The JogBlog Guide To Cycling Safely In Winter

Cycling Safety

I’m a raver. Aciiiiiiiiid.

Ideally, you should leave your bike(s) safely locked up in the garage until the summer, as cycling in the winter is absolutely minging but, if you’re like me and live far far away from the train station or somewhere else you need to get to and you don’t drive, you’re going to have to get on your bike. However, there are a few things you can do to make your journey slightly more a) comfortable and; b) safe, and I list these, in no particular order, below.

  1. Lights. The absolute most important thing. I’m being serious here (yes, honestly). I see so many cyclists riding without lights and they’re fucking idiots and they really annoy me and if they get splattered by a car or go to prison for knocking over a pedestrian who didn’t see them on their lumps of metal then they deserve all they get. Lights don’t even have to be expensive – I’ve got my main lights on my mountain bike that I use most of the time to get me around but I’ve also got some of these cheapy cheapy lights (at the time of writing, they’re £1.43 including delivery – how cheapy cheapy can you get?) that work perfectly well and are small enough to carry around if I’m out on one of my bikes that don’t have lights and it’s a possibility I’ll be coming home in the dark.If you don’t have lights, you’re a dooby dooby nutjob.
  2. Hi-vis jacket. Yes, there’s a possibility you’ll be mistaken for a builder but hey ho, it’s all about being seen and keeping safe – it’s not a fashion contest. If you really don’t want to wear hi-vis (but you get used to looking like a builder, honest), you could get one of the Karrimor Reflekt jackets I blogged about the other day. They look like a normal jacket until light shines upon them, then they light up like a simile for things that light up that I can’t think of right now.
  3. Hi-vis rucksack cover. If you don’t want to wear any kind of hi-vis/lighty-up jacket, then hi-vis rucksack covers are available. You’re not so vain you wouldn’t put hi-vis on your rucksack, are you? As well as making you more visible to motorists, it’ll also keep your rucksack dry. Win-win, as saddos say.
  4. Wrap up warm. I’m still seeing some people in town wearing shorts and flip-flops but they’re hard and probably from Newcastle or something but if you’re not a) hard; or b) from Newcastle, you’re going to need to keep your bits warm while you’re on your bike. No, you mucky-minded lot, I’m talking about other bits that stick out like your fingers and your nose. Wear gloves and either a scarf or a buff that you can pull up over your nose and chin. Although, if you’re like me, you can only breathe through a buff for about three seconds before you suffocate and have to pull it down and get cold again. But, buffs are cool and keep your neck warm and they come in all different patterns and can be worn in lots of different ways.
  5. A toolkit. I bought a toolkit from Amazon for about £11 including delivery. It’s great. It attaches to your bike, so there’s no chance of you forgetting to take it out with you and contains levers, a pump, a puncture kit and other things I don’t know how to use.
  6. A carrier bag. Yes, a carrier bag. Take a carrier bag out with you and tie it over your bike to keep the seat wet in case it rains while you’re away from it.
  7. Learn how to fix a chain. Okay, so I don’t know how to use the toolkit or how to change a puncture (I’ve been relying on the ‘someone else will do it for me’ method, but luckily I haven’t – touch wood – had a puncture yet, but I have fallen off in the ice and the snow when I came to a sliding halt at a crossing (damn you, person in wheelchair; next time I’ll make you wait until I’ve gone past before you can cross the road) and my chain came off. I didn’t fancy wheeling it home two miles in the snow so I phoned Shaun and said, ‘Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp, my chain’s come off, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa’ and he said something about putting the bike in third gear and turning the wheel, which worked and I cycled merrily home instead of trudging along at 2 miles an hour in the sludge.
  8. Ass savers. No, I’m not talking about the carrier bag again but someone on my cycling group’s Facebook page brought to our attention Ass Savers mudguards. These are great. They don’t need tools, come in lots of different colours and will save you from getting rain and mud up your back. You can get them on eBay for about £5.
  9. Money/charged phone. Bit obvious really, but make sure you have a charged phone with you so you can call for help if you need to, and money for a taxi/train/bus/cup of tea while you wait for someone to fix your puncture.
  10. Don’t cycle drunk. You might not have a friendly policeman willing to lock your bike up for you and give you a lift home after seeing you unsuccessfully try to ride your bike in a straight line. No, of course this isn’t a true story. (Okay, it’s totally a true story. Wasn’t in London though, obviously.)

If you’d like some more cycling safety tips, there’s a pretty infographic here, but these are my JogBlog Guide To Cycling Safely In Winter ones.

Any tips you’d like to add?

Janathon 2014 Day 2 – unfit for purpose

Slightly misleading title; my main purpose in life at the mo is to finish the final year of my degree and as students are known for being idle layabouts, I’m allowed to be as unfit as I jolly well like.

Still, after I looked at SportTracks yesterday and saw I’d only exercised on ONE day in December (Tuesday the 17th, when I did 40 minutes at the gym, if you really want to know), I thought it was probably time I got back down the gym. I don’t usually sweat much at the gym (unless I’m on the treadmill) and thought that was down to me not putting much effort in but today I was a right old Sweaty Betty after just a few minutes on the cross-trainer at minimal effort, so I’m putting that down to unfitness.


Anyway, tomorrow, I’m going to let YOU decide what I do. You can choose from:

Run (minimum 3 miles but I haven’t run for weeks so it’ll probably be more of a walk but I promise to get out there even if it’s raining)

Bike (minimum 10 miles but if it’s raining I’ll do it in the gym instead and believe me, I really don’t want to do 10 miles on a stationary bike)

Body Pump DVD at home (I promise to do the full hour and not skip the bits I don’t like; I’ll even do the stretching bit at the end)

Gym (30 minutes rowing machine, 30 minutes cross-trainer)

Okay, over to you! Let me know what you want me to do and I’ll see which has the most votes in the morning.

The JogBlog Guide To (Not) Buying A Bike

How many bikes are there in the world? A billion? Must be a million, at least. I only wanted one, so why was buying one so damn difficult?

As me and Shaun are around the same size, I thought I could borrow his bike for the upcoming London Duathlon but, as mentioned before, he likes to perch high up, while I prefer to be nearer the ground. Short Man Syndrome, I reckon. Still, SMS or not, it meant his bike wouldn’t be suitable for me so I had to have a hunt for one of my own.

I’d been recommended Halford’s Boardman Fi Hybrid Comp and, while I had to admit it was pretty, and Shaun said it had a good spec, it was High Street and I didn’t want to be laughed at for having a High Street bike. But it was worth having a look at and as it wasn’t in stock at the local branch, I thought I could order it online and if I didn’t like it, I could cycle it 1.5 miles up the road to the nearest Halfords and get my money back.


So, yay, that was my bike sorted. So I thought.

I tried ordering it online but I kept getting errors, then Shaun found it was in stock in the Canterbury branch so we drove up there to have a look at it in real life. Up the stairs we went to where the bikes are kept and went over to the Boardman bit and there was a big gap where the Fi Comp should have been. We asked the man on the counter where it was and he pressed a few keys on his computer and said it’d been put into quarantine out the back (yes, I did ask if it had rabies. Yes, he ignored my stupid question). I asked if I could have a look at it and he went out, then came back and said it had no back wheel. Then he pressed a few more keys on his computer and said the production of it had been suspended. Dammit!

We went home and Shaun did a bit of searching and said ‘aha, you must buy this bike, it’s excellent’. The excellent bike was a Giant Dash 4 and I thought ‘ooh, that’s pretty’ and the next day I got up, switched on my computer and ordered it. I was so excited by the prospect of my new bike, I phoned the shop (using the phone is an extremely rare occurrence for me) and asked if their next day delivery meant next day or next working day (I’d ordered it on a Friday morning). You can read what the man said here, or I can just tell you that the gist was it would be delivered in about four or five days. Bah.


Still, I could wait that long, couldn’t I? Of course I could. On the following Tuesday, the man from the bike shop rang and said there was a problem with my bike. It had come in dented and they couldn’t send it to me and he couldn’t find stock of any more anywhere. Not locally, not in the UK, not in the entire goddamn universe. This bike no longer existed. My little heart sank and I said ‘oh’. He said the new model would be out on 20 August (about two weeks’ later) and he could send me the same model for the same price or he could give me a refund. I said okay then, I’ll have the new one, all the while thinking BUT WHAT COLOUR IS IT? but not wanting to sound too much of a girl, despite actually being a girl and therefore it probably being okay to sound like one if the occasion warrants it (or not, as the case may be).

