Saturday, 12 December 2015

A road cycling dilemma

This morning I was meant to go on a ladies ride that Rapha organised. I haven't been on my road ride for a while and noticed that I had a slow puncture. 

If you don't keep your finger on the pulse in terms of maintaining your bike and using your kit regularly you will end up like I did this morning; trying to eat breakfast whilst searching for a slow puncture, found it, used old fashioned glue patches to patch it, then I went to my room to fetch my lights as I'm halfway down the stairs I remember my sunglasses. 

Finally outside with my fixed wheel I go to the garage to collect my bike. I always battle squeezing the wheel back in through the brake pads, wasting more time, then I pump up my back tyre and finally ready to go, but realising there is no chance that I'll make it to Esher for 9:00. 

Back into the house again noticing that I didn't take my helmet! 

What to do now? I'm not making that ride, I'm awake, dressed and ready to ride. Do I try and find a ride buddy or do I just ride on my own? 

Decision made: I'll ride on my own. 

I went up Cottenham Park Drive along Wimbledon Common, down to Putney and through Roehampton entering the park via the dreaded and well known Priory lane. 

As I came near to the park I realised... mmm London Dynamo rides Saturday mornings in the park. Not ideal. 

I started my lap regardless. 

The first group of about 12 riders past me in silence. 

The second group caught me as I was almost at the top of Dark Hill, the 4th rider was the first to say allo to me. One more morning and that is it. At the top they regrouped, I was holding their pace and that is where my dilemma occurred...

They were chainganging it... for those who don't know, two rows of riders ride next to each other and they rotate anti-clockwise to each take a turn at the front. This is a beautiful thing to see when it is executed well like they were doing it. 

Where does this leave me? 

I can easily keep the pace and join their chaingang OR I can overtake them just to upset them and myself as I'll well out of my comfort zone and not be able to hold their pace on my own? 

I have favourite sections in the park where I like to open up a bit if I'm possible. 

I sat about 2 meters behind their chaingang. We went down Dark Hill. I stayed behind their last rider and didn't overtake him, he caught up with them, I dropped off a little bit, but then caught up with them on their way back to Roehampton Gate. 

Next problem, cars are coming from the front, their group is splitting up, I'm on the outside... The friendly ride captain tell me to jump on his wheel which I did. Suddenly I'm in their chaingang. I'm well capable of being their, but somehow they don't really know what to do with me as now I've messed up their perfectly organised formation. 

We turned the corner at Roehampton Gate and I was on the outside near the front, I wasn't sure if I should pull over to the left to drop back to the back again or what I should do.... So I accelerated a little so that I'm in front of them and not part of their formation. I took a left up to the Ballet School and they went straight on towards Sawyers Hill. 

I don't like riding on my own, so it was quite nice to be in the mix and realise that I was able to keep up with them. 

I cruised along towards Ham Gate as I took a left turn to go down the dip at Ham towards Kingston Gate (one of my favourite sections of the park).  I saw two groups of Dynamos coming down from Pembroke Lodge. I really hoped that it wasn't them and that it was the fast group. 

I kept on riding and as we got to Dark Hill again, their they catch me again, some of them commented here you are again at which I didn't reply as I could feel that I haven't really been riding on my roadbike lately and was paying the price for it. Needless to say they came past me, dropped me and carried on, I took a right and left the park through Ladderstile Gate. 

I am really glad that I've been for a ride, but can't help to think what would've been the right thing to do? 

My options were: 

1. I should've asked if I could join their chaingang 
2. They could've offered that I join
3. Should I have stopped to give them some space so that I didn't get caught in their mix of things again? 
4. I could've over taken them, but that would just be arrogant as then they'll hunt me down and all I wanted was a chilled ride in the park. 

Maybe if I felt different today I would've asked, but I didn't. :-)

Ps. See with mountain biking we would've just talked to each other or waited a little bit to give a gap... 

Pss. Why didn't I think to do that, surely that the principle would've paid off on the road as well. Next time! 

