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Tri247's 2010 Christmas list
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Wednesday 1st December 2010


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The team at Tri247 have managed to compile a suggested Christmas gift list which will run daily between now and Christmas Eve. There's something in there for everyone from bonus stocking fillers right through to the outrageous - well there's no harm in wishing, is there?

Every day we'll add another item to the list so you can leave the page open on-screen in the hope that someone gets the hint. And, in the worst case scenario, you could always just buy yourself something nice!


December 24th

"Hell weekend" - Swim for Tri FINCAMP Workshops

Swim for Tri (www.swimfortri.co.uk) have been coaching triathletes in the art of swimming for the best part of a decade now, and Head Coach Dan Bullock is known as one of the very best swim coaches in the business.

Triathletes are not afraid of hard work, so how about booking one of their FINCAMP Fitness Workshops.

"FINCAMP, hell weekend, call it what you will but the idea is to come and swim. A lot. We will have 2-3 lanes booked for at least 6 hours of swimming during the weekend. We will be aiming to work hard, swim far with great technique and enjoy. During the downtime we will perform dry-land sessions including flexibility, Yoga, Core Stability, swim specific circuits with strength and conditioning."

Dates:

  • 22nd and 23rd January 2011
  • 26th and 27th February 2011
  • 19th and 20th March 2011

Location: Mile End Park and Leisure Centre and Stadium, 190 Burdett Road, London, E3 4HL

BOOK HERE - £140

For more details on this, and other swim coaching and training weekend options, go to www.swimfortri.co.uk

December 23rd

iron please! Enter a UK iron-distance race

A couple of days ago we suggested that for 2011 you could 'go long. VERY long', by entering one of the ultra distance triathlons that are being added to the 2011 UK triathlon schedule.

Well, for most normal (?!) people, the classic 2.4 miles / 112 miles / 26.2 miles of Ironman is more than enough. With time short now on buying something from the shops, how about race entry to a UK iron-distance event for 2011?

Interestingly, they are all on different dates... can anyone complete them all?

ENDUROMAN

12th June 2011

www.enduroman.com

Enter Enduroman

THE FORESTMAN

26th June 2011

www.racenewforest.co.uk

Enter The Forestman

THE OUTLAW

24th July 2011

www.theoutlawtriathlon.com

Enter The Outlaw

IRONMAN UK

31st July 2011

www.ironmanuk.com

Enter Ironman UK

IRONMAN WALES

11th September 2011

www.ironmanwales.com

Enter Ironman Wales

CHALLENGE HENLEY

18th September 2011

www.challengehenley.com

Enter Challenge Henley

December 22nd

warm and soft shell...the dhb Windslam Soft Shell Jacket

Our friends over at Wiggle (www.wiggle.co.uk) recently sent us over a selection of items from their own brand 'dhb' clothing range for testing and review.

Those reviews will be coming up in more detail in the next couple of weeks, but on a 'first look' basis, we have to note and recommend one thing to spend your Christmas money on - the dhb Windslam Soft Shell Jacket.

First up, it's £69.99. Given the (high) quality of the garment, that is seriously in the 'bargain' category. Should it happen to be discounted further come the January sales, fill your boots.

If you like understated, and have no desire to be riding around promoting the sponsors of your professional team of choice, then the subtle black of this jacket is for you. Because of that, it is also likely to prove popular with commuters and recreational cyclists. You could happily arrive at the pub wearing this without looking like 'lycra bike man'....

Of course, the downside of that will be visibility, particularly if you commute in the dark - though the rear of the jacket does include a reflective trim across the back.

It's super warm, with a brushed fleece lining, and wind-proofed throughout (not just the chest area), plus the velcro cuffs will further help to keep the cold out. It also has a high-rise collar to aid warmth and keep the wind out, though the collar size does seem to verge towards the large in this regard... you'll have no problems if your previous sport was body-building and you still have the neck size developed through pumping iron anyway.

