As the weather gets warmer and the daylight hours begin to increase, there are some strong incentives to get out on bike and cover some mileage. Road cycling is attracting more and more women thanks to the awareness brought to the sport from the successes of Lizzie Armistead, Laura Trott and Dani King to name only a few.
Last week I went riding with a group of other cycling editors and bloggers to road-test the gorgeous adistar collection of technical road kit from adidas. I joined SportStylist expert, Sophie Radcliffe (aka Challenge Sophie) – who is no stranger to a long-distance cycle after completing many events including her record breaking Alpine Coast to Coast challenge. I also had the pleasure of meeting Luke and Rudy from the awesome cycling team, 5th Floor and Sam and Dani from Little Wheels, a brilliant duo who blog about adventures on their fixed gear bikes.
We set off on a Saturday morning in glorious sunshine for a ride through North London, covering laps around Regents Park and taking in the spectacular views from the top of Alexandra Palace. This was the best ride I had been on so far this year and I’ve broken it down into 5 features that constitute a really enjoyable ride.
Photos by Jon Baines
Ride With Others
Cycling has an ability to enable the best conversations whilst savouring the freedom that comes with being on the move. If you ride with faster people than yourself, as I did last week, you are more likely to challenge and push yourself that little bit harder. Riding in a group or peloton also allows you to experience what it feels like to go faster than your own normal speed which is liberating. There are plenty of organised rides to join in on; try a local cycling team for regular rides or sign-up to a free sportive like the Rapha Women’s 100 and you are guaranteed to meet people and make new friends.
Attack Some Hills
Most people shudder at the thought of a hill climb but you’ve got to admit, they have their positives. On our ride we did a couple of trips up the winding climb to Ally Pally and whilst my lungs were about to explode, it was also a reward to know that this pain was somehow contributing to my overall fitness. Without hill practice you are missing out on a wealth of fitness benefits. Start looking at hills as a form of tough love. Once it becomes easier to get you up to the top, you will start to really appreciate the view.
Don’t Forget To Stop For Coffee
Part of the joys of going for a long ride is that you can stop off and refuel with an energy-replenishing snack and a shot of caffeine to keep your brain alert (good for spotting potholes). There are even research studies that claim that coffee can help your body refuel quicker when cycling for an extensive period of time. The coffee culture in the UK is booming in general but there are also a number of London coffee shops that are particularly cyclist-friendly and cater for those of us who arrive head to toe in Lycra with their helmets still on. On our ride we stopped off at Workshop Cafe in Clerkenwell that received us gladly with flat whites and carrot cake to restore our energy from those hills.
Indulge In Beautiful Kit
I personally believe that road cycling attracts some of the most beautifully designed kit. Wearing the adistar spring and summer collection on a stunning blue sky morning made me feel ten times the athlete even though I could certainly do with a little extra training under my belt. At one point on our ride I was asked by another cyclist if we were part of a professional team (which made me laugh a little given my amateur style!) The light material and classic three stripe heritage round the arms are a beautiful style feature The body suit especially feels like its been designed to specifically meet the female form and the fabric is so light and cool you can tell it will suit summer riding when it starts to get hotter.
Go Somewhere New
The whole point of having a bike is that it can take you far and wide, to place you have never been before. One of my own new year resolutions was to explore more whilst out riding. It doesn’t have to be too much of a trek – it could just be going down a new street you haven’t taken before. I’ve been a Londoner all my life but had never made it to Alexandra Palace which is ridiculous given it’s proximity! Use your bike to get you to new territory and feed your soul.