A Journalist's Perspective on MizMal (Guardian Bike Blog)

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A Journalist's Perspective on MizMal (Guardian Bike Blog)

Guardian journalist James Hislop joined us on our six-day Mizmal tour in spring 2017. Here are his impressions of the trip.

(this article appeared previously on The Guardian's Bike Blog)

Send anyone to the west coast of Ireland and they will fall in love with it at some point. For me it was at a junction in Maum, County Galway, where I had stopped to take a photo of a signpost but ended up having my breath taken away by the Maumturk Mountains in all their pastoral, sunlit glory.

It was day four of my six-day ride along the length of Ireland – and Connemara was showing off, as if saying to the rest of the country: “Is that all you’ve got?” And yet already the route had taken me across the Cork and Kerry mountains on day one, along a glorious beach-studded coast on day two, and the Cliffs of Moher and the barren wilderness of the Burren on day three.

Mizen Head to Malin Head – or #MizMal as the team at Wild Atlantic Cycling call it – is Ireland’s equivalent of Britain’s Land’s End to John O’Groats. The trip I took was six days at an average 85 miles a day – 510 miles in all. Wild Atlantic take your bags from hotel to hotel and meet you halfway for a picnic lunch and for a cup of tea in the middle of the morning.

Ballybunion on County Kerry’s glorious beach-studded coastline. Photograph: James Hislop

Ballybunion on County Kerry’s glorious beach-studded coastline. Photograph: James Hislop

This is not the sort of ride for flinty do-it-yourselfers who blanch at the idea of not carrying their own panniers, finding a campsite and boiling up a tin of beans on the primus stove for tea.

But however you travel it, Ireland is hilly, Ireland is windy, and Ireland can be wet (although I was lucky), and when the sun comes out it can be as sapping as anywhere.
The group I was with included four people who had cycled Land’s End to John O’Groats, an ultramarathon runner-turned-cyclist, and a very fit triathlete. We sometimes rode in groups, sometimes on our own, usually coming together for lunch to compare notes, sights along the way, and various aches. You don’t have to be super fit to complete this ride, but you do need to train a bit. But it’s worth it.

Day one (98 miles, 6,000ft of climbing) takes you from Schull, via Mizen Head to Killarney – over the Caha Pass, Moll’s Gap and the Gap of Dunloe. It’s a tough start but you will remember these three climbs (successively shorter, but successively steeper), the views from the top, and the descents.

A tough climb up to the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare. Photograph: James Hislop

A tough climb up to the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare. Photograph: James Hislop

Day two (79 miles, 3,000ft) is a succession of beautiful beaches, ending at the mile-long strand of Spanish Point, County Clare – an isolated, wild place and a well-deserved end to the day.
Day three (69 miles, 2,300ft) is one of remarkable beauty. Not only the Cliffs of Moher (a tough climb) but the magnificent desolation of the Burren – a huge, lunar, limestone landscape that starts high and comes down to the sea. On a sunny day, riding through it is like pedalling through a book of fantastical illustration.

And so to glorious day four (78 miles, 2,500ft). From Galway City you’re soon into Connemara. Having seen Aghadoe in County Kerry, I stopped to take a photo of the sign for Conga (where they filmed John Wayne’s The Quiet Man) for a laugh. But all thoughts of Black Lace’s cheesy pop hits disappeared as I turned and saw the Maumturks – all the more lovely because they were so unexpected. Who knew a mountain range could sneak up on you?

The Black Valley and the Gap of Dunloe. Photograph: James Hislop

The Black Valley and the Gap of Dunloe. Photograph: James Hislop

As well as Ireland’s only true fjord – Killary Harbour – day four also includes the ride’s best climb. The Sheeffry Pass is a proper out-of-the-saddle, 500ft-plus brute that hurts if you do it in one go. The car park near the top isn’t the top, by the way.
After that you feel you have earned your Guinness and dinner in Westport, watching the sun going down over Croagh Patrick, the 2,500ft pilgrimage mountain that dominates the skyline.

Everyone’s got to have a bad day and day five – Westport to Donegal – was mine. It is the longest of the ride. Approximately 110 miles and 2,600ft of climbing, most of which seems to be packed into the horrible climb away from the pretty Lough Gill. About 100 of the miles were into a headwind and despite more beautiful mountain scenery, and the unexpected sight of a statue of the blues legend Rory Gallagher in Ballyshannon, I was clinging on by the end.

All too soon, it’s day six. The final 76 miles and 3,100 feet. The breakout to the sea at Fahan begins to feel like you’ve done the distance, but the ride up the Inishowen peninsula (especially in another headwind across more bleak, beautiful bogland) is not to be sniffed at. But then the signs for Malin Head begin to appear and you’re winding it in. I only knew Malin Head from the shipping forecast. Now I think of it as a rocky headland with wartime lookout stations, Star Wars references (they filmed episode eight near here) and a view that feels as if you are at the end of the world.

The Maumturks: ‘Who knew a mountain range could sneak up on you?’ Photograph: James Hislop

The Maumturks: ‘Who knew a mountain range could sneak up on you?’ Photograph: James Hislop

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2017 So Far ....

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2017 So Far ....

What a year so far it’s been! Our first tour in May was a Six Day and lo and behold the sun shone bar the first morning. Lunches outdoors in lovely surroundings every day. James Hislop from the Guardian wrote a tremendous article. However, the warm skies from the east brought at times easterly winds – higher than average headwinds prevailed. The early June tour was a small group of riders led by Noel from Wild Atlantic Cycling. A few small tweaks to the route proved successful.

Something a little different in May saw us contracted by a group of three adventurers seeking to team-ride Malin to Mizen in three days. Transfers, route-planning, accommodation and support all provided by the Wild Atlantic Cycling team. Despite some challenging weather three days later and the job was done! Fantastic effort. As if they didn’t have enough, the three lads opted to take part in the Wicklow 200 (km) - a one-day cycle sportive that attracts over 3,000 cyclists from many different countries.

We broke new ground in mid-June with our first ever seven-day Ireland End-to-End tour. Adding an extra day allows us to cycle deeper into county Donegal – skirting the Blue Stack mountains and the Derryveagh mountains to the edge of Glenveagh National Park. The duration still allows the tour to be completed in one week. The majority of the group also opted for an optional climb on day seven – Mamore Gap. One of Ireland’s most highly rated climb. An alternative route provides a simple way of avoiding the gap allowing the group to meet again at brew stop. Big hit!

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Late June brought some tragic news that shook the team here at Wild Atlantic Cycling. We said good-bye to a good friend, Anthony “Brick” Susko who passed away peacefully. Brick was on our very first Mizen to Malin. He was a great photographer, perfecting the art of taking fantastic photos from the saddle. Brick was a great source of feedback and suggestions as we sought to grow our little cycling company. As a New Yorker, Brick kept in contact from afar, and introduced us to a number of people in the cycle touring industry. He encouraged me personally to believe that the west of Ireland should be enjoyed by cyclists everywhere. Brick's blogs were packed with interesting insights into the people and places where he cycled. He missed nothing. Our thoughts and love go out to Brick’s friends and family. 

A significant part of our unique route takes in bits of the Wild Atlantic Way. The longest sign-posted coastal drive in the world! One of our team has been working with a solo cyclist from New York who is planning to ride the entire 2,750 km (1,700 miles) route south to north. We have been privileged to use our local knowledge to advise on accommodation and stages. The ride will be in August and we plan to join for a few of the early stages.

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MizMal is exceptionally busy for the crew, but as cyclists we just can’t resist clipping in for a few miles in the evenings. In the midst of such great cycling areas why wouldn’t we?! A favourite is a pedal up to the Cliffs of Moher and back before dinner. On the descent down we were flagged down by a solo cyclist seeking someone to cycle with and chat to. A Londoner taking part in what has become one of the world’s toughest one stage self-supported road bike races. The TransAtlanticWay is a 2,500 km race between Dublin and Cork via The Wild Atlantic Way. The poor lad had done 200 miles already and was hoping to reach Limerick that evening – another 70 miles or so. We kept company (or should we say nearly fell over with admiration) for a few miles before filling his back pockets with munchables from our MizMal snack box and sending him on his way. Delighted to find out a few days later that he came sixth overall! A truly incredible achievement on what is a gruelling race – physically and mentally.

