Well, well, 2022 is done and dusted and with that comes some compulsory reflection.
I for one have had some huge highlights this year: taking on the Col du Granon, riding with Jenny Graham, interviewing some legends including Lael Wilcox, Mel Nichols, Mark Beaumont and Fiona Kolbinger to name but a few.
In my favourite world of sustainability, I’ve investigated the environmental impact of the Tour de France, the impact of our cycling kit on the planet and the role of greenwashing in cycling. As you can imagine these aren’t the chirpiest of reads, but they’re such important topics.
Amongst what one might call gloom, there have also been a huge number of good news stories this year.
Just take the soul-enriching work of Trash Free Trails, the determined transparency of Reynolds Steel and the cycling clothing brands working to become more sustainable.
Inclusivity and accessibility have also been an important part of the conversation, especially the work that Sustrans and Wheels for All are doing, and here at Cyclist we now have three women on the editorial team which I am elated by. Check out our women-specific guides for bib shorts, bib tights, sports bras and saddles.
2022 has also thrown some considerable curve balls such as the fiery debate on headforms for our cycling helmets, the potential benefits of CBD and questions around whether cyclists should adopt a plant based diet.
Happy 2023 to all and here’s to getting more people on bicycles exploring the great outdoors.
Bike is best.
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1. Assos Signature Sweater
Credit: Emma Cole
Jumpers may come and go, bobbled and worn, but others stand the test of time and style, like this glorious one from Assos.
This fleece, which for some strange reason Assos calls a sweater, has become an absolute staple in my wardrobe. I wear it all the time, on the bike, off the bike, in the office, to the shops, you get the picture. I think my colleagues have got the picture.
But isn’t a fleece just a fleece I hear you ask?
To the un-sweater-cultured, maybe, but to those like me who have the highest taste in fleece design, no.
Credit: Emma Cole
Simply put this is the most comfortable, warming and utterly mesmeric fleece to ever have graced my wardrobe.
With its zipped fleece-lined pockets and reflective grey stripe across the chest, not to mention the cosy and warm material, this is a jumper which answers almost every question in life.
Cold after your ride? Throw it on. Cold on your casual ride? Throw it on. Need something to wear to the supermarket/office/caf?? You know what to do.
Plus, and this is a big plus, every time I wear it, I know I look cool.
2. Garmin Edge 1040 Solar
Credit: Emma Cole
I am not the biggest fan of bike computers as I think they are slowly and sneakily become the rulers of every ride (this I assure you is a whole other article in incoming issue 135 of Cyclist so be sure to pick it up) but when I want to use a bike computer, this is the one I go for.
Launched in May of this year, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is an absolutely storming piece of tech. We rated it 4.5 stars in our full review and with good reason.
The screen is enormous, easy to read, and works come rain or shine. The interface is also particularly straightforward to use.
It’s got all the usual jazzy features but in high definition: expert training insights, serious number crunching, unrivalled accuracy, helpful nuggets like places of interest and popular routes, but it’s the battery life which is the real game changer here.
The 1040S is Garmin’s first ever solar charging bike computer and my word is this feature brilliant.
Especially in summer, I have hardly ever charged it. The battery life is second to none – up to 100 hours, the brand says.
Not having to worry about charging one less bike accessory is a total utter treat. It’s the most useful feature ever in my view.
Yes, there is a glaring downside – the 1040S is expensive. It’s a serious amount of money.
But this piece is all about shining a light on outstanding cycling tech. And the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar, my friends, smashes that door right down.
3. Oakley Prizm Trail Torch lens
Credit: Dan King
For me 2022 has been the year of gravel and whilst gravel is great, it does demand versatile kit, especially when it comes to eyewear.
I’ve become used to taking my cycling glasses on and off frequently as I navigate the regularly changing light of trails, and this is simply not that enjoyable. However I think this lens from Oakley might have sorted that issue.
I first tried the Oakley Prizm Trail Torch lens in October and, while I was sceptical at first, these are now my go to glasses for riding.
With a rose base, the Trail Torch lens enhances reds and browns making it easier to see things like roots and stones. Colours appear more vivid and it effectively brightens the trail.
Credit: Dan King (spot the fleece)
It offers a 35% light transmission, so is aimed at mixed lighting conditions and I have found the lens works particularly well on early morning gravel rides when the light is a bit dodgy.
The Trail Torch lens has an iridium coating giving a mirrored effect to hide your eyes, but doesn’t make you look like a bug.
I’ve been using the Trail Torch lens in the Oakley Encoder and Oakley Kato shades – both great pairs of glasses – but it’s also an option elsewhere in Oakley’s range.
Buy the Oakley Encoder with Prizm Trail Torch from Oakley (?210)
Buy the Oakley Kato with Prizm Trail Torch from Oakley (?245)
4. Restrap Race top tube bag
Credit: Emma Cole
A top tube bag is in my view the easiest way to ensure ride snacks are devoured in a timely manner, and, with its double zipper and stretchy side mesh pockets, this Restrap Race top tube bag makes speed eating very easy.
I first saw this top tube bag at Eurobike back in July and immediately wanted to try it out.
Credit: Emma Cole (please admire the 750ml water bottle)
The design is neat, slim and functional, with Velcro straps to hold it in place and a rigid internal plastic structure which ensures the bag remains upright and stable on the bike.
Made with a X21 technical waterproof fabric and offering reflective detailing, this bag has a 1.5 litre capacity which is ample space for a good number of jam sandwiches and salted boiled potatoes.
Credit: Emma Cole
Incidentally, Restrap hand-makes all its gear at its HQ in Leeds and tests everything in the glorious Yorkshire dales.
A cracking final piece for my gear puzzle.
Buy now from Restrap (?64.99)
5. What I’ve been into in 2022: Beryl Burton
Speaking of the Yorkshire Dales, this year I have been well and truly inspired by none other than the great Beryl Burton.
Not coming from a cycling family, nor a cycling background, I had never heard of Beryl until Jeremy Wilson’s book came out this year and it landed on my desk.
Beryl: In search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete has been crowned this year’s William Hill Sports Book of the Year. It explores how Beryl Burton dominated her sport as much as Eddy Merckx yet is relatively unknown, despite her epic achievements.
For all the words in the world, I simply cannot exaggerate how bloody great this book is and how inspiring Beryl’s story is.
Wilson brings to life the Beryl’s invincibility at time-trials, her incredible records, how she beat a lot of men and, most importantly for me, her indelible spirit.
As a woman who is all too aware of the uphill battle women in sport (and elsewhere) have faced and continue to face, Beryl’s almost unbelievable determination to ride and succeed is a huge source of inspiration and motivation.
Her achievements are a reminder of the rewards of perseverance and true grit, and that what might seem impossible probably is not. Just keeping turning the cranks.
If I can take anything into 2023, it will be a mahoosive dollop of Beryl Burton-ness.
Looking for your next read? Find out how the Campag Kid built a period-correct sub-7kg steel drillium masterpiece