31 December 2012

Let's Go Round Again: The VCG 2012 Review!

I'm stunned at what's happened with the blog over the past 12 months and the adventures that have occurred. 

I'm thankful for all the love and support I've had from all of you this year... with a majority of you thinking I'm mad for the late nights infront of my laptop! I do it because I love cycling & I adore blogging about it all; it gives me the greatest amount of joy and if 2012 is anything to go by, my heart might actually burst in 2013...

It's almost the end of the year. Time to stop for a moment, and take stock of some of the highlights of 2012 for VCG...

JANUARY: After being told some surprising news by Horst and Filip in December 2011 which I had to keep quiet about, I could finally announce I was going to be on the back cover of Cycle Style! Being asked by Horst to feature in the book alongside some stunningly stylish bike-lovers was amazing enough, but when he revealed that he got me on the cover of the book I was beyond lost for words... as was Mamma Vélo.

FEBRUARY: One of my favourite British designers Tatty Devine opened their pop-up store in Selfridges. Part of the 'Words, Words, Words' installation which was "a celebration of the beauty of words and the joy of writing", the blogger in me HAD to see it! Team TD invited me to see how they make their name necklaces on the spot... and I was lucky enough to me made & given a special cycling-related one from them on the day!

MARCH: Stylish cycling clothing came to town... This was the month Vulpine Cycling Apparel was launched by Nick Hussey; a rather nice chap who I shared a great passion about cycling and fashion with. I loved his designs the moment I saw them. I did a spot of modelling for Vulpine which was a lot of fun. Little did I know how much that day would change the course of the year...

APRIL: Vélo-City-Girl gets referenced in Marie Claire magazine! Named as one of the "go to Brit-blogs for cycle style tips", this was a HUGE honour. I still see VCG as 'my little blog', so to be on the radar of Marie Claire in their 'Reporter' section was a proper pinch-yourself moment!

MAY: Another chance to get dressed-up and enjoy the most sartorial bike ride in the world... the London Tweed Run came back to town! Once again, over five-hundred of us gathered to cycle in style through the capital. It was a bit cold and a tad wet (typical British weather), but this didn't dampen the spirit of the day. Graham Coxon took part in this edition of the ride, but if you ask me, the big stars of the day were Ted Young-Ing & Jacqui Shannon for organising yet another fantastic event.

JUNE: I was separated from my Pashley for the first time! Frankie went off and did a Photoshoot for the new Brooks Catalogue! It meant a few days of not being able to cycle to work, but she was in good hands and well looked after. And she came back looking like a new bike too...

JULY: Yet MORE magazine madness for Vélo-City-Girl: I do a little feature for LOOK Magazine about stylish Cycling! VCG makes the final shortlist for 'Best Lifestyle Blog' in the Cosmopolitan Blog awards! This was a mix of recognition by Cosmo and most importantly, the general public - massively touching, resulting in me feeling emotional all over again!

AUGUST: It was a long time coming, but a show 100% dedicated to cycling was FINALLY on our TV screens! The Cycle Show started on ITV4, much to the delight of fellow riders and myself. And then I got contacted by the production team, asking me to be a guest on the 2nd show. OMFG. So I said yes (in between shaking with excitement and pure nerves). Got there. MET EDDY MERCKX.  Did a spot of interviewing... and was then asked back to do some more throughout the summer. Met some more fantastic people & cycling heroes. MENTAL.

SEPTEMBER: The greatest show on Earth came to my neighbourhood; the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games happened in Stratford, Newham. I'm not going to deny that I got Olympic fever, bad. I went to see the torch pass through the borough & like millions of others, put in applications for tickets. I was desperate to see Track Cycling at the Velodrome. I didn't get any tickets in the lottery, but was extremely lucky to be invited as a guest of Adidas to see the penultimate Paralympic cycling session! It took my breath away, and being seated so close to the action was brilliant. It's an experience that I will never forget.

