Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel and subscribe to receive email updates. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

More About Bike Gears: A Short Treatise on Chain Rings

chain rings
A cornucopia of chains and cogs

If you read my post about how bike gears work (if you didn’t, you can find it here), you may recall that I discovered that there was more to the subject than could be covered in a single outing.

It turns out (because, yes, sometimes I write these introductory sections AFTER I’ve written the body of a post), that there are many interesting things* that you can say about each of the components that form the drive train of a road bike.

(*Some interesting things. The occasional interesting thing.)

So today I lift the lid on the many and varied charms of chain rings. Enjoy…

Read moreMore About Bike Gears: A Short Treatise on Chain Rings

A Cyclist’s Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Titanium

Titanium road bike
The metal of the gods…

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:

A Cyclists Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Steel

A Cyclists Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Carbon

**UPDATE: The full list of ‘materials’ posts can be found on my new page dedicated to bike building: How To Build A Bike **

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 moreA Cyclist’s Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Titanium

How Do Strava and MapMyRide Determine Cycling Climb Categories?

As an avid pro-cycling fan, and particularly of the Grand Tours, I have always been fascinated by the classifications given to the climbs along the route.

The sight of one or more Hors Catégorie climbs on the route profile for the following day’s stage means that I’ll have to clear my schedule for an afternoon spent glued to the television.

But how do the climb classifications seen in the Tour de France or the Giro correspond to those that appear on our recently completed Strava or MapMyRide route?

In this post, I aim to find out.

Read moreHow Do Strava and MapMyRide Determine Cycling Climb Categories?

Bike Gears: How Do They Work

Bike Gears
Re-cog-nise this? (arf arf)

Gears are a pretty fundamental part of the modern bicycle.

In fact, as the handlebar-moustache-sporting, Victorian gents amongst you will know, the introduction of gear rings and chains spelt the end for the Hi-wheel (the Penny Farthing to you and I) and other direct drive bicycles.

By varying the size of the chainring at the front and the sprockets (or cogs) at the back, cyclists could generate greater speeder without having to spin the pedals at ever-increasing RPMs (or balance precariously above gigantic front wheels).

In this post, I’m going to give an introduction to bike gears.

Since this is a blog about road cycling, I’ll stick to talking about derailleur gears (i.e. the ones seen on road bikes). Conveniently, this means I can avoid having to admit that I really don’t understand how hub gears work (what? ah…).

Read moreBike Gears: How Do They Work

A Cyclists Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Carbon Fibre

Carbon fibre-framed Team Sky time trial bike
Carbon fibre-framed Team Sky time trial bike

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

**UPDATE: The full list of ‘materials’ posts can be found on my new page dedicated to bike building: How To Build A Bike **

Readers of my previous article (which you can read here) 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.

Read moreA Cyclists Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Carbon Fibre

A Cyclist’s Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Steel

Steel framed bike
Simple steel beauty

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 moreA 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

What road bike should I buy: the Grimpeur considers the options

Which road bike
My bike (in a compromising position)

I have a very warm regard for my bike. As a Yorkshireman, that’s about as close a declaration of undying love you’re going to get. But it’s time to consider an upgrade (it’s always time to consider an upgrade!).

My bike has been with me for more than 8 years, since I snap-purchased it whilst my then-girlfriend (now wife) sought a heavy hybrid on which to commute (she still has it, but does not seem to have developed an emotional attachment).

Despite not knowing a thing about bikes (beyond what i had learnt as the proud owner of a Raleigh Mini Burner in the 1980s – red and black, since you ask), I made a wise lucky choice.

Read moreWhat road bike should I buy: the Grimpeur considers the options

Best cycle app: Strava or MapMyRide?

I like to look at maps. I like to plan routes. I am quite obsessed with knowing where I have been.

Not all who wander are lost

JRR Tolkien

When I first moved to London, I used to walk excessive distances on a weekend, taking delight in piecing together seemingly disjointed sections of the tube map, beginning to understand how it all fitted together.

I also like data (to a degree – nothing against stats nerds, but I’m not one).

One of my first purchases after getting my road bike (to commute on, primarily), after the obligatory lights, locks and helmet, was a cycle computer. I wanted to know how far I’d been and how fast I’d travelled (or not, as the case may be).

When I upgraded to my next cycle computer (a Polar CS200), I fastidiously logged in to the Polar website at the conclusion of each commute, in order to record each data point it had captured during the pothole- and profanity-strewn ride.

I never logged cadence though, since this is a mythical piece of data that no human-built machine is capable of sensing or recording. I digress.

Cycling apps on a smartphone (in my case a labouring iPhone 3GS) were made for me.

Read moreBest cycle app: Strava or MapMyRide?