I’m with the residents! – Velo Birmingham…

The tale of a train wreck 

Which residents? The NIMBY residents. The ones who say “cyclists – YES 15,000 cyclists – NO!” such were the placards alongside the roads in many lovely Worcestershire villages on the 24th of September. The day I finally decided to launch a campaign against the mass participation cyclo sportive, the day of the utter train wreck shambles that was the first Velo Birmingham.

Now look, I accept that this being the longest I’ve ever (and by a long way) taken to cover 100 miles on a bicycle will have coloured my judgment, but honestly, whilst I am embarrassed by that, it is not the reason I am utterly opposed now to this and Ride London. My dreadful time is merely a by product of this silly event.

 

Billed as a nice rolling ride through Birmingham’s surrounding counties, it was anything but rolling and just about the only flat sections, were the roughly 9 miles within the boundaries of Brum itself. It was brutal. Stupidly “ we are going to be the Billy Big Bollocks of all Sportives” brutal. Hills that were indicated as average 2%, but kicked up to over 15 and 17% brutal. It was a route that would have seen a walk out by a pro peloton.  Stopping and starting again and again because of accidents or the inexperienced falling off, poorly maintained bikes with gearing they didn’t understand, up one track (square peg in a round hole) 8% lanes. Spills and tumbles on hair raisingly long fast descents. Now my fan will be aware, that I love a fast descent, but at roughly 8 miles in is the cyclists dream downhill. Mucklow Hill between Brum and Halesowen. It’s about 15% of arse over the back wheel hands off the brakes “ yeh baby that’s what I like “ drop down, that is unless you have 8,000 or so terrified (and justifiably so) begginers grabbing hands full of brake on the steepest fastest line….mad!! But there were many more. You should only tackle hills like that with exceptionally good bike handling skills and frankly a good local knowledge of the roads. Many of the fast descents were on poorly maintained roads with a very sharp turn at the bottom.

That’s the route. To recap, Innacurate info on gradients and total climbing. Lunatic descents for the inexperienced. Bottlenecks that were inevitable on single track roads, most with at least one climb of between 2 and 5%.

The rest of it? Try this. The best part of an hours delay at the start. The reason, huge amounts of tacks strewn across the route along with oil, callously dumped on descents and thorns from hedges clearly from the day before. Ok. That sort of thing is not the fault of the organisers is it? Weeeell..yes, it is. Not the actual dropping of debris ofcourse, but when there had been so much opposition to the event…so strong that the route through Herefordshire and part of Worcestershire was eliminated. When I submit proposals for a 120 rider time trial, I have to provide the local police and Cycling Time Trials with a highly detailed risk assessment. I am then expected to recce the route early doors on the day of the event and quite rightly so. Ofcourse 100 miles is 75 miles longer than an inter club TT, BUT, They have a large staff and a huge budget, from entries and sponsorship, with a history of similar sabotage on other closed road Sportives, a small convoy of vehicles precededing the riders, could have cleared this away quite easily and with their boast of being the best ever, ought to have reckoned in their planning. It didn’t ofcourse, because like the London-Surrey it’s organised by people with no experience of organising a cycle event. Ask yourself the question why Human Race and U.K. CYCLING, to name two, manage to host Sportives by the dozen on open roads every weekend with barely a hitch. The answer is simple…EXPERIENCE. So forward planning and risk assessment were barely a consideration. The cash cow mentality won out.

The biggest complaint though in a list of horrendous cock ups was truly the most unforgivable. The later starting waves were quite simply “ effed over” when it came to food. I’d decided in advance to go until the 50 mile pit stop, with the lure of a sausage roll and a banana and maybe the much touted bacon rolls, even at the rumour 6 quid a pop. That and gels should’ve seen me through even with the hills to a creditable 7 hours. Except that there was nothing left. Not a gel, a piece of cake, a sausage roll. Or even a humble banana. There was food debris everywhere, but none for us….beyond disgusting, especially considering the entry fee and the quickly gleaned fact that the first feed stop had also run out before our small group had ridden past. The same story at the next one and both were filling peoples bidons from the overflow buckets….i kid you not.

VELO BIRMINGHAM, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO RIDE 100 VERY STEEP MILES WITHOUT FOOD. A gel every mile or two is all very well, but those and my beloved Marks and Sparks Percy pigs ain’t enough fuel, beside which there is only so much of that stuff you can eat before you want to hurl. I hit the wall around mile 65, my average dropped from 15mph to just around 12, it was sheer bloody mindedness that kept me going, that and that alone. The last stop had managed to keep hold of bananas and cake …….yes. That stop was ( by then) sarcastically at the bottom of a 5-7%er.

God alone knows what time they opened the roads, but those of us determined to finish or bust, were on the receiving end of some close calls and abuse from previously penned in drivers, that for once I could sympathise with. We got our medals, despite being out of time…thanks to the boys and girls at the back of the by then closed N.I.A. For staying on with warm welcoming hugs, medals and much needed cool bottles of water.

My opposition to ride London-Surrey is well known, so you’d be forgiven for asking “why the hell did I ride this?” Put simply, optimism…yes, I know. Optimism that my native city would get it right. That and the fact that as well as it being the city I’m proud to have been born in, my Dad and Mom were very popular as Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress…it was a given that I had to ride it and if nothing else, the NSPCC will have the money I raised for them.

Were there any positives? Yes, the indomitable spirit of the British in adversity, the overwhelming support to get people through. The magnificent support from the local people all the way along the route. Calling out riders names….they’d printed them on our numbers. It got many weary souls to the top of many a climb that followed a sharp turn. People around me loved it.

“goo on bab. Yo can do it” “come on Mark nearly there cocker“

VELO BIRMINGHAM. You let my beloved city down. People who hate these hyper Sportives, here is one lifelong cyclist who feels that hyper Sportives harm the already  tarnished reputation of our sport and pastime badly. Look out, there is a petition coming when I can figure out who it should be addressed to. Oh, I nearly forgot. Thirty or so of us were locked out of the organised car park. An official got permission from the old Bill to cut the lock off after the owner refused a fee to keep it open or come and unlock it.

