Friday, 28 August 2015

How to make a GoPro HERO lens protector

Introduction

I have the entry level +GoPro HERO camera and I love it. It certainly has got me much more interested in making more than just "helmet cam" videos about commuting. Here's my favourite cycling and non-cycling videos I have produced.

The point of this post?

Well, the GoPro HERO is a camera that is fixed into it's housing, which is a bit of a downside. If the lens becomes scratched, the camera is pretty much ruined. So with that in mind, you need to look after your camera at all times.

+MicBergsma has a fantastic YouTube channel which has helped inspire and educate me going forward with my GoPro experience. I came across his video which shows how to make an easy and cheap method of protecting that valuable and exposed lens. You can see the video at the end of this post and I will state that I am not trying to rip Mic off; indeed if you watch Mic's video, the idea came from another guy called Honza - so thanks Honza!

All I'm doing here is help spread the word!


Materials needed

  • GoPro HERO entry level camera
  • Said camera's packaging
  • Sheet of micro fibre cloth
  • Elastic band
  • Scissors
  • Adult to use scissors :-)
What you'll need (scissors and responsible adult not pictured)

What to do

1) First off, make sure that your micro fibre cloth is a suitable size and trim it to cover the front face of the camera with some overlapping. My piece was the right size from the start.
2) Take out the blow moulded plastic part of the packaging. This is all you will need from the packaging, so either keep it in the attic or recycle the rest of it.

3) Take the scissors and carefully cut away the edges of the of the blow moulded plastic. All you need is the shape of the camera.

Carefully cut around the shape of the camera
4) When you have the excess plastic removed, you will end up with something looking like this:


5) All that is needed now is to put the micro fibre cloth between the camera and the plastic and keep it in place with the elastic band.

Conclusion

That's it! Very easy, very cheap and very practical. It will help to keep the camera in a good condition when not in use, rattling and rolling around in a backpack between adventures.

Below you can find the video tutorial from Mic:

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Tour de Coniston - 25 April 2015

What is it?

This isn't an organised ride as such, just something Sam put together and looked like a really good route to do in a day. Basically, stay overnight in Coniston, ride around the lake the next day then head home the next. I'm classing this as an adventure cross ride as it takes in all sorts of terrain.

Where to stay?

We stayed in the YHA, Coniston Holly How. Rooms were great, showers were OK and breakfast plentiful. Coniston itself has a few pubs, the best we found was the Blackbull Inn which served all of the beers brewed at the Coniston brewery. A particular favourite was the Oatmeal Stout and the Bluebird lager (don't get a bit tipsy and ask for a pint of Blackbird).

The route

The route was a mix of all kinds of terrain. Gravel forest roads, forest single track, grassy sheep track, farm tracks and actual roads, Plenty of variation to keep you interested. Of course the scenery is stunning, as is always the case in the Lake District. Below is the route on Strava. It's appended "(almost)" as we set off later than intended and had to return the bike I had hired (mine was wrecked after the Moors and Shores ride earlier that month). So we had to drop down on to the roads for the last couple of miles. Dropping off the Scott Aspect 740 back at the boating centre was a bit of a relief; the plastic tyres had me slipping and sliding all over the show, but luckily there were no spills.


Pictures

Here's a small slideshow of photos. Some sections had to be traversed on foot.

Video

If you have 9 minutes to spare, the video below will show you just how spectacular the ride is. If you have a weekend coming up where you are looking for a ride with a bit of everything, this is it!


Sunday, 19 July 2015

Altering phased sessions in Polar training programs

Introduction

This post is the latest in my series of how to create a training program in polarpersonaltrainer.com, how to manipulate the program to suit your needs and how to carry out the program.

By default, the interval sessions created in the training program have one time block each dedicated to warm up, work and cool down. This isn't too bad for long sessions that don't require a lot of concentration on changing effort levels regularly. But for fast paced intervals, an hour long work phase means concentrating on your efforts, the road whilst trying to keep track of time. It is much easier to let the watch tell you when to change your pace.

