Knog Muddy Hell earns it’s name. Nick Craig dominates in tough conditions.
Finally, after three years with dry conditions Knog Muddy Hell truely was a mud-fest. Plenty of rain leading up to the event, plus downpours on the night and the action of over 700 wheels, churning up the course created difficult conditions for competitors but great entertainment for spectators.
Course designer Phil Glowinski, created a smooth, flowing course, whilst maintaining the popular features of wall-ride, bridge, whoops, muddy corner and hurdles but it was the conditions which had the greatest effect on the results. A confident Nick Craig knew that his years of experience at top level off-road riding would stand him in good stead. Fresh from his recent win at the (slighly warmer) Mountain Bike Tour of Langkawi Nick indeed provided a master class in technique, though he was distanced in the sprint from the start, his superior bike handling soon saw him opening up a big gap with National Junior champion Hugo Robinson chasing. Hugo however suffered a mechanical as did many others, Ed McParland made a valiant effort to catch the veteran, but it was never going to happen and Nick took the £400 from Knog with a huge gap.
Three previous winners of the Women’s event took to the line, and Louise Mahe took her second Knog Muddy Hell title with Claire Beaumont second, National track champion Corinne Hall did not repeat her podium finish instead Leona Kadir took third spot.
Supported by Vulpine cycle clothing the vets category saw a very competitive field, multiple Knog Muddy Hell winner Mick Bell could not repeat his usual top spot due to mud-induced mechanical issues and relinquished the top step of the podium to Kevin Knox of Vicious Velo.
Racing at the same time as the women and vets, 2012 saw the largest junior field in the history of the event with Chris McGovern the clear winner finishing up amongst the first few vets.
The ever popular Novice race had over 100 entries, the best fancy dress, two tandems (one pantomime horse) and the worst weather, this is when the rain hit and there were more than a few retirements. James Flury was best male and Lise Sorenson best female, both taking prizes from Cycelab.
The youth categories saw record levels of entries, organisers Rollapaluza claim that over 70 entry enquiries were received for the U12 event alone, because of the high level of interest they will look to accomodate more youngsters in 2013. In all over 350 racers took part with, despite the rain, hundreds of cheering spectators enjoying the racing, atmosphere, food, mulled cider, “Off-Road” Rollapaluza competition and bike polo skills try out.
I had the pleasure of meeting Martyn Ashton at the Revolution 37 (report online shortly) in Manchester where he made a special guest appearance and I realised I hadn’t shared his brilliant film with you.
In the style of the much followed Danny MacKaskill productions, but Martyn adds a twist; he takes the £10k carbon road bike used by Team Sky‘s Bradley Wiggins & Mark Cavendish for a ride with a difference. With a plan to push the limits of road biking as far as his lycra legs would dare, Martyn looked to get his ultimate ride out of the awesome Pinarello Dogma 2. This bike won the 2012 Tour de France – surely it deserves a Road Bike Party!
Shot in various locations around the UK and featuring music from ‘Sound of Guns‘. Road Bike Party captures some of the toughest stunts ever pulled on a carbon road bike.
A Film by Robin Kitchin
Produced by Ashton Bikes
Music: Sound of Guns ‘Sometimes’
As the name suggests, this is described by the Italian manufacturer as a unisex helmet suitable for both road bike and mountain bike use, and has some features that would appeal to commuters too, but is it a case of ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’ ?
I have owned this helmet for 6 months, and wear it on my daily commute and on my longer weekend rides.
Light weight, it is the lightest helmet I have owned so far, weighing only 262 grams for the universal size (52-59cm). (MET state that the helmet weighs 270g)
Good ventilation, when riding on frosty/cold mornings I have to wear a warm cap underneath, I have never had to do this with any of my previous helmets.
Longevity, the box states that it comes with a three year warranty, and unusually its lifespan is between 8-10 years!
The advice given by most manufacturers is to replace a helmet after 2-3 years of use, depending on its exposure to UV and the damage that comes from handling. But MET have an initiative called Low Impact On Nature (L.I.O.N) that not only prolongs the life of the product but also reduces its ‘carbon footprint’ and waste during production. Surprisingly the helmet does not retail at a higher price compared with other shorter-life lids of a similar spec, so you save money too! (Also, last years models, as this is, are currently discounted in many outlets, for sale for only £29.99 instead of MRP £39.99, making it an even better deal).
MET offer a helmet crash replacement policy, which means that if your helmet is seriously damaged (due to a crash or serious fall) within three years of the purchase date they can offer an equivalent helmet at a discounted rate, providing you can supply proof of purchase, and the broken helmet.
Minimal exposed polystyrene, the outer shell which is moulded and bonded to the inner during manufacture (as most do nowadays, except for the very cheapest ones) covers the back of the helmet too. This feature adds to the look and feel of quality and must help to protect the inner from knocks and UV light.
From the picture above you will also see the integrated rear LED light, this contains four red LEDs and is operated by pressing the whole assembly, it has a flashing and constant mode.
This is also the ratchet tensioner which adjusts the frame that sits around the head:
From this internal view you can see the washable pads and see the insect net that is moulded into the helmets front vents, you will also notice that the whole helmet is an oval shape, so may not be completely comfortable with someone with a more rounded head shape, for me though it fits perfectly.
The straps and quick release clip are easily adjustable; in fact I had my fit set up within seconds, as I hardly had to adjust anything straight from the box. The straps don’t rely on a thin rubber band to hold the excess in place, which can easily snap and leave a long piece of strap flapping in the breeze, the strap is a loop and is retained by a sturdy moulded piece of rectangular rubber, a much better design, also the strap itself is not so long as to have any free to stick out, it is also finished by a plastic end that is easy to pull even when your fingers are cold or when wearing gloves.
In the past I have often had trouble in getting the straps behind the ears to sit close to my head, but with this helmet these are tensioned properly, matching the front ones, so making it a secure fit.
Styling: This is of course a personal opinion, but the overall style is more generic than other helmet brands on the market, nothing about it stands out as being uniquely MET, unlike some others who seem to add peculiar shapes and designs in order to stand out, I like the look of the pointed rear protrusions as they look very strong and therefore more protective than bare polystyrene. I chose this colour combination because the turquoise is very reminiscent of the famous ‘Celeste’ used by Bianchi, as I have one of their bikes, thinking that the Italian made helmet might be purposely designed to match the Italian marquee. (All MET helmets are designed, developed and manufactured in Italy, at Talamona, in the heart of the Italian Alps).
My only (minor) criticism is that the switch on the light often needs pressing several times to either switch it on or off, especially when the temperature is low, I have noticed that in this years model it looks as if the light has been moulded in a red plastic rather than my clear one, so this issue may have been resolved already.
I’m a very happy man today – when I got the bike out of the back of the car this morning in preparation for the cycle leg of my commute, I spotted my trusty footpump nestled cosily amongst the pasty wrappers and empty milk cartons. Whilst I wasn’t exactly early, I wasn’t late, either, so I thought… You know… What the heck – let’s check the pressure in the soft rear tyre. Crazy, I know.
It’s been awhile since I cycled regularly, and I never cycled that regularly even back then – if I had to guess how many miles I’d ridden in, say, the last five or seven years, I think it would barely average a couple or three hundred miles a year on my old slick-shod Orange mountain bike, if that. In the last couple of years, commuting from Birmingham to Banbury, the average had fallen further still – to all intents and purposes, I was an ex-wannbe-keen cyclist. That, let me tell you, doesn’t count for a lot.
We went crazy last year – my lovely Lucy and I took the plunge and opted for the cycle to work scheme, ordering bikes and even booking our summer holiday in the bike-friendly Ile de Re. Her Giant turned up, as it were, whilst I had to press-gang the sixteen-year-old mountain bike back into two more weeks of servitude. Come October, and a mere four months after I committed to the scheme, our company took the plunge and released the funds, and my new Kona hybrid was released from captivity.
It was a revelation. No serious off-road tool, it was happy enough dabbling with minor dirt track adventures, canal tow paths and little more serious than that, but the road ability was something else. I’d always fancied my rigid Orange, with slicks at bursting point, as a compromised but reasonable road tool – the 29” hoops on the Kona changed all that. It flew – the road miles that Orange nibbled at with unskilled enthusiasm, Kona bit great chunks out like a hungry orca. Makes me wonder what a real road bike would be like…
So in the spirit of fair play – after all, the Cycle To Work scheme is intended to be used for purchasing bicycles to cycle to work – come November I took the plunge and decided to take a crack at using the to ride to work, at least part of the 40 miles. It was, however, not a success -putting a hand in my pocket for a big wedge of cash for a train ticket from my nearest railway station to Banbury was a painful way to start, and the amount of time it added onto the working day was just intolerable. Sorry – for me, at this time and with this commute, the train isn’t going to take the strain, it’s just going to add to the stress. For me, it seemed, the cycle commute was over.
But I had a brain wave about six weeks ago, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before – on investigation, the recent purchase of a new and slightly larger car means that I can just about bend the Kona’s gangly tubes into the back with the front wheel out without too much hassle, and a new concept was born; drive part of the way, cycle part of the way, it couldn’t be much simpler.
So this brings us back to where we started – day one, having barely spun a wheel since the end of the train experiment in November was agony, the miles that slipped effortlessly under the Kendas in November were a chore, it felt like I had to fight for every inch. The site of my trusty footpump peeping out at me from the boot litter on day two sparked a revival that blew a breath of fresh air into my whole cycling world – having your boots blown up to bursting point might make the ride a little lively, let’s say, but the pain in the backside that you get from rock-hard tyres is considerably less of a pain in the backside than the extra effort required to rotate flabby rubber.
