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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A Trip to the Alps with Decathlon

Swapping my Sweaty Betty leggings and Barrecore grippy socks for hiking boots and shorts is not something I often do. In fact, it’s not something I’d ever done until a couple of weeks ago, when the lovely people at Decathlon invited me and the rest of their blogging community to visit their hiking brand, Quechua, in none other than the French Alps! Jumping at the chance to explore a new sport – exactly what Decathlon’s company ethos encourages – I prepared to hit the mountains.

decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking

After flying into Geneva, Switzerland, and driving across the border to France, we arrived at Sallanches, a small town at the foot of the mountains. We collected our brand new Quechua hiking boots, courtesy of Decathlon, and bedded down, excited for the following day’s adventures.

The Hike

I’m sure I’m supposed to talk about the terrain (we followed good trails), the elevation (1,600m or so) and the nature (there were trees and wildflowers), but all I can remember is the view. We were incredibly lucky with the weather and had views of the stunning Mont Blanc with only a few clouds passing by. A couple of years ago I fell in love with the rugged landscape of Iceland, that may have been over taken by these breathtaking mountain views.

decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking

Aside from the views, we were testing the MH500 Waterproof Mountain Hiking Boots from the Quechua range and I was impressed with the comfort and quality. After a 5 hour hike, I had no blisters and no pain in the balls of my feet. My silly, weak ankles felt completely supported throughout and we even tested how waterproof the boots were by standing in a mountain stream – no wet feet reported, a success!

decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking

I was also wearing Quechua MH100 shorts and using the NH100 20L backpack. For me, being a total hiking newbie, they worked a treat. The shorts we comfortable, a decent length that I didn’t feel self-conscious (I’m not used to traipsing around with my legs out), and lightweight enough to keep me cool in the glorious sun. The bag I’m super impressed with, for £6.99 it has plenty of room for all the essentials, complete with front clips, which I’ve never really known what people use them for, until out hiking when I realised that the last thing you want is for you bag to be sliding around your shoulders.

decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking

After a 4km hike up to 1,690m, we stopped for a well deserved lunch of french bread (obviously), cheese, ham, avocado, fruit, and a flask of coffee that our genius local guide Thibaut brought along with him. For me, the descent was the hardest part, not a surprise just 5 months after knee surgery. I spent less time gazing at the beautiful scenery, and more time negotiating the tree roots underfoot. Our host from Decathlon, Anthony, kindly lent me a hiking pole, stayed at my pace, and I made it down, albeit a few minutes behind the rest of the crew. Hot, sweaty, happy and very proud of myself.

A Tour of the Mountain Store

Despite my raving about the mountains, the main purpose of our trip to Sallanches was to visit Decathlon’s Mountain Store. Far from just being a shop to pick up your hiking and skiing gear, the Mountain Store is a cafe, restaurant, tourist information spot, ski pass collection point, and local meeting place before ascending into the clouds. Aside from that, behind the scenes, you’ll find a wealth of offices where everything you’d possibly need for negotiating the mountains is created; from idea and concept, to design and prototype creation.

decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking

Each department has a dedicated team who work together like a small start-up company within the larger Decathlon world. The working environment is geared towards group productivity, with large co-working tables and relaxing breakout areas. What impressed me the most was the attention to detail in what they produce, which I think might surprise some people. Each product has a prototype made using industrial equipment right there in the vast mountain store, hidden from customer view. Products are then subject vigorous tests using specialised stress testing equipment, before being given to experts to field test out in the mountains. Any issues can be troubleshot and altered before being sent for mass production. Our main focus was the Decathlon’s Quechua brand of course, but we also got a peek at some of the Wed’Ze winter sport equipment too.

Not completely satisfied with making sport accessible for all, Decathlon and the Mountain Store are also making their way in terms of sustainability. Rain water is collected and processed, the roof is adorned with solar panels and they’re dedicated to giving back to the environment and protecting the beautiful mountains that surround them.

decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking

I had an absolute blast with the Decathlon team, and a marvellous group of bloggers. If you’re not tired of mountain spam on my instagram feed, here are a few more photos to whet your appetite. Big thanks for Decathlon for the invite and their wonderful hospitality.

decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking decathlon, quechua, mountains, the alps, hiking

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How I Get Fit with Decathlon

There are lots of reasons you might want to improve your fitness. Whether it’s for mental health, family fun, losing weight, getting into shape, feeling great in your body or simply because you love moving, the team at Decathlon are on hand to provide anything you might need for your fitness journey. Finding time for fitness is no mean feat when you’ve got a busy lifestyle with an increasingly long to-do list, so Decathlon and their blogger community, including me, are determined to help their customers incorporate sport and fitness into their every day lives. Since getting injured, I’ve noticed how quickly my strength has seemingly disappeared, and I’m making it a priority to get it back.

