Condor Race Socks

Condor Cycles have released a new model of sock just in time for summer, this time tipping a nod to the cool euro styling seen on PRO racers within today’s peloton. Their lightweight-tech white sock features a simple striped contrasting rear logo (available in both black and red, perfect to pick the coordinating colour to your S-Works heel cup!). In a longer incarnation of their previous sock, the race model boasts a 7cm long cuff section, perfect for those looking to enhance their bronzed pins for uber-euro points. 

Priced at £8.99, I can confirm from the featured pictures that even after a decent 40 wash cycle, the socks came out like new. A welcome piece of information for those prone to heavy washing of their kit. The midfoot section is crafted from a meshed version of the microfibre yarn, improving ventilation to this part of the foot, along with ease of moisture transfer – bound to a nice bit of respite on those hot summer days in the saddle. The toe and heel area offers a thicker blend of fabric, resulting in a comfortable and secure fit.

The socks are available in-store now, in two sizes, a S/M & M/L. Alternatively, those non-London residents can ping the good folks at Grays Inn Road an email or phonecall and take advantage of friendly mail order option. Another nice sock staple to add to the summer riding wardrobe.

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Tenspeed Hero

Im not sure why its taken me so long to stumble across the very excellent ‘Tenspeed Hero‘ website. Billed as an online cycling journal, featuring some fantastic photography and witty prose, Tenspeed Hero aims to, in their own words, “revel in the non sequiter and things often related to cycling”, and they really hit the mark for cool little snippets that may or may not be related to a love of all things two-wheeled. Head on over to their site and have an explore, im very glad I did.

2011… Thats A Wrap

What a year. We saw Gilbert dominate the spring classics in a way that was just off the dial, witnessed a very deserved and honourable tour de France victory (well every fibre of being believes it was a true performance… I hope dearly it was). One of my fave moments personally, being the soppy romantic I am, was seeing the reunion of Van Summeren and his lady at the finish line where he proposed in true style (and with a massive rock too!). 

2011 pro cycling had it all – the textbook perfect year for the Manx Missile – a WC title, TDF sprint domination & even a little nipper on the way. It was a great year for British cycling with some heavyweight performances, such as Froomey at the Vuelta and Brads Dauphiné victory. 

So 2011 was a cool year for cycling. Personally…. I spent a good portion of 2011 travelling and living on the road due to being posted out to the field to work as a photo editor for the year. 

I saw some amazing thinngs, including the Tour Finale, I spent 2 months posted out to New Zealand where I indulged in some pretty epic riding, and of course I took part in a wicked 24 hour race challenge with an awesome bunch of lads deep in the forest-laden hinterland of Germany. 

The year also saw challenges for me, in that I put on a little weight and lost fitnss due to an erratic work schedule that negated any chance whatsoever of regular and structured riding… It became a little bit of a case of ‘grab the bike’ whenever I had the chance. This past month has seen me rectify this with a work diary that’s given me back a daily 75 minute commute, and im no longer eating out on the road 3 times a day. 

Diet and riding structure has been nailed down and im seeing results already. Not to mention I took up running. Fear not as I hear you gasp aloud in shock! with a charity half-marathon on the way in March its just a nice excuse to supplement the riding and fitness with a little bit of cross training over the winter that’s going to pay some well deserved benefits (or at least I hope it will – otherwise I may cry!).
Im really digging the social side of riding this past year, with a mention got to be thrown the way of instagram. If you have an iphone I implore you to get the free app downloaded, its a wicked way to connect to some really cool people and share an insight into their daily life. Look me up, username gematkinson. I also dipped my feet into the world of Tumblr, and found some really cool blogs out there.

Late April I took delivery of my lovely Acciaio from Condor. It has become my go-to bike for pretty much everything. I had a go at racing a crit on it (which I hated – im def not a racer!), I took it to 60mph on a decent and have never felt so secure! Im really looking forwrad to putting some special miles on it for the forthcoming year, its made a big difference to how much I enjoy my riding these days.

I decided that racing wasnt for me – maybe thats because I was a tad out of shape in 2011 (indulgence on the road is a killer! and no regular base mileage is hard to compensate for some the summer when everyone is flying). I also tried a hillclimb, but didnt do too great. My sensei Konrad has urged me to bother to warm uop for more than 40 seconds next time! 

Iv met some super-cool people this year too, have to throw out a big shout to some really awesome people doing some cool things, these guys are worth following > Fabrica Della Bici, I Get Cross, Out of Leftfield, Vicious Velo, In The Saddle, Gage & DeSoto, WMP, Tracko Rex, Bike Tart, and so many more I have forgot to mention… Theres a wicked online cycling community growing and spreading ideas and events, and its been cool to be a part of this last year. Hopefully 2012 will see me being able to dedicate a bit more time and put something back into the scene thats helped me roll along nicely the past few years. 