OCTOBER: Fair to say this was a rather busy month...The Cosmo Blog Awards ceremony happened - there was no prize for VCG, but it was a lovely evening & I was still buzzing about being nominated! I was contacted by the BBC and took part in a piece they did on Cycling... I spoke about the relationship between Fashion and Cycling & then was stunned when it appeared on the main BBC News Channel! TFL and the Bicycle Film Festival held a special conference on Cycling in London, and I took part as one of the guest speakers. I was on the Women's Panel alongside Jill Putman and Jacqui Shannon who are both fantastic advocates for cycling... honoured to be a part of that. I also got illustrated by a rather talented man called Ste...

NOVEMBER: I started working for Vulpine! I landed my dream job as the Sales and Marketing Manager for the company. Cycling... Fashion... people passionate about it & a REALLY cute dog? Unbelievably special and still pinching myself about it all.

DECEMBER: Life picks up at an every crazier pace, but it feels bloody good! I get stuck into my new role at Vulpine with gusto & then step back from everything to have a wonderful and relaxing Christmas.

I feel thankful for what I have, for everything that's happened & for all the love and support that's kept me going. The absolute rocks in my life - you know who you are on twitter and you know who you are in 3D too. I owe you more than you could ever imagine. Really.

2012 - thank you for being a kick-ass year on the saddle... 2013? Me and Frankie are coming to get you!

Lady V x

10 December 2012

Product Review: The Bobbin Straw Pannier...

It's one of the most popular cycling bags on the market, and after being sent the Bobbin Straw Pannier for a review* by the lovely folk over at CycleChic, I can understand why.


11 November 2012

Bikes and Boobs: The Importance of a Good Bra...

This can be a rather personal subject but I wanted to talk about the importance of a good Bra when on a bike. Due to my Scoliosis, my body-shape goes though a lot of changes & has seen a lot more of since I took up cycling - especially my Breasts... so I finally went on a quest for a decent Sports Bra... 

The last time I had a Fitting was in a well known high-street store when I was in my late teens. My Bra size always remained the same with their lingerie, so I stuck with them, including every time I needed a new Sports Bra. Yes, this wasn't the smartest move, especially when you realise 80% of women wear the wrong bra size & it's suggested you should be fitted every 6 months! Staying with what I knew seemed to be doing the job, until I really started to clock something didn't feel quite right. The more I cycled, the more it didn't feel comfortable around my chest in my 'normal' bras; so I opted for my Sports Bras - there was barely any change comfort-wise, my boobs would still ache and the fitting was awful...

There was no way I could be the only woman suffering with bra-problems when cycling, so I called out to fellow female riders on twitter with the question: "How important is it to you to have a good Sports Bra, cycling hard or not when on your bike?" The resounding reply to that? "very important!" Some of the answers ranged from hating the hardware of a normal bra digging into you while road cycling, needing something more compressive when MTB, not wanting to drench a nice bra in sweat, being more comfortable on bumpy surfaces, and a Sports Bra feeling much better when it's a super hot day. After seeing the responses to that question, and a long period of being in shitty-fitting bras, it was time to take action and get this sorted out!

I wanted to go to somebody who knew their bras and would offer a quality fitting service. Doing some research, one place kept on coming up on my radar; Rigby and Peller. They also saw my lamenting on twitter about the never ending quest for a good bra & invited me to try them. Established over 70 years ago and holding Royal Warrant as Corsetiere to The Queen; they certainly had a good reputation in the business... so I decided to take them up on their offer & give them a go. I was intrigued (and somewhat sceptical) about their Bra Fitting process; how could you size someone, without using a tape measure? The thought of it was a bit strange to me, until my personal Fitting session started & it all fell into place.
As Zawadie (pictured above) explained as she was sizing me & my boobs up, all R&P fitters are expertly trained to assess each individual customer. A tape measure cant take into consideration your body shape - something which really struck a chord with me, especially in light of my Scoliosis. I'm pleased this is one of the first things she noticed about me - the curve in my Spine and my posture are pretty prominent when you see the back of me with no clothes on, but this was never picked-up on in previous fittings, even when I brought the matter up. We discussed the pain I'd suffer when cycling and how proper support was needed around my back and boobs... and how ill fitting the Bra I'd walked in wearing was. Immediately she detected that it was the wrong size and that as a larger-breasted woman, I'd need a strong wide band and wider straps. For cycling, I'd need the same in a Sports Bra, but in good compressive material covering the whole breast. Again - all of this without a tape measure...