I put the phone down and emailed Shaun and said WAA, NO BIKE, THERE ARE NO MORE TO BE FOUND ANYWHERE, WAA, NO BIKE, BLAH BLAH BLAH and he rang Giant who said yes, that’s correct, there are no more of this bike anywhere in the world, soz. (They may not have actually said soz.) He enquired after the new model and asked if they had a photo of it and the specifications but they said no, the man in the shop wasn’t talking rubbish and the new one was out in a couple of weeks, but no one knew what it looked like or what the specifications were. It was a mystery bike, a bikey lucky dip.


I started looking at the Boardman again and Halford’s website said it was back in stock, so I put it in my virtual shopping bag, asked to collect it from Ashford and entered my credit card details. It didn’t like my credit card details and I was on my way out and didn’t have time to piss about with it. Shaun was giving me a lift to the station and said he’d pop into Halfords on the way back and ask about it there. He texted me later and said ‘I’ve just bought a bike. You can buy it from me for £499.’ I HAD A BIKE, HALLELUJAH AND STUFF! I later found out that my credit card details didn’t go through because Halifax wondered why I was buying a high price item when usually my credit card is full of things costing 99p from Amazon. Either that or they didn’t believe I was buying something as sporty as a bike and thought it must be dodgy.

Anyway, here’s  my bike.


Pretty isn’t it? And not only is it pretty, my average mph has gone up from 10mph to 13mph. IMMA GONNA NAIL THAT DUATHLON*

In case you’re wondering what the mystery bike does look like, now it’s been released, it looks like this.


I obviously had to go and have a look in a ‘look what you would have won’ kind of way and I’m very happy it’s blue as I hate blue.

*My apologies for the atrocious language.

I seem to have accidentally entered the London Duathlon 2013


I’ve entered the London Duathlon. I don’t know how that happened. Actually, I do know how it happened, it happened because Limelight Sports emailed me and said ‘would you like to take part in the London Duathlon?’ and I replied, ‘I’ve never done a duathlon before so, yes, I’d love to’. With hindsight, never having done a duathlon before isn’t the best reason in the world. I’ve  never plunged my head into a bubbling cauldron of crocodile sick and that’s not something I’m planning to do in the near or distant future either. Still, I got all motivated and inspired by the idea and, anyway, the super sprint is only 5k run / 11k bike / 5k run (other distances are available), and even I can do that.

But then, I realised, I haven’t got a suitable vehicle for such an undertaking. Although, at least I have got a bike (three of them in fact or, if you count all the bikes in the household, seven, or even eight if you also include the one with the engine although I’m not sure that’d be allowed on the course), unlike Rachel and Helen who are also going to be taking part.

I could borrow Shaun’s racer (or road bike or whatever they’re called these days) but, despite us being the same height and me having longer legs, it’s too high for me. Shaun likes to perch atop of it as if on a skinny shire horse, whereas I prefer to be nearer the ground, Shetland Pony style. When I tell him this, he starts banging on about efficiency in the legs or something, which is where I switch off and go back to playing Candy Crush (level 143 at the mo, in case you’re interested).

So, I need a bike. I had my eye on this one at Wiggle but Shaun compared the measurements and it’s near enough the same as his so I wouldn’t be comfortable on it. This one at Halfords (yeah, High Street, I know, but Shaun says although it’s Halfords, people won’t laugh because it’s a good bike) was £400ish cheaper the other day but now it’s gone up and I don’t know if it’s going to go down in price again soon.  I will keep looking.

And when I get my bike, I’m going to need to do some training on it, i.e. practise going faster than 10mph and not braking so hard I’m only doing 5mph on the downhill bits.

If you’re a duathlon noob like me, here are some tips from RG Active:

1. Do your homework – ensure you spend some time researching the event. Look at the transport and parking for race day, building in plenty of time to get the race and not be rushing at the last minute. Try to speak to athletes that have completed the race previously and get their feedback.


2. Get the basics – the basic equipment is essential. You will need a bike, a bike helmet, a pair of running shoes and some sports clothing to take part in. Spend some time making sure that your equipment is in good working order and get your bike serviced to prevent any unwanted mechanical issues. If your running shoes are more than one year old and you have used them regularly – it is time for a new pair. Good working equipment can often prevent injuries.


3. Build using BRICK’s – What is a BRICK session? Basically a training session where you complete both running and cycling elements at least once back-to-back to give you that real race simulation session. A BRICK session can take any form, it could be a very long bike followed by a short run, or short bike followed by a long run, it could be a run/bike/run session, or even a multiple BRICK where you swap sports up to five or six times. There is no right and wrong.


