ((and liked)) an alternative to the ludicrously expensive Speedplay grease gun.

And I’m going to share my findings… (ooooh!)

Read moreA Grease Gun For Your Bike (Or How To Lubricate Speedplay Pedals On The Cheap)

Garmin Edge 510 Long Term Review

For some people, cycling is all about getting on a bike, getting out into the great outdoors, freedom, speed and cakes.

For me, cycling is also about recording data. Not an excessive amount (I don’t – yet – have a power meter), but enough.

Enough data to see where I’ve been. How fast I’m going. Whether I’m climbing that hill faster than last month. How many calories I burnt*.

(*Which gets fed into the Sportive Cyclist cake consumption optimisation algorithm).

And to record data, you need a cycling computer (ideally with GPS). And my cycling computer (thankfully, with GPS) is my Garmin Edge 510.

And this is my review after two (count ’em) years of ownership.

Read moreGarmin Edge 510 Long Term Review

Does Training On An Empty Stomach Help You Lose Weight?

It’s a perennial question (and sometimes a perineal one).

If, broadly speaking, consuming too many calories and not burning them off leads to increased body fat storage, surely training without taking in any calories is going to tip the scales in your favour?

I’ve been asked about the subject of ride nutrition in the past. I didn’t know much then. I don’t know a great deal more now. But I’m eager to explore. Let’s take a look.

Food As Fuel

The basic presumption when it comes to eating and exercise, is that you should try to be fully fuelled for a session.

There are certainly types of training, and shorter session lengths, where you won’t want or need to take on fuel. For everything else, the starting point is to assume that you’ll need to eat (or drink) calories before, during or after the session (and sometimes all three).

Read moreDoes Training On An Empty Stomach Help You Lose Weight?

Fast After 50 by Joe Friel: A Book Review…

I have hit the big time. I have been sent a book to review. By a publisher. For free.

(For now, let’s ignore the fact that I contacted said publisher myself, fragrantly exploiting the Sportive Cyclist readership, in order to procure this freebie.)

The book in question is ‘Fast After 50: How To Race Strong For The Rest Of Your Life’ by friend-of-this-blog Joe Friel*.

(*Joe Friel does not know he is a friend of this blog).

If I had to pick one book subject and title that would fit well with a large proportion of the Sportive Cyclist readership, it would be this one.

Spoiler Alert: It’s good. You should buy it.

Read moreFast After 50 by Joe Friel: A Book Review…

How To Train On RideLondon Climbs

How To Train On ‘RideLondon’ Hills When You Live Nowhere Near London

So you buy my argument that the best way to tackle your fear of Leith Hill (or Box or Mont Ventoux) is to ride it before event day.

Fine. But what if you live nowhere near London?

A multi-hour drive (or flight) to recon the Surrey hills seems a little over the top.

In this post I’m going to show you how to use Strava (other ride mapping apps are available) to identify local climbs with similar characteristics to your nemesis climb.

Prove to yourself that you can conquer the dummy and then you’ll know you can summit the target climb. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Read moreHow To Train On ‘RideLondon’ Hills When You Live Nowhere Near London

Road Bikes For Beginners

Road Bikes For Beginners

Wazoo!!

I’m glad you’re here. No, really. I am.

You want to find out more information about road cycling?

Who can blame you? It’s a cracking sport, activity, thing to do. Whatever.

In this post I’ve answered a bunch of questions you might have about a road cycling.

If I’ve missed anything, let me know in the comments below.

Lay on Macduff!

Read moreRoad Bikes For Beginners

Winter Cycling Gloves Review: Sealskinz Thermal Performance Gloves

The weather in the UK turned quite abruptly earlier this month.

September was surprisingly warm and dry. October came along, the switch was flipped and winter began (or at least a chilly autumn did).

This time of the year tends to see me make a wardrobe gaffe. Thankfully (for both you and me), said wardrobe gaffe is not the type that I take a picture of and then send to an undercover reporter masquerading as a young female politician-fancier*.

(*This is the sort of reference that will mean nothing to you if you’re not from the UK, or you’re reading this at any point in the future).

Read moreWinter Cycling Gloves Review: Sealskinz Thermal Performance Gloves

Faster Michael Hutchinson

Book Review: Faster by Michael Hutchinson (Plus Introducing The Sportive Cyclist Book Club)

Hello and welcome to the Newsnight Review. I’m Kirsty Wark.

I jest. But I am wearing women’s clothes.

I jest again. (Or do I…?)

This is a slightly new feature on Sportive Cyclist. I’m going to review a book. You’ll be pleased to hear that it’s a book about cycling.

What’s This About A Book Club?

Well, at the same time as scribing my first book review, I am dee-lighted to announce the Sportive Cyclist Book Club.

This is a rather grand way of describing a new page on the site, dedicated to recommending cycling books that I have either enjoyed or learnt a lot from (or, in many cases, both).

You’re a cerebral bunch here at SC. I imagine you like books (I do) so I wanted to present you with a curated list of my favourites. Perfect for adding to your Amazon wishlist, or for suggesting to your spouse/partner/children/Father Christmas ahead of the festive season (bah, humbug).

Check out my list of cycling books here.

Read moreBook Review: Faster by Michael Hutchinson (Plus Introducing The Sportive Cyclist Book Club)

Beginners guide to turbo trainers

The Sportive Cyclist’s Guide To Indoor Trainers (Or Turbo Trainers)

I’m sorry to be the one that has to break this to you, but winter is approaching.

The opportunities for riding outside start to dwindle. Work day evenings become dark and cold. Day time riders will gamble with rain, wind and, before too long, dangerous icy roads.

But fear not. Help is at hand.

An implement of torture for some, a beacon of hope for others, it’s time to bring out (or otherwise lay your hands on) the trusty turbo trainer.

And thus, herewith, my ‘Beginners Guide’ to this most noble of training partners for the time-starved indoor cyclist.

Read moreThe Sportive Cyclist’s Guide To Indoor Trainers (Or Turbo Trainers)

How To Improve Your Diet For Road Cycling

Welcome to the fourth in my series of posts, ‘Get Lean For Performance’.

Originally intended as a July series, I seem to have crept into stomped all over August. Whatevs. This is my final post on the topic for the time being. My next ‘thematic series’ will look at training (whoop!).

So far in this series, we’ve talked about the two key (eating-related) habits of successful fat losers and the 6 Key Steps To Enlightenment (er, weight loss). We’ve enjoyed the inspirational story of Sportive Cyclist reader Giles, who lost over 50kg through developing a cycling habit.

The final topic I wanted to talk about is what a healthy diet looks like. We all know what it smells like: [whispers] “…victory…”

(Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy something, I get a commission. You pay the same price.)

Once more I’m using as my guide the muy excelente book, Racing Weight: How To Get Lean For Peak Performance, by coach and sports nutritionist Matt Fitzgerald. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, particularly if you are confused by fad diets and just want to get pragmatic, evidence-based advice.

Read moreHow To Improve Your Diet For Road Cycling

Cycling Weight Loss Success Story: How Giles Lost One Third Of His Bodyweight

Are you looking to shift a few extra pounds and think the bike may be the tool that helps you do that?

Good news – you’re on the right track. And I have a reader success story to prove it.

(Yeah, yeah, a sample size of 1 does not prove the argument. BOOM! Sample size of two. I believe we call that statistical significance).

In today’s post, long-time Sportive Cyclist reader Giles Roadnight (which is a cycling superhero’s name if ever I heard one) shares his weight loss ‘secret’ and the remarkable results he’s achieved through one simple lifestyle change (note: simple, not easy).

Oh yeah, Giles also does a fine line in London aggro-commuting videos which he shares on Youtube (don’t watch if you’re thinking about starting to cyclo-commute…).

Over to Giles…

Read moreCycling Weight Loss Success Story: How Giles Lost One Third Of His Bodyweight

Garmin Edge 1000 vs Edge 810: Battle of the Bike GPS Heavyweights

In this post, I compare the Garmin Edge 1000 and the Edge 810 bike GPS computers.

If you’re not lusting after your next bike (I know you’ve got your eye on something), chances are you’re lusting after a bit of bling to attach to your handlebars (no, not a diamante-encrusted bike light).

Blingiest of the blingiest in the GPS bike computer stakes is the Garmin Edge 1000. Being at the top of the Garmin range, it does almost everything for you except pedal.

But is the 1000 worth the price step-up versus the Edge 810 (the model it usurped)?

I look at the key differences (and similarities) between the two devices, in case you should ever find yourself having to choose between buying one or t’other (or neither).

Who stays? YOU decide. Or something. On with the comparison.

Read moreGarmin Edge 1000 vs Edge 810: Battle of the Bike GPS Heavyweights

Ultimate Guide To RideLondon

Boom! It’s 20 days until the 2014 running of the RideLondon 100 kicks off (pedals off) from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Are you excited? You should be*.

(* Unless you’re not doing it, in which case, “meh”.)

In this post I’m going to rehash share some of the stuff I’ve produced over the last 18 months relating to RideLondon. The aim is to inspire, inform and excite you, as well as reassuring anyone that’s having a last minute attack of nerves (headline message: DON’T PANIC, it’s going to be great).

Read moreUltimate Guide To RideLondon

Cycling For Weight Loss (Or Should That Be The Other Way Around…?)

Hello campers.

Welcome to the second post in my series looking at weight loss for cyclists. Together we’re getting lean for performance (that’s right, me and you).

Last time we looked at what we’re hoping to achieve, namely:

1. Improving our cycling performance through achieving our optimal ‘racing weight’;

2. Reducing our levels of body fat, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of our overall weight.

Targeting objective 2 is the most likely route to achieving objective 1.

We also noted the two (slightly surprising) daily actions that are most likely to result in you losing weight (I’m not going to tell you them here – go back and read my last post!).

Read moreCycling For Weight Loss (Or Should That Be The Other Way Around…?)

How To Achieve Your Cycling Racing Weight (Without Starving Yourself)

Banal truism alert! Pretty much everyone wants to lose a bit of weight.

Magazines and newspapers of all persuasions are obsessed by the topic. Millions of pounds are spent, lost and gained in the name of shedding weight.

If you’ve subscribed to my blog in the last couple of months, you may remember getting an email asking about your cycling struggles.

After lack of time, and maybe fear of hills, the subject of weight is frequently mentioned. My sense from your comments, though, is that you have a healthier attitude to weight-loss than other sectors of society. Rather than fixating on body image, you feel that losing a few pounds would simply help your performance, both on and off the bike.

And you’d be right.

So let’s do that. Me and you. Starting now.

PS. Read to the bottom if you’re bothered eager to find out my body fat percentage and whether it’s falling…. (now there’s an offer).

Read moreHow To Achieve Your Cycling Racing Weight (Without Starving Yourself)

How To Create And Upload A Route To A Garmin Edge 510

As you may know, I’ve owned a Garmin Edge 510 for over a year (here’s when I ‘unboxed’ it; here’s where I compared it to an Edge 500).

In that time, I have been woefully bad at learning how to use all but its simplest features. I’ve done little more than use it to record where I’ve been and to display how fast (slow) I was whilst doing it. That’s all set to change.

One of the features that I’ve been meaning to try out is the ability to upload a route and then have the 510 give me directions as I’m cycling.

Other than the usual inertia, some light research had given me the impression that ‘cookie crumb’ navigation (i.e. using GPS waypoints rather than maps within the unit itself) was next to useless, and that the Edge wasn’t very good at giving advance notice of upcoming turns.

SPOILER ALERT: I was very wrong.

Read moreHow To Create And Upload A Route To A Garmin Edge 510

Best Saddle Bag For Road Cyclists 2017 – Buyers Guide

I’ve bust my saddle bag. Which is a bit of an (under) arse (storage issue).

So, since I’m researching my buying options for its replacement, I thought I’d write a post to share my findings.

To be clear, I’ve not seen any of the following bags in the synthetic material flesh (or if I have, they’ve been in the background to other bike shop adventures). I’m not able to provide you with a hands on review.

Instead, this is something of a meta-analysis (a systematic review; a hedge fund of funds). In other words, I’m going to surf the internet, looking at saddle bags, choose and buy one and then report back.

Read moreBest Saddle Bag For Road Cyclists 2017 – Buyers Guide

The Time-Starved Cyclist: How To Train When You’ve Got No Time

Finding the time to train (or simply the time to get out on your bike) is perhaps the number 1 problem experienced by readers of Sportive Cyclist.

(Well, the number 1 cycling problem at least).

I wish I could wave a magic wand and solve your problem. In fact, if I had a magic wand, I’d wave it over me first, and STUFF THE REST OF YOU!

Ahem.

I don’t have a magic wand, so we’re going to have to do this the hard way.

The conundrum is as follows: we’re all busy people, we have jobs, family and a 1,001 other commitments tugging at our shirt sleeves. When we do have time to train, how do we use that time effectively? What gets us maximum fitness bang for our time-strapped buck?

