Why you should wear hand protection

MittsSomeone recently arrived at this blog via a Google search for "Should I wear gloves while cycling in summer?"

My answer is a most definite YES.

During the warmer months I see many cyclists trundling along without hand protection. They probably think it’s too hot to don gloves, but little do they know that the purpose of wearing gloves isn’t to keep your hands warm.

You wear gloves — or the fingerless variety commonly known as "mitts" — for the following reasons:

  • to absorb sweat
  • to give you a better grip on the handlebars
  • for comfort
  • to eliminate road vibration, hand fatigue and numbness (gel ones are best for this)
  • to protect your palms should you be unlucky enough to fall off your bike (believe me, this one is oh-so important!)

I’ve just invested in a new pair of mitts — a pair of Specialized BG Gel D4W Mitts (pictured) — for this summer. I paid £24.99, which is considerably more than most other mitts on the market, but I believe you get what you pay for. I paid a similar amount for my Specialised Enduro Gloves for winter riding and found them absolutely superb and an enormous improvement on the crappy £18 Altura ones I wore the previous winter that were inflexible and did not "breathe" properly so that my hands would end up swimming in sweat. They would then take at least 12 hours to dry out properly. Erk.

So, anyway, if you’re wondering whether you should wear gloves while commuting during summer, I can’t recommend them highly enough. The ones with gel padding are particularly good if, like me, you suffer from hand numbness. And it pays to go for ones that have soft micro-suede on the thumb. Why? It’s brilliant for wiping sweat off your face when you’re sat at the traffic lights!

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Aggressive Monday

Not sure what was wrong with everyone this morning, but I’ve never experienced such aggression on the roads in one 30 minute session.

There were cyclists yelling at other cyclists.

Cyclists cutting each other up on the roads.

Taxis yelling at cyclists.

Cyclists giving taxis the finger.

At one point I thought one particular taxi driver and cyclist were going to come to blows. (You always know a taxi driver is pretty pissed off when he leans across the cabin to wind down his passenger side window so he can yell abuse out of it.)

It didn’t help that there were road blocks everywhere and in some places traffic had ground to a standstill. Cue angry drivers and much beeping of horns!

After all that I was glad to arrive at work in one piece. Funnily enough, by the time I got to my desk I felt rather out of sorts, almost as if the exposure to so much aggression during my trek in had rubbed off. Normally cycling puts me in a good mood, not a bad one.

Let’s hope tomorrow’s road users aren’t quite as grumpy as they were this morning! I honestly don’t need the stress.

The great return

I’ve had more returns than the Pink Panther, but today I got back on the bike after an extended hiatus. I haven’t cycled properly since Easter, and I haven’t commuted to work since I fell off my bike on May 9. I’d love to say that’s because it took me a month to recover, but if I’m honest it’s mainly due to the fact that I got promoted at work and my hours — and my schedule — have gone completely haywire. Things will hopefully start to settle down over the next month or so as I come to grips with my new role…

Anyway, getting back on the bike was a bit of a rude shock. I set off early but there were cyclists EVERYWHERE. Where have they all come from? Where were they in winter? There must have been 60 or more of us crossing Hyde Park Corner at 8am.

I couldn’t help noticing all the people who had their seats too low and were cycling with knees sticking out at odd angles.  They might look ridiculous, but I kept thinking it must be extremely uncomfortable to ride like that. Surely they know they need to lift the seat… or do they?

And then there were all the people wearing crap shoes — flip flops in city traffic is just asking for trouble, in my humble opinion. (After my accident last month, I’ve ditched my slippy cycling shoes in exchange for some Puma speed cats. I initially bought them as casual shoes for the summer, but I think I’ll use them for commuting — they grip my pedals well and they’re lovely and comfy.)

On the return journey there were slightly less cyclists but a STACK more motorised traffic — more motorised traffic than I normally grapple with. I think this was mainly due to the fact that I hit the road at 6.30pm instead of my usual 5.15pm and everyone was racing home after the congestion charge expired at 6pm. If I’m honest, I’ll admit all those cars and buses and taxis and white vans and motorbikes put me on edge a little. I missed a couple of turnings and had to backtrack. I don’t usually do that. As a result my journey was quite slow, but at least I got home in one piece.

Now, to do it all again tomorrow!

Basket case

BikebasketThere’s a new theory doing the rounds that suggests that if you install a basket on your bike — preferably a wicker one — it will act as an effective theft-deterrent. Apparently bike thieves think baskets are too uncool for them to bother stealing the bike to which the basket is attached.

I wonder, then, what they would make of this one (pictured above). It’s made from plastic, comes in various colours (white, green, black) and is known as ‘Carrie’.

Designer Marie-Louise Gustafsson says it was inspired by memories of her
grandmother’s crocheted tablecloths on which she used to serve afternoon tea.

You can find out more at Design House Stockholm, including a list of stockists from around the world.

Personally, it’s not my cup of tea, but it’s kind of cool in its own special way — and on certain bikes it’d look downright funky.

(Via the CTC newsletter)