Category Archives: Guides

Best Bikes and Routes for a Family Cycling Holiday

Family cycling holidays are a fantastic way to spend some time together in the great outdoors on two wheels.

With the warm weather approaching, we’ve put together some recommendations to help each member of the family get the right bike for them – as well as some of the best cycling routes in the UK to try them out on.

For Mum – Ribble Sportiva Carbon Disc

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When you’re planning to ride long distances, comfort is paramount – and that’s why we recommend the Sportiva Carbon Disc. Lightweight but strong, with a carbon fibre bladed fork to reduce road buzz, it’s built with female-specific geometry in mind to ensure it places as little strain on your body as possible.

A short wheelbase and top tube makes the Sportiva Carbon Disc responsive and easy to control, while flat mount disc brakes makes quick stops easier than ever. The bike that Total Women’s Cycling loved is more than up to the challenge of a family holiday!

For Dad – Ribble CX5

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The Ribble CX5 is a bike for all surfaces, making it ideal for long-distance cycling holidays with the family. From solid asphalt to bumpy mud tracks, it’s built to comfortably absorb shocks from a variety of surfaces so you can keep going for longer. 12mm Thru axles front and rear lend a stiffer feel with tighter control.

While designed as a cyclocross bike, you don’t need to be a competitive racer to enjoy the CX5 – it’s a versatile and practical enough to shine during gentle rides with the family, or just the daily commute to work too.

For teenagers – Ribble CGR

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CGR stands for Cross, Gravel and Road, and that kind of versatility is ideal for the teen in your family – who’ll probably want to use it for much more than a family holiday! The CGR is built on a lightweight aluminium frame, with a carbon forks for a comfortable ride, while powerful disc brakes mean safe stopping is always at hand.

With full coverage mudguards ready-fitted, it’s also ideal for keeping teens (mostly) safe from dirt even if they venture off-road. A great, affordable all-rounder, the CGR is a great way to introduce younger family members to the difference a good bike can make.

Best cycling routes for a family holiday

When planning a family cycling holiday, it’s important to choose routes that match the fitness and ability levels of everybody. You probably want to avoid road traffic as much as possible, and unless you’re all experienced and confident cyclists, try to keep hills and challenging stretches to a minimum.

We’ve highlighted a few of our favourite family-friendly routes in the UK below – but do a bit of digging and you’ll find many more!

Camel Trail, Cornwall

This 18-mile trail is great for all ages, with beautiful scenery and plenty of stops for a pub lunch or a picnic. Running along a disused railway line from Padstow to Wenford Bridge, the route is light on traffic and mostly level, making it perfect for families with younger kids.

Along the way you’ll pass two protected areas, offering an opportunity for a bit of wildlife spotting, as well as shaded woodland stretches and the edge of Bodmin Moor.

Manifold Way, Staffordshire

Offering spectacular views of a limestone gorge in the Staffordshire Peak District, this sheltered nine-mile track is mostly level tarmac all the way. The track runs from the sleepy hamlet of Hulme End to Waterhouses. Apart from a 1.5-mile stretch along a B-road, it’s mostly traffic-free.

The route passes by Thor’s Cave, a natural cavern set high up in a limestone crag, as well as an ancient Bronze Age mine and a spooky railway tunnel – great for kids with a taste for adventure!

Hadrian’s Cycleway, Cumbria

A much longer route for more experienced cyclists, Hadrian’s Cycleway (aka Route 72) is still very family-friendly, although caution is advised on the occasional stretches of road. The coast-to-coast route is 174 miles long and can be completed in three days at a good pace, or four or five if you’re taking it easy and seeing the many sights along the way.

As well as the famous Hadrian’s Wall that the route follows, other attractions include Carlisle Castle, Newcastle’s Black Keep, the Bath House at Glannaventa and Lanacost Priory.

Three Parks Trail, South Wales

This trail is 13 miles long, but forms part of the much longer Celtic Trail so it can easily be extended. Completely traffic-free, mostly level and passing through three gorgeous country parks, it’s ideal for families with younger kids or older family members who prefer a gentler, more scenic ride.

The trail begins at Sirhowy Valley Country Park, passing over the mighty Hengoed Viaduct and on through Parc Penallta, where the High Point Observatory offers great views over Caerphilly. It finishes at Taff Bargoed Summit Centre.

The Not-So Great Outdoors?

For some time now, scientists have been telling us to spend more time outside.  According to them, short term memory, vision and concentration can all be improved by spending time outdoors – so why then do we spend so much time doing the exact opposite?

Thanks to a recent survey by the team here at Ribble Cycles, it can be revealed that Brits spend a meagre 8% of their time outside between Monday and Friday, and an even more depressing figure of 5% on a weekend.

Furthermore, women have been named as the more serious offenders, with men spending up to 30 minutes more time outdoors on a weekly basis.

Popular outdoor activities for both sexes included taking pets for a walk, walking to and from the car and going for a run. However, what is surprising is that cycling to work remained way down on the list, with only 2% of respondents stating they enjoyed this particular pastime.

Reflective

Obviously, this didn’t sit well with us  – especially when you consider the positive effects cycling can have.
For starters, for those who choose to cycle to work, a huge amount of money can be saved each year, as things like bus tickets and train fares pale into insignificance. What’s more, for anyone who chooses a cycle over taking the car, things like road tax, MOTs and insurance costs don’t need to be considered – something that could
amount to thousands of pounds in savings.

From surfing to hiking, countryside strolls and skateboarding, there are plenty of outdoor activities we could all benefit from occasionally . However, when it comes to kick starting a new lifestyle that’ll save you money, improve your health and still get you to work on time, nothing beats a good old fashioned bicycle!

Interested in getting yourself outdoors a little more? In addition to cycling, why not try some of these top activities in 2017:

. Playing Sunday league football.
. Joining a tennis club.
. Taking part in a Tough Mudder event.
. Running a marathon.
. Indulging in a spot of wild water swimming.

Alternatively, explore the range here at Ribble Cycles and find your next road, cross or mountain bike and kick start a new riding habit today.

Total sample size was 1060 UK adults (aged 18+)

GUIDE: Britain’s best velodromes – where to ride track in the UK

Ride at the UK’s top cycling centres

British cycle racing hasn’t always been the huge success story that it is today and, like many great sporting feats, the results of London 2012 and the Rio 2016 Olympics came after years of preparation, dedication and investment.

Britain’s velodromes naturally have played their part in this success – both past and present – and their place within cycling’s rich folklore should never be downplayed.

But where and when did the first velodromes spring up? Are they still used today? And if so, are they the places where Britain’s gold medalists honed their craft?

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The early velodromes

One of the world’s first velodromes was built at Preston Park in Brighton, a 633 yard long track that opened in 1877. Portsmouth velodrome soon followed, featuring a single straight joined by one swooping curve.

The materials that were used in the early velodromes differed from track to track, as did each circuit’s functionality. While some were built specifically for cycling, others were built around the outside of running tracks, providing extra lanes for runners to train.

Throughout the history of the Olympics, many velodromes were used – all of which differed in size, length and technical aspects. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1990s when the length of velodromes were standardised, a factor which resulted in the reason why today’s events take place on a 250 metre track, as opposed to the various lengths that were used throughout the 20th century.

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UK’s greatest tracks

Although some of the early velodromes may have closed their doors, there are still many great velodromes here in the UK and the number of facilities continues to increase. Just take a look at some of the tracks below.

Lee Valley VeloPark – now arguably the most famous velodrome in the UK the Lee Valley VeloPark, in east London, is the track where Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott rode to victory during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Manchester Velodrome – the home of British Cycling (the sport’s governing body), Manchester Velodrome is the place where some of the nation’s finest Olympians have trained over the years. Located near the Etihad Stadium, the velodrome is also open to the public  – just make sure you book well in advance if ever you fancy a few laps!

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The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome – while the Manchester Velodrome may be home to British Cycling, the Scottish Cycling team can often be found training on Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Again, this track is open to the public, which is handy for any cyclist looking to build their fitness.

Herne Hill Velodrome – is one of the oldest tracks in the world, built in south London in 1891, and for decades was the home of the famous Good Friday Track Meeting. In 1948 it hosted the track cycling events at the London Olympics and it is still a very popular track for training and racing today.

Newport Velodrome – The Welsh National Velodrome opened in 2003 and was used by the British track cycling team for its pre-event training camps ahead of the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. It has also been crucial in developing a string of talented Welsh cyclists such as Nicole Cooke and Geraint Thomas.

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Remembering Leicester track

While the tracks above highlight some of the best UK velodromes today, it’s worth remembering one of of the great velodromes of the past.

The Saffron Lane Velodrome – an outdoor stadium that once played host to some of British Cycling’s most memorable moments – was a 3,100 seater velodrome located in Leicester. The Leicester track hosted the UCI World Championships in 1970 and 1982.

Unfortunately, the opening of the new Manchester Velodrome hastened the end for the once glorious Saffron Lane track which eventually closed its doors in 1999.

Take a look at the map below to see where all the UK’s velodromes are located and to find out more about which notable cyclists have trained where.

Ribble launched the new, exciting full carbon Eliminator track bike during the 2016-17 track season. Read all about it here.

 

Name Location
1 Caird Park Dundee
2 Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome Glasgow
3 Meadowbank Velodrome Edinburgh
4 Tommy Givan Track Orangefield, Belfast
5 Middlesbrough Sports Village Middlesbrough
6 Richmondshire Velodrome (Richmondshire Cricket Club Velodrome) Richmond, North Yorkshire
7 York Sport Velodrome York, North Yorkshire
8 Roundhay Park Leeds, West Yorkshire
9 Quibell Park Stadium Scunthorpe
10 Long View Leisure (Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park) Huyton Knowsley, Merseyside
11 Manchester Velodrome (The National Cycling Centre) Manchester
12 Forest Town Welfare Mansfield,Nottinghamshire
13 Lyme Valley Stadium Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
14 Derby Arena Derby
15 Aldersley Track Aldersley,Wolverhampton
16 Halesowen Velodrome Halesowen, West Midlands
17 Carmarthen Park Carmarthen
18 Maindy Stadium (Maindy Centre) Cardiff
19 Newport Velodrome (Newport Velo) Newport
20 Palmer Park Stadium Reading
21 Gosling Sports Park Welwyn Garden City
22 Lee Valley VeloPark Leyton, East London
23 Herne Hill Velodrome London
24 Poole Park Track Poole, Dorset
25 Bournemouth Cycle Centre Bournemouth,Dorset
26 Calshot Velodrome Calshot
27 The Mountbatten Centre Portsmouth
28 Preston Park Brighton, East Sussex

 

 

 

 

GUIDE: Get a grip with 8 of the best Autumn, Winter & wet weather tyres

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Now that the dark nights and wetter conditions are here, in the UK, we’ve put together this handy guide to eight of our best tyres for autumn and winter riding.

Once the wetter, harsher weather arrives, road surface conditions can deteriorate making bike handling trickier without the right tyres and the risk of puncture higher.

Invest in a new pair of road tyres for the winter and they’ll keep you riding right through to springtime.

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Continental GP 4 Season

Available in three widths – 23, 25 and 28 mm – the GP 4 Season from Continental is one of the very best wet weather tyres out there.

When I canvassed opinion from fellow staff who commute to Ribble throughout the winter months, our chief Product Tester Andy simply replied, “4 Seasons, 4 Seasons, 4 Seasons!” He added, “I got 4,000 miles out of the last set. They have really good grip in all conditions, especially the wet damp roads and good puncture protection.”

Personally I’ve also successfully used them in an alpine Etape du Tour to minimise the puncture risk and maximise cornering grip should I be caught in a downpour. The GP 4 Season is a truly versatile tyre and it will serve you well right through the winter.

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Michelin Power All Season Folding Tyre

With the Michelin Power All Season, its grip that is the focus of the fabled French manufacturer’s performance claims. These great tyres are also available in three widths (23, 25 and 28mm). The thick tread contains Michelin’s Aramid Protek Plus puncture protection layer.

Road.cc were impressed with this tyre, “The tyres feel supple and I found my favoured spot at around 95psi, which gave a cushioned, luxurious ride while still allowing me to spin along at what I fondly imagine to be a good pace.”

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Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme Weather Twinpack

A grippy, competition tyre for extremely cold and wet weather conditions, the Fortezza Senso Xtreme Weather features Vredestein’s newly developed XWS compound developed for low rolling resistance and outstanding grip.

Cycling Weekly call these “good all year round” and road.cc were “impressed by their sure-footedness.” Also available in three widths (23, 25 and 28mm).

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Schwalbe
Schwalbe Durano Plus Folding Tyre Twinpack

The SmartGuard protection belt made of elastic rubber achieves an unusually high level of protection for a racing tyre but the flip side is that it makes this a heavier tyre – which is perhaps not a really bad thing in the winter months.

The dual compound ensures optimum adhesion, even on the wet rides of autumn and winter. Schwalbe call this “the most puncture-proof racing tyre there is” and it’s available in 23 and 25mm widths.

