Review: 1001 Cycling Tips – The Essential Cyclists’ Guide

The windows of the cafe were completely obscured with condensation, as the cold November air outside collided with the steamy heat created by a group of cyclists inside.

It was my birthday, and a few (mostly new) friends and I had cycled from Stirling to Loch Venachar, over the infamous Duke’s Pass and down into Aberfoyle.

At the foot of this incredible climb sits MacGregors Coffee Shop – a wee gem of a place. The four of us were squished into a corner of the cafe; me, stuffing my face with cake and various other calorie-dense foods, buzzing with my newfound love of cycling and a bunch of new pals.

“Anyone need their water filled up?” asked Andre, who I had just met and would, over the next four years, become my go-to cycling partner. I asked for a top-up and Andre popped out into the cold to get out bottles.

The fateful brunch

“Erm…Ross?” he said, holding up my bottle. I looked up with my face full of coffee and walnut cake. “You haven’t drank anything!”

I laughed and shrugged it off. Whatever! I had eaten loads. I wasn’t about to bonk.

We left the cafe and began the cycle home. I made it about 500m along the road…before I bonked. Hard. It was a hard way to learn a lesson about fuelling on a bike.

Andre sat in front of me, blocking the wind, his little stuffed turtle swaying beneath his saddle. “Just follow the turtle!” he shouted, towing me home.

When I started cycling, I was thrown into a whole new world of customs, unwritten rules and lessons that needed learned (that drinking is just as important as eating to stop a bonk, for instance!)

What is a chaingang? Should you wear your sunglasses over your helmet straps? What’s the right sock height? Do I need an aero bike, a climbing bike, or something else? What the fuck is gravel riding? Why does my arse hurt? Do I need to like coffee? “Just kick it” doesn’t always work. Sometimes, sprinting every climb isn’t conducive to a long ride.

A younger Andre and I after chasing each other around another ride together

Recently, Vertebrate Publishing released a new book by Hannah Reynolds – 1001 Cycling Tips – alongside the 1001 Running Tips by Robbie Britton.

In the book, Hannah breaks down The Life Cyclitific* into sections: Basics, Maintenance, Cycling Life, Disciplines and so on. Within each are little sub-sections covering the absolute essentials you need to know or will no doubt be wondering ‘why the heck is that a thing?’: Sitting comfortably, shaving, cafes and, of course, Strava.

Me (centre) flashing the customary hang-ten at my first mountain bike race, taken prior to the race when my body and (some) dignity were still in one piece

Hannah herself is a mean cyclist and excellent writer, having been an editor at Cycling Weekly and edited Cycling Active. She alludes to her impressive palmarés in tip 237:

“Invariably, the time you need to fix something will be when you’re tired or it’s cold, raining or getting dark, so practise repairs in the comfort of your own home until you can do them fast. When I was training for a 24-hour solo mountain bike race, I’d set my alarm for 2.00 a.m. to fix a puncture or repair a chain before going back to sleep. It gave me the confidence to know I could do these things when sleep deprived.”

Given I can only just about pick up a puppy’s crap with a degree of dexterity at two in the morning, I doff my cap to Hannah for her commitment to the cause.

Recent forays into multi-day cycling

For those who are a little more seasoned to cycling, there may be a sniff at the idea of being given 1001 tips for cycling, but the whole book is peppered with excellent nuggets of information and bike life hacks. I particularly enjoy the use of the bike itself as an emergency storage space for bank notes and parts. There’s also a handy guide on how to transport your bike around and tips on nutrition.

Some may also be intrigued by the new wave of gravel cycling and bikepacking, both of which are thoroughly explained in this book, helping you pack better and enjoy yourself.

Coming to Glen Nevis on my Journey for Wildness – my longest trip yet

So, if you have someone in your life who is starting to get serious about cycling (or you are fed up with them watching the GCN YouTube** channel on your smart TV) I really would recommend 1001 Cycling Tips.

Hannah’s style is non-judgemental, humorous and honest, giving her own personal accounts of when things didn’t quite go to plan.

There’s literally a tip in there for everything. Though, “Just follow the turtle!” doesn’t appear in there.

*In case my readers are not listeners of BBC Radio 4, this is a joke about the programme The Life Scientific. If you are a listener of Radio 4, I am sure you laughed – heartily.

**Starting out as a cyclist (and even now, 6 years later), I found GCN utterly invaluable as a resource. Though it can be a bit ‘cyclist’ at times (think Strava KOMs and leg-shaving), it is a great place to learn and understand the ins and outs of cycling.

Published by Ross Brannigan

“It is worth ascending unexiting heights if for nothing else than to see the big ones from nearer their own level.” - Nan Shepherd

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: