Savvy visor

Any bespectacled cyclist will be familiar with the dilemma presented by rain: a downpour doesn’t only mean that you will arrive at your destination looking bedraggled, but the likelihood is that a large portion of your journey will be completed with limited vision as the rain gathers on your specs. Well now I say to you: fear no more! It is time to revisit decades long-gone and invest in an accessory that should otherwise have remained gathering dust in attics or at the bottom of the charity shop bargain bin. No, I don’t mean bum bags, I’m talking about visors!

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I picked this polka dot visor up in the ASOS sale last summer as part of a wacky thought process… I can’t imagine how this trendy(!) gem ended up in the sale. Regardless, with the addition of a beanie hat I have made it home from work with a dry face and full vision. Plus it’s compact enough to keep in my handbag in case of unexpected showers, whereas a waterproof coat would be far more cumbersome.

For those voting Yes in the great helmet debate, I have in the past been able to force my helmet on over the top, but the thick fabric band on this visor model doesn’t sit as well as a lighter, smaller model might. If you’re shopping for a visor you should take this detail into account.

So what do you say? It may not be the most fashion forward accessory but it certainly does the job!

What tricks do you have to keep dry in the torrents?

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Cycling in…

…make up?

Through the years I’ve had to make a few changes to my make-up routine in order to ensure that my face survives a journey by bicycle, whether it by a sweltering summer afternoon, or a wet and wintery evening. There are certain fail-safes (few things are quite so resilient as Benetint, for example) that warrant no introduction, but here are some of my favourite products, that will survive almost anything.

So why these products?
At £23 Dr. Feelgood’s Lipscription doesn’t come cheap, but after you’ve buffed your lips with one tube you can apply the super thick lip balm and know that it will last you the whole trip, unlike some lip balms that tend to fade away after a few minutes. Equally, a good hand cream will stop your knuckles from drying out as they are subjected to direct headwinds.
Lush has created Charity Pot, a cocoa scented vegan hand and body lotion that is utterly guilt-free as 100% of the price (excluding VAT) is donated to various charities. And guess what? The miniature version is only £1 and can be popped into your handbag for a top up before the journey home too!
I stumbled across Jelly Flush at a discount shopping event, and haven’t looked back. Whereas most cream or tint blushes need to be carefully applied and blended to avoid overdoing it, Jelly Flush is sheer and dewy enough to simply whip out of your hand bag, apply, and blend without having to worry about finding a mirror.
The ultimate mascara is without a doubt Kanebo Sensai 38*C, which can be purchased at Harrods from £18. The miracle of this mascara is that it will budge only for warm water – at over 38 degrees, thus the name. Better still, you can say goodbye to panda eyes because rather than melting into all-too familiar mascara splodges when you attempt to remove it, the mascara simply peels away, each individual coating coming off once you wash your face under the warm water. One small tube will last a very long time, but if you need to switch to something a little more affordable, you can’t go wrong with the waterproof version of Maybelline Collosal One by One with its reassuringly chunky brush and a filter in the tube to remove any excess and prevent clumps.

Cycling in…

….a mac trench coat?

mac

Remember those H&M posters on the side of buses at the start of Autumn? The ones with the model in a lovely beige trench? Well I went out and bought it.
This particular trench isn’t lined, so isn’t great in the cold, but if you stick a woolly cardigan on underneath, you can keep warm without having over padded arms that won’t bend. Plus major bonus points: this coat has a hood and sleeves that are long enough to protect your wrists from the chill.
Things to remember though, firstly, this is very much an Autumn coat rather than a Winter one, and it’s not waxed, so in the rain you need to be prepared to get a little soggy. Even though it’s not a warm coat, if you’re cycling it keeps the cold off you without trapping all the heat in, so you can stay at a comfortable temperature.
And what could be more flexible than a plain mac?

TRENCH COAT

Warmth: 2/5

Definitely need a good layer of insulation beneath.
Dryness: 3.5/5
More absorbent than is ideal, but handles light showers well.!
Practicality: 5/5
So easy to wear!

Cycling in….

…..a cape?

As the weather turns cooler – and wetter! – I can’t help but begin to consider just how efficient my outerwear really is. So as I ponder on whether my layers are really doing the job that I’m wearing them for, the observations are here for your perusal, and how best to begin but with my beloved cycle garment: the cape.

cape2 cape1
ASOS Premium Belted Cape in blue (2009/10 range) with belt replaced with Hi-Vis sash.
ASOS
Hooded Military Cape in khaki. Colour now only available in petite.

Given that both of these capes were purchased from the same store and to fulfill the same purpose, their wear-ability couldn’t differ more; as such, although they are essentially the same garment and should be considered as such, they have individual pros and cons.

The first thing that you need to know about a cape is something that you may already have learned if you’ve seen Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles: they are not the more aerodynamic of garments, and although you won’t necessarily get sucked into the engines of a plane like Syndrome/Incrediboy, it certainly won’t help you gain speed when cycling into a strong headwind.
Capes are, however, great for keeping warm without having to seal yourself in: if you invest in wool you’ll get the benefit of its warmth whilst retaining the circulation of air that the loose design lends to it. The great thing about the free falling design is that you can layer up underneath and not have to worry about not being able to fit into your coat because of all the knitwear!
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing out: although your knees will stay dry, your forearms probably won’t. But then, it’s in the nature of the cape to expose your arms, isn’t it?

I bought the blue belted cape last winter after a long search for the perfect cycle-cape (and the tragedy of the sold out navy duffel cape), and of the two styles this one is definitely more suited to a ride in the rain. This is mostly due to the fact that it has concealed popper buttons from collar to hem, meaning that it remains shut and keeps your knees dry even when pedalling furiously into a torrent. The belted aspect is also a plus given that the awkward shape of a cape doesn’t lend itself to the wearing of Hi-Vis (or to the carrying of handbags, but that’s another matter altogether), but it was easy to adapt a reflective sash into a belt and replace the original black elastic one for one that would suit my cycle needs.
The only down side of this particular design links directly to the belt. The belt is visible at the back thanks to two slots through which is is threaded, then encircles the waist beneath the fabric, and exits through the arm holes to be fastened. This means that the arm holes are wider than on other designs and more cold air can flow through these.

The khaki cape was purchased with the memory of that same navy duffel cape still a fresh sting in my mind, a reminder to buy now before it sold out and would join the list of lost things that would forever haunt me. Much as I hate trends, it certainly ticks more ‘style’ boxes and as such is infinitely more wearable, not only due to the military style, but because khaki is simply easier to carry off on a day to day basis.
Unlike the first cape, this one has a hood, which is brilliant once you get off your bike and are walking about in the rain, but needs some preparation if you plan to cycle with your hood up. More on that in How to Stay as dry as Possible.
Also unlike the first cape the buttons only cover the top half of the cape so knee-coverage is a lot less, but on the pro side, it is much warmer.

CAPE

Warmth: 3/5

Long gloves or wrist warmers recommended.
Dryness: 4.5/5
Dealt with rain very well, plus dry knees. Wrists soaked through though!
Practicality: 4/5
Not the best on windy days but good for wearing layers on cold days.
And if you work out how to carry a shoulder bag in a cape, please let me know.