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Continental GatorSkin Folding Tyre

The Gatorskin is famous as a hard wearing, puncture protected tyre designed for fast riding and commuting. It’s probably the most popular road bike tyre in the UK with cut-resistant Duraskin and Kevlar-reinforced layers.

The slick tread for exceptional grip in both wet and dry conditions which makes it such a winter favourite.

Once known as the Ultra GatorSkin before the new GatorHardshell was introduced there is a 25mm width option which adds some extra comfort to your ride.

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gatorhardshellContinental GatorHardshell Folding Tyre

If you’re a fan of the GatorSkin then you can take it to the ‘next level’ with the Continental GatorHardshell for even more protection. These road tyres are practically bulletproof or at least I cannot remember ever having a puncture whilst using them – they are perfect for winter when the last thing you want to be doing is changing a tube at the roadside.

According to Road.cc the GatorHardshell “should reward you with exceptionally long life, puncture resistance, a very comfortable ride at speed and very good value for money over the life of the tyre.”

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COMMUTER & TOURING TYRES

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Schwalbe Marathon Rigid Tyre

For a less racy bike or a rougher commute you might want to consider the ever-popular Schwalbe Marathon. The Marathon’s highly elastic GreenGuard puncture protection layer is 3 mm thick and one of the main reasons that this durable tyre is commonly used on touring or adventure bikes.

The Marathon is a legend, a good solid commuting tyre available in a wide variety of sizes.

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Continental Touring Plus
Continental Touring Plus Rigid Tyre

The commuting tyre for those riders whose only concern is puncture protection is the Continental Touring Plus. This extremely tough puncture-proof layer is virtually impenetrable to stones, glass and thorns.

Like Schawlbe’s Marathon the Touring Plus is a popular touring tyre with a fast rolling central tread section. Between the tread and the carcass, a puncture protection layer of highly elastic special rubber is practically impenetrable and successfully defies all foreign objects from getting to the inner tube beneath it.

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Best Of British - Ribble Valley-9

 

 

 

GUIDE: Staying visible, warm and safe when riding after the Clocks Go Back

Here we go! British Summertime is ending – the clocks go back at the weekend, but with the right kit there is no need to stop riding through the autumn and winter.

Get yourself the right clothing and kit and there is lots of riding to enjoy on the shorter days like getting in the long winter miles, safe commuting, exhilarating night rides or even the thrills of cyclocross racing.

The UK reverts to Greenwich Mean Time at 2am on Sunday, October 30. That means all clocks are turned back to 1am at that time.

It might be the start of the winter season, but the good news is you’ll get a whole extra hour in bed on Sunday morning.

Light up, layer up, embrace autumn and get out and ride!

STAY VISIBLE

The most important aspect of riding once the clocks have changed is to make sure you are visible to other road users. It’s time to invest in new lights – front and rear – with enough power to make you seen and ensure that you have brighter coloured clothing with at least some form of reflectivity and visibility.Light sets

There are a number of bike accessories that can also help with your visibility.  Some mudguards have a reflective stripe, as do some commuting tyres, or adhesive reflective strips can be stuck to your bike. Lots of clothing, helmets or luggage items will have reflective patches which it’s worth looking out for when making your purchase.

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STAY WARM & DRY

As the temperatures tumble it’s also obviously very important to stay warm on your rides. If you have the right clothing, that’s doing its job properly, then you are much more likely to get out in the autumn and winter weather and feel safe in the knowledge that you’re going to be warm and comfortable whatever the elements throw at you.

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It’s time to think about whether your clothing selection is good enough to get you through the winter. Have you got warm base layers, enough mid-layers and is your jacket outer shell really up to the job?

Make sure that you have good quality options for all the three key layers – as you may know, layering your clothing is the trusted way to maximise your comfort and allow for adjustments. A good base layer (against your skin) manages moisture; the middle insulating layer protects you from the cold; and the outer shell layer shields you from rain and wind. As well as thermal baselayers, Roubaix clothing tops and jackets, don’t forget to think about tights, hats, gloves and socks for your extremities.

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STAY SAFE

Good lights and visible clothing will both help you stay safe this winter. Make sure that you also have the other accessories that won’t leave you stranded in the cold or wet.

It’s time to stock up on inner tubes and more durable winter tyres. If you’re riding in an area you are not that familiar with then a GPS unit is handy to carry and when the weather gets really cold consider carrying a tyre sealant canister to make punctures much quicker to resolve.

Whatever you do though, don’t let the weather stop you enjoying that ride!

See our Winter Wheel packages here