Search

Still biking? Definitely…

“Still biking Grant?” is a question I’ve been asked many times throughout my life, by friends or different people that I’ve met along the way. Riding a bike has been such a big part of what I do, it’s hard to imagine it not being the case. I think it’s the momentum, freedom and just being outside, that I love so much

Category

Uncategorized

Evolution of the Salopette Dottore Bib Short by Q36.5

It’s evolution………

I received a delivery of the Dottore L1 Bib Short during the Spring of 2016.

The temperatures outside were still too low to try them out, but I recall unboxing the shorts and being astounded by how light they were.  The fabric used to construct the Dottore L1 looked and felt so different to what I had either seen, or used before.  The chamois also affirmed quality in both its shape, smooth feel, and varying densities.

Having read and heard a lot of positive feedback about this product, first impressions certainly instilled an amount of excited anticipation for the warmer sunny days to arrive, so I could be out wearing this new item of kit.

Q36.5 set out to optimise the potential of technical fabrics to achieve numerous performance gains.  A  visible element of this is the raw cut finish used for the leg of the Dottore L1…..how this performs features later.

When putting on the shorts, the close fit is immediately apparent.  The tubular, fine mesh bib straps, and overall cut of the garment draw you forward, creating an “on bike” posture.

I distinctly remember the first ride in the Dottore L1 bib short.  There was no specific training agenda, I just  headed out from home on a warm sunny day, to check out the fit and feel.   They created the sensation of something melting onto my legs, without restricting the movement of pedalling.  The lack of conventional gripper contributed to this sensation being present throughout the length of the leg.

Even though this initial ride was quite short in both duration and distance, it was enough for me to recognise that the Dottore L1 was something special.  I used the bib short throughout the warmer months, both in the UK and abroad.  During that summer I also wore the Salopette L1, another bib short product by Q36.5 Continue reading “Evolution of the Salopette Dottore Bib Short by Q36.5”

Q36.5 An Evening with Mario Kummer at Swinnerton Cycles – Part 2

The difference in clothing by Q36.5 begins with its appearance. This includes visible texture or pattern within a fabric, the shape of the garment, combined with a modern, minimalistic look.

The light weight and feel of each item is also a trait of Q36.5.  These features are apparent throughout their collection, and they are particularly noticeable in the products designed for cooler temperatures.  Historically, cyclists had to rely on heavy, bulky and restrictive clothing during late Autumn, Winter, through to early Spring.  Thankfully, this has all changed.

As mentioned in the earlier article, Mario Kummer of Q36.5 was visiting Swinnerton Cycles to present the new Summer and Winter products.  Mario had numerous items with him which were due for release for Winter 2019.

First up was the Long Sleeve Hybrid Que X. The previous version has been a big favourite of mine for Spring and Autumn, so I was eager to learn what had changed.  The appearance of the new garment is slick and purposeful, and features such as pockets and reflective inserts are discretely integrated.  The sleeves are formed from a combination of fabrics, which create an efficient, close fitting cuff and forearm, with windblock protection on the upper arm.   The new arm pocket is an excellent feature, constructed of mesh fabric with a reflective trim, it’s perfect for carrying energy bars or gels.  A new collar design has also been introduced. This provides improved on bike comfort, whilst its close fit prevents cooling.  Having used Jersey Short Sleeve Seta which also has this collar design, I can certainly vouch for its comfort.   The technical fabrics provide higher thermal efficiency and improved vapour transfer, giving additional warmth, with reduced potential for cooling.

Hybrid Que X Green

The Hybrid Que X is available is a number of colour options, including a stealth black, and brighter shades such as blue, orange, and green.  Where possible, I prefer to use clothing which potentially enhances day and night time visibility,  This is made easy with the Hybrid Que X, as the main colour of the garment is present throughout its front and rear panels, and a reflective inserts are placed in key areas.

Hybrid Que X - Grant riding

When the Winter really begins to bite, the Termica Jacket has been my “go to” item for all weather protection.  The new Termica Jacket X is packed with features to assist the winter cyclist to perform at his or her best.

The difference between the first and second generation jacket becomes apparent as soon you pick up the Termica X. The reduction in weight is noticeable.  The collar of the new jacket has certain traits of the Hybrid Que X: its outer is formed in three overlapping pieces of fabric. This serves to improve on-bike comfort, and provide a resilient seal from cold air.  A fourth item of fabric is located on the interior of the collar, which really locks out the winter elements.

Q36.5 have used their advanced design methods, combined with new technical fabrics to increase the performance of the jacket.  The fabrics are highly resilient to winter conditions, and their overall breathability has increased.  The mid layer of the fabric is an active membrane which responds to temperature change, varying the potential for heat retention and vapour transfer.

When using clothing by Q36.5, I find the need regulate heat build up via the main jacket zips is extremely rare, as is the presence of condensation, and the consequential cooling it can create.

Other visible advancements are the laser cut cuff to the sleeves. This contributes to reducing the weight of the jacket.  For me, the reflective inserts to the rear hem and lower arm are an excellent feature, as they are sized and located to maximise visibility in low light.  Q36.5 include their signature, invisible pocket system to the back panel, plus a forearm pocket.  This combination ensures ample cargo capacity for food, essentials and mobile phone.

The Termica X is offered in black or silver colour options, and it has a modern, almost futuristic look (particularly in the silver option).

Termica X Grey Grant riding

Q36.5 cover the clothing requirements of a cyclist from head to toe, and their tights (for winter riding) are captured in the X re-design process.   A number of brands offer winter tights, and at a glance, it would easy to assume they are all similar.

The L1 Salopette Long and Termica Salopette Long by Q36.5, incorporate densely woven fabrics, which feel different to the touch, and this translates into a high performance garment when in use.  I can confirm that the first generation of L1 and Termica Salopette Long both provide superb comfort and highly efficient protection from the elements.

Something that really differentiates them is their function when in use.  In the upper area of the garments, the fabric, panel shape and layout, assists in stabilising the upper body.  In the leg area of the Salopette Long, the fabric is orientated to ensure the fibres offer the least resistance to the downward movement of the pedal stroke, but optimum retraction, to support the leg through the upstroke.  Q36.5 include this feature to reduce fatigue, and it really is something to be experienced.

As part of the evening with Mario, we were able to check out the X version of both the Salopette Long L1 and Termica Long Salopette L1.  Design expertise and developments in fabric technology have contributed to the increase in performance of these products.  The new Long L1 (for mid- season, early winter) and Termica Long L1 (for winter) both provide increased thermal properties.  Comfort and performance has also increased due to a reduction in seams, and panel layout.   The seams have actually been omitted from the saddle area and replaced with an anti-stress panel.  I have experienced this design detail in other Q36.5 products, and I can vouch for the improvement it provides in both stable contact with the saddle, and all day comfort.

Other optimising features are the laser cut finish at the base of the leg (reducing seams), and the reflective panels which are eye catching as well as a helpful safety feature.

Within the items on display were current products such as the Air Insulation Jacket, and Salopette Wolf 2 Bib Short.  If you have not already done so, both of these products are really worth checking out.

During the evening Mario also gave a  brief insight into a couple of exciting developments which were not available to view, They included new Overshoes and Gloves.

Termico GlovesWinter overshoes 2

Since Mario’s visit, I have had the opportunity to use products such as the Hybrid Que X, Termica Jacket X, and the new Overshoes and Gloves.   More detailed insights into these products will be coming in future, but for now, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at grant.williams1973@ntlworld.com or head to the Q36.5 website.

 

Product Review: Torq Recovery

Review by Grant

Although I am not a competitive cyclist, I have a desire to ride frequently, and be healthy. Part of achieving this is to eat good foods which complement an active lifestyle.

I have used Torq nutrition for many years. This is largely due to the amount of effort the brand puts into formulating each product, and the type and quality of ingredients they use. Their range has become very comprehensive, and covers the requirements of energy, hydration, and recovery. Each product is generally offered in a number of different flavours, to cater for differing taste preferences.

Torq formulate their nutrition on scientific research data, and the ingredients they select are natural, and where possible certified as Organic, some have the Fairtrade mark. No artificial flavours, chemical sweeteners, or colours are used.

When the process of recovery is made as effective as possible, the potential to maximise your training or feel good during exercise returns more quickly. I use Torq Recovery as part of achieving this, and consume the product after each bike ride. This also includes after an active recovery ride and stretching, which follows the weekend. Continue reading “Product Review: Torq Recovery”

Favourite Climbs: Luz Ardiden

Favourite Climbs: Luz Ardiden, French Pyrenees-Blog Post by Grant

The climb of Luz Ardiden, within the midi Pyrenees, is firm a favourite of mine.

