Okay, I will admit it, I have been eyeing one of these up for quite a while. In fact, ever since I bought the full sleeve (rain cape) version in 2012.
The gilet comes with a small bag that means that it can be folded away into a compact size and put back in your pocket – a great idea for those of you wanting something that you can take on and off without worrying that you haven’t got space in your back pocket to keep it.
Being 5′ 7″ and a size 10, I struggle with a lot of women specific cycling clothing as it tends to be too short and I often end up “borrowing” my husband’s cycling clothes as they tend to fit much better. Not so with this gilet. It is fairly long in the body and has a scooped elasticated bottom on the back of the jacket to ensure a snug fit.
Sometimes, jackets can be quite tight around the neck, which means that you never end up doing the zip right to the top. Again, there is enough room within the design to ensure that this is not a problem.
It is windproof and breathable, and is great for keeping the chill off at the start of a ride. It is small enough to be packed away until you need to put something on to keep you warm on that descent back down into town.
There is one improvement that I’d look to make – there is no back pocket so it can be a bit difficult trying to get food out of your jacket pocket. Not a major issue, I admit, but with gloves on it can be difficult. Also, the RRP is £55 which could be seen to be quite expensive for a gilet and therefore not a “needs must” purchase but a “wish list” purchase instead. However, the best price we’ve found is at ProBikeKit who are selling them for less than £40, at the moment, which makes them a bit more affordable:
- Fit – 89 out of 100 the gilet fits well, and the elasticated bottom means that it stays in place
- Quality – 95 out of 100 – I would expect a market leading brand to be high quality, and I wasn’t disappointed
- Price – 70 out of 100 – £55 for a gilet may prove too expensive for some
- Value for money – 80 out of 100 – ultimately, high quality doesn’t come cheap but I liked the fit, quality and think it looks great.
- Overall that’s an impressive 84 out of 100!
Would I recommend this gilet to my cycling friends? Definitely!
Every time I think of this product I just want to burst into song! I am pretty sure that Michael Jackson, if he had still been alive, would not have appreciated my rendition! But seriously Beet It is perhaps the most impressive sports nutrition product I have tested EVER.
For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am going on about let me rewind and shed the moonwalker, white glove, crotch grabbing image of the 1980’s pop icon.
Beet IT Sport is a beetroot juice sports shot produced by James White Drinks Ltd in Suffolk. They have been making fruit juices at White’s Fruit farm for over 22 years, meaning they have masses of experience when it comes to knowing exactly what to do to make a high quality juice.
Since 1991 White’s has been based on a small farm in Ashbocking, just north of Ipswich. Originally a cider factory, Lawrence Mallinson bought the assets to James White and began to explore a love of freshly pressed apple juices. Originally one of the founders of New Convent Garden Soup, Lawrence has a knack for dreaming-up and creating new and exciting flavours. As a result, they now not only offer the best quality range of classic English apple juices, but also an extensive portfolio of very different brands. This includes a Soil Association-certified range of organic fruit and vegetable juices; their world-famous spiced tomato juice (Big Tom); the grandfather – or Great Uncle – of the brands (Great Uncle Cornelius juices); an exciting and fun range of freshly pressed juices (Manic Organics); a fabulous and rather extensive selection of (Thorncroft) cordials; and last, but by no means least,their brand of beetroot juice: Beet IT!
They have amassed a large number of awards and accolades, but their Royal Warrant is by far the most widely-known. In 2002 Big Tom was singled out and awarded the Royal Warrant by HM Queen Elizabeth II.
They believe that fresh and natural juices taste so good, which is why they don’t mess around with them! You won’t find anything un-natural in any of their products, and that’s a promise!
So why should you drink beetroot juice?
It has been shown that dietary supplementation with beetroot juice, containing approximately 5-8 mmol inorganic nitrate, increases plasma nitrite concentration, reduces blood pressure, and may positively influence the physiological responses to exercise. According to research at Exeter University the addition of Beetroot juice to your dietary supplementation can increase endurance performance by 14%, higher then the 10% that can be gained by using rhEPO2 and significantly higher than the Live High Train Low method.
Beets are a great source of inorganic nitrate. Some of the nitrate ends up in your saliva, when friendly bacteria convert it to nitrite. Elsewhere in the body, the nitrite is converted to nitric oxide, which does… well… a whole bunch of things related to blood flow, muscle contraction, neurotransmission, and so on. Exactly which mechanisms contribute to the performance boost they see in studies remains unclear (and in fact, there are likely multiple mechanisms). One caveat: mess with the friendly bacteria in your mouth by swishing mouthwash or chewing gum, and the nitrate never gets converted to nitrite.
So here’s how levels of nitrite in your blood change after either water or progressively bigger doses of beet juice:
Key points: More is better. Peak levels arrive about 2-3 hours after ingestion, and are approaching baseline again by 12 hours later.
So what results does this boost in nitrate produce? From a health perspective, an interesting one is that systolic blood pressure dropped by 5, 10 and 9 mmHg for the three doses (from smallest to biggest); the decrease in diastolic blood pressure was a bit smaller (no change, 3, and 4 mmHg).
They also did a cycle test to exhaustion:-
The dark bar is how long they lasted with a placebo drink (nitrate removed), and the light bar is how long they lasted with proper beet juice. In this case the middle dosage produced the best result, for reasons that aren’t entirely obvious. Given that beet juice is anecdotally reported to be associated with port-a-potty stops, there’s a pretty high incentive to use the lowest dose that produces good results — so the apparent saturation of benefits is worth bearing in mind here. It’s also worth noting that you tend to see much bigger changes in time-to-exhaustion tests that you would in races or time-trials; the authors estimate that the 12-14% boosts seen here would likely translate to 1-2% reduction in race time.
So what are these doses? The researchers used a product called Beet IT Sport. Using the concentrated form may help get the beet juice down without subsequent digestive woes. Beet-It is sold in 70 mL shots, each of which is roughly equivalent to 300 mL of regular- strength beet juice in terms of nitrate content. The three doses used in the study were 1 shot, 2 shots, or 4 shots — corresponding to 300 mL, 600 mL, or 1200 mL of regular juice (which would be pretty ridiculous!). In the past, the author has talked to athletes who’ve used 500 mL of regular juice a few hours before races; based on this study, he’d say that’s pretty close to the sweet spot. Many athletes now use the shots, which are easier to get down. In that case, he’d say this study suggests that there may be potential benefits to experimenting with up to two shots, since the individual responses in the study varied quite a bit.
The amount of oxygen required to maintain a given level of moderate exercise decreased after taking beet juice; in other words, it took less energy to cycle at the same pace. The best results came from the highest dose, which decreased oxygen consumption by about 3%. They did the tests 2.5 hours after ingesting the beet juice, since that seems to be the peak nitrite level. (summary of research from www.runnersworld.com written by Alex Hutchinson)
What does this mean for me and you?
Well to be honest when I read up all the research information I was still very skeptical about the benefits of swigging a shot of Beet It Sport before a ride, especially in view of some of the poor experiences I have had with the benefit claims made by other sports nutrition companies.
Let me me lay my cards on the table, I am no Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas or even a competitive cat 4 rider. I am, like so many of us out there, a rider who wants to enjoy his/her ride and push myself to my limit and a little bit more. I have been cycling for years and I have to confess that I would now be viewed as a MAMIL but I always abide by Rule No 81 ‘Don’t talk it up.’ Never bigging up my speed or ability but always working as hard as I can. BUT I want to be able to work harder for longer. I do train, but not enough, and look for whatever legal help there might be to help me improve.
So there I was just having set a challenge to ride 1400km between the end of May and the 6th October to raise funds for The Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund. My schedule meant that I needed to cover at least 1100km in four weeks, while on a family holiday, in France. This would mean riding at least twice a day most of the time we were away. Quite a challenge for this MAMIL! I needed a little help and following some internet research up popped Beet IT Sport, so I thought I will give that a go.