Jo Ann Carver

Jo Ann Carver

Cyclist, Actor & CyclingShorts.cc Writer

Jo Ann Carver is a 65 year old born again granny. She used to be known as Jon Carver and was on a failed mission to live and die as a man. She was the brains behind all of his successes and due to extreme boredom, fell asleep during his failures. She guided him through a moderately successful amateur racing career and later as the father of a European champion BMX racer and coach.

He has thanked her for  getting him through a degree in Drama and English and an M.A. in acting from Oxford. He’d have been lost without her emotional insight into all of the characters he has played on T.V. big screen & stage.

Jo will live her life doing what she loves best. Cycling and acting. She is the Secretary of Bedfordshire Road Cycling Club and lives with Carol her and Jon’s partner for 24 years and their LaChon Dog Wilf. Jon, having relinquished the body has gifted his bikes. Records, C.Ds and love of Jazz and Northern soul. He also gifted her his Alfa Romeo Spider, but did not give her any money to get work done on it.

She intends to carry on writing the same drivel for cycling shorts that he thought was his witty prose. Now though it will contain a lot more references to pink shoes. As she continues her journey via hormone replacement and surgery, she hopes you will come along with her as she pedals her way from bloke to the woman she should’ve always been.

Review – AFTERSHOKZ TREKZ Titanium Bone Conduction Headphones

A couple of years ago now, our lovely editor Anna asked me to cover an outdoor leisure show at London’s Excel. It was an enjoyable show and I remember giving it a thumbs up. I also remember giving solid reviews to several products given to me to road test and a cautiously positive review to a product that I was enthusiastic about sufficiently to purchase. That product was the AFTERSHOKZ  BLUEZ bone conduction headphones.

I bought them, because I thought it may be nice to have some tunes on a ride and I’ve always felt headphones whilst riding to be insanely dangerous. AFTERSHOKZ are different though, because they use an ingenious transducer device, developed initially for military use and now under constant development and refinement by AFTERSHOKZ, which transmits the sound through the cheekbone, eliminating the delicate inner ear, leaving your ears open to what’s going on around you. They are also Bluetooth. Though they now have a cabled option in their range.

 

My initial review was full of praise for the technology, it’s safety first approach and the outstanding if bizarre (it’s going through your cheek bones not your ears) sound quality. The shortcomings of the original set I put down to me, sweating a lot and not being able to get a good enough fit to get them to remain on my head. I put them in a drawer and forgot about them until a few months ago, when getting ready to do my fourth ( never again) Ride 100 London-Surrey. I was astounded to find that they had kept a pretty decent charge.

My new helmet didn’t fit so low as my S works and I was thus able to get a slightly better fit, although the pads of the transducer contact points, still slipped far too much on my ride when I worked up a sweat. It was annoying, but I resolved to work on the fit. That was when I gave up on AFTERSHOKZ, because the Bluetooth connection was intermittent, dependant upon where my head was positioned. With the phones still slipping and now the reception breaking up, it was time to pop them in a jersey pocket saying great idea….poor execution. As I said in frustration in a subsequent email. Originally I had no warranty claim..They worked and worked brilliantly…let down by my leaking bonce! Then when I discovered a warranty issue, they were out of warranty. Ah well at £80 odd a moderately expensive ” never mind”. Back in the drawer.

Fast forward to the Registration exhibition for the Pru Ride 100 ( hoik spit). God knows why I decided to loiter in there once I’d got my numbers I don’t know,  as it was largely same old same old. Indeed, had it not been like Santas Grotto or IKEA, one way in one way out, I wouldn’t have. Fate then brought me once more to AFTERSHOKZ and boy am I glad it did!

There were two guys on a well lit and enticing stand, with quite clearly some new products. I was giving them a glance when, one of the two guys on the stand (Drew) caught my eye. I ushered him out of earshot of his colleague (who turned out to be M.D. Rod) who was talking with some very keen customers. It isn’t my job or my way to throw my toys out of the pram. I related my experiences to Drew who was very sympathetic….actually concerned (and I hadn’t mentioned that I wrote for this August journal) He asked me to email my story to them, mentioning his name.

Well, I did write and pressed the send button with the thought “that’ll be the last I hear of that” How wrong was I? In fact, that chance meeting with Drew turned out to be the start of the very best customer care experience that I have had in my entire 64 years…YES THE VERY BEST! Before close of business that day Rod Annet had emailed a lovely friendly note, saying how sad he was to hear of my experience and regretted that we’d not been able to chat on registration day. He went on to say that the very problems I had encountered were ones that they had identified and that three incarnations later, he was so convinced that I would find their new model TREKZ TITANIUM would answer my problems that he would replace my old ones free of charge, not only that, but I could pick my colour too. Still I’d not mentioned CyclingShorts.cc (this one is turning into cycling trousers I know… But, keep up). I parcelled the old ones up and mailed them on the Tuesday, on Thursday, the new ones arrived.

First thing you’ll notice when you buy a set…..and you will, is that they are beautifully presented in packaging that is a part of a good buying experience similar to buying from Apple. Presentation does count. Once unpacked my green and black (matches my Dolan, nicely) were instantly more pleasing to the eye, a behind the head loop in green and a firm but very comfortable silicone finish, on the lines of most over the ear sports headphones, is far better than the bulky black “Alice band” of my previous model.

 

 

In use they are brilliant. There is a microphone on each side and on the left, a multi function button that enables, phone call answer, hold, and voice dial. This may be a surprise for the boys, but the voice dial function accesses Siri on iPhone and I was able to select a fresh album of music without stopping….big big bonus! On the right arm is the mini USB charging port (micro to standard USB cable included). Slots nicely in to an iPhone charger and mine took 45 minutes to reach a full charge, though it did have a small charge on delivery. Two small buttons….a tiny bit awkward if one has sausage fingers, but by the end of my ride I’d got used to easily controlling volume up, down and on/off functions. Lastly (when stopped) a simultaneous press of the multi function (left ear) button and the volume buttons enable you to change the sound equalisation… oh and the multi function button also advances the track.

Sound quality wise, the clarity, and depth is superb and more than equal to a Bose set or Apple ear buds that I also own. Quite simply it will amaze you. One complaint from before was the sound leak, that is annoying to others nearby. This is now a thing of the past. My partner who has the hearing of a dog. Could hear nothing at full volume….there’s another thing. With the sound bypassing the inner ear through the cheek bones…volume isn’t a problem. So, a first class sound, and that all important safety feature of being able to hear all the ambient noise….approaching traffic etc is fantastic. “Really Jon? You wear hearing aids don’t you?”  Ah you got me…….no you didn’t. My aids fit over my ear. The TREKZ TITANIUM, fits over my ear. My Salice glasses fit over my ear and there’s room for the lot and yes boys at AFTERSHOKZ, there’s two more bits of info you may not be aware of. So even with a major hearing loss, I can still enjoy music on a ride and hear everything going on around me.

What about wind noise? Well, I’m lucky. I have the latest NHS aids, which have an excellent wind diffuser….I can probably hear more ambient sound than people with good hearing. Rod in his email said that wind noise on the microphones was still a problem above 15mph. No, it’s not. Hey, I’m putting a product to the sword here. Yesterday afternoon was very windy here in Bedfordshire, at eighteen MPH and into a head wind, I voice dialled my partner, who reported that she heard me better on these than on my iPhone when walking in a stiff breeze. I then used Siri to change an album using the complicated sentence ” play Eliane Ellias” which is quite a gob full and I had Brazillian lush all the way home.

 

“Ah but what about them slipping on your greasy face?! ” no bother at all. I didn’t, but I’m pretty sure that I could’ve drawn a box around them and they wouldn’t have budged. A hard 45 windy miles on the road then 30 hard and hilly Zwift miles last night, no worries at all. If your bonce is a tad small, they come with two small bands that makes a close fit perfect. Last but not least a neat little carrying pouch and a pair of ear plugs complete the kit. This means you can pop them in have your TREKZ on full (with no inner ear problems) and cut out the noise of the tube or the screaming kid in seat 4G.

My experience in brief, a great idea has transformed into a brilliant idea and an even better product. It’s British, they are not resting on their laurels, customer service is beyond first rate. A whole host of the usual online suspects and retail outlets will charge you between £84-£114. Which even at the most expensive is phenomenal value anyway, but for cutting edge tech is just the business.

Note from the Ed: While we love these headphones at CyclingShorts.cc, there is always room for improvement through product development – Jon would give them 110% if he was allowed, so I’ve reined him in a little. Can you hear me cracking my whip?

CyclingShorts.cc Rating

Jon Carver – Favourite Ride – Four Counties Ride

With no particular place to go…

Sometimes, your favourite rides just happen out of the blue.
I don’t normally go in for favourites as I don’t like that kind of rigidity. This route though, that came out of a rough idea of where to go coloured with, “If I turn here, I can always turn the opposite way later… there are road signs after all” is a beaut.

When I do that, I find little gems of hills both up and down that go on my list of favoured (not favourite) I don’t live in a particularly hilly area, but when you find one it’s usually spiteful. This has the lot. Fast flat runs, long uphill drags, hills and throw caution to the wind descents. It’s actually a tad longer than recorded. I forgot to start Strava until I was around 4 miles in.

The scenery on this ride, crossing Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntindonshire and Northamptonshire; is wide, woody and rolls from tranquility to tranquility.

Click the VeloViewer link below for the route.

Enjoy

Jon

with no particular place to go – VeloViewer

93.23 kmroutes with 424 m of climbing. Check it out!

JIVR Bike Review

Spin part two. The reviews…

Ok. So “Spin” the show, was spun into something a tad more than it ought to have been. I’m saying no more about the show, but nothing is completely bad and in amongst some very quirky stuff, were some very interesting products indeed and what follows is a concise (for me) look at the best and the noteworthy if only…

 

JIVR

JIVR-BIke-Kickstarter-Folding-Chainless-and-Electric-Bike-566717Jivr (Jiver) was the first exhibit we saw and it definitely has the WOW factor. Yes, I said an electric bike has the Wow factor. It is a folder that packs down into a size as compact as a Brompton (yes, I know nothing folds like a Brompton…until this) up and back down again in 22 seconds… and that was me at my first attempt. Martin Piatkowski, its designer and head of the company can do it in about 18.

It is light too at a mere 10 Kilos, which when you consider that it houses a motor, a battery and a chain free drive system, that is pretty amazing. The company claim a top speed on its motor of 25 km/h which is governed to make it legal in the company’s widening market place. Jivr also clocked in at 30KM on one charge, which if you only use the motor to arrive at work without needing to change your sweaty shirt because you’ve been climbing hills, will do you just fine. Pedal the remainder or indeed all of your journey although, because of its direct drive (hidden in the single beam of 7005 aluminium) peddling looks odd….no chain rings.

 

 

A fast nimble little folding electric bike that is stylish (my partner Carol wants one) light enough and looks amazing, make this a serious contender to Brompton. Yes its more expensive, has a two hour reachable battery and high tech motor and drive system on board. But if you’re after a commuter for on and off the train and you’d like the extra help of a motor to help with your briefcase etc, then its very well worth a look. If you can push the boat out to £1,200 plus for a Brompton, then I would suggest that the hike up to 2K must be in you remit. Especially when you take into account their unique way of selling this brilliantly crowd funded initiative. Jivr will place 70 hand made bikes per month on the market. Getting one initially works like this; pay £99 deposit refundable in 48 hours if you change your mind. You then go on the waiting list. Each month the waiting list members will be given the opportunity of getting their machine on a first come first served basis. Pay your balance and away you go.

www.jivrbike.com

Hipster Paradise – Spin London

GuardianSpin London

Brick Lane, in the heart of London’s East End and formerly known as Whitechapel Lane has always been a vibrant melting pot of a place and the earliest known record of its existence was on a woodcut map that was printed sometime during the 16th Century. It has been home to many communities of immigrants throughout its colourful history. Always a staging post to upward mobility. That mobility sometimes being slow, sometimes quite rapid. It has been home to French Huguenots, Ashkenazi Jews, and then Eastern European and Russian Jews in the early 20th century. It has been an epicentre of changing small scale industries centred around the clothing industry. Weaving, Leather making, Exquisite tailoring and the sweatshops of the rag trade. Home to Fagin and Jack The Ripper. It still retains its flavour of an amalgam of the new and tentative amidst wide boy small entrepreneurs. Shops momentarily flourishing displaying “vintage” clothing….aka, overpriced elegantly displayed jumble sales. The earnest Guardian reading fashionistas leaving their tatty chic boutiques to browse scratched vinyl records and other vendors tatty chic furniture. 35mm cameras that will never be used and they buy their fabulous Indian sub continent, Eastern European and Far Eastern street food lunches in cheap and plentiful non eco friendly styrofoam boxes.

The Truman Brewery’s disused premises opened above a now drained well in 1863 are themselves a tatty chic exhibition space in keeping with the area and ideal therefore to house the show “SPIN” devoted to the urban cycling revolution taking place in London, with a nod here and there to the sporting and serious leisure cycling side of things enabling the hipsters their radical touch of the esoteric work of cycling.

HipsterSpin was a show for Hipsters. No doubt whatsoever about that. There was the very deliberate wearing of 20,30,50 year old continental race team kit. I saw one guy. Beard long enough to plait and use as a climbing rope in his Gan team kit, hanging on Chris Boardman’s every word and nodding sagely as he munched on his tofu burger before clattering away in an ancient pair of wooden soled track shoes, converted to take the cleats of a set of middle ‘80s Look Classic pedals. Yes, it really was that sort of occasion. The exhibition was a truly enjoyable reflection of Brick lane’s very nature on to the world of cycling. There was a plentiful amount of beautifully crafted clothing, hand built bespoke bicycles (in steel of course) and the feeling that rather like the place 100 yards down Brick Lane that has now ceased attempting to trade in contemporary Vietnamese Folding food, many of them, for all of their skill and genuine innovation would struggle to stay in business much beyond two years or so. That is a great pity, because in the reviews that will follow shortly, I am going to take you on a wander through the best of SPIN and introduce you to some of the start up businesses that are attempting to take root.

If you’d not seen Rollapaluzza before, you might have been forgiven for turning away before you entered the place. They’d set up their usually thriving space and were attracting their usually lengthy queues accompanied by music so loud and a commentary so unintelligible that you have to walk away or give in. We walked away and that was the point at which we recognised the advantage of this very solid old building, step into the next room and the sound that filled the entrance hall was all but eliminated by the purposeful 19th century walls. A moment to reflect on some art work, depicting some of the greats of our sport….up to the 1990s (yes that was the first indicator) Bartolli, Coppi, Simpson, Merckx, Rijs, Anquetil, LeMond, Hinault, Boardman, Obree, Yndurain, Abdujaporov, and my hero (shut up… its my article) the finest climber of all time Marco(Il Pirate) Pantani. None of them were particularly flattering, but at Brick Lane prices I wasn’t going to be hanging one in my shed anyway.

The whole feel of the show was not so much a display of products to do with the world of cycling, but products that were designed to fit lifestyle choices of which cycling is but a part. Cycling fits very nicely into the choices made by the eco friendly….correction, obsessively eco friendly and thats not necessarily a bad thing, but there is a pedantic quirkiness about almost every exhibitor that makes sense to some. Indeed, with the exception of one or two of cycling better known brands. Boardman Elite and Bianchi, most were at the end of the cycling spectrum that says commuter or courier rider that seek form over function. Indeed the more conventional the product on offer the more out of place it looked.

Selva-1024x640A number of the products quirky or not, really did impress and I shall review them and in some cases road test them too. There was the stuff that did interest me. The bespoke frame builders, some of whom were brazing but joint and brazed steel frames that are becoming popular again amongst some sections of the regular cycling community. Sadly when we were there these craftsmen were not drawing anywhere near as much attention as the stand selling those bloody ridiculous Dura Ace equipped Bamboo framed bikes…… yes, exactly what I thought!

As I say, there was a kind of studied pedantry to the wares on offer. Quill stems, rat trap pedals with old style toe clips barely a modern pedal on view. I fell in love with a gorgeous titanium framed bike… The frame was brand spanking new, but everything on it was a (admittedly beautifully done) restored and refurbished ‘80s item. The entire group and finishing kit was old style 5 speed friction shift Campagnolo record. It gleamed. It stunned….. its price tag made me wince……. no, trust me you don’t want to know.

When it comes to anything approaching regular bike choices these folk are cautious. Yes I want something that says serious cyclist, but I don’t feel comfortable going into my LBS, so I’ll stick my nose in the trough with names I recognise Boardman, Bianchi and Cinelli… We can’t be seen to be going into Halfords or Evans and buying something cheaper and far more appropriate to our needs, it has to say chic. It has to say, “at weekends my other bike is a Porsche and my winters are spent at Cortina or Chamonix”.

Yes it was a Hipsters show and if thats your thing, good on yer. You’re riding a bike and anyone who has read my drivel before, knows that this will always get my vote. I half begged to be given this assignment and I’m glad I went for the few products that were in my jaded opinion worthy of attention and for the wonderful (and well attended) interview and Q&A with my hero of the entire show, Martyn Ashton. Will I go again next year? No. But I love Brick Lane, the street food etc, the tiny record stalls and the markets. I even like the quirky nature of SPIN….it’s just that very little of it was for me.

Cycling Santa’s Little Shopping Guide 2013

Cycling Shorts unleashes Santa’s Little Helpers.
Yes the panic is setting in, so much to get organised and so little time, the Cycling Shorts team have put our collective heads together to give you a list of gift ideas that won’t disappoint even the fussiest cyclist in your life.

We’ve split our choices into four perfect price parcels for commuters, kids, pro’s or fans. Click on the images or text links to visit the retailers (we’ve tried to find the cheapest deals for you). If nothing takes your fancy take a look at last years suggestions by clicking here.

 

Stitch-Mi-Lane Commuter Cowl £30Pegatin Stickers from £9.99Walz Wool Racing Caps from £19 - £23One Life ID Stickers from £9.99The Real Life Ups And Downs Of A Tour Pro from £10Chrome Industries Merino Socks £12Women's Race Training Sessions - £20 for 4 hoursDefeet Slipstream Hi-Viz Overshoes - £13.99Handle Bar Heroes £9.95Coppi: Inside the Legend of the Campionissimo £20Track Cycling Calendar 2014 by Guy Swarbrick £16.99Gecko Grip Bar Tape from £11howies Labrador T-shirt £25One23 Coloured Multi-Tool from £11Scruffy Dog Chunky Bobble Hat £26Brooks Trouser Strap from £14.66Purple Harry Bike Wash & Polish Mitt £5.99Monuments-The Handmade Cyclist Paris-Roubaix Print £25Polaris Evolution Waterproof Cycling Overshoe £25.99Speedplay Cleats from £29Brite Ride MEGA Wipes £19.99Rapha Winter Collar £25Montezuma's Doppio Pips £2.79 - Click to buyOne Life ID Band from £12.99-£18.99Stitch-Mi-Lane Wheel Cushion £28Bell Fraction Kids Bike Helmet from £16V-Sprint Espresso Coffee Set from £18.50Hannah Walker Matrix Mug £16Roths Tourleben Calendar 2014 €19.80The Pain And The Glory Best Price £11.10Rapha Winter Socks £15The Winter Cycling Survival Guide (Kindle) £1.96Rob Hayles - Easy Rider Best Price £11.55The Sufferfest Videos from $12.99The Long Race To Glory Best Price £13.40Podium Pants £25

Secret Santa

Under £30

Elena Bremer:
It would have to be a Handmade Cyclist print or 5. My personal favourite is the Monument Collection, I love the style of them and the little stories behind each print- the dog in Paris- Roubaix, the Chapel in Lombardia. You have to be a bit of a bike geek to really appreciate them! I came across Neil’s work when he provided South West Women’s Race Series with prints as prizes. A great gift at only £25 each or buy the full set of 5 for £100.

Anna Magrath:
If you are thinking about giving racing a go next season, sign up to one of the race training sessions that Cycling Shorts staff writer; Heather Bamforth is coaching – price is £20 per four hour session and is aimed at female riders who are either novices, fourth or third category riders.

Safety on the road is a hot topic at the moment, so I would suggest a OneLife ID Band, these silicone bands come with an etched metal tag with a unique URL and QR code that links to your personal profile where your “in case of emergency” can be stored and if someone enters the pin number on the back of the tag into the website your medical data can be viewed by a paramedic. It’s a highly customisable system, show as much or as little info as you want and it has multiple uses, lost property, ICE or Meditag. You can buy stickers, bands, keyrings and cards. Keeping a loved one easily identifiable in an emergency situation could save a life. If you click here you can see an example of what a profile looks like.
Remember there’s a discount of 15% with xmasgift15 until 11th December!

For the kids two items: the Bell Fraction Helmets and The fun Handlebar Heroes… Giddy Up!

For the Boys: A nice retro wool racing cap, Walz do a great quality cap for a good price, available from Always Riding from £19 to £23. Or maybe some leather trouser straps from Brooks, they have a great new range of bright metallics from £14.66.
howies do some great t-Shirts for men and women but my favourite this year is their mens Labrador T-Shirt.. a bargain at £25

Pegatin provide bike sitckers decals to the cycling stars; a great stocking filler. Choose the country flag and name and you’re ready to go! Starts at £9.99.

Why not treat the track cyclist in your life to a Track Cycling Calendar only £16.99, with photographs by top cycling photographer Guy Swarbrick… or for the track sprinter who likes their caffeine rush why not head over to V-Sprint’s website and order an Espresso Set. V-Sprint have cycling in their blood, owned by European Team Sprint Champion; Jess Varnish’s Dad. If you can’t stretch to a set of V-Sprints custom made wheels go for the coffee hit!

Stitch-Mi-Lane is a brand I’ve only recently come across, I bought one of their gorgeous Bike Twist Snoods recently and it’s getting a lot of wear this winter. I love it, really soft and cosy wool. Coming in under budget though is the Commuter Cowl at £28, or the Snug Spectator Merino Bike Bobble Hat also at £28. Want something for the living room? Why not get a Stitch-Mi-Lane Bike Wheel Cushion… my favourite is the blue and orange colourway, again a snip at £28!

For the lazy cyclist: Brite Ride Mega Bike Wipes £19.99 Or if they are feeling a little more energetic… give it a polish! Get a Purple Harry Bike Wash & Polish Mitt for £5.99, Purple Harry have a great range of cleaning products, check them out!

Hannah Walker:
Hannah Walker Matrix Mug £16
Cool little gift for someone you know who loves cycling, drawn by the amazing Marty McCrossan, this little gift won’t break the bank and it’ll help fund Matrix Fitness RA with part of the proceeds going directly to the team!!

Fancy a read… Rob Hayles: Easy Rider £16.99 – Very funny book which will keep you entertained for hours, and shows you the insights of what it takes to become a Pro bike rider! It’s one of those books you’ll read many a time and have you laughing out loud like I did on a flight to Germany!

