Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The War on Britains Roads

There has been much written about this program.

None more powerful, in my mind, than @Magnatom on his blog here

I would recommend you read it.

I can offer nothing as profound.  But I have started to draw a Venn diagram of how the program is summed up in my head.

I have added the link so it can be edited, so feel free to add your own thoughts.

War on Britain's Roads

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Roll up Roll up – The Trouser Debacle

As the name of the blog suggests I am a mother and I rather like using my bike to get about.  It is not without its frustrations, some of which I have documented in previous posts.  They mainly centre around the barriers put in place to prevent a large amount of people from travelling in something other than a car.

My latest grumble is of a more everyday matter.

Now, as I said, I am rather partial to using my bike to get about.  I have no problem wrapping myself up in Lycra like a sporty sausage for the Sunday morning club run.  

My problem is I often wish to go to playgroup or the shops, preferably without resembling Sporticus!

I am never going to be a trend setter, I am never going to be in cycle chic or have the style of the lovely Lady Velo. My clothes are functional. Don’t get me wrong, I can do dressed up, but when you are either on the school run or down a hole in the ground or on a construction site, functionality is numero uno.

So I am starting my quest for something I can ride in while looking like a normal person who has decided to cycle rather than using the car for that 1 km journey (I jest you not, there is a mum at my eldest sons school who drives 480 m!!!)

Here are some of my favourite things from around the interwebbly thing…..

My first port of call was to the lovely Minx Girl. 
Her suggestion was the jeans that she has been wearing herself.  The Maloja Gerlinde Jeans at£105 

Maloja Gerlinde Jeans

Although Minx has other jeans in stock, these are her personal recommendation as they are properly bike specific.

"If you had bumped into Minx on almost any day over the last ten months, she would have been wearing these jeans. And not because she's a laundry slouch. Inspired by freeride shorts, the cut is slouchy - if you've got sporty thighs you don't need to size up (oh the very joy...) and they give beautifully so that one day in and you're looking casually hip. The back is cut higher than the front and the rear yoke, in the style of the best baggy shorts has a stretch insert so that you get movement forwards on a bike. There are long zipped vents on the legs and the ankle are double-thickness for wear."

One thing I will say is that Minx is one of the few places I have seen the length mentioned. Being short this matters. There is only so many times you can roll the bottom of your jeans up.

For those not wanting jeans there are the Zoic Caprise at £65 

Zoic Caprise Grey Plaid

For those blessed with ‘proper’ cyclists’ legs, it also comes in a skirt.  I like them and I think with a nice pair of woolly tights and my big chucky boots they make a nice change from plain bike wear.

"Minx does love a nice bit of plaid so the chance to wear it on her bike in a stretchy way, without the danger of any tweed-related itch is never going to be passed up. The Caprise is a very long short or slightly shorter than usual capri (great news for all petite types who are fed up with three-quarter length bottoms grazing their ankles). Whatever you want to call these, the crucial detail as far as Minx and her own chubster pair are concerned is that your knees are covered when standing... In action knee-positioned shaping darts mean you get plenty of ease. There's more pockets than you'll ever fill with two front, two back, one leg and one mobile/MP3 velcro closure pocket. Minx does love the curve through the hip on this style (translates as, somewhere to put your thighs....) and the elastic back waist combined with front tie or belt loop option makes the fit versatile and comfy."

They reminded me of these ‘knickers’ from Civa which are $150 

"Wool blend suiting fabric
Tailored fit for comfort and fashion on and off the bike
Strap with buttons to adjust size at knee
Left and right side pockets for phone, sunglasses or similar shaped items
Hidden belt pocket for change and other small items
Medium weight fabric on tweed
Lighter weight fabric on plaid and pinstripe patterns"

They come in three different colour ways and if I were made of money, I'd get some purely to do the Tweed Run in.  I love the look of these.  They are made of a wool blend. Not too sure they would hold up well if it were rainy. They are available to buy in the UK, but I couldn't find any mention of them on any of the dealers websites listed.

Back to jeans and Swrve have a mens collection for the more androgynous amongst us. 

swrve jeans leg roll

I asked if they had stopped doing the womens range I got this response from Chris

“We had a women's line for two years and it was just too expensive to continue.
The skinny fit jeans and 3/4 work for some women, and we try and go down to smaller sizes in the tops (the XXS bamboo is tiny).
if you want any specific info on the fit of a line please do email again or call,
My best,  Chris”

There are some lovely jeans on their site, but for £80 I would want something made for women.

Always Riding do the Chrome Vanya   Its £109.99 but I think the fabric looks like tracksuit material.  I know its not, but it still has a sportswear look to it even with the jeans style top.

Chrome Vanya Knicker

"Made exclusively for female cyclists, the Chrome Vanya Knicker is a slim fit 3/4 short that sports articulated knees and a high cut for a great urban ride. Constructed from a water resistant, durable 4-way stretch fabric, the Vanya also includes some handy commuting extras like a secure phone pocket, deep front pockets and reflective logo."

