Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Cycling the Barcelona way

I know, I know, holiday snaps are only interesting if they are your own. However, what if they featured a little cycling the Spanish way?

I fled Blighty and all the olympic furore (which I was enjoying very much!) and retreated to the warmth of France and Spain. After putting on my best french accent and eating plenty of Baguettes, I headed for some serious sunshine in Barcelona. It's always exciting observing how another city cycles, especially when you get the chance to hop on a bicycle yourself!

Here are some of the points I observed:

+ There are miles and miles of segregated cycle lanes taking you through the heart of the City and also along the glorious seafront.


+ Barcelona has it's on bike rental scheme, only they are not for tourists! This is the closest I could get to riding one. The 'Bicing' bikes are restricted for residents use only. Don't you think this is way cooler than a Boris Bike?

+ It's plain to see that Barcelona is in love with the bicycle. This isn't a bicycle shop, it's a boutique hotel! 


+ They even have cooler advanced stop lines for cyclists decorated with a pretty criss cross border. Only, the cycle symbols have helmets and all the real life cyclists don't.


+ There are many bicycle rental shops and bike tours for tourists around the city. Renting a bicycle in Barcelona is exceptionally cheap compared to England. I rented a bike for just €6 for the day, bargain!






+ Cyclists are not made to go around roundabouts and busy junctions, instead they have their own segregated lanes with traffic lights at every crossing. This is nice and safe but takes a hell of a lot longer than if you were cycling on the road with the cars!


Apart from the mighty heat, cycling in Barcelona is a pleasant, laid back experience. I didn't come across any bicycle ninjas or crazy commuters whilst on my travels, perhaps it's because its August and everything shuts down for the month, or maybe it's just too hot!

Here are a few other snaps from my holiday:
Have you ever cycled in Barcelona and what did you think?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Pinnacle Californium Bicycle - 6 weeks on



Six weeks ago I posted my first impressions of the Pinnacle Californium bicycle from Evans Cycles. I have since spent the whole summer riding 'the dreamboat' around London and testing out the full force of what she is made of. Is she all style and no substance? Or is she a commuter’s companion?...

The look


If Mary Poppins didn’t have her magic umbrella to travel around with, then this is the bike she would ride. In post-box red, the Californium stands out from the crowd with its cheerful exterior and gracious curves. Uplifting on a rainy day ride and dazzling on a summers day. The 'mixte' frame makes it unique to the other classic sit-up-and-beg bicycles on the market. Another stylish touch I admire is having the skirt and chain guard in the same post-box red as the frame, I also love the vintage style brown handlebars.

If you are after the ‘I’m-buying-my-baguette-on-a-Saturday-afternoon’ look then this is the bike for you. Top it off with some red lipstick and a Breton top for the full Parisian chic. This bicycle is pretty!

Comfort


From someone who is used to riding a cheap 1980’s bicycle, cycling the Californium was a shock to the system. I didn’t realise that bikes can glide along so smoothly! I have been on a couple of long distance rides and found the bicycle really comfortable and forgiving over bumps. The wide handlebars add to the comfort factor and I am yet to get saddle sore!


Speed


The Californium comes in three gears. Not much? Well, if you are only interested in city/town cycling and getting from A to B without turning into a sweatbox then three gears is enough. If you want to compete with the lyrca folk then this bicycle is a no go! Although it's always fun to take over one when you can!

Maintenance


Ah maintenance……..my WORST THING ABOUT CYCLING! Let's keep things basic. The wheels aren’t quick release which can seem annoying if you want to take them off quickly, but good if you don’t want them nicked. The bicycle has hub gears so won’t rust quickly and also means you can change gear when stationery at traffic lights. The chain guard looks stylish and also protects your chain from rusting. HOWEVER, it can be difficult to put your chain back on if the entire thing has fallen off  (which has happened to me 3 times! I think we can say, I live up to my blog name!).

Can I carry it easily through my house/flat/stairs/garden?


This bike is surprising lightweight compared with the other sit-up-and-beg bicycles on the market. I have to carry my bike through my flat everyday and with the Californium, I didn't have to get my pop-eye muscles out. The only thing is the wide handle bars can make manoeuvring tricky, but these handlebars are worth it for a comfy ride!

Can I wear my high heels?


Like riding in a skirt, you can pretty much wear heels on every bicycle. The Californium has slightly larger pedals than what I am used to which adds more surface area for support. Get those heels on!

Easy to wear a skirt and cycle? 


Some bicycles accommodate a skirt better than others. The Californium is perfect for cycling in a skirt because of the upright style. I'm a bit of an advocate for skirt cycling, so I have highlighted the features of this bicycle which makes this fashion statement possible:
  • By not leaning forward like on a mountain bike, you can get more skirt to sit on and keep in    place.
  • There is plenty of space to put your legs together when pedalling avoiding any unfortunate flashes!  
  • Being a step-through style means you can hop on and off with ease.
All in all, this bicycle is a DREAMBOAT! There really isn't much to fault. It is the perfect companion for commuting, easy to ride, comfortable and pretty in the looks department. Retailing at £350, this bicycle is affordable. Mary Poppins sure is missing out!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Summer cycling fuel - Banana Oat Shake Smoothie

I have stumbled across something great.... something which has revolutionised the way I start my day. I'm not kidding, this is something of an awakening, something which will change my life forever...gosh I can't believe I am even sharing this with the internet world.

It all started a couple of months ago when I realised that life was now too hot for my Nutella porridge. Sad, slightly sweaty and rather sick of eating thick, hot porridge oats swamped in tablespoons of Nutella everyday, I desperately sought after a summer replacement for my morning bicycle fuel. It was a hard struggle, but eventually I struck gold and developed a recipe which was set to change my summer forever (little did I know at the time). And now dear friend and cyclist, I am finally able to share it with you. I bring you, Help! My chain came off's Banana oat shake smoothie! Savour it and respect it, for it is the best summer breakfast you shall ever taste!

This recipe serves 2





Add 2 or 3 bananas to a blender


















Add a glass of apple juice or a juice of your choice















Oats ahoy! Add 8 heaped tablespoons of porridge oats.


Next up add 5 ice cubes into the mix


Now add 4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt for some smoothie goodness
















Blend your morning woes away



Serve up and drink up, summer cycling fuel to keep you going!