Changing phases in an interval session

A typical phased interval session is shown below:
  1. The notes and description section details how many reps/intervals you should do and how hard. Use this information to alter the training phases.
  2. Details of the phases - this section contains the times and zone limits that you will see on the watch during training. As it is currently set, there is a 15 minute warm up (phase 1), and hour long phase 2 which is the actual workout and a cool-down period of 15 minutes, phase 3.
  3. The option to repeat phases is a good idea for interval sessions.
As the notes describe, phase 2 consists of lots of repetitions. This is what I will need to change. There is a warning (highlighted), so I need to ensure that when the phases are changed, the time and effort level for each phase matches the original session.

Original training session

Add new phase

  1. Click "add phase" button. The new phase is added as number 4. Note the default maximum limit (my HRmax) and minimum limit, 50% of HRmax.

Add new phase

Make phase 4 cool down

  1. Make phase 4 a direct copy of phase 3, by inputting duration and heart rate zone limits. Notice the distance and duration increases accordingly - this is what the warning that was seen previously is referring to.

Beware that in the process of  altering the session, the overall distance will need to be monitored

Change phases 2 & 3

  1. Now I can alter the actual training session, phases 2 and 3. The training notes section describes how I need to ride: 4 minutes in zone 4, 2 minutes in zone 2.
  2. Adjust the times and BPM limits accordingly. Here the limits need to be calculated from your maximum heart rate (zone 4 = 80-90% of HRmax, zone 2 = 60-70% of HRmax).
  3. Now, the work section (phases 2 & 3) of the session is only 6 minutes long, whereas it was once 60 minutes.
  4. The reps will now need to be added.

Training session now has the correct phases, but distance and time are out

Repeating phases

  1. Using the drop down menus, the phases to be repeated can be selected.
  2. When the number of repetitions have been selected, the distance and duration of the session is restored to the original values as calculated by the program.
  3. 10 repetitions of phases 2 & 3: 6 minutes * 10 reps = 60 minutes.

Adding repetitions restores the overall distance and time

Alternative - sport zone limits

  1. The training notes describe the phases in zones:
    • Zone 1: 50-60% HRmax
    • Zone 2: 60-70% HRmax
    • Zone 3: 70-80% HRmax
    • Zone 4: 80-90%HRmax
    • Zone 5: 90-100% HRmax
  2. Unless you know what the BPM limits are for each of your zones, it could save a little bit of time to switch the limit method to sport zones and the select the desired zone limit.
  3. Using the "limits" drop-down, select "Sport zones".
  4. Enter the zone limits for each phase. For example, in phase 1 below, zone 2 is the upper and lower limit. This means that for 15 minutes, I must stay within zone 2.

Sport zones may help to make setting up the phases easier

Renaming phases

  1. Clicking in the name box of each phase allows you to rename the phase. This is entirely optional and is reflected on the watch.
  2. The four pre-defined choices work well in this example, but you can call them whatever you like.

Renaming phases can offer clarity on the road

Pre-set names may be all you need

Conclusion

Once I have the training phases and repetitions (the reps are really important!) as required, I can save and close the training session. Once I then synchronise the watch with ppt.com, the watch will guide me through the whole session, telling me when warm up has finished, when to push hard and when to recover, repeating until it is time to cool down.

Whilst this is a specific example, the process remains the same for any tweaks you would like to make to the training program. Just be aware that adding and removing phases could affect the overall distance/time/effort and will therefore affect how difficult the rest of the program will become!

I will publish another post showing the training session in action.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Polar cycling heart rate training - update

Background

ICYMI, I'm riding the coast to coast to coast with Spennymoor Cycling Club to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service. To be able to do this, I set up a heart rate training program with my Polar RC3 GPS watch and polarpersonaltrainer.com.

I'm into the last two weeks of training so here's my thoughts on the experience so far.

The sessions

There are five different types of sessions within the program and they repeat week after week (for six weeks).

Easy ride

These sessions are fairly self explanatory. Long distance, flat terrain, low heart rate and high cadence. I have found it difficult to find routes that allow me to stay in zone 2 (60-70% of HRmax) and often go into zone 3 as soon as the gradient increases. It is fairly hilly around here.

