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

Bianchi Intenso with a nice view

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)

Bryton Rider 450 Review: Best Value Cycling GPS?

Bryton Rider 450 review

Boom. New bike computer review time. In this case, the Bryton Rider 450.

So far on my bike GPS usage journey (yes, there is such a thing), I’ve had two Garmin Edges (the 510 and 520) and a Wahoo (the ELEMNT Bolt). Now it’s time to see how a new manufacturer and a new 3-digit model number will compare.

The Bryton Rider 450 is a fully-fledged bike GPS device. It uses the magic (science) of satellites to track and record your rides, taking feeds from other sensors secreted about your bike (cadence, power) or your person (heart rate strap).

Once your ride is completed, it sends the data file to the Bryton Active smartphone app and, if you’re that way inclined, on to Strava.

You can also use the device to upload and follow routes, in an attempt not to get lost on twisty turny unknowny roads.

So, very much a bike GPS computer in the Garmin Edge/Wahoo ELEMNT mould. But how does it compare? Most importantly, should you buy one? Read on MacDuff…

Read moreBryton Rider 450 Review: Best Value Cycling GPS?

Best Socks For Road Cycling: A Magnificent Feet Of Research

dhb merino wool socks

Wow. This one 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 Bone Conduction Headphones Review: Safest Headphones For Cycling?

Aftershokz Trekz Air review

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?

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

Trek Domane with Campagnolo Zonda C17 wheelset

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

Cliffs and Crepes: My Review Of The RideStaffs Spring Forward Sportive 2019

RideStaffs Spring Forward Sportive

Despite the word being in the title of this blog, my guilty secret is that I haven’t actually taken part in a sportive since 2015.

Yes, I did the RideLondon 100 last year but for some reason I have a mental block around calling it a sportive. It’s a ‘mass participation cycling event’ (whatever that means).

It feels like 2019 is the year in which this situation needs to change. Sportive-a-go-go. And where better to start than a local ride at the start of April. The RideStaffs Spring Forward Sportive.

I was encouraged to participate by the organiser, Paul, who also happens to read this blog (he tells me…).

He piqued my interest when we met and spoke about how he designs his routes (a conversation that led to my recent post about designing a great cycling route).

I wanted to test his route planning credentials in the hot crucible of a live sportive (er, what…?). So I signed up.

Read moreCliffs and Crepes: My Review Of The RideStaffs Spring Forward Sportive 2019

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

hybrid vs road bike

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?!)

How To Measure Power On An Indoor Trainer

Elite Crono Fluid trainer on patio

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

Protecting The Undercarriage: Best Cycling Shorts For Sportive Riders In 2019

Best Cycling Shorts For Endurance

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 moreProtecting The Undercarriage: Best Cycling Shorts For Sportive Riders In 2019