With winter fast approaching, it can be tempting to bunker down and prepare to stay indoors for the next few months. But despite the short days and bad weather, it's important to stay active and get as much time outdoors as possible. Cycling is a great way to do this, although it can be challenging. Here are a few tips for winter cycling which may help...
Winter Cycling Gear
Bike racer and cycling blogger Juliete Elliott points out that your feet are often the first things to feel the cold when you're cycling. She recommends layering a decent pair of cycling shoes with either waterproof socks or some warming merino socks, as well as a pair of waterproof overshoes.
Invest some time to find a decent pair of gloves that will keep you warm, without impeding your movement.
Buy cycling-specific winter gear since this will have been designed with the shape and position of your body when it's on a bike in mind.
Dressing for winter cycling is all about layers. Start with a base layer of thermal bib tights and a wicking thermal vest or long sleeved top, then build from there. Remember you'll heat up as you cycle, so it's a good rule of thumb to dress so that you're slightly cool when you start the ride.
Winter Cycling Gear Essentials: waterproof jacket, thermal bib tights, thermal base layer top or vest, windproof sweater, overshoes, windproof gloves, and clear or lightly tinted glasses (to keep rain out of your eyes).
Winter Cycling Tips
Be sure to winter-proof your bike. Fit mudguards to prevent mud and water from puddles being splashed up your back, as this will not only ruin your clothes but can make you pretty cold too.
Remember your traction is limited on wet roads, so think ahead and stay safe. Brake before turning, and lean your bike, rather than your body, as this makes it easier to correct any potential skids. Remember that surfaces like metal, cobblestones, and paint can be very slick when wet, so watch out for them.
Have lights with you at all times. Gloomy and overcast days can be pretty dim, and with night setting in ever earlier you may be caught out in darkness. Get some small, bright LED lights and make sure they're fully charged before each ride.
Hone your skills, take care on wet or icy days, and be prepared. Cycling in winter is definitely more challenging, but it's great practice and can help make you a better cyclist. So get out there!
If you're thinking of taking a cycling holiday this summer, there are some amazing routes to choose from around Europe. From gentle asphalt bike paths to challenging mountain ascents, there are routes to suit just about any level of cyclist, many of them offering the chance to enjoy some incredible scenery. These are a few of the best European cycling routes for you to consider...
Green Ways, Catalunya
Abandoned railway lines that have been converted into beautiful, smooth cycle paths, the Vias Verdes (Green Ways) of Catalunya are a joy to cycle. The full route starts in the Pyranees and ends 125km later on the coast. Or, you can take the shortened version stating in Girona; from there it's downhill all the way to the beach!
Land's End to John O'Groats, UK
When talking about cycling Europe, it's easy to forget the UK, but we have a ton of amazing trails right here at home that are perfect for all bike enthusiasts. The most iconic is the 1000km route from the bottom to the top of the country (or vice versa) – the ultimate cycling challenge in Great Britain.
Alpe d'Huez, France
The French Alps are home to some of the most popular European cycle routes, thanks largely to the famous Tour de France. One of the most challenging pilgrimages for cycling enthusiasts is the 13.8km climb to Alpe d'Huez; with it's 21 corkscrew road bends it's a painful ascent.
Peloponnese Peninsula Circuit, Greece
For a cylcing holiday with a difference, head to Greece to tackle the challenging ascents and descents of the mountain roads around the Peloponnese. A circuit of the peninsula will take you through some seriously stunning scenery, and past some incredible ancient sites, from Neolithic cave dwellings to Byzantine towers. You'll even pass within a stone's throw of the ancient Olympia Stadium.
Passo dello Stelvio, Italy
This 22km mountain climb in The Dolomites is considered one of the toughest European cycle routes. At it's highest point, the Passo dello Stelvio is 2758m above sea level, but the altitude and the challenging hairpin bends are worth it for some stunning scenery.
Mac in a Sac is a really versatile piece of clothing that is perfect for lots of activities from travelling to cycling. Its handy stuff sac also means you can have an extra, protective piece of clothing without it taking up all the room in your handbag! So, for a bit of inspiration we've put together a list of just some activities your Mac in a Sac is perfect for!
1. City Breaks
With limited space in your hand luggage you need to be pretty savvy about what you take on your city break and what you leave at home. This can be a pretty difficult task, especially if you hate packing in the first place. When you plan your city break down to a tee, outfit planning is marginally easier. But, overall, the unpredictability of the weather can be difficult to plan around. You can make outfit planning that bit easier by popping your Mac in a Sac in your hand luggage. Just as handy for handbags as an umbrella but ten times more reliable. It also won't break when the wind blows too strongly!
2. School Trips
Whether it’s a trip to a forest park, an open farm or the zoo, the weather is prone to interfering on school trips. Leave behind their bulky puff coat for carrying around all day (and possibly leaving on the bus!) and pop their handy Mac in a Sac into their school bag instead. They can be free to enjoy the weather while it’s dry and be well equipped to tackle it if it turns nasty. Win-win!
3. Walking the Dog
Don’t let your furry friend down by keeping him/her cooped up in the house while it’s raining! Rainy days will no longer stop you from getting out with your pet through your Mac in a Sac's highly waterproof and breathable qualities. You can enjoy your walks together without interruption and your pet will thank you for it
If there's one place where the threat of rain looms with mighty force then it's UK festivals. You can be adequately prepared for this eventuality with your Mac in a Sac. You'll be protected from light rain and the heavier showers too. Decided to leave your bag back at the campsite? Not a problem, with a handy drawcord included on its stuff sac your Mac in a Sac can be tied around your belt so you can dance with ease when the sun comes out.