So for 2012, make some big goals and work hard towards them…. I have a good feeling about it! All the best & big love to all! Gemx    

Multipower Nutrition

I reviewed some products from sports nutrition company multipower before (here), and have recently taken delivery of some new products aimed at cyclists, ideal for the sportive rider and those looking to fuel long rides and training sessions. Up this time were a selection of pre, during and post workout bars, in addition to a refuel powder to aid training session recovery. 

Hi-energy Bar
First up is the ‘does what it says on the tin’ Multicarbo Hi-Energy Bar, tested in both lemon and chocolate varieties. Im often shocked at how I stuff various energy bars into my mouth during long efforts, only to take a cursory glance at the ingredients tab after. So many times these bars are laden with fat, whereas these bars contain only a mere 1.9g of fat, making them ideal for cyclists looking to curtail their fat intake. Second on the shock factor what not only the bars had a nice low fat content, but that they managed to pack in 30 grams of carbohydrates and 6.8 grams of protein (perfect for the start of the muscle repair process). The bars are quite thin in composition, and a regular size, comparable to say a small mars bar, so for them to be able to pack this nutritional content in seems pretty impressive. 

The lemon flavor tasted zingy, but not in an unpleasant way. It was palatable and chewy, but I suspect might be a little tougher to the bite on freezing days. The lemon bar also boasted a dose of caffeine, enough to provide a little emergency zip when the tank is running dry. The chocolate bar is also about an 8 out of t10 on the chewiness scale, and boasts the rather exotic guarana in place of the caffeine kick. I plan to carry a lemon bar for the start of a half marathon.
The bars are fairly economic at 25 bars for £30, and considering the ratio of carbs/fat and added kick factors I think this is a pretty decent price that I would be inclined to pay. I teamed one of these bars with an energy gel on rides of around 100km.

Energy+Fruit Bar
Next up is a similar looking bar to the above in packaging, but placing itself as a fruit bar alternative. The flavors I tested were apple and banana. I must confess to hating the banana bar, but then I hate bananas in general, so I wouldn’t read much into that. Needless to say the banana bars were swiftly dispatched to the Rowland brothers, where they were consumed happily. The Apple bar was a sticky and chewy type fructose laden treat, tasting quite sweet and sugary, perfect when I needed a quick energy spike. With slightly more carbs per bar than above at 34 grams, the only tradeoff is a slightly higher fat content (still relatively low at 2.1grams). 

The consistency was chewy to the extent that I wouldn’t want a frozen bar of this on a cold december ride, but I suppose stashing a jersey pocket might keep it edible due to the bodyheat factor.

Recovery Bar
Im not so keen on recovery bars as a general rule. I guess because I found what works for me, that being a particular brand of whey protein mixed with skimmed milk. I usually only consume this after 2 or more hard hours in the saddle, if I happen to be riding or running the next day. 

However I tested these bars on three occasions, after a long run and twice after some hard turbo sessions prior to leaving for New Zealand. With only 13 grams of protein available per bar to aid in muscle recovery and body recuperation, I presume that the addition of 18 grams of carbohydrates is a conscious decision by multipower, believing this provides an optimum ratio of nutrition for recovery. Now I am no expert in this field (far, far from it dear readers), but I have to admit they did stave off a significant amount of soreness when training the next day. I took the bar around 15 minutes after finishing a session, along with a large glass of 0.1% milk.
The bar is coated in chocolate, but inside the chocolate flavor filling is quite malty tasting, and upon chewing for a long time doesn’t exactly break down in the most pleasant way. Thats not unique though, as Im yet to find a protein bar that didn’t break down in the manner, hence why I consumed mine along with the milk, in order to aid actually getting it eaten!

Re-Charge Drink
Lastly is the thrifty-ly priced re-charge drink, coming in at £12.50 per tub (around 14 servings). The re-charge drink is a post workout recovery drink shying away from the traditional chocolate-type milkshake whey based drinks of other brands. The drink comes in orange flavor, and tasted a bit like a malty robinsons orange when mixed with a pint of water. Although slightly chalky and malty, the drink goes down easy enough, and isn’t the most unpleasant taste around. 

Again Multipower impressed me with the inclusion of a plethora of BCAA as they do in their energy drink I tested last time around. Branch Chain Amino Acids help aid body tissue growth and cell regeneration, in lamens terms, promoting growth and repair of the body. Pepto-pro protein is included to aid muscle recovery after strenuous strength sessions, with 8.3 grams of protein yielded per serve. I have incorporated this into my recovery regime after gym sessions midweek, and was impressed at a calorie value of just 169kcal per drink (my milk based protein drink is around 3 times this!). This makes an ideal drink for those looking to aid recovery whilst watching their calorie intake (hey its the off-season and we all need a little help in that area come christmas indulgence time!)


All products tested (and more) are available to purchase at Multipower 

Ragley Rude Pump

I recently purchased the Ragley Rude Pump as a jersey-storable mini pump for those infrequent yet highly irritating mishaps on the road (ie translation : “I got burned t’other day on an early morning training ride far from home with only one CO2 canister and now i have learnt my lesson”). With its rude name and erm, more than passing similarity to a toy of an adult nature, the rude pump is a mini pump with quite striking styling. More importantly coming in at a shade over a tenner its as pleasing on the wallet as it is in the hand.

 The pump has a pleasant feeling soft rubber handle, making for easy grip when pumping. The handle retracts out to reveal another telescopic chamber ideal for high pressure. The website claims to be able to pump up to 180 psi, and whilst im not sure that’s an exact figure that could be easily reached, I managed to take a road tyre to over 100psi without trying too hard.

The pump can handle both presta & schraeder valves, and although fiddly, simply requires flipping the adapter around in the valve. But once flipped you can keep it as it (il be on strictly presta).

The ‘Rude Pump’ will fit snugly into a jersey pocket and doesn’t weigh much at all. A highly recommended ride essential at a price that really wont break the bank.

What’s In Your Pocket?

How long have people stuffed their ride essentials into a jersey pocket? Certainly much longer than I have been around on the planet that’s for sure! Every rider has been there – reaching into a packed rear jersey pocket and fishing around for those elusive sugary bars, attempting to fish out rogue pound coins for the obligatory coffee stop, or yanking out one tyre lever, having lost its way from its accompanying mate.
So step forward 3 solutions to storing all your tranklements, each differing in looks and prices yet all essentially performing the same function, albeit to varying degrees of storing said trinkets.  I picked three different types of jersey bags, but in essence they all do the job. That’s the job of keeping your back pockets organised and offering protection from the elements – be that some gnarly back sweat after a hard session in the saddle, or a glorious downpour and mud spray (for those that forgot to fit their mudguards).
First up is the “Lezyne Caddy Sack”. Crafted from a tough pvc plastic and sporting a sealed waterproof zip, this was the biggest capacity-wise of all three pouches due to its width. Its dimensions are 10 x 14 cm and wouldn’t struggle to fit everything needed for a long ride. But its size may not be suitable to cram into all jersey pockets – It wouldn’t quite fit without a struggle into quite a few tops of mine (a UK size 8 or XS). That’s not to say this is definitive downer on the case though – just something ladies of a smaller stature should be aware of. It will fit just fine into two pocket jerseys and of course one pocket jackets. If in doubt measure the width of your pocket. Its big capacity and toughness makes it ideal as a commuter case to sit inside a backpack or messenger bag. I keep a spare tube, a co2 and affixing head, 2 x tyre levers, a condor mini tool and a patch kit comfortably in this pouch – with room to spare. Available in wither silver as pictured or black, it may not present itself as the most refined solution to handling your goods, but for less than £8 one would be hard pushed to find a better solution to keep all your items safe.
Rapha launched their aptly titled ‘Essentials Case’ in 2010. Made of supple soft leather, the case has dimensions of 15 x 10 cm. Inside a card sleeve holds debit cards securely, whilst a splash of pink is found with the ‘Bon Courage!’ motif inside. Smaller in capacity than the Lezyne, it will hold a tube, levers, patch kit, keys and a small multi-tool just fine. Costing £30 (now reduced in the January sale) some people won’t stomach the perceived ‘rapha pricing’as always  – I purchased mine and am actually using it as an everyday wallet, thus retiring my ancient and much loved Comme Des Garcons turquoise number to the drawer. It’s also perfect size for those with an iphone, although you will struggle to do it up with an iphone and tube contained. Its also slimmer in width than the lezyne so slipped easier into jersey pockets of all sizes. Its a very stylish little number, and a great gift for any cyclist. A more expensive Paul Smith version in purple highlighted colorway is set to launch soon should you want something even more swish.
Lastly is the rudimentary looking ‘Jersey Bin’. Its basically a sleeve of plastic with a secure ziplock style closing designed to offer water protection to your bits and bobs – rather than storing equipment and spares as the examples above. They also work with touch screen phones so you can text home in an emergency whilst raining! Available as a two-size-double-pack for £6.20, they measure 9.5 x 17.5 cm. I picked up a nice Sigma Sport branded one on a La Fuga club run some months ago, and it provides a neat solution to keeping phones and notes from getting a soaking. These are tall and narrow, fitting easily into most pockets. (They are available in two sizes and a variety of prices on jerseybin.co.uk)
If your looking to avoid that unsightly jersey sagging that can occur when loading yourself down then I couldn’t recommend one of the above more highly. One plus factor in having a wee bag is of course its incredibly stylish and debonair (come on be honest – we all strive for that out on the road) but another major tick in the box is that it encourages you to only take out necessities. How many times have you ridden a long route only to get home and discover you didn’t need the extra two bars or two tubes? Streamlining is a good thing here, meaning you will only carry what’s truly needed. Feel free to comment below as to what your ‘ride essentials’ are and what you keep them in…