Friday, 27 November 2015

REVIEW: Specialized Women Specific Cycling Clothing

All of my bike accessories are already Specialized, but I've never splashed out on buying my own Specialized cycling kit. 

I happen to have met Olivia the Brand Manager for Women at Specialized UK on the Bella Velo rides and she kindly surprised me in June with this Specialized ambassadors outfit. 

I had to take the selfie to capture my excitement, it doesn't quite do it justice, but if you look closely you'll see that I dropped everything in the kitchen to try on this outfit straight away! 

From the moment I started trying it on, I could tell that this was good quality kit and understand why people pay the price for this kit. It is just so soft, it doesn't cut into love handles or upper thighs, it just feels great. This might be a strange thing for me to say and also very cringy, but you feel like a women! Oooh I said it! 

The cycling tights are my favourite, it is awesome bib shorts with a magnet fastening on the back which allows you to go to the ladies without taking all of your clothes off. You literally just drop your tights and go. 

Below is a video from Specialized demonstrating how it works! 

The padding is thin and ergonomically shaped for the best comfort. 

Soft finishes on the arm
The sleeves of the jersey and legs of the tights both have base layer material finishes which doesn't cut into your skin and doesn't ride up either as it has nicely spaced out elastic on the inside. 
Same soft finishes on the legs

The back of the cycling top has 3 pockets, including a waterproof zipped pocket. 

If you look closely you can see the magnet dropper of the bib shorts underneath my top.

I love this outfit even though it has pink it. :-) The bib shorts is a must! 

TC's Personal Shopping just for you!

Hi Everyone

Tis the season to be jolly!

I love shopping for myself and others. It is much more fun shopping if you know what you are buying, with the help of a few friends I have  compiled a list of 21 items for you. They will all make good Christmas gifts for people who love cycling. I own most of these items so can personally recommend them and those that I don't have, I would like to have! :-)

Happy Tango Shopping!


This multi-tool got recommended to me by a friend, in all honesty I haven't used all the functions yet, but it is a good one!

Price: £16
Use: MTB
Crankbrothers multi-tool
These socks keeps your feet warm in winter as long as it doesn't rain, when they are wet your feet will obviously be colder, but at least they will still be dry!

Price: £32
Use: MTB & Road
Sealskinz Waterproof Socks
Overshoes are the most unattractive piece of cycling gear you will own, but they are the key to warm feet in winter!

Price: £20
Use: Road & MTB
Versatile and great to take the chill off before winter breaks out in full swing! Toe covers are easy to leave on your shoes and much less faffing than overshoes. Best birthday gift I got this year!

Price: £9
Use: Road & MTB
Toe Covers
TC's Best Buy Recommendation!

I've always deflated my tyre when pumping it up UNTIL I bought one of these! You can use it as a foot pump, much easier for us girls to pump pressing down than to try and hold in place and pump side ways.

Maybe a bit clunky for roadie weight weenies, but you will achieve much higher tyre pressure than any other handpump.

Price: £22
Use: MTB & Road
Topeak Mini-Morph
A new autobiographyby my favourite road cyclist, he is Welsh off course!

Price: £10
Use: Men and Women
Geraint Thomas
Veg in these leggingsafter your ride! I stole this idea from Total Womens Cycling.

Price: £24
Use: Ladies
Lightweight multi-toolfor those conscious about their weight. :-)

Price: £15
Use: MTB & Road
9 Function Carbon Multi-tool
Worried that yourvaluables might get wet or just wanting to look after them, this is the thing for you!

Price: £9
Use: Road & MTB
Poc Pac
No factory grease ever! Best way to keep your chain clean forever. Happy chain, happy bike!

Mention Tango Cycling and get 20% discount!

Price: £26
Use: MTB
Squirtlube Induced Chain
Always put your safety first, doesn't matter if you ride with others or on your own, it's handy to have your ICEnumbers nearby.

Price: £15 (and you are supportingQhubeka)
Use: Road, MTB & other outdoor sports
Mudguards help to keep dirt out of your eyes when riding hard down hill and will keep your bottom dry and clean in these wet winter months.