I have no idea. Which is why I’ve found someone that does.

Read moreThe Time-Starved Cyclist: How To Train When You’ve Got No Time

Which Bike Makers Make Sportive Bikes [I’m So Confused….]?

I sometimes wonder if bike manufacturers get slightly embarrassed about making road bikes for those riders of a more ‘recreational’ persuasion (which is you and me, duck).

They wrestle with promotional language to try to make it clear that whilst a bike might look like a professional racer’s bike, it is in fact built for the slightly overweight guy with a dodgy knee and less-than-perfect flexibility.

Sports car makers seem to have it easier. Whilst there are definitely stripped-back race cars for the road available, there is no shame in providing both comfort and performance. When we see a ‘GT’ somewhere in a sports car’s description, we know what they’re getting at.

At the very least we expect a walnut gear knob to go with the V12 engine.

Read moreWhich Bike Makers Make Sportive Bikes [I’m So Confused….]?

Garmin Edge 800 vs 810: Which Is Right For You?

In this post I compare the Garmin Edge 810 cycle computer with its older relation, the Edge 800.

The older model is still being made by Garmin, and is available for less of your hard-earned Dollars/Pounds/Other (delete as applicable) than the newer 810. It certainly remains a viable choice for all your cycle GPS-ing needs.

I’m guessing you’re eager to know the difference between the two models and whether that justifies the step up in price. Let’s dive in.

Read moreGarmin Edge 800 vs 810: Which Is Right For You?

How To Train When The Weather Is … Shizzle

It’s 29th December 2012. I’m out on the bike.

Presumably this is some sort of early New Year resolution (plus I’d just received a pair of clip on mudguards for Christmas – I needed to show some gratitude).

It’s just before lunchtime but it may as well be evening. The only thing greyer than the sky is the sullen look on my face. It’s a busy road and I’m regretting not having brought my bike lights. I’m barely visible to passing drivers, their wipers running full speed.

My glasses are fogged on the inside, drip-covered on the outside. I’ve resorted to contorting my neck and eyeballs to look out of the side of them. Since I need glasses to see, this is hardly ideal.

The ride’s crowning glory comes just 10 minutes from the end, as I ride into my home town. A jarring blow to my front wheel, felt from my forks to the top of my sodden neck, signals that the puddle I was unable to avoid contained a pothole.

I’ve only had this new set of wheels for two weeks. The chances of them still being round after this ride are about the same as being in a position to win the Paris-Roubaix one day classic in 4 months time.

I could cry.

I fall to my knees, hands flung to the heavens, icy rain mingling with salty tears*.

“There has to be a better way than this..!”

Read moreHow To Train When The Weather Is … Shizzle

Training For Your First Sportive (Not As Difficult Or As Time-Consuming As You Might Think)

To finish a long sportive, and finish it well, you only need to train three times a week. The same applies for a shorter sportive over a hillier course.

What, you thought you’d have to do more? Well I’m pleased to be the bearer of good news.

If you can fit in an extra session per week then great, it’ll help. But you lead a busy life. You work long hours. Your family wants to see you on a weekend.

Three sessions is enough. More than enough…. provided you follow a structured training programme.

Ah, you knew there had to be a catch…

Don’t panic though.

Designing and following a cycling training programme is entirely within your capabilities. In fact, I reckon you’ll find it extremely satisfying. And the results, versus implementing the random training method adopted by many novice sportiveurs, will be so much better.

Now, where do we start?

Read moreTraining For Your First Sportive (Not As Difficult Or As Time-Consuming As You Might Think)

How To Choose A Sportive Bike (And What Features You Don’t Need To Worry About)

January is upon us. Not quite the traditional time to get into road cycling, at least in the northern hemisphere (what with the ice, snow, surprising new lake locations etc).

Still, you want to rid yourself of that pesky extra tyre. You want to get fit. You want to get out there and DO SOMETHING.

Let’s assume you have been inspired by Chris Froome, Laura Trott, Marianne Vos or Chris Horner (he says, trying to cover every potential ‘interest group’) and this year you’re going to complete your first cyclo sportive (or Gran Fondo). You’ll need a suitable bike and the Grimpeur is here to offer a few ‘words of wisdom’.

This is an (unedited!) excerpt from my forthcoming (and as yet unnamed) eBook, aimed at beginner cyclists that want to move rapidly from novice through to confident sportive finisher. It’ll be launching in early February. Sign up to my email list if you want me to let you know when it’s ready (plus, in the meantime, you’ll get my current free eBook).

UPDATE! The following post is an (unedited) excerpt from my new book, ‘Sportiveur: A Beginner’s Guide To Training For, Completing And Enjoying Your First Sportive’. If you’d like to find out more about the book, and download your copy, click here.

Right on with the show….

Read moreHow To Choose A Sportive Bike (And What Features You Don’t Need To Worry About)

Box Hill

Box Hill Cycling: Gradient, Elevation and Length of the Surrey Alpe

This post is going to discuss Box Hill, the doyenne of the south-east cycling ‘scene’. All the cool cats are climbing up it. You dig?

The format mimics that of a similar post that I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Box’s uncouth RideLondon cousin, Leith Hill. Both posts relate back to one of the most popular articles on the Sportive Cyclist site – my ‘analysis’ of the RideLondon route.

*** If you found this post because you’re looking for information about the RideLondon 100 sportive, then you might like to check out the RideLondon section of this blog – all my RideLondon posts (route, experience on the day, etc) all in one place – click here to take a look ***

I wanted to produce more detailed descriptions of Leith and Box, both for cyclists looking to tackle them on an informal weekend ride and for those riders that would ascend them in the intense athletic cauldron that is RideLondon.

I wanted to do that, so I did do that. Capisce? (which is the correct spelling)

In a future episode I’ll maybe even have a butchers at the not-quite-a-hill-until-RideLondon-decided-it-was, Newlands Corner (I can tell you’re salivating already).

Read moreBox Hill Cycling: Gradient, Elevation and Length of the Surrey Alpe

Garmin Edge 500 vs 510: What Do You Get With The Extra “10”…?

In this post I’m going to compare the characteristics and features of the Garmin Edge 510 versus its predecessor, the Edge 500.

The eagle-eyed (or perhaps elephant-memoried) amongst you may recall that I am the proud owner of the 510 version.

I did seriously consider purchasing the 500, despite the newer model being available, but ultimately succumbed to ‘shiny new thing’ syndrome.

But let’s put a (metaphorical) cool towel over our heads and consider the two options side by side to see if I made the right decision (and perhaps help you in your decision-making process as well).

Read moreGarmin Edge 500 vs 510: What Do You Get With The Extra “10”…?

How To Make Your Bike Lighter

How To Make Your Bike LighterAs a Grimpeur Heureux reader, I’m sure you’ve already achieved your optimum cycling body fat percentage, so this post is going to look at how you can make your bike lighter.

Let’s face it, for finely-honed athletes such as ourselves, the weight of our bike (and associated equipment) is the remaining final frontier before we can say we’ve squeezed out every incremental gain going.

My aim is to discover where we can reduce weight, and whether it’s worth doing. So what are our options?

Read moreHow To Make Your Bike Lighter

Leith Hill cycling

Leith Hill Cycling: Gradient, Elevation And All That Fandango

In this post I’m going to look at Leith Hill as a cycling route. As well as discussing its ‘vital statistics’ (length, gradient, elevation), we’ll talk a little about how to get there and how it might fit into a longer ride in the area.

*** If you found this post because you’re looking for information about the RideLondon 100 sportive, then you might like to check out the RideLondon section of this blog – all my RideLondon posts (route, experience on the day, etc) all in one place – click here to take a look ***

Known to Surrey cyclists for years, Leith Hill entered the consciousness of the British public at large (well, those with a passing interest in cycling) as being a major feature of the inaugural 2013 RideLondon-Surrey 100 sportive and the associated professional race.

Many first-time RideLondon participants seem to have considerable trepidation about the Leith Hill climb. But are those fears justified? Let’s take a look.

Read moreLeith Hill Cycling: Gradient, Elevation And All That Fandango

What To Wear Cycling: Review

Today I’m going to review the cycling app, ‘What To Wear Cycling’.

This wasn’t intended to be today’s post. In fact, as you’ll see below, I was struggling to write this post full stop (or ‘period’, if you’re that way inclined).

But something happened and now it is today’s post. You’re just going to have to deal with that.

Read moreWhat To Wear Cycling: Review

Sportive Bike vs Road Bike – What Is The Difference?

In this post I’m going to look at what features go to make up a ‘sportive bike’ as opposed to a bog standard road bike.

You can participate in a sportive using any bike you want. On most sportives you’ll see the odd hybrid commuter or mountain bike. In many cases, those bikes are ahead of me (and remain ahead of me for the duration).

Halfway round RideLondon I passed someone clothed in full hipster gear riding a Brompton. Boris rode a hybrid. Talking of the blond buffo… London Mayor, I’m pretty sure I saw a photo of someone doing the ride on one of his ‘Boris Bikes’.

[Whispers into the wings, “I think I got away with it. No one noticed that it took me 50 miles to catch up with someone on a Brompton.”]

Read moreSportive Bike vs Road Bike – What Is The Difference?

How Does Strava Calculate Power Data?

In this post I’m going to look at how Strava calculates the power generated over the course of a ride, specifically where the rider (like me) doesn’t have a device attached to the bike for measuring power.

Dedicated power meters are still an expensive addition to your bike. Is it worth spending that extra money when Strava can provide the data for free?

Read moreHow Does Strava Calculate Power Data?

How To Choose Your Next Sportive (And Actually Complete It)

In this post I give some tips on how to select your next sportive event.

If you’ve never ridden a sportive, but you’d like to, this guide should help you select the right one to start with – one that you’ll finish, enjoy, and which can lead on to bigger and better (longer and higher) things.

This guide should also provide advice if you’ve done one or two sportives but you want to take things to the next level. I give some thoughts on how to push yourself, without going crazy…

If you’ve already done loads of sportives before, some of this may seem like teaching grandmother to suck inner tubes. Feel free to ignore if you wish, or you can always keep on reading and leave your own advice in the comments below.

Read moreHow To Choose Your Next Sportive (And Actually Complete It)

Trek Domane 4.3 Review (Wherein The Grimpeur Attempts To Be Objective And Fails)

In this post I am going to review the Trek Domane 4.3 road bike. Or rather, I’m going to wax lyrically about it, ignoring any sort of protocol that requires me to be impartial and objective.

I purchased the bike in early July, as part of a bike fit / new bike / new knee saga, which I documented in this post and this one. I used it in my final training for RideLondon, and then for the event itself.

Read moreTrek Domane 4.3 Review (Wherein The Grimpeur Attempts To Be Objective And Fails)

The Night Before RideLondon: The Perfect Preparation

The key to maximising your performance in Sunday’s RideLondon 100 is to get smashed the evening before.

Not just a little drink to settle the nerves. The whole nine yards (100 miles?).

In this post I’m going to espouse my considerable wisdom on how to make the final finishing touches to your pre-ride preparation.

I’ve thought outside the box. I’ve searched for every incremental gain. I’ve consulted my psychologist. Dave Brailsford would be impressed.

Follow my exclusive guide, and I guarantee you’ll see the effects on your race performance.

(Oh yeah, it’s not a race. Don’t race. Or sue me.)

Read moreThe Night Before RideLondon: The Perfect Preparation

What To Carry (And Wear) On RideLondon

What to take on RideLondon
I think that just about covers all the bases

Time is ticking down to the off of the inaugural RideLondon 100. Are you getting excited?

The hard work is done (or should have been). Further fitness gains are unlikely; by now you should be well into your taper period (unless you’re one of those machines that sees a 100-mile pootle around south-east England as a ‘rest day’).

So apart from relishing the opportunity to spend extra time on the sofa, what more can you be doing to help prepare for the weekend?

Answer: you could have a think about what you need to take with you.

Read moreWhat To Carry (And Wear) On RideLondon

Cycling nutrition RideLondon

RideLondon Nutrition: What Should You Be Eating On The Ride

In this post I’m going to be looking at my nutrition plan for RideLondon.

By ‘nutrition plan’, I mean what (and when) I plan to eat and drink during the ride in order to provide the energy to propel me to victory on the Mall.

I wouldn’t normally produce anything resembling a formal nutrition plan for a ride. I’m a ‘Snickers and a bag of Haribos’ kind of rider. In sportives I rely on whatever is provided at the organised feed stops (with the aforementioned confectionary as emergency back up).

But RideLondon is bit different from what I’m used to.

At 100 miles, it’s longer than I’ve ridden before. There are time cut-offs to beat. I want to leave less to chance (having raised in excess of £1,000, I definitely want to finish).

Hence, ‘the plan’.

Read moreRideLondon Nutrition: What Should You Be Eating On The Ride

New Bike, New Pedals, New Position: Grimpeur’s Bike Fit Saga Part 2

This is the second in a two-part account of my search for the perfect bike fit.

So far in this epic quest (which you can read about here), I discovered that my trusty Dawes did not fit me at all, that bike frame sizes bear very little relation to the size of the person riding them and that spending a large amount of money on a new bike is a lot easier when you have an expert telling you to.

Read moreNew Bike, New Pedals, New Position: Grimpeur’s Bike Fit Saga Part 2

The Englishman Who Went For A Bike Fit But Came Back With a New Bike

Trek Domane 4.3After much talk of potential new bikes and having a bike fit, I’ve finally got round to taking some positive action. Ooo-rah!

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that my training efforts have been hampered by a recurring knee injury (and a general lack of structure, focus, etc).

I knew that part of the solution would be to get a proper bike fit, but had shown a distinct lack of motivation to go ahead and book one.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was some straight-talking tough love from the readers of my last post, which essentially boiled down to:

  1. Man the fug up;
  2. Get a bike fit before the 100 mile ride that might otherwise break your knee;
  3. Get some pedals and shoes appropriate to road cycling; and
  4. Dry those tears.

I followed that advice to the letter. And then bought a bike as well. Whoops. Hurrah!

Read moreThe Englishman Who Went For A Bike Fit But Came Back With a New Bike

Sportive Cyclist’s Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Wood

Er, pardon, wood? Surely no-one makes bikes out of wood any more.

But, of course, they do. And not just the sorts of people that make dresses out of meat (fireplaces out of cheese, whatever…). Wood is an entirely viable, albeit unusual, material out of which you can fashion a bike.

This post is the fourth in a series that looks at frame materials, and how they are used to build bikes. If you missed any of the earlier ones, the links are at the bottom of this post.

Read moreSportive Cyclist’s Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Wood

Do You Need a Cycling Coach?

I am in no doubt that employing a cycling coach would lead to an exponential improvement in my performance on the bike. Yet, whilst I frequently consider hypothetical scenarios for spending thousands of pounds to ‘build out’ my portfolio of bikes, I have tended to dismiss coaching as being too expensive or in some way not for me.

Today’s post comes in the form of guest submission from professional cyclist and coach Tomás Metcalfe. Tomás is going to present the case for why recreational riders should consider employing a cycling coach. If you want more information, or to contact Tomás, his website is at SwiftMomentumSports.com.

Without further ado, over to Tomás.

Read moreDo You Need a Cycling Coach?

Sportive Cyclist’s Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Titanium

Welcome to the third post in my series looking at the materials used to build bike frames.

Here are the links to the previous articles:

In this post we’re going to look at the metal that my superhero alter-ego would have his balls made out of: titanium.

And on that bombshell (egg-shell), we should probably move swiftly on….

Read moreSportive Cyclist’s Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Titanium

Carbon road bike

Sportive Cyclist Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Carbon Fibre

Welcome to the second in my series of posts on the materials used to make bicycle frames.

Readers of my previous article will no doubt have been shocked, intrigued and ultimately delighted by my razor-sharp insights into the world of steel manufacture.

Now it is the turn of the young pretender to the throne: carbon fibre.

Links to the other posts in this series are at the bottom (of this article).

Read moreSportive Cyclist Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Carbon Fibre

Sportive Cyclist’s Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Steel

Most people with any interest in bikes will have at least a passing familiarity with the materials that are used to make them.

The sculpted, wind tunnel-honed lines of pro peleton bikes are unmistakably formed from carbon fibre.

The skinny  road bikes of old evoke images of bespectacled engineers in oil-stained overalls, squinting at steel tubes in complex jigs.

But do you know how these materials are used to make bikes that meet the needs of cyclists in the 21st century?

Read moreSportive Cyclist’s Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Steel

Which Bike GPS Device: The Ultimate Buyers Guide

In this post I will describe what a bike GPS device is and what it can do for cyclists. I’ll talk about the difference between a dedicated device and using the GPS functionality of your phone.

Finally, I’ll share with you a table that I have compiled, which compares the various characteristics (functions, size, weight, battery life etc) of the bike GPS devices currently on the market.

The purpose of the table was to help me choose which GPS device to buy. It certainly helped clarify my own thoughts (I went for a Garmin Edge 510). If you’re looking to purchase your first bike computer, or looking to upgrade, I do hope it will be useful to you as well.

Read moreWhich Bike GPS Device: The Ultimate Buyers Guide