When the circus comes to town.

It’s not very often that a UCI World Tour comes to your home town, but when a stage of the Women’s Tour both starts and finishes there you feel rather lucky.

This year the 4th stage of the Women’s Tour is starting and finishing in Chesterfield. The final details of the route have yet to be confirmed but from what we can gather and with a little bit of local knowledge it looks like it’s going to be a cracker.

The 133 km route could be considered as the race’s Queen stage with over 2300 metres of climbing in the Derbyshire hills. It could also be the deciding stage as it is also the penultimate before the final days racing in London.

There will be 107 riders, from 17 teams including British squads Drops and WNT.

For more information check out the Women’s Tour website.

Spice up your life.

With the nights drawing in and the weather getting cooler the time of year when it’s really hard to keep your cycling mojo. I’ve been riding nearly 30 years now and hit this invisible wall every September. Here’s a few ideas I’ve picked up along the way to keep your momentum going.

In the mix

Many of us fall into the habit of doing the same route time after time. This can of course lead to predictability and boredom. One way of making things a little more interesting is to start doing some of your favourite routes in reverse. Those challenging climbs become technical descents and bits with a usual block headwind become faster and easier. You could also take the road less ridden and explore side roads that you’ve always wondered where they go.

Change sport

I’m not talking about taking up golf or tennis but changing the type of bike you ride. The obvious ones are MTB, Cyclocross and road, but there’s also other diverse bicycle based fun to be had such as bike polo and Trailquest.

Go solo

Single and fixed gear bikes are great fun. They also improve your rhythm, smooth out your pedal stroke and improve your technique. I regularly ride one to commute to and from Velotastic HQ with a set of panniers on and it adds a whole new dimension to the hills around Chesterfield.

Make friends
Often it’s easier to ride if you have told someone you are going out with them. Joining a club is a great way to meet new friends with a similar interest and keep your cycling going through Autumn and Winter. The British Cycling website is a good place to start looking for clubs.

Any old iron

One of the reasons that I started Velotastic was a love of taking bikes to bits. A great way to keep your cycling interest going is to buy an old bike of eBay or Gumtree and do it up. Old steel bikes are a lot more forgiving that carbon and aluminium ones for learning bike maintenance and a lot simpler. It’s also a way to learn how your bike works which always comes in handy for when you have a mechanical. Velotastic carries a range of parts and accessories for making your ride that little bit special.

With the nights getting shorter time to get the miles in after work becomes limited. One way round this is to start riding to work. You also get to know your local area a lot better and learn all the cycle routes and quiet back roads. Local cycle campaigns are also worth a look at joining because rather than just grumbling about bad local infrastructure the good ones also lobby and work with councils to try and improve things.