Nick Dey:
It simply has to be the traditional Christmas undies under the tree – a three pack of Look Mum No Hands Podium Pants (£25) will bring a smile to the faces of all; simply perfect for your pedaling partner! Why not accessorise with a pair of Rapha Winter City Riding Socks (£15), in pink, of course.
What Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a book to curl up with as the kids clean and prepare your bike for the traditional Boxing Day ride. This year has seen a cycling book eruption. My particular favourites, of which I will select three (the reviews are coming – I promise you readers… and you too dear editor!) have been, in no particular order…
Long Race to Glory – How the British Came to Rule the Cycling World, by Chris Sidwells. A wonderfully written and entertaining history of the many characters and events that have paved the way for the riders of today.
The Pain and the Glory: Team Sky Giro & Tour Diary, by Team Sky, Sir Brailsford and Chris Froome. Another fine tome, packed full off Scott Mitchell’s beautiful photography and supported by a free interactive Augmented Reality App that allows readers to scan selected pictures and then to sit back gazing in wonder as Scott tells you the story behind the photograph.
One for you Kindle folk: The Winter Cycling Survival Guide: How to Cycle through your first Winter – keep warm, get fit & stay motivated (A Beginner’s Training Guide.) by Rebecca Ramsay.
There’s no finer place to circle the important cycling dates of 2014 than in the Roths 2014 Tourleben – calendar (42-42 cm). Full of great photos that capture many of the legends of cycling. You won’t see many of these in the UK. Classy and inspiring.

Cristi Ruhlman:
Here are some of my favorites. It’s so wet over here so some warm wool cycling socks or rain booties—both of which I’d love right now, just to walk the dogs!

David James: Some top quality bar tape makes a real difference to comfort when riding and with so many colours and styles to choose from it should be easy to find something just right.

Heather Bamforth:
The majority of your heat escapes via your head – do yourself a favour and buy a bobble hat – Scruffy Dog Creations are selling like hot cakes at the moment! You can find out more about this brand, which boast handmade knitwear by checking out their Facebook page. If you want to buy one right now, you can purchase them from Victor and Liberty, priced between £26 and £29

Titch Longley:
It has to be the Defeet Slipstream Hi-Viz Overshoes (Pink) RRP: £13.99

Hayley Davies:
Every cyclist needs to keep their neck warm in the winter and this Merino collar from Rapha goes down a treat for both the men and ladies alike. Available in just about every club colour you’d need, it’s understated by over delivers in warmth.
Winter Collar £25

Jon Carver:
Secret Santa could get me a set of Speedplay Cleats. I became a SPEEDPLAY disciple earlier in the year. A little odd at first but once you’re used to them they’re brilliant. The best way I’ve found of describing the Speedplay experience is to say that it’s just like having the spindle of the pedal running through the ball of your foot.
Good prices online, but do what all good riders should do… check out your local shop..£28 in mine.

Loz Bywater:
Domestique: The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro – A bumper year for cycling books in Britain – Wegelius’ tale has to be most enlightening book I’ve ever read on Pro road cycling. Click here for my review.

Leigh Marshall:
One23 Coloured Multi-Tool – £11. Perfect for fitting in your pocket or saddle bag. Small, but adds rainbow coloured functionality to an often grey wintery world. Who says multi tools need to be boring.

Stolen Goat Harris Tweed Musette £48Ana Nichoola Star Tights £55Aaron Kuehn Bicycle Typogram Print $99Rapha Cross Scarf £40British Cycling Silver Membership £38Elevate Woodworks Bike Shelf £75.41Velobici Ella Vest & Short Set £66Lezyne Hecto Drive LED Light Set from £41Rouleur Centenary Tour De France £38Louis Garneau Revo XR3 Road Shoe from £79.99Tifosi Roubaix Light Night Fototec Glasses best price £53Velocast Package £99Silver Bicycle Necklace £38Chapeau Etape Cycling Jersey BlackRed £70B is For Bike Framed Print by Anthony Oram £50Michaux Lightsaber Leather Reflective Bar Tape £55Bike Bookends £40RH+ Gloves work with Touch Screens £47 Adidas Response Womens Tour Rain Jacket £85

Santa’s Little Helper

Under £100

David James:
New club kit! Abergavenny RC have great new kit for 2014 and I would be very happy to get some for Christmas.

Hannah Walker:
Adidas Response Womens Tour Rain Jacket £85. Brilliant jacket for training in during those cold winter months or rainy days, it’s great to use as a thermal as its a very warm jacket but also keeps you dry. It isn’t that fluorescent ‘hi-viz’ that everyone hates to wear so they’re seen on the road by trucks and cars, instead it’s still a bright colour just a lot nicer and actually looks cool to wear! It’s unisex however there is a mens version with blue stripes down the sleeves!

Loz Bywater:
Rouleur Centenary Tour de France
Evocative as ever from the lovely folks over at Rouleur. Outlandish quality both in terms of its content and binding. Listen to the most recent Rouleur podcast for a review of the project.

Whilst I must admit I’m not a subscriber to VeloCast’s premium content – with this package on offer its hard not to sign up. If it’s half as good as their work for Eurosport then I’m sure it will be a triumph.

Mel MacRae:
This would be on my Santas list… Limited edition print from Aaron Kuehn. I love this picture, it’s something that I come back to time after time and it’s great for showing folks who are learning which bit is which on a bike. On sale for $99.

Leigh Marshall:
Velobici Ella Vest and Shorts Set – £66 for the set. Designed and made in the UK, this set is soft, durable and discrete. Perfect for the leisure rider, commuter & more serious cyclist alike.

Titch Longley:
Would love to get one of these from Santa – Chapeau Etape Cycling Jersey Black/Red RRP: £70.00

Heather Bamforth:
The only thing that every cyclist in the UK should have is gold or silver membership of British Cycling because this gives you up to £10 million in third party liability cover, with gold membership also giving you personal accident insurance. For peace of mind, buy your loved ones membership of British Cycling.

Jon Carver:
Louis Garneau RevoXR3 – I have two pairs of these and I defy anyone to tell me that £200+ worth of Specialized or Sidi are really worth the extra amount of money. Firm on the sole comfortable uppers and the heel retention ratchet system is superb. Currently £79.99 in Evans.

or Tifosi Roubaix Photochromic glasses. Dont fog up, protect your eyes, go from clear to black in a jiffy. every bit as smart as Oakleys every bit as good, but no poncey price tag.
£53 Amazon.

Anna Magrath:
Everyone is carting some bit of tech around these days, why not use a musette in true cycling tradition but with a modern twist. The folks at Stolen Goat have a Harris Tweed design for £48

Hayley Davies
I LOVE this silver necklace from Oliver Bonas. I never take it off!
Silver Bike Necklace £38
These have been a hit for Ana Nichoola, although you’d be lucky to get your hands on a pair they’ve been so popular. The Star Tights are great for the commuter, the easy-going cyclist and the regular club runner.
Winter Star Tights £55
I don’t want to leave the boys out – Every bike deserves to be treated like a piece of art and what better way than hung on the wall. Bike Shelf £75.41

Nick Day:
Why not let the fine folk at Rapha keep you warm and cosy with their distinctive stripy 100% merino wool Cross Scarf, £40.
I have to agree with Loz. The podcast, jersey and eBook bundle from Velocast is a must have for the pro-cycling fan. I’ve been a subscriber since the early days and honestly can’t think of a better team than Scott and John – full of panache and plenty of chapeaux! Their stock & legend is growing fast. An absolute bargain.

Bike Taxidermy £199Men's Castelli Cafe BibTights2014 Cyclo Cross World Championships around £250Woodguards £150.00 per SetBio Racer Climate Long Sleeve Jersey £109Casco Speed Airo Helmet from £199Castelli Womens Jacket £135Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition from £190Castelli BibShorts WomensBike Taxidermy Have your memories mounted on the wall £199Ana Nichoola  Hello Yellow Commuter Cycling Raincoat £110Blanket Row Finkle Street Bag Set £165Rapha Hi-Vis Bundle £215Elite Arion Parabolic Roller £153Le Col Mizuro Mens B5 Winter Jacket £249.99Bont Vaypor+ ShoesAssos Ij Intermediate S7 Windproof Long Sleeve Jersey £179.99Retro RondeCycle Fit

Something Under The Tree

Under £250

Heather Bamforth:
I have always struggled with women’s jackets – I am totally in love with all the jackets that Bioracer make because they actually fit and are Italian made but are also well-priced. They also follow the European fashions (the brand is massive in Belgium, Holland and Germany, to name a few!) A good example is the Climate long sleeve jacket.
For readers in the UK, Onimpex are the sole distributors, so you will need to visit their website: www.onimpex.co.uk Retails in the UK for £109.

A perennial favourite, the Garmin Edge 500 is a popular choice amongst cyclists due to its size (small and therefore lightweight).

Hayley Davies:
I love being able to relive the best parts of my season back, and there’s no better way to capture the moment than with a GoPro. The built in WiFi also allows you to connect your camera to the GoPro app on your smartphone. The app allows you to control the camera, play back your recordings and allow share you content.

Anna Magrath:
So your trusty steed has gone to the bicycle graveyard in the sky… you can still have those memories, hang the memories pride of place above the mantelpiece hunting lodge stylee (but with less actual death involved). Bicycle Taxidermy have the answer…. Love it!
This is one for the boys, you can’t beat the quality of Le Col clothing, any man would be happy to receive a stylish Mizuro B5 Winter Jacket, worth the price tag of £249.99.

For the girls… Ana Nichoola hits the list yet again with her fabulous “Hello Yellow” Commuter Cycling Raincoat. Too good just to use for cycling!

For the city cyclist who likes to travel around town with their iPad in understated style. New Yorkshire brand Blanket Row bring you their Finkle Street Bag and iPad sleeve set. This set is hand tooled from quality leather, it sits comfortably across your body, on your shoulder or slide both arms through the adjustable strap and it sits neatly on your back while riding. There’s plenty of room inside for your other accoutrements, it’s a very adaptable bag and currently comes in Red, White and more traditional dark chocolate brown. popular with bot men and women. I’m seeing them pop up everywhere. £165

Titch longley:
It has to be – Assos ij. intermediate_s7 Windproof Long Sleeve Jersey – around £179.99

Hannah Walker:
Bont Vaypor+ and Bont Vaypor Shoes £225
The coolest and comfiest shoe around! With the option to ‘heat mold’ the shoe to suit your feet these shoes are the bees knees with regards to the quality for money. They are well made, cool, comfortable and will last you a long time (if you a person who takes care of their belongings). Now with the option to have a ratchet fastener (buckle) or a dual dial retention system the shoe is suited to everyone. If you want to look like the next Bradley Wiggins look no further as he won the 2012 Tour de France in a pair of these!

David James:
What about a cheap as chips trip to the World Cyclocross Champs in 2014. The £250 would bring fantastic memories and start lots of conversations off for years to come.

Jon Carver:
This is on my list. Do a bit of track? Do a bit of testing? Do a bit of Road? Just like being a tart and don’t care what the club bore calls you?
You need The Casco Speed Airo helmet. First all round helmet for TT,Track and road. Comes with a visor too. Should knock out at around £240 so still under budget, but currently available at Amazon for £199.99.
Want one!

Nick Dey:
A long weekend of vintage steel, cobbled climbs and fantastic Flandrian festivities – the Retro Ronde van Vlaanderen is calling you! One of the most magical events there is. Beer and racing Friday, several cobbled Crit’s on Saturday and the Ronde on Sunday. Be quick, as registration is open and numbers are limited to one thousand.
Book your pedaling pal a full cycle fit at, er, www.cyclefit.co.uk. Two hours spent one-to-one with a fully qualified technician should see them riding in blissful comfort. It changed my cycling experience completely.

Cristi Ruhlman:
I think a good gift is always some fresh cycling clothing as a great mid priced gift.  A new Castelli jacket or a fantastic lined pair of ladies (or men’s bibs) something you’d love to have but really “don’t need”

Leigh Marshall:
Woodguards – £150 per set. These super stylish mudguards are handmade in Edinburgh from re-claimed timber and brightly coloured formica. A piece of lovingly crafted art

Invisible Bike Helmet €399Frog Bikes For Kids from £100 - £300Van Hool Tailor Made CoachStages Power Cranks £599-£799Brompton Folding Bike £865 - £1,475Isla Children's - age 2 to 16 - Bikes £129 - £500Canyon Ultimate CFSLX9.0 LTDTacx Ergotrainer Flow T2200 Includes Computer and Front Wheel Stand from £292Cipollini RB1K Bike from $3130Lotto Belisol BusCarnival By Brian Echerer Glass Recycled Bike GearsInvisible Bike Helmet €399The Bicycle Academy Frame Building Course from £360Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express 1700 Watt Coffee Machine £549.99Factor BikeKathleen King Zommin Thru - $1,800Airstream Race Air (Triple E) With Di2 best Price £4532.49Trainer Road The Sufferfest Videos from $12.99Go4Cycling Flanders WeekKurt Kinetic Rock and Roll II Turbo Trainer £399

Santa Baby

Dream Gift… The sky’s the limit!

David James:
Similar to last year – I would love to give some bikes to those children who miss out over Christmas. Can you imagine their faces if they received a new Isla Bike or one of the new Frog children’s bikes. To see that would be a memory to last for ever. I borrowed a Brompton from my work this year as they have a couple for staff to use, but if they weren’t available, if I was having something myself I would be very happy with one of those.

Leigh Marshall:
I would buy/own a Scottish women’s UCI registered cycle team. The team would race road, track, mtb & cyclocross.

Jon Carver:
Cippolini RB1K Full Super Record Group other than pedals Which would of course be Speedplay… plus, if you get something like this, give Chris Froome one of your old bikes to help him get African riders racing, or donate to www.re-cycle.org.

Hayley Davies:
Unless you’re millionaire, I can’t imagine there are many cyclists with the Vis Vires Factor Bike on their list… wonder if it comes in my size. Although, for that price, you’d hope it was made to fit!

Loz Bywater:
Canyon’s stock continues to rise as it now supplies two teams at World Tour level and with bikes that look like this you can see why.

Titch Longley:
I’ve just taken my nephew on a Balance Bike Building Course and we have great fun, but I’d love a full on Frame Building Course From The Bicycle Academy £360+ depending on which course.

Nick Dey:
Dreams may come true… Nico and his team at www.go4cycling.com offer a sublime and unrivaled week in Flanders during which you will be waited on hand and foot, ride with legends like Johann Museeuw and Team BMC, participate – with your own support and feed stations – at the Amateur Tour of Flanders, wander the service course and meet the teams as they set up, play Belgium hopscotch as a VIP as you track the pro’s during not just the Ronde but also the Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix (unless Specialized have forced the town to change its name!) it doesn’t end there. Check out their website and then check you bank account. They do offer an amazing weekend too, along with almost every major event you can think of.
My personal ‘best bike’ as test ridden at Eurobike 2013 was the Airstreeem Race Air (Triple E) with Di2. It was fast, very fast, and agile, balanced, smooth and fun. In fact any Airstreeem bike would make me grin.
Here’s my final suggestion: the new Kinetic Rock & Roll indoor trainer – A fantastic bit of kit. I would recommend mashing it up with a few of the excellent, often hilarious, but always leg crushing, training vids from www.thesufferfest.com, a Garmin ANT stick and speed/cadence sensor, and a subscription to www.trainerroad.com. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of this set up soon. A revolution in indoor training is born!

Cristi Ruhlman:
I went to an event that was at the local art gallery. Bike Art at the Dairy Center in Boulder Some great and inspiring bike art as well as some fantastic gift ideas for the high end.
Carnival by Brian Echerer – Glass and recycled bike gears $700 available at his Etsy shop.
Illustration by a friend of mine Kathleen King – Zommin’ Thru $1800

Anna Magrath:
You may have seen we’ve covered the development of the Hovding Invisible Cycling Helmet on Cycling Shorts and it’s finally hit the market, it’s still pricey at this stage but what a great invention! Yours for €399 Euros.
All cyclists love proper coffee, the stronger the better, get cafe quality coffee with the new Sage Coffee Machine by Heston Blumenthal

Hannah Walker:
Simply a Team Sky bus with all the mod cons, gadgets and extra fittings to make a long transfer as comfy as possible! Imagine rocking up to a womens tour series or national series in one of them or even your local club run (you could have your cafe stop in it at the end of the ride with your club/team mates), instead of it being wrapped in Team Sky change it to Epic-Scott colours! It’d certainly turn some heads and be very cool! Maybe Team Sky will be selling it soon as surely they’ll want a new one in the not so distant future??

Heather Bamforth:
First up we have Stages power cranks, for people who want to have a go at power but might not be able to afford the SRM version. From £599 at most bike retailers – there is a Shimano version and SRAM version too – here is the link to the ones that Evans are selling.

At the other end of the spectrum is a Van Hool tailor made coach for your trips to races and events – imagine the envy when you rock up to your local circuit race in one of these bad boys!!!

Incidentally, Lotto Belisol were selling their team bus (admittedly with 817,000 km on the clock), so if you are interested: www.lottobelisol.be

 

Nothing takes your fancy here? Well take a look at last years suggestions by clicking here.