There are many reasons why I love to visit the piece of road which twists and turns it’s way out of the town of Luz, up to the ski area high above. My first visit was during 2006. The climb formed part of a ride, which featured the Tourmalet as well as Luz Ardiden.

I was relatively new to riding the climbs of Europe at the time, and Luz Ardiden had come to my attention when it featured in the 2003 Tour de France.

This was the year Lance Armstrong had struggled to achieve his usual dominance, and holding on to the Yellow jersey looked doubtful. Some of the drama of the race was played out on Luz Ardiden. When launching an attack, Armstrong snagged a spectator’s musette, which brought him and Iban Mayo crashing to the ground. Armstrong managed to continue with the attack, and there are numerous photos of him crossing line, ashen in colour, eyes bloodshot, but he retained the Yellow Jersey and his lead.

As I climbed Luz Ardiden for the first time, I tried to find some indication of where Armstrong had crashed, and imaged the intensity of the moment, as well the effort required to race up a climb like this. For me, part of what makes cycling so fulfilling and rewarding, is how readily we can immerse ourselves in it. We are able to experience the roads or trails which form part of its history, and there are even instances where the drama of a race plays out as we watch at the roadside or on screen.

The views from a climb can be so rewarding, but I believe it’s the whole experience which make some a little bit special.

Luz Ardiden has always featured later in my ride, and I am normally starting the ascent by late afternoon, with one or two climbs already in my legs. Initially the road is quite tree lined, reasonably wide, and a river can be heard as it flows to the valley floor. I enjoy the slightly cooler temperature of this early section, and breathing in the humid air. Continue reading “Favourite Climbs: Luz Ardiden”

Descending: My Road to Improvement

 Blog Post by Emma

Firstly, I must point out that the aim of this post is to give a little insight and a few tips to any women who might be new to road cycling or riding mountain passes, who find descending a little unnerving, or possibly even terrifying! I’m not a hugely skilful or fast descender, and doubt I ever will be, but I am definitely an IMPROVED descender since my first Alpine cycling adventure back in 2004. So anybody wanting to earn Strava kudos on the downhills……this post may not be for you!

I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to finding descending on the bike a little challenging and if I’m being honest, occasionally a bit scary! The steepness of Honister Pass in the Lake District will always be unnerving for me, even though I’ve ridden down it so many times! It’s been comforting to read on social media, that other women cyclists sometimes find riding downhill tricky too, and at worse traumatising. For example, when riding down Col d’Aspin recently, Grant chatted with a young Australian woman, who commented she wasn’t a fan of the descents, her exact words are not really repeatable! I’m NOT saying women cannot descend well, of course they can.  I know women who have no qualms about hitting 40+mph…..but that is something I’m not likely to achieve!! This is written purely from my own, personal perspective.

Back in 2004 I was very new to cycling, having only owned my road bike for a year, I headed to the French Alps with Grant, to take on Alpe d’Huez and a few other Cols. The ascents were incredibly hard, but I had (just) enough fitness and gearing to ride and enjoy them. The descents were a baptism of fire! I simply hadn’t a clue how to deal with those hairpin bends, but I made it to the bottom, clinging to the brakes, relieved once it was over! There was no real improvement in the few years that followed, I loved the challenge of the climbs, but often worried about the descents and simply “survived them”.

image

Classic switchbacks – Luz Ardiden,  French Pyrenees

Eventually, I took a conscious decision that I had to try and improve. Although I’m still slower and more cautious compared to others, I have vastly improved this last three years, and I no longer fear the downhill parts of our European cycling adventures. Here are a few things that have helped me on my way to becoming an “improved descender” ! Continue reading “Descending: My Road to Improvement”

Review: Velobici Verne Jersey & Shorts Set

Review by Grant

Having tried a handful of items from Velobici’s line of road cycling clothing, I was really looking forward to the Verne Jersey and Shorts becoming available. Velobici chose to release the line on St George’s day, the Patron Saint of England, which seems in keeping with the brand sourcing their fabrics and manufacturing within the UK.

At a glance, cycling clothing can look very similar, but as with many things, it’s all in the detail.

After using garments from a number of different brands, I have found that only a small number offer the fit, quality and design details that makes their clothing perform really well. The Velobici Verne Jersey and Shorts are in the top tier of this category.

The Jersey

The Verne Jersey is manufactured from VB/Pro-VR1 (190g) fabric. This is the brand’s lighter jersey fabric grade, and the Verne is described as a Spring, Summer, Autumn garment.

It’s a fabulous fabric and this plays a large part of what makes the Verne such a superb jersey. The VB/Pro-VR1 fabric is soft to the touch, stretches to assist fit, comfort, and ease of movement. It also provides UVA and UVB protection.

When using the jersey, it’s easy to notice how well the fabric transfers moisture, drys quickly and resists the wind. These qualities can really make those long days on the bike more comfortable and enjoyable.

The jersey is close fitting, and is shaped to match the position we take when on the bike. The front of the jersey is shorter to avoid fabric bunching, the rear panel longer to ensure coverage, even when on the drops.

Part of what makes this jersey that little bit special, is its versatility and comfort. I have used it for short evening rides after work, to eight hours plus days in the hills. It’s simply the case of putting the jersey on, place the kit you need in the pockets, after this, the garment seems to disappear. It’s that comfortable. Continue reading “Review: Velobici Verne Jersey & Shorts Set”

Solo Century Ride

Blog Post by Emma

A hilly 100 miles ride, that’s what the Torq Fitness training plan was asking of me last weekend. Thankfully, the weather forecast was kind…..cool, but sunny. I could live with that!

We’d already completed one century ride this year on Good Friday, so I knew I could handle the mileage, but there’s something about riding that distance alone that makes it that bit harder!  Perhaps for many cycling enthusiasts 100 miles is an easy feat, but not for me. Not being the speediest cyclist, the challenge of physically being on the bike for so many hours is enough in itself!

Initially I’d had grand ideas of heading towards Thorncliffe and Flash, super hilly territory on the fringes of the Peak District. However, I put that silly idea back in the box!! Instead I settled on a lumpy route out towards the Staffordshire Moorlands, for the first part of the ride. I love the lanes in this area as they are nice and quiet, and on this sunny Saturday, for much of the ride I barely saw a soul. The terrain was hilly, lots of small climbs, taxing for the legs, but without the brutality of Peak District gradients. Continue reading “Solo Century Ride”

Christmas Riding

Tues 29th Dec – Blog Post by Emma

After a few days off the bike from Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day, we were enthused to be out riding again.  Today’s ride took us to the fringes of the Peak District. As the weather was so mild for December with a not too strong southerly breeze, we headed up onto Thorncliffe.

This was our third day of riding, having bagged some flatter, endurance miles on Sunday and then rolling hills in Cheadle’s surrounding countryside the day before……our legs were feeling it.  My legs were saying “a flattish 50 please” but with such a fantastic forecast, my heart was saying “head to the hills”.  In the past I’ve avoided multiple days on the bike, knowing it’d be tough on the legs.   These days I listen to Grant’s sound words…..”Don’t know what you’re worrying about, you’ll be fine” and it always rings true!

Do you ever have fun / silly names for different points on your rides? We do, Grant and his friends are great at coining these!  My favourite one is the affectionately named “Dip of Doom” !!  It really isn’t anything to fear, it’s a very short incline that you have to ride up following a dip in the road out near Wetley Rocks.  However, it features at a point in the ride where you still have about 20 miles to go, your legs are screaming “no more hills please” and your mind is wandering to matters such as dinner, a hot bath and a cuppa!

image

The Dip of Doom…..survived one more time….all in all a really great December ride, a must-do on such a fabulous day……before Storm Frank brings an enforced, but much needed, rest day.

Swinnerton Cycles – Celebrating 100 Years

Blog Post by Grant

Swinnerton Cycles is a family owned business located in the heart of Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire.

The shop has been present for as long as I can remember, and it’s a place my parents took me to when I was quite a young boy, to choose a bike for Christmas.

When I recently learned of an event to celebrate the shop’s 100th anniversary, this confirmed just how long the shop has been a part of cycling, both locally and nationally.

The celebration was on a Friday evening and on arrival the shop was already full to the brim with people. Barney Swinnerton greeted people at the door, and weaving my way into the main area of the shop it was great to see many of the Swinnerton family and other familiar faces dotted around.

Continue reading “Swinnerton Cycles – Celebrating 100 Years”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: