Join the Club

You may never have even considered it, but joining a cycling club could seriously improve both your cycling and your social life. And it’s never too late...

Former World and Olympic champion Nicole Cooke said in a past issue of Cycling Plus that her top tip for better cycling is to join a club. “That’s where you’ll find camaraderie, encouragement and structured riding and training,” she said. The advice is so obvious it barely merits recounting. Yet, barely a year ago, I would have dismissed it on the basis that I didn’t have time for another commitment.


No Sweat, mate

You daily commute can be one of the best bits of your day. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Consider yourself lucky if you’re in a position to be able to commute by bike. You are master of your own destiny, freed from the tyranny of traffic jams and unreliable public transport, not to mention saving money, often time, and keeping fit too. So just make sure that riding your bike to work remains a pleasure, not a chore.


The 10 Commandments of Commuting

Rules are made to be broken, but following our down-to-earth advice could prevent you or your bike ending up in pieces.

Punctures – Mostly the result of neglect. I was behind someone the other day when their back tyre punctured. It was a dry day and for the last long stretch of road there hadn’t been any glass. The rider was mystified – but I’ve been there before.



Riding High

Everywhere you look it seems there’s a new event. We chart the rise and rise of the sportive scene

Britain might be recession-whipped, but the sportive scene is growing fast. More than 400 events will take place in the UK in 2012, meaning you could ride several on any given weekend. Increasingly, well established rides are being branded and built up, whether by sponsoring businesses such as Wiggle or by charities like Action Medical Research.


London's new 'cycle cafés'

Not too long ago, foreigners laughed at Britain’s efforts in professional cycling and scowled at the terrible instant coffee served in its cafés. Today, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins are leading riders on the world stage, while a London barista, Gwilym Davies, was last year’s world champion at the coffee industry’s top competition.


Etape du tour: To hell, the hard way

Many tried, many dropped out. Would Richard Lofthouse crack the 196km amateur ordeal?

If anything, the dreadful doping scandal that enveloped pro cycling this summer made us amateurs feel that our relatively slower, drug-free performances were a larger, more human achievement. Balancing jobs, families and training and still achieving a big day in the Pyrenees – now this was the stuff of real heroism, and it didn't come much bigger than this year's Etape du Tour, when amateurs got to ride the brutal Stage 15, 196 kilometres from Foix to Loudenvielle.


Buyer's guide to the UK's Cycle to Work scheme

Petrol prices are rising again, the cost of living is spiralling upwards and we’re all tightening our belts in a contracting economy. But if you live in the UK, there's one tax break that’s still worth pursuing: the Cycle to Work scheme, which can save you between 16 and 40 percent off the cost of a bike.


The Perfect Racing Line

As more cities gear up for cycling, one British company, Rapha, is accelerating from successful start-up to globally recognised brand. Richard Lofthouse reports

Bikes are where it’s at right now,” proclaimed Lewis Allen, brand analyst at Portland Design Associates, at a recent urban retailing conference. “It’s the new golf,” says Matthew Wootliff, author of Project Vélo, a just-published market intelligence report, which sees European bike expenditure growing 20% year-on-year. But there is a growth in value as well as volume. “There are now lots of people earning €100,000 a year, willing to spend lots of money, particularly on accessories and clothing,” notes Wootliff. “That is where the growth is concentrated.”


Richard Lofthouse