Autumn cycling
Image via Flickr

Brrrr, it’s been a cold week in Nottingham this week. Give me summer over winter any day of the week. Warm sunshine, blue skies and green trees…just lovely. But this is the UK and Autumn has arrived, so, if I want to carrying on cycling all year round I either need to toughen up or wrap up.

Getting powered up for Autumn cycling takes a little more effort than in the Summer time. I hate the cold but I do love Autumn. Sunshine, crisp cold air, bright blue skies and crunchy leaves to kick about in with the kids. We’ve spent a few fun moments cycling out to the local horse chesnut trees hunting and collecting conkers. Thick woolly jumpers, gilets and warm, fluffy socks! Then returning home to warm up with a hot chocolate and marshmallows. Warm woolly jumpers, padded gilets and fluffy socks are all  great for a pootle out with the kids but not so ideal for a ride on my road bike (actually The Beautiful Red One is a bit under the weather at the moment, but that’s another story for another time)!

Avoiding the desire to hide under the duvet

Cold, bright mornings mixed with a bit of exercise can be quite the tonic if you’re tempted to hide under the duvet once the shorter days come along. If you get yourself powered up and motivated, I find an Autumn cycle ride can be just what the doctor ordered.

So with that in mind I’ve been thinking about what it takes to make me feel sufficiently motivated to get out from under the covers and brave the colder weather. There’s only really one answer….the promise of feeling warm!! I have degenerative disc disease and arthritis in my lumber spine so the cold can give me a few aches and pains – keeping warm is something I really do need to think about. I also suffer with Raynaud’s disease in my fingers and toes – a circulatory problem which causes my fingers and toes to go white and numb. It can be so painful when the blood starts flowing again, so keeping my hands and feet warm is a bit of priority!

So, here’s a few of my favourite finds for keeping warm and energised whilst cycling in the colder weather.

Magnetic therapy to get the blood flowing

Trion:Z sports band

If you’re struggling with energy, have you tried a Trion:Z Duo loop wristband? I’ve been trying one over the last few weeks in an attempt to feel a bit more energised after the double dose of chest infections I’ve had. I’ve heard lots of people raving about them – Bradley Wiggins is a fan no less! Since I’ve been wearing mine I’ve spotted a lot of men and women wearing there’s too.

If you’ve not heard of them before, here’s the science-bit. Trion:Z claim to increase blood flow and oxygen to all areas of the body; more specifically pain affected areas of the body. Increased blood flow produces higher levels of the anti-inflammatory white blood cells and the more densely oxygen saturated red blood cells to the damaged areas, whilst at the same time removing toxins more readily which can often be a cause of pain.

There are a number of different ones to choose from ranging in price from £19.99 to £29.99. The one I’ve been trialling is the cheapest in the range, the DUO-LOOP wristband. It contains powerful negative ion producing materials in the pod and patented ANSPO magnetic technology which, according to Trion:Z “works together to produce the most powerful product of its type on the market today.”

What Trion:Z say:

• Flexi, waterproof silicone band dual loop style, ideal for an active lifestyle
• Colours and sizes to suit all
• Polarized Pod Capsule containing 2 x 1,000 Gauss Magnets with Trion:Z patented ANSPO technology
• Trion:Z negative ion infused pod producing over 1,500 negative ions per second.

What OCG says:

I’ve found mine comfortable to wear, easy to get on and off although you don’t necessarily need to take it off once it’s on as they’re protected in the water, snow and the sun. I didn’t initially realise that it is completely waterproof, so I was taking it off to shower (doh!).

When you put it on you can definitely feel the magnets doing something. It’s given me more energy, but I can’t say that it’s helped with any joint aches like I was hoping. I haven’t noticed any significant changes here, but I do have more energy to get up and go. I no longer feel like all my energy has got up and gone and left me behind!

Verdict:

Trion: Z bands claim to have an 85 per cent effectiveness in relieving pain so for just under £20 it’s worth a try, and you’ll get more energy to boot!

No more cold feet with SOLE Insulated Response Footbeds

SOLE insulated response insoles

There is nothing more miserable or painful than numb cold toes coming back to life after a ride in cold weather. For me, because of some circulatory issues relating to my back, the weather doesn’t have to be too cold before I really suffer. It was already happening in September and we still had decent double figure temperatures then. So, when SOLE asked me to review a pair of these I was very willing.

I know this post is starting to sound a little like a chat with a neighbour in the doctor’s waiting room but I also have a knee issue or two – mainly referred from my back – but also a patella that doesn’t track properly. The footbeds from SOLE are mouldable and shape to your unique foot shape as you wear them. Alternatively you can whack them in the oven and heat mould them before you wear them so that they mould to your foot instantly. I went with the easier option and stuck them straight in my shoes!