I tried my first shot on a 78km ride out with friends on a section of the The Lewis Balyckyi Trust Fund Man Up ride (Preston to Scorton return). I was very surprised, I was able to ride smoothly and hold the pace of my friends, who I sometimes find hard to keep up with (shh don’t tell them I never let it show!). Now I had put a significant amount of training in so it could be that, but I was not totally convinced it was the only thing to change. I was sure Beet IT had made an impact, although I was not totally sure.
The second time I tried Beet IT was taking part in the Manchester to Liverpool Bike Events ride, although I had upped the anti and three of use where going to ride there and back on a mix of roads and sustran routes. My two companions where for giving up in Liverpool and getting the coach home. I on the other hand was tired, but buzzing to ride back, I was even prepared to ditch them and get on with it. Now for those that don’t know this ride is supposed to be a 64km (40 miles) ride by the end of the ride we had covered 138km (86 miles). My two companions were absolutely dead on their bikes coming back into Manchester, I was also very tired but was in way better shape then them!
Still not convinced I was due to take part in the Manchester to Blackpool ride in July, giving me another opportunity to test Beet It, once again it did not let me down. I was full of go all morning and ended up dropping the two guys I was riding with and having to frequently wait for them to catch up. I was also beginning to notice an reduced level of fatigue and muscle tiredness.
The final phase of my challenge began later in July with my 1100km French ride. I was now convinced about the benefits of using Beet It but was it really that good? In France I chose to test another aspect of the product that had not been mentioned. I wanted to find out if it provided a support for tired and weary legs. The last few rides I used it on I knew I was approaching the need for a break, my thighs were often burning before I got on the bike and I knew the guys I was riding with would be going hard. Beet It was amazing an hour after consuming the 70ml shot and 15 minutes into the ride my thighs had no burn at all and could ride the distance. However I must state this with a slight caveat, I did not not have the same level of perceived power output I had at the beginning of the four week block, but I was riding burn free.
While my testing was in no way to research standard, after years or riding, I do know how to listen to my body and have a good understanding of what does and does not work for me. Beet It works and works very well, so much so that I will be keeping a stock out it in the house for all my rides. I now just need to test out if two shots are really better then one.
So if you are looking to give yourself a boost in endurance then I would certainly recommend you go out and try Beet IT Sport for yourself, it really does make a difference. If I was Victor Kiam I would go out and buy the company!
I would give it 110% personally as the effect was so good, but being tight I suppose I’d realistically give it 90%. The product is amazing and it gets our star buy rating!
For between £22 and £28 you can get a box of 15 Beet It Shots if you shop around.
I can confirm the warning on the packaging that Beet It does turn your pee pink! And I still can not get that Michael Jackson song out of my head so go on
Just Beet It, Beet It, Beet It, Beet It No One Wants To Be Defeated Showin’ How Funky Strong Is Your Fight It Doesn’t Matter Who’s Wrong Or Right Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
Just Beet It, Beet It
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Aug 1;115(3):325-36. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00372.2013. Epub 2013 May 2. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships.
Wylie LJ, Kelly J, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Skiba PF, Winyard PG, Jeukendrup AE, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM. Source
Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Exeter, United Kingdom.
(based on research Effect of rhEPO administration on serum levels of sTfR and cycling performance. KÅRE I. BIRKELAND, JIM STRAY-GUNDERSEN, PETER HEMMERSBACH, JOSTEIN HALLE ́N, EGIL HAUG, and ROALD BAHR. Hormone Laboratory, Aker University Hospital and Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education, Oslo, NORWAY).
When I decided that in November there were no balance bikes on the market that suited what I wanted for my nephew I decided I would build one. Where do you start when building something so simple yet so complex? Of course you could buy some tubes and knock one together in your garage with that old dusty welder of your great grandfather’s that sits in the corner. Or you could go and learn how to off one of the most popular companies offering such courses. I sought out The Bicycle Academy and made a few inquiries, as luck would have it they had space on their course on 2nd and 3rd December. That was it I booked on and arranged the hotel.
