Colouring the Road – Drops Cycling & Prendas Thermal Jersey Review

There’s nothing like taking some new kit out of it’s packaging, the smell of new Lycra setting the cycling taste-buds alive and giving it the initial once-over for new features, technical materials and over-all design.

Like a little girl at Christmas, I was excited and very privileged to open the colourful Drops team issue* long-sleeve thermal jersey designed by their kit sponsor for 2016, Prendas Ciclismo and produced by the well known Santini. My wardrobe is actually pretty bare when it comes to seasonal attire (or embarrassingly shows how much of a fair weather cyclist I am!) so it was particularly welcoming to receive some new winter kit.

Drop Cycling Kit

Deep pockets for the essentials

Just like the new women’s UCI team, the Drops kit makes a bold statement. Their slogan, #colourtheroad is met enthusiastically by the rainbow stripes, featuring predominantly across the back and accents on the sleeves and on the inside of the collar, one of my favourite features. This is no doubt, down to Prendas’ determination to “ensure that the Drops Cycling Team is the best clothed and best dressed women’s team in the UK, if not Europe”.

On initial trial, the thermal jersey seems thin and I was sceptical as to how warm it would keep me. Although the sun was finally shining on north Devon and willing me out on my bike, it was still a cool 4 – 6 degrees without the wind chill in consideration. But my arms, back and chest didn’t complain once on my 20km ride and the jersey was surprisingly snug. It didn’t “over perform” as I picked up my heart rate on the sharp Devonshire climbs and kept the wind chill on my chest to a minimum as I whizzed down the other side at 65kmph. This is all thanks to the fleece-backed AcquaZero treated fabric which is also welcomingly water repellent, perfect  should you be caught out in the schizophrenic English weather!

Like most, the jersey features the standard 3 pockets across the back. These come a lot higher than most jersey’s I’ve tried before. Given my short body and arms, I did think I’d struggle, however once used to the concept, reaching in to grab my phone, a gel or stuff some gloves or my gillet in was done at ease. The zipped mini pocket was also great to store my British Cycling ID and some emergency money, often used for a cheeky hot chocolate on route.

 

2016-02-23-10.41.09The sleeves, although slightly long on little me, feature elasticated Jacquard bands as does the waist. These were great at reducing movement and keeping the cool air where it belongs; although I personally could do with losing my winter weight for this to fit perfectly, as noted that the kit does come up small, so consider one size up for a comfy fit if you’re looking to buy.

Overall, not only does this kit look great and the design put a smile on faces of those I passed, it performs fantastically in the cold weather too. I can’t wait now, for the warmer, longer days when I can unzip the packing and get exploring in the new summer kit!

Do you want to #colourtheroad and support Drops too? Get your summer kit orders in on Prendas webshop before it races off the shelves.

*Unfortunately the Drops thermal jersey isn’t available to purchase in team colours. However it is available in generic colours and will still work great with the team issue bibs.
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I wore a size Small. I am 5’2 with a 34cm chest.

Pros:
– Performs well in low temperatures yet still breathable
– Looks great
– Roomy pockets and one to keep valuables safe

Cons:
– Waistband is a little restricting – if I went a size bigger the rest of the fit would be too big
– Arms are long… but then I’m short!

 

Get On Your Bike – Book Review

GetOnYourBikeAs the popularity of cycling has risen, so to have the number of cycling books to hit our selves. From the art and beauty of the bike, essential maintenance, the must-ride climbs and biographies from the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Get On Your Bike is a handy, almost pocket sized guide to cycling as an exercise. Written by three well known people in the industry, Rebecca Charlton (as seen on our TV screens), Robert Hicks (Cycling Weekly, Cycling Fitness and Cycling Active writer) and Hannah Reynolds (Editor at Cycling Weekly), GOYB sets out to help define why cycling is great exercise and how to find the happy medium with your bike, regardless of what type it may be.

Who’s the book for? 

Unlike most ‘cycling as fitness’ books, Get On Your Bike clearly states from the outset it isn’t a traditional fitness manual – there are no standard dietary plans or fitness regimes. Instead, it sets out to identify ways of losing weight and keeping fit through our love of riding the bike in every day situations, perfect for those just starting out, or as the intersecting case studies demonstrate, those that have found their way back to the bike after illness, injury or life getting in the way.

What will you learn?

The first third of the book sets out to identify how to buy the right bike and gear for you, from how to set up your position on the bike, the type of shoes and cleats to suit you, as well as exploring the best ways to find local cycle routes.

