Blog — Riding

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: 

http://bit.ly/2pfC80E

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 www.cafe-ventoux.cc
Address: Cafe Ventoux, Tugby Orchads, Wood Lane LE7 9WE

Tips for Riding a Century

Tips for Riding a Century

Ever dreamt of cycling 100 miles?

These handy tips will get you on your way to conquering your first Century ride.

1. Set a date - simple really, but setting a date for when you want to ride 100 miles will help motivate you to train, plan and work towards it. Tell people about it -  this will help make it feel real and you'll now be accountable to others. Choose a date that will allow you to have the right preparation, training and lead up (including a taper / rest the week beforehand).

2. Build yourself a training plan - list out the rides that you will do to build up the distance to your 100 miles. We suggest to start from the base (distance) that you currently ride at and build up 10% each week from there. Include a 'consolidate/rest' week every 4-5 weeks, which should be at a lower total mileage so your body and muscles can adapt and recover. This will help to prevent injury.

3. Find a friend - riding with a buddy and setting the goal with someone else will help motivate you. When you're having a down-day and don't feel like training your friend (should) be there to cheer you on. Alternatively, find a friend that has already ridden 100 miles and get them to support you with achieving your goal.

4. Fuel your ride - any form of exercise over 1 hour will deplete a large portion of your glycogen stores (this is the energy stored in your muscles). You need to take on board energy during your training rides and on the day of the 100 miles. Snacking and drinking regularly (we recommend every hour) on the bike will help to maintain your energy levels and avoid you bonking. We like to make our own flapjacks and natural snacks, however there are many bars and gels out there that will work just as well to fuel your ride. Test out some different foods during your training rides to see what works best for you and your stomach!

5. Pace yourself - your first 100 miles might not be the best time to see how fast you can ride it! Start at a pace that is easy to maintain, breathing should be regular and not difficult. You should be able to hold a conversation (or sing to yourself if you're alone!) Keep in mind that you will be excited and nervous, so your heart rate in the beginning is likely to be elevated, pay attention if you can to your breathing rather than your heart rate. 

6. Finishing is mental - endurance cycling is 90% mental and the other half physical ;-) If you feel tired or discouraged at any point, ask yourself if you are eating and drinking enough. Low blood sugar (or bonking as we call it) is the most likely cause of fatigue or a bad mood. 

7. Break it down - cycling 100 miles is a big task and can seem daunting, so don't think of it as 100 miles. Break it down into smaller, achievable sections, like cycling to the top of a hill, or hitting 20 mile sections or the next aid station. Set yourself a little reward once you conquer each part of the journey to help keep you motivated.

8. Be prepared for the things that can go wrong - something may and will go wrong during your 100 mile ride. Whether that be a puncture, rain, strong headwinds, you take a wrong turn when navigating or you drop a nutrition bar! When this happens, take a few deep breaths and try to relax. Just ask yourself how bad is it really? Is it something in your control? Will it all be gone tomorrow (whether that is the pain from a sore butt or stomach?) Keep riding if you can, most things will be gone tomorrow and focus on the feeling of having achieved your goal at the end. 

9. Commemorate your ride - you've trained and worked hard to get to this point! You should take some pictures along the way and document it. Maybe write a journal before and after the ride too, documenting how you felt, your nerves, the ride itself, how your body responded and recovers afterwards. All of these will be building your strength and knowledge of how your body copes with such endurance events.

And remember to give yourself a HUGE pat on the back when you clock those 100 miles in one ride. It's an awesome achievement!!!

10. JUST HAVE FUN - because that is what riding is meant to be about!

Our guide to cycling Girona

Our guide to cycling Girona

Words written by Nikki Le Brocq, cyclist blogger.

I didn’t know much about Girona when I got my invite to ride there for a week in June last year. I knew some pro teams were based there and that the old town featured heavily in the latest series of Game of Thrones(!); but that was about it.   Having done my spring training in Calpe earlier in March I was excited to be going to another beautiful part of Spain (Catalonia to be precise) to conquer a few new climbs.

Transferring from Girona airport, following a direct flight from the UK was quick and straightforward although getting my bike box up the ancient narrow windy staircase leading to my apartment was less so! But to be situated right in the heart of this magical medieval old town was completely worth the effort.

Waking early the next morning for my first ride out couldn’t have been easier thanks to the chorus of bells (no chance of sleeping-in when in Girona!) reverberating around the old stone walls.   Breakfast meet was La Fabrica, a coffee house and cycle café in the Barri Vell (old town) run by Amber and Christian Meier who’s mantra ‘life is too short for bad coffee’ is religiously applied to their fabulous menu of specialty grade coffee which is carefully sourced from importers who pay fair and sustainable price to the farmers.