I don’t know if you’re supposed to switch the footbeds between shoes, but I have been. They mould to your feet, not your shoes, so I haven’t seen any harm. They range from £38 to £49 so they’re not cheap for a pair of insoles. This particular pair retail at £45 so buying a few pairs for different shoes might not be an option. I’ve been wearing these in my SPD-SL cycling shoes, my trainers for spin class and my everyday boots that I wear for the school run and I’ve not experienced any issues swapping between shoes.

What SOLE say:

“Like our standard Softec Response model, this footbed features our mouldable orthopedic base layer, a 1.6mm layer of Softec cushioning and a moisture-wicking top sheet. With an added layer of 3M™ Thinsulate™ 400 gram insulation, it’s a versatile option to protect your feet from penetrating cold during any number of cold weather activities.”

What OCG says:

Oh My God, I love them! They are brilliant! I have noticed a real difference – I can actually feel my toes! Whilst cycling, I’m wearing them with winter cycling socks too, but yes, I’ve seen a definite difference in the comfort of my toes and the pleasure in my colder weather riding!! And my knees have been noticeably better whilst cycling too. Less clicking meaning less aching and pains.

For these reasons, I’d definitely say they’re worth £45. The only problem I’ve found with them is getting them to fit in certain pairs of shoes…they’re quite wide although they do fit in my women’s specific SPD-SL Shimano cycling shoes no problem at all, which I always consider as quite narrow for a shoe, so I guess they can’t be that wide. But they don’t fit into all of my everyday shoes. You can trim them apparently although I was a little scared to in case I ruined some of the supportive shape. SOLE do have lots of options on their website so they’ll have something to suit your shoe, depending on what it is your looking for, and with a 90 day money back guarantee, there’s not a lot to lose! If, like me, you suffer with cold feet or alignment problems in your knees, I can most definitely recommend these!! Super comfortable! Grab a pair – your feet will thank you!

Cold hands, warm heart – Aldi winter cycling gloves

Aldi winter cycling gloves

OK, so thankfully the idiom cold hands, warm heart may be a myth! I much prefer warms hands and a warm heart! I popped into Aldi last week and they had some cycling clothing on offer. If you’ve not been in before, Aldi is well worth checking out for the cycling kit basics although you have to be quick as you tend to find the good stuff is gone pretty quickly. I’ve not been lucky enough to find anything left in my size before but this time I saw some winter cycling gloves on offer for a fiver, tried them on and then took a double take at the price. Yep £4.99, so I thought “I’ll have myself some of those, thank you very much!”

In all fairness they’re too bulky for riding a road bike and changing gears comfortably and easily, but if you have a hybrid bike or gears you twist to change, these will work well. And they have some fab reflective details on them too so they’d be great for commuting. They’re mainly polyester, have some nice padding to the palm, some lovely fleeciness inside and some velcro fastening around the wrist to keep out the chills. Breathable, water resistant, wind resistant and with a Terry clothing section on the thumb – useful for discretely wiping that dripping cold nose or mopping your brow!

What OCG says:

OK, so not perfect for my road bike but pretty darn good for commuting or standing out in all weathers watching Miss OCG for an hour at her cycling club each week. And for under a fiver, I’m not complaining! They may still have some in stock if your quick!

I’m still on the hunt for the perfect pair for use with a road bike. They’ll be out there somewhere I’m sure. Any suggestions for me?

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And finally, breakfast. PORRIDGE! I always have porridge before a cycle ride. It’s warming, filling, comforting and absolutely guarantees an energy boost!

What are your must haves to get you out in the colder weather? I’d love to hear what powers you up for cycling in Autumn.

3 comments on “Powered up for Autumn cycling”

  1. Always wondered if those bands were all in the mind or not.

    Regarding the Aldi gloves, I bought a couple of pairs last year and found them very warm but in a downpour they just got soaking and cold.

    For a fiver you can really comolain and as long as its not a downpour should keep you warm. Didn’t find them too bad with my road bike.

    I use SealSkinz gloves but these are dear but if they keep me warm and dry and keep me out on the bike in the winter I’m willing to pay the price.
    Stu recently posted…Me, Myself & IMy Profile

  2. Great tips, I also suffer from Reynaud’s Disease and have been meaning to share my own tricks to stay warm.

    I’m not sure I’ve quite worked it out but it’s basically been warm socks and thick overshoes so far. Those footbeds look like an interesting option.

    The other thing I learnt that helps for me: when I get back from a ride I swing my legs at the knee, which forces the blood back to my toes much quicker than than happens naturally and helps to avoid some of the pain as the feet warm back up.
    Adam recently posted…11 epic cycling adventures for 2015My Profile

    • Hi Adam, thanks for leaving your tips. Raynaud’s is sooo painful, ALL tips are very welcome!! I’ve not made it to overshoes yet but that’s because the zip on my pair is broken so they just let the cold air in anyway – kind of pointless! Will definitely give the leg swinging a try (albeit in private I think – my kids would think this was hilarious!).

      About to pop over and check out your blog. Thanks for saying ‘hi’! 🙂

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