Thursday 24 November 2011

Cycling fast through the puddles

I had to ride to the ice-skating rink this morning in time for a test ride of Steve Ellis' ice-bats. We get to use the ice only for a short period before the steady customers turn up, so that means travelling quite early. When I set off from home it was tipping down and also quite cold.

I wore my rain cape as I could put it on last minute and not have to change clothes. Some people may think that capes are not fashionable, but I'd answer that by saying that when riding a bike in heavy rain you're not on a cat-walk. Besides, with a cape you can wear any clothes that you like when cycling in the rain, and are not restricted to waterproof "cycling clothing". Also, you don't sweat in a cape like you can in waterproofs.

I wasn't the only person in a cape this morning. These two ladies were in front of me just as we all arrived together at the ice-skating rink. Both of them had also taken the sensible option of a cape to keep themselves warm and dry.

The slogan on the back of the woman on the right says "Today I ride fast through the puddles". It's part of a marketing campaign for a probiotic drink. There's a nice, and somewhat unusual, video which goes with the campaign:

Of course, when you ride through puddles you suffer not only from rain falling from above but also from water being sprayed towards you by your tyres. For riding comfortably in rain, mudguards and mudflaps are essential. It's also worth thinking about puncture resistant tyres for winter. Our selection of winter tyres increase your chance of not having to stop when cycling in winter.

If it wasn't for seeing these two ladies wearing capes this morning, and it reminding me of the video, it wouldn't have appeared on the blog. I'm not convinced personally of the value of taking probiotic dietary supplements and I try to avoid dairy productsThe European Food Safety Authority has so far rejected 260 claims from manufacturers of these supplements.

However, I'm rather positive about using rain-capes to keep you dry when cycling. They're not intended for sporty riding, but for everyday use they work magnificently to keep both your upper body and also your legs dry when riding in normal clothes. If you want to stay dry while riding fast through the puddles, consider buying the same good quality cape as I use, in our online shop,

Friday 18 November 2011

Marathon Winter tyres

Last winter, Judy fell on a patch of ice. It's not been cold enough for that yet this year, but none of want that experience.

To prevent this problem, we're using Marathon Winter studded tyres on the front wheels of our town bikes. Obviously both wheels provides better protection from falls, but the front wheel is most critical. If you lose traction with the front wheel of a bicycle then you lose the ability to balance and will fall very quickly.

It is best to fit the tyres before the ice sets in so that a few kilometres can be ridden on them on asphalt. This helps to seat the studs in the rubber so that they are less likely to come out later. The manufacturers recommend 60 km of riding on asphalt.

Of course, Marathon Winter tyres aren't only for town bikes. They're also available in sizes to fit mountain bikes and recumbents.

I used one last winter on the back wheel of my Mango velomobile. This made a big different to safety as losing the rear wheel is the biggest danger with a tadpole (two wheels the front, one at the back) tricycle. If traction at the rear is lost then the trike turns due to the camber of the road and will likely flip over as it slides sideways into the kerb. By using a Marathon Winter on the rear of my Mango I could cycle with confidence not only within the city, where most cycle-paths are clear anyway. Rather, this meant I could continue to enjoy touring rides right out into the countryside.

You can buy Marathon Winter tyres in the Dutch Bike Bits Webshop.