She popped out of the changing room, and re-appeared with a normal Bra (which was stunning) and several Sports ones to try on. The normal bra was to ascertain my correct size (which was an eye opener compared to the size I'd always stuck to) and then we went though the Sports range. Things like colour the material has been dyed can affect the fit, and after testing them all out, I finally found THE Sports Bra I wanted to buy...
Although designed specifically for running, the Shock Absorber Run Sports Bra felt like the perfect one for cycling in. Good compressive material, no wires, correct cup size to hold'em in and the support system at the back felt comfortable on my Spine! This was long-overdue, and also quite emotional to see my posture looking correct for the first time in years.

It's SO important to wear the correct sized Bra and makes a world of difference - not just because it can change your posture and looks good, but the health reasons alone are enough to get yourself sorted. Whatever type of exercise you do, your Breasts will move - be it running, working out in the gym or cycling. Whether you're going hard on your bike or not, it's worth thinking about how much pressure you are putting on your breasts:

  • ill fitting Bras can lead to health problems including headaches, Back and Shoulder issues
  • damage / pain can be caused to breast ligaments & there is a higher chance of sagging
  • one of the biggest mistakes women make is wearing a bra too small in the cup and too big in the back - when your bust gets bigger, it's often your cup size increasing, not your Back
Although I wish I'd did this much earlier in life, I'm glad that I finally sorted out my correct Bra size and will feel a lot more comfort when I'm cycling. As I said, this is a bit of an intimate / personal thing to blog about, but it's something that I really wanted to share with all you cycling ladies out there if it means you'll look into getting sized properly and look after those Boobs on your bike!

I had my Personal Fitting done at the Mayfair Rigby and Peller store in Central London. Further information on R&P stores and Fitting Services can be found on their website. I'd like to give a HUGE thank-you to the team there for looking after me, and not getting spooked at taking pictures of me in the Bra for this post :)

2 November 2012

Bicycle Art by Lois May-Miller...

We all know that Bicycles make me happy, as does Art. So putting the two together is a sure-fire way to put a smile on my face, and Brighton-based bicycle-belle Lois May-Miller has done exactly that.
Lois created the blog Claud & I to mark her taking on the 30 Days of Biking challenge in September. What started off as a way to chart her adventures for a month, turned into a cycling blog that she didn't want to stop, after falling in love with cycling.

When she isn't riding her bike Claud, Lois works as a Graphic Designer, with illustration featuring a lot in her day to day work. As Lois explains, the relationship between her day-job and cycling started to come together naturally...
"When I got my first ever road bike back in March, I quickly became pretty obsessed by all things cycling. I was sketching my bike one evening, just for the fun of it. I showed the sketch to a friend who said 'there are people out there who would hang that on their walls!'... and it took off from there" 
Her friend was right to tell her this, as Lois' Cycling themed prints have already gone down with fellow cyclists on Twitter... and I had to have one to hang-up in my Bedroom / Workspace.
The charm of the 'Love and Bicycles' Print captured my heart and my feelings about my Pashley Princess and the freedom of cycling. There are also some other pieces there that have caught my eye, especially as they remind me of the Clubman... Alongside her Prints, Lois also creates Car Window Stickers, for motorists out there who also have some cycling pride...

With new prints in the pipeline in time for Christmas, Lois' prints have certainly made it on my list of cycling related gifts for the festive season.

You can see the current range on the Claud & I online Shop, and contact Lois via her @ClaudAndI twitter account.

30 October 2012

They're Jingling Baby... The Cycle Show Wrap Party!

After an fantastic Summer of Cycling in the UK this year and a certain ITV4 show dedicated to the subject, it was only fitting a wrap-party should be thrown to celebrate The Cycle Show! Just as the invitation stated, you needed to be jingling to get in... and there were plenty of bells at the event!

Held at the Red Bull Studios in London, it was a great chance to see The Cycle Show team and everyone involved in the production again after all the hard work put in over the series. There were drinks, laughter, lots of bell ringing and of course... bikes! We were all treated to an impressive BMX display by Keelan Phillips. A Pro-Freestyle rider, Keelan took to the floor with his bike showing us a trick or two...
The Boy has a BMX Bike at his place. This actually got me thinking about him getting it done up and learning a trick or two... Miss Glowinski - you wanna teach me?!

Red Bull studios are a bit of a playground to be honest - The Boy managed to home-in on a classic arcade game to play on - quite well suited considering his line of work...
... and the child in me could not leave this giant swing alone... I WANT ONE IN MY HOUSE, PLEASE...

It was a fantastic evening, and a great way to wrap-up what was a fantastic show! Here's to hoping that next year we'll be seeing The Cycle Show back on our screens... there is ALWAYS room for cycling in the schedules...

20 October 2012

Vélo, Illustrated...

Last month I sent out a public tweet, searching for an illustrator to do a little something for Vélo-City-Girl. I'd been on the hunt for one for quite some time, and had an idea of the style I wanted, but hadn't found any illustrators who quite "got" what I was after. Coming pretty close to giving up on the idea of the piece, I got a tweet from Ste Johnson offering to have a go at a sketch for me. He's the gentleman behind the Cycling & Fashion blog, The Discerning Cyclist. A fellow bike-lover AND an illustrator? This sat very well with me indeed...

We exchanged a few emails about what I had in mind, and a few days later Ste came back to me with this sample sketch...
I hadn't told Ste which picture I wanted the illustration based on. 
Ste randomly picked this one from my blog. 
This is the one I had in mind. 

At this point, I was already way beyond impressed with him and what he had come up with. Immediately taken with his work, I gave him the VCG seal of approval and commissioned him to work on the illustration for the blog. Ste kept me in the loop with changes and any tweaks that needed to be made to the piece... and then came the draft before the adding of colours and VERY final changes were added:
Yep - I was pretty pleased with this!

And then came the finished version. I could not wait to see what Ste had finally created after the teasers of the sketches... 

This is exactly what I was hoping for when it came to having an illustration done - Ste hit the nail on the head with his style and take on me with my beloved Pashley... and I'm over the moon. If you're reading this, you're an amazing talent Sir - and I thank you x

I highly recommend having a look at Ste's wonderful site, The Discerning Cyclist (a blog after my own heart), offering style advice and showcasing smart cycling attire. 

15 October 2012

TFL / Bicycle Film Festival Conference: Cycling in London 2012...

Transport For London & The Bicycle Film Festival held their special conference on cycling in London at the Barbican Centre last Friday... and I was honoured to be one of the speakers invited to take part in the event. 

The entire panel for the day was made-up of a variety of cyclists, which made for an interesting session. Those taking part were; Ben Plowden (Director of Planning, Surface Transport for TFL), David Dansky (Cycle Training UK), David Kitchen (Founder of LFGSS), Bill Chidley (Editor of Moving Target), German Dector Vega (Director of Sustrains), Jill Putman (National Operations Manager for recreational cycling - British Cycling) and Jacqui Shannon (Tweed Run).

A mixture of lively debate and discussions, points we addressed over the afternoon included how to increase cycling in the city, the major role that safety and road infrastructure play and increasing participation through cultural channels.
This wasn't just "talking bikes" - this was a heartfelt and educational afternoon of discussion, which left everyone feeling inspired and I can say for myself, wanting to shout from the rooftops about how wonderful cycling is... and why it shouldn't be an "exclusive" hobby.
I sat on the panel session with Jacqui and Jill, discussing issues surrounding women's cycling. The three of us were talking about breaking down stereotypes of women on bikes and how were are all cyclists... there was also an interesting debate between us regarding the thought pattern of being a female cyclist carrying its own risks.

The entire afternoon was recorded, so for those that were unable to make the Conference, look out for it hopefully coming online soon. I hope that the BFF holds another of these events again when the festival comes back to London; this was a thought provoking, informative and educational discussion about cycling in this city!

7 October 2012

A Week On Wheels...

October is shaping up to be a busy month for VCG, and the 1st week was packed with cycling-related events to keep me on my toes... or should that be on my saddle?

Starting off with an evening at the W Hotel for the Bicycle Film Festival (don't forget, there is still the special event on the 12th which I'll be at!) it was a chance to preview some of the ace films that were shown over the weekend, and to see Chinatown in its beautiful night-time glory. I adore how the huge lanterns suspended above the street looked like golden moons...

The following day started off with an early morning cycle to Old Street to do a bit of filming with the BBC! I met up with reporter Howard Johnson at one of my fave coffee haunts Shoreditch Grind, to talk about cycling and fashion, which formed part of his fantastic piece on the current cycling boom around the world. A few people have asked about the outfit I wore in that report... the cycle chic for the day...

HeadScarf: Tie Rack
Gold Drop Earrings: Topshop
Denim Jacket: Gap
Owl Necklace and Pandora Brooch: Tatty Devine
Dress: Orion London
Belt: Topshop
Sparkly Brogues: M&S Limited Edition
Pannier Bag: Kitsch Kitchen

Featuring The Bicycle Man and Laura Fletcher of the BFF, the full piece can be seen on the BBC Entertainment & Arts Page

Later that evening - the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards! After being shortlisted in the "Best Lifestyle" category, I got glammed up with a bit of vintage Dior and some Lagerfeld for the night and headed into the West End for the ceremony. Sadly VCG didn't take the prize on the night, but I owe a HUGE thank you to everyone who voted for the blog and got it on the shortlist. Every single one of you who reads, follows and enjoys the blog are the powerhouse behind what I do, and it means a lot. Pretty bloody fantastic to have a cycling blog recognised by a "Glossy" too... so thank you all again for getting VCG up there! 

I predict a lot more coffee and cake happening to keep me going, as the rest of this month has a lot more bike-business coming up... huzzah!

5 October 2012

Bicycle Film Festival London: 4-7 October 2012...

The Bicycle Film Festival returns to The Barbican Centre this week for its ninth season, and on Wednesday night I attended the Press Launch for the festival. Held at the rather swish W Hotel on Wardour Street, guests for the evening were greeted with beautiful bicycles on display in the foyer and more cycle related visual treats...

There was a selected preview of some of the eclectic short films that will be shown over the course of the festival, including 'Joe Moody' and  'The First Unstoppable' which are brilliant. My particular favourite and one I suggest you try and catch is 'Candy Rides' which was charming, creepy and heartbreaking all in the space of 16 minutes!

Alongside the collection of films, a bonus special event will also form part of the festival on the 12th October; together with Transport for London, the BFF present a conference and debate on London Cycling. There will be Panel Discussions... and I'll be one of the Panelists taking part!

Full programme details are available on the BFF Website, and if you're interested in attending the conference on the 12th October (which is free) it runs from 1pm-4pm; please email conference@bicyclefilmfestival.com to reserve a seat.

23 September 2012

This Little Clubman Went To Market...

All photography by Ian James.

Three weeks on with the Clubman Urban and it's become my main commuting bike... something which has taken me by surprise. This doesn't mean Frankie has been banished to the back of the cupboard forever (never!), but it's become an unexpected addictive joy riding the Fixed Gear to the office. I finally had a chance this weekend with The Boy to take it out further than my working commute with a Saturday cycle to one of my favourite spots in London, Maltby Street.

My route to Maltby and back is a 11 mile round trip - one that I regularly ride along the CS3 through Limehouse to Tower Gateway, turning onto Tower Bridge Approach and then weaving into the Market.

The weight of the bike on this route made a huge difference. Being much lighter than what I'm used to, it wasn't as much of a struggle cycling up the Canning Town Flyover & and some other steeper (for me anyway) climbs of the route. Of course with every climb there must be a descent... something which I'm learning to get better at on the Clubman. It's still feels very "flighty" when coming downhill, even when in the highest gear so taking my time doing this while getting used to the change of bike seems to work better.

Arriving after our 5.5 mile ride, it was time to chow-down on some of the delicious treats on offer...
Our foodie-fuel stops for the day were @CornishGrill at Maltby Street, where the lovely Matt made sure we were suitably fed, and Little Bird London Gin for a cheeky little Negroni...

No food-shopping happened this Saturday being on the Clubman: when it comes to storage, this isn't the same as the Princess due to the lack of Pannier facilities. I'm still investigating the possibility of more storage space with larger Saddle / Handlebar Bags (and finding the best messenger bag or rucksack) but as this was just a flying visit to the Market, this was the perfect bike for me to get there & back home. When it came to my handbag for the day (because lets face it, I don't go anywhere without one), I used my Cyclodelic Saddle Bag - attaching it to the handlebars!

There will be more to come on the Clubman... especially seeing how it handles with the change of season which is hitting London now...

Further photography can be viewed in this flickr set by Ian James

19 September 2012

The Cycle Show 2012 - NEC Birmingham...

We've witnessed an epic summer of cycling this year in the UK, so how does a large event involving a lot more bikes sound?

The UK's number one cycling exhibition returns to the NEC Birmingham on 28th - 30th September!

Hosting some of the best known cycling brands (including some loved here on VCG), it's a great chance to check out some of the latest bikes and accessories coming in 2013. There is something for everyone at the show: from the more hands-on features like the Outdoor Mountain Bike test track and the BMX arena, to something for any mini-cyclists (with Kids tickets at just £1) out there with the Children's Test Track.

Of course, it wouldn't be right if GB's medal success wasn't part of the event! Cycling stars of the Olympic and Paralympic Games including Joanna Roswell, Lizzie Armistead and Sarah Storey will be at The Cycle Show across the weekend.

And, especially for the lovely readers and followers of my blog, there is a discount offer on tickets! Just enter the discount code LADYV to purchase a ticket for £12 in advance (normally £16 on the door).

For more information and to purchase a ticket please visit: www.cycleshow.co.uk/LADYV - and don't forget that discount code!

14 September 2012

Velodrome Magic & Paralympic Dreams...

"The greatest show on Earth" came to an end with the London 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony on Sunday. After applying for Track Cycling events at the Olympics & Paralympic Games (and sadly not winning any tickets in the lottery) The Boy and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Velodrome for the penultimate Sunday morning session...
The phrase has been used many times over for the games but it has to be said, it was extremely inspirational to watch the Paralympic Cyclists & be so close to the action too!
We attended the Velodrome as guests of adidas for their 'Front Line to Start Line' campaign. They were the official sportswear provider for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (something which I was vocal about earlier this year). Alongside this, adidas are also supporting the British Paralympic Association (BPA). Together, they have launched a limited edition t-shirt in partnership with Help for Heroes (H4H) to help injured service men and woman progress in competitive sport. Cycling stars from the games including Team GB member Laura Trott and Jon-Allen Butterworth (an ex RAF Serviceman) from the Paralympic Team are amongst those supporting the range...

For every one of the t-shirts sold, £5 will go directly to the BPA to support the 'Front Line to Start Line' campaign. The money that adidas hopes to raise from the campaign will help 'Front Line to Start Line' increase the number of athletes achieve their sporting dreams and support future Paralympians from a military background... a rather worthy cause indeed.

The T-Shirts, which are available until the 3rd October 2012 can be bought directly from adidas shops and their online store, and are also available from John Lewis.

Further photos from the day can be viewed in this flickr set.
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