If you only read one cycling post today: my top 6 beautiful bike-related websites

Cycling is a many varied and wonderful thing. Today’s post aims to introduce you to some of the great bike-related blogs and websites that I peruse on a regular basis.

I know. Some of you read my cycling blog because you know me and you want to find out what I’m up to. You may only have a passing interest in cycling or perhaps no interest at all. This post is for you as well.

Maybe you are more interested in design or photography or beautiful clothing. If you are, then take a look below.

Perhaps you want to be persuaded as to the fitness and weight-loss benefits of consistent cycling. Or to learn how to repair a puncture. Or what it’s like to ride up Alpe d’Huez.

So whatever your cycling (or non-cycling) bag (musette?), here are my Friday follows:

Vulpine

Vulpine is a London-based cycle clothing business, which aims to produce garments that work and look stylish on and off the bike. I can only vouch for the winter storm cap, which I purchased and gave as a Christmas present (and have received glowing reports back). But just looking at the photos and following owner Nick’s descent into madness on Twitter, it is clear that attention to detail is at the top of the company’s priority list.

Cyclelove

A crisp, design-focused blog on cycle culture and style in its many forms. The photography is glorious. Cyclelove looks wonderful on an iPad retina screen (and most other computer screens as well).

Inner Ring

Inner Ring is my number one source for information and comment on professional road cycling. The posts go into real depth and, since it is a personal blog written under a pseudonym, the site is not afraid to dig into sensitive issues that team access- and advertising-reliant publications tend to avoid. The recent series looking at famous road climbs (Mont Ventoux, the Stelvio etc) has made for great reading.

London Cyclist

I like cycling and I live in London (at least for the moment) and thus I like reading this blog. If you like cycling and you live in London, then I heartily recommend LondonCyclist.co.uk. Even if you don’t live in London, I still recommend you read it.

It is particularly good for those looking for advice, clothing and equipment to help you commute by bike. With the addition of a new writer, we’re going to see more content on sportives, a booming area right now and one which I’m keen to read about.

MadeGood.org

This website is just plain awesome. MadeGood.org contains clear and detailed video tutorials on how to repair and maintain pretty much every aspect of your road bike. Whenever I mention here any mechanical task undertaken on my bike, you can be pretty sure I’ll have watched a video about it on this site first.

Velopixie

And finally, something quite inspirational. In this personal blog, the eponymous Velopixie describes his training voyage that will culminate with completing the 2013 Etape du Tour, a gruelling 130km loop around the mountains of Annecy. In the process, and over the course of the last 12 months, Velopixie has lost a massive 6 stones.

Here concludes my whistlestop tour around the best the cycling world has to offer. If I’ve missed anyone out, make sure to let me know in the comments section below.

In the meantime, happy cycling!

RideLondon 100 and a thought on training motivation

So you will no doubt see plenty on this blog about my preparation for RideLondon (or RideLondon-Surrey 100 to give its full, rather catchy title).

After initially failing to secure a place in the ballot, I’ve been offered a place by Macmillan, the cancer support charity, to ride (and raise money) for them. I have a very strong personal reason for supporting this charity, which I’ll share in due course.

In the meantime, the purpose of this post was to ask a question (which may turn out to be rhetorical if no one responds). Please bear with me during the ‘set up’.

Here’s the background:

  1. I know I should really get out on the bike, particularly in light of the need to ride 100 miles in 7hr 30m in August (that’s what I’ve said I can do…)
  2. The riding conditions are ok: it’s above freezing and I don’t think there was a frost last night; it’s dry with perhaps the odd spit of rain
  3. The biggie: I’m just not feeling it.  I’m a little tired; there’s a bit of a fug going on in my head

Here’s what I know:

  1. I should put my kit on – this is easy to do and the feel of tight lycra on skin is not unpleasant (ahem)
  2. I should tell myself that all I’m going to do is ride around the block
  3. Once I’m out and riding, I’ll just keep going and I will enjoy it

And here’s the question (thank you for your patience):

Why don’t I just do that (put the kit on and ride down my street)?

More specifically, why am I still thinking about the longer ride (which I’m obviously procrastinating about) and not trusting the judgement of the future me (the one that will be sat on the bike, either enjoying it or not) to make the decision then?

Am I worried that the future me will decide to go for it?

If so, why does that bother the current me, who should arguably be pleased that he would become the sort of future me that elects to ‘just fugging do it’?

What do you think? Am I just going mad (in a slightly philosophical way)?

2013 so far: failure, excuses and recriminations

This blog is meant to be about cycling. And happiness. Me cycling. Me being happy whilst cycling.

The problem is, there hasn’t been much cycling to speak of. The year started well, and here I’m going to be generous to myself by including December 29th and 30th as honorary members of 2013.

Those two days, as well as January 1st itself, saw 3 reasonable rides (for me) around God’s own county and the location of the 2014 Grand Depart of the Tour de France (t’ Tour). That would be Yorkshire, incidentally.

I was particularly pleased with these rides because:

  • getting my bike in working order had been a MASSIVE hassle in the 10 days running up to Christmas, involving numerous trips to bike shops, multiple tools and components purchased hastily on the internet and the “investment” in a brand new set of wheels;
  • I had transported the bike and all my super s3xy lycra kit all the way up the A1 from south-east London (presumably I could have bought a new bike for all the additional petrol-consuming wind resistance from having my steed lodged proudly upon the roof rack);
  • It p1ssed it down for two of the days and it was nut-crackingly cold for the New Year’s Day ride (but beautifully sunny – you can’t have it all).

I was not pleased with these rides because, as ever, my youthful enthusiasm (ahem) had caused me to rush in too quickly. Going from nothing to hypothermic uber-training with a body that is not as young as I would like simply caused my knee pain (which had previously only been a problem for running) to flare up.

I would, of course, like to claim that I acted the responsible athlete and hence did not rush back to the bike too soon. But I’d be lying (about the responsible athlete bit; I certainly didn’t rush back to the bike).

In actual fact, I may have done the right thing: I did a few small (read tiny, as in to-the-park-and-back tiny) rides with Petite Grimpeuse in the child seat. I did one session that I could call, rather grandly, hill repeats (but then have to admit that I only climbed the main hill once). Otherwise I ‘rested my knee’.

But the truth is, I did not find myself with face rested dolefully upon the window pane (with a little dribble of drool representing a metaphorical teardrop), wishing that my knee would fix itself. I did not mope around my house wearing the Campagnolo cycling top that I got for Christmas from my sister (thank you!). I simply wimped out.

Grey clouds? Hmm, looks like it will rain then. Better stay in. Clear skies and sunshine. There’ll be ice on the Kent roads. Surely better to stay in than risk breaking a collar bone. A breath of wind? I’m no stocky rouleur, it’ll blow me over.

I was glad when it snowed because at least then I didn’t have to lie to myself. No one without a mountain or cyclocross bike (and I don’t own either) goes out in that sort of weather.

So the real cycling hero in our house this month (and indeed this year) is my son, Mini Grimpeur. Despite being only four, and in the midst of all this glorious (terrible) winter weather, he might well have spent as long cycling as I have. And with a bigger smile on his face.

And to top all that off, he cycles in the snow, showing no fear. Chapeau!

Happy cycling!

Grimpeur Heureux goes to the London Bike Show

As the title suggests, this Saturday I went to the London Bike Show.

I had intended to cycle, but the ‘London Death Snow’ (translation for snow-familiar foreigners: a light dusting) put paid to that idea.

I was therefore unable to bask in the smug glow emanating from those attendees I saw dressed in full on commuting gear. I did however get to read a book in peace whilst travelling in on the train and tube – a rare treat.

So how was it?

Read moreGrimpeur Heureux goes to the London Bike Show