Review – Women’s Castelli Leggera Gilet

Castelli Gilet

Okay, I will admit it, I have been eyeing one of these up for quite a while. In fact, ever since I bought the full sleeve (rain cape) version in 2012.

The gilet comes with a small bag that means that it can be folded away into a compact size and put back in your pocket – a great idea for those of you wanting something that you can take on and off without worrying that you haven’t got space in your back pocket to keep it.
Leggera GiletBeing 5′ 7″ and a size 10, I struggle with a lot of women specific cycling clothing as it tends to be too short and I often end up “borrowing” my husband’s cycling clothes as they tend to fit much better. Not so with this gilet. It is fairly long in the body and has a scooped elasticated bottom on the back of the jacket to ensure a snug fit.

Sometimes, jackets can be quite tight around the neck, which means that you never end up doing the zip right to the top. Again, there is enough room within the design to ensure that this is not a problem.

It is windproof and breathable, and is great for keeping the chill off at the start of a ride. It is small enough to be packed away until you need to put something on to keep you warm on that descent back down into town.

There is one improvement that I’d look to make – there is no back pocket so it can be a bit difficult trying to get food out of your jacket pocket. Not a major issue, I admit, but with gloves on it can be difficult. Also, the RRP is £55 which could be seen to be quite expensive for a gilet and therefore not a “needs must” purchase but a “wish list” purchase instead. However, the best price we’ve found is at ProBikeKit who are selling them for less than £40, at the moment, which makes them a bit more affordable:


CastelliGiletReviewRatingIn Summary

    • Fit – 89 out of 100  the gilet fits well, and the elasticated bottom means that it stays in place
    • Quality – 95 out of 100 – I would expect a market leading brand to be high quality, and I wasn’t disappointed
    • Price – 70 out of 100 – £55 for a gilet may prove too expensive for some
    • Value for money – 80 out of 100 – ultimately, high quality doesn’t come cheap but I liked the fit, quality and think it looks great.
    • Overall that’s an impressive 84 out of 100!


Would I recommend this gilet to my cycling friends? Definitely!




Novice League for Women

After the success of last year’s inaugural Cycling Development North West women’s road race league, I was approached by Carley Brierley, a female coach in Blackpool, to assist her with developing some women’s race training sessions for women in the New Year, which Huw Williams has instigated.

CDNW Great Budworth

After an overwhelming response, and all three sessions being oversubscribed within a week of going live, I decided that it would be a good idea to try and ease the move into road racing for women by including a novice league within the women’s league, especially given that there seems to be less early season circuit races (in the North West at least) this year.

Last year, a guy called Sean Jackson, of Cucina Cycles in the North East, provided some sponsorship money which I used for the Most Improved Rider Award and the Most Tenacious Rider Award.  This year, we will be scrapping these awards and, instead, the money will be used to provide for the leaders in the Novice League.

You might think that I have gone off on a tangent with this concept, however the women who took part in the CDNW women’s league last year really improved as road racers as the season progressed.  The races were aimed at developing confidence whilst being encouraging, with 100% (yes, that’s right 100%) of the women who completed my end of survey said that they would definitely recommend the races to a friend, and with this in mind, some novice women racers might be put off about joining the league thinking they don’t have a chance.  But by holding a separate “mini-league” I hope to reach out to those women so that they will have an opportunity for a race within a race.  Ultimately, there aren’t enough women to hold two separate races, but I know from experience that racing with second and third category women is much better than racing with fourth category men!

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

So ladies, if you want to get into racing, here is your chance!  You will need a full racing licence (as you are racing on the open road) however if you are thinking of racing anyway, a day licence costs at least £10, so if you plan on doing more than three races, you will save money by purchasing a full licence.  For the record, I am not a sales person for British Cycling, I am just someone trying to persuade more women to have a go at the sport I enjoy.

