It’s Friday, which is excellent news, and on a similarly joyful note it is the final Friday of the Giro. Today’s stage should be a thriller – cowbells at the ready.
The biggest, albeit unsurprising, news of the week is that Mark Cavendish is retiring at the end of the season. The greatest sprinter of all time, we chatted to the Manx Missile last year about his career, his miracle comeback and to get a glimpse into the man behind those fast-twitch muscle fibres.
We’ve also got the down-low on who the pro cycling team sponsors are and don’t forget this weekend it’s also the RideLondon Classique, with former British National Champion Lizzie Deignan returnining to British roads for the first time since 2021, so it’s bound to be a great race.
For the escapists among us, check out our Big Ride through Spain’s Picos de Europa mountains as well as our report from the Race Around Rwanda ultra-distance race. In the tech world, Specialized released its brand new Allez and we’ve got a review of the Allez Sport as well as verdicts on the Felt Breed Carbon gravel bike and the Giro Synthe Mips II helmet.
Quoc × Restrap sandals
Two Great British brands have united to create this sandal aimed at bikepackers but which could in-fact work for anyone.
The footbed is soft and comfy (think Crocs but actually stylish) and the tread is grippy and robust, which has me thinking these could be worn on a hike with no problems as well as actually on the bike, and the Velcro straps work nicely to ensure a secure fit to foot.
What’s neat about these sandals is that you can attach them to your saddle bag to save space for other items, which also means you can easily whip them off whenever you like.
I’m heading off to Tunisia on 11th June for a big ol’ ride (look out for more info on this soon) and these are the shoes I will be wearing after long, long days in the saddle.
But even if you aren’t riding to Tunisia, these sandals would work a charm worn around a campfire, in the supermarket, or while dancing. Whatever takes your fancy. They come in black or ‘sand’.
Buy now from Restrap (£84.99)
Alpkit Ultra 80 sleeping bag and Cloud Base sleeping mat
Inspired by ultra races like Transcontinental and the Tour Divide, the Ultra 80 is a super-light packable sleeping bag and it is the sleeping bag I’ll be dreaming in during my trip to Tunisia.
The Ultra 80 is filled with PrimaLoft Gold synthetic fill, which is ideal for this camper as I’m allergic to feathers. Alpkit says it’s a two-season sleeping bag with a 5˚C limit, so it’s made for summer and spring camping. It’s also sumptuously soft, so I’m rather looking forward to nestling up inside it.
To go with the Ultra 80 sleeping bag is Alpkit’s Cloud Base sleeping mat, because insulation and cushioning makes camping a treat. The mat blows up in literally a few breaths and is nice and squidgy. Could it convince you you’re sleeping on a plush mattress from John Lewis? I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s not bad for a packable bed.
The sleeping mat comes in a little sack to keep things organised. Having to stuff things back into sacks usually ends with me having a meltdown and said item still out of its sack. To my great joy however, this sleeping mat is adept enough that even the most incompetent of rollers can get it neatly back inside.
Bikepacking, fastpacking, backpacking, camppacking(?); whatever you want to call it, I’m packing it.
Buy the Ultra 80 sleeping bag from Alpkit (£189.99)Buy the Cloud Base sleeping mat from Alpkit (£54.99)
Life Systems Mountain Factor 50+ Ski Sun Cream
Is it summer? Either way, suncream: we need it. Cycling in all that sunshine is glorious, but so is protecting our skin while we do it. I used to be afraid of factor 50, simply because I thought having a tan was cool so factor 50 was going to make me uncool. Oh, how wrong young me was. Suncream is cool, in fact it’s so cool I wear it every day, on and off the bike.
This Life Systems formula combines advanced UVB/UVA filtration with added vitamins E and B to protect skin from the sun and long-term skin damage. The brand says one application lasts for eight hours.
Fun fact, this suncream is Duke of Edinburgh-recommended kit.
Buy from Life Systems (£10.99 for 100ml)
Pas Normal Studios Off-Race long sleeve T-shirt
I wear this gravel riding, I pop it on after a ride, I wear it to work, I skateboard in it. Do I ever wash it, I hear you ask? At 30 degrees, thank you.
This long sleeve tee from Pas Normal Studios is not technical so it isn’t going to wick away sweat so much, but it is incredibly comfortable and nice to wear over bibs on a spring evening ride when the temperature is a bit cooler and I’m feeling a bit more casual.
Made from organic cotton with comfy cuffs and collar trims, it has a nice loose fit and wouldn’t go amiss on chilled rides, commutes and general everyday wear.
Buy from Pas Normal Studios (£70)
What we’re into this week: Welsh Three Peaks
Snowdon, Cadair Idris and Pen y Fan are the highest mountains in Wales, so last weekend three friends and I headed off to try out our walking legs and admire some Welsh scenery. And my word the Land of Castles did not disappoint.
Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) stands at 1,085m above sea level and, choosing the miner’s path to ascend the mountain (well we didn’t really choose, we saw a sign to Snowdon and followed the path), we were treated to absolutely glorious views from the top.
Next up was Cadair Idris at 893m. This less popular climb is arguably more of a treat than Snowdon as the path is less trodden, there are fewer people and it feels more remote. Local folklore describes Idris as a giant who lived on this mountain, with Cadair Idris meaning Idris’s chair in Welsh.
Apparently if you are lucky enough to survive a night on the summit, the ordeal will either drive you mad or turn you into a poet. Fortunately we didn’t have to spend the night up there but it is comforting to know you could be the next Shakespeare (or not).
Finally we climbed our way up Pen y Fan, which stands at 886m. Once again we were blessed with truly spectacular panoramic views, this time of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park (renamed from the Brecon Beacons).
There was only one way celebrate our achievement: with Welsh cakes. If you fancy a few jolly hikes and some epic scenery, I highly recommend the Welsh Three Peaks. You can also cycle between them if you fancy an even bigger challenge, it’s 215.6km with 2,350m of elevation.
In case you’re interested, I wore a pair of Timberland Chocorua hiking boots for the trip and they were sterling.
Tags: GravelIn the Drops