Price: £9
Use: MTB
Mucky Nutz
Someone once asked me what is my favourite piece of cycling clothing, my answer was, myBUFF! Keeps the sweat from your eyes in Summer and provides warmth in Winter. It has 12 uses of which, headband, beanie, elastic and neck warmer are only a few to mention. I don't ride without it!

Price: £15
Use: MTB & Road
These socks are the new trend, there are a whole range available at G!RO.

Price: £15
Use: Road
Road Socks
If my hands and feet are cold I don't want to ride my bike, it is worth investing in wind & waterproof gloves!

Price: £35
Use: Road & MTB
Womens Winter's Gloves
Merino Baselayers are great for regulating your body heat and it keeps you warm even when you are wet. 

Price: £35
Use: MTB & Road
Merino Baselayers
Arm warmers are a great gift, not something you think you need until you have a pair. Ideal for in between seasons and an extra layer in winter.

Price: £5
Use: MTB & Road
Arm Warmers
Sometimes hosing your bike off is just not enough, these brushesare able to reach into all the nooks and crannies.

Price: £20
Use: MTB & Road
Cleaning Brushes
A quick and easy (lazy) way to inflateyour tyre when you have a flat.

Price: £22
Use: Road & MTB
CO2 Nozzle
More chunky, but great to keep an extra baselayer, phone etc dry in your camelbak. Also great to use as washing bag when camping or going on cycling weekends.

Price: £4
Use: MTB

Monday, 9 November 2015


Commando? No?!

I can imagine the question marks in your eyes when you read this heading. Many people including myself made the mistake of wearing underwear when we started cycling!

The thought of not wearing underwear my cycling tights frightened me at first, but after a bit of rubbing where I didn't want to be rubbed someone told me to NOT wear underwear underneath my cycling tights! You add more seams for more potential rubbing when you are wearing underwear. The biggest contact point between you and your bike is your saddle, so the less seams around that area will limit the risk of rubbing and unwanted saddle sores!

I stepped out of my comfort zone and left the panties/knickers behind after Elisca advised me to do so! It felt strange at first, but much better in the longer run! Just think of your tights as the best NO VPL underwear you will every own!

See this article on 
Total Womens Cycling confirming what I just said!

The risks of riding Commando 

The risks: 
  1. You could cycle into a fence and tear your tights and expose your future to those around you
  2. Your tights could get stuck behind your saddle and you can tear a seam
  3. You could crash, end up in A & E without knickers when you have to be fully examined by a doctor 

I’m sure those of you that have ridden for a long time can add a few more scenarios, the 3 above are all true stories and either happened to myself or others I know or you might know. :-) They make good stories though. 

How to minimise the risk:

1. I would recommend to carry a spare pair in your camelbak
2. OR invest in a pair of baggies to wear over your cycling tights

Monday, 19 October 2015

Introducing the Tango Twins

I didn't think we needed an introduction... ;-) 

Tango Twins

I’ve been called many nicknames in my lifetime, but this one was added to the list about a year ago when Pokkeltjie & I went on a ride with Iain & Lizzie.

Lizzie named her ride on Strava, “Anthem initiation ride with the Tango twins. Ever since then they have referred to us as the Tango Twins and others joined in. We even took it further than that, and identified ourselves as TT1 (that’s me of course) and TT2 (Pokkeltjie).


Lizzie had no idea how famous the Tango Twin Duet would become when she named us. J

Recently we completed the Epic Cymru in Wales and a photo of us at the Finish Line made it into the MBR for November 2015. This photo is the pure inspiration for this post. (Thank you Pierre for the Strava alert!)

In order for you to get to the Tango Twins better I have asked us a few questions?

TT1 about TT2


(TC about Liezl)  

Who gets the most punctures?

TT2, but I’ve made up with 2 in 2 days recently so we should be even now

Who waits the most on the trails for each other?

Definitely TT2, she is fast, I just can’t keep up with her even if I try my best!

 Who takes the least risks?

 Me (TT1), I’m either the sensible one or just plain scared

Most spectacular crash you have witnessed of TT2?

There have been a few crashes which makes it hard to narrow it down. I always discover the black spot (that’s how I refer to TT2 laying on the ground in the fetal position). It has to be when she was taking a jump, landed on a down slope by doing a full 360 summersault with her feet still attached to her bike.

Proudest you have been of TT2 and collectively of the Tango Twins?

- When she won her age category in her first ever XTERRA triathlon and came third overall in 2013.

- Collectively when we finished the Sellaronde Hero in 2014, the longest toughest day we’ve had on our mountain bikes, but we did it!

- Oh and the way we approached Peaslake MTBO (Mountain bike orienteering) in April 2015. We planned our route, stuck to the plan, picked up the 11 markers we planned to get on our route plus an additional 3 we added in case we had enough time.  We ended up having enough time and won the Women’s 3 hour category.

 What is the best part of having a trusting riding partner?

It starts with knowing that if she said she is going to ride with me, she will ride with me. Knowing each other so well helps reading a situation, when to encourage and when to keep quiet. It took us time to figure out the best way of communicating with each other, but we are reaping the benefits now. TT2 knows when I am tired just by looking at the position of my head. We often have a role reversal, when one of us is down the other one keeps us going and the other way round.  Thankfully we have never been down at the same time! I know she isn’t just going to leave me behind, she will warn me or wait for me at sections  which she knows I might not like that much. Even if I know she will be fine, I always wonder where is she, what happened to her, is she ok?

Most common phrases TT2 uses?

- I don’t like to push

- I have a puncture

- *bus doors opening* tee tee tee tee (the sound she makes to announce that her legs can no longer cope and that it would be better to be at the top of the hill right now than to still have to get there)



TT2 about TT1 

(Liezl about TC) 

Who faffs the most?

Uhm.  Do I have to be honest?  Okay…although it’s pretty much 50/50, I think TT1 probably thinks I faff the most…and vice versa.  However, if the question is a general one…then I think the answer is Simon Osborne a.k.a Sakkie :-)

 Who gets the most punctures?

That’s an easy one!  I definitely do…hands down!  I can basically change a tyre with my eyes closed…behind my back…whilst eating a cheese straw.

TT1 says you do most of the waiting? Why do you wait, why don’t you just carry on riding?

Safety in numbers and all that :)  With my track record of falls it is better not to go solo.  In all seriousness, I would not want to ride on my own all the time and it helps to know that there is someone waiting for you (whether it is me or TT1).  It gives you that extra push you need and mentally it can do wonders.  I’m not in it to win it…I want to enjoy the mountains on my bike and be a reliable, patient friend at the same time.

Who takes the most risks?

That’ll be me (TT2).  I have always been a bit fearless so when I see a great downhill I love just bombing down it at speed (with relative amount of control of course).  TT1 is definitely more sensible than I am when it comes to that.

 Who crashes the most?

Do I really have to talk about my crashes again?  People might think I can’t ride you know :)  If you bear the above mentioned comment in mind you’d completely understand why I crash so much but then again…my motto is:  “If you don’t fall, you’re not trying hard enough”  Or that’s how I justify it at least…

Who has the best sense of direction?

Now I must say, TT1 isn’t just a pretty face…she has direction as well.  She literally knows the Surrey hills like the palm of her hand and doesn’t even need a GPS to get us around.  It’s quite astonishing really…and it means we hardly ever get lost #respect

You can trust her to get you from Point A to Point B without a doubt.

What is the best part of having a trusting riding partner?

TT1 and I are like sisters.  One minute we can joke about and the next minute we can be cross with one another but the beauty of ‘family’ is that you get over it quickly and move on.  We do mountain biking for fun and it’s much more enjoyable to ride with a good friend / riding partner so we can have chats, encourage one another and share the experience.  She is really good with helping with punctures as well #handy :)

Most common phrases used by TT1?

- I LOVE Summer Lightning

- I want a Yazoo

- Are we at altitude?

Blog written by: TC and her guest TT2

Tango Twins literally

On a recent training ride in Summer 2015

Through thick & thin
Photo: Anthony Pease as featured in MBR November 2015 on page 13