They are similar in design to the ‘knickers’ in the Bontrager new line of Womens Commuting clothing.  
They are $89.99. Bontrager do have a UK site but oddly the trousers don't feature on it. Maybe they think we are all like Kelly Brook in our floaty dresses and Pashleys

Anyone sick of black ¾ length trousers yet?
I don’t want cold ankles…..

From Outlier in New York, a full length womens cycling specific trouser.  The Daily Riding Pant!

201 OUTLIER FlatBlack

They come in different colours and they are very ‘now’. But stone the crows, they are $188.  There is no way I would pay that for a pair of jeans/trousers. I just wouldn’t *repeat til convinced*
They are nice though…..Very nice.  And they ship to the UK.

I love the blurb
"Lean, sleek and made of our core 4Season fabric. Full performance features in an elegant silhouette. The four way stretch and soft inner face of the doubleweave twill fabric ensures you're always moving in both comfort and style. Classy enough to wear out for drinks and tough enough to ride there."

and it carries on, but I have no idea what they are on about. But I do love a bit of corporate speak....

"Truly a do-anything pant cut for women. Lean and sleek with an elegant silhouette. Made with our core 4Season fabric, the four way stretch and a soft inner face of the doubleweave twill fabric ensures you move in both comfort and style. The "self-cleaning" Nanosphere treatment makes it highly resistant to dirt, coffee and beer, so don't worry about your morning cup of joe spilling all over you as you ride. Wear them to work or out for drinks, rain or shine you'll be looking good and feeling better. 

Made locally in New York City. Not only does our 4Season fabric shed rain and dirt, dry fast and resist wear and tear, but it also meets the strict bluesign environmental standards. It's a low impact fabric, made with tight emissions standards that ensures it's produced with the absolute minimum amount of waste. A better way of clothing for a better way of life, enjoy them, and let us know what you think."

By chance I stumbled across these bad boys from Velo Vixen. The Union 34 Elements Trousers

Holy mackerel I love these trousers.

I love the level of detail on them.

They really do look like they have been made by someone who cares. And *sings* they studied at St Martins College....(sorry Union 34, I couldnt help it)

"Union 34's Elements trousers are a brilliant combination.  They look undeniably fabulous, and are cut to flatter the female figure - the raised rear waist will ensure your 'seat' will never have looked so good, on or off the bike!
Yet at the same time they work perfectly for cycling: their unique Schoeller fabric is incredibly comfortable to wear.  They are remarkably water resistant and offer amazing resistance to dirt and oil, which you can simply rinse off with water.  The 2-way stretch material has retains its shape like few other trousers.  In fact, nobody would guess that they're 'cycling' trousers!  On top of all this, their concealed reflective trims on the rear and hem even help with your safety.  The ultimate cycling trousers."
Have a look at the Union 24 Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Union34UK

There is no actual website for them at the moment, but hopefully as they continue to grow that will change.  I hope so, because, not only are their clothes wonderfully simple and look like they are beautifully made, they have quite a lot of women's clothing, which at present is something the market is desperately lacking in compared to the amount of choice there is for men.  

Which brings me to……….

H&M are about to bring out a range of cycle specific clothing.

“H&M is pleased to announce a men's capsule collection with Brick Lane Bikes of East London, combining the function of cycling wear with great city style for both on and off the bike. 

The 11 piece collection has been designed by H&M and tested and approved by Brick Lane Bikes, one of the world's leading custom-bike specialists. Inspired by both vintage pieces and today's sports performance, the collection is made from more sustainable materials as part of H&M's Conscious work. The collection will be launched on March 7, 2013 in around 180 stores worldwide, as well as online.”

This is great news for many different reasons.  I think firstly, it means cycling is becoming a lot more mainstream.  I read a blog somewhere (and if you can remind where it is I would love to link to it) that said only when cycling becomes not only the normal way to travel, but trendy and something that the fashion conscious mass public wish to participate in, only then will there be the political will to change things in favour of the cyclist.

So, although H&M are only doing a men's range at the moment, I can only hope this is a taste of things to come and I really hope it is well received and continues to grow.  We aren't all cyclists.  We are mostly, just people who have chosen to use a bike to get where we are going.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Mud Wrestling - Forays into Cyclocross

I am not sure how it happened.

Like when you see a car accident and days later you cant recall the facts.  Your brain has a way of wiping things out and filling in the blanks.

I am not sure who suggested it first.

Its probably for the best.

So I am taking the plunge and having a go at Cyclocross.  I am blaming http://accidentobizarro.wordpress.com/ for this.  Chatting on twitter, I am sure it is entirely her fault.

Thinking about it though, its not all n+1 it would make sense to ditch the hybrid and get a CX bike.  My only problem is coming to this conclusion just before Christmas.

I could use our bike to work scheme, but I really dont want to leave £700 worth of bike anywhere.  My other option is second hand.

Therein lies a completely different problem, in that I ride teeny tiny bikes. Being only 5'2" means I am on a 48cm frame and they just dont get sold second hand very often.

So.................back to ebay...............