Now, if only the snow and ice can ease up a little so we can test it a further...

You can buy online from Wiggle HERE for £69.99, in sizes small through to 2XL.

December 21st

Cheap discs for all - Aerojacket Disc Cover

Ok, we would all like to go faster for the same effort. And to some degree, spending money can help. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to spend a lot of money for not much in return.

Aerodynamic, deep-rim style and/or disc wheels are used almost universally by every top athlete - and a large proportion of age groupers - for very good reason.

Unfortunately, in the case of disc wheels, you are typically looking at from around £500 to well over £1000 for one wheel. That is a lot of cash to splash on a wheel you will generally only use on race day.

Step foreward the Aerojack Disc Wheel Cover.

These disc covers allow you to convert your standard rear wheel into a disc to gain almost all of the aerodynamic benefits, but at a fraction of the cost.

It also means that of you train with for example a PowerTap hub on your training (spoked) wheels, you can convert that wheel into a disc (equivalanet) for race day, and still use your PowerTap.

These covers cost a very reasonable £89.99, available in the UK from Bike Science (www.bike-science.com). Worth adding to the Christmas list!

December 20th

Get bike fit(ted) with Retül

It's all well and good owning a super-bling bike, but is it set up properly for you to ride fast and efficiently? If you are looking for a new bike, how can you ensure that you don't spend all of your hard-earned cash on something that won't actually fit you properly?

That is where a proper bike fitting can come into use, and would make a great Christmas present.

There are are wide range of bike fitting approaches and methodologies around, but one of the tools that has gained momentum over recent years is Retül (www.retul.com). Retül uses three-dimensional motion capture technology to measure and understand the biomechanics of an individual while riding, to eliminate guesswork and provide objective information to assist in the final 'fitting' process.

We experienced the Retül process ourselves earlier this year at Profeet (www.profeet.co.uk) in Fulham Road, London. Profeet are the Performance Percentage Gains Partner of UK professional development team Team TBC SportsAid, helping the likes of Steve Worthington (Windsor winner), Lois Rosindale (Bronze ETU, Silver ITU Duathlon U-23 Champs) and Joanna Carritt (third, Ironman UK) this year, among the many impressive results from the team in 2011.

A Retül fitting isn't cheap (you can expect to pay around £175-£250), but you come away with a whole host of valuable information for future reference and use, and hopefully, a much faster and more comfortable bike set up to greatly enhance your riding experience and improve your performances. Typically, if you have two bikes (for example, a TT bike and a Road bike), you can get both bikes done in one session for a small extra premium should you so desire. The process isn't quick either - expect a fit to last two hours, perhaps even half a day. You are paying for the expertise and time of the qualified and certified fitter, as well as the technology used.

In many cases, and perhaps where real value can be added, you can have your position 'fitted' without actually having a bike (using a fitting jig), from which identifying the perfect frame type and size for your body type and biomechanics can prevent you from making a very expensive mistake.

Here are a selection of UK certified fitters who can assist you. Check out there websites by clicking on the logos below, and contact then directly for more details on their pricing and services offered.

For more information on Retül, go to www.retul.com.

Profeet

Profeet

Fulham Road, London

020 7736 0046

Bike Science

Bike Science

Bristol, Derby and Rotherham

0117 9273444

Velomotion

Velomotion

Milton Keynes

01908 686860
07773 351063

Triathlon Specific

Triathlon Specific

East Leake, South Nottingham, near Loughborough

07711 470007

BikeFit UK

BikeFit UK

New Forest

07939 214906

Bespoke Cycling

Bespoke Cycling

London

0207 7390119

thetrilife

thetrilife

Kent

07791 289792

December 19th

Go long... enter something REALLY long in 2011

Triathlon is booming in many areas, and we are seeing lots of new and interesting events being added to the UK calendar every year.

While many of the new races are of the sprint variety, there is a slowly growing - though still very niche area of the market - which is developing too, as athletes seek a serious challenge.