If you haven’t bought BC membership yet, you can find more about it here:

If you like the thought of giving racing a go and would like to register for the league, as a woman you don’t need to be a member of an affiliated club – it costs £5 to register for the league and you have to agree to marshal a race (it can be one you are riding if you can find somebody to do the marshalling for you):


Women’s Race Training comes to the North West and North Wales

Back by popular demand, the women’s race training sessions are returning to the North West in the New Year, with sessions being held at Tameside, Rhyl (Marsh Tracks) and Blackpool (Palatine Leisure Centre).  Hosted by Huw Williams, me and Carley Brierley, the sessions are designed to offer women who are either relatively new to cycling or are third/fourth category riders the opportunity to develop their confidence and skills so that they will have the tools available to embark on a competitive cycling career, up to whatever level they wish to attain.

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

Dates/times venues

Session 1: Tameside Cycle Circuit, Manchester OL7 9HG

Sunday 5th Jan 2014 9am-1pm


Session 2: Marsh Tracks, Rhyl, LL18 2AD

Sunday 19th Jan 2014 12noon -4pm


Session 3: Palatine Circuit Blackpool FY4 2AP

Sunday 2nd Feb 2014 12noon – 4pm


Each 4-hour session will be progressive, on a dedicated, traffic-free cycle circuit where you will learn the techniques, skills, tactics and group riding etiquette needed to race, as well as advice on training theory and practice that will allow you to prepare for the coming, 2014 season. Each session is structured in a way that allows all riders to participate at their own level of ability and there will be no instances of novice riders feeling ‘out of their depth.’

The sessions will be delivered by Carley Brierley, British Cycling level 3 road and TT coach, Heather Bamforth a level 3 ABCC coach and current 2nd category racer and Huw Williams, a British Cycling level 3 road and TT coach. We also have guest riders from two of the UKs leading womens’ race teams, Epic Scott Contessa WRT and Matrix Vulpine, on hand to answer questions and offer tips and advice during the training.



£20 per rider per session payable on the day



You have to be female and wearing a helmet at all times when on the track.


How do I enter?

Please email me at [email protected] for more details and to register your interest. Spaces are limited, so please register early.

A Season Over – The Importance of Self-Review

No matter what type of sporting discipline you participate in, it is always important to review your season once you have stopped racing.

For those of you who read my beginners’ guide to racing earlier this year, you may remember that I talked about the importance of having goals to aim for during the season (and also beyond),  in order to achieve what you want to achieve – it is incredibly difficult to feel satisfied and contented if you don’t know what you want out of the season.

So for those of you who set goals this season, whether those were distance related, time related, or just getting on your bike more, it is important to revisit the aims that you set yourself at the beginning of the season and to compare them to what you did actually achieve.

Original Goals – Realistic or Unattainable?

At the start of the season, you would have had an idea, whether you wrote it down or not, as to what you wanted to achieve.  Nobody can tell what the future holds and nobody can tell you that you can’t achieve what you want to achieve, as everybody has to have a dream, but it is important to be true to yourself.  This means that you have to be honest with yourself too.  For example, there is nothing wrong with wanting to win a Premier Calendar or a National Series event this season, but if you only started racing this season and were a fourth category rider at the start of the season, the likelihood is that you will struggle to get a ride in a National Series event, and if you are a male fourth category rider, then you can’t even enter a Premier Calendar.  Don’t get me wrong, being honest with yourself is not easy – everybody wants to feel that they are better than they are, it’s only natural, but you have to have a reality check at some point, if only for your own sanity.  Otherwise you will spend your spare time dwelling on the fact that you have failed in your mission, wondering where you went wrong and basically mentally beating yourself up.


(c) Martin Holden Photography


Achieving Targets

If you achieved your targets, congratulations!  And, if so, the next port of call for you is to ask yourself how you can build on what you have achieved this season, and whether you feel that you pushed yourself in achieving those goals, so that you set some more SMART goals for next season.

Missing Targets Is Not The End of the World

Sometimes life gets in the way.  Sometimes you get ill.  For the majority of people (and that will include most readers of this article), cycling (or any sport in actual fact) is a hobby that you do in your spare time.  It is important that you remember that fact.  Cycling is fun, a way of keeping healthy and fit and making friends.  Even if you are competing, you still should always remember that you are doing it because you enjoy it, not because your life depends on it.  And if you feel that it is the latter, and your whole sense of being in life is dependent on the results you get, then you need to have a word with yourself, my friend, because getting depressed about what you haven’t achieved is not healthy.  And if your “team mates” are not supportive enough, you do not have to stay with that team or club.  Your mental well-being is paramount – without that basis you cannot prepare yourself mentally for the challenges that life throws at you.

(c) Ed Rollason Photography

Evaluating the Season

If you haven’t achieved what you thought were reasonable goals, ask yourself why that might be.  Maybe you have had a stressful time at work, or a member of your family has been ill, or you just haven’t had the spare time to dedicate to training.  Some things are out of our control and as an adult you just have to accept that fact and move on.  Instead, look at what you have achieved this season in spite of all the other issues you have had to deal with and take those achievements as a positive.  Don’t beat yourself up about not getting the results that you thought you were capable of, but use them as a stepping stone for what you want to achieve next season.  Don’t underestimate the British weather either – if you wanted to go under the hour on a 25 mile time trial but every single time you rode an event it was horrendously windy, that is something out of your control, so just deal with it and move on.

In Conclusion

If you have missed some of your targets this season, do yourself a favour and list the goals that you wanted to achieve at the beginning of the season in one column, then in a second column list how you did in reality – you will probably find that you were not too far wide of the target, and if there were things that appear to be out of reach, think about why that might be and how you might be able to change things to achieve those goals next season.  If you use a training diary, or an on-line tool such as Garmin Connect or Strava, have a look back at all of that data you will have created and try and evaluate it to see whether you might have done too much leading up to the event where you didn’t hit the target, or you might have not done enough.

In the grand scheme of things, life is incredibly short.  This isn’t a dress rehearsal and you have to take the best out of the challenges that life throws at you.  Be honest with yourself, think about what you could have done to make things better and then you can start thinking about what you might want to achieve next season!

So until next time, enjoy riding and keep safe!



Interview with Joanna Rowsell MBE

Joanna Rowsell - Image ©Great Manchester Cycle

I caught up with recently crowned National Time Trial Champion Joanna Rowsell MBE to find out her plans for the next few months and her thoughts on the whirlwind of a year that brought her further success at the Olympic Games in London and her seamless transition to the road.

Heather chats to Jo Rowsell MBE - Image ©Fred BamforthJo was about to ride the Great Manchester Cycle ride. Launched in 2012, the first Great Manchester Cycle was a resounding success, with a staggering 7,000 riders taking up the challenge and this years event was even bigger. Lizzie Amitstead, who brought home Britain’s first medal of the Games last summer in the Women’s Road Race, along with former Olympic champion Rebecca Romero were among those to take part in the inaugural Great Manchester Cycle, with Armitstead describing the event as “a fantastic day out”. This year Jo got to experience the buzzing atmosphere, the olympic champion seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself with her signature beaming smile visible at all times under her helmet.

Related links:
Joanna Rowsell MBE’s website
Follow Jo on Twitter @JoannaRowsell
Great Manchester Cycle’s website – Enter now for 2014!” Great Manchester Cycle’s website – Enter now for 2014!



Women’s Race Training Arrives in Northern England (finally!)

Last year, Huw Williams initiated a number of race training sessions for women at Cyclopark in the South, with a view to providing specific training for women who were either complete novices or were third or fourth category riders.  They proved extremely popular and many women wanted to attend a similar set up in other places around the country.

For women riders who are able to get to the Tameside circuit in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, Frances Newstead, a level 3 British Cycling Road and Time Trial coach has worked with Huw to deliver a number of similar sessions up North on 18 & 25 August 2013 followed by a race (restricted to 3rd & 4th category women riders) on 8 September 2013.  Places will be limited, so if you are new to racing or are maybe thinking of racing for the first time next year, get involved with Frances’ session.  She will be covering a variety of skills and topics, including what type of training to do over winter.  Further details can be found in the flyer below:


CTUK web flyer

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