Incorporate Fitness Into Your Commute

Before it became clear I needed knee surgery, I was all set to start cycling to work with my beautiful new B’Twin road bike*. Cycling is a fantastic way to increase your cardiovascular health, and avoid the squash of the crowded tube trains. If your commute is too long to cycle, consider riding to a nearby station instead.

decathlon, sport, fitness, road bike

If cycling isn’t your thing, you can still make you daily commute active. It’s an old school recommendation, but getting off the bus or train one stop early, and walking briskly the remaining distance would be a great start to your day.

10 Minutes is Better than None

If you’ve just got 10 minutes to spare at home, then try a quick HIIT workout. High Intensity Interval Training takes short bursts of cardio, interspersed with short rest periods, and will get your heart rate lifted in no time. Try this little circuit below:

  • High knee runs
  • Star jumps
  • Burpees
  • Mountain climbers
  • Squat + side kick
  • Jump lunge changing

As many as you can for 30 seconds, then a 15 second rest. Repeat two or three times for a brilliant, but speedy workout.

Not wanting to miss out on using my new bike, I’ve invested in a turbo trainer so I can use it in the house. Right now, 6 weeks post surgery, I am only using it on a low resistance to get the mobility back in my knee, but I hope to move on to interval training on the bike very soon.

Revisit an Old Favourite

There are so many new studios and class around, particularly in London, and the choice can be overwhelming. Why not go back to your childhood and revisit one of your favourite sports or activities. I loved swimming as a child, and it’s always one of the first things I return to after injury. I’ve been using the app PayAsYouGym to find local pools I can drop into and get some lengths in. I set myself the goal of completing a Swimathon for Cancer Research at the end of April, which is a good incentive to get me training! Decathlon has a wide range of swimwear and pool accessories which I’ve been putting to good use.decathlon, sport, fitness, swimming decathlon, sport, fitness, swimming

Swimwear, towel & pool buoy from Nabaiji – Decathlon. Googles – Speedo.

decathlon, sport, fitness,swimming
Bikini from Tribord – Decathlon. Goggles – Speedo. Pool Buoy – Nabaiji – Decathlon.

Maybe you want to get back to dancing, martial arts, netball, football or whatever you fancy trying but maybe didn’t get the chance when you were younger, the possibilities are endless and you could meet a whole new friendship group! Decathlon have teams of expert staff who can help point you in the right direction if you’re needing guidance.

Check out my lovely Decathlon Blogger Buddies to see how they choose to get fit. Maybe you’ll be inspired to try something new this Spring!!

*I was gifted vouchers from Decathlon towards to cost of this bike, all other products bought myself. No brand other than Decathlon is associated with this post.

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The Decathlon Blogger Community

When I’ve heard friends and bloggers talk about Decathlon, and when I’ve briefly popped into, or passed a store, I’ve assumed its for outdoorsy people and runners. How wrong I was! When I finally looked into the company, I found that not only is their company ethos ‘Making Sport Accessible For The Many’ but they stretch far beyond hiking and running. A multi-brand empire, they cater for all things gym, cycling, swimming, running, trekking and much more. So when I was then invited to be part of Decathlon’s Blogger Community, I jumped at the chance to learn more about the company, and also spread the word about what Decathlon has to offer.

As an introduction to the brand, and as a meet up for the Decathlon bloggers, I recently headed to their Canada Water HQ for an evening of sport and trivia. Aside from having a catch up with some of my favourite blogging buddies, and meeting new ones too, it was a chance for me to explore the Decathlon enterprise.

And what an enterprise it is! With stores in 40+ countries across the world, and 33 (and growing) in the UK, Decathlon has big ambitions for the future. Championing quality brands such as Domyos – for fitness, Quechua – for outdoors and camping, Tribord – for anything water based, and more, their strive for excellence and a wide range of options. As I mentioned before, their company ethos is all about making sport accessible, but they’re also innovative, having won numerous awards for their own products. These include Best Tent and Best Road Bike to name but a few.

The evening itself was a team circuit training session and sport quiz. Did we get competitive?? I’d be lying if I said no, but we’re all sporting people in one way shape or form, so perhaps that was to be expected. Fun times aside, the Decathlon Bloggers Community is as varied as the company itself (famously there are 350 different sports played among their staff), from me the yogi/PT, to marathon and ultra marathon bloggers, active travel and everything in between, check out the rest of the crew on Decathlon’s website.

Stay tuned as I share more about the brand and their products in the future. Thanks Decathlon for including me in your growing community, I can’t wait to get more involved!!

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