If 'Ironman is the new marathon', well, plenty of people have done an Ironman. Indeed, plenty of us have done several...so what next?

Well, if you like things really tough, how about a Christmas present of race entry to one of the following UK ultra triathlons taking place in 2011. And yes, for 'regular' viewers, the distances below are real...

Ultraman UK: 3rd-5th September 2011, Bala (www.ultramanuk.com)

A UK qualifier for the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii.

Day 1: 10km swim / 144.8km bike
Day 2: 273.5km bike
Day 3: 84.3km run

ENTRY DETAILS

Enduroman New Forest: 3rd-12th June 2011, Avon Tryrrell Outdoor Centre
(www.enduroman.com)

Single, double and triple iron-distance triathlons, plus the Quintuple Enduroman (5 * iron-distance in five days), and Deca Enduroman (10 * iron-distance in ten days)! ENTRY DETAILS

The Brutal: 1st-2nd October 2011, Trawsfynydd, Snowdonia
(www.thebrutal.co.uk)

8-mile swim
150-mile bike
45-mile run

Long, cold, hard, hilly and it's going to hurt. Sound interesting? REGISTER HERE

December 18th

Read all about it...magazine subscriptions

Showing a very similar pattern to the UK iron-distance major event market, the market for UK triathlon magazines now looks rather different to the situation of two years ago - with four publications battling for your attentions, where once 220 stood alone.

Not surprisingly, all four of the major monthly publications would like to sign you up for a subscription. Now, while we are confident that you'll always find the latest news first, and most comprehensively here on Tri247... a magazine subscription makes a great present, and gives you something to read on the train or bus on the way to the office.

Take your pick of the magazine style or special offer which suits you best. A quick check around highlighted the following offers, though keep your eyes and ears open for better deals, freebies and promo codes!

220 Triathlon - The longest running, and still the market leader, 220 Triathlon are offering you 13 issues for £39, plus a free copy of the Triathletes Training Bible (worth £17.99). More HERE. If you fancy trialling it first, you can sign up for three issue for a pound HERE.

Triathlete Europe - If you fancy buying Triathete Europe as a present, you can get 12 issues for £26.95, or go for two years (24 issues) for £49.95. More HERE.

Triathlon Plus - If you fancy trialling Triathlon Plus, you can sign up for three issues for just £1, or pay £9.99 every three months and get free Free RPJ Sunglasses when you subscribe. 

Triathlete's World - You can trial three issues of Triathlete's World for £3 via direct debit, or get an annual subscription (saving 37%), for £24.99. For an extra pound, the 'Christmas Gift' subscription gives you a gift card to announce your present.

December 17th

Lace it up - triathlon lacing systems

Do you still stop in T2 amd tie your regular laces before heading out onto the run? Surely not!

If so - or you are still getting by on some super-cheap elastic - here are a few options to keep those laces tight and the transitions swift.

Greepers (www.greeper.com)

Greepers are the laces of choice of Chrissie Wellington, Tom Lowe, Leanda Cave and an increasing number of long distance triathletes.

The Greepers slogan is "one applied, always tied", and their claim is that because they utilise 'real' laces, the foot has the benefit and support of real laces combined with the speed of closure. You can buy the limited edition Chrissie Wellington 'Live it, Love it' Greepers for £7.95 a pair, of which £1.00 is donated to the Jane Tomlinson appeal.

Xtenex (www.xtenex.fr)

Xtenex is "the lace that stays in place", and the laces comprise of self-locking 'knots' along the laces which stretch as you feed them through the eyelets of your trainers, and then remain in place during use, eliminating the need to lace the shoes or use any form of locking device

We tested them a couple of years ago, and we're impressed. Yours for around £7 - £9. Try Nice2Tri, Running Shoes London or TriandRun for stock and pricing.

Lock Laces (www.locklaces.com)

Lock Laces™ are a patented “elastic lacing system” that feature specially designed elastic laces combined with a spring activated locking device - great for running and triathlon.

Widely available for around £5.99, try Chain Reaction Cycles, Wiggle or Tri-1st for stock and pricing.

December 16th

The concept of speed - Trek Speed Concept!

When it comes to bikes, if there is one new bike that turned more heads than any other in 2010, then surely it is the Trek Speed Concept?

This is the machine ridden in 2010 by the likes of Julie Dibens, Chris Lieto, Michael Raelert and all of the Trek-K-Swiss Triathlon team.

After several prototypes were seen riding by Trek pro riders in 2009, the Speed Concept was formally launched in May this year to wide acclaim, "representing the culmination of more than three years of design, engineering, and development.” Integrated brakes, cables, the Kammtail tube shape and more have made this perhaps the most desired new bike of the year.

Check out these great images from Kona this year, to see the Trek Speed Concept in stunning looking custom paint options. Now, all you need is to find that very generous, and very rich aunt to buy it for you...

Find out more at www.trekbikes.com/speedconcept

December 15th

Trigirl for your tri girl

Trigirl have been around for about five years now, and just this week have launched two new products which could be just the job for Christmas, and to keep warm over the winter.

Wave good-bye to cold hands!

How do you keep your hands warm when running in the cold season? When it's really cold outside, we put on gloves and pull down our sleeves. However, sleeves never seem to be quite long enough, and there is still a cold draft around the wrists. Gloves often get too warm while we're out running, and we end up carrying them rather than wearing them.

Particularly women who find that their hands get cold quite easily in winter will welcome Trigirl's new stylish Wrist Warmers to keep wrists toasty, and help maintaining warmer hands.

Trigirl Wrist Warmers

  • Stretch Lycra/ Microfiber, brushed on the inside
  • Insulating, breathable and finished with comfortable flat lock seams
  • Shaped to follow the contours of the wrist
  • Reflective prints and available in high viz colour option
  • Designed to be worn under gloves or by themselves
  • RRP £14.99

We lose 45% of our body heat through our head – do we really?

Ok - that old myth has apparently been debunked by scientists. But we still want to keep our heads and necks warm when out training in the colder season.

Trigirl now offers a versatile accessory that helps keep your head and neck warm – wear the Trigirl Tubette as a scarf or hat for running and cycling; it's also long enough to pull over the head and neck, to keep that chilly draft at bay on any winter bike ride.

Trigirl Tubette

  • Stretch Lycra/ Microfiber, brushed on the inside
  • Insulating, breathable and finished with comfortable flat lock seams
  • Reflective prints and available in high viz colour option
  • Versatile – wear as scarf, hat, or cover both head and neck
  • RRP £9.99

Both Trigirl wrist warmers and Tubette head scarf are available exclusively to buy from the Trigirl website www.trigirl.co.uk/shop.

The set of both matching items retails at £23.99 including shipping. This Trigirl Winter Accessory Set is the perfect Christmas gift for all running and cycling enthusiasts.

Trigirl Tubette & Wrist Warmers Christmas pack

December 14th

Running barefoot package

Give the gift of barefoot running this Christmas with Vivobarefoot

For those who want to kick start their fitness or improve their running in the New Year this limited edition package features:

  • A pair of Evo minimalist running shoes
  • A copy of Christopher McDougall's 'Born To Run', the international bestseller that started the barefoot revolution
  • A one-on-one barefoot masterclass with Lee Saxby, labelled 'the world's best barefoot running coach' by McDougall himself

Available instore and online at www.vivobarefoot.com - £220. Call 01458 449025 for more details.

You can find out more about barefoot running in this video.

December 13th

Stocking fillers...

For Goodness Shakes! - Earlier this year FGS launched their Recovery Powder product, and we reviewed it HERE. We were pretty impressed then, so why not buy the triathlete in your life one of their starter packs containing eight sachets (two of each flavour), plus a FGS! water bottle for them to try it? It even comes boxed, making the Christmas wrapping very easy... Retail price is £12, but a little bit of searching around (e.g. Wiggle), suggests you can get one for close to a tenner...

T MAT PRO - The T Mat Pro is a neoprene triathlon transition mat, available in one of six bright colours to help you find your bike should you have a tendency to get lost in transition. Rolls up neatly, easy to clean - yours for £24.99 from www.triathlonspecific.co.uk or Total Fitness Nottingham.

SAVE ON A RACE - Know a triathlete that already has all the kit they could need? Well, they always need to race so how about a gift voucher from organisers Human Race, which they can use towards an event of their choice? Available in units of £20 - BUY HERE.

December 12th

The best sunglasses... Oakley

When it comes to sunglasses, one brand has stood head and shoulders ahead of everyone else in the desirability stakes for several decades now. Worn by Tour de France winners, Ironman World Champions and leading marathon runners, of course, we are talking about Oakley (www.oakley.co.uk).

Now, sometimes quality costs - and Oakley don't really do cheap or bargain - but you have to say, in the case of Oakley sunglasses, you really do get what you pay for.

High Definition Optics® (HDO) is the term applied to Oakley lenses (read the technical explanation HERE), and does explain in Ronseal terms just what they do - the clarity, and lack of distortion during use is of the highest order and can make your forget you are even wearing them.

Oakley Hydrophobic™ is a permanent lens coating that prevents water from leaving streaks and marks on the lenses, ensuring that fingerprints, sweat and debris wipe away with remarkable ease, and the anti-static coating also repels dust and dirt.

The range of Oakley glasses in terms of frame style, colours, lense shapes and purpose is quite staggering, and an extensive period of research on the Oakley website is highly recommended to determine the most appropriate for your requirements, but here we highlight a couple of styles that will likely meet the needs of most triathletes.

The Oakley Radar® (pictured below - DETAILS) is the frame style you will have seen worn by Javier Gomez for much of the 2010 season, Fabian Cancellara during his great cycling wins and Michael Raelert while winning the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Interchangeable lenses (Path, Pitch, Range or XL shapes), highly impact resistant (e.g. stone chips while cycling), lightweight, 'surge ports' to channel cooling airflow and all of the technology Oakley can throw at it - the Radar is probably Oakley's most popular sports glasses style, and would make the perfect present (especially for yourself...).

Oakley Radar Range

Oakley also have a range of women's specific sports sunglasses available, with differeing lens contours and narrower width frames to better complement the typical female profile.

We've chosen to highlight the COMMIT® SQ model, shown below in polished white with violet iridium lense (full details HERE). With the HDO of the Radar model, these would be sure to please the female triathlete on your Christmas list.

If you prefer something a little more 'aggresive in styling, perhaps the Jawbone is more your thing, or perhaps the legendary M Frame is more to your taste? Whatever you chose - or receive (if you are lucky) under the Christmas tree - take good care of them, and you'll have many happy years of use.

December 11th

Take the easy option... gift vouchers

If you are anything like me, then buying Christmas presents (actually, shopping of any kind...) is not a pleasurable experience. Even being bought presents, the question "what do you want for Christmas?" invariably leaves me with a blank "er ...don't really know."

So, take the easy way out and buy some gift vouchers instead.

There are plenty of options around - if you want to keep the choice wide, how about purchasing some Wiggle, Chain Reaction Cycles, Pure Tri or other online store vouchers?

December 10th

Get some Speed(o)... Christmas bargains from Speedo

Speedo (www.speedo.co.uk) are without doubt the leading brand in the world of swimming, and in 2010 they made a significant and committed return to the world of triathlon with their TriathELITE range of wetsuits, triathlon race kit and related accessories.

For Christmas 2010 Speedo have some great product bundles on offer, and we've highlighted one in particular that looks like a really special bargain to us, and won't break the bank either.

Speedo Christmas 2010 offers Spend over £20 (e.g. how about some BioFUSE® Power Paddles and an Elite Pullbuoy - £25 for both), and you also get a Large Competition Holdall, worth £35, absolutely FREE). That is a cracking deal!
Speedo Offer example

December 9th

Get compressed...compression wear

Over the past few years the popularity of compression garments in sport for both performance improvement, and especially recovery has boomed. You can read more about the benefits of compression technology HERE.

With this popularity - not surprisingly - the number of competitors in the market and the range of products has also grown rapidly too, providing lots of options for your Christmas purchases.

2XU- One of the first brands into the market, and still one of the market leaders was 2XU (www.2xushop.co.uk), and they currently have a number of christmas special offers on to tempt you, including free recovery leggings (£40) when you buy compression bib tights, free recovery sleeves (£30) when you buy thermal or compressions tops, or free calf guards or socks (£30) when you buy thermal or elite compressions tights.

Check out the participating retailers HERE for all of the details.

SKINS - (www.skins.net) were also one of the pioneers of compression wear, and remain one of the leading brands in the sector. This year they introduced their RY400 Recovery range, which your Editor is currently using (and enjoying) after his training. The RY400 long tights use dynamic gradient compression to help deliver more blood to tired muscles and reduce DOMS. The tights are exceptionally comfortable due to their 'Memory MX panels' surrounding the knee area (and extending along the IT band), meaning no restriction of movement or twisting seams.

At £69.98 (retail), these tights are not cheap, but they really are top quality - and are available in a massive 12 sizes (men) or 8 sizes (women). Why not search the web, and see if you can find a bargain?

LINEBREAK - If you are looking for a bargain - and who isn't - how does 40% off sound? Linebreak (www.linebreak.co.uk), who were previously an official supplier to British Triathlon, currently have a whopping 40% discount if you use the code TRICLUBDC.

That will give a great £24 saving on their Men's Velocity Compression Tights for example. Nice!

COMPRESSPORT- (www.compressport.uk.com) is the choice or Ironman world record holder Chrissie Wellington, and at the 2010 Ford Ironman World Championships they were officially counted as the number one compressions calf sleeve.

Check out their online store HERE, which includes their newly launched F-like Full Leg.

AND MORE... There are plenty of other options out there too including Orca's Killa Kompression (More HERE), Fusion (which we reviewed here (tights) and here (tri kit)) and the highly rated SLS3 socks (reviewed HERE). We can also highly recommend - full review coming very soon - the RaceSox RX900 compression socks available in the UK through TriBikeRunSocks.com

December 8th

Get some sun...training camps

What could be better than a warm weather training camp? These days there are lots of options around, here are just a few European destinations and choices to consider from an increasingly packed market.

Club La Santa (www.clublasanta.co.uk)

Club La Santa is without doubt the most famous training resort in Europe, and has hosted tens of thousand's of British triathletes over the past couple of decades on the volcanic island of Lanzarote. We even have a dedicated Club La Santa section HERE. If you are planning on racing at Ironman Lanzarote and/or the annual Volcano Triathlon, then check out these great offers.

There are a whole host of training camps you can choose year round at Club La Santa, or just go and make up your own with all of the facilities you need to hand. Club La Santa even has it's own song...which you'll love or hate!

La Santa pool

IRONMAN Training Camp: Majorca

Why not consider the beautiful island of Majorca, with triathlon specialists BALEAR Reisen (www.balearreisen.de). They have over 20 years of experience in hosting training camps on the popular island off the coast of Spain, which is has long been a popular destination for triathletes and cyclists, including many professional cycling teams. Their IRONMAN training camps runs from February 27th to March 13th 2011 based at the BLUE Bay Resort which is located in Playa de Muro, offering a perfect venue to make the most of your training camp experience.

Check out this article for full details.

Tri-Topia, France (www.tri-topia.com)

Last year we sent regular Tri247 tester John Franklin off to France to check out this new training venue - and he enjoyed it so much he was back under his own steam for several weeks earlier this year as he prepared for a 9:11 iron-distance finish at Challenge Roth.

