Kit Review: Boardman Cycling Jersey and Shorts

Boardman

Cycling is without doubt an expensive sport. It can be easy to become sucked into spending on the latest kit or gadget which promises to improve your performance. However if you are just starting out or don’t have cash to splash, there are some more affordable options available.

Boardman Bikes were acquired by Halfords in 2014 and have since focused on producing entry-level kit and bikes which take inspiration from professional riders. Their capsule range for summer starts at just £30 for shorts and jerseys. The collection is designed to complement their bike colourways- if you are a fan of colour co-ordinating your kit with your bike, then Boardman cycling is well worth a look. I’ve been out riding in a jersey and shorts from the range this summer, here’s how I got on…

Boardman Women’s Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey- Geo

For kit at the lower end of the price spectrum, this jersey doesn’t skimp on any details. The rear pockets are a decent size with one zipped pocket for security. A full-length zip is a nice touch as are the reflective details. The jersey is constructed in Qwick-Dri fabric which draws away moisture, keeping you cool and comfortable on the bike. The hem is trimmed with silicone to keep it in position up as you pedal.

The collar is lined in a pop of coral with a geometric flash across the sleeve, back and chest. I like my cycling kit to be bright, so the navy colourway of this jersey is more subtle than I’d usually choose. The fit is described as relaxed and comfortable, however I found it more snug around the waist than my other cycling jerseys.

Boardman

Boardman Women’s Limited Edition Cycle Shorts- Black

These shorts perfectly complement the jersey with a band of matching geometric print at the hem. The waistband is lined in the same coral shade and the shorts have several reflective strips and logos.

The shorts are a good length, falling at mid-thigh. The high-density female specific chamois pad is stiffer than you would find in a higher-end pair of shorts. It’s comfortable enough on shorter rides, but I’m not sure how well it would fare on longer distance cycling. The fabric is opaque and doesn’t turn see-through when leaning forwards over the bike (so I’m told by my riding buddies)!

I usually prefer bibs as they give a smoother, more streamlined appearance. However, Boardman range only includes waist shorts for this season. I did find the waistband slightly restrictive and unflattering- I’m a little conscious of how I look in this combination of shorts and jersey.

Boardman

I also received a packable cycle jacket, but fortunately the weather has been too good to need any waterproofs. I’ll be keeping it on stand-by for when the weather begins to turn. I would like to have seen more accessories to complement the range, such as caps, gloves and socks with the geometric print.

Overall, these are good value pieces for leisure riding and training. Check out the full range of Halford cycling kit here

I received these products free of charge for review but all opinions are my own.

Have you tried any Boardman kit? Do you like to match your kit to your bike?

5 Reasons to Start Cycling

Reasons to Start Cycling

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of cycling. You can’t beat the feeling of freedom when flying downhill or the sense of satisfaction when tackling a tough climb.

The number of people taking up cycling is increasing rapidly, with a huge range of benefits to be had:

1. Cross-training for other sports
Cycling is great cross-training for other sports as it builds strength and fitness whilst placing no impact on the joints. Sprints and intervals on the bike have been proven to increase running speed. If you are rehabbing an injury, then taking up cycling can help keep you active without aggravating the injured area.

2. Exploring the outdoors
Riding a bike is the best way to experience the outdoors and discover new parts of the countryside. You can explore further afield than you can on foot, taking you away from familiar territory along different lanes or trails.

3. Chance to socialise
Cycling is a very social activity, whether you are a member of a club or just ride with a group of friends. Café stops and easy rides at conversational pace are an integral part of club rides. In fact, 20% of the riders surveyed by Cycle Republic state that riding allows them to spend time with friends.

4. Improved mental health
As with many physical activities, cycling has huge benefits for mental health. A bike ride can provide a much-needed escape from daily stresses and worries. By increasing endorphins, cycling can boost your mood and increase energy.

5. Increased confidence
Cycling can result in a real boost to your self-esteem. There is a huge sense of achievement and newfound confidence which comes with finishing a challenging ride. Learning new skills such as maintaining and repairing your own bike gives a feeling of self-reliance and independence.

Cycle Republic have surveyed five hundred riders across the UK, to understand their reasons for riding as well as their perceptions on safety and bike security. Their findings are presented in this infographic:

Reasons to start cycling

Posted in collaboration with Cycle Republic.

What are your reasons for cycling? 

Retul Bike Fit: My Experience

Retul Bike Fit

A professional bike fit is one of the best investments you can make to improve your riding. The slightest adjustments help to achieve the most comfortable, efficient and powerful riding position possible.

