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.
*******************

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!

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

Sportful BodyFit Pro Kit Review: Developed by Women, for Women

Sportful Women's BodyFit Pro Kit 2014


With a history steeped in textile spinning, Sportful was founded in Italy in 1942 as an undergarments manufacturer, before developing its first cycling specific garments in 1985. Come 2002, Cipollini rode to become World Champion, one of the Italian cycling team members to be wearing Sportful kit in the professional peloton for the first time. It’s fair to say, the 60 years of working with professional athletes and distributors is testament to the quality of their products. And this year’s range looks to set the benchmark even higher.

I’ve heard raving reviews about Sportful from various different cyclists and when looking for new kit for the coming season their designs seemed to stand off the page with some pretty impressive supporting statements. With distinctive white, black and orange bursts of colour, I was excited by the idea that I may finally stand out on the Sunday club run. Plus, with a statement as bold as Developed by Women, for Women, I can’t possibly go wrong.

Sportful Women's Kit 2014

4mm layer of Poron – does my bum look big in this?

The first thing I noticed on unpacking the BodyFit Pro kit, was the attention to detail. Developed by Italian garments designer Linda Bellio, this year’s kit really is designed by a woman for women. Breaking the pieces down, Linda and Sportful have looked at every element and individual panel in a bid to make the ‘best performing kit’ for women on the market. Forget the ‘pink and shrink’ strategy, with insight from their sponsored Women’s team, ASD Top Girls, Sportful really have developed a kit to suit our womenly bodies.

The BodyFit Pro technology uses the same ergonomic lightweight materials as ridden by the Tinkoff Saxo team. The bibs have straps like no others I’ve seen before. With a flat no-seam design and elasticated flex, they mold perfectly to the body whether you’re on the bike or stopped for a coffee.  Plus, a bonus to the flat-flex design means they fit perfectly around the bust for seamless aerodynamics (I could probably do with loosing the bust if we’re to really talk aero!)

The same BodyFit Pro technology is again bought into the leg with AeroFlow, to provide a tight compression fitting that supports the muscles.

Moving further down the body to an area I have the majority of my problems with when buying comfortable kit, I notice quite a thick padding on the sit bone area of the chamois (con), but a highly flexible middle section (pro). Although they felt rather tight, these proved extremely comfortable. According to Sportful, the Infinity Seat Pad features progressive damping with softer foam on the top surface, medium foam in the middle, and in the most important sitting area, a special 4mm layer of Poron that gives shock absorption and is lightweight, breathable, and avoids heat build-up. I didn’t feel as sweaty as I normally would at the end of a ride, but only warmer weather and a longer session will prove this.

AirMesh one piece shoulders with raw cut sleeves

AirMesh one piece shoulders with raw cut sleeves

Both the bibs and the jersey feature seamless, non-grip, raw-cut edge sleeves and legs. Every cyclist has a preference, but with a slightly bulkier thigh, there’s no chance of the horrible ‘sausage’ effect or irritation, yet enough natural grip in the fabric to stay in place for those crisp tan lines. Lovely!
Both the jersey and bibs have clearly been designed for the warmer weather, featuring a breathable AirMesh in the single-piece shoulders and underarm of the jersey and the sleeves of the bibs for maximum airflow . This not only helps keep the body temperature down, but also makes for an extremely soft feel on the skin, yet with holes small enough to not appear see-through (and hopefully protect from a”Froome-tan“).

JerseySportfulCSReviewRatingThe only silicone grippers you’ll find on the kit is on the base of jersey, helping keep three full back pockets in check whilst on the bike.

 

All over, this kit is comfortable, looks and feels great on, and it performs. Definitely not cheap, every bit of kit is designed for perfection and well worth the investment.

Cycling Shorts gives the Sportful BodyFit Pro range a Star Buy rating of 95%

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

The #partyontheroad comes to Yorkshire!


(c)  http://martinholdenphotography.com/

Last year, the CDNW women’s league, open only to 2nd, 3rd and 4th category riders, was thought by everybody involved to be a resounding success – an average of 40 women at each race, with 70 women registered for the league.  I was approached by Victoria Hood as she loved the concept and wanted to bring something similar to the women of Yorkshire.

After numerous conversations with BC Yorkshire, it was agreed that we would try and bring the same level of racing to Yorkshire.

Organising a women’s road race has historically been a massive risk to organisers, especially when it is the sole event, so persuading some organisers to assist us in our quest was key.  Pete Sutton, the Regional Events Officer for Yorkshire, has been a star, and he even spent the afternoon with Victoria and I going through all of the potential dates to ensure that there were no clashes with existing similar events in the North West.

This year, I have been trying to build a community atmosphere for women who want to have a go at racing by using the #partyontheroad hashtag.  It is hopefully working – 68 women took to the start line on Sunday, at an industrial estate in Skelmersdale, with rain threatening.  64 of those women finished.  The race next Sunday already has 51 entrants, with more due to enter on the day.

As the time is NOW to keep building on the momentum in women’s cycling, a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to bring you the Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series – these are all linked via the Series on British Cycling’s website here:https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events?series_id=380  The Series is being supported by Jadan Press, from Hull, so there will be an overall series winner – with cash!!!

It isn’t a league, like the CDNW women’s league, which means that we will need volunteers to assist at each race as there isn’t a league where you register and have to marshal (it was £92 to register the league, whereas a series is free).  Any offers of assistance will be greatly appreciated, even if you bring a mate with you to watch the race!  It is the #partyontheroad after all!

(c)  http://martinholdenphotography.com/

So without further ado, here are the details for the first three events to be included in the Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series:

1. Sheffrec CC Spring Road Race – 13 April 2014

This race is organised by Marc Etches.  Marc organises the Sheffield Grand Prix, which has been a fixture in the National Women’s Series for many years.  Marc’s club, Sheffrec CC, organise a Spring Road Race, and he offered to run a women’s race in the morning, before the men’s event in the afternoon.

You can enter the race here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/106353/Sheffrec-Spring-Road-Race#entry

This is a great starting event, being only 35 miles in length.  For anyone from down South who has entered the Alexandra Tour of the Reservoir, why not enter the Sheffrec race too?

The circuit is on Strava – link here: http://app.strava.com/segments/1234074 and this video also gives you a great idea of what to expect:

Entry closes on 27 March 2014 – remember you don’t need to register for the series, you will be automatically entered into it if you ride.

2. Team Swift RR – 11 May 2014

The next event in the series is organised by Cliff Beldon, of Team Swift.  You can enter the race here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/104997/Teamswift-Road-Races#entry

The circuit is on Strava –  link here: http://www.strava.com/segments/1445730 – I absolutely love this circuit, although I have only ridden around it the opposite way around!

 

3. Albarosa CC  Road Race – 15 June 2014

Currently  being finalised – I will update you when it goes live, but for now hold the date!

 

4. PH-Mas Road Race –  3 August 2014

Amy attackThis race is also in the process of being finalised.  Once it goes live I will add the date, so just keep it in your diaries for the time being!

The course is being fun on the Seacroft Wheelers RR circuit at Bishopwood, near Selby, and the circuit is here: 

http://www.strava.com/segments/1132910

 

5. Selby CC Road Race

Stuart Davies is the organiser for the final round of the Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series, and further information can be found here:  https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/107690/Selby-CC-Road-Race#entry

This event is going to be held on a new circuit, which is first being used on the 15 May 2014, so I’m afraid I don’t have any segment details for you just yet!

 

Food for thought…

There aren’t many events where you can win hard cash for no entry fee.  That and the fact that the #partyontheroad is coming to Yorkshire, why wouldn’t you want to get involved?

Hopefully I will see some of you there…

 

http://martinholdenphotography.com

My thanks to Martin Holden Photography for use of the photos, as well as to all of the organisers of both the CDNW Women’s League and the Yorkshire Women’s Road Race Series.  Without organisers, we have no races…

 

Filles a Velo Shape Shifts

fillesavelologoOk, I’ve used a fair bit of creative license with this blog title.  Just humour me…

Some of you will have heard of Filles a Velo, some may even have followed it from its beginnings in 2010 as a blog about British women’s cycling.  Some supported and contributed content and interviews and some publicly berated me via social media when I decided to stop the blog at the start of last year.

In a nutshell, I had to pause for thought.  I was a one woman band.  Just an impassioned fan.  I got busy working on other time consuming cycling projects and events.  It became a straight up choice between spending what free time I had with my family (husband & kids) or on Filles a Velo.  No contest.

Women’s cycling had suddenly become the “in thing” since the 2012 Olympics.  Overnight the internet was awash with “experts”.  New websites dedicated to women’s cycling popped up.  Helping to raise the profile of the sport, culture and lifestyle.  Women’s cycling was finally getting coverage.  Yes, it was still woefully inadequate for women in comparison to men, but it was getting better.  The tide was turning slowly.

However, I had no plans to completely step away.  Throughout 2013 I was involved in the organising and delivery of women’s cycling events and initiatives for Scottish Cycling.  This led on to many discussions and the shape shifting bit…

In December 2013 Filles a Velo was relaunched as Filles a Velo Cycling Club.  A National Cycling Club and Network for Women across Scotland. (affiliated to both Scottish Cycling and CTC Scotland).

2013 Women's Road Academy

2013 Women’s Road Academy

Filles a Velo CC is an initiative led by a group of women who saw the need for an increased level of support for women’s cycle sport in Scotland.

It was set up to provide a badly needed framework of support to the growing number of female cyclists from all cycling disciplines in Scotland.

Cycling provides opportunities for increasing social interaction in both urban and rural areas, improving physical and mental wellbeing, increasing confidence and skills.

Building on the success of last years women’s road academy and track school we will be working in partnership with local cycling clubs, regional cycling associations, Scottish Cycling and other relevant organisations to organise and deliver a series of women only coach led cycling events for novice and intermediate level on the road (closed circuits) and track (indoor and outdoor).

Online entry is now open for the first events – further details can be found here!

The time is now for women’s cycling globally and nationally.  Get involved and help us get more women on their bikes more often across Scotland!

2013 Women's Track School

2013 Women’s Track School

For more information on Filles a Velo CC and to book onto an event check out the club’s twitterfacebook and website.

The Milk Race Returns To Nottingham In 2014

PrintToday we can announce that the legendary cycling event The Milk Race is to return again in 2014 after a triumphant comeback last year.

The event, which was brought back in 2013 by The Dairy Council and the Milk Marketing Forum after a 20 year hiatus, will take place for the second year running in Nottingham on Sunday 25 May as a major city centre race.

For 2014, The Milk Race will once again be a key event in the British sporting calendar and will constitute both an elite women’s race and an elite men’s race on the same day, alongside a full day’s festival of cycling for all the family.

Last year, 60,000 spectators saw Olympic gold medalist Dani King and Rapha Condor JLT’s Felix English join The Milk Race’s Hall of Fame by becoming victorious in the women’s and men’s elite events.

Already confirmed for this year’s race is multi gold medal Paralympian, Dame Sarah Storey, along with her team The Madison Boot Out Breast Cancer Cycling Team. On taking part in 2014, Dame Sarah said: “I am very excited to see The Milk Race return to Nottingham for 2014. It was a superb event in 2013 recapturing the excitement of the event from its previous format. This year I am excited to be riding with my new road team and I look forward to seeing the amazing crowds that watched the event in 2013. A huge thanks to everyone who has worked to bring us this superb event again.”

The Milk Race Returns To Nottingham In 2014

Also confirmed for 2014 is last year’s Milk Race men’s elite champion, Felix English. On returning again this year, Felix said: “As the current men’s Milk Race champion, it’s brilliant that the event is returning again in May. The atmosphere last year in Nottingham was fantastic so I can’t wait to race the circuit once again.”

The 2014 elite races will once again be directed by former world champion Tony Doyle MBE, who was also a founder of the Tour of Britain in 1994 and was President of the British Cycling Federation in 1996.

On his involvement with this year’s Milk Race, Tony said: “I am delighted to be involved in 2014’s event. Last year was a great success and a brilliant addition to the cycling calendar. It’s a very exciting time for cycling and with the heritage of The Milk Race, combined with its new city centre format, I’m sure it’ll once again prove to be a big hit with cyclists and supporters alike.”

Nottingham was chosen as the location of The Milk Race for the second year running as it played a huge part in the success of last year’s event. The city also has a long standing heritage in cycling – it houses the headquarters of leading brand Raleigh – and maintains an outstanding commitment to community cycling.

Further information about the 2014 Milk Race can be found at www.themilkrace.com and additional details of the event will be unveiled over the coming weeks. Registration for family and advanced rides will open mid March.

Dani King wins Inaugural Milk Race for WomenThe History of The Milk Race

  • Between 1958 and 1993, The Milk Race was the most prestigious cycling event in the British calendar, and the (now disbanded) Milk Marketing Board’s sponsorship remains the longest association that the sport has ever had.
  • The multistage race of old was conducted over a number of day races – across a number of locations – and was contested by some of the most successful ever road cyclists.
  • Previous Milk Race winners include Shane Sutton – a current part of British Cycling’s coaching set-up – and Malcolm Elliott, the team manager of the Node4-Giordana professional team.
  • In 2013, The Milk Race returned after 20 years and was held in Nottingham city centre – attended by over 60,000 people. Dani King and Felix English won the women’s elite race and the men’s elite race respectively. 

Cycletta Scotland

Angela before the off - Image ©Mel MacRae

Angela before the off – Image ©Mel MacRae

Over 600, (Wowee!) turned up at Scone Palace today in pouring rain and howling gales for Scotland’s only Cycletta sportive. It was an impressive sight!. After doing the Applecross Duathlon yesterday I didn’t think my legs would manage but my hardy pal, Angela, had headed down from Inverness for the day’s event and convinced me that it would be a good idea so I got my stuff together!

...and we're off! - Image ©Mel Macrae

…and we’re off! – Image ©Mel Macrae

We turned up to Scone Palace in the morning to a throng of cyclists getting ready for the off. After getting our bikes sorted; labelled with our numbers and stickers for the timing chip, we headed down to the start line. We were grouped in bunches of around 20 and given a safety briefing for the day. Then we were off, pedaling out of Scone Palace grounds to start our Cycletta adventure.

Friendly Faces

There was a lot of familiar faces which was great to see. Within the first few miles I spotted fellow cycle coach Kirsteen Torrance, working with a group of girls on some ‘on through and off’ technique. Group riding is such a great experience and with practice can save you so much energy.

We bumped into Debbie (not literally), from Perth Road Runners. She won a place after entering a competition through the local radio station, Tay FM. She had looked at Cycletta’s website before but was trying to decide between it and the Stirling 10k. Winning the competition made the decision for her.

Cycling on a bit more we came across the girls from the Glasgow Green Cycle Club, a cycle club which this time last year had only 3 female members. Today there must have been at least 10 working together in a team to push on up the road.

Glasgow Green Cycle Club Ladies - Image ©Mel MacRae

Glasgow Green Cycle Club Ladies – Image ©Mel MacRae

Things have really taken off for them this year. Amongst them was another cycling coach Elizabeth O’Donnell, we managed a quick catch up about the club and what she has been up to recently before heading on up the road into the rain. Also out were some of the ladies from my favourite club, the East Sutherland Wheelers. They now have over 100 female members in one of the most northerly cycle clubs in the UK.

Blowing us in the right direction

It was cold and wet that’s true but once we had warmed up it didn’t really matter at all. The wind was strong but this also had the advantage of giving us a nice tailwind for some parts of the ride which we most definitely took advantage of. We stopped briefly to refill the water bottles and devour a

East Sutherland Wheelers Ladies - Image ©Mel MacRae

East Sutherland Wheelers Ladies – Image ©Mel MacRae

couple of jelly babies at one of the well-stocked food stops provided for us along the way.

This was Angela’s first cycle event. She got into cycling when she took on the Barra to Butt challenge to raise money for a Zambian charity some years ago. Earlier this year, Angela took part in some women’s specific cycle coaching sessions run by East Sutherland Wheelers. She enjoyed the sessions so much she went out and bought herself a nice new road bike. Since then, she has been on her bike getting addicted to Strava and training to tackle the Bealach climb in Wester Ross, which showed today, with her classy climbing up the Gallowhill ..twice!

Sprint for the finish

63km later we were back at Scone palace and had enough in our legs to manage a sprint over the line. There was a good buzz at the finish line and everyone we spoke to said they had really enjoyed it and were already talking about registering for next year. There was massage available for tired muscles, hot food to warm us up and cool women’s cycle wear for sale too! The event was well marshaled and had a really friendly atmosphere and for me, it was fantastic to be cycling with 600 ladies on the roads around Perth. This Cycletta demonstrated the popularity and strength of women’s cycling in Scotland today… very exciting!

 

@MelMacRae

 

 

 

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