If you are looking for a more 'intimate' and personal setting than a large scale training centre, this would be a great choice.

Playitas (www.trips4tri.com), Fuerteventura

Playitas (www.playitas.info) is a relatively new multi-sports training destination based on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura. You may have seen their logo on the sleeves of the Saxo Bank pro cycling team, but they are also a major sponsor of Danish triathlete Rasmus Henning, Challenge Roth winner this year.

Rasmus is part of the recently launched UK based Trips4Tri group who organise training camps at the venue in conjunction with Rasmus. Your Editor has been over to Playitas this year (twice actually...), and a fine venue it is too with a choice of quality villa, hotel and apartment/studio accommodation to suit all tastes, based on self-catering / B&B or half board options, plus a brand new 50m pool, gym, running routes and more. Playitas will also host the half-iron distance Challenge Fuerteventura event in April 2011.

December 7th

Store your bike...securely

Bike Vault (website) is a safe and secure bike storage solution from www.bikedocksolutions.com, manufactured from recyclable polyethylen - like those extra tough salt bins that are getting well used currently with all of the ice around.

Bike Vault

It features external tamper resistant lock tabs and an internal tab as well so the bike can be secured to the Vault itself. No assembly required for those of you not so hot on the DIY front, and also comes supplied with fixings to secure it to a base.

At £470 it isn't cheap - but then neither are many of the dream bikes we see in transition areas all over the country. Still, it's one way to keep your bike out of the hallway...or the bedroom!

December 6th

Protect your bum...chamois cream

Despite all of the advances and research done into bike fitting, saddle design and clothing technology, for many a sore bum (and worse...) is a regular symptom of longer distance bike riding. If your riding is being compromised by such issues, them seeking further advice on all of the above is certainly worth doing, but there is also a quick and easy way to potentially ease, if not completely remove the problem - chamois cream. A very cheap and easy way to enhance your cycling experience year round.

There are a number of chamois cream products on the market, and they are designed to both reduce friction at the contact points, maintain the longevity of the pad ('chamois') and help prevent bacterial infections. Apply before a ride, and see if it works for you - used by almost every professional rider for very good reason.

The market leader in this area is almost certainly Assos Chamois Cream, though there are now an increasing number of alternatives in the market. If nothing else, being able to buy soemthing from Assos - manufacturers of perhaps the most desired cycling kit around - for well under £15 is surely incentive enough to get the credit card out? The Assos cream has a distinct cooling sensation on application, which will wake you up if nothing else...highly recommended.

December 5th

Keep those toes warm - overshoes

If you are going to go outside on your bike in the cold, you'll certainly need lots of kit. Base layers, thermals, Windstopper jackets, Gore Tex, winter gloves and much more will all be happily sold to you by your friendly cycle retailer. And with jackets on the market available for £250+ should you be so inclined, you really can add 'bling' to your wardrobe as well as your bike.

One thing you may not need realise you need - until the first time you use them - is cycle overshoes, and we can't recommend them enough.

In a Ronseal sense, they do exactly as they say; go 'over your (cycle) shoes', and will play a huge part in making sure that you can still feel any sensation in your toes beyond the first ten minutes of your winter ride.

There are a huge number of brands and styles available, typically costing from around £25/£30, made of various combinations of velcro / Windstopper and numerous water-resistant materials. In bang-for-your-buck terms, priceless, and will also provide several years of usage too.

Don't expect the overshoes to keep your feet 100% dry in the worst conditions - the fact that the soles of your shoes are at least partially exposed for the cleats makes this very difficult - but the difference between wearing them and not is like night and day, and with warm feet, you will barely notice a bit of moisture...

You should be able to find a decent selection of overshoes from your friendly local bike shop (LBS) or any of the major online retailers such as Wiggle, Sigma Sport, Chain Reaction Cycles, Total Fitness Bath, ProBikeKit and many others. If you are new to riding of haven't yet added some to your collection - get these on your Christmas list now!