A 4.00AM start was not welcomed, however the hot shower was, only to be followed by a tedious 4 hour drive (traffic was awful). On Arrival I had no problem finding the workshop, greeted with offerings of large mugs of tea/coffee, I already felt very welcome. I had to decline this offer being an hour late I didn’t want to disrupt things too much. Andy took me and two other gents (both starting the 2 week advanced frame building course) through health and safety. I was told that I would be taught by a guy named Paul. Really genuine guy that knew what he was talking about he showed me what I needed to do and let me get on with it.
First thing to build was the forks, the tubes had been cut to approximate measurements and given a 45 degree bend, they still however needed cutting and filing to shape to fit the steer tube of the fork. This was done with minimal help other than a pair of tweezers to remove the tiny splinter of metal in my finger.
The next step was to file the hole where the seat tube would fit and then on to making the rear seat/chain stays (neither of which are correct as they don’t connect to seat tubes and also don’t pass through the centre of a chain).
Brazing is an art form and was taught to me by Sam who I must say was very patient and helped tremendously. The overall frame looked brilliant when I finished only due to the help of everyone at The Bicycle Academy.
The course is well run by a team of people that are totally in love with cycling and also have a passion to hand on their knowledge of frame building to others.
The facilities were very good, clean and working areas tidy.
I would highly recommend the course to anyone who wants to learn something that is totally unique.
I was so pleased with the course I will be booking onto their ‘Standard Frame Building Course’ next year.
For more information on course visit: www.TheBicycleAcademy.org
Classic Cycling Race Routes
The Toughest 52 European Challenges
by Chris Sidwells
Reviewed by Nick Dey
Published: 15th October 2013
AA Publishing in association with Garmin
An inspiring book to read and then to ride… if you dare!
This inspiring hardback book presents a selection of the most challenging and rewarding routes for road and racing cyclists. From the South Downs Epic and Tour of the Peak in the UK, to Paris-Roubaix in France and Tour of Flanders in Belgium, from Gruyere Cycling Tour in Switzerland and Tour of Lombardy in Italy to the San Sebastian Classic in Spain, this book is the ultimate motivation for cyclists who want to push themselves to the next level.
The fifty-two classic European cycling routes – one ride for each week of the year – selected to appear in this weighty A4 hard backed tome of well over two-hundred pages cater for the aspiring and experienced cyclist as well as those more romantically inclined, inspired as they are by the epic routes raced by the legends of the sport.
Experience an example… The Retro Ronde.The routes have derived their inspiration from the many professional races as well as the ever growing mass-participation events, the cyclosportives. Indeed the twenty-four routes that cover the UK and Ireland are exclusively ‘sportive in scope. I’m ashamed to report that I have ridden only one … but can vouch for the books accuracy; I was indeed Flat Out in the Fens! Several of the European events feature in the World Cycling Tour: an age group series in which participants have the chance to qualify for and compete in an age-group final. You, yes you, could become a World Champion!
Route 34, pp148-150, covers the outstanding Retro Ronde*
I rode this in 2013 and am happy to state without hyperbole that it is my absolute favourite cycling experience, second to none – full review coming soon to Cycling Shorts (Ed. I promise!)
Here I am… climbing ‘The Wall’ Retro Ronde 2013
In the book the route distance is correctly stated as 100 km (I managed 112 km but did get myself lost taking in a few extra Heligen!) but the total climbing was very different to my experience. The book states 525 m however I managed 1200 m. To be fair to the author the organisers fine tune their route each year – and I did do the extra cobbled climbs! All the other information is accurate and succeeds in conveying the flavour of the experience. For experience the Retro Ronde certainly is! I shall be back every year – or as long as the old bike, and even older legs will allow. If you do plan on riding try to make a long weekend of it. The ‘Crit’, ahem, racing on the Saturday is wholly authentic yet rather tongue in cheek, and well worth the entry fee of €5!
Posing for the official photo at the start… the atmosphere was the best I have experienced.
So how does this fine book present the information?
The book in a nutshell …
- 52 European cyclosportive and Grand Tour routes
- Full-colour route maps with directions and elevation profiles
- Advice on ride strategies and techniques
- Tips on training, appropriate clothing, nutrition and fitness
- All routes are available to download for your GPS cycling computer
- Routes cover the UK & Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.
The author suggests the reader takes two possible approaches, both of which allow them to make full use of the route information. The first, and Sidwells strongly suggests this as the most preferable avenue, is to take part in the official event for each route (if there is one) as, and I can only concur with him in this respect, …
“…the atmosphere and camaraderie of these events, where thousands of like-minded souls take part, all enjoying doing something they love, is incredible.”
Additionally, there is also more than enough information within the book to allow you to ride each route, or your own variation of it, independently of the official event and at any time of year. Words to the wise… check before you leave that roads are open!
Each route is clearly described and supported with often fascinating background information along with tantalising titbits of history; and who amongst us hasn’t unleashed the inner child and ridden a classic imagining the spectres of the greats; Coppi, Bobbet, Garin, et al, riding alongside?
There are maps and directions for each route, including profiles that clearly indicate where each hill is located along with rather useful yet often unsettling detail on how long and steep they are! The ever useful height gain is also presented.
In the words of the author, Chris Sidwells, “Enjoy the book, use it for planning and setting objectives, but above all get out and ride these routes. They represent some of the finest cycling experiences you could ever have.”
Classic Cycling Routes in a little more detail …
The introduction is extensive and covers three very important pre-ride requisites: Basic equipment – your bike, creating a training plan, and challenge-ride nutrition. There is a lot of very useful information here ranging from how to best use a GPS device (by Garmin) to the basics of creating a training plan.
The two-hundred pages devoted to the fifty two Race Routes traverse Europe through seven countries but with the majority set in the UK and Ireland.
The UK & Ireland section contains twenty-four routes, as listed below:
The Fred Whitton Challenge
The Ryedale Rumble
Etape du Dales
The Cheshire Cat
Tour of the Peak
The Shropshire Mynd
Flat Out in the Fens
Hell of the North Cotswolds
The Ups and Downs
The New Forest Epic
The South Downs Epic
The Tour of Wessex
The Exmoor Beast
The Dartmore Classic
The Dragon Ride
The Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive
Tour of Sligo
Malin to Mizen
Megève Mont Blanc
Cinglés du Ventoux
Etape du Tour 2010
Tour of Flanders
Grand Fondo Eddy Merckx
The Amstell Gold Race
Gruyére Cycling Tour
Alpenbrevet Platinum Tour
Tour of Lombardy
A Stage of the Tour of Italy
La Leggendaria Charly Gaul
Maratona dles Dolomites
La Pinarello Cycling Marathon
San Sebastian Classic
Val d’Aran Cycling Tour
A Stage of the Vuelta
La Pico del Veleta
Don’t forget… all routes in this book can be downloaded to your Garmin (the Edge 800 in my case) from the AA website.
As the book itself says, ‘the classic race routes selected here are not for the faint-hearted. Based on the best cyclosportive events in Europe and on stages of Grand Tours, they are much more than just pretty rides in the country. The fifty-two routes are serious mental and physical challenges (in the case of the Retro Ronde… the liver is called upon to do its bit too!) that require training and preparation. Yet each is accessible and achieved by many thousands of amateur cyclists each year.
Classic Cycling Race Routes allows you to cycle these rides at any time, either as preparation for the race events, or for the sheer joy and exhilaration of the challenge. For those rides that don’t have a dedicated cyclosportive route, the author has designed a ride a ride to reflect the demands and history of the race.
Each route contains a map with directions and an elevations and an elevation profile, and Chris Sidwells provides an overview combining ride strategy and techniques with the history of the race.
Practical and aspirational, Classic Cycling Race Routes will inspire a new generation of cyclists to push themselves to the extreme. You never know, the next Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish or Sir Bradley Wiggins may well be among them!
One for the rider as well as the reader + GPS routes = 100% Awarded our Star Buy Rating!
Reviewed by: Nichiless ‘Nicky’ Dey.
About the author
Chris Sidwells is an internationally-respected British cycling journalist and author, with nine books on cycling, ranging from biography through fitness and training to bike repair. His Complete Bike Book has been translated into twenty-four languages, and his Bike Repair Manual is about to reach its fifth edition. Tour Climbs and Race for Madmen were best sellers in their genre. His ‘The Official Tour de France Records’ has the backing of Le Tour Itself. Most recently he has published The Long Race for Glory: How the British Came to Rule the Cycling World… the next book to be reviewed on Cycling Shorts. Chris’s words and photographs have graced the pages of Britain’s best-selling cycling magazine Cycling Weekly (indeed he seems to appear in every issue,) and in all issues of Cycle Sport and Cycling Active, along with Cycling Fitness. He has also been published in Men’s Fitness, Cycling Plus, GQ, Running Fitness and the Sunday Times. Phew!
Eurobike 2013 – Press & Industry Demo Day
Tuesday 27th August 2013 – 10.30 AM
The risks and sacrifices one makes for you, good readers of CyclingShorts. With aching joints, running nose and hacking cough – after a night of synchronised-snoring in a double bed with my esteemed PezCyclingNews colleague (our hosts, nice folk all, were confused as to the meaning of ‘friend’ when booking!) Somewhat optimistically I packed my cycling kit and drove to the demo day location. The decision was made to wander, get my bearings and a general feel of the place. Ten minutes later, looking like a giant pumpkin, I was, er, resplendent in X-Bionic bibshorts and jersey – biomimetic sports clothing no less, and more, much more, about them later – and about to leap aboard my first bike. Tern folding bikes captured my interest as the MD was great company and seemed to genuinely love his product and all things bike… just like us.
Mark Bickerton, MD Tern Folding Bikes with his top of the range Tern Verge X20. SRAM 20 speed. 8.6 kg. ©NickDey/CyclingShorts.cc
My chosen question of the Eurobike 2013, ‘Why should I buy …. Insert specific product?’ was met with a smile and good cheer by Mark Bickerton – whose father invented a folding bike about 45 years ago.
Mark told me a delightful story of riding his father’s prototype at the age of eight. He’s now in his fifties and has been around folding bikes for pretty much his entire life – a true devote of the genre.
Anyway, back to my question. Mark’s response of ‘A Tern fulfils all requirements, allowing you to use it in places where a full size is not possible” seemed fair but also hinted at the demonic hand of the marketing exec’! Mark then offered a mid-conversation quote that, coupled with the benefit of post-test ride hindsight, is spot on. I asked, with charming twinkle in my eye, why a Tern and not a Brompton?
“Brompton’s are good for storage, Tern’s are great for riding.”
Folding: The Tern folds quickly, in my hands quicker than the Brompton, but not as a compact. It does seem though to be small enough to hop on and off public transport though and it will sit unobtrusively in your office or home when not in use.
TEST RIDES: I tested two of their models as I wanted to try and get a relative feel for the difference over a price and specification range. My first ride was to be a low price Tern Link D17 (D for deluxe) with 16 gears and a mass of approximately 12 kg. It is coming to the UK soon and will be retailing for around £600.
The D17 proved very manoeuvrable and confidently stable as I stuttered my way through the crowds. The Link D17 traversed the short, steep cobbled ramp smoothly. On the road I found the stem to flex a little but not so much as to cause me any worry. I took it up to speed, both on and off road and found myself smiling… yes me… on a folder… smiling!
I wanted more…
The next bike. Tern’s top of the range Verge X20 (X for extreme) will not be available in the UK for a few months, possibly not until the New Year. It comes equipped with SRAM 20 speed as standard and with a mass of approximately 8.5 kg is incredibly light and comfortable to carry when folded or not…
Tern Verge X20. Price tbc. ©Nick Dey (also the, ahem, model!) / CyclingShorts.cc
The VergeX20 is fast, very fast. Smooth, balanced and stops on a sixpence. I loved it. No flex, no judder, just confidence and the largest smile of the day.
Should you be on the lookout for a folding bike – and who these days isn’t – then Tern will almost definitely have a model for you.
August 27-31, Friedrichshafen, Germany.