Blog — Culture

The (Almost) Comeback Kid

The (Almost) Comeback Kid

Words by Kirsten Sjovoll - Day 4 of Women's Week 2017.

Yesterday was not a good day. It started so well – just one mountain to climb, albeit both sides and the mountain is that little HC climb known as Col de l’Iseran. But I felt good, climbing steadily, in the front peloton, ticking off the km markers. The altitude felt bracing but the summit arrived far quicker than I thought it would. We descend. The temperature is creeping up as we fly down. 25, 28, 30, 35 degrees.

Lunch is hastily consumed out of the 1330 cooler box. I’m trying to enjoy the sunshine and relax with the girls. There is an air of excitement and achievement in the air after 4 days of col conquering; smashing expectations and pushing our lungs. But I can’t concentrate. The familiar voice of doubt starts to chatter, quietly at first and then louder, until it’s all I can hear. I decide to push off and start the second – steeper – ascent from the south side. Tim – patience of a saint, jokes of a dad – has volunteered to ride up with me. Oh, my God, it is hotter than hell. And steep. The first few km are relentlessly 9 and 10%. After about 20 minutes of climbing I can bear the sound of my disc brake rubbing no more and we stop to sort the mechanical. I see the other girls ascending, gaining time, and one by one they pass. My doubt-ometer is by this stage off the charts and all I can think is how much less fit and how much fatter I am since my glory* days of stage race mountain climbing two years ago.

“I’m not sure I can do this” I whine anxiously to the ever patient, ever chirpy Tim. “Just see how you go” is his reply. And with that, and a “pro” push to get me started again, we attempt the remaining 10 or so km of the Iseran. 

It is at this point in a motivational story that I would like to be able to offer an inspirational montage of good humoured suffering, a second wind, and a glorious push to the summit.


It. Was. A. Sufferfest. There were points I thought I was track-standing I was going so slowly. Doubtometer voice was screaming only marginally louder than Tim’s Rob Brydon impressions and I was in a serious world of pain. The mountain is stunningly beautiful but I couldn’t appreciate it. Even the flatter bit was ruined by a headwind. And then I saw the final 2km sign. Something clicked. I remembered why I ride. I started cycling after my mum died and I found a release from the pain in my head by emptying my legs on the road. It was a way of releasing the loss and it’s taken me to new (literal) heights. It’s brought me new friends, it’s brought me love, and it’s brought me back to life (although sometimes after breaking me right down first). And I ride because I can. Because my legs will carry me wherever my head allows them to and because I am stronger with every pedal stroke.

One km to go. I can do this. My legs felt empty but my head felt strong. There was no way this mountain was going to beat me. Then the summit. There were tears (I take pride in making grown men cry) and there was a new resolve inside.

It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t even the longest or the toughest ride I’ve done but the feeling of achievement after those 1 and a half hours of pure suffering was something completely new.

This is why we ride.

*disclaimer – glory is all relative and it wasn’t as if I was Lizzie Deignan or Emma Pooley at any point in my cycling life.



Announcing our Sponsorship of Les Filles Queen of the Mountains Racing Team

Announcing our Sponsorship of Les Filles Queen of the Mountains Racing Team

Queen of the Mountains is delighted to announce that they are the 2017 title and clothing sponsors of the newly formed Les Filles Queen of the Mountains Racing Team

Les Filles has been racing in the UK for 4 years, making tremendous progress and inspiring women from all over to race and get involved in competitive cycling. 

The team is concentrating on Elite and National level races during the Spring/Summer season, from Criterium, Time Trials and Road races – including the London Nocturne on the 11th of June.

Queen of the Mountains has designed their new racing kit – called Racetangles.

The Les Filles Queen of the Mountains Racing Team is the brainchild of Nicole Oh and Alicia Bamford (founder of Queen of the Mountains), who share the goals of premium performance and encouraging greater participation of women in sport.

The partnership is a natural fit to promote awareness of women's cycling and, in turn, encourage more women to take up the sport. Increased participation in racing will build the profile of women's participation in the sport both competitively and recreationally.

Alicia and Nicole are ecstatic about the partnership and what the future holds for the team.


The team members are all incredible athletes in their own right. Their love of the sport and encouragement of others to race is infectious and was a key reason Queen of the Mountains wanted to partner and sponsor the team. These women are incredible ambassadors for women’s cycling. Together, the team want to break down the barriers (or perceived barriers) that preventing women from racing and riding. 

As partners, Les Filles and Queen of the Mountains will organise a social ride in London, open to the public. It will be another forum to encourage women to learn more about racing and training in order to build the sport. Details will be announced on the Queen of the Mountains website,


This year the team welcomes two new faces – Louise Moriarty and Lucy Burgess. Those racing for a number of years with the team are: Tracy Corbett, Delia Beddis, Helen McKay, Louise Mahe, Sophie Curle and Nicole Oh.

They also have a number of rotating members, including Clem Copie (now based in Annecy), Laura Greenhalgh, and Alexie Shaw. Coralie Glaunes and Clare Gillott continue as support crew.

Louise brings a wealth of experience (and sprinting prowess) to the team, having raced for Pro teams on the Continent, as well as racing in World Cups and World Championships on the track and road. She has a number of Irish National titles to her name, as well as winning the Ras na mBan general classification on two occasions.

Lucy has recently moved to London from Bristol, and is keen to test herself in National-level events. She raced with Radeon-Bike Science last year, until an injury cut her season short.


For any team enquiries, please contact Team Manager Nicole Oh at


Twitter: @LesFillesRT

Facebook: LesFillesRT

Instagram: lesfilles_qom_rt

Laura's Dirty Kanza Adventure - Gravel, Grit and Lady Luck

Laura's Dirty Kanza Adventure - Gravel, Grit and Lady Luck

I met Laura on a ride in Hampshire two weeks ago, at a pop up store we had in Fitique, New Arlesford. We got chatting about our ride goals for 2017 and she lightly dropped into the conversation that the following week she was jet setting to the USA to tackle the Dirty Kanza.

What the heck is the Dirty Kanza I asked?!? Well, it is a 200 mile gravel-grinding race in Kansas, the Mid-West. The race commences in the morning before the sun rises and heads across some of the most stunning and open parts of the USA, all on gravel and grit roads. Most riders finish in something between 12-16 hours. 

Laura's longest ride pre-DK was 120 miles (on smooth tarmac), so this was going to be a test for both her mind, body and butt! She had studied the weather, worked with her coach and read many previous race blogs - she knew that the weather (wind and storms) and 'Lady Luck' as she describes, would play a huge part in how her day was going to turn out.

You can read more about Laura's race and how she went here.

All I can say is Laura, you have definitely inspired me to take to the gravel and grit later this year. Chapeau!

Written by Alicia Bamford, images courtesy of Laura Bailey

Laura at the start


Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

The art of cycling kit...the do's and don'ts...the things that people don't talk about...

Unless you've been cycling for a while or have a friend that's taught you the ropes and has let you in on the secrets, you might not know all of the in's and out's of cycling and cycling kit - what's recommended, what's taboo etc etc.

It does come down to personal style and preference, however there are some unspoken rules that we wanted to let you in on...

(1) No panties / knickers / underpants are to be worn under your cycling shorts (!)

If you're new to cycling, this could be a little baffling. Reason why we don't wear underwear underneath our cycling (padded) shorts is because the seams and fabric cause additional friction and will lead to saddle sores. 

If you've got a great pair of shorts, they will do the trick!

(2) Sock length - 6 inches or to the top of the calf muscle

Long gone are the days of ankle socks and short ones. No socks is a definite no-no too. Longer socks are the way forward, just not too long. Take a look at these hashtags on Instagram #sockdoping #newkitday and you'll see it's all about 6 inches or up to the calf muscle.

(3) Tan lines - they are totally acceptable, the more razor sharp the better. 

We try to avoid the burn and protect our skin from the sun most of the time. But if you're in the saddle a lot, your limbs will inevitably tan up no matter how much UV Factor 50 you apply. Be proud of the line, especially when worn with short shorts or skirts in the summer!

(4) Where possible, match your handle bar tape with your saddle. 

(5) When joining a new cycling group, introduce yourself. Or if you're jumping on the wheel, let the person know in front and ask if it's ok to join them. 

(6) Leg pain, or burning in the thighs on those first few long rides or going uphill is totally normal. Per the Velominati Rule #20, if your quads start to hurt shift forward in the saddle and use your calves and hamstrings (or try using your glutes/butt muscle). If your calves and hamstrings start to hurt, shift back and use your quads. We also like to stand out of the saddle every now and then. If all of the above fail, revert to Rule #5 (or take a coffee break!)

(7) Remember, you were once a beginner, let people in on those unspoken rules. 

Announcing a new retail partnership with Cafe Ventoux

Announcing a new retail partnership with Cafe Ventoux

Written by Brian Jordan, founder of Cafe Ventoux

Café Ventoux is excited to announce the launch of its ‘FEMALE PELOTON ZONE’. The creation of this women’s specific retail area within Cafe Ventoux will be the ‘go-to’ destination for premium women’s cycling apparel, providing women with an unparalleled selection of the best women’s cycling clothing available. This area will host our existing labels and will showcase our brand new partnership with the hottest brand in women’s cycling, Queen of the Mountains

Queen of the Mountains creates beautiful, high-performance cycling clothing for women. Each garment is designed specifically for the female form in the riding position and the distinctive colours and designs for each collection are all inspired by a particular mountain. Appropriately, Queen of the Mountains’ inaugural collection took inspiration from the infamous Mont Ventoux.

Queen of the Mountains’ purpose is to inspire and empower women to ride. They’re not only doing this through their outstanding clothing range, but also through hosting regular women rides and cycling holidays in Europe.

Café Ventoux had been looking for a female brand to complement its philosophy of being a ‘cycling destination and experience’ and Queen of the Mountains fits this perfectly.  

The full range of Queen of the Mountains cycling clothing and accessories will be arriving in-store at Café Ventoux from Thursday the 8th of June. 

To celebrate the launch, Café Ventoux will be hosting a celebratory event with bubbles and nibbles on the evening of the 8th. Queen of the Mountains founder and avid road cyclist Alicia Bamford will be speaking about why she founded the brand, the clothes, what inspires her and she will also touch upon the upcoming rides and events, including cycling holidays that will be available to Café Ventoux customers.

If you would like to join us for this exclusive event, then please sign up here:

As the creators of Cafe Ventoux Brian and Rosie are passionate about good food, a relaxing environment, and outdoor activities particularly cycling, running and snow sports. Our aim is to create a vibe at Cafe Ventoux which brings all these passions together, under one roof, to create a unique experience for all our customers, but remember you do not have to ride a bike to enjoy the buzz of Cafe Ventoux, so why not stop by for a bite to eat, a refreshing beer or glass of wine from our a fully licensed bar.

Cafe Ventoux is far more than just a cafe, we call it a ‘destination cafe’. A place to eat, drink, chill out and shop. You will find good food and great retail cycle brands which reflect our passions, including a Unique Boardman Elite Bikes experience centre. We have our own Wattbike studio and sports massage suite. We host Sportives, Boardman Bikes Experience Days and product launches, all within our 20 acre site.

For more information on Cafe Ventoux visit
Address: Cafe Ventoux, Tugby Orchads, Wood Lane LE7 9WE