Christian, a pro cyclist for Orica-GreenEdge together with Amber, the most wonderful hostess certainly have made it a welcoming community for cyclists, amateur and pros alike and local non cycling folk. As tempting as it is to sit in La Fabrica for the morning drinking coffee and spotting the odd ‘pro’ come and go, I don my helmet and roll out with my friends fully fuelled up and ready to explore.

There are many routes to ride in Girona, all providing different challenges and scenic backdrops. First day was very much about acclimatizing to the Catalonian heat which was going to hit mid to high 30’s that day (above average for this time of year) so we headed out to Els Angels, not far out of Girona and the location for the Hill Climb race event at the annual Girona Festival of Cycling week. It’s a nice steady 13km climb perfect to test our heat tolerance and find our legs. I personally love this climb; there are two ways to ascent, one definitely harder than the other. It stands at 484m and at the top there are spectacular views, a large al fresco area for the café and the Sanctuary Els Angels (Sanctuary of the Angels), a beautiful catholic church dating back to 1780 where the surrealist artist Salvador Dali (who was born in Catalonia) married in 1958.

Another of my favorite rides during the week was on day 4, where we rode out to a place frequented by the pros; Sant Marti Sacalm near the little town of Amer.

You can get into a lovely rhythm on this pretty 8km climb, which is why it’s a favorite of mine, with an average gradient of 7% it’s testing in places.

There isn’t a great deal at the top (a café that seemed to be eternally closed and a defibrillator unit, which I guess is handy for such a remote area.

Towards the end of the week we planned a 130km route and included the infamous mountain “Rocacorba”. It’s a beast! In fact it’s so worthy the British ex pro cyclist David Millar who now lives in Girona named his cycle club after it.

Standing at 979m, the pros are known to use Rocacorba as their fitness test before any big race. I was excited but I won’t lie, I felt a little sick with anticipation about this. At 13.8km long with parts said to be 15% I think its fair to say my anticipation was justified.

The route itself was lovely, heading out to Banyoles we stopped for coffee by the lake, which is by far the most idyllic coffee stop I’ve ever had.

Climbing the Rocacorba definitely lived up to what people had told me about it... the first 3 km’s were okay, not too steep, but officially those first few kms aren't included in the segment! It’s quite cruel, that mentally tests you in every way. The road surface is not great, the lack of shade means the heat can be unbearable on some stretches and unhelpful when you are struggling to keep your HR in the right zone. The second part is the hardest with 3km of 9% average gradient and I can still remember the feeling of despair after tackling a 10-15% section promising myself it will ease off on the next bend only to find it just doesn’t let up. Finding a rhythm, I found was impossible. Seeing the telecommunication mast provides a much needed uplift and by the time you summit and have taken a few moments to get your lungs back in the right place it becomes clear why we do this. The feeling of achievement and view is absolutely mind-blowing, totally worth every km!

Rolling back to Girona town after a morning out on the bike is always an inviting prospect, because of the fabulous and plentiful cafes, tapas and gelato bars all very bike friendly. River Café, at the bottom of the steps of the basilica of Sant Fèlix is one of my personal favourites.

Leaving this cycling paradise was really, really tough. So much so I returned in September for another 2 weeks and explored more climbs around the foothills of the Pyrenees. Although there were a few less tourists at this time, it was just as perfect for cycling and post-cycling rituals. During that second trip, I encountered a problem with my Di2 and luckily found a bike shop called Bike Breaks run by Dave and Saskia who fixed it that day. The shop is fabulous, fully stocked including a range of pro team kit and pro seconds. They are supporting the Festival of Cycling again this year and Queen of the Mountains is running a week-long cycling holiday over the festival -  click here for details.

Although not covered here for the sake of word count there are fabulous coastal routes along the Costa Brava with climbs that are equally as rewarding.

Until next year Girona..... adéu !

2016...That's a wrap!

2016...That's a wrap!

As 2016 draws to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect and to thank all of those people who have helped us on our journey this year. It has been a tremendous 12 months. We have done some amazing things, we’ve learnt a lot and we are eager to get 2017 started, to bring you more amazing cycling clothing and rides.

The year “kicked” off with our Kickstarter pre-order in February, where we unveiled the Mont Ventoux-inspired Spring/Summer collection. The London art gallery where we held the press party and Kickstarter launch was very fitting for the occasion – all inspiring & inspired by women empowerment.

 The Spring/Summer kit landed from Italy in March and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Seeing those coral & teal coloured kits out on the road and on Instagram gave us a very warm & fuzzy feeling.