The middle section covers the safety essentials of cycling, key maintenance and tips on riding to work.

Whilst the latter part of the book moves onto fitness focus, starting with weight loss and nutrition, mental stability, health and finally how to manage injury.

Conclusion?

I think it’s easy to forget that we were all new to cycling at one point. I remember clearly how lost I was when I first got my road bike, searching YouTube videos on how to set up the cleats on my shoes, or even how to simply work the gears on my new toy! I was a little clueless, as I’m sure many who are picking up a new hobby are.

Built on short sections, it’s an easy to read guide. And new to cycling or not, it’s a great reminder that we’re not alone and why we all love to cycle. Would make a great Christmas Stocking filler for any budding cyclist in the family.

Rating: 75% out of 100

 

JerseyGetOnYourBikeRating

 

 

Review – Shutt Velo Rapide Isobel Jersey

ShuttVRPromo

Shutt Velo Rapide are fast become a household name in the peloton, known for their bold designs from British based designers.  The lastest to their growing portfolio of women’s clothing, the Isobel jersey is exactly what you’d expect – colourful and eye catching.

On first appearance, the jersey is very well made with a heavier lycra suitable for chillier autumnal rides. Featuring a full-length reflective zip, mesh side panels, reinforced pocket design, a zipped fourth pocket for valuables and a reflective hem trim, the Isobel packs a lot of features.

Purple spotty design of the Isobel jersey makes for a bold statement

Purple spotty design of the Isobel jersey makes for a bold statement

The bold design was well received by many a jealous rider as we set out for 100km hilly ride. If you like to hide in the middle of the peloton, then this jersey is definitely not for you. A warm purple colour with a spotty panel across the front and back, and a nifty spotty fold-down collar, the Isobel certainly helps you stand out from the standard blandness of blacks and reds of a social ride. By the end of the ride, it was the boys who were most envious of the bright and bold colours which are often not available to the the men.

As a petite (5ft2), but fairly curvy (size 8, 34/36cm bust) cyclist, I’m never surprised when a jersey doesn’t fit perfectly and unfortunately on this occasion the Isobel fell into the disappointing pool, hugging in the wrong places and baggy in the others. The length of the jersey was a little too long for me, and although the elasticated waist band is great at keeping the jersey in place whilst riding, it unfortunately gave too much fabric on the stomach creating a bulge (and if you’ve a bit of a bust like me, a white spotty panel may not be the best feature). Plus, the high foldable collar annoyed me slightly on a long hot ride, although it was pretty sharp on the eye when enjoying my cream tea.

Unlike many male cyclists with a broad back and pockets to match; packing for a ride needs military procession. The pockets on the Isobel are plentiful, with 3 open pockets across the back and an additional zipped pocket to keep the valuables in, providing many storage options. Unfortunately, the elastication on the pockets doesn’t provide a flat

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collar

IMG_4583

centre back zip pocket

finish which resulted in a baggy fit, especially on the middle pocket, which resulted in me leaving my pump at home and hoping one of the other riders would come to my rescue if I needed.

The weight of the lycra mentioned previously does mean you lose some heat control functionality on a hotter day, which also likes to hold on to the sweat produced on a tough ride (it also took more than one wash on my usual 30 degree kit wash to rid it of the smell too). That being said, this jersey is perfect for the ‘sunday social’ cyclist who wants to be seen at the local cycling coffee stop or out to a pub lunch; this jersey is full of style and all eyes will be on you alone.

 

As a social Sunday ride and coffee jersey Isobel scores 74%

jerseyShuttVRIsobelReviewRatingAs a race jersey Isobel scores 65%

 

Pros: 

– Fabulous bold design

– Heavy weight quality lycra for chilly days

– Zipped pocket to keep hold of valuables

– Draws attention to the bust

 

Cons:

– Slightly long in the body for shorter riders

– Lacks breathability and took more than one wash clean

– Baggy pockets

– Lumpy zipper issue

– Draws attention to the bust

 

The Shutt VR Isonel Jersey retails at £79.00 and available from the Shutt VR website.

Hayley road tested a Shutt VR women’s size XS

2015 Epic Cycles Women’s Race Team

In a big step for Women’s Cycling, Epic Cycles-Scott Women’s Race Team announced yesterday their plans to help move the sport and their team forward. Here’s what’s in store for 2015:

Over the past three seasons Epic Cycles and Scott Sports have been the two main sponsors for the successful Epic Cycles-Scott Women’s Race Team. Going into 2015 we will see one or two changes in sponsorship, but with the same team management and owners. A new team name will also be announced soon.

