Category Archives: Guides

7 Tips on Enjoying the Winter Weather

 

Riding a Bike in the Cold

We have pulled together seven top winter tips to help you enjoy riding your Ribble in the depths of the cold season. Afterall there should be no reason not to ride this winter.

1. Ride the Right Bike

It might seem like it goes without saying but don’t ride your best bike through the winter months. Riding a winter-specific bike will not only protect your pride and joy from the wintery road conditions (think salt and water) but it will also keep you comfortable and allow you to set up a winter bike to match the winter conditions.
It might be the North Western weather but Ribble have always been proud of their winter bikes and we have a selection of bikes designed for use throughout the year.

The CGR has mudguard and pannier mounts and disc brakes for a sure-footed winter workhorse.

The Ribble CGR
The CGR is an excellent do it all road bike.

The Ribble CGR

The Winter Audax 7005 is an iconic winter training bike, it’s one of the most recognised bikes on UK winter club runs.

The Ribble 7005 Winter Bike
The Ribble 7005 is an iconic winter bike

The Ribble 7005 Winter Training Bike

The RIBBLE REYNOLDS 525 STEEL offers the best in Reynolds Steel Tubing and frame design for a year-round workhorse.

The Ribble 525
Ribble design and Reynolds tubing.

The Ribble Reynolds 525 Winter Training Bike

 

2. Ride Hard Stay Warm

When the temperature has dropped close to freezing point consider changing up your training plan to a harder ride. One of the by-products of physical exertion is heat, so increasing the intensity of your ride will increase your body temperature and make the ride more bearable. It will reduce the amount of time you can spend on the bike but you will get in a good work out.

A heart rate monitor and cycling computer are a great way to track the level of effort you’re putting into the ride. We have a great range of cycling computers and accessories that can make all the difference when getting your winter training right.

Cycling Computers and Heart Rate Monitors

 

3. Ride the Right Course

One of the girls in the office lives at the top of a hill and her ride always starts with a short but sharp descent “you’re freezing before you have even started” she remarks, but it raises an interesting point – when it’s already cold outside the last thing you should to do is get even colder by rolling down the road not exerting any effort in to a cold, bone-chilling wind, especially after a hot and sweaty 5 minute climb.
Mapping your ride out with a good cycling GPS will help you to plan rides on flat roads. You should also consider riding loops closer to home in case the weather really does turn and you end up needing to end the ride earlier than anticipated.

We offer some great deals on Garmins and the fantastic Xplova device is in stock now!

Garmin cycling computer
Adding a Garmin to your cockpit will help your riding in so many ways.

Cycling Computers

 

4. Dress with Layers

The overall goal of layering is to capture a layer of air (insulation) between each layer of clothing before finalising your fetching ensemble with either a windproof or waterproof layer to regulate your body temperature whilst keeping you dry at the same time.

Base layers are designed to start of this process. A base layer is a layer that sits against the skin, they must trap a small layer of air between your skin and the garment that stays warm but they must also wick away moisture to stop you getting cold and damp.

Ribble bib tights and base layer
A good base layer will make all the difference keeping you warm and dry

Base Layers at Ribble

Mid layers are worn over the top of the base layer, they trap an additional layer of warm air between the base layer and the mid layer and must be breathable. Sometimes a good mid layer like a good soft shell will be your final outer layer.

Ribble have a great range of cycling jackets
Outer layers keep the wind and rain out

Mid Layers at Ribble

Outer layers in cycling are usually waterproof. A good waterproof jacket will be breathable, waterproof and windproof protecting you from the rain and wind keeping you warm and dry.

Outer Layers at Ribble

 

5. Wear Gloves & Overshoes

Cold hands and feet are probably the most frustrating part of being cold, nothing is as bad as feet and hands so cold they hurt but with the right gloves and overshoes, shoes and socks it can be quite easy to overcome.

Gloves As with clothing, warm hands rely on a combination of technical features. A good winter glove must keep the wind out and have a thermal inner to retain the heat. Check out our range of gloves for more inspiration.

Gloves at Ribble

Overshoes – An item of clothing limited to the cycling fraternity the overshoe or over sock is an additional layer of fabric that protects your feet. Put simply, they are a requirement for winter riding.

Over Shoes at Ribble

 

6. Find a Good Coffee Shop… But Keep Warm When You Stop

We can’t help with finding a good coffee shop but on long and lonely winter rides, sometimes the only way to stay upright and #keeppedalling is to stop and get warm with a hot drink and a slice of cake. However, it’s important to stay warm so consider taking an extra base layer in a waterproof bag in your jersey pocket to change in to.

7. Light The Way

Winter is dark. The clocks go back and having lights on the bike to be seen with and to see with is essential.
There is a legal requirement to ride with both a white front light and a red rear light but its just common sense. Ride with lights and have a spare in just in case.

Bike Lights at Ribble

What Do You Think?

Add your winter tips below!

GUIDE: What’s tapering? And why you should do it

The day of Vélo Birmingham is getting closer and hopefully you’re feeling confident about covering the 100 mile ride distance comfortably.

If you’ve done a decent amount of training and are looking to be fresh and rested for the ride then you really need to ‘taper’ as the day of the ride approaches.

Tapering is reducing your training and physical activity in the final run-up to your big ride and typically you would do this over the final two weeks and more importantly in the final week.

Mentally it can be difficult to stay off the bike, but remember the hard work has been done and you won’t add any increased fitness in the final week and neither will the resting lose you any fitness. You should aim to get to the start line feeling fully rested and ready to go.

Certainly don’t be tempted to try and cram in last minute training in the final few days before the ride as this would almost certainly leave you tired and stiff on the big day itself. You’re last long ride should be around 7-12 days before the event after which you should start to taper.

Main Reasons to Taper

1 Feel fresh and get out your best performance on the day.

2 Tapering also gives you back some spare time that you can then use to have your bike and kit ready for the big day.

3 Tapering allows you to be fully fuelled nutritionally in the days before the event.

Two Weeks Out

The final two weeks are also the time to ensure your bike is working well – you might want to book it into your local bike shop for a service 12-14 days before the ride so they have time to replace any worn parts and you can have it back in time for your final preparation rides.

Typically you should reduce your amount of training by 20-25%. For example if you’ve been riding for six hours or four times a week in preparation you should aim to reduce that to four hours or three times a week and reduce the intensity or speed of your rides.

The Final Week

Your final week is the time to ensure you’re rested for your big ride and making sure you’re prepared and have eaten well. You can reduce your training further by around 25-30% of your main training level and again reduce the intensity or speed of your rides. Also avoid any unusual activity, sport or any tiring physical activity that might cause aching muscles in the days before the ride.

Do eat well in the final days before the ride.

Don’t use new clothing, particularly shorts or shoes, that you haven’t worn before. Break in any new items as soon as you can so that they don’t cause you any discomfort on ride day.

Final preparations before and on the day

On the day before – it’s useful to get all your kit together and lay out all the items you intend to carry on the ride and make sure they fit snugly into your jersey pockets and/or seat pack.

On the day – if you pre-load with adequate food and hydration and feed on the ride you should get through the 100 miles without any issues. If you do feel the onset of exhaustion whilst cycling, it’s remarkable how having a rest at a feed station or at the side of the road to take on some food and drink will soon get you back on the bike with renewed energy.

Finally, stay relaxed, don’t worry about the ride and, above all, enjoy the day!

For more riding tips have a look at the Ribble blog

GUIDE: Clean & care for your bike – Essential guide to cleaning and lubricating

Keeping your bike clean and well lubricated will ensure it runs smoothly, quietly and correctly and should save you money in the long run by lessening wear and tear on the drivetrain components in particular.

Never is caring for your bike more important than in poor weather and when you’ve ridden through rain or particularly dirty or dusty conditions, but it should become part of your routine all year round. If you leave dirt to build-up on your bike parts can wear out much quicker and other issues can go unnoticed.

If your bike is really dirty or muddy a water hose may help to clear the worst of it before you tackle the rest. For best results we recommend cleaning in a specific order.

Ribble tip from Head Mechanic Mark: “Be careful if you use a high pressure hose and don’t use it close up. Too much pressure can blast grease out of your bearings and push dirt deeper inside.”

1 Clean the drivetrain first with Chain Cleaners and Degreasers

Much stronger than all-purpose bike cleaners, specific chain cleaners and degreasers help shift oil and residue from your drivetrain (chain, chainset, cassette, jockey wheels). They are great for removing heavy build ups but it is best to avoid areas such as bearings and cables.

The chain can be a messy job, so there are self-contained chain cleaners available which you put degreaser in and then clamp onto your chain. Turning the cranks, as though you were pedalling, then passes the chain through the bath, cleaning it as it moves. A rag is then useful to remove the residue by running the chain through it.

Ribble tip from Head Mechanic Mark: “Make it easier to get in all those awkward places by taking out the wheels, washing them separately, and then ideally washing the rest of the bike in a workstand.”

SHOP WORKSTANDS HERE

2 Clean the rest with an All-Purpose Bike Cleaner

All-purpose bike cleaners can be used all over your bike but they are particularly recommended for the frame, wheels and tyres. The strength of these cleaning fluids is not particularly strong so they are not used on the drivetrain. Normal domestic detergents can contain abrasive salts so bike-specific cleaners and degreasers are guaranteed to be kinder and more effective on your bike. In the winter a regular clean will also help prevent corrosion from road salt. We prefer to work from the top of the bike downwards with a sponge or soft brush and then dry off with clean rags.

3 Re-apply Lubrication and Grease

Once the bike is dry, it will need lubricant reapplying to the chain and, over time, areas such as the headset may need re-greasing.
Lubricants
Chain lube is put directly onto the chain, and ensures a smooth and quiet running drivetrain. There are three different types of chain lube to consider:
Wet Lubes – these are a ‘stickier’ lubricant so that they remain on the chain if the weather is bad. Great for bad weather, but the chain will need cleaning more often as they attract dirt.
Dry Lubes – a much thinner lubricant, perfect for when the weather is good. They don’t attract dirt as much, but do get washed off easily if it rains.
All purpose – Can be used in all conditions, but do not particularly excel in any one, hence why there are dry and wet lubes.

Check your bike over after cleaning

When your bike is clean is also the ideal time to check it over for any signs of any significant wear and tear or potential issues.

GUIDE: Gym versus outdoor cycling – which is better?

Which is a better workout, an exercise bike in the gym, or an outdoor ride on a proper bike? For us at Ribble, there’s no contest – getting out in the elements on your favourite route beats quite literally going nowhere on a trainer bike every time!

Sure, the weather or darker winter months may force you to cycle indoors, or you could use an indoor trainer for specific interval training, but our preference is nearly always to get outdoors.

Is there any science behind the idea that outdoor cycling is better for you? We’ve taken a look:

Outdoor cycling uses a wider range of muscles

One factor people tend to forget is that when you’re riding a bike on the road, you’re not just using your legs to pump the pedals – you’re also using your whole body to keep the bike balanced, particularly when you’re going fast.

Core muscles like the stomach, back and abdominal muscle groups get a greater workout when you’re keeping a bike balanced, and if you stand, lean or duck while you’re negotiating hills, your shoulders and upper body are taking the strain too.

While you might get some degree of the same workout on a fixed-down exercise bike, you don’t have the same impetus to do so – i.e., keeping yourself upright! So you’re less likely to use as many muscles as you do on the road at the gym.

Riding outdoors pushes you harder

Some argue that you’ll train harder in a gym setting, inspired by the other people around you, than if you were out on the road on your tod – however, at least one study suggests the opposite’s true.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha asked 12 keen cyclists to ride 40km on two separate days: one indoors on a training bike, the other outdoors on flat roads. Although they were asked to put the same amount of effort into both, researchers found they exerted up to 30% more power and worked up higher heart rates on the outdoor ride.

It’s unclear why this is – maybe riding outdoors, with the scenery rolling by, cycling harder doesn’t feel like as much work as it does in the gym, where you’re more focused on your energy levels. Either way, it’s another point in favour of the great outdoors.

You’ll feel the benefit in cold weather

Most gyms maintain the same air-conditioned temperature all year round, but Mother Nature isn’t quite so forgiving. But do you actually burn more calories in cold weather training?

There’s no clear consensus on this. We know the basal metabolic rate (the calories you burn while doing nothing) increases slightly in the cold, but this is hardly likely to make a noticeable difference. It’s also thought that people have more “beige fat” (which burns more easily) in the winter months than in summer.

However, researcher and endurance athlete Michael Joyner MD says cold conditions help your body regulate its temperature better, enabling you to exercise longer and harder than you would otherwise. So while the cold might not do the work for you, it can help you push yourself further.

Finally, it seems intuitive that exercising in the freezing cold outdoors helps develop greater resilience and mental toughness than pedalling away in a climate-controlled gym… but we might be biased.

Best bikes for your improved workout

So hopefully we’ve made our case for why you should ditch the gym membership and get out on the open road for your daily workout or commute to work. With that in mind, here are some of Ribble’s recommended bikes for fitness training and getting out there out on the road:

Evo Pro


Ribble Evo Pro carbon road bike

The Ribble Evo Pro (pictured above) is our popular entry-level carbon sportive road bike. This model has often been a first step into the world of cycling or maybe a cyclist’s first experience of the lightweight responsiveness of a carbon bike so we have acknowledged that by increasing the head tube for a more upright and comfortable position. The Evo Pro is the perfect weekend bike but could also be used for fast commuting and riding sportives and challenge rides.