Some of the Cycling Shorts. boys and girls have got their hands on the pre release howies Men’s Brenin Cycling Jacket to put it through it’s paces.
If you’re not familiar with howies they’re an independent active clothing company based in the beautiful Cardigan Bay in Wales, UK. The company has a passion for cycling and the outdoors. They produce high quality and environmentally friendly thoughtfully designed products. howies have recently taken to sponsoring track cycling, now they are turning their attention to the road. This is the first time howies have ventured into road cycling specific clothing. Having such a good reputation we would be expecting nothing less than great… is it a tall order?!
Brenin Windstopper Jacket
The lightweight shell pack-away jacket is made from 100 percent recycled polyester. It features stretch and wicking fabric in the arms and side panels for unrestricted movement when cycling. It is being sold predominantly as a Men’s jacket but we’ve found it really works for the girls too with it’s stretch fit.
Design details include a zipped chest pocket with earphone cable slot on the inside and an internal clip to attach your keys. Reflective bars on the cuffs and hips, a reflective logo on the chest pocket, adjustable hem and soft fleece lined collar. The jacket rolls up and zips into it’s chest pocket for storage with the key clip becoming a clip to secure the jacket pouch to you while riding.
The windstopper qualities of this jacket are excellent and we love the breathable panels on the arms they allow you to stay warm without overheating. The wicking properties of the fabrics are very good. It doesn’t feel like a crisp packet as these jackets often can, the fabric actually feels very soft. Although the jacket isn’t described as being water or showerproof we were pleasantly surprised that when we got caught out in the rain the core of our bodies were totally dry and the only damp areas where our outer arms but they dried out quickly while cycling. The jacket is very easy to care for and well constructed. You can just leave mud to dry on and let it crumble off, rinse it under the tap or just pop it in the washing machine at 30 degrees. It can’t be tumble dried but it dries very quickly on it’s own and if required you can give it a warm iron….
[flagallery gid=14 name=Brenin Jacket]
Click SL (slideshow) or FS (fullscreen)
What the boys say…
Good length at the back to cover your rear and protect it from mud when on the bike. It looks good off the bike too, it’s not too obvious that you’re wearing a road cycling jacket. We love the chest pocket for you phone, MP3 or other device it has a slot on the inside to feed your headphones through from the pocket up to your ears, protecting the cable as much as possible from the elements. You can also clip your keys into the pocket. Initially we had mixed feelings on only having one pocket but the general consensus was one was fine; you have other layers that contain more than enough packets and the position of the zipped pocket is perfect. The soft fleece lining on the collar is welcome on a cold damp day and it isn’t the sort of fleece that will stick to your stubble and make you look like you’ve been intimate with a wookie. The soft shell construction means it’s ideal for days when you don’t want to carry other bulkier layers around with you. It fits neatly into your jersey back pocket like a cycling cape or gilet would.
What the girls say…
Us girls don’t get very excited when presented by men’s/unisex clothing… we have visions of looking like we’re wearing our dad’s cast offs but we were more than happy when the Brenin Jacket landed on the doorstep. We all have our own styles and we come in assorted shapes and sizes so it was going to be a challenge for the Brenin to please everyone. The biggest test was going to be the fit. First impressions out of the bag were good. Well made and nice design touches.
Sizing… well obviously the sizing is in howies men’s S,M,L and XL, this seems to translate as small being a women’s generous 10-12 and medium a 14-16 (and so on). The sizing is flexible thanks to the stretch fabric panels and it will of course depend on how many layers you intend to wear under the jacket as to which size you require.
It fits your curves thanks to it’s uniques side stretch panels that hug your body. If you’re short in the body most female (never mind unisex or mens) shell jackets are a problem as the waist often sits on your hips which means it’s too narrow to zip up comfortably and the hip part of the jacket is somewhere further down and in Anna’s case generally somewhere near her knees. With the Brenin the extra stretch accommodates curves so you don’t end up looking like you’re sporting a high tech bin liner. If the Brenin is too long you can use the adjustable hem to lift it up. Sleeve length is obviously a problem for shorter ladies on unisex clothing as they can be hanging off the ends of your hands but the elasticated cuffs and slim cut sleeve of the Brenin mean you don’t have a balloon of fabric on each arm. The cut really is great for most heights and shapes. We would like to see an XS in the range at some point… Oh and can we have more colours please?!
To sum up… In the very apt words of that influential cyclist Shakira (well I’m sure she must at least own a bike), if your breasts are “small and humble” or even like some (I’m paraphrasing here) “mountainous region” this jacket will work for you… and dare I push it too far… I feel I can’t help myself… our “hips don’t lie”… ok that was too much…. but I know you were all thinking it! Thankfully that has drained my vast knowledge of Columbian songstresses lyrics… The Brenin gets top marks from the girls!… Buy one for the other half, I’m sure he won’t notice if you borrow it!
It’s the first time we can really say… one style fits all!
Jacket weight: 200g Size when packed away: 14x12x7cms Available in UK Men’s Sizes: S, M, L, XL Price: £100 Available from: howies stores and howies online now!
excellent adaptable fit for both men and women
Packs away neatly inside it’s own zipped pocket
reflective hi-vis areas
easy grip zip pull
internal earphone cable slot
environmentally friendly (made from recycled materials)
extremely well constructed
No colour options (yet)
Doesn’t come in female specific sizes (a problem for ladies under a UK size 10).
Same problem at the other end of the scale for the more substantial gentleman.
Pricer than some other brands but you have to take into account the eco, ethical and quality standards for the product that other brands don’t necessarily meet.
The Brenin is a favourite of ours it’s earned itself one of our “Star Buy” ratings!
South London’s iconic track cycling venue experienced a first last Friday: trike cyclists, handcyclists, side-by-side tandem cyclists, enjoying the thrill of cycling at the Velodrome!
This was made possible by British Cycling’s re-surfacing of the banked track, last August, which included the addition of a 3.6m wide, flat strip, enabling others than 2 wheeler race-cyclists to ride at Herne Hill.
Most cyclists attending were discovering the Velodrome for the very first time. The event was organised by charity Wheels for Wellbeing, the charity works to remove all barriers to cycling for anyone who thinks they can’t (or can no longer) cycle. Isabelle Clement (Manager of Wheels for Wellbeing) said, “this was a trial session, to gauge the response of our regular participants. I’ve been confident our riders would love cycling on the track but the approaches to it are not perfect for access yet. We had a lot of volunteers on hand to help mitigate this aspect. For the long term, we will work with the Velodrome to ensure that disabled access is built into their future plans”.
Overall, people were very positive on the day though the distance from the nearest bus stop was an issue for some. Iman Saab (pictured), a former wheelchair racer commented, “I love cycling here! This is a proper workout; I really feel my muscles are doing some real work! This place is a wonderful site. I didn’t know it was here”. John Turnbull, a long standing member of Anerley CC recently needed to re-learn to cycle with Wheels for Wellbeing’s support, following an attack of shingles (which had left his legs paralysed initially). He was thrilled to be back at Herne Hill: “As a young cyclist I watched racing at Herne Hill in the 1950’s. It was quite exciting riding on the newly surfaced track. Nice smooth surface, enthusiastic helpers, from my point of view it’s perfect. I couldn’t wish for anything better”.
Wheels for Wellbeing has been working with the Velodrome over the last 18 months to ensure that, as investment starts flowing to renovate the site, disabled, younger and older cyclists are factored into all the infrastructure changes. Charmian Hornsby, a Herne Hill Velodrome Trust Board member who volunteered to help on Friday said, “It is wonderful to see how much difference the new flat track extension makes; the Trust is very keen to see new people cycle at the track. Wheels for Wellbeing’s participants are very welcome here”.
Wheels for Wellbeing’s Friday sessions generally run at the All Weather Pitch, above the Lido, in Brockwell Park. These will restart this week but the WfW team will continue to work with the Herne Hill Velodrome to turn this one off Velodrome session into a regular feature.
Wheels for Wellbeing is a charity which works to remove all barriers to cycling for anyone who thinks they can’t (or can no longer) cycle. We want people to be able to cycle safely on the road and enjoy social inclusion, health and environmental benefits on a daily basis. For people for whom cycling in a park is more appropriate, or who need to borrow 3 or 4 wheeler cycles, our emphasis is on running regular sessions so they too can enjoy cycling with their family and friends and benefit from regular exercise & fresh air. We also provide advice to individuals, groups and policy makers, and campaign for improvements which can reduce the barriers to disabled people cycling.
Wheels for Wellbeing was established in 2007. We run weekly sessions at Croydon Sports Arena and in Brockwell Park in Lambeth. We are actively seeking to establish sessions in other London boroughs and we work closely with similar projects elsewhere in the UK.
Wheels for Wellbeing currently receives funding from the Big Lottery Fund. It also needs to raise funds from private and corporate donations for much of its work.
About the Herne Hill Velodrome
Herne Hill Velodrome is the last remaining finals venue from the 1948 Olympic Games that is still in active use. It was given a new lease of life in 2011 after British Cycling invested in a programme of track refurbishment which included a complete resurfacing.
The Herne Hill Velodrome Trust is a charitable organisation (Charity Commission number 1140128) established in 2011 to lead the refurbishment and renewal of the Herne Hill Velodrome site for current and future generations of cyclists.
For more information on the velodrome visit www.hernehillvelodrome.com.
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