I’ve been experiencing discomfort when riding, particularly numb hands, neck and forearms. It’s hard to motivate myself to ride when I know that I will be in pain, so I knew something had to change in my bike set up. I treated myself to an early Christmas present and booked in with Bianca at Fit Your Bike. Bianca came highly recommended as qualified physiotherapist with a wealth of knowledge in cycling.

Fit Your Bike use the Retul system, which is one of the most advanced fitting tools in the world. Three-dimensional data is captured and analysed, which helps the bike fitter make adjustments to find your optimum riding position.

Before getting on the bike, the process starts with a consultation about your riding style, volume and goals. I discussed with Bianca my injury history and the areas where I’m experiencing discomfort when cycling.

Next up was a thorough assessment of my body’s flexibility, stability, symmetry and strength. Bianca immediately identified that I have very flat feet, small kneecaps, short thumbs and one leg longer than the other- doesn’t sound like a ideal combination!

She also noted that I am incredibly flexible and was amazed by the range of movement in my joints. In fact I score highly on the Beighton’s test for hypermobility. After reading up on Hypermobility syndrome, I realise I can identify with almost all of the symptoms and it makes sense why my body behaves the way it does. I’m surprised I was not diagnosed sooner.

Retul Bike Fit

Despite my imbalances and instabilities, Bianca noted that I actually have good control when squatting and lunging- my body is obviously compensating well. She suggested some progressions to the exercise programme which my physio gave me, in order to further strengthen these areas.

My bike was mounted onto a turbo trainer on a revolving platform and I was wired up with electrodes on my wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, heel, and toe. I was advised to wear my trisuit for the bike fit, so that my legs and arms are exposed for the placement of the electrodes.

Retul Bike Fit

As I cycled, the Retul’s sensor bar gathered real-time, three-dimensional data of my pedal strokes and movements. Bianca also assessed and videoed my current riding position. The first change was that my saddle needed to be raised considerably. Bianca commented that I was sitting at an angle on the saddle and that my left knee was tracking inwards. My cleat needed to be rotated slightly into a neutral position and a foam wedge inserted in the heel of my shoe.

Saddle discomfort was one of my main issues. I currently use a female-specific saddle, but it’s still not quite the right shape for my anatomy and was causing painful pressure in sensitive areas. Fit Your Bike stock a huge range of saddles, which can be rented for a trial period. Bianca suggested three models which might be suitable for me. I tested them and eventually the Cobb V-Flow felt like the best fit, with it’s narrow nose and cutaway centre. Cobb design their saddles based on the two types of female anatomy- the ‘innie’ and the ‘outie’- this article explains this in further detail.

Retul Bike Fit

Finally to solve the problem of my numb hands and arms, we shortened my stem to 70mm, rotated my handlebars away and moved up the hoods. I was stretching too far to reach the handlebars and placing too much pressure through my hands. It was a fiddly job to adjust the hoods- Campagnolo do not make it easy to get under the rubber.

After some fine-tuning, I pedalled again as the Retul recaptured the data. Comparing my before and after pictures, there is only a slight difference in my position but it’s actually made a big impact.

before

after

When we were satisfied with the final set-up, Bianca used a handheld digitizer to scan my bike and produce a set of measurements creating a digital map of my bike. Any bike I purchase in future can now be set up according to these measurements.

After a month of riding my newly fitted bike, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in comfort, particularly the saddle. It looks a bit odd in neon green, but I’ll be exchanging it for a black version soon! I now find it much easier to clip into my cleats, I’m no longer faffing for half a mile along the road!

It can be hard to part with the cash for a bike fit when you essentially come out of the shop with exactly the same bike as you went in. In my opinion, it was well worth the expense to solve those persistent niggles.

Have you ever had a bike fit?

Cycling Tenerife with Thomas Cook Airlines

Cycling Tenerife

The Canary Islands have become synonymous with activity and adventure holidays due to the dramatic landscape and year-round warmth. Having visited Lanzarote last year for a triathlon training camp, I was keen to see how the neighbouring island of Tenerife compared for outdoor sports. I visited Tenerife in 2005, but back then partying was on the agenda rather than adventure. This time, I was interested in seeing a more authentic side of the island away from the commercialised clubs and bars.

Thomas Cook Airlines selected a group of bloggers to explore Tenerife for three days and I was lucky enough to be invited. Meeting Georgina, Donna, Arianwen, Sam, Anya, Florine, Sam and David at Gatwick airport for the first time, I was struck by how passionate each blogger was about their individual sports. The group was made up of surfers, scuba divers and cyclists each seeking adventure and some winter sun.

Day One- Southern Tenerife

Myself, Georgina and Donna began our cycling experience at the Canary Bike Tours shop where we were fitted with Pinarello Razha bikes and introduced to our guide and ex-pro cyclist Unai Yus. The planned route would take us on a tour of the south of the island covering around 35 miles.

We headed out of Los Cristianos and followed the coast along to El Medano soon discovering that Tenerife has no flat roads. The route was certainly undulating, but nothing too challenging on this first day. Unlike at home, the road surfaces were well maintained and local drivers were respectful to cyclists.

Cycling Tenerife

Riding with a local meant that we discovered lesser-known corners of the island away from tourist hotspots. Our first rest stop was at a cove tucked away behind some apartment buildings where we were joined by Unai’s wife, children and dog. We spent some time relaxing at the beach side cafe and taking photos of La Montaña Roja (The Red Mountain).
Cycling Tenerife

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From this point, we climbed inland towards San Isidro past the airport through dusty arid terrain. The highlight of the ride came as we let loose down a long winding descent admiring the views out across the sea. We stopped for lunch at the end of this section, enjoying a huge salad at a cafe frequented by locals, before returning back to the bike shop.

Cycling Tenerife

 

From our hotel, I headed out for a 5km run along the sea front. Weaving around tourists on the promenade which was lined with hotels, restaurants and shops, I ran to the end of the bay at Los Cristianos.

Cycling Tenerife

Day Two- Northern Tenerife

A change of location for the second day on the bikes meant that we headed to the north of the island. Georgina and I were driven along the coastal road to Tenerife’s capital city Santa Cruz where we began our ride. Following cycle paths through the city we arrived at Las Teresitas- one of the few beaches on the island that doesn’t have black, volcanic sand. The white sands were actually shipped across from the Sahara Desert in the 1970s to create an artificial beach lined with palm trees. Unai told me about the Santa Cruz triathlon held at this beach in the spring and it was instantly added to my mental to-do list.

From the beach, we climbed up to the viewpoint. It was a challenging ascent but nothing compared to what we would experience later in the day! From this vantage point, we had panoramic views of the crystal clear turquoise water and golden sands.

Cycling Tenerife

Cycling Tenerife

What goes up, must come down! The descent down to the beach was fast and exhilarating, I tried not to cling onto the brakes for dear life!

After a quick stop to re-hydrate, the work really began. Shifting down to my lowest gear and trying to keep my legs spinning, we began the slow ascent through the Agana Mountains. The route which Unai had planned was 24km of constant climbing which sounded very daunting so we broke it down into sections taking short breaks every 2-4 kilometres.

The ascent became steeper and steeper as it twisted through a series of switchbacks. I kept pedaling whilst breathing deeply and focusing on the section of road directly in front of me. This was one of the toughest rides I’ve ever undertaken and I began to doubt my ability to complete it. My body was shaking all over so I reached for the Clif Bar in my bike bag which gave a much-needed energy boost.

 

Cycling Tenerife

Cycling Tenerife

Starting again after each rest was a real challenge on such a steep incline. Unai kept the motivation going both mentally and physically- I’ve no shame in admitting he actually pushed us up some of the more challenging sections! Georgina did amazingly well considering she is not a regular cyclist.

As we climbed, we noticed the landscape and climate change. We left behind the arid, barren terrain and rode into lush forested areas. The temperature became cooler and the road was shaded by a canopy of trees. Unai told us that some of these species of trees are endemic to the Canary Islands and have disappeared completely in other parts of the world.

We made a final push to the viewpoint over the valley below. The views really did make the tough climb worthwhile. Lizards darted around amongst the rocks as we posed for pictures with our bikes held proudly above our heads. It was an incredible feeling to look down at the network of zig-zagging roads which we had just conquered all the way from the beach in the distance.

Cycling Tenerife

Cycling Tenerife

Just 200 metres along the road is a cafeteria in El Bailadero where we rested and ate on a terrace overlooking the mountain range. We devoured a chickpea and chorizo stew followed by braised beef with chips. We decided to end the ride at this point instead of pushing on further up the mountain, it was a huge achievement to get this far and we both felt satisfied with 2887 feet of climbing over 17 miles. The driver came to collect us so thankfully we didn’t need to descend the mountain by bike!

These two rides really highlighted the contrast between Southern and Northern Tenerife and showed us what the island has to offer cyclists- challenging terrain, exhilarating views and plenty of adventure.

Cycligng Tenerife

I was invited to Tenerife as a guest of Thomas Cook Airlines, but all opinions are my own. Thank you to Thomas Cook and to Georgina for use of the photos.

Have you ever visited Tenerife? Do you enjoy active adventure holidays?