Done with words! Drop me a note through the website if you want to chat about cycling the west coast of Ireland from Mizen to Malin - please join us in 2018! We also have a couple of places left on our 12 Day tour 2017 - dates are 16th to 28th September 2017.

Paul Kennedy (CEO & Founder, Wild Atlantic Cycling)

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How to Save 40% of your Energy!

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How to Save 40% of your Energy!

When riding a multi-day tour such as the Ireland End-to-End with, it's a good idea to find ways to conserve energy. One very efficient technique is to learn how to draft or slipstream behind the person in front of you. Don't forget to take your turn at the front otherwise you'll be buying your own pint of Guinness all week.

It's a simple enough technique, but one that requires a bit of confidence and practise to do it safely. The benefits can be 30% to 40% saving on energy levels. The general idea is that if you stay in close behind the rider in front you will get pulled along in their slipstream and sheltered from headwinds. If you aren't confident with this, why not grab a partner and go out and practise before starting your Ireland End-to-End tour with Wild Atlantic Cycling? Here's how ...

Cycle behind your partner at a distance of roughly half a wheel length. You don't need to constantly watch the wheel, better to lift your head and look around. This makes the ride more enjoyable and allows you to spot dangers and obstacles. Try to develop what they call the "cyclist's sixth sense" when it comes to accurately sensing how close you are to the wheel in front without necessarily having to look and check too often. Of course when on the front you need to point out holes and dangers as normal. Practise your drafting when on reasonably flat terrain. Descents or wet weather conditions require a different approach.

Wind direction will determine the best position for drafting. Sit directly behind the person if the wind is straight head on. However, if the wind is coming more from the left or the right, then move to the right or left to get most shelter and maximise the energy savings.

When on the front - it is important not to brake suddenly, but rather "feather" the brakes to gradually and steadily slow your speed down. This ensures the rider behind you gets no nasty surprises! It is also important to move from sitting to standing without causing your bike to loose momentum. Stand up gradually whilst maintaining pedal stroke so that the person behind you doesn't get any surprises.

When cycling on wet roads or downhill - stopping distances will be longer, so drop back a couple of bike lengths to cater for this. whether on the hoods or the drops, keep your fingers on your brakes in preparation for slowing and controlling your speed by feathering the brakes.

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Make it Gleam in '17!

Make it Gleam in '17!

A simple, regular cleaning process will cut down on cleaning time, keep your components working smoothly and will get quicker with practice. Why not turn over a new leaf in 2017 and clean after EVERY ride using our simple cleaning procedure?

No specialist tools beyond a sponge (or cleaning brush), a hose and a rag are required. However, you can invest in a chain cleaner and a gear cleaning brush if you want to be posh. We do recommend some decent cleaning fluids like Muc-Off and a good quality degreaser. A bike stand is also a great idea.

Initial Rinse Down

Give the entire bike a rinse with a hose. This will remove surface dirt and clumps of muck and will soften things up before getting down to the detail.


Apply degreaser

Spray degreaser on the rear sprockets and chain as you rotate the peddles. Spray the rear mech, rear jockey wheels, front mech and chain rings.


Apply Muc-Off

Give your bike frame, handlebars, brakes and wheels an ample spray with a bike cleaning product such as Muc-Off. Spray everywhere but avoid areas where you have already applied degreaser.

Wait for two to three minutes for the Muc-off and degreaser to work (this is a good time to do some post ride stretching).


Scrub / rinse the front and rear mechs, sprockets, chain and chain rings

With the chain in one of the higher gears (the smaller sprockets on the rear), lightly scrub the rear sprockets with a brush working along the direction of the sprockets (a regular dish washing brush works well). Then rinse with the hose as you turn the pedals to rotate. Rinse the rear mech and jockey wheels. The degreaser will have done it's job during the two minute wait, so rinsing and a lite brush should be enough to remove grime from the sprockets and chain if you are doing this after every ride.

Rinse the front mech and chain rings with the hose and remove any dirt on the chain rings with a cloth.

Thoroughly clean and dry the chain with a rag.

Extra posh? Use a special gear cleaning brush


Clean the seat, handlebars, and frame with the sponge

Using a soft sponge, give the entire bike a light rub. The Muc-off will have done its work  and dirt should be easy to remove. Be sure to reach the bottom bracket and under the seat. Pay some attention to exposed wire cables to remove any dirt that might impede their use.


Clean the wheels with the brush

If you are using a bike stand, then the wheels can be cleaned whilst on the bike. Otherwise, it's better to remove them for cleaning. With the cleaning brush clean the rims on both side and between the spokes. This is also a good time to check for lose spokes (or even a cracked rim).


Rinse the entire bike

Give the entire bike a rinse with the hose from the top down. Be sure to reach the bottom bracket area and under the seat. Give the brakes an extra rinse and give exposed wire cables a rinse / rub too to remove any dirt that might impede their use.


Dry the bike with a rag

Use a clean rag to gently wipe the saddle, seat post, frame, forks and brakes.


Lube the chain

Apply 'Dry Lube' or 'Wet Lube' to your chain. Don't use oil. Wet Lube will stick better to the chain in wet conditions, but can encourage grim to collect, so only use it when riding in damp or wet conditions.

Importantly, lube should be applied to both outer edges along the entire length of the chain. Don't overdo the lube - just turn the pedals and apply a small amount to each edge of the chain as it passes over the rear sproket (any excess lube will simply fall onto the rear cassette).

That's it. You're all done and ready for the next ride!


TOP TIPS FROM THE WILD ATLANTIC CYCLING TEAM

  • Save money (and packaging) by buying Muc-Off and degreaser in larger quantities or in concentrated form and refill your spray bottles
  • Use a natural based degreaser
  • Have a roll of inexpensive clothes to hand and use fresh, clean ones for each clean (bargain / pound shops stock them cheaply)
  • Wash your bike immediately after your ride - otherwise your plans to 'do it later' may not materialise
  • Make the best use of the time by doing your post-ride stretching after appying the degreaser and Muc-Off as it needs time to take affect
  • Keep an old pair of shoes and a water resistant jacket or overcoat close to where you do your cleaning to quickly change out of your bike shoes and to protect your nice kit from stains and splashes as you clean
  • In keeping with Wild Atlantic Cycling’s eco-friendly ethos, please avoid the use of aerosol products.

Happy cleaning!

Who's Behind 'MizMal'

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Who's Behind 'MizMal'

Wild Atlantic Cycling is a small friendly team of active cyclists. The company grew out of the realisation that the West Coast of Ireland offers some of the best cycling in the world. Paul Kennedy is the founder. Paul cycled the length of Ireland with a few pals in 2015 to raise awareness and funds for ‘The Lily Foundation’. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences and a short time after finishing the trip he got to work on organising more tours for two other local charities. Around this time Wild Atlantic Cycling Limited was formed and ‘MizMal’ kicked into life! The team is now Paul, Noel, Dawn, Eric, Gary and Stuart. All experienced cyclists and tour crew who genuinely know what cyclists want from a multi-day tour. The charity element remains and some cyclists build ‘a cause’ into the challenge. Visit our Causes page for more on that.

The company’s focus is solely on Mizen to Malin. This means ALL efforts go into making sure it is the very best tour in terms of service, support and cost. As a company based in Ireland, we are in a unique position to develop the best route and to make it simple to get to the start. We provide pickups from several entry points in Ireland. So whether you plan to fly to Cork, fly / ferry to Belfast or ferry to Dublin, we will collect you with no fuss. We accommodate bikes in boxes or bags as well as fully built upon arrival. Transfer from Cork to our start point in Schull is only a couple of hours in our comfortable coach which is laid on by our logistics partner Compass Coach Travel.

We also know the best places to eat, drink and enjoy the music. There are many hidden gems off the established ‘tourist routes’. Be these quirky restaurants or music rooms where the locals go … we’re always happy to help you make the most out of the ‘Night Stages’ as well as the ‘Day Stages’ (as we call them). In fact, MizMal with Wild Atlantic Cycling has quickly got the reputation of being much more than a cycle challenge. The warmth of the Irish people, the quality of the Guinness and the talented musicians just add to the experience as a whole.

You would be most welcome to join us for MizMal in 2017. It’s one of the fastest growing European End to Ends and for good reason. It’s a physical challenge to be proud of. But it’s much, much more besides.

CLICK HERE TO REQUEST A BROCHURE!

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How Fit Do I Need to Be?

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How Fit Do I Need to Be?

People often ask us how fit you need to be to take part in MizMal. It's a hard question to answer! Lets just say there are very few people who can jump on their bike tomorrow and cycle an average of 85 miles for six or seven days in a row. MizMal-ers are often leisure cyclists rather than racers. Many of us struggle to keep the balls sufficiently in the air to get one or two half decent weekend runs. Perhaps the question should be "how fit do I need to become?". You don't need to aspire to athlete status. The key thing is to stay as injury free as possible. Everyone is different, but here is a suggested "base" from which to work from... If you can ride 50 to 70 miles once or twice at the weekend then over a two to three month period you should be okay for MizMal. Of course there are other factors, like your age, general health conditions, injuries, available training time, etc.. If you start there you will have a good idea how much effort YOU need to invest. Here are a couple of rough principles:

  • Try to fit your training into your regular riding habits... add a few more miles at the end, or a few more hills
  • At some stage try to do two or three days in a row. Bank holiday weekends are ideal!
  • Tighten up on diet. You will notice a difference if you shed 5 kilos! Especially on the climbs.
  • If time is tight then just ride your bike instead of frantically trying to visit the gym.
  • If you have time to spend off the bike, then it's good to work on Core Strengthening. There are all sorts of exercises that will help. A Google search is a good place to start. Mix it up a bit.  A Kettle Bell is very versatile - great for core work and cheap to buy too. Build in some 'planks' and some 'crunches' and you'll be flyin'!
  • If that still leaves you with time and motivation, then work on muscle development. Squats will strengthen the gluts... often ignored, and great for cycling. Take the stairs two at a time.
  • Spin class? Can be hard work, however a 30 minute class on full gas can be very beneficial without too much time commitment. An experienced leader will know how to get the best out of the short time.
  • Most of all, don't risk injury and practise a positive mindset in everything. Like all things in life don't underestimate the impact of a positive outlook on the body. Have fun!

Ready to book?

CLICK HERE FOR DATES, PRICES AND BOOKING PAGE

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The 20 Must-Have Xmas Gifts For The Cyclist In Your life

Christmas is coming but don’t panic–the great thing about cyclists is there’s always something new to buy them! At Wild Atlantic Cycling we’ve done the hard work for you and narrowed down the very best gifts that’ll make you their favourite person this season.

Money No Object

1.    Giant Propel Advanced Pro 2–£2,499

As you’d expect from a machine in this price range, the Propel was the standout bike of the year. With its wide gearing range, you can tackle the hairiest ascents while still having plenty of power for the flatter stuff–this is a seriously quick bike. Highly stable in crosswinds with ultra-responsive brakes and a sublime ride all add up to the ultimate all-rounder. 

2.    Garmin Edge 1000–£439

Along with the usual army of features we’ve come to expect from GPS (speed, time and distance data) the Edge 1000 also comes equipped with a host of functions that put this in a league all its own. Its turn-by turn-navigation, rare on bike GPS, uses Garmin Cycle Map software that includes both on and off road information, meaning you can use the one unit for your road and mountain bikes. Coupled with live tracking, text notifications, automatic data upload and more data than you’ll know what to do with, this is the only unit you’ll ever need.

3.    Tacx i-Genius Virtual Reality Turbo Trainer–RRP £999

Even the most dedicated of us are beaten by the weather at some point, but that’s no reason to get lazy. While training indoors will never match the thrill of the open road, what sets this turbo trainer apart is the incredible interactive experience. The bundled software lets you ride through film footage of real landscapes, with automatic resistance control on the back wheel to simulate inclines. And the Tacx i-Genius is the only machine available today with a motor brake, which also recreates the downhill sections. Expensive for a turbo trainer? Sure, but it’s the next best thing to being there. 

4.    Sustrans Sponsor A Mile Scheme–£30 a mile (1 year)

Having the finest kit available isn’t a whole lot of use if there’s nowhere to ride. Fortunately, the National Cycle Network now covers over 14,000 miles in the UK and is still expanding. Sustrans, the organisation responsible for the routes, spends over £1 million a year on its upkeep and are giving you the chance to sponsor your own 1-mile section. For £30 you’ll receive a sponsor’s certificate, emails on the latest developments and an “I love the NCN” fridge magnet! The ideal gift for any cyclist.

5.    Topeak Transformer Xx track pump/stand–£99

You can tell them this counts as two presents! The fully adjustable stand will accommodate most bikes as it raises the rear wheel, and is perfect for basic maintenance allowing you to work on the drive train. The pump can be used in situ or detached to operate separately.

Stocking Fillers

6.    Elite Nanogelite Thermal Bottle 500ml-£17.99

Staying properly hydrated on long rides is essential, but keeping your drink at the optimum temperature is no job for traditional bottles. The Elite Nanogelite is fully insulated, keeping cold drinks cold for those scorching hot days(!) and, more importantly, keeping the hot ones hot for when you’re freezing your spokes off.

7.    Topeak Alien II Multi-Tool–£29.59

With a 26-piece tool set wrapped up in its compact body, the Alien II can take on just about any job at the roadside. Featuring a range of allen keys, screwdrivers, wrenches and spanners, there’s not much it can’t handle. And crucially, it comes complete with a bottle opener.

8.    Supermugs–£8.95

A cyclist without coffee is like a Delorean without a flux capacitor–not gonna work. Here at Wild Atlantic Way we like to keep it classy with this range of beauties from Supermugs.com.

9.    Muc-Off Shower Scrub–£6.00

There’s nothing like a long winter ride to really get that dirt ingrained into your every nook and cranny. The softly abrasive multi-sized granules in Muc-Off’s shower scrub will remove the accumulated grime, clear blocked pores and nourish your skin, leaving it soft, hydrated and moisturised. 
You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.

10.  Below The Belt Sports Lubricant–£7.95

Stop sniggering at the back! No one likes a chafing, especially ‘down there’. Slap this on anywhere that needs protection and enjoy a long day on the road without having to worry about the John Wayne walk tomorrow.

Gadgets

11.  GoPro Hero 4 Black–£409

What better than the official camera of the Tour de France to document your adventures? With broadcast quality 4K image resolution as well as the ability to capture super slow motion, the GoPro is the most accomplished camera of its type out there. Now comes with Bluetooth compatibility as well as wifi. Attach it to your chest, helmet, handlebars or seatpost. 

12.  Garmin Forerunner 920XT Fitness Monitor–£274.99 

One of the best all round smart watches available right now, the Forerunner crams in a heart rate monitor, GPS navigation, VO2 max estimates and social media sharing as well as a calorie counter and live tracking. There’s even a metronome to provide cadence training. Designed to work as an extension of your smart phone, the Forerunner will display emails, texts and other alerts on the move.  

13.  See.Sense bike light–£64.99

Stay visible–stay safe. That’s the idea behind this ingenious new bike light. Equipped with sensors that read and adapt to your conditions, See.Sense recognises a number of potential dangers on the road, such as approaching car headlights or roundabouts, and automatically flashes faster and brighter in order to make the rider more visible. Connected to a smart phone, the sensors can also be used as a theft detection device, alerting you if your bike is being tampered with, and it can even be set to automatically send an alert for help in the event of an accident.

14. ICEdot Crash Sensor–£89.59

Some of the best rides are the ones we take alone. The ICEdot was developed as a safety system for the lone cyclist should the worst happen. Fitting comfortably on any bike helmet and connected via Bluetooth to a smart phone app, the ICEdot uses the same sensors as the See.Sense (above) to detect changes in motion and impact force. It can alert emergency services in the event of an accident with your GPS coordinates as well as supplying your name, medications, allergies and emergency contact information. 
A cyclist’s guardian angel.

15. Hammerhead One–$85

If, like me, your sense of direction isn’t your finest attribute (“You couldn’t find your a*** with both hands” as I’ve been told, often), then this impressive little navigation system could be just what you need. The elegant ‘T’ shaped unit fits on the front stem and connects to your phone via a free app. An array of bright blue LEDs then lights up, pointing you in the right direction, flashing faster as you near your junction and changing to green to indicate the exact place to turn. Easily visible in daylight, the LEDs are bright enough to be seen in your peripheral vision so you can keep your eyes on the road, taking away the dangers of glancing down at a GPS unit or smart watch. 

Clothing

 16. Oakley Radarlock Path Gp75 Special Edition–£146

One of the biggest names in eyewear, Oakley produces some of the best sunglasses available. With a range of different lenses, all with 100% UV protection, this model features the Switchlock Technology quick lens changing system, as well as interchangeable nose pads for a customised, comfortable fit. 

17. Uvex Boss Race helmet–£59.99

The one truly essential item for all cyclists, bike helmets have been shown to reduce head injury risk by around 85%. This model from German manufacturer Uvex offers adjustment along both vertical and horizontal planes to ensure the perfect fit. It has 19 vents to allow air to circulate around your sweaty head and the hypoallergenic padding is removable for washing.

18. Sportful Fiandre NoRain Jacket–£129.99

It’s not outside the realms of possibility for the weather to turn unpleasant for the UK cyclist, so make sure you’re prepared for the worst with the right protection. The Sportful Fiandre is a jacket that you can wear in any conditions due to its excellent breathability, but it has class-leading waterproofing and wind resistance too. Made from a combination of fabrics to provide the perfect blend of stretchiness, fit, insulation and weather protection, it’s the most stylish way to shield youself from the elements in a way only the Italians could manage.

19. Spiuk Z16RC road shoes–£179.95

These high-end shoes come with a heat-moulded upper to ensure the perfect fit. Give them a quick, low heat bake in the oven then pop them on for 15 minutes and let the shoes form themselves around your feet as they cool. Carbon fibre soles and reinforcing ribs mean there’s no flex at all and they’re sold with seperate hot and cold weather insoles.

20. Rapha Winter Gloves–£85.00

Your fingers are always going to feel it first!  Made from a mix of high-quality materials, including ultra-soft goatskin leather, these are definitely pricey but for the serious cyclist who’s out in all conditions, a little bit of luxury might be just what’s called for. There’s even a soft nose wipe section on the back of each thumb, if you can face the idea of snotty £85 gloves!  

So that’s our guide to our favourite Christmas cycling gifts and we hope it’s given you some great ideas. Not long to go till the big day. Have a very merry Christmas from everyone at Wild Atlantic Cycling. 


About Wild Atlantic Cycling

Paul Kennedy is the founder of Wild Atlantic Cycling, a cycle tour company operating the MizMal, a fully supported end-to-end tour of Ireland along the breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way. The 525-mile route from Mizen Head in the south to Malin Head in the north takes in the very best that Ireland has to offer–it’s music, culture, unique landscapes and the famous Irish hospitality. Click here to find out how you can become a part of the next great adventure.

Andy Callan is a freelance copywriter and photographer based in Portrush, Northern Ireland. You can see more of his work by visiting www.accopy.com or www.andycallan.com