Cycling advice & guides

  • TOP TIPS FOR STAYING TOASTY THIS WINTER!

    PART 2 - KEEPING YOUR MITTS WARM

    Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 16/01/2016 - Cycling - Fat Lad at the Back.

    You're half way round a ride and your hands have gone numb. It's getting trickier to change gear and you're struggling to brake. Sound familiar? Having freezing fingers is never a pleasant experience, but it can also lead to more difficult, dangerous cycling.

    Read on for FLAB's tried and tested solutions:

    1. It's a good idea to invest in some cycling specific gloves, as too much bulk can make braking and changing gear even more difficult than numb fingers!

    2. Make sure your gloves aren’t too tight and keep wriggling your fingers during the ride to keep the blood circulating.

    3. Warm your gloves up on the radiator before going out and give them a blast under the hand dryer at the café stop. Scientific fact: a slice of your favourite cake can also help maintain a pleasant body temperature...

    4. Wear a pair of glove liners under your normal gloves for an added layer of heat.

    5. Keep some handwarmers in your back pocket for an instant hit of warmth half way round.

    GLOVES 

    • Lightweight full finger gloves

    linersIdeal for those exasperating types who "just have warm extremities!", these lightweight gloves are perfect for riding in slightly milder temperatures and are super easy to manoeuvre in.

     

     

    • Windproof gloves 

    For dry days, windproof gloves offer great protection against the cold air - keeping your fingers from freezing and your skin from drying up.

    • Glove liners

    Glove liners are extremely lightweight and come in a variety of fabrics, from silk to merino wool. Liners are really versatile in that they can be worn all year round - even under fingerless gloves in spring/summer! For winter rides, pair glove liners with wind/waterproof gloves for maximum protection and no added bulk.

    • Lobster glovesphew lobster

    As the name suggests, Lobster gloves group two fingers into one compartment - sharing the warmth but still allowing for a good grip on handlebars and easy use of levers. These low bulk Phew gloves are ideal for a temperature range of 0 to -8 Celsius.

     

     

    • Waterproof & windproof

    sealskinz

    For slightly harsher conditions (welcome to cycling in Yorkshire), throw on a pair of water/windproof gloves for all-round protection. These Sealskinz All Weather gloves are particularly dexterous and allow for maximum breathability, all while keeping your hands nice and toasty.

     

     

     

    • Neoprene gloves

    Neoprene gloves are highly effective at keeping out the cold air, which can't permeate the synthetic rubber material. However, this results in a lack of breathability which can lead to a pair of very sweaty palms!

    • Latex gloves

    glove

    Latex gloves are altogether handy (pun intended!). Caught in the rain mid-ride? Want to keep your hands clean doing a roadside repair? Need an extra layer of heat? Pop into the nearest petrol station and grab a pair. We promise it'll be worth the shrivelled, been-in-the-bath-too-long aftermath!

     

    BAR MITTS

    bar-mitts-for-road-bikes

    Designed for all types of bikes, Bar Mitts are a great investment for extreme weather conditions, or for riders who suffer from Raynaud’s and other circulation problems. They attach to your handlebars for added insulation, with plenty of room for a pair of gloves underneath.

     

    HANDWARMERS

    handwarmers

     

    Still can't keep your hands from going numb? Take a pair of handwarmers out with you on winter rides for a boost of warmth whenever you need it!

  • TOP TIPS FOR STAYING TOASTY THIS WINTER!

    Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 16/01/2016 - Cycling - Fat Lad at the Back.Part 1 - Keeping your noggin warm

    Halloween is over, Bonfire Night has come and gone, and supermarkets everywhere are stocked with premature Christmas decorations. In other words, Winter is Coming... (Nicely put, George).

    For those of you brave enough to face the drop in temperature, keeping your head, ears and neck warm (without overheating!) is key to a comfortable ride.

    While the vents in your helmet are great during the summer months, unfortunately they are no match for a biting winter wind - especially for those of us with slightly less hair!

    Never fear, FLAB are here with our top tips for staying toasty this winter:

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com 29/10/2016 - Cycling Fat Lad and Fat Lass At The Back Cyclewear shoot - Burnsall, Yorkshire

    45006799_1035587759980825_7599037339905556480_n

    Neck Doo Dahs/One of those whatsit-thingy-m’bobs 

    These tubular pieces of material are really versatile, easily adjustable and can be worn a variety of different ways  ------->

    Channel The Doctor and use your Neck Doo Dah as a scarf without the hassle. Or, why not create The Hood for an all-round cosier ride. Alternatively, pull your Neck Doo Dah up over your face, balaclava style.

    How do you wear your Neck Doo Dah?

    See our range of Neck Doo Dahs here

    Cycling Caps

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com - 05/09/2015 - FLAB Cycling - Fat Lad At The Back photo shoot Filmore and Union Ilkley copyright picture - Simon Wilkinson - simon@swpix.com

    Not just a summer accessory, cotton caps are great at keeping out the winter chill. Our close-fitting caps feature an antibacterial tape which prevents moisture from dripping into your eyes on the uphills. For rainy rides, the peak will help keep the drizzle out of your eyes (unless you ride in Yorkshire...)

    See our range of cycling caps here

    Ear Warmers/Headbands

    For those of you who run a little warmer, headbands and ear warmers offer a more breathable alternative to a hat. The fleecy material keeps your ears warm while allowing the top of your head to breathe.

    Skull Caps/Merino Beanies

    Made from technical fabrics, cycling skull caps and merino beanies are designed to be especially breathable. The fine material means they fit comfortably under your helmet to provide that valuable layer of insulation.

    Full Balaclava

    For you sub-0 riders, a cycling specific, full face balaclava offers ultimate protection against the freezing conditions. Made from thin, technical fabrics, a balaclava will fit snugly under your cycling helmet while allowing you to breathe comfortably.

  • Sportive and Group riding etiquette

    WEATHER:

    We’ve ordered the weather but things change around here from one hour to the next, our advice is, pack everything!

    FAFFING ABOUT:

    Faffing about is an essential part of cycling, but please build in enough time to ensure that you can faff to your hearts content and still be on the start line ten minutes before set off time.

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.

    RIDE MARSHALL GROUPS:

    We’re looking forward to lots of you riding with our Ride Marshalls. Some of you will be less experienced at group riding and we wanted to offer some guidance to ensure the safety of you and your fellow riders.

    RIGHT IMPORTANT BIT:

    Your Ride Marshall will also repeat this on the day, but there’s a lot to remember:

    GROUP RIDING ETIQUETTE:

    SPEAK UP!:

    Communication is vital in a group and especially on these roads which are often busy with other cyclists and vehicles.

    Your view is restricted by other bikes and you must communicate to ensure everyone remains safe and there are no pile ups!

    Here are some common commands which we regularly use on ur rides. PLEASE listen out for these and shout out and pass onto your group:

    STOPPING– vital to call when coming to a stop. If you don’t there’ll be a pile up and split tyres

    SLOWING– If you’re breaking heavily, tell people!

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.

    RIGHT TURN

    LEFT TURN

    CLEAR– it is OK to pull out at a junction

    CAR UP (This is subject to regional variations but what we use in Yorkshire)

    – a car is coming from the front towards the pack

    CAR BACK- a car coming from behind

    LINE OUT– some riders prefer to stay 2 abreast when a car is trying to pass – on these roads we don’t think that works – lining out at least lets drivers know that you are trying to make room and perception makes a big difference to the way drivers will respond to you

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.

    HOLE LEFT– hole/obstruction on the left hand side of the carriageway. If riding 2 abreast, outside riders are aware the inside riders will be moving out and to give room if safe to do so
    HOLE RIGHT– as above but on the right

    HOLE MIDDLE– bet you already guessed this one?! Riders will split around the hole

    GRAVEL– there are LOTS of gravel spots on the routes, shout to warn your fellow riders with an indication of where the gravel is (middle, all over, left etc)

    KICKING BACK:

    When you stand up out of the saddle, your bike immediately loses speed – this will cause people immediately behind you to either crash or swerve. Think about who’s around you as you cycle!

    When you need to raise out of the saddle, do so on your full downward pedal stroke and push hard as you do – this should maintain your speed whilst rising you out of the saddle.

    KEEP A BREAST OF THE SITUATION:

    Never ride more than 2 abreast

    LINE OUT:

    We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, when a car is behind you please LINE OUT – you might not normally, but please do on this sportive and create space where needed so cars can get through

    SLOW, SLOW QUICK, QUICK, SLOW:

    Groups will generally ride at the pace of the slowest. If you are struggling and feel that you are too slow, then let your Ride Marshall know that you will be dropping off the back and you will be picked up by the group behind, and ultimately by the sweeper if needed. (It’s not a real sweeper, it’s a man or woman on a bike!)

    If you feel that you are stronger and could go faster than the group, then just let your Ride Marshall know that you’ll be going off on your own!

    Try to have a turn on the front as well as sitting in the pack

    LOOK OUT FOR YELLOW BADGES:

    Our Ride Marshall's have a small yellow hi viz badge on their helmets identifying them by name or by the word Ride Marshall's  so they are easy to find. Whether you are in a group or not, if you have any problems at all, then just let one of them or one of our Marshals know.

    IF YOU WANT TO GET A HEAD GET A HAT:

    Helmets must be worn

    COME PREPARED:

    Bring spare inner tubes, water, basic repair kit and snacks just in case you get peckish between feed stops.

    Wear appropriate footwear and clothing for our glorious UK weather conditions.

    RELAX:

    It’s going to be a fun day and a great way to meet other FLAB’s and having a nice social ride at a pace that suits you. Enjoy!

    STILL GOT A DAFT/QUESTION?
    We’re used to daft questions so ask away  fatlads@fatladattheback.com

  • What's stopping you from signing up for a sportive?

     

    Picture by Simon Wilkinson/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Cycling Fat Lad at the Back Sportive - Ilkley - leisure cycling

    Sportives are a grand day out on the bike they let you cycle around a new area without having to worry about getting lost or finding a café for a mid-ride refuelling stop.

    We know that loads of our FLAB community would love to enter their first sportive but have a few concerns about taking part, here are the main ones that our FLAB community forum said was preventing them from taking part.

    FITNESS-  If you can comfortably ride 80% of the distance on similar terrain to the distance you’ve signed up to at 10mph you’ll complete our sportive. FLambassadors are on route to talk through options if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

    HILLS- STOP WORRYING! If you can’t cycle up to the top WALK, there’s no shame in walking up a hill.

    CONFIDENCE- Our sportive is super friendly, inclusive and supportive with the option of riding in a friendly group with the support of one of our awesome Ride Marshalls.

    MECANICALS- Carry a puncture repair kit and learn to fix a puncture before the event, it’s a lot easier than you think just takes a bit of practice. Loads of tutorials on YOUTUBE.

    FINISHING LAST- Who cares? You’ve lapped everyone on the sofa.

     

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.FITNESS

    Will I be fit enough? Can I make it to the finish line?

    First thing to remember is a sportive is NOT a race the only competition is with yourself, do it at your pace within your comfort zone and don’t try and keep up with other people or compare your pace to others.

    There will be Ride Marshalls on route to offer support.

    If you’ve done a reasonable amount of training beforehand relevant to the distance you’ve entered you will fine. So, for instance if you can comfortably do 18 miles you will be able to 25 miles on the day and the atmosphere of the event and adrenaline can really help push you those last few miles.

    There is always Ride Marshalls on the route that you can chat to about options if you feel you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

    HILLS,HILLS,HILLS

    STOP fearing hills! It is so easy to go into a complete meltdown at the thought of hills on a sportive and that big hill that you know is coming up can soon become the whole focus of your ride taking away from your enjoyment, remember THERE IS NO SHAME IN WALKING UP THEM.

    So what if someone fly’s past you with ease having a chat with their mates making it look easy while your legs are screaming and your lungs are on fire!

    Everybody is different it’s your body your bike ride and your business how you get up them! If you have to walk then walk it’s much better to get off and walk to the top in one piece than push yourself beyond your limits, risk injuring yourself and having a very unpleasant experience.

    STOP PANICKING IT’S ONLY A HILL! If anyone mocks another cyclist for walking up a hill we say SHAME ON THEM! We salute anyone getting of the sofa and having a go!

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.  Our feed stops are legendary

    CONFIDENCE

    Signing up for your first event can be pretty nerve racking with so many what ifs to worry about, being judged, being last, riding on your own, what if I get lost….

    Our sportive is unique as we have Ride marshalls who ride the whole route with groups making sure that everyone has an awesome experience and you won’t ever feel alone or worry about getting lost as our Ride Marshalls will be there to support you along the route.

    If you’d rather do it on your own the route is fully signposted and you can download it prior to the event. We also so set the longer distance riders off first you will get very few riders overtaking you along the route.

    MECHANICALS

    It’s always important to carry a puncture repair kit, a couple of inner tubes, tyre levers pump etc. with you on the route. If you don’t know how to change a puncture it’s worth learning how to do it before hand.

    There are loads of very easy tutorials on YOUTUBE showing you step by step how to change an inner tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwwfV99VV8I

    Best time to do it is in the comfort of your own home/garage/shed when you have plenty of time , you’ll be surprised after a few goes just how easy it is to master with a bit of practice, and there will be hundreds of other cyclists passing and many of them will stop and offer to help you out if it’s not something you can fix yourself.

    FINISHING LAST 

    Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 07/05/2017 - Commercial - Cycling - Cycling - Fat Lad at The Back Yorkshire Sportive - Ilkley, England - Cycling, Leisure.

    N’owt wrong with finishing at the back, so whether it’s taken you two hours or five hours you’ve ridden the same distance as all the others on the same route and lapped all those sitting on the couch.

    CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS OF THE FLAB UP NORTH SPORTIVE 2018 https://fatladattheback.com/sportive/up-north-sportive

     

     

     

    Continue reading

  • 10 Road safety tips

    10 ROAD SAFETY TIPS

    1. Road positioning - don’t ride in the gutter
    2. Be aware of other road users
    3. Be seen
    4. Always follow the Highway Code
    5. Try and make eye contact with other road users
    6. Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles
    7. Signal clearly
    8. Be careful of vehicle doors
    9. Make sure your bike is road worthy
    10. Think about cycle training

    Road positioning

    Don’t ride in the gutter!

    Ride positively,decisively and well clear of the kerb where you can see and be seen.

    Ride in Primary position (middle of the lane) when passing side roads and going through pinch points.

    Picture1

    Be aware of other road users

    Leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you can stop safely if it suddenly brakes.

    Look out for pedestrians.

    Always be aware of other road users and try to anticipate what they might do.

    This includes vehicles on the opposite side of the road which may cut across your path, vehicles may need to move into your lane to avoid hazards and parked cars and vehicles waiting to pull out from side roads.

    Be seen

    Always use lights when it’s dark or visibility is poor.

    The highway code advises wearing light coloured or reflective clothing during the day  and/or accessories in the dark to increase your visibility.

    High viz and reflectivity on the feet works really well as it’s a moving part.

    Follow the high way code

    Always follow the highway code.

    You can find the Highway Code for Cyclists here

    Observe ‘STOP’ and “GIVE WAY’ signs and traffic lights.

    Make eye contact

    Make eye contact where possible so you know drivers have seen you. If the other road user is not looking at you they may not have seen you.

    Avoid riding up the inside of large vehicles

    Large vehicles like buses and lorries which have a huge blind spot and may not see you.

    If a lorry or bus is indicating left, passing on the inside can be dangerous.

    Hang back at the junction to reduce the risk of a collision.

    Picture2

    Signal clearly

    Look and signal clearly to show drivers what you plan to do.

    If you can only avoid an obstruction by moving out into the flow of traffic, check over your right shoulder first to ensure that you have room to move out. If a vehicle is travelling too close to you to allow this, slow down until you have a safe gap.

    Be careful of vehicle doors

    When approaching parked vehicles, look over your right shoulder looking for other vehicles and when safe to do so move out into a position where you can pass the vehicle safely.

    If possible leave a car doors width between you and the vehicle in case the door opens.

    Make sure your bike is road worthy

    Keep your bike in a road worthy condition making sure you regularly check brakes for wear and tear.

    keep your lights clean of mud and dirt especially during the winter months.

    Tyres should be in good condition and kept inflated to the correct pressure.

    Keep your chain properly adjusted and oiled

    Think about cycle training

    Signing up for some cycle training is a great way to feel more confident and develop your riding skills especially if you’re new to cycling or haven’t ridden for a while.

    You can find out about local courses by phoning the National Cycle Training Helpline on

    0844 7368460

    There are a great series of video’s available on the British cycling website on learning to commute with confidence here

    More video’s available  here for every day riding through to participating in sportive events with their Ridesmart videos

     

     

     

  • FLAB Winter cycling survival guide - Feet

    FLAB Winter survival guide – Feet

    Many of us struggle to keep our feet warm during the winter, here are our top five items to help keep your toes nice and toastie.

    • Socks
    • Toe warmers
    • Overshoes
    • Winter Cycling boots
    • Household helpers-tinfoil/clingfilm

    Socks

    Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 15.43.15Layering your socks works really well at keeping your feet nice and warm.

    Our Fat Lad At The Back merino wool thermal socks offer great protection against the cold.

    When it turns really cold wollie bollie socks from defeet come into there own. These non itchy heavyweight wool socks are awesome at keeping your feet warm and if your shoes allow it when it’s near freezing pop a thinner pair of socks underneath.

     

    Sealskinz waterproof and windproof socks can be worn on there own and are great if you don’t wear cycling shoes and can’t get overshoes to fit your chosen cycling footwear. They also work really well layered with socks and overshoes although you do have to accept that if you are cycling for a long time in the rain it will inevitably run down your legs and into your shoes no matter what you’re wearing.

     

    Toe warmers

    These are great for those in between times of years like autumn and spring. Really easy to get on you just pop them on over the toes of your cycling shoes.

    Overshoes

    You can get all different types of overshoes, some are just made of material to make you more aerodynamic and some are windproof and waterproof.

    Sealskinz neoprone overshoe

    Neoprone overshoes offer your feet the most protection from the winter weather. They can be tricky to get on so make sure you buy the correct size.

    Winter boots

    The all in one faff free way to keep your feet warm and dry in winter, wind and water proof and a doddle to get on and off and no more wrestling trying to get your overshoes on. Northwave winter boots

     

    cling filmHousehold helpers - clingfilm

     Using Cling film as a vapour barrier can be amazingly effective at keeping your feet warm and dry.

    Humble cling film is apparently used by loads of pro cyclists in winter to help keep their feet warm. Sir Bradley Wiggins once tweeted how he used cling film to keep his feet warm on a winter training ride.

    Wear a thin pair of socks then wrap feet in cling film and pop a pair of thicker socks over the top.

    Rain and wind are kept from getting directly to your skin.

    Household helpers – Tinfoil

    tin foil

    It's readily available in the home or at a cafe stop and makes a great 'emergency blanket' for cold feet.

    Use it to line your cycling shoes to help block out cold air coming through the vents.

    Wrap over your socks to help keep your toes warm.

    Warm it up on the radiator beforehand to help keep the heat in a bit longer!

  • Ride Fright

    You’ve charged your Garmin, pumped up your tyres and are all set to go out for a ride when the pre-ride nerves kick in.

    Your stomach is in knots and you’re wondering if you need to make yet another trip to the loo! it’s all quite exhausting and you haven’t even left the house yet!

    Feeling nervous is understandable especially when you’re going to do something new whether that’s a sportive or joining a group ride for the first time.

    Yet many of us feel those pre-ride butterflies before rides and distances that we’ve comfortably covered many times before yet we can find ourselves completely focused on the “what if’s” list!

    What if I’m not fast enough and get dropped?

    What if I get lost?

    What if I can’t get up the hill and need to get off and walk?

    What if I can’t finish the event

    What if I let everyone down?

    Checklist:

    Go through a mental checklist of all your what if’s. Are they really that much of a big deal? If they’re really stressing you out, write down the worst case scenarios and come up with a plan of how to deal with them.

    So for example …..

    WHAT IF I get a puncture? Learn how to fix a puncture and always have a puncture repair kit with you. Always take your phone with you so if you can’t fix it you can call someone for a ride home.

    WHAT IF I can’t make it up the hill? There is absolutely no shame in walking up a hill, and just ignore anyone who tells you different.

    Be Prepared:

    Make sure that your bike is in good condition, check your tyres, pack a tool kit and always carry a few quid incase you get stranded at the pub or café!

    Stay Hydrated:

    As little as 2% dehydration can effect our performance. As most of our anxiety is about ‘not being good enough’, being properly hydrated when you start riding and staying hydrated throughout a ride can only have a positive effect.

    Visualise The Ride:

    This is a technique used by many professional athletes and it works just as well for anyone. Before you ride, instead of focussing on the negative and what may go wrong, focus on the positives and create a vivid mental picture of yourself succeeding – getting up the hills, staying with the pack, having a good time and enjoying your ride. Continue to use positive mental imagery to stay focused and motivated when you experience obstacles or setbacks.

    Take A Moment:

    Research suggests that not only does our body language effect the way other people respond to us, but also how our own brains respond. Adopting a strong, confident and open body position can have enormous positive effects on your own confidence. Try it for yourself: Take two minutes before your ride, Stand in an open pose, shoulders relaxed, chest open (known as a high power pose). Close your eyes, breathe in deeply for a count of 3, hold for 1, and then breathe out fully for a count of 5 at the same time visualise the positive outcome of your ride.

    Stay focused on the here and now:

    Don’t think about what has happened on previous rides or focus on the what if’s, think about the sense of freedom you get on your bike and how much you enjoy the experience and remember there’s really no need to feel so nervous after all, it’s only a bike ride!

     

  • LADY BITS

    Lady Bits

    Uncomfortable undercarriage discussions crop up frequently over on our community forum and it’s an issue which effects both men and women with people seeking recommendations for comfortable saddles and anti-chaffing creams.

     

    bits

    For us lasses, {however} the added inconvenience of monthly cycles (*Lads if you are still reading now, you only have yourselves to blame!) and hormonal changes means that intimate discomfort is a common issue, yet it’s a subject that’s rarely discussed in any detail. So here goes……

    As a former Breeze Coordinator, Breeze Champion and as a FLambassador I’ve had conversations about this with dozens of women and here’s the accumulation of our shared experiences!

     

    MONTHLY CYCLES

    mooncup

    MOONCUPS

    Everything you need to know about mooncups

    I’d never heard of them either until I read a book about ultra distance cycling and coping with periods on the road and in countries where sanitary products are not readily available.

    TAMPONS or SANITARY TOWELS

    tampons-or-pads1

    Tampons may seem like the obvious option but they’re not for everyone! Mooncups are a very environmentally friendly way of taking care of things and a couple of my friends wouldn’t be without theirs, but some lasses (me included) prefer sanitary towels.

    I don’t wear pants and just place the sanitary towel directly onto the pad of my shorts. I then place a small amount of chamois cream on the wings to prevent chafing and it works a treat for me. If I’m on a long ride I carry a few spares and some nappy sacs. Sometimes I’ll pop behind a bush (no pun intended!) to change and then dispose of it at the next loo stop.

    Intimate discomfort

    So, you’re saddle is sorted, you’ve got your padded shorts, you’re (probably)  riding knicker less and you’re used to riding during your period!

    Everything is great – YES?

    Well for me – NO!

    In the last couple of years, I started to experience extreme ‘internal’ discomfort - dryness, irritation and excruciating pain whilst trying to pee! It was so bad I thought I was going to have to give up cycling altogether but one day I went to my local pharmacy and explained in hushed tones what I was feeling. She recommended Canesten intimate moisture which helps the irritation and internal dryness caused by the friction of cycling and by approaching menopause. She also advised that if there was no improvement in a couple of days to see my GP but I’m pleased to say it’s been a game changer for me. I use it inside before I ride and then apply chamois cream externally and my under carriage is happy again. Canesintima_Intimate-Moisturiser-and-bottle

    Vagisil-Medicated-Cream-820522

     

    A similar conversation popped up on the FLAB community forum a few weeks ago with some lasses also using a cream called Vagisil which helps with itching in the intimate area along with the intimate moisturiser and chamois cream application on the outside calling it the recipe for ‘OUCH BE GONE’ and ‘ITCH BE GONE’

     

     

    BIKINI LINES

    I always thought waxing was the best way to avoid saddle soreness, though I must admit I did occasionally suffer with sores and ingrowing hairs but in 2016 I read this article about the Ladies Olympic cycling team being advised to rethink their intimate grooming regimes. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3743239/Why-Olympic-cyclists-DON-T-wax-bikini-lines-Pubic-hair-protects-against-saddle-soreness.html

    razor

    I took the advice and stopped waxing and can confirm that after cycling for 14 days consecutively across France my under carriage was in tip top shape with no ingrown hairs or saddle sores.

     

    So hopefully that’s some of your undercarriage questions answered. If you got this far and you’re a lad, please refer to paragraph 2* if you’re a lass, remember this is not medical advise and you must consult your GP about any issues you have!

    Happy Cycling!

  • An Introduction to Audax

    An intro to the world of Audax

    Audax are essentially just long-distance bikes rides. However, they’ve been around a very long time so they come with a well-established rule book, a whole host of acronyms and slang, people that have been doing them longer than you’ve been able to ride a bike and even their own awards system. Being done on a shoestring budget by volunteers, the website, “marketing” and events are functional rather than glitzy. They also go up to utterly ridiculous distances such as the recent 1400km London-Edinburgh-London.

    All that can add up to something that’s very confusing and/or off-putting to the newcomer but the basics of Audax is actually really simple – you just ride your bike between a series of pre-agreed places either on your own or as part of an organised event. They’re surprisingly easy to get into, a lot of fun, great riding, very cheap and full of the most weird, wonderful and kind cyclists you’ll ever meet. They also start at a more manageable 50km!

    So how do you do an Audax?

    Rather than go into a wordy explanation, let’s just look at how you’d do the easiest type of Audax – an organised event done with other people. Known as Calendar Events, this is where you’d want to start your Audax journey and you’ll find a list here.http://www.aukweb.net/events/

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    Most items should be self-explanatory, but some require a bit more explanation:

     

     

     

     

    • Online Entry – Some organisers only allow postal entries, so if you’re not a fan of cheque books and SAEs then look out for events with the PayPal logo, which means you can do it all online. There may be a small extra charge for PayPal to cover their fees, but remember the organisers are all volunteers and put these events on very cheaply, so it’s only fair and usually cheaper than the stamps.
    • Event Type & Rules – the specific rules/organisation this event is being run under. Not important for the casual Audaxer so ignore it.
    • AA (also known as AAA) – unless you really really like hills, avoid events with this on (see glossary for more information).
    • Total Climbing – not always shown but if present usually means the event is hilly (even if it doesn’t qualify for AA points).

    Once you’ve found an event that has potential, click on it for more detail. Again, most of it should be self-explanatory, but look out for:

    • Distance & Time – these not only tell you the distance and start time, but also the amount of time you must complete the event in and the finish time that equates to.
    • Facilities – Audax start locations vary from village halls to pubs to sports centres. This will tell you what to expect on this event. It is in shorthand form but click the ? to get the plain English version. The number is the maximum people they’ll allow on the ride.
    • Route Sheet – this contains the route, directions and further detailed instructions about the ride. Many riders use only this as their only means of navigation.
    • GPX – if the Route Sheet method looks too difficult, many organisers now provide a GPX file for navigation via your GPS computer. If they don’t, and you’d like to navigate by GPS, then it might be easier to chose a different event.

    If you’ve found an event that ticks all your boxes, then go ahead and hit [Enter This Event]!

    Note that Audax UK (AUK) are the organising body in the UK. There are lots of benefits to being a member of AUK, including a regular magazine, but you don’t have to be to enter an event – you’ll just pay a small surcharge (currently £2) for each event you enter – so you can try before you buy as it were.

    On The Day

    Don’t Panic! Get to the start line in plenty of time and any fellow Audaxer will be only too happy to answer any questions or point you in the right direction as to what to do.

    The ride itself consists of riding between a series of predefined places, referred to as Controls, collecting a “proof of passage” at each one to confirm you completed the event as it was intended. Some people like to think of it as a “treasure hunt”.

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    To facilitate this, you’ll be given a card when you sign in at the start of the ride, known as a Brevet Card (note the one shown on the left is a completed one).

     

     

     

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    Notice how the Brevet Card not only lists the controls, but the distance and allowable times of each one. Details of each control will be in the Route Sheet but the main types are:

     

    • Manned – a volunteer will be waiting for you at a given place and will stamp your card.
    • Named Café/Shop – they will be expecting you and will stamp your card if you ask nicely.
    • Free – it’s up to you; easiest is to get a receipt from a shop or ATM (often acceptable as an alternative to the others if they are busy).
    • Information – a question written on the card that can only be answered if you are there (see 3rd control @ 80km in above Brevet Card, though it was manned that day).

    At the end, you hand your card in to the organisers to be validated and that’s it! If you’re a member of AUK, you’ll get your certificate/points etc. added to your online account.

    What makes Audax great?

    • The fact that they’re unsupported and unsigned.
    • The array of awards/badges you can work towards (if that’s your thing). There are many awards such as SR, RRTY and AAA (see glossary for details) and fancy badges for each.
    • The challenge (there’s always a tougher Audax waiting for you!).
    • The routes – Audaxes often use the little lanes, researched and ridden by the organiser over many years to give the best views, the best riding etc.
    • Other Audaxers – I cannot stress this enough! Everyone is battling their own challenge, but still has time to be one of the nicest cyclists you’ve ever met.
    • Food – there is often an abundance of food on Calendar Events, usually free or very low cost.
    • Attitude – there are only three statuses in Audax: DNS (did not start), DNF (did not finish) and Finished. No-one talks about average speeds or finish times, it’s simply not important as every finisher is treated the same. No-one really cares what bike you’ve got or what brand you’re wearing – look around and you’ll see a huge array of bikes and kit, all chosen and cherished by the individual on whatever criteria/merit they deemed important to them.

    Important Considerations

    Audax are unsupported and unsigned! It’s up to you to find your way between controls and up to you to get out of any problem or situation that may arise. There is no broom wagon or support vehicle – if your bike breaks and can’t be fixed, then you must find your own way home (but do let the organiser know).

    Audax are time-limited, though the allowances are very generous. The clock never stops and quoted average speeds include stopping. So if you need to eat or wee then you’ll need to be aware of the time in hand.

    Audax often use quiet country lanes with varying surfaces. Many seasoned Audaxers favour steel or titanium frames over carbon and wheels with lots of spokes and wider tyres.

    Who shouldn’t do an Audax?

    Audax isn’t for everyone, especially those who:

    • Value speed over everything else and/or want recognition for their speed.
    • Can’t fix a puncture or do basic repairs at the roadside.
    • Can’t navigate.
    • Like a safety blanket/don’t do self-sufficient.
    • Expect paid-staff tending to your every whim, pre-ride bike doctors, post-ride massages etc.

    Who should do an Audax?

    Anyone that likes long distance bike rides and doesn’t fit into the “shouldn’t” category! But be warned it can be addictive!

    Glossary

    Like most things, Audax comes with it’s own language, full of acronyms and slang. Here are the most common things you need to know:

    • AA or AAA – Audax Altitude Award. Really hilly rides qualify for AA points, collect enough and you can get awards.
    • Brevet Card – The card you get at the start of the ride that includes ride details as well as the controls. This is also where you collect/record your proof of passage.
    • Control – A mandatory stop on the route where you must get proof of passage.
    • Calendar Event – A pre-organised/approved route on a given day, done with multiple participants.
    • DIY – An Audax where you design the route and do it on your own at a time of your choosing (but still allows you to get Audax points/awards).
    • Entry On The Line – Turning up and entering on the day. Not always permitted and maximum number of riders still applies.
    • [Going] Full Value – Someone who takes close-to the maximum allowed time, thus getting maximum value out of their entry fee. Not a derogatory term, in fact full-valuers are often admired! And it matters not, anyone that finishes gets the same points/recognition.
    • Permanent – A pre-approved route that you do on your own at a time of your choosing (but still allows you to get Audax points/awards).
    • Route Sheet – Detailed instructions about the route.
    • RRTY (Randonneur Round The Year) – An award given to someone that does a 200km (minimum) Audax every month for 12 consecutive months.
    • SR (Super Randonneur) – An award given to someone that does a 200, 300, 400 and 600km Audax in the same Audax year (Oct-Sept).
    • SRRTY (Super Randonneur Round The Year) – An award given to someone that does an SR every month for 12 consecutive months.
    • Time In Hand – the amount of time between now and when the ride cut-off is.

    Go try!

    Hopefully that’s given you a good overview on how to get started. My advice is if the idea appeals, then definitely try one. Rafe

     

     

  • What is Zwift?

    As the nights are drawing in, soon it will be winter, it may be time for some of the FLAB community to dig out their old turbo trainer, put on a video on their laptop and pedal like there is no tomorrow for an hour or until their legs say no!

    However there is another way to wile away the hours on a turbo trainer… Zwift!

    Zwift is a turbo trainer multi-player online game that enables you to link your computer/iPad/iPhone to your turbo trainer, Allowing you to virtually ride with 1000’s of other riders across the world in a virtual cycling nirvana, free from traffic and headwinds.

    There are three virtual worlds to choose from Watpoia, London and Richmond. There are an array of routes, workouts and organised races to take part in or just ride round on your own workout. When you have finished, your ride can be uploaded to Strava.

    What do I need to play Zwift

    Obviously you need a bike, a turbo trainer, and a computer* /laptop/iPad/ iPhone. If you want an immersive gameplay, are going to be using Zwift regularly, and can afford it, then a smart turbo trainer such as the Wahoo Kickr or the Tacx Neo Smart would be a good investment.

    These turbo trainers generally have a direct drive design, with a built-in power meter and variable resistance. These turbo trainers will measure your power output, then send this data to Zwift to power your online avatar.

    The variable resistance on these turbo trainers will also allow you to feel as if you’re actually riding in the online world, so when you are going uphill on-screen the resistance will increase, and when you are going downhill it will decrease.

    However you dont need a smart turbo trainer - any turbo trainer can be set up to use Zwift. All you need is a speed sensor / cadence sensor, and a ANT+ USB dongle for your computer. Data from the sensors is then sent to your computer and transferred into the game.

    Your also going to need a couple of water bottles, a towel, a fan and a rubber matt to put under your turbo trainer­ (although Halfords do workshop flooring for £10 which locks together and is perfect).

    Zwift isn’t free but they do offer a 7-day free trial, and after that if you like it, it’s £8 a month.

    Setting up Zwift

    Once you have got all your equipment, you’re ready to set up Zwift, firstly download and install the Zwift application to your chosen device. You are then prompted to set up an account, and give details such as your gender, height, and weight (its best to honest, as this will reflect how you are progressing through your training and plus this information isn’t displayed to anyone other than you). This data will be used to create your Zwift character and to give an accurate measurement of your speed in the game.

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    Its all about the bike…

    In Zwift your character is completely customisable, including changing skin tone, hair colour, and also what Jerseys you wear. When you first start out you get a basic bike with basic wheels, but after every km you get 20 experience points which go towards unlocking upgrades, for example, Zipp 808 firecrest wheelset, or a Canyon Aeroroad, s-works Tarmac, etc. The more you ride the quicker you will get upgrades!

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    There are three different worlds to ride in: Watopia, London and Richmond:

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    Watopia is by far the biggest map and has everything, from serious alpine style climbing to flat routes for time trial, racing or a social ride, and lots more in between, including the Volcano, with its own lap counter.

    There are also live Zwift segments including a sprint and two king of the mountains each giving live results and also awarding a temporary winners virtual jersey (green for sprint and poker dot for king of the mountains).

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    The London map uses the route of the Prudential RideLondon Classique Course and the Richmond course is a copy of the UCI 2016 World road race championship course.

    Let’s ride

    Once you have finished setting up its time to ride, first select a course ( if your on Watopia I would recommend the Flat route it has a bit of everything but nothing to extreme a full lap is about 10km), next click ride now, and you will appear on the virtual world, just start pedalling, remember you don’t need to brake on the downhill (although to be honest I did on my first attempt), cornering is also a bit weird when you first start out, as you think you will fall off!

    So now your up and running, explore the various routes and extensive workout plans, or take part in a social ride. If your on a smart turbo trainer, your going to notice the hills, it does get harder on the inclines, you also see that when you get near another rider, it gets easier, this is virtual drafting, and works exactly the same way as it does in the real world. The start of sprints and hill climbs are marked on the road as a solid white line and finish under a banner arch green for sprints and blue for climbs.

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