You might be freezing when you first hop on your bike, but after a few minutes cycling you’ll warm up rapidly. Your Mac in a Sac is ideal for cycling because its lightweight, breathable qualities help you stay comfortable when you start to perspire.
So, what activities have you used your Mac in a Sac for? We always love seeing photos of our customers out and about in their Mac in a Sacs! Tweet us your pics!
Whether you're big into cycling, wild about running or just fancy trying something different this year, 2016 won't be short of outdoor events across the UK to keep you fit and healthy. Many of these events are a great way to raise money for charity so if you want to set yourself a personal challenge and raise some money for a good cause while you're at it, then read on.
Where marathons and swimming can feel like very unitary, solo activities, hill walking is an activity you can enjoy the company of others in and share an amazing experience you'll remember forever. The breath-taking views from the top are also an additional, attractive perk of hill walking. Many hill walks are open challenges meaning that you can choose from a selection of charities to raise money for.
Ben Nevis, located in the Scottish Highlands is the highest mountain in Britain and a very popular spot. You have the option of undertaking your challenge in summer or if you're really brave, in winter. Other popular challenges include the Lake District 5 Peaks (15 July) and 24 Peaks (10 June) for more experienced hill walkers. Both Ben Nevis and the Lake District walks can be done at midnight to really take advantage of the scenery against the backdrop of a rising sun. However, if you're really passionate about mountaineering why not try the revered Welsh3000s (10 June)? It is one of the most challenging mountain climbs to undertake but has some amazing views to boast of.
If cycling is your thing, there's a wealth of interesting cycling events happening across the UK this year. The Edinburgh Night Ride is a 50 mile overnight cycle across Scotland's capital city happening on June 18. With sights that will include The Castle, Holyrood Palace, Scottish Parliament Buildings, the Fourth Road Bridge and even a coastal route thrown in for good measure, it will be a varied and extremely interesting cycle to say the least. If you fancy going further afield than the UK however, the London to Paris cycle is happening on 7 September for 5 days to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK. You will begin in London's city centre and finish off underneath the Eiffel Tower, having cycled a whopping 300 miles. And with Paris to enjoy afterwards what could be a better reward?
If you feel a bit daunted by the prospect of cycling all night or climbing up the highest mountain in Britain why not ease yourself into outdoor challenges by doing a fun run? Charities frequently hold fun runs and walks across the UK as they are an easy way for people to get active and involved with a good cause! This March 20th the Where's Wally Fun Run is happening in London's Clapham Commons to raise money for National Literary Trust. It's a manageable 1Km and you can jog, walk or run your way through it, dressed as Wally of course. However, if London is a bit too far afield look up fun runs and charity walks happening in near you!
September is a great time of year to get out on your bike and go exploring. It’s not too cold yet, but not as warm as it was in the height of summer. We thought this week would be perfect timing to bring you a blog post on all of the exciting routes you can take in our home country of Northern Ireland. We've been looking at all of Cycle NI's routes and we've chosen our top 5:
A beautiful country route between Kilkeel and the country village of Attical. This route allows you to take in breath-taking views of the Mourne Mountains. This route is a circular route allowing you to begin and end in the same place. This route takes you past beautiful scenery such as the Whitewater River, Cranfield beach, Greencastle, and then up through the country roads to take a better look at the mountains. We highly recommend this route if you are in the area.
Another stunning cycle route takes you along the North Coast of Northern Ireland between the legendary Giants Causeway and Benone, passing through Portrush, Portstewart, Coleraine and Castlerock. Quite a lot of this route follows a traffic-free shared use pathway adjacent to the Giants Causeway & Bushmills Heritage Railway line. With beautiful views of the coastline, this comes in at number 2 on our list of top cycle routes in Northern Ireland.
This route follows along the western shores of Strangford Lough and Drumlin Country rewards cyclists with some of the finest views of the Lough to be had by bicycle. Castle Espie Wetland Centre and Nendrum monastic site are particular points of interest on this route. Passing through Kilmood and taking time to appreciate the historic St Mary’s Parish Church built in 1820, you can follow the ridge high above Lisbane from where Strangford Lough can be seen off to one side before re-joining the outward route back to Comber.
This route gives a hilly ride through Drumlin country towards the south end of Lisburn. It takes you past lakes and loughs with great views of the Mourne Mountains, Belfast Hills and the Lagan Valley. This route is hilly for the most part with several short steep hills around Annahilt so it is recommended for experienced cyclists and people who are looking for a fitness challenge. There are also several fast descents on return to the Lagan Towpath so remember to take care.
We thought we would finish off our top five with a short 6 mile route that’s perfect for the whole family. The Castle Archdale Family Cycle Route is situated 15km north west of Enniskillen and explores 230 acres of mature forest. Situated on the shores of Lower Lough Erne, this route provides truly beautiful scenery for the whole family to enjoy.
The sun is out and the barbeque is burning... yep, it's the beginning of summer! And with that, comes the packing of the suitcase for your big summer get-away.
This weekend we thought we would give you all a special treat to celebrate. We're offering you 20% OFF our entire range for the whole weekend! Just enter GETREADY20 at the checkout to claim your discount. But hurry- the offer will expire on Monday at 12 midnight.
Enjoy! And from everyone at Mac in a Sac- have a great holiday!