Review – The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook, by Caz Nicklin

The Girls' Bicycle Handbook - a female-friendly introduction to cycling

The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook – a female-friendly introduction to cycling

When I first started riding a bike in London, I knew next to nothing about cycling or bikes.

I thought hugging the kerb would make me safer, and if I had to turn right I would get off and walk my bike rather than risk venturing further out into the traffic.

I couldn’t name most bits on my bike, let alone know what to do if anything wasn’t working. I couldn’t fix a puncture, replace a brake pad or even put my chain back on if it came off.

I thought wearing hi-viz and a helmet was compulsory; the idea that it was possible to look good while cycling never crossed my mind. Continue reading

Film review – Wadjda

Wadjda and the beautiful green bike

Wadjda and the beautiful green bike

“Don’t you know that girls don’t ride bikes?”
“Losing to a girl will be a double loss.”

I had every intention of writing a review of Wadjda when it first came out in the cinema last year. I’d had the release date marked in my diary for months. When it opened, I investigated exactly which cinemas it was showing at, and when. I made plans to see it with a friend. I did, in fact, actually see it. I then got felled by one of the worst colds I’ve had in a long time – so bad, in fact, that I took to my bed for the best part of a week. I even lost my appetite. By the time I was recovered enough to string together a half-decent sentence, I’d forgotten what I wanted to say.

I still wanted to write my review, though. I thought I my chance had come when it was shown later in the year as part of the Bicycle Film Festival. I booked tickets for the screening, at the Barbican – and then developed a migraine that very day, so didn’t get to go. Continue reading

Review – Cassandra coat, by Water Off A Duck’s Back

jacket-velovixenMy friend casts an admiring glance at me as she opens the front door. “Ooh, nice coat. Very smart.”

It’s not often I get compliments for a cycling jacket – but then the Cassandra coat is no ordinary cycling jacket.

Water Off a Duck’s Back was born out of owner Antonia Maybury’s frustration at the lack of stylish waterproof cycling gear. As she says, ‘I take care and pride in my appearance and I love cycling.  It baffled me that there was nothing out there that looked stylish and was waterproof, breathable and made you visible after dark.’ And so she set about designing her own. Continue reading

Review – Goodordering handlebar bag

It looks great - but how well does it work?

It looks great – but how well does it work as a bike bag?

Let’s face it – most bags designed for use on a bike are not particularly attractive.

The demands of practicality and function mean that aesthetics are usually the poor relation. For those of us who want a bike bag that looks like something we’d carry when we’re not on our bikes, this can be a little frustrating.

Thankfully, with the rise in urban cycling and cycle chic, an increasing number of companies are coming to realise there’s a market for bags that work both on and off the bike. Continue reading

Review – Hill and Ellis Dorothy bag

Is this the most beautiful bike bag ever?

Is this the most beautiful bike bag ever?

In my head, I have a picture of the kind of cyclist I’d like to be. Glamorous and perfectly styled, I would pedal effortlessly, arriving at my destination without a hair out of place and nary a drop of sweat on me.

While it’s unlikely I will ever achieve this completely, I can at least take one step towards making it a reality – thanks to the Hill and Ellis range of bags.

Launched earlier this year, the range was created by Catherine Ellis, a keen cyclist frustrated by the lack of attractive, well-made cycling bags that worked both on and off the bike. So she set about creating her own. Continue reading

Product review – Monkeysee Harness

The Monkeysee Harness in action

The Monkeysee Harness in action

I couldn’t quite work out what was going on at first. It was late – around 11pm – and I was on my way home after an evening stewarding at the Globe. I’d almost reached the lower end of Dalston, and was now caught up in the snarl of traffic.

This section of the road is almost always jammed, and ordinarily I have to weave precariously through the gaps. But not on this occasion. For some reason, I was being given more space on the road. What on earth was going on? For a moment or two I was thoroughly confused – and then I remembered I was wearing my new Monkeysee Harness.

It’s amazing what a difference a bit of reflective gear can make. Continue reading