4. Train Transitions – the transition phase between cycling and running is the area that causes most anxiety for beginners. To help with this, spend time thinking through what ‘your’ method will be for transition – think about bike set up, the need to change footwear (if you wish) and how to lay this out for a smooth change over. Practice this time and time again.


5. Get outdoors – Your race is outside, on roads and will most likely include hills, therefore it is important to train in this environment on a regular basis. Cycling outdoors is very different to training on an indoor bike; the hills, the road surface, the wind and the heat can all play a big part in how you ride your bike, it also means you are training on the same equipment that you will be racing on. Indoor training is helpful, and on certain training sessions where you really want to control the environment it is more advantageous, but nothing beats being outdoors.


6. Be an early bird – on the race day it is important to get to the event early, this gives you an opportunity to register, set up your transition area and watch how the race operates without the stress of feeling rushed.

I need a tip on how to find my bike in the transition area. I’m sure I’m going to forget where it is. Any duathletes out there got some tips for me?

Home body pump

The good thing about doing body pump at home is you can skip the bits you don’t like. In my case, that’s the lying down bits, the abs bits and the stretching bits (and, no, that’s not all of it, shut up).

The bad thing about doing body pump at home is you have the instructor on the screen doing the same cheesy facial expressions and using the same cheesy phrases each time you use it.

Still, home body pump is almost as good as doing it in a real live class and I must have put some effort in, as my arms, legs and abs are now aching.


I also accidentally went for a ten mile bike ride. After cycling the long way round to the farm shop (2.5 miles), as it was such a beautiful (albeit windy) day, I decided to carry on.

p.s. I’ve seen some slacking going on the last couple of days, so can I remind you all: SLACKING IS NOT AN OPTION.

Thank you.

Juneathon 2009 Days 17 & 18 (and an extra credit)

I didn’t slack yesterday, honest.  I cycled 8.5 miles and here’s the splits to prove it:

And here’s a photo of a horse posing by my bike that I took yesterday to prove I was there.  Ok, so I should have had the horse holding a copy of yesterday’s newspaper in his teeth, but I didn’t pass an Evening Standard seller, funnily enough.

A horse posing with a Raleigh Shopper

And you’d better say bye to the Raleigh Shopper as, on Sunday, we’re going to pick up this

which is my new bike and I’m very very excited as it’s the prettiest bike in the whole wide world.

In the evening Shaun decided to drag me out on his Juneathon run on my bike to carry out carrying shopping duties after he’d taken a Juneathon detour through Sainsburys, and because I had already Juneathoned and as 8pm is a time for watching telly or reading or playing on Facebook or eating crisps or drinking wine or all of the above but definitely anything that doesn’t actually involve exercise I have made an executive decision and decided that being a shopping basket counts as an extra credit and cancels out one of my slacker days.

And today, after my successful 3 miles on Tuesday, I decide that this morning I will go out for 4 miles.  This actually turns into 1 mile sort of running and then turning round and walking most of the way back home.  But I did slightly redeem myself by going on the rowing machine for ten minutes when I got back and I’ll be going for a bike ride at lunchtime before doing some work that I should have done yesterday and that I’ll have to do before Dell send a courier to collect the shit pc they sold me.

Stats Juneathon day 17 part 1 (cycling)
Distance: 8.56 miles
Time: 56:38
Speed: 9.1mph
Calories: 232
Horses posing with bikes: 1
Pink Pashley Poppys being picked up on Sunday: 1
Weight: 9st 4
Juneathon’s completed: 15/30

Stats Juneathon day 17 part 2 (cycling)
Distance: 2.44 miles
Time: 18:41
Speed: 7.8mph
Calories: 76
Shopping basket duties: 1
Executive decisions made that this cancels out a slacker day: 1
Juneathon’s completed: 16/30

Stats Juneathon day 18 (running)
Distance: 2.08 miles
Time: 26:25
Pace: 12:43 m/m
Calories: 186
Shit pcs that Dell sold me: 1
Juneathon’s completed: 17/30

Stats Juneathon day 18 (rowing)
Distance: 893 ft
Time: 10 minutes
Count: 364
Calories: 24.3

Stats Juneathon day 18 (cycling)
Distance: 5.21 miles
Time: 33:00
Speed: 9.5mph
Calories: 150