One feature of the team over the past three years has been its evolving terms of reference – in years one and two the emphasis was very much on the development of junior riders, while in year three the focus has been on bringing together a balanced and talented group of senior riders with the aim of riding together as a cohesive team, rather than as a collection of individuals.

This evolution will continue in year four, with renewed focus on rider development and a primary aim to act as a path into the professional ranks and/or competing in UCI races for those with ambitions to do so.

To support this aim we are working closely with the newly announced Matrix-Vulpine UCI Team. Our joint expectation is that a number of our riders will have the opportunity through this relationship to ride with the Matrix team as stagiaires in UCI races during the 2015 season, offering them the chance both to race in the pro peloton and to demonstrate what they could offer to a UCI pro team.

We also aim to build on our successes in the area of team work, and will be targeting key events in the UK domestic road racing scene, with a view to building on our list of 2014 victories and podium places.

The team will, as in 2014, be managed in a professional manner and we hope to further contribute to raising the standard of women’s race team management in the UK.

Key Aims

  • To provide team environment and structure in which riders can develop and progress, either to riding at a higher level within the UK scene or to a career as a professional cyclist.
  • To build on the number of podium places achieved in key UK races during 2014.
  • To provide opportunities to take part in UCI races and gain exposure within the pro peloton.
  • To raise the profile of our riders, team, and sponsors.

The Team

While we anticipate that some of this year’s line-up will be moving on to new teams, we are hoping to retain a number of our existing riders for 2015.

In signing new riders we are aiming, as in 2014, to assemble a strong and ambitious team who have complementary strengths and skills, so that we are able to enter races with different leaders and tactics according to the nature and timing of each race.

As in previous years, the team will not been built around a single star rider or to specialise in a particular type of race. Instead, we will aim to perform consistently well in all types of road racing, throughout the entire season.

Our planned team size of around 10 riders should provide sufficient cover for key events, while maximising the opportunity for individual riders to participate in a full programme of races without too many occasions where we have more riders than places available.

Our preference is for the team to be made up of a mix of over and under 23 seniors, but we do not have a rigid age or experience profile in mind. It is anticipated that most/all will be in some form of employment or education – full time availability to race is not a requirement.

A track record of participation and progression in road racing is essential. Previous race success (in terms of podium spots) is secondary to a positive attitude and a commitment to team work.

Epic Cycles-Scott Women’s Race Team

Vulpine Expands to House of Fraser Concession

Cycling apparel brand, Vulpine, are excited to announce from the weekend of 28th June they join the online roster at House of Fraser.

This is a considerable move for the brand, established two years ago with the ethos of producing fashionable yet performance ready cycling apparel. The collection features light-weight merino wool, breathable and technical Dri-Release material, the fabric is tough yet soft and wicks away moisture fast.

With the ever-increasing popularity of cycling, the desire for stylish, fit for purpose apparel for all kinds of cycling and use off the bike becomes more apparent.

Nick Hussey, Founder and CEO of Vulpine had this to say:
“This is a huge move for us. In the two years since we began we’ve always made cycling apparel that works on and off the bike. Stylish enough to be stocked by House of Fraser – home to some of the best-known brands in international fashion – after such a short period is just mind-boggling.

In addition to this we are their exclusive cycling brand as the British public readies itself for the Tour de France in the UK. The reach House of Fraser can offer us is enormous, particularly as they expand into international markets. Perhaps we are the first modern cycling brand to be accepted into the twin temples of both apparel and fashion on this scale.”

Girona Gran Fondo – A Grand Affair

Stepping out into the heart of the Catalan town in the northern region of Spain after a 2 hour direct flight from a London airport, it’s not hard to see why Girona is considered home and chosen training ground to a number of professional cyclists. Hidden in the maze of medieval buildings of buzzing restaurants and bars lies Bike Breaks Girona, a bike rental, cycling holidays and guided cycling center which quickly became my home for the week of the Girona Gran Fondo festival.

Girona Ride Neil Martin

Being lead-out into the moutains by Neil ©HayleyDavies

With three packages to choose from, there was plenty to get involved in throughout the week.  Daily rides from the shop lead by Neil Martin, ex-professional and Olympian, otherwise known as “Dan Martin’s Dad”,  welcome dinner, a nocturne, timed hill-climb, massage, pasta party and the concluding 125km Gran Fondo, the Gold group was clearly the place to be.