December 4th

Let's spin - Spinervals!

hey have been around for while, but if you are struggling to get your cycling going or are not sure what to do on the turbo, Spinervals are for you, and would make a perfect christmas present for the triathlete in your life. They are even easy to wrap!

The DVD's feature coach Troy Jacobson, official coach of Ironman - still fast enough himself at 40+ to record a 9:06 at Ironman Arizona, including a 2:59 marathon - coaching a wide range of different sessions, different durations and intensities and make it easy for you to just ride. Simply put the DVD on, get on the turbo, and do what you are told...along with all of the other on-screen cyclists you will be riding with.

There are over 30 different DVD's available in the Competition Series, with names such as Have Mercy, Suffer-O-Rama and Tough Love. For Winter, any of the Aero Base Builder range (which aren't as 'easy' as the name might imply) would be a good choice for those relatively new to the sport, or if you really want to go long and hard, then the Hardcore 100 (over five hours and 100 miles - so big it needs three discs) should leave you suitably challenged. And sweaty. Check out the full list of options to find the sessions which would best fit your needs.

The majority of the DVD's are around £19.99 each, though you can now buy some multi-packs which include five discs, and will save you 15%. Your Editor has used a number of Spinervals over several years, and they are a great help in simply getting you on the turbo and working hard. If you don't have the benefit of a complex computer-interface turbo trainer to keep you amused, Spinervals are simple, and they work. Even better, get a couple of training partners together do a group turbo to your Spinervals to double the motivation factor.

For more detail on Spinervals and to purchase, go to www.triathlonspecific.co.uk or www.spinervals.co.uk.

December 3rd

Keep it clean...

How do you buy a useful present on the cheap?

Well, how about a present that won't cost much, and will keep the bicycle 'bling' of the recipient in great shape too?

Step forward Purple Harry's Bike Cleaning Perfection (www.purpleharry.co.uk).

Now, I suppose this appeals because I have been known at times to have slight OCD tendencies when it comes to bike cleaning. As for turning up to race on a dirty bike... sacrilege!

So, how about purchasing some Bike Floss. Specifically designed to help ease the cleaning of the chain, cassette, derailleurs, brake callipers and levers these bike specifc 'pipe cleaners' help get into those hard to reach areas, and are specifically designed for the purpose.

Purple Harry's Bike Cleaning Perfection

The Bike Floss comes in three styles, and each is sold in packs of five for £4.49, available through their eBay shop - postage free too.

December 2nd

Get smart, get silver!

What do you buy the triathlete who really does have everything?

Well, what about some SRAM silver plated bicycle cufflinks! Campagnolo Record and Shimano Dura Ace versions are currently out of stock...

Shiny Cufflinks (www.shinycufflinks.co.uk) offer a small range of cycling and triathlon related silver plated cufflinks all hand made by professional designer Dave Faulkner.

If you like your formal attire a little more tri-specific, you can also purchase the antique style triathlon set (of three), which contains swim, bike and run cufflinks. Very 'handy' if you have three arms... or perhaps just use them to remind you which two disciplines your are supposed to be doing that day!

The three designs are etched from brass with silver fasteners and finished in antique style silver plate.

www.shinycufflinks.co.uk

December 1st

Ride past the Palace

Yesterday we announced the launch of the new Buckingham Palace / Wellington Arch routes for the 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon London presented by Tata Steel Age Group races in Hyde Park on August 7th next year. We did say "this event looks like being the hottest ticket in triathlon. Don't hang around - we fully expect the Sunday events in particular to go VERY quickly... you have been warned!"

Well... we've spoken to the organisers this morning who confirm that over 70% of the places for the new routes were taken yesterday, and the remaining places will almost certainly be gone today. So, if you want to experience riding past Buckingham Palace, or provide that experience to someone as a gift, leaving it until the last minute on Christmas Eve just won't work this year....

ENTER NOW - EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT TO 31/12/2010

For more race information, go to www.triathlon-wcs-london.org


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