 We are just as chuffed to end 2016 on a bang, having launched our first winter collection, inspired by Col de l’Iseran – the highest mountain pass in the French Alps. This mountain has challenged, tortured, and inspired many cyclists over the decades, and we have shared our Founder’s intense story of pushing through blizzards and conquering her fears in the face of Iseran.

Throughout the year we continued the tradition of our Tuesday and Thursday morning rides, that started way back in 2015. We recruited many new faces, especially on our Thursday Richmond Park rides where we teamed up with Bella Velo. Tuesday laps around Regents Park have also grown, with a dedicated group heading out every week without fail, braving the elements and always finishing with the best coffee in London.

On the first Sunday of every month we took women cycling through the English countryside followed by brunch at some great cycling cafes. We are expanding these rides further afield during 2017 to some new cities and countries. Edinburgh, Melbourne, Singapore….watch this space!

Our pop-up store at Spin London and Spin Manchester Festivals during May this year were a huge success and we’re excited to return in 2017. It was here that we met many fellow cycling entrepreneurs and our Founder Alicia was part of a panel, chaired by Jules Walker (Lady Velo) with fellow women entrepreneurs such as Joyce from As Bold As and Caren from Hartly Cycles on what it’s like being a female working in the bike industry. Alicia did a similar talk in Manchester sponsored by Velovixen.

Another highlight was our Women’s Week collaboration with 1330 Road Cycling. Where we took a group of women out to France for a week to conquer some of the toughest mountains in the Alps. Suffice to say it was so much fun that we are running two trips this year – Women’s Week in August and a trip to Girona in June for the Cycling Festival.

We cannot forget climbing the three sides of Mont Ventoux – all in one day! Ascending the first side in the dark and reaching the summit just in time for the sunrise was absolutely incredible. This feat meant we joined the notorious Club des Cingles (in English, the Crazy Club).

We also filmed on Ventoux and we Tamed the Tourmalet, bringing to life these incredible mountains.

At Silverstone Race Track we had our first time trial team competing in Queen of the Mountains’ colours, which has inspired more women to race and compete on the bike. Simone Dailey, our brand ambassador, has raced consistently in our kit during her time trials and road races and we cannot wait to see what she has install for 2017.

Wow! What a year! And what topped it off was the nomination by Total Women’s Cycling for Best Women’s Cycling Clothing brand of 2016. We were up there with the big boys & girls, which totally blew our minds.

This year has been an incredible and a wonderful journey for Queen of the Mountains. We wanted to take a moment to sincerely thank you for all of your support throughout the year and for coming on the climb with us.

We have exciting plans for 2017, plus a few surprises! But ultimately, we look forward to making many more beautiful cycling kits to inspire your rides.

Happy New Year and Keep Climbing.

Alicia, Founder

x Queen of the Mountains

The Art of Layering - Part II

The Art of Layering - Part II

As the weather changes and becomes a little unpredictable, choosing the right clothing for your ride can be a tricky endeavour.

Here are a few handy hints to keep you warm, dry and happy during the changes of season.

(1) Wear a sweat-wicking base layer. We recommend a mesh base layer or merino layer for cooler rides, to be worn directly against the skin under your jersey. Wearing this wicking layer will help to keep you dry and warm, even during a hard, sweaty ride. This base layer will move the sweat away from your skin, transferring it to the next outer layer. 

(2) Keeping the wind out can be key. Adding a strong wind chill to already low temperatures can make a ride almost unbearable at times. Keep the wind at bay by wearing a wind-proof Gilet or jacket, a cap, ear warmers and also a snood or buff around your neck. To cover your ears you can wear a thicker / wider headband. Your face, neck and chest are all very sensitive to changes in temperature, so be sure to cover your skin as much as possible. 

(3) Cold feet. A lot of women suffer from cold toes and fingers. Double layering your socks, without restricting the blood flow, can be a good start to keeping the cold and wind from chilling your toes. Also try wearing shoe covers (or toe covers) - these are real winners on a terribly cold day and do a great job at keeping your shoes dry from road spray (and clean!) Another reason for cold feet and hands can be due to poor circulation. Ginger is known to aid circulation, perhaps try a warming ginger tea this season.

(4) Layer up baby. During those in-between months, when the temperature is changing constantly throughout the day, it's wise to regulate your temperature on the bike through wearing, or packing in your jersey pocket, additional layers of kit. Start with a base layer, then jersey, Gilet, arm warmers, leg/knee warmers under your bib shorts. Carry in your back pocket a rain cape or wind proof jacket. This will then give you several options on the ride no matter what the conditions. You can always wear more and then peel off the layers as the day warms up. Remember it's much better to be warm than to be cold on a ride. Err on the side of caution - layer it up baby!