Ribble CGR

Ribble CGR bike

The Ribble CGR is a light yet robust 7005 aluminium bike with disc brakes and clearance to take 35mm tyres. The key to to the CGR (above) is it’s versatility as a road commuter and all-round bike capable of everything from winter riding to summer trips along the towpath. This cleverly designed frame could easily become the key do-it-all bike that you are looking for.

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Ribble 7005 Winter Audax bike

This is a design classic we’re rightly proud of. The Ribble 7005 Winter Audax (above) is the bike that thousands of UK club racers turn to for their training sessions. With a 7005 aluminium frame and carbon bladed fork, together with mudguard and rear pannier mounts, it’s also a popular choice with commuters and tourers.

 

GUIDE: The Crossing – A Multi-day Fuelling Plan

When taking on multistage events, your nutrition and fuelling plan becomes even more important. For a one day event you may be able to just ‘wing it’ but when riding back to back, a bad day on the nutrition front can seriously catch up with you the next day. When taking on such a challenging event, preparation is key.

Studying the event information is always a must before getting to start line. The Crossing, for instance, is three days of off-road fun. The days are long and lumpy and to be able to keep going, paying attention to your nutrition before, during and after is going to be very important if you want to see the finish line in Scarborough and get that well-earned ice cream

To get the best understanding of the diet needed to succeed, Ribble Cycles spoke to Annie Simpson, an expert nutritionist from OTE Sports, to find out what is needed to take on this feat.

Before the event

Your start each day can take place from 7am. Nutritionist Annie Simpson would strongly advise not skipping breakfast despite the early start. Having a meal three hours before you start exercising is the ideal, but in this case it just won’t be practical. Annie advises having breakfast at 6am at the latest as this will allow it time to settle before you set off. Something like a big bowl of porridge is ideal as it is high in slow release carbohydrates to fuel the first part of your day.

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Fuelling during the event

Each day on The Crossing you will have one pit stop during the day to top up those energy supplies.

Simpson explains that there will be a whole host of snacks and drinks on offer, but having extra food with you is going to be important too. “Did you know that when cycling our body tends to use our carbohydrate supplies, especially when the going is tough. The only problem with this is out supplies are limited, so if we want to be able to keep to a good pace and not ‘hit the wall’ we need to make sure we keep replenishing these carbohydrates stores.”

“How you do this is up to you. Whether it is a banana, an OTE Anytime Flapjack Bar or an OTE Energy Drink, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as you are giving your body the energy it needs” she adds.

Annie confirms that you need to take on board 60g of carbohydrates per hour of moderate to intense riding. Here are Annie’s ideas of what 60g of carbohydrates could look like:

“Work out how long you expect to be riding for and make sure you are carrying the means to get through this or at least have some money to stop and refuel with. Remember you will have your Pit Stop to help and there are also unmanned water stations along the way to top-up your bottle.”

Annie stresses the importance of not neglecting hydration. “Did you know: As little as a 2% loss in body weight through sweating has been shown to reduce performance, so don’t compromise your training by forgetting to drink.

“Approximately 500ml per hour should be sufficient or try and stay just ahead of the feeling of thirst. Using products such as OTE energy drink makes for a much more palatable, lighter on the stomach and enjoyable drink, whilst providing carbohydrates and electrolytes too. Dehydration can not only lead to loss of performance but concentration too, and for 3 days of off road riding, concentration is going to be important for riding safe.”

After the event

Simpson stresses that when riding back to back days, nutrition for recovery or re-fuelling is very important.

“As soon as you finish riding each day, don’t switch off, think recovery! Within 30 minutes of finishing exercising the best way to kick start recovery is to consume a recovery drink. This supplies protein to help with muscle soreness, carbohydrates to replenish the fuel stores you have used and fluid to help you get back on top of hydration. Then resume your usual meal pattern as soon as possible. Each meal needs to be high in carbohydrate (aim for around 50% of your plate) and have a portion of protein if you really want to maximise your recovery.”

Annie continues: “Try having a high protein snack before you go to bed, something like an OTE Protein Bar would be great. This can help with reducing muscle soreness overnight and getting you ready for the next day.

“Then it is just a case of repeating this for three days, until you reach the finish line. Start your preparation and planning now to make sure you get the most out of yourself during The Crossing.”

Good luck in your next challenge!