On Two Wheels with Decathlon and B’Twin

I used to be a regular cycle commuter a few years ago. My little single speed bike took me from Islington to Waterloo station every day when I was studying for my post-grad degree, and for plenty of summer rides around London. As my knee injury got progressively got worse over the years, my poor bike became more of an ornament in my back yard, looking rather sorry for itself. In the last year or so, I’ve been keen to get back on two wheels, and when I joined forces with Decathlon, it seemed a great opportunity to take a look at a new road bike from their B’Twin range.

I’m not about to cycle mega long distances, or tackle the hills of Surrey, so a fairly basic road bike is all I wanted. I took a look at the wide range of bikes available at Decathlon, and settled on the beautiful, Triban 500 Road Bike, in pillar-box red. The colour had nothing to do with my choice…sort of. Here’s how I’ve been getting on with it.

decathlon, road bike, btwin, fitness, cycling

Photo Credit – Elle Linton

My new bike arrived just a couple of weeks after surgery, so all I could do was look at it until I was given approval to gently start with static training. Immediately I treated myself to a small turbo trainer (Amazon) and got to know my new wheels. It wasn’t long before my knee was strong enough to cycle properly, first around my block a few times, then down to Shoreditch to meet Elle from Keep It SimpElle – thanks for the photos! Since then I’ve been cycling to work once or twice a week, and enjoying life on two wheels again!

If you’re looking for bike specifics, here they are:
With a carbon forks and alloy frame, the Triban 500 is a mere 10.5kg and designed for short to moderate distances. 24 gears is more than I know what to do with, but I’ve found the perfect set up for my commute, with the occasional shift down for one or two short but feisty hills in North London. Once I found the right seat and handle bar height, which always takes a couple of goes in my opinion, I’ve found it to be a really comfortable ride, with no pain in my lower back. If I fancied an upgrade, I might opt for a slightly softer saddle, or simply invest in some padded shorts.

My old bike was custom built around a vintage frame (how hipster of me) so until getting the road bike, I’d never ridden with brakes on hoods on the handlebars. I actually love this riding position now as it’s a much nicer angle for the wrists and I found I get less impact though the joints as I go over bumps. Something important for me to think about with my joint condition.

decathlon, road bike, btwin, fitness, cycling

Photo Credit – Elle Linton

Thanks to Decathlon for helping me out with the purchase of my bike. Although I’d just had knee surgery, when I collected the bike in store (with the help of a friend and his car) staff were attentive and willing to help with the set up and finer details. Any time I need help with the bike, be it maintenance, equipment, or general queries, the team at Decathlon are always on hand to help. Add in their lifetime guarantee and free safety check, and I’m a happy commuter!

Stay tuned for a post on the cycling essentials coming soon, and in the meantime, perhaps get out on two wheels yourself!

decathlon, road bike, btwin, fitness, cycling

Photo Credit – Elle Linton

I am part of the Decathlon Blogger’s Community, they offered me a voucher towards the cost of the B’Twin Triban 500 (full value £349.99) in exchange for a series of posts. All views my own.

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Cycling Tips For Winter

Cycling in the winter months is not the most pleasant thing in the world, think frozen fingers, numb toes and general sogginess. While these days I’m a slightly more fair-weathered cyclist, in the past, I’ve cycled throughout the year, regardless of the weather (OK maybe not in heavy snow, unless by accident).

This year, insurance company LV= put cycle safety at the top of their list, and have brought out these handy hints for staying safe through the darker months. Can you tick off everything on this checklist?

cycle safety

Lights.

This applies all year round, but even more in winter when it seems to be dark for so many more hours. Using lights doesn’t just mean at night either, it’s just as important to light up on dim, foggy days.

cycle safety

 Clothing.

Being cold on the bike is simply rubbish! Keeping out the wind by layering up is essential for keeping warm and healthy. Also, spare clothing is a must for when you get caught those sharp, icy showers you just cannot avoid! In addition to the points below, I’d consider investing in some ski-style base layers in deep winter. A tight layer to act as a second skin will work wonders.

cycle safetyCommon Sense.

It’s always worth pointing out some of the obvious things we all forget at times. If you’re in doubt on any of these, I’m sure you could pop into your local bike shop for some advice. Make sure your bike is in tip-top condition as winter sets in, numb fingers and a flat tyre is not a good combination. Don’t know how to change your inner tube or put your chain back on if it falls off? Learn NOW! You never know when you might need it.

cycle safety

For me, these two things go without saying. Opinion can be divided, but here’s my two cents.

Helmet = ALWAYS

Careless Cycling (inc. running red lights) = NEVER

Enjoy the crisp winter days of sunshine on your bike, and stay safe on the wet, blustery days. You can head to LV= for even more hints and tips of safe cycling.

I might not be cycling much this year, but I’ve been there. We’ve all been a human snow-cyclist….haven’t we?! The photo below happens when you cycle to the pub without checking the weather forecast, that all fell in one evening!

snowcycling

Yours Truly (not quite adhering to all the rules) Winter 2012 (I think)

Infographics courtesy of Liverpool Victoria

 

 

 

Tour de France In London

The Tour de France? Isn’t that….erm…in France? Well, the answer is yes of course, but it’s not unusual for another country to host the opening stages. In fact, just recently, both Northern and the Republic of Ireland hosted the Giro d’Italia’s opening stages, in a rain-soaked few days of cycling.

Image: www.tfl.gov.uk

This weekend, the UK is hosting the first three stages of one of the world’s most important cycling races, with the well publicised ‘Le Grand Depart’ happening in Yorkshire today. I must admit to being a little excited that it’s coming to my ‘little’ town of London!

On Monday, I imagine, most of the capital will grind to a halt as the third and final UK hosted stage in the race for the infamous yellow jersey begins in Cambridge and works its way through 155km of English countryside, arriving in North East London, passing through the capital and finishing on The Mall. Roads will be closed, transport will be affected, we’ll all moan and groan about the delays, but I’m sure the buzz in London will be contagious too. Information on watching stage 3 can be found here.

tour de france, London, cambridge

Image: www.letour.com

tour de france, london, cambridge

Image: www.letour.com

All this cycling promotion and Tour de France Fever has got me looking at my little bike with more interest recently. I have a lovely bike, named Rose, who served me wonderfully well when I was rather poor, cycling to Waterloo every day to commute to Guildford during my Masters. Using the bike kept me super fit and saved me money. As time’s gone by and working as a fitness instructor is so physical, I use the bike a lot less…well not at all to be honest (backwards logic, I know).

bike

Maybe this summer I’ll get back in the saddle, as they say. It needs a little TLC, and sadly I’m no longer with the partner who built it for me, but I’ll find a way!

  • Will you be watching the Tour de France across the UK?
  • Has cycling fever prompted you to get on your bike?
  • Will the UK hosting this event encourage a fitter, healthier, more active country?
  • Do you think London is ready for the influx of newbie cyclists on the road after this weekend?

In my opinion, the answer to all the questions should be YES! Apart from the last one, which is a resounding NO (sorry London)!