I can’t say Girona would have been my first cycling holiday of choice, however I was quickly shown why it should be. Within 5 -10 minutes of cycling out from the shop, we were onto quiet, pot-hole-free rolling roads into the countryside. Ask for a ‘flat ride’ and you’ll get an evil chuckle back. Nestled halfway between the Pyrenees and the beaches of the Costa Brava, flat doesn’t exist here. Not much of a climber, it took me a day or so to find my legs, but it wasn’t long before I too was enjoying the 10km climbs. I can’t thank the ride guides enough for the support throughout with local road knowledge (warnings of climbs or how long before a coffee stop), motor pacing me back on when I was dropped on climbs, and helping me make the most of the descents at speed.

On our second shop ride, we were treated to some special guests, local professional riders Marc de Maar (UHC), Sharon Laws (UHC), Lucy Martin (Estado de Mexico), Carlee Taylor (Orica-AIS) and  Loren Rowney (Specialized Lululemon) who were happy to share their training route to the coast. This wasn’t the last time we would see them either, volunteering their time to marshal the nocturne and the Gran Fondo.

 

‘You will see the angel!’

Els Angels Hill Climb

‘You will see the Angel!’ ©HayleyDavies

Unlike many cycling holidays or training camps, the festival also allowed some competitive battles. The timed hill climb on Thursday morning was a tough 11km climb up to Els Angels. The hottest day of the week so far, the ascent of 404m was tough… for those competing (yes, I chickened out!). But with a Tag Heuer watch on offer, there was a lot to compete for. Setting off in 2 minute  intervals, the men’s winner Raul Castello Garcia (Bike Esplugues) beat local favourite and bike lead Neil Martin by 32 sceonds, finishing in an astounding 22 minutes and 16 seconds. Adel Tyson-Bloor, English national rider for Mulebar-Girl Sigma Sport was pipped to gold by Katrina Grove in 26 minutes and 2 seconds. Was it worth the climb? For the pasta party at the top over-looking the Pyrenees and the coast, it certainly was.

 

The rescheduled on Thursday night nocturne (postponed on Tuesday night due to a storm – thankfully reducing the humidity), was quite possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ridden. Not your usual nocturne format, only 300m of the 2.5km course was timed. However, this 300m section also happened to have an average gradient of 7.4% (with a steeper section of 12%). And as if that wasn’t challenging enough, it was cobbled! With recovery between timed sections riders were able to take the 10 laps at their own pace, although it wasn’t long before I was lapped. This was truly a unique experience, not only for the cyclists who took part, but the locals too, who had all taken to the streets, including Garmin-Sharp’s David Millar to cheer us on, and Lucy Martin, Sharon Laws and Loren Rowney handing out water and energy products as well as words of encouragement at the top of each timed section. I don’t think I would have completed the 10 climbs if it hadn’t have been for the cheers!

Girona Gran Fondo

Enjoying the views from another false-flat ©HayleyDavies

The week came to a close on Saturday, following Friday night pre-race drinks, with the Gran Fondo. Along with 200 other cyclists all wearing the commemorative jerseys, we really were treated to a tour of the region. We were sent out into the Garrotxa region, famous for its prehistoric volcanic activity – this says it all – climbing a total of 2000m over 125km, majority of which happened in the first 60km, making it a tough start to the day. Once we’d broken the ascending barrier however, we were treated to corn and sunflower fields, panoramic views, woodlands and some fantastic winding descents, accompanied and guided by our very own police escort. Although it was a challenging route, the beauty and serenity of the area made it worth the exertion. Rolling across the finish line with two others after 5h20 in the saddle (just under 2 hours behind the fastest man, Neil Martin), we were treated to well-deserved medals, a BBQ and beers.

This had been a truly unique week. It’s not often you’re ride-guided by professionals, treated to some fun competitive events with lucrative prizes and get to meet and mingle with so many other cyclists in what is truly a beautiful area perfect for cycling. And although I write this with 500km and 7200m of climbing in my legs, I can’t wait to get back there next year.

To find out more and to keep an eye on dates for next year, check out http://www.gironagranfondo.com/ or follow @bikebreaks.

 

Our rides:

With thanks to:

BikeBox Online Windsor for rental of a BikeBox Alan

The Windsor Bike Company for loan of a Garmin bike computer

Osmo Nutrition for fueling me through the week

 

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