Uphill Intervals

These sessions are one of my favourites. They are low cadence, higher heart rate reps followed by short recovery sessions. I have found a climb not very far away from my house which is just the right gradient and length to allow me to control heart rate and cadence perfectly and follow the training to the letter. You can see an example of this in the Strava widget below:



Spinning Intervals

These are odd sessions. They started out as being a 30 minute warm up in zone 2, a 30 minute work session where the cadence was ramped up until my heart rate hit 80% and then backed off, followed by a 30 minute zone 2 cool down. As the program continued however, it became a 30 minute warm up, 30 minute work session followed by a 2.5-3 hour cool down in zone 2, much like the easy rides. And as like the easy rides, zone 2 is easy to overshoot. These types of sessions were frustrating.

Long ride

What it says on the tin. A long ride was a ride over 3.5 hours long, up to 6 hours in zone 2. Again, frustrating on the inclines as I was expected to have a high cadence, around 100rpm. As my rides continue, I am finding I can manage this a better than when I started.

Interval ride

Another of my favourites, as they are repetitive sessions with short sharp blasts of zone 4 (89-90% of HRmax) riding followed by an even shorter recovery period. I discovered how to tweak the sessions in ppt.com to make these sessions easier to follow. I'll post a how-to on this in the next few days. Below is another Strava example:


Conclusion

So far I've found the training program to be frustrating at times, but ultimately I can feel my performance improving. I can see personal records appearing on Strava and my average heart rate dropping on ppt.com. I have even made the jump from 100Km to 100miles - I'm pleased with this!!

Route planning has been of great importance. I set out with the mindset that I had to do one big loop, whereas the sensible option staring me in the face is to do laps. This keeps climbing to a minimum on the easy rides and allows the interval sessions to remain equal.

I'll post more as I get towards the end of the program.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

How to set up a Polar heart rate training plan

Background

In preparation for the upcoming coast to coast to coast ride I am aiming to complete, I decided to use my Polar RC3 GPS training watch to set up a dedicated training program. Some might say that this is taking it too seriously, but as I've never ridden more than 100Km before, I think that preparation is key. Plus, when I ran the Great North Run in 2013 and 2014, I trained with the same monitor and a program and found it to be very beneficial.

Prerequisites

This post is going to be fairly specific, as it applies to to a particular manufacturer of heart rate monitor (referred to as HRM). The principles will be the same, in that you ride specific durations at different intensities and (hopefully) your performance will improve.

With that being said, as I use a Polar HRM, my training program is set up on the free training website, polarpersonaltrainer.com (referred to as ppt.com). A compatible HRM will also be needed; Polar offer RCX5, RCX3 and RC3 GPS, F55, FT60 and FT80 models that are compatible with the various training programs.

Training Programs

To set up any kind of program, you need the following information:
  • Number of activities per week
  • Average duration
  • Average intensity 

For my needs, I was able to look back through my training history in ppt.com and drill down into the relevant sessions. To do this, I either best-guess and jot the figures down or alternatively, head to the "Progress" tab of ppt.com and see exactly what you have been up to. I use my HRM for every session, whether it's a cycle commute, a 5Km parkrun or a day out around a forest trail centre somewhere.

Determining your activity level

When in the progress tab, select "All Training Sessions":

Select "All Training Sessions"

Next, you must specify your training sessions. Here you will see that I have picked all of my road and commute cycling activities. I have also selected mountain biking, because despite that kind of riding is not typically relevant to the coast to coast, the rides I have done this year have been more cross country.

Defining which activities are to be scrutinised

Now that the correct activity type has selected, it's time to refine the dates. I decided to start at the beginning of 2015 up until the present day (it was a couple of weeks ago that I set up this program). As you need the figures per week, use the drop down to group by week.

Selecting time period, and seeing total sessions and total duration, as well as sessions and duration per week

From this view, you can now see your average sessions per week (blue) and average weekly duration (orange). The next figure you will need is intensity. This is a tricky figure to see with the information ppt.com has stored. One way is to select "training load" from the available curves and see how strenuous the weeks' activities were. Training load is a value Polar calculate based on a number of factors including age, weight, time spent in specific zones etc. The other method, less likely to lead to confusion, is to wait for the training program questions as they offer more descriptive answers to how intense your activities were.


The higher the black peaks, the harder you worked that week

Setting up the program

Now you have all of the required information, the next step is to move to the training programs tab in ppt.com and select the required program.

Select the type of program you require

Endurance programs are programs that gradually ramp up the intensity every 4 weeks and are designed to improve your endurance, unsurprisingly. The cycling programs (highlighted in green above) are for dedicated events in the future. When the sessions have been completed, the program ends too.

As always, there is a disclaimer so that you are responsible for your own health and not Polar. Tick the box and sign your life away! This is why checking the historical data described above is necessary.

The steps shown above should ensure that the questions are accurately answered

The next step is to enter the figures we found earlier:

The intensity question is easier to answer at this stage. Training load should have jogged your memory

The figures highlighted in blue are pulled in from your ppt.com profile, which should be kept up to date. Some watches, such as the RC3 GPS, have a feature called "fitness test". This results in the Polar equivalent to VO2 Max, which is an indication of how many millilitres of oxygen your body is able to transport and use per each kilogram of your body weight in one minute. Resting heart rate is easy to determine with your HRM - just put it on and sit or lie down without moving for five minutes.

The next step is to determine your target. I found the descriptions are a bit vague, but the date should be set in stone.

Select your event target and set the date

For clarity, I set up a one-day event program, recorded the sessions and then deleted it, and then set up a stage event. As I'm riding over 180Km on two consecutive days, I anticipated that a stage event would be preferred. However, there was no discernible difference in the program details, (as shown in the table below), so I decided to follow the stage program.

Program typeOne-day eventStage event
Program duration6 weeks
6 weeks
Weekly training sessions4-54-5
Event date04/07/201504/07/2015
Program end date04/07/201504/07/2015
DescriptionThis training program is for preparing for a 180 km ride. The training program is specifically designed for cycling and includes instructions to build up your aerobic condition. The training sessions also include instructions for cadence. Cadence is the speed at which you turn the cranks, measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). Cadence can be measured with a Polar Cadence Sensor, although this is not mandatory for completing the program.This training program is to prepare for a stage event of 4-7 days with a 150 km ride per day. The training program is specifically designed for cycling and includes instructions to prepare for participating and finishing strongly. The training sessions also include instructions for cadence. Cadence is the speed at which you turn the cranks, measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). Cadence can be measured with a Polar Cadence Sensor, although this is not mandatory for completing the program.
Number of sessions2727
Types of sessions
Easy ride - 6
Uphill intervals - 5
Spinning intervals - 6
Long ride - 5
Interval ride - 5
Rest days - 14
Easy ride - 6
Uphill intervals - 5
Spinning intervals - 6
Long ride - 5
Interval ride - 5
Rest days - 14

When you have set the date and type of event, you are presented with a summary. At this point you can still go back to amend the program.

The event date is set and the number of weekly sessions correspond to your previous weekly demand

When the training program is confirmed, the following message is displayed:

Congratulations on successfully creating a training plan!

The finished program

You can now head to the training tab in ppt.com to see the training sessions in the diary view. Now is a good opportunity to drag and drop any sessions around the calendar to suit your schedule. It is a good idea to try and keep the sessions as the program has set out, with rest days in place. I found that I would prefer to do my longer rides on a Saturday or Sunday, so a little bit of tweaking may be required, You will see the event on the pre-set day. You can now synchronise the program to the watch.

A daunting-looking schedule

Training load

As I briefly mentioned above, Polar estimate how your training sessions will stack up, affecting your ability to perform, Clicking on to the training load tab will bring up your scheduled training load, which is a good indication of how the program ramps up and tapers towards the event date.

Grey bars show the tapering of the program towards the event date

The red bars are actual sessions - where the corresponding red curve rests in the horizontal coloured bands tells you how you should proceed. Above you can see a big effort at the far left, which left me in yellow - this means I need to take it easy and not over do things. The following spike leaves takes me into red again, but I then rested and found myself in green, meaning I'm recovered and ready to get stuck into the program. Training load can be really useful in monitoring performance.

The sessions

Below you will see the entire stage event training schedule and some examples of the different types of sessions.

Entire schedule
Example session - easy ride
Example session - uphill intervals
Example session - spinning intervals
Example session - long ride
Example session - interval ride

Notice all sessions contain detailed information in the training notes. These instructions are what needs to be carefully followed to get the best out of the session.

Conclusion

If you have made it to here, thank you for sticking with me! I hope you found this post if you are contemplating on setting up a HRM training program for the first time or coming back to it after a while away.

In the coming days and weeks, I'll be posting about my progess.

Have you ever trained using heart rate programs before? Let's hear your thoughts, comments and experiences in the comments below.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Coast2Coast2Coast - fundraising for Great North Air Ambulance

Introduction

On the weekend 4th/5th July 2015, I will be riding England's famous "coast to coast" bicycle ride. However, there's a slight twist. I'll be riding with other members of Spennymoor Cycling Club (of which I am a member) in order to raise money for a worthy cause. To make the challenge of riding the width of England even more challenging, we'll be staying overnight at a hotel on the west coast in Workington and then riding home to Sunderland the next day! The chosen charity we are doing this ride for is the Great North Air Ambulance.

Image credit: Great North Air Ambulance

This charity was chosen as the air ambulance came to the rescue of one of the clubs' riders who had been struck by a car whilst out on a Sunday club ride. Whilst the injuries sustained were serious, the club member is well on the way to recovery and is now able to join the rest of the club on some rides. Without the service provided by the air ambulance, the outcome of the collision could have been much worse.

If you would like to encourage the cycling club with a donation, please visit the donation website here.

The routes

How will I manage?

My longest ride so far is around 104Km, the Virgin Money Cyclone. I have ridden that twice, with a year in between to recover! So to do around 190Km on two consecutive days, I need to up my game. I'm an advocate of Polar heart rate monitors; I currently use an RC3 GPS. I bought this watch when I was training for the Great North Run a couple of years ago and it is such a useful tool in boosting performance.

My RC3 GPS showing a motivational milestone message
I've set up a cycling training program and in my next post, I'll show you how to do the same.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Adventure Cross: Moors and Shores 2015

What is it?

Adventure cross is a relatively new type of event on the cycling calendar. Adventure cross events take you away from main, busy roads and out into more remote terrain to experience something a little bit different. The routes aren't accessible for road bikes, but cyclocross and mountain bikes are ideal. The routes are designed so that you can cover a greater distance than if you were to head out on a typical mountain bike ride, perhaps at a trail centre such as Hamsterley Forest, Whinlatter or Dalby Forest.
Routes contain a mixture of cycle paths, trails, rural roads and bridleways, with a small amount of tricky technical riding to keep you focused. Moors and Shores is the first adventure cross event I have participated in and it was really good.

Be prepared - adventure cross routes do venture off the beaten track

Which bike should I ride?

As stated above, a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike. Both have their advantages:
  • Cyclocross bikes are more suited to the smoother surfaces
  • Mountain bikes preferred over rougher, technical sections
  • Gearing is essential as there may be steep climbs

What was Moors and Shores like?

In one word - brilliant. In more words - really well organised, wet, muddy, huge fun, enough sweets cakes, bananas, water, tea at exceptionally well stocked feed stations, signposted impeccably and just absolutely great fun! Check out the video and route below:

Video


Route


Sounds great, where can I find out more?

Visit this link here to book an adventure cross ride.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

UPDATE - Auckland Way will finally be resurfaced

Background

Last December, you may (or may not) remember this post, where I talked about how terrain changes make cycling harder. More specifically, there are two sections at the beginning and end of Auckland Way (at Brack's Farm, Bishop Auckland and Whitworth, Spennymoor) that are really rough and ready. Signs were erected by Durham County Council stating that the work was stopped due to bad weather and would resume in the spring of 2015.

Spring is here!

And so is this new sign, on the now-closed gate at Whitworth car park.

Work will soon start on Auckland Way
However, there was no such notice at Brack's Farm end of the railway path, so it can only be assumed that the work will either follow the completion of Whitworth or they haven't put up the notices yet.

Either way I'll be glad when it's finished!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Punctures around the valve stem? Here's a quick fix

Punctures - the cyclist's worst enemy

Or the wind. Depends on which one you are dealing with at the time!
On Sunday (15/2/15) I was due to have a ride out on my road bike with Spennymoor Cycling Club. So on Saturday, I got my bike out, checked it over to make sure all was well like every diligent cyclist should. The tyres needed a little bit of air in, so I inflated them, anticipating the hum of the tarmac beneath my wheels come the morning.

Sunday morning arrived. Dog walked, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, gear on. As I was wheeling the bike out down the hall, I noticed the front tyre was pan flat.

It's disheartening finding a flat on the morning of the ride

Preparation is key

I thought that by checking my bike out the day before the ride I would be prepared enough. But no! I didn't have a spare tube. I have tubes for my hybrid and mountain bikes, but not the road bike. If I was to get a puncture out riding, I always have a set of tyre levers and a puncture patch kit at the very least. If I have a spare tube, I'll also take that.

With no replacement, I quickly whipped off the front wheel, removed the tyre and the inner tube with the aim of patching it up and quickly get riding. I inflated it slightly and it was immediately obvious that the hole was at the base of the valve. I don't have any pictures because I threw the tube away in disgust/anger.

I thought "I'll pop down to Halfords, it opens at 9 and it's just down the road", literally 2 minutes away. I got there and it didn't open till 10. Just my luck. In the end I gave up and went to Hamsterley Forest on my mountain bike. I had a great time!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing

On Monday afternoon I was thinking about the whole debacle. I was going to get some tubes: one to go in the tyre, one to take out on rides as a spare and at least one more in the shed for back up. Then it struck me - I'd had a puncture like this on that bike before. "Was it the front wheel? No it was the back. Are you sure?". I wasn't sure. After plenty of reminiscing about fixing punctures, it turned out it was the front and I thought I'd been lumbered with a dodgy tube at that time.

So with new tubes and a new found sense of determination, I got to work.

The problem

Simply, the rim tape around the wheel is slightly oval around the valve hole through the rim. This means that the sharp metal edge cuts the tube as it is inflated and pushed deeper into the rim, or perhaps over-tightening the valve washer had pulled the tube too far down, causing the chafing/rubbing.

The rim tape doesn't cover the edges of the hole

The rim tape is perfectly OK, it's doing it's job of stopping the spokes from piercing the tube. The problem faced is easy to fix and I'll show you how I did it.

The solution

No need to go and buy some new rim tape, I already had the bits necessary. Well, I almost did but the old, useless inner tube was in the bin and taken away by now. That is all you need. Just take some scissors and cut a section out of the old tube, large enough to comfortably fit over the hole in the rim. I'd suggest making it two layers thick. I used an old self adhesive patch. These are quite thick and suit the job well. Then take a screwdriver or other pointed instrument and pierce a hole through the middle of your patch material. Be careful, watch those fingers! Then simply push the patch down over the valve and fit the tube as normal.

Piercing the patch material
Push valve through the stem

Just ride on!

That's it. So simple and it only takes a couple of minutes. The rest is just a normal tube replacement job.

Have you used this fix before? Had this issue but didn't know what caused it? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading - if you find this tip useful, please consider sharing this post.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

New cycle path at Cockfield

The railways of County Durham


One of the best ways to get into cycling around County Durham is to do it on the miles and miles of reclaimed railway tracks all around the county.

You can start in Bishop Auckland and head east out towards Spennymoor or north out towards Willington and onto Broompark. From there you can then Head northwest on to Lanchester, Consett and beyond. That is a lot of distance to cover through beautiful scenic countryside on paths that, whilst not dedicated to cyclists (remember they are open to walkers, dogs and horse riders), are a perfect surface for a leisurely ride out.

Only north?

In the paragraph above, I mention a number of routes. Based in Bishop Auckland, when I head out along these railways, it’s generally in a northerly direction. But the old railways extend much further than that, south towards West Auckland, (confusing name, I know!), Newton Aycliffe and eventually Darlington. A new section recently opened up between Shildon and Newton Aycliffe, called Locomotion Way.

Not much going on south of Bishop Auckland, but in the north...take your pick!

Future Improvements?

In the spirit of Locomotion Way, a new project has begun at Burnt Houses, near Cockfield, County Durham. Work has begun on turning a disused section of railway into a path suitable for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. It is however, only 500m long. Despite the small length of track being converted, it will in fact link existing pathways, creating a longer route. It seems like a big effort for such a small distance, but the idea behind this work is much bigger.
Image taken from Teesdale Mercury
According to the Teesdale Mercury, the work is costing £30,000, with £8,000 being funded by Teesdale Action Partnership: “Craig Morgan, from the partnership, said the overall aim is to create the "South West Durham Heritage Corridor.”

The idea is that this work, when completed, will show other funding bodies how impressive the project is and then extend the renovations, linking Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle. Currently if you were to cycle to Barnard Castle from Bishop Auckland, you will end up on very fast, main roads. A safer alternative would definitely encourage more people to visit Barnard Castle, and in return, Bishop Auckland.

A waste of money?

The article plays on the idea that this is a waste of money, with some residents, presumably those who don’t like cyclists, voicing concerns. I can only see this having a positive effect. As a regular cyclist and dog walker on these railway lines, I can certainly say how popular they are. I don’t think I've ever ridden or walked one without seeing at least one other person.

I’d like to congratulate Teesdale Action Partnership on going ahead with this project and I hope that they receive the funding they require.

Friday, 30 January 2015

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Endura Luminite II Overshoes - review

In the last batch of kit sent to me by Cyclescheme as part of the Super Commuter programme (has been cancelled indefinitely), there were these nifty looking overshoes:

Brand new Luminite overshoes
I previously had some overshoes that I bought from Aldi in one of their cycling events. Those didn't last very long at all, the zips on the back broke after a few weeks and that was it. However, the £4.99 spent was well spent as I really enjoyed the benefits that wearing overshoes has in the winter.

How my shoes should look
What they usually look like in winter
As you can see above, the benefits include keeping your shoes nice and clean! They also help keep your feet warm and dry.

Construction

The Endura Luminite II overshoes are made from a relatively stretchy waterproof fabric that are taped up the centre to keep water out. All stitching is flatlocked for durability. This also reduces bulk so that the overshoes pretty much hug the outline of your shoes. The inside of the overshoes is covered with a thin thermal, almost fleece layer, providing the warmth required on winter rides. The fastening is done by pretty hefty Velcro strips right down the ankle and heel. There are also a couple of Velcro tabs that come under the sole. The overshoes open completely down the back and sole. This allows the overshoes to be worn with any kind of footwear: road or mountain bike cleats are accessible. The bottom section below the toes is made from Kevlar, which is extremely hard wearing. This allows for walking around without destroying the bottoms (a problem in my Aldi pair). Being part of the Luminite range, they are aimed at commuting and feature reflective details on sides (bar the inside) for greater visibility.

Toe protection, sole tabs and no cleat inhibiting
Velcro fastening and reflective details

Using the overshoes

To fit the overshoes can be a bit tricky at first. I have a large pair, and size EUR46 mountain bike shoes. They are snug so it can be tricky at first getting the Velcro to fasten in the right place. It takes a little bit of effort to open them again; the Velcro is impressively strong. I find it easier to fasten the under sole tabs first and then around the heel, working my way up the ankle. The cuff comes up quite high, so the entire shoe and ankle is covered, protecting from splashes. However, if it's raining heavy, I found that water running down my leg ended up in my shoe, which kind of defeats the overshoes. Fastening tighter around the ankle and more waterproof leggings may be a way to avoid this. Walking around in mountain bike shoes is easy, the overshoes don't hinder the "studs" at all and do not scrape on the ground.

Reflective details

I am annoyed to find that one one of the overshoes that the reflective details have started to peel away. I have used a little super glue and stuck the errant patches back down, but I doubt that they will last that long. As these patches are on the heel, they are important when riding in poor light or even at night because the up and down motion of the foot through the pedal stroke is very efficient in catching drivers' attention. The large patches on the side and front of the shoes seem to be secured very well and are large enough to really catch the eye.

Some reflective patches peeling off
Large reflective areas should catch the eye

Conclusion

I think that £25 is a very fair price for these overshoes. They do everything that a decent pair of overshoes do:
  • Keep your feet dry from splashing through puddles
  • Keep your feet warm thanks to the fleece lining
  • Easy to wear
  • Compatible with all shoe types
One point that detracts from this is the reflective detailing that has started to peel. However I don't think it's enough of a bad point to deter you from buying these.

What about you?

Do you have a favourite go-to pair of overshoes? Have you used these